Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and state races from across the country.
Emerson College Poll
Emerson College is reporting the results of their latest national survey (2/24-25; 1,060 US registered voters; interactive voice response system & online panel) and while some of the results are consistent with other polling – former President Donald Trump leading Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP field by a wide margin nationally; President Joe Biden upside down on the job approval question (44:50%) – other data points are proving more interesting.
First, in the general election ballot test, Mr. Trump records a 46-42% edge over President Biden nationally, which is one of his better polling showings. Second, in contrast to several other recent national polls, the 476 tested Democratic primary voters give overwhelming support, 71%, to President Biden as the 2024 party nominee. Interestingly, a whopping 85% within the youngest segment, those aged 18-34, are supportive of this position. Third, while Mr. Trump records a 55-25% national lead over Gov. DeSantis, the latter manages to gain among Hispanics, college educated Republican voters, GOP voters over 65, and Midwest respondents when compared with Emerson’s January poll.
The California Field Poll conducted at the University of California at Berkeley (2/14-20; 7,512 CA registered voters; 1,755 CA self-identified Republican voters; online) also looked at the Republican presidential field. The statewide totals find Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an unannounced candidate for president, topping former President Donald Trump, 37-29%, with ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recording 7% preference. All other potential Republican candidates score support figures of 4% or less.
The important point to remember about the California Republican nomination system is that the state selects delegates through its 52 congressional districts. Therefore, though DeSantis may be leading in the statewide count, the nomination battle is determined through the votes tabulated in the individual congressional districts. This system could make the California primary a wild card state on Super Tuesday.
Roanoke College just released their new Virginia general electorate poll that tested three GOP candidates or potential candidates against President Joe Biden. The survey (2/12-25; 585 VA registered voters; live interview) finds the Commonwealth’s own Governor, Glenn Youngkin (R), enjoying the best standing against the President, and in major fashion.
According to this sampling universe, which the pollsters say has a D+5 partisan complexion, Gov. Youngkin would swamp the President, 55-39%, in what has become a reliable Democratic domain. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis would also top the President. His margin is 48-43%. Former President Donald Trump, however, would still trail President Biden, but by only a single point, 47-46%.
Sen. Joe Manchin
Last week, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) made it clear that he would not run for President. Rumors had abounded that the West Virginia Senator might run for Governor or President, both of which have now been dispelled. Previously, on national television, the Senator said he will not again run for Governor. With Gov. Jim Justice (R) ineligible to seek a third term in the Mountain State and broadly hinting that he will run for the Senate, the door would have opened for Manchin to again run for Governor, a position he held from 2005-2010.
The seriously discussed national option was Mr. Manchin running for President on a No Labels ticket, possibly even with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) as his running mate. Now that both the President and Governor options are seemingly eliminated, Sen. Manchin will soon opt for re-election or outright retirement from politics. The early tea leaves suggest he will seek a third full term.
Venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in a move that was anticipated. Mr. Ramaswamy, whose personal wealth is estimated to exceed $500 million, is basing his campaign on promoting the free enterprise system and opposing corporate “wokeism.”
While Mr. Ramaswamy’s wealth will certainly allow him to effectively communicate a message, he is a very long shot to become a top tier candidate. Still, he is someone worthy of attention.
Based upon recent statements from Arizona state Senate President Pro Tempore T.J. Shope (R-Coolidge), it appears we could see a new Republican in the US Senate arena. Mr. Shope is indicating that he is seriously considering entering the statewide field. Former gubernatorial nominee and ex-television news anchor Kari Lake is also gearing up for a Senate run.
With Sen. Kyrsten Sinema likely running as an Independent and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) already well on his way to sewing up the Democratic nomination, a very interesting three-way race is unfolding for next year.
In an expected move, twelve-term California US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) announced that she will officially join the open US Senate campaign to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D). Rep. Lee had already filed a Senate committee with the Federal Election Commission, and had been making it clear she would announce once Sen. Feinstein made her retirement plans public.
