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Political Snippets 3.19.21

Listed below are political snippets on congressional, gubernatorial and state races across the country. Enjoy!

President

Iowa

Last week, Johnson County Democrats passed a resolution with 78% of the attending party members in agreement to change the Iowa presidential nominating system from a caucus to a primary. Many believe the 2020 Democratic caucus debacle featuring a system so complicated that even today it is difficult to determine whether Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or now-Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg actually won the statewide caucus vote will not return for future presidential campaigns.

If the Iowa Democrats do change, it is likely they will lose their first position on the nomination calendar since New Hampshire has the ability to keep their status as the first-in-the-nation primary. Johnson County features the fifth largest population base of Iowa’s 99 local entities, housing Iowa City and the University of Iowa campus.

U.S. Senate

Alabama

Huntsville area Congressman Mo Brooks (R), who ran in the 2017 special US Senate election after then-Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) was confirmed as US Attorney General and placed a distant third in the Republican primary, looks ready to make another attempt. Reports suggest that the Congressman will announce for the open 2022 Senate race on Monday. 

The only other person so far declared is former US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard (R) who has the ability and desire to self-fund her campaign effort. Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville), Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R), and Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) have all said they will not run for the Senate. No other Republican member of the congressional delegation appears to be making moves to build a statewide effort at this time. Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) may compete for the Democratic Senate nomination, however. Sen. Richard Shelby (R) has already announced that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.

Arkansas

While most of the early political announcements have dealt with retirements, one Senator not opting out of a 2022 race is Arkansas Republican Sen. John Boozman. Over the weekend, Mr. Boozman announced that he will seek a third term next year. He will prove to be a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

Florida

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy released their latest Florida statewide survey (2/24-28; 625 FL registered voters) testing Sen. Marco Rubio’s re-election status as he prepares to run for a third term in 2022. According to the M-D data, the Senator has a 47:42% job approval ratio. By a margin of 46-40%, the survey respondents said they would vote to re-elect Sen. Rubio.

Georgia

The Trafalgar Group and Insider Advantage teamed to field a poll again testing the Georgia electorate, and the results look familiar. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), the special election winner who now stands for a full six-year term in 2022, would have a tenuous lead over two Republicans but slightly trails a third. The poll (3/7-9; 1,093 GA likely voters; interactive response system and online) found Sen. Warnock leading former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)46-41%. He would edge former US Rep. Doug Collins (R), 46-45%, but trails former University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker (R), 46-48%. Tight polling throughout the 2020 election cycle culminated in Sen. Warnock winning a 51-49% January runoff election against Ms. Loeffler.

Indiana

Former US Senator and House member Joe Donnelly (D), who lost his Senate re-election in 2018 to current Indiana Sen. Mike Braun (R) despite running in a strong Democratic year, said in a Tweet this week that he will not launch a statewide effort against Sen. Todd Young (R) next year. Mr. Donnelly lost a 51-45% race in 2018 after serving a single Senate term. He represented the 2nd Congressional District for six years beginning with his 2006 electoral victory.

Iowa

Retired Navy Admiral Mike Franken (D), who challenged 2020 Senate nominee Theresa Greenfield in the Democratic primary and lost 48-25%, says he will run against Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) next year. Speculation is rampant that Sen. Grassley, who will be 89 years of age before the next election, will retire. This week, however, the Senator filed a 2022 committee with the Federal Election Commission and says he hasn’t yet made up his mind about another run.

Maryland

Greenbelt Mayor Colin Byrd, who had announced a Democratic primary challenge to House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Mechanicsville) back in December, has now changed races. This week, Mayor Byrd indicated that he is abandoning his Hoyer challenge and will instead oppose Sen. Chris Van Hollen in the 2022 Democratic primary. Mr. Byrd says Sen. Van Hollen not fight strongly enough to keep the $15 minimum wage provision in the COVID-19 relief package is his main reason for switching races. Sen. Van Hollen is a prohibitive favorite both in the Democratic primary and the 2022 general election.

Missouri

Missouri Senator Roy Blunt became the fifth Republican to announce that he won’t seek re-election in 2022. Sen. Blunt was originally elected to the House in 1996, the first of his seven terms. He previously served as the Missouri Secretary of State and Green County Clerk over his long career in elective politics. In 2016, he won a competitive 49-46% race over then-Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) to secure his second and final US Senate term. If two more potential retirees, Sens. Chuck Grassley (IA) and Ron Johnson (WI), choose not to seek re-election, the Republicans will be forced to defend seven open seats in a toss-up election cycle.

