Political Snippets from Around the Country

Check out these political snippets on the presidential and congressional races from across the country. 


March 19 Primaries

Last Tuesday’s primaries again produced typical results. Both President Joe Biden and Donald Trump easily won nomination elections in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio. The familiar turnout pattern also continued in these places. The respective GOP primary in all but Illinois again drew thousands more voters than their Democratic counterpart.

In all, 26 states have held presidential primaries or caucuses to date. Yet in only the Democratic strongholds of California, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Washington did more people choose to vote in the Democratic primary. The list of states with more Republican primary voters includes eleven where President Joe Biden won in 2020: Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Virginia, all of which is a warning to the Biden campaign.

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. (I) has qualified for the ballot in the state of Wisconsin but may have to re-start his petition drive in Nevada. Mr. Kennedy is reportedly qualified or in strong position to do so in eight states: Arizona, Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Utah, and now Wisconsin. He may have problems in Nevada, however. The submitted petitions may be disqualified because Mr. Kennedy did not list a Vice Presidential running mate, a requirement under Nevada election law.

This week, Mr. Kennedy announced that wealthy entrepreneur Nicole Shanahan, the founder of the ClearAccessIP legal technology company that she later sold, will be his Vice Presidential running mate. Ms. Shanahan is, like Mr. Kennedy, an environmental activist. She contributed $4 million to his campaign to help finance the Super Bowl ad that the Kennedy campaign ran to emphasize his family history. In the 2020 presidential race, Ms. Shanahan contributed to Democratic candidates Pete Buttigieg and Marianne Williamson.

Of the eight states in which his name will so far appear, four are critical swing battlegrounds. Therefore, the Kennedy candidacy could affect the final result in the highly competitive entities of Arizona, Georgia, Nevada, and Wisconsin.

No Labels

The No Labels Party is seemingly having a difficult time either choosing a presidential nominee or having someone accept their offer of running on their ballot line. A story emerged that former New Jersey Governor and ex-presidential candidate Chris Christie (R), after being in negotiations with No Labels, has decided not to pursue entering the 2024 presidential general election as this party’s standard bearer.

Mr. Christie, in announcing his decision, said "I also believe that if there is not a pathway to win and if my candidacy in any way, shape or form would help Donald Trump become president again, then it is not the way forward." The No Labels membership has voted to field a presidential ticket, but so far, the leadership has not brought forth a national candidate pairing.

U.S. Senate


Emerson College released a new two-way poll of the Arizona Senate race, their first since Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) announced she would not seek re-election. The survey (3/12-15; 1,000 AZ registered voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects the new Arizona Senate race dropping to within the polling margin of error between Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) and 2022 GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake. The ballot test finds Mr. Gallego holding a 44-40% lead, which is approaching the toss-up realm.

Within the same polling sample, former President Donald Trump leads President Joe Biden, 48-44%, which is bad news obviously for Mr. Biden, but also for Ms. Lake. With the data showing Mr. Trump leading the Republican ticket in the Grand Canyon State, her standing against Rep. Gallego trails the former President’s benchmark by a full eight percentage points.

Rep. Gallego has an edge among the youngest and the oldest respondents in the sample. He is also rather surprisingly favored, 43-38%, among those who said the economy is their top issue. Ms. Lake is favored by a whopping 77-12% margin among those who are most concerned about the southern border.


The University of Maryland partnering with the Washington Post released a new survey of the Maryland Senate race (3/5-12; 1,004 MD registered voters; live interview & text) that shows former Republican Governor Larry Hogan building a strong lead in this most Democratic of states. According to the ballot test Mr. Hogan leads US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) 47-39%, while his lead would expand to 50-36% if Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) were his general election opponent.

Mr. Hogan also enjoys an extremely positive 64:23% favorability index, while Rep. Trone scores 33:21% favorable to unfavorable, and Ms. Alsobrooks records a 26:15% ratio.

Despite Mr. Trone so far outspending Ms. Alsobrooks by a 12:1 ratio ($24 million to $2 million), he leads the Democratic primary ballot test only 34-27% according to this survey. Considering the lopsided spending amount, the ballot test suggests that Rep. Trone is at least slightly underperforming as a statewide candidate.


Prolific pollster Emerson College also tested the Nevada electorate and finds the Senate race already becoming a dead heat. The survey results (3/12-15; 1,000 NV likely voters; multiple sampling techniques) see Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) leading Afghan War veteran Sam Brown* (R) by a slight 41-39% split, well within the polling margin of error. In the presidential race, former President Trump slips past President Joe Biden 44-41%, a pattern that has been evident for weeks in the Silver State.