Already declared are fellow Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). The latter man has recruited endorsements from 15 members from the California Democratic delegation, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). At this point, however, no statewide elected office holders are making a move to run for the Senate. California features an all-party jungle primary system, so it is likely that two Democrats will advance to the general election. In 2024, because it is a presidential election year, the California primary moves to Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
While Rep. Lee is the only major candidate at this point hailing from northern California, she will be a severe underdog on the fundraising circuit. Both Reps. Porter and Schiff are two of the most prolific House fundraisers in the country. Though the seat will remain in Democratic hands, this race will continue to feature a highly competitive cycle-long open seat campaign.
Three-term US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), as expected for weeks, formally announced that she will run for the Senate next year. In December, four-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she will retire at the end of this Congress. Rep. Slotkin, one of the more prolific fundraisers in the House, is already perceived as the favorite for the Democratic nomination and the general election.
Though there was much activity right after Sen. Stabenow announced that she would step down, only one elected official, Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder (R), had actually declared her candidacy until Rep. Slotkin made her intention known.
While Rep. Slotkin has the inside track to the Democratic nomination and may not even face a significant intra-party opponent, several Republicans are still contemplating whether to run for the open Senate seat. Among them are former gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon, US Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland), and former Reps. Fred Upton, Mike Rogers, and Peter Meijer.
Prominent Michigan politicos who have said they will not run for the Senate include Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D), Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), US Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) and John James (R-Farmington Hills), and state Senate Majority Whip Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland and Wayne Counties).
Through a Twitter announcement, Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) announced that he will seek a fourth term next year. Speculation about his potential retirement had become relatively intense.
While the Democratic leadership needed Sen. Tester to run again in order to increase hope of holding the party’s tenuous Senate majority when facing a 2024 election map that forces them to defend 23 of 34 in-cycle seats, keeping the Montana seat is no sure thing even with their best candidate.
While the media, and the Senator himself, will continue to use a “moderate,” label to describe Mr. Tester, his voting record has moved decidedly to the left during this term and is now a solid leadership vote. Regardless of who ultimately becomes the Montana Republican Senate nominee, we can count on seeing an ideological contrast race being run with the GOP accusing Tester of being out of step with the state’s electorate, and the Senator firing back with extremist claims about his Republican opponent.
Republican Frank LaRose, the Ohio secretary of state, is plotting a campaign to challenge heavyweight Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2024 and plans to launch a bid in the months ahead.
LaRose recently met with Sen. Steve Daines of Montana, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and he remains in regular contact with the Senate GOP campaign arm.
Competing with wealthy, self-funding candidates in the Republican primary like state Sen. Matt Dolan—never mind Brown—would require big money. LaRose is currently spending “a couple of hours a day talking to donors” to gauge the financial support he can expect for a 2024 campaign.
With Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) now saying he won’t decide until this summer about whether to seek a second full six-year term from the Beehive State, another name is being floated as a potential candidate. Former US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) resigned from the House in the middle of his fifth term, having been originally elected to the state’s 3rd Congressional District in 2008. He left Congress to join Fox News as an on-camera contributor where he remains today.
While not denying that he may be seriously looking at challenging Sen. Romney in the 2024 GOP primary, Mr. Chaffetz, like Sen. Romney, says he will wait a much longer period of time before making a final decision about running. Attorney General Sean Reyes is a potential GOP challenger to Sen. Romney, along with several other prominent Utah Republicans.
Democratic leaders have been attempting to recruit a strong opponent for Sen. Ted Cruz (R) as he seeks a third term next year, and most of the early speculation has centered around former HUD Secretary, presidential candidate, and ex-San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and US Representative and former NFL football player Colin Allred (D-Dallas).
With neither man so far jumping into the race, statements from Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, as reported in the Daily Kos Elections blog, suggest that outgoing Houston Mayor and former veteran state Representative Sylvester Turner may be moving toward becoming a candidate.
Democrats are expected to make a run at Sen. Cruz, but in a presidential election year with the turnout model almost assuredly favoring the eventual Republican presidential nominee the future Democratic candidate will be in a decided underdog position.
U.S. House of Representatives
Bay Area Rapid Transit Board member Lateefah Simon (D) became the first individual to announce her candidacy for California’s new open 12th District that encompasses the cities of Oakland and Berkeley. Twelve-term Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is leaving the House to run for the Senate.
The 12th, a coalition majority minority seat, is the most Democratic district in this bluest of states. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates it D+77, while the Dave’s Redistricting App partisan lean finds a 89.7D – 8.3R spread. Therefore, two Democrats advancing to the general election in what is expected to be a crowded all-party qualifying election field is a virtual certainty.