New Hampshire

A second poll published within 20 days of the first gives Gov. Chris Sununu (R) a lead over Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) in anticipation of the two potentially squaring off in the 2022 general election. On the heels of the University of New Hampshire study from late February that gave the Governor a 48-46% edge over Sen. Hassan, the current St. Anselm’s survey (3/4-6; 871 NH registered voters; online) finds Gov. Sununu in stronger shape, leading 47-41% with a 67:31% favorable job approval rating. By contrast, Sen. Hassan’s favorability index is 47:44%. Such a race could become a premier 2022 national Senate campaign.

North Carolina

Retired space shuttle astronaut Joan Higginbotham, one of the first African American women to be launched into space, confirms that she is considering entering the Democratic primary for what will be an open US Senate race next year. Already in the race are state Senator Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) and former state Senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. Potential Democratic candidates include state Attorney General Josh Stein and former US Transportation Secretary and ex-Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx. For the Republicans, former US Rep. Mark Walker is an announced candidate and ex-Governor Pat McCrory is a potential candidate. Sen. Richard Burr (R) is not seeking a fourth term

Utah

Sen. Mike Lee (R) has drawn a primary challenge. Former state Rep. Becky Edwards (R), who participated in a women’s organization that opposed former President Trump’s re-election, says she will contest Sen. Lee for the Republican nomination next year. Ms. Edwards will likely fare poorly in the state nominating convention but does have the option of petitioning onto the statewide primary ballot. Sen. Lee is a heavy favorite for the party nomination and re-election.

Wisconsin

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is being coy about whether or not he will seek re-election to a third term – he made a two-term limit promise when he first ran in 2010 – but he is definitive about his intentions concerning one state office. In no uncertain terms, Sen. Johnson said late this week during a radio interview, “…but if I run for anything, it’s not going to be for Governor.”

U.S. House of Representatives

AZ-2

Arizona Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson), who has been in and out of Congress since the beginning of 2009, announced on Friday that she will not seek re-election next year. She is the first House member to opt for retirement after the 2022 election. 

Ms. Kirkpatrick was first elected in the 1st District back in 2008 after serving a term in the Arizona House of Representatives. She was defeated for re-election in 2010 but came back in 2012 and served until 2016 when she unsuccessfully ran for US Senate. She returned to Congress from the Tucson district in 2018 and was re-elected last November. Combined, she has served five non-consecutive US House terms. Surgeon and state Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson) is the first name mentioned as the Congresswoman’s potential successor.

MN-8

Two-term Rep. Pete Stauber (R-Hermantown/ Duluth) announced this week that he will not make a statewide run for Governor next year, choosing instead to attempt to win another term in the House. With Minnesota likely losing a seat to reapportionment, and the northern part of the state being the least populated suggests that Mr. Stauber could see a very different 2022 congressional race. A possible pairing with freshman Rep. Michelle Fischbach (R-Regal) is certainly a potential outcome.

NE-2

After a brief flirtation with running for Governor, Nebraska three-term Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha) announced mid-week that he will remain in the House and seek re-election next year instead of entering the open statewide Republican primary race. Sen. Deb Fischer (R) previously confirmed that she is considering running for Governor and apparently remains a potential candidate, as are several other statewide officials. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

NM-1

US Rep. Deb Haaland (D-NM) being confirmed as Interior Department Secretary has led to a very crowded special election to replace her in the House. Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver (D) scheduled the special election to fill New Mexico’s vacant 1st Congressional District for June 1st, and the candidate field could exceed 20 contenders. The party central committees, internally elected governing authorities with representatives from every county, will nominate the respective party candidates on March 27th (Republicans) and March 30th (Democrats).

Already, eight Democrats, eight Republicans, and an Independent have announced their intentions to run. The Democratic field features four sitting state legislators. Republican state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) looks to be the most serious GOP candidate, but the eventual Democratic finalist will be the heavy favorite to win the seat.

OH-11

In a bit of a surprising move, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) has set a long calendar to fill the state’s vacant 11th Congressional District now that former Rep Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) has taken her position as Secretary of Housing & Urban Development. Ohio has a law that allows special elections to be scheduled only in May, August, and November. Most believed he would schedule the primary for May 7th to coincide with the state’s municipal election calendar, but he chose to set the primary election on August 3rd, instead. The special general election will now be November 2nd, concurrent with the state’s off-year election day. 