Possibly the most encouraging news for Republicans, which helps explain the GOP presidential performance in the poll, is the fact that Hispanics, traditionally heavily Democratic voters, would break for Biden in only a 44-39% clip. Hispanics account for just over 30% of the Nevada population according to US Census figures. Therefore, this group could become a deciding factor in how the state eventually votes.

New Jersey

New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy (D), who had been fighting with Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) over county Democratic Party endorsements that yield favorable ballot placements, surprisingly has ended her campaign. Ms. Murphy said she didn’t want to spend money attacking another Democrat when the funds could be used to help defeat Mr. Trump.

The more likely reason for her withdrawal decision is failing to see a viable victory path after falling behind Mr. Kim in early polling. Additionally, the latter man’s lawsuit against the state for the county ballot placement system that awards a favorable line position might well be successful, thus derailing the advantage she gained by winning endorsements in several entities. The development makes Rep. Kim a prohibitive favorite for the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to winning the general election.


Chalk up a big mistake for the polling community, as the very tight Republican Senate contest that all involved pollsters predicted proved to be a landslide for businessman Bernie Moreno. The victor will now move into the long general election cycle against three-term Senator Sherrod Brown (D).

With almost the entire state reporting at this writing, Mr. Moreno would have been nominated even if Ohio were a runoff state. He captured majority support, at 50.6%. State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who several polls had projected to be leading the race, finished a distant second with 32.8%. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, the field’s only statewide official who was perceived to be falling off the pace as the election drew near, lagged in third position recording just 16.6% support.

The result is another big win for former President Donald Trump who, along with Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), had endorsed Mr. Moreno. The victory margin was so complete that Mr. Moreno carried all of the state’s 88 counties. Turnout was heavily Republican. Though he was in a three-way race in the Republican primary and Sen. Brown was unopposed for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Moreno still received more votes last night than the Democratic incumbent.


Perhaps the most surprising recent poll comes from the Badger State of Wisconsin where Emerson College already sees the Senate race in much closer terms than most would have surmised. With Republicans only recently witnessing businessman Eric Hovde come to the forefront to declare his candidacy, Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) had, for most of the election cycle, been forecast as close to being a sure winner.

The new Emerson poll (3/14-18; 1,000 WI likely voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects Sen. Baldwin as holding only a 45-42% margin, this while ex-President Donald Trump posts a consistent three point lead over President Joe Biden whether on a direct head-to-head question or when most of the projected independent and minor party candidates are added to the questionnaire.

At this point, the Wisconsin Senate race has been regarded as a second tier challenge opportunity for the GOP. If poll results like this become consistent over the course of time, the race could move into the top tier and attract greater resources. The Wisconsin electorate has been known for routinely producing close election outcomes.

West Virginia

Emerson College, polling for WOWK-13 television station in the Charleston-Huntington market (3/19-21; 735 WV likely Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Gov. Jim Justice* holding a commanding 54-17% lead over US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) with the West Virginia primary now seven weeks away on May 14th. Without incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the race, the eventual GOP nominee becomes a heavy favorite to convert the seat in the general election.

In the Governor’s race, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) also enjoys a GOP primary advantage according to the same poll. Mr. Morrisey holds a 33-16-14-6% advantage over businessman Chris Miller, former state Delegate Moore Capito, and Secretary of State Mac Warner, respectively. Mr. Miller is the son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington), while Mr. Capito is Sen. Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) son. Here, too, the eventual Republican nominee will be a virtual lock to win the general election.

U.S. House of Representatives


Impact Research conducted a poll for the upcoming April 2nd Democratic runoff election in Alabama’s new 2nd Congressional District anchored in the Montgomery and Mobile areas. The survey (3/14-18; 500 likely AL-2 Democratic runoff voters; interactive voice response system and text) sees former Obama Justice Department official Shomari Figures, who finished first in the March 5th primary with 43.5% of the vote, leading state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Montgomery) by a whopping 59-24% margin.

The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite in the general election. President Joe Biden carried this newly configured district with a 56-43% vote spread in 2020. The state’s congressional map was redrawn to comply with the US Supreme Court ruling in the Alabama racial gerrymandering case.


Freshman Arizona Rep. Eli Crane (R-Oro Valley), who was one of the eight Republicans who voted to oust then-Speaker Kevin McCarthy, has drawn a primary opponent. Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith (R) announced yesterday that he would follow through with a challenge to Crane after he filed a campaign committee weeks ago with the FEC. The 2nd Congressional District of Arizona covers the state’s northeastern sector and then stretches into Maricopa County, in and around the Phoenix metro area. The seat is safely Republican, so the true battle will be in the GOP primary scheduled for August 6th.