Potential candidates include state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Assemblywomen Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (D), and several local officials.
CA-16 & 18
Last week, former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D), who was ineligible to seek a third term in 2021, is saying he has informed both Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton/Palo Alto), and Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) that he plans to challenge one of the two veteran Democratic incumbents next year. Mr. Liccardo says he has polled both Rep. Eshoo’s 16th CD and Rep. Lofgren’s 18th District to assess his chances in what would likely transition into a double Democratic general election.
The 18th contains most of the city of San Jose, but Rep. Lofgren responded to Mr. Liccardo with a statement saying she plans on seeking re-election in 2024. Rep. Lofgren, who was first elected in 1994, has been re-elected against light challenges with over 65% of the vote ever since. In the 2022 jungle primary, Rep. Eshoo dropped below the 50% mark suggesting some vulnerability to a future Democratic challenge.
California Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) is one of the few House members who has won multiple terms in a district that favors the opposite political party. One reason is because he has defeated the same opponent, former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), in three consecutive elections. Now, another contender has emerged. Former NASA chief of staff and ex-Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides (D) has announced that he will run for the seat in 2024. For Democrats to have a chance to capture this D+8 seat (FiveThirtyEight data organization projection), it is becoming obvious that they need to field a candidate other than Ms. Smith.
Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Burbank) open seat has been the most popular California early congressional race. Now, a tenth candidate has announced. West Hollywood Mayor Sepi Shyne (D) confirmed that he will join the open seat contest.
The major candidates, all Democrats, are state Sen. Anthony Portatino (D-La Canada), state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), former state Assemblyman Mike Feuer, Los Angeles Unified School District Board member Nick Melvoin, and actor Ben Savage. Two from this group advancing to a double-Democrat general election is a likelihood.
Michigan’s new Detroit suburban 10th District was drawn as a competitive seat, and the 48.8 – 48.3% finish in Republican John James’ favor certainly lent support to the pre-election predictions. Though he did not contest the original outcome by calling for a recount, it appears that former local judge and ex-Macomb County prosecutor Carl Marlinga (D) is reportedly telling supporters that he is planning to return for a re-match.
Rep. James (R-Farmington Hills), who twice lost tight US Senate battles, has already said he will not join the open statewide 2024 candidate field so he can defend this politically marginal House district. We can expect another major competitive battle here next year.
Freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) is a newcomer to elected politics and expected to be a major Democratic target in the 2024 election, considering he is one of less than twenty members holding a district opposite of the electorate’s partisan lean. Only weeks ago, Manlius Town Council member Katelyn Kriesel announced that she would file to oppose the new Congressman next year. Last week, however, she opted out of the race citing family reasons.
NY-22 will be a major target, but for the short term, anyway, Democrats lack a candidate. Expect one to emerge, but now it appears that time is favoring Rep. Williams.
Last week, Rhode Island US Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) announced that he will be resigning his seat on June 1st to become president & CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation, a funding organization that supports projects in the Ocean State. The move means we will see a special election in the state’s 1st District later this year.
So far, Attorney General Peter Neronha (D) says he will not run for the congressional seat, but others are assessing their political prospects. Two who appear to be leaning toward running are state House Speaker Joe Shekarchi (D-Warwick) and Biden White House aide Gabe Amo (D).
Other potential candidates include Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D), former Secretary of State and ex-gubernatorial candidate Nellie Gorbea (D), state Senate Majority Leader Ryan Pearson (D-Cumberland), and many local mayors and state legislators. The battle will be in the Democratic primary since the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates RI-1 as D+32.
For the second time this week, a Republican has come forward to announce a GOP primary challenge to two-term Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio).
Last week, the incumbent was censured by the Texas Republican Party for taking certain issue positions relating to gun control, the border, and abortion. The censure occurred because the congressional district delegates believe he eschewed the strongest party position on those particular votes. The action means he cannot receive state party campaign assistance until after he is officially renominated.
The first to declare her intra-party opposition was Medina County Republican Party chair Julie Clark, which is sure to mean strategic attacks coming from the Congressman’s right flank. Two days later, Victor Avila, who was defeated in the Texas Land Commissioner Republican primary last year, also declared his candidacy. In the 2022 statewide election, Mr. Avila finished fifth in a field of eight candidates with just 7.5% of the vote.
