Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, state and local races from across the country.
Monmouth University went into the field with a very small sample of US Republican primary voters (3/16-20; 521 US likely Republican primary voters; live interview & online) and again finds former President Donald Trump holding the advantage. Like in many of the studies, however, Mr. Trump is below the majority support line (50%), and he and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are pulling away from the other tested individuals.
According to the Monmouth data, Mr. Trump leads Gov. DeSantis, 44-36%, with former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-UN Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley trailing with 7 and 6% respectively.
The results are typical for what we are seeing elsewhere in national polling. It is important to remember, however, that the national polls do not provide us with a clear indication as to who might prevail in a political contest where the results are decided with delegate votes earned in every state primary or caucus. Based upon available state totals, Gov. DeSantis fares better in the more important state-by-state count.
Gov. Chris Sununu
New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is still not providing straight answers about whether he will run for President, seek re-election to an unprecedented fifth term as Governor, or retire from politics. The Governor last week said he would decide later in the year if he would run for President.
Mr. Sununu’s main advantage is that he governs the first Republican primary state, and therefore can wait to a late date and still enter the race as a main competitor. His hope would be to claim the New Hampshire primary, in a place where he is already extremely well known, and use such a victory to catapult him into the top tier of presidential candidates.
This is a risky strategy that political history suggests will not be successful. Even if not, however, Gov. Sununu could still pivot after the presidential race and run again for Governor since the New Hampshire primary is one of the nation’s latest, typically scheduled for mid-September.
Additionally, the state is only one of two, Vermont being the other, that holds its Governors elections every two years. While Gov. Sununu has won four elections, he is only in his seventh year of service. Yet, he is only the second Governor in state history to win four consecutive statewide elections. The other is Democrat John Lynch, who served from 2005-2013.
Sen. Tim Scott
The Hill newspaper reported that South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is taking definitive steps to formally enter the Republican presidential campaign. This is not surprising since Sen. Scott has been considered a potential national candidate for months. It’s difficult, however, to see a victory path for the Palmetto State Senator, especially with former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley already in the field.
A Scott entry would presumably be helpful to Donald Trump, since the former President would be the beneficiary of a larger field, similar to the configuration that helped him win the 2016 nomination. Such is likely the case because Trump has a large, loyal base within the Republican Party, enough to carry him to a plurality win.
The New York Republican Party last reinstalled their former state chairman, Richard Nixon son-in-law Ed Cox, to again lead the organization. The previous chairman, Nick Langworthy, was elected to Congress in November from the state’s 23rd District thus creating a vacancy in the chairman’s position.
In a statement last week, Mr. Cox said that the state party would not issue an official endorsement in the presidential race in order to encourage all of the eventual GOP candidates to come to New York and compete for the state’s delegate base. He said this policy is consistent with their 2016 practice, the last time the Republicans had an open race for the presidential nomination. Mr. Cox previously chaired the state party organization from 2009 to 2019.
While national polls don’t mean much in terms of projecting who will win a presidential nomination because the ultimate winner is decided through accumulating delegate votes through the states, we now see a released pair of interesting Republican nomination surveys conducted during the same period.
The CNN national survey (conducted by SSRS; 3/8-12; 1,040 US registered voters; live interview & online) found the ballot test favoring Gov. Ron DeSantis, as he led former President Donald Trump, 39-37%. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and ex-Vice President Mike Pence were a distant third and fourth with 7 and 6 percent.
Conversely, Quinnipiac University, in the field with their national poll (3/9-13; 677 Republican and Republican leaning voters; live interview) projects a completely different ballot test result. The Q-Poll sees Mr. Trump holding a strong 46-32% lead over Gov. DeSantis, with Haley and Pence following at 5 and 3%, respectively.
Quelling recent speculation that Florida US Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach) might launch a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Rick Scott (R), the Congressman issued a statement regarding the matter. Saying he would not oppose Sen. Scott for renomination, Rep. Gaetz quipped, "if I wanted to spend my time in a retirement community, I'd definitely choose The Villages over the Senate."
Michigan School Board President Pamela Pugh (D), who has won two statewide elections to the state school board, a post that features eight-year terms, says she is considering entering the open Democratic primary for US Senate.