With more than 10 days remaining in the California election certification process, another congressional finalist has clinched a general election ballot position. With virtually all of the votes finally tabulated, Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Nguyen-Penaloza ended her fight for the second qualifying position, conceding the vote to attorney Derek Tran. The race came down to a spread of just 366 votes, or a percentage spread of 15.9 – 15.6.

US Rep. Michelle Steel* (R-Orange County), on the ballot for a third term, easily captured the first general election ballot position with a 54.9% showing. While Rep. Steel is in good position to begin the general election campaign, the 45th CD leans Democratic at D+5 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization. Therefore, plan for a highly contested congressional battle here in political prime time.

A few more votes were released in the nip-and-tuck open 16th Congressional District and San Mateo County Supervisor and ex-state Senator Joe Simitian (D) saw his lead over Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) shrink from four votes to only one, 30,229 to 30,228. The eventual second place qualifier faces ex-San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) who locked down first place with 38,464 votes or 21.1% of the jungle primary total. Should Messrs. Simitian and Low end in a tie, both would advance into the general election, thus creating a three-way November contest.


The CA-20 special election, held as the first step in replacing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R), unfolded as a virtual carbon copy of the original March 5th regular primary. Like in that election, it appears that Assemblyman Vince Fong* (R-Bakersfield), who is well over 40% support in early returns, will advance into the special general election scheduled for May 21st.

Just like in the coming November regular general election, he will face fellow Republican and Tulare County Sheriff Mike Bourdeaux in the special general.

The special general winner will immediately take the seat and serve the balance of the current term. Regardless of the outcome in May, Messrs. Fong and Bourdeaux will face each other again on November 5th.


Local Republican delegates in Colorado’s open 5th District held their nominating convention. With Rep. Douglas Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) retiring, the seat becomes open for the first time in 18 years. Counting his time in the state legislature, Mr. Lamborn will leave elective office after serving 30 consecutive years.

The delegates, with a 70.4% vote, propelled Colorado Republican Party chairman Dave Williams into the general election. A candidate must receive at least 30% of the vote to automatically advance. Falling below the lower threshold requires a candidate to access the ballot by submitting 1,500 valid petition signatures. Therefore, the only other announced GOP candidate for the seat, radio talk show host and former two time congressional candidate Jeff Crank, must circulate petitions in order to compete in the June 25th Republican primary.


A three judge federal panel has rejected a lawsuit claiming that the Sunshine State congressional map violates the 14th and 15th Amendments to the US Constitution. The ruling’s result means that the current plan will remain in place. The Florida map, from which the district electorates chose 20 Republicans and eight Democrats, is the Republicans’ strongest, nationally. Therefore, not changing this plan boosts GOP chances of maintaining their small majority.


Michigan State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder (R), who was the first person to declare for the open Senate race after incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she would retire, never saw her campaign generate excitement or significant support. Therefore, Ms. Snyder announced that she is ending her Senate quest and will instead enter the Republican primary for the open 8th Congressional District.

There, Ms. Snyder will join two time congressional candidate and former news anchor Paul Junge in the GOP primary. Ms. Snyder is also not the first candidate to switch from the Senate race to this congressional contest. Earlier, State Board of Education president Pamela Pugh (D) made the change soon after six-term incumbent Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) announced that he would not seek re-election.


Six-term New Hampshire US Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) announced that she will not seek re-election next year. Her departure paves the way for a competitive primary and general election season. Ms. Kuster averaged 53.3% of the vote in her six victorious elections, dropping below 50% in 2016 (49.8%) while scoring her strongest vote of 55.8% in 2022.

NH-2 becomes the 49th open seat heading into the next election. Ms. Kuster is the 25th House Democrat not to seek another term. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the western New Hampshire seat as D+2, and the Daily Kos Elections site ranks NH-2 as the 21st most vulnerable district in the Democratic Conference. President Joe Biden, however, recorded a 54-45% spread over Donald Trump, thus exceeding the typical Democratic vote in this swing seat.


Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), who faced four challengers, managed to break the majority threshold with a 53% total. Because the opposition vote was evenly spread among his challengers, his closest competitor garnered just under 22%. Reps. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) and Bill Foster (D-Naperville) also faced credible opposition, but both won easily.

IL-12 & 17

It took well into a second day of counting, but Rep. Mike Bost* (R-Murphysboro) successfully won renomination in his southern Illinois congressional district. His opponent, 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey, conceded defeat but said his campaign “made a statement.”

The current unofficial tally shows Rep. Bost capturing 51.4% of the vote as compared to Mr. Bailey’s 48.6%, translating to a vote spread of 2,590 from a turnout of over 94,000 individuals. A smattering of ballots will soon be added to the final tally. The district featured wide swings, as both candidates typically won their respective counties by landslide proportions. Both men won 17 of the district’s 34 counties.