Virginia state Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) easily won the state’s 4th District special election, earning the right to replace the late Congressman Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) who passed away at the end of November.
Ms. McClellan was the clear favorite going into the election after winning the Democratic nomination process in December. She easily defeated Republican Leon Benjamin, a frequent candidate, with an unofficial 74% of the vote. The 4th District, which stretches from Richmond to the North Carolina border, is heavily Democratic. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the district D+30, while Dave’s Redistricting App scores the seat’s partisan lean at 66.8D – 31.6R.
While candidate filing for this year’s Louisiana Governor’s race is still more than five months away, Democrats appear to already be uniting behind one candidate. Shawn Wilson is the outgoing state Secretary of Transportation who will be resigning from office on March 4th. His official gubernatorial announcement will come soon after. Gary Chambers (D), who ran against Sen. John Kennedy (R) last year and was viewed as a potential candidate now says he will not run and is lining up behind Mr. Wilson. Term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has already given his tacit endorsement to Mr. Wilson.
All of this likely means the state Transportation Secretary will surely advance into the general election runoff. The top two finishers from the October 14th all-party jungle primary will advance into the November 18th general, meaning Mr. Wilson will await the outcome of a tight GOP gubernatorial qualification contest.
The fact that Wilson may be the lone Democrat on the ballot will virtually assure him of a ballot slot in the general election as GOP supporters will split their votes among several candidates. The eventual Republican general election finalist will be favored to convert the Louisiana Governorship, but Democrats are clearly doing their best to correctly position themselves for the autumn election.
Elected state Auditor J.B. McCluskey (R) announced that he will forego re-election to become an open race gubernatorial candidate. Gov. Jim Justice (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, but may declare his candidacy opposite Sen. Joe Machin (D) in the next few days.
Mr. McCuskey and Secretary of State Mac Warner (R) are the only statewide officials in the candidate field. State Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston), son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), and businessman Chris Miller (R), son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington), are already in the field along with private preschool owner Rashida Yost (R) and rancher Terri Bradshaw (R). No Democratic candidate has yet stepped forward.
A pair of minor Democratic gubernatorial contenders have been disqualified from the ballot for failing to meet the state’s candidate requirements. This means that Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, cousin to the late music legend Elvis Presley, will be unopposed for the party nomination.
With Gov. Tate Reeves facing only minor opposition in the August 8th Republican primary, we will now assuredly see both the Governor and Mr. Presley advancing into the general election. Therefore, a defined Mississippi gubernatorial campaign commences and will continue for the better part of this year. The general election date is November 7th.
Since 2020, a total of eleven eastern Oregon counties have voted to explore ways for their geographic region to join neighboring Idaho and now another, northeastern Wallowa County, has qualified an advisory ballot proposition for the next election.
The project is called the Greater Idaho Movement, and though they don’t have any realistic possibility of seeing the voting counties to join Idaho since both state legislatures and Congress would have to approve, the organizers say the votes will show the current liberal Beaver State political structure that more attention must be given to the needs of those in the conservative eastern Oregon rural communities.
The Chicago non-partisan mayoral primary is complete and as recent polling suggested was a possible outcome, incumbent Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) fell to defeat without even qualifying for the secondary runoff election. Chicago Schools former CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson will advance to the April 4th election, and that vote will decide who becomes the new Mayor. Ms. Lightfoot finished a poor third in the field of nine candidates. A total of 83% of the voters chose a candidate other than the incumbent. US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), who began as the race polling leader, placed fourth.
Mr. Vallas had cemented his runoff position since late January. In the last eleven polls conducted of this Mayor’s race, Mr. Vallas secured a runoff position in every instance. The primary result was the ultimate turnaround for Mr. Vallas. In 2019, he finished dead last in a different field of nine candidates.
Though a Democrat, Mr. Vallas was clearly the most conservative candidate in the non-partisan primary race and the runoff against the more progressive Commissioner Johnson promises to be an interesting one. We can count on seeing a campaign strategy based upon ideological contrast from Johnson, whereas Vallas will continue his emphasis on the crime issue.
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