At this point, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) is unopposed for the party nomination, but Ms. Pugh says she is concerned with the lack of African American representation throughout the state. Even the congressional delegation has no black Democrats despite the two Detroit anchored congressional seats featuring plurality African American populations. The only black in the congressional delegation, freshman Rep. John James, is a Republican.
A new Public Policy Polling survey (3/9-10; 616 PA likely Republican primary voters) finds state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Chambersburg), the 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee who proved non-competitive in the general election, again leading in a statewide Republican primary.
In a hypothetical US Senate nomination contest, PPP finds Sen. Mastriano topping 2022 candidate and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and 2022 Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, 39-21-11%. If the race was a two-way between Messrs. Mastriano and McCormick, the former would lead 42-28%. Should these numbers hold, such a primary result would again nullify any realistic chance Republicans have of upsetting Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) in November.
Ms. Barnette announced after this poll was released that she would not enter the 2024 Senate campaign.
Public Policy Polling, the regular survey research firm for the Northwest Progressive Institute, released their latest Washington statewide study (3/7-8; 874 WA registered voters; live interview & text) and tested the 2024 Senate race featuring four-term incumbent Maria Cantwell (D). Paired with former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), who is reportedly considering the challenge, PPP finds Sen. Cantwell holding a comfortable 50-35% advantage.
The 2022 Washington Senate race was billed as a competitive contest between Sen. Patty Murray (D) and Republican Tiffany Smiley, but ended in a 57-43% result. Since Republicans have a target-rich Senate cycle in 2024, it is doubtful the party will invest any serious resources toward a Cantwell challenge.
While Republicans are searching for a candidate to challenge two-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) in a race that could become competitive, one prominent Republican closed the door on a candidacy. Former two-term Governor Scott Walker (R), who twice was elected Governor but defeated for a third term after not faring well in the 2016 presidential race, says he will not run for the Senate next year. The two most talked about potential GOP candidates are Mr. Walker’s former Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, and businessman Scott Mayer.
U.S. House of Representatives
Phil Arballo (D) has twice run unsuccessfully for Congress and has announced his 2024 candidacy for the California’s 13th District, the seat that delivered the second-closest election in 2022. In that race, Rep. John Duarte (R-Modesto) defeated now-former state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D) by just 564 votes. Mr. Gray is also returning for a re-match.
Mr. Arballo’s candidacy, however, may be short lived. It has just been uncovered that he is running a premium amateur adult porn video business on the side under the name of Felipe Jones. Regardless of what happens in the March 5th all-party jungle primary, expect both Rep. Duarte and Mr. Gray to advance into the general election.
Lake Elsinore City Councilman Tim Sheridan (D), who challenged Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) twice in the pre-redistricting and much more Republican 42nd District, announced last week that he will return to again run for the House in 2024.
In November, Rep. Calvert survived his second closest re-election effort, a 52-48% win over former federal prosecutor Will Rollins (D) in the new 41st District that is fully contained within Riverside County. We could see action in the all-party jungle primary because Mr. Rollins is also considering waging a return re-match with the 16-term incumbent.
Weston City Commissioner Chris Eddy (R), a retired Air Force General and former FBI analyst, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination with the hope of facing Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) in the general election. He first must get past 2022 nominee Carla Spalding, however.
The 25th District is reliably Democratic – FiveThirtyEight rates the seat D+18; Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 62.0D – 36.8R – which means the chances of scoring an upset here are slim. Still, Rep. Wasserman Schultz showed some weakness in the 2022 election against Ms. Spalding, however, winning only a 55-45% victory, which proved the closest of her ten career congressional elections.
Freshman US Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) was one of the few challengers to win a House seat in 2022 when he scored a 49.6 – 48.9% win over two-term Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines), a margin of just 2,145 votes from more than 315,000 ballots cast. Last week, mental health therapist Tracy Limon (D) announced her congressional candidacy, the first individual to come forward for the 2024 election. This could be a signal that former Rep. Axne will not return for a re-match, since the Democratic primary would likely be cleared for her if she desired to make a comeback.
Educator and West Point graduate Joshua Lloyd (R) announced his congressional candidacy last week, hoping to challenge Illinois freshman Rep. Nikki Budzinski (D-Springfield) next year. The 13th District became a created open seat under the gerrymandered Illinois congressional map, and it stretches all the way from the Champaign-Urbana area through Decatur and Springfield until ending in the Illinois side of the St. Louis suburbs.