WA-4

After Washington Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside/Yakima) voted to impeach then-President Trump in the second such proceeding, he began drawing Republican opposition for his 2022 re-election. State House Republican Caucus Vice Chairman Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick) originally announced his intention to challenge Rep. Newhouse soon after the impeachment vote and remains in the race. Now, businessman and ex-NASCAR race driver Jarrod Sessler (R) says he will become a candidate. Loren Culp (R), the 2020 gubernatorial finalist and former local Sheriff, made comments last week suggesting that he could enter the congressional race, but now appears to be backing away from that statement.

Governor

California

The petition signature deadline for the Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) recall drive occurred on March 17th, and organizers announced they submitted over 2.1 million signatures. To qualify, the recall effort needs 1,495,709 valid signatures. 

A new Emerson College Poll for the Nextar Media Group, an organization that owns several news stations throughout California, released the results of their latest poll testing Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) prior to his facing an apparent recall election. The survey (3/12-14; 1,045 CA registered voters) finds that 38% of the respondents would vote to recall Gov. Newsom and 42% would not. On the question of whether they felt Gov. Newsom should be re-elected or would they prefer someone new, the respondents overwhelmingly chose the new person option. A total of 42% said they would vote to re-elect Mr. Newsom, but a whopping 58% said they would support a different person.

Former US Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA), who served three terms in the House from 1999-2005 until abiding by a self-imposed three-term limit, says he will enter the statewide race should the recall petition against Gov. Newsom qualify. If the voters choose to recall the Governor, they will select a replacement in the same election. If Newsom is not recalled, the votes for all other candidates are nullified. The only time a California Governor was recalled occurred in 2003 when Gov. Gray Davis (D) was ousted, and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was elected as his replacement.

Kansas

Former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), who ascended to the position from his election as Lt. Governor when then-Gov. Sam Brownback (R) resigned to accept a federal position in the Trump Administration, is looking at launching another run for the state’s top office. As the sitting Governor, Dr. Colyer lost the 2018 Republican primary to then-Secretary of State Kris Kobach by just 343 votes statewide. Mr. Kobach then went onto lose the general election to Democrat Laura Kelly.

Late last week, Dr. Colyer sent an email to supporters announcing that Mary Eisenhower, granddaughter of former President and Kansas native Dwight D. Eisenhower, will serve as his campaign treasurer. This week, Attorney General Derek Schmidt announced that he will run for Governor next year, as well. The move sets the stage for a major GOP primary battle in August of 2022 before the winner takes on Gov. Kelly three months later

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker has been a political anomaly in that he runs strong as a Republican in the most Democratic of states. A new polling series from YouGov for the University of Massachusetts at Amherst (3/5-9; 756 MA registered voters; live interview) found Gov. Baker leading all potential Democratic opponents but with significantly lower margins than in previous elections. 

Opposite Attorney General Maura Healey, Gov. Baker leads only 31-28%. Against former US Representative and ex-US Senate candidate Joe Kennedy III, the Baker margin is 37-27%. Opposing university professor Danielle Allen, the spread grows to 31-14% and is 31-12% over former state Sen. Ben Downing. At this point, only the latter man, Mr. Downing, is a declared candidate. Neither Attorney General Healey nor ex-Rep. Kennedy are expected to run for Governor next year.

Minnesota

Mike Lindell, the founder and CEO of the MyPillow company and frequent advertiser on cable TV, has been politically outspoken in recent weeks. Originally, he claimed to be “90% sure” that he would enter the 2022 Governor’s race in an attempt to challenge incumbent Tim Walz (D). Mr. Lindell, now saying he is the victim of personal attacks, confirmed yesterday that he will not run. At this point, only former state Sen. Scott Jensen and Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy have declared their intention to enter the GOP gubernatorial primary.

Nebraska

Three-term Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/ Omaha) confirmed late this week that he is considering running for the state’s open Governor’s office in 2022. Rep. Bacon has won three tough elections and reached 51% only one time in the marginal metro Omaha’s 2nd Congressional District. Earlier in the year, it was reported that Sen. Deb Fischer (R) is also considering entering the gubernatorial race, but neither GOP office holder is definitive about their 2022 plans at the present time. Sen. Fischer is not again in-cycle until 2024. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

New York

With what appears to be a majority of New York state legislators calling for Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to resign and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) authorizing the Assembly Judiciary Committee to open an impeachment probe over the sexual harassment claims, the chances of seeing removal action moving forward is becoming a real possibility.