In the Quad Cities region, retired Circuit Judge Joe McGraw (R) will now challenge freshman Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline) in what should be a competitive District 17 general election.


After declaring earlier this month that he would challenge freshman Republican Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Suffolk County) in the GOP primary, the expelled Congressman decided to leave the GOP and campaign for the congressional seat as an Independent.

It is unlikely that Mr. Santos will be a factor in the general election for the Independence Party, or any other ballot line. Any votes he does attract, however, would likely come from Mr. LaLolta’s base, thus allowing the eventual Democratic nominee, either 2020 congressional nominee Nancy Goroff or former CNN news anchor John Avlon, to potentially gain support from these disaffected Republicans.


As candidate filing in North Dakota closed, the race for the open at-large congressional district is becoming clearer. Former state Senator Tom Campbell (R), viewed as a strong contender, decided not to file for the seat just after outgoing Gov. Doug Burgum (R) announced his Republican primary endorsement of state Public Utilities Commissioner Julie Fedorchak.

It appears that Ms. Fedorchak is becoming the favorite for the nomination. With the FiveThirtyEight data organization rating North Dakota as R+37 and former President Donald Trump carrying the seat with a 65-32% margin, winning the Republican primary is now tantamount to claiming the seat in the November election. Three-term Congressman Kelly Armstrong* (R-Bismarck) is running for Governor. In addition to Ms. Fedorchak, former state Rep. Rick Becker and farmer and retired Air Force veteran Alex Balazs comprise the open seat GOP primary field.


A highly competitive battle in the open 2nd District from which Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Hillsboro) is retiring yielded another close result. Three self-funding businessmen led the crowded field, and concrete company owner David Taylor defeated entrepreneurs Tim O’Hara and Larry Kidd by a 25-22-19% split. Mr. Taylor’s victory last night virtually assures him of winning the seat in November in what is Ohio’s safest Republican seat.


The top House primary attraction was the special primary for the vacant 6th Congressional District where state Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem) and state Rep. Reggie Stoltzfus (R-Delaware) battled to replace resigned Rep. Bill Johnson* (R). Since this is a partisan special election, the winner advances to a June 11th general election. The result was close most of the evening, but Sen. Rulli pulled away in the final count to score a 49-41% win.


The other major primary occurred in the Toledo anchored 9th District where Republican state Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Monclova) and former state Rep. Craig Reidel battled for the nomination after 2022 nominee J.R. Majewski dropped out of the race. The race went Mr. Merrin’s way with a 52-34% victory margin. The state Representative now faces 21-term incumbent Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) in the general election in what should be a highly competitive election in a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+6.


In the Akron based 13th CD, former state Sen. Kevin Coughlin (R) easily defeated local City Councilman Chris Banweg. Mr. Coughlin will now challenge freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) in another competitive Ohio general election campaign.


A competitive Democratic primary is underway in the Pittsburgh area as freshman Rep. Summer Lee (D-Swissvale/Pittsburgh) defends her heavily Democratic district for the first time. Edgewood Borough Councilwoman Bhavini Patel is her principal opponent for the April 24th primary. The Moderate PAC is involving itself in the race, running attack ads against Rep. Lee referring to her as a socialist and one who is out of the Democratic Party’s mainstream. This will be one of the key national primary campaigns to watch.


With the South Carolina candidate filing deadline upon us on April 1st and the US Supreme Court so far not ruling on the redistricting case before them, the original three judge panel has taken action. The federal jurists who initially declared the Palmetto State’s 1st District (Rep. Nancy Mace*-R) a racial gerrymander ruled yesterday that the current configuration can stand for the 2024 election. The panel acted because SCOTUS has failed to issue their decision after hearing oral arguments and considering that the filing deadline is Monday.

The fact that the high court has not yet ruled suggests that the district will stand. Though the lawsuit was targeted to the racial complexion of the 1st District, changing this seat will invariably alter at least one other. South Carolina has seven districts that are split in in a 6R:1D ratio.


In February, four-term US Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay) announced that he would not seek a fifth term this year. Now, Mr. Gallagher will do so earlier than expected. The Congressman indicated he will resign from the House on April 19th. Leaving at that point in April does not allow the state to replace him with an early special election to fill the balance of the term instead of waiting until the November election. Therefore, Republicans will be another seat down until the regular general.

Mr. Gallagher becomes the seventh House member to resign during this session of Congress in addition to Rep. George Santos (R-NY), who was expelled from the body.

*denotes candidate received AGC PAC support during the 2023-2024 election cycle. 

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