The seat was drawn to elect a Democrat and force then-Rep. Rodney Davis (R) into another district. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates IL-13 as D+7, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 53.3D – 41.8R. In November, Ms. Budzinski won a 57-43% victory over conservative activist Regan Deering (R).
Hoosier State Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-Noblesville) surprise retirement decision in only her second US House term had left an open Republican seat with no early declared candidates until late earlier this month. First to announce is state Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville), who is also the president & CEO of an electric company. We expect to see a crowded Republican field in the R+22 district, but the unexpected open seat status has featured a slow candidate development. The Indiana primary is scheduled for May 7, 2024.
Recently, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor (D) launched a congressional exploratory committee since Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) will vacate the 7th Congressional District seat in order to run for the state’s open Senate seat. Typically, filing such a committee is the first step to announcing a candidacy, but in this case the opposite has occurred. Clearly, Mayor Schor did not find the results for which he had hoped, and announced last week that he would not be a candidate for the 2024 open congressional seat.
No one has announced for the 7th District as yet. It is presumed that 2022 Republican candidate Tom Barrett, now a former state Senator, will again make a run for the seat. He lost 51-46% to Rep. Slotkin last November.
Navy veteran and businessman Tyler Kistner (R) has lost two close congressional races to Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig (D-Prior Lake), and confirms that he is considering launching another re-match in 2024. The 2020 election proved his better showing, losing 48-46%.
In the redistricted 2nd District, which now stretches from the Wisconsin border southwest to include the southern St. Paul and Minneapolis suburbs, the result was not as close: 51-46%, in the Congresswoman’s favor. A third Kistner run would not likely change the result since he received 46% in both of his elections. Republicans might find more success in 2024 with a fresh candidate.
Last week, veteran New Jersey Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) announced that he will run for a 15th term next year thus ending speculation that he might retire from Congress. Mr. Pascrell will be 87 years of age at the time of the next election. Before winning his House seat in 1996, he served simultaneously in the New Jersey state Assembly and as Mayor of Paterson.
The Congressman is expected to have little trouble winning re-election in a 9th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+17. Dave’ Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean as 60.7– 37.1R. The New York City suburban CD includes the cities of Passaic, Paterson, and Clifton, the town of Kearny, and the borough of Oakland.
As we previously reported, the RI-1 special election will be scheduled when Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) resigns from the House on June 1st. Last week, another four individuals announced their special Democratic primary candidacies already bringing the field’s total number to six.
Those previously declaring are Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D) and state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket). The latest to enter are state Rep. Nathan Biah (D-Providence), corporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) consultant Nick Autiello, financial consultant Allen Waters, and bus driver Mickeda Barnes. The special election will effectively be decided in the Democratic primary from a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+32.
Museum founder Michael Moore (D), a relative of Civil War figure Robert Smalls, announced that he will enter the Democratic primary to challenge two-term Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston).
There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding this race because earlier this year a South Carolina three judge federal panel declared the 1st District an unconstitutional racial gerrymander. This means, that unless the SC ruling becomes moot when the US Supreme Court decides the related Alabama racial gerrymandering case, the district will be re-drawn.
A new version under the South Carolina judicial directive should make this seat more Democratic, but a considerable amount of time will likely elapse if and before the seat is reconfigured. Therefore, it is difficult to draw any current conclusions about the 2024 SC-1 campaign.
Republican Mayra Flores made national news in 2022 when she scored an upset special election win in the Texas Rio Grande Valley 34th District that is anchored in the city of Brownsville. In the regular election, however, she fell 51-43% to fellow Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) who decided to run in the 34th instead of his previous 15th CD.
The principal reason for Ms. Flores losing was redistricting. The 34th went from a D+5 to a D+17 under the FiveThirtyEight data organization statistical calculation making the seat difficult for any Republican to attain.
Seeing political reality, Ms. Flores is indicating that she is unlikely to run again in 2024. In order to make the adjacent 15th CD more winnable for a Republican, which happened with the election of Rep. Monica de la Cruz (R-McAllen) in November, the 34th became more Democratic. The redistricting map was drawn long before Ms. Flores won the special election, hence the lopsided partisan lean for a district the GOP was able to convert.
