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Political Snippets 3.8.21

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

Senate

Alabama

In an open Senate race that so far has more people declaring they are not running as opposed to those who want to enter the race, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) said early last week that he will not run for the Senate, emphasizing his role in state politics. Previously, Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) also said they will not run for the Senate. Veteran Sen. Richard Shelby (R) has already announced that he will not seek a seventh term next year.

Florida

Three-term US Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) announced yesterday that she is “seriously considering” running for the Senate and embarking on a “listening tour” throughout the state. The interesting part of her statement, however, reveals that she is looking at both the 2022 election against Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and the 2024 contest against Sen. Rick Scott (R).

Furthermore, her announcement made no mention of the Governor’s race, though she had been prominently mentioned as a possible candidate.  This is likely because Florida’s only Democratic statewide elected official, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Nikki Fried, is making serious moves to enter the Governor’s campaign.

Georgia

Two weeks ago, it appeared that former Sen. David Perdue (R) was preparing to challenge Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in 2022 when last November’s special election winner stands for a full six-year term. Saying it is a personal and not a political decision, Mr. Perdue indicated late last week that he will not re-enter the political arena. The former Senator leaves a wide-open Republican nomination battle in his wake, which could include former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, ex-Representative and 2020 Senate candidate Doug Collins, Attorney General Chris Carr, and former US Ambassador Randy Evans, among others.

Iowa

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) has been guarded in answering questions about his political future and whether or not he will seek an eighth term in 2022. Last week, the Senator, who will turn 89 years of age before the next election, filed a 2022 committee with the Federal Election Commission that will serve as an organizing structure to raise funds for the coming campaign. This, in and of itself, does not indicate the Senator has decided to seek re-election, but it is a significant move. Two weeks ago, he made a statement indicating that he would make up his mind about re-election sometime later this year.

New Hampshire

The University of New Hampshire pollsters released their latest Granite State Poll (2/18-22; 1,861 UNH panel members; 1,676 NH likely general election voters; online; weighted) testing Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) against both Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). The numbers gave Gov. Sununu, serving his third two-year term as the state’s chief executive, a 48-46% edge over Sen. Hassan, but the incumbent posts a 48-43% lead over Ms. Ayotte, whom she defeated by a percentage point back in 2016.

Additionally, retired Army General Don Bolduc, who lost the 2020 Senate Republican primary to businessman Corky Messner, 51-43%, says he will again run in 2022 irrespective of who else runs, including Gov. Sununu.

Should the Governor decide to launch a Senate campaign, such a race could quickly become the Republicans’ top national conversion opportunity. It is doubtful that Mr. Sununu and Ms. Ayotte would oppose each other. Should Gov. Sununu run for the Senate, it is more likely that Ms. Ayotte would enter the open Governor’s race.

Pennsylvania

State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) announced earlier in the month that he will enter the open Democratic primary for the seat from which Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is retiring. Mr. Kenyatta becomes the second official Democratic candidate after Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who has also made public his intention to compete for the seat.

Ohio

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) has a history of considering statewide office and then retreating to his House seat, and his typical political decision-making process may be beginning again. Last month, he indicated that he would launch his impending US Senate campaign in March, but now we see equivocation. The Congressman told a Spectrum News reporter that, “we’ll make a decision here, I guess, in the coming weeks. I don’t think a March kickoff is going to happen.”

Wisconsin

Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) was first elected to the House in 1996, and many times has flirted with running for higher office but never pulled the trigger. He now confirms that he is considering entering the 2022 Senate race, but this political situation is murky. Sen. Ron Johnson (R) confirmed again last weekend that he has not yet made a decision about whether or not to seek re-election.

House

AZ-1

Redistricting is likely to significantly change the politically marginal and hugely expansive eastern Arizona 1st Congressional District, but that is not stopping at least two GOP political aspirants from already announcing their candidacies against three-term Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona).  Republican state Representative Walt Blackman (R-Sedona), an African American Republican decorated Army veteran, says he will run for Congress next year. Shortly after Rep. Blackman’s announcement, Williams Mayor John Moore (R) also said he will become a congressional candidate in the 2022 cycle.

LA-2

There are 15 candidates on the jungle primary ballot attempting to succeed resigned Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) in the March 20th special election, but one contender, state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), who already has former Rep. Richmond’s endorsement, attracted an interesting supporter last week. Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng added her name to Sen. Carter’s endorsement list. What makes her unique is that she a Republican, meaning cross-party confirmation.

While Ms. Sheng may not help Sen. Carter in a typical Democratic primary, the jungle primary where all voters participate, is a different story. This could be a particularly significant support development if Sen. Carter advances to a runoff election with another Democrat, which is a likely scenario.