Should the committee find cause to move forward, the members would move an impeachment report to the Assembly floor. There, it would take a majority vote to impeach, leading to a trial in the state Senate with all seven justices from the New York Court of Appeals (the highest judicial panel in the state) presiding. The Senate would then remove from office on a 2/3 vote. Interestingly, the New York procedure would suspend Gov. Cuomo during the trial and Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, a former Congresswoman, would become Acting Governor. She would also take over if the Senate votes to remove him from office.

Texas

Former state Sen. Don Huffines, who has the ability to self-fund a statewide race in Texas, confirmed that he is considering challenging Gov. Greg Abbott in the 2022 Republican primary. Mr. Huffines, who lost his Senate seat in 2018, referred to the Governor in a Houston Chronicle article as “King Abbott.” He then tweeted, “it’ll be great to have our freedoms back next week. Unfortunately, we still live in a dictatorship where Greg Abbott can yank those the next time it’s politically convenient to him.”

Virginia

The Virginia Republican Party has yet another problem with their 2021 statewide nomination process. Originally opting out of a primary election in favor of some type of modified conclave, their desired site for a “drive thru” convention, Liberty University, now sees its administrators rejecting the idea. LU officials say the campus cannot physically handle as many as 4,000 cars and an additional 70 buses all descending upon their campus at approximately the same time. Therefore, how the party now proceeds is open to question.

The major Republican candidates are Delegate and former state House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights), state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian), and businessmen Paul Davis, Pete Snyder, and Glenn Youngkin. Former Roanoke Sheriff Octavia Johnson just announced her candidacy this week.

Ratings

The University of Virginia’s political prognosticator Larry Sabato has released his first ratings of the 2021-22 Governor’s cycle. Curiously, of the 38 races to be held during the two-year period he rates just one of them, Hawaii, as wholly safe for the Democratic Party but nine securely in the Republican column. Many would disagree with such an outlook, but complicating factors as a Governor’s recall in California and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s personal problems raise questions about future election prospects in even this pair of rock solid Democratic states.

Currently, Republicans have a 27-23 edge in Governor’s offices. Of the twelve states not holding chief executive elections during this cycle, Republicans hold eight and Democrats’ four. Dr. Sabato rates 15 of the early contests as heading toward the Democratic side and 17 going Republican with five states, Arizona (R), Georgia (R), Kansas (D), Pennsylvania (D), and Wisconsin (D) in the toss-up category.

States

Georgia

Rumors abound in eastern Georgia that US Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro/Athens) will imminently announce a Republican primary challenge to Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. The Secretary became a point of controversy in the 2020 election as the voting fraud accusations rose to a fever pitch in the state. Since that time, it has been presumed the Secretary would draw significant GOP primary opposition should he choose to run for re-election in 2022. Former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, who opposed Mr. Raffensperger in the 2018 Republican Secretary of State primary and forced him into a runoff (Raffensperger won the secondary election, 62-38%), also says he will run again in 2022.

Virginia

In Virginia’s unique political system where the political parties can decide how to nominate their candidates in each election year, the Old Dominion’s GOP has had a difficult time. Not wanting a statewide primary, the party leaders’ first consensus decision was to have a “drive thru convention” at Liberty University. The school, however, rejected hosting the event. Now, it appears they will hold a convention of sort on May 8th with 37 ballot drop sites around the state for delegates to deliver their votes. 

The eventual nominee will begin the 2021 gubernatorial election as a clear underdog to the likely Democratic nominee, former Governor and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe

Tennessee

Tennessee is the only place where the state Supreme Court, through secret ballot, appoints the attorney general for an eight-year term. That process may soon change. The state Senate passed, for the second time, a measure to make the Supreme Court vote public and install a confirmation process for both houses of the General Assembly.

In Tennessee, the state Constitution can only be changed when both houses vote twice to do so, the second time with a 2/3 majority. Once the House passes this bill for a second time, and with a super majority, the measure would move to the 2022 ballot for voters to confirm the change. Forty-four of the fifty states choose their attorney general through direct election.


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