The 3rd District of Wisconsin occupies the state’s southwestern region and while often voting Republican for President, the electorate returned Democratic Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) to office 13 consecutive times. Mr. Kind retired in 2022, and the Democratic leadership basically conceded the seat to Republican Derrick Van Orden in that the national party spent no money to protect a seat their member held for 26 consecutive years. In the end, Mr. Van Orden did win, but his victory margin fell below predictions in defeating then-state Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse) 52-48%.
It appears that Mr. Pfaff and two other former congressional candidates, La Crosse City Councilman Mark Neumann and small business owner Rebecca Cooke, are considering entering the 2024 congressional race. All, however, are saying they won’t run unless they are assured of national outside party support.
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted a new Mississippi Governor’s poll for the Magnolia Tribune (3/6-9; 625 MS registered voters; live interview) and sees Gov. Tate Reeves (R) rebounding from a January Tulchin Research survey. The Mason-Dixon ballot test posts Gov. Reeves to a seven-point lead over Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Pressley (D), 46-39%. The Tulchin poll staked Mr. Pressley to an early 47-43% advantage.
In the M-D poll, the Governor has leads throughout the state with the exception of the state’s 2nd Congressional District (Rep. Bennie Thompson-D), that occupies most of the Mississippi Delta area. In that region, Mr. Pressley pulls a 15-percentage point lead. Gov. Reeves is strongest, a pair of 15-point spreads, in the Tennessee border region and on the Gulf Coast. With party nominations secure for both Gov. Reeves and Mr. Pressley, the two are already waging a general election battle that will be settled on November 7th.
Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announced that he will seek a second term next year, but more of the political attention centers around former Congressman and current Fox News commentator Jason Chaffetz (R). There has been much speculation, and not denied, that Mr. Chaffetz is considering launching a Republican primary challenge against either Gov. Cox or Sen. Mitt Romney (R). Therefore, it appears the 2024 Utah nomination convention and Republican primary will feature some meaningful political action.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who lost to Sen. Joe Manchin in a close 49-46% result in 2018, claims to be deciding among seeking a re-match in the Senate race, or running for the open Governor or 2nd Congressional District positions, or simply seeking re-election.
A newly released National Research poll that was conducted in late February for the Black Bear PAC (2/23-28; 600 WV likely Republican primary voters) projects Mr. Morrisey to be holding a 28-15-11-6% advantage in an open Governor’s primary against state Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston), the son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), Secretary of State Mac Warner (R), and businessman Chris Miller, son of Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington).
State Rep. Francis Thompson of Dehli is the longest serving state legislator in Louisiana state history, being first elected in 1975. Late last week, he left the Democratic Party and became a Republican. The move gives the Republicans a 2/3 majority in the House, and makes it easier to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes. The move won’t change many issue voting patterns, however, since Rep. Thompson has always been one of the more conservative legislators. During his long tenure in the legislature, Mr. Thompson has served in both the House and Senate.
The Chicago municipal contest where voters have already defeated Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to brandish polling showing a very tight runoff contest between former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Several published polls disagree as to who is leading the race. The latest Victory Research survey (3/20-23; 806 Chicago likely runoff voters) sees Mr. Vallas leading 46-44%. IZQ Strategies (3/15-16; 680 Chicago likely runoff voters) arrives at the same 46-44% ballot test result, but they find Commissioner Johnson holding the slight edge.
Mr. Vallas has recently been able to cross racial lines by attracting endorsements from African American former officeholders Jesse White, who served six terms as the Illinois Secretary of State, and ex-Congressman Bobby Rush, who was in office for 30 years. Crime is a big issue in the contest and could be defining. The runoff is scheduled for April 4th.
The Jacksonville Mayor’s primary was held last week, and Democrat Donna Deegan topped the field of candidates with 39% of the vote. Daniel Davis (R), the local Chamber of Commerce CEO, was second with 25%. Since neither candidate received majority support, the two will advance to a May 16th runoff election. Combined, Republican candidates received 51% of the vote compared to the combined Democratic percentage of 48. Republican incumbent Lenny Curry is ineligible to seek a third term.
The move to force a recall vote against Crescent City Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) came to an abrupt end at the petition signature deadline. The recall organization fell woefully short of recruiting the 45,000 registered voter signatures necessary to force a confirmation election. The Cantrell opposition group was only able to qualify approximately 27,000 signatures, or just 60% of the required number. The next regular mayoral election is scheduled for 2025.
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