MD-1

Dave Harden (D) is an international businessman and ex-foreign service officer who just threw his hat into the political ring. He says he will compete in the 2022 Democratic primary against at least three other individuals for the right to oppose veteran Rep. Andy Harris, the state’s lone Republican Congressman. Already announced are former state Delegate and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Heather Mizeur and two previous congressional candidates, Iraq/Afghan War veteran Mia Mason and nurse Jennifer Pingley. We can expect the Eastern Shore district of Maryland to host an increased competitive political race next year.

NC-11

A day after Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara (D) announced her intention to run for Congress next year, 2020 Democratic nominee and retired Air Force Colonel Moe Davis, who had already filed a 2022 campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, is now saying he probably will not run. Mr. Davis said, “I’m not going to risk getting myself killed if there’s no realistic shot at winning. If nothing changes, it’s still impossible to win here.” With the 11th District occupying the far western corner of the state, if anything, the seat is likely to become more Republican through the coming redistricting process.

OH-16

Former White House aide and Trump campaign operative Max Miller announced that he will oppose Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River/Wadsworth) in next year’s Republican congressional primary. Mr. Gonzalez, a five-year NFL football player for the Indianapolis Colts after a star career at Ohio State University, is serving his second congressional term and one of ten House Republicans to vote for then-President Trump’s second impeachment. With a spate of these members already getting announced opponents, it would not be surprising to see all of them battle in Republican nomination contests next year.

TX-6

Including those who filed late Wednesday afternoon for the May 1st TX-6 special election to replace the late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington), a total of 23 candidates have submitted the proper filing documents to their respective state political party. Of the 23, a total of eleven are Republicans, in addition to ten Democrats, a Libertarian, and an Independent. Of the entire group, however, just one, freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), is an elected official. Favored is Susan Wright, the Congressman’s widow, but with so many opponents, it is likely this contest will advance to a summer runoff election.

UT-4

Former Rep. Ben McAdams (D) confirmed early in the month that he is considering seeking a re-match with freshman Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Salt Lake City). In November, Mr. McAdams lost to his Republican opponent in a close 48-47% margin, meaning a vote deficit of only 3,765 votes from more than 376,000 ballots cast. The former Congressman was quoted as saying that Rep. Owens should have a chance to succeed before any campaign decisions are made, and “as a Utahn and American, I want him to be successful.”

WA-4

Former local police chief Loren Culp (R), who qualified for the 2020 general election to oppose Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and recorded 43% of the vote, is reported to be testing the waters at a run against GOP Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside/Yakima), one of the ten Republicans to support then-President Donald Trump’s impeachment. Already in the race is state Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick), the Vice Chair of the Republican caucus in the Washington House of Representatives.

WY-AL

In what can be considered good news for incumbent at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson), another 2022 Republican primary opponent came forward. State Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper) announced his candidacy early last week, becoming the fourth significant Republican opponent to Ms. Cheney.

The large candidate field forming actually helps the incumbent because Wyoming is a plurality primary state. Therefore, Ms. Cheney can still win if she keeps her base intact while her opposition is spread among multiple candidates. Her other serious opponents are state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie), former Pavillion Mayor Marissa Joy Selvig, and energy consultant Bryan Miller.

Governor

California

California Democrats are beginning to rally around Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) as he looks to be soon facing a recall election. State Treasurer Fiona Ma (D) made her intention clear at the end of last week that she would not run in the recall substitution election and remains a part of “Team Gavin.”

Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took a different approach with a Politico reporter saying, “In the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, the last thing I’m thinking about is politics.” Such a response isn’t quite the same as ruling out a gubernatorial race, so he is certainly a person to watch as the recall qualification deadline draws near. All petition signatures are due on March 17th.

Florida

Orlando area state Senator Randolph Bracy (D) is testing the waters about entering the 2022 Governor’s race. Mr. Bracy was first elected to the state Senate in 2016 after serving two terms in the Florida House of Representatives.

Should he enter the race, the state legislator will possibly face primary competition from State Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s only Democratic statewide official, US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) who previously served one term as Governor when a member of the Republican Party, and state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami). Ms. Taddeo was Mr. Crist’s running mate when he ran unsuccessfully for Governor under the Democratic ballot line against then-incumbent Rick Scott (R) in 2014.

Illinois

State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville/ southeastern Illinois), an outspoken opponent of the Illinois pandemic shutdown requirements, announced that he will enter the Republican gubernatorial primary next year. The chances of any Republican ousting Gov. J.B Pritzker (D) are slim, and while Sen. Bailey may have the opportunity of doing well in the GOP primary, he appears to face a very uphill climb in the general election.

Michigan

Reports are coming from Michigan that defeated 2018 congressional candidate and businesswoman Lena Epstein (R) is considering declaring her gubernatorial candidacy in hopes of facing incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D). Ms. Epstein was state co-chair of the 2016 Trump for President campaign and lost an open Republican congressional district two years later to current Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills/ Livonia), 52-45%. In November, Republican Eric Esshaki held the Congresswoman to a tighter 50-48% victory margin. Only businessman Austin Chenge is a declared Republican gubernatorial candidate at this early point in the election cycle.

New York

With New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) on the political ropes, two Republican US House members are beginning to make moves in relation to developing a gubernatorial campaign. Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) is going so far as beginning to hire a statewide campaign staff, saying he wants to be “100% committed” to the race if he makes a final decision to enter. Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) also confirms that he is “seriously considering” becoming a gubernatorial candidate. Much depends upon how the Cuomo situation is resolved, but it is clear the 2022 New York race will be much more competitive than in recent years past.

Quinnipiac University just released the results of their new Empire State poll (3/2-3; 935 NY self-identified registered voters; live interview) testing the damage done to Gov. Cuomo (D) pertaining to the nursing home and sexual harassment scandals that are breaking virtually simultaneously.

In all, the poll is mixed. He does poorly on trustworthiness (37:55%), whether he should seek re-election (36% yes; 59% no), and across the board among Republicans and Independents. The fact that he remains strong with his Democratic base is keeping him afloat with some positive numbers (55% of the respondents do not think he should resign, 40% do), so it appears possible he could avoid resignation.

Ohio

In a Fox News interview at the CPAC conference, Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Troy) confirmed that he is not only considering entering the open US Senate race next year but is contemplating a Republican nomination challenge to Gov. Mike DeWine (R). Mr. Davidson, who won a crowded special election in 2016 to replace resigned House Speaker John Boehner (R), has recorded three more easy victories in his western Ohio congressional district. Rep. Davidson cited Gov. DeWine’s “overbearing” approach to the COVID-19 restrictions, saying that he should have adopted more open policies closer to that of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Rhode Island

With Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) winning confirmation last week as Secretary of Commerce in the Biden Administration, Lt. Gov. Dan McKee (D) assumes the Governorship. Naturally, the development greatly changes the 2022 statewide campaign even though Ms. Raimondo was at the end of her term limit and the Governor’s race would have been open. Mr. McKee will have almost two years in office before the September 2022 Democratic primary, a contest that is virtually tantamount to winning the general election. Despite what will be his partial term as the incumbent, Gov. McKee is still expected to draw significant Democratic opposition.

Virginia

Virginia is unique in that the nominating system for each party can internally change at will. Republicans have been in a major fight over whether to hold a nominating convention or a straight primary for the 2021 elections. Now, they have decided on a compromise. A “drive-through” convention to nominate its candidate for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General will be held at Liberty University on Saturday, May 8th, if the school authorities agree. Delegates from around the state are expected to drive to Lynchburg and drop off their ballots.

For a minority party that is losing support in a state, this type of system appears a disincentive toward encouraging new supporters to participate. The eventual nominee will begin in a clear underdog position to the likely Democratic nominee, former Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe. The major Republican candidates are former State House Speaker Kirk Cox, businessmen Pete Snyder, Paul Davis, and Glenn Youngkin, along with state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian).

Wisconsin

Several names of potential 2022 gubernatorial candidates are being bandied about in Badger State Republican circles, meaning the GOP will likely have a strong opponent for Gov. Tony Evers (D) who will presumably seek a second term next year. Among the potential entries are former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, ex-Republican National Committee chairman and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay), and former Rep. Sean Duffy.

It is also presumed, should Sen. Ron Johnson (R) decide not to seek re-election, that many of these individuals would decide to enter an open Senate campaign instead of challenging an incumbent Democratic Governor.

States

Illinois

Five-term US Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson/Chicago) will officially succeed state Rep. Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) as the Illinois Democratic Party chair with her special state party election victory. Mr. Madigan, until his retirement last month, held the position for the past 23 years. Rep. Kelly won the internal party election despite support for her opponent, Chicago Alderwoman Michelle Harris, coming from Gov. J.B. Pritzker, Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and Mr. Madigan. The state’s senior Senator and Majority Whip Dick Durbin supported Rep. Kelly.

South Dakota

South Dakota Attorney General Jason Ravnsborg (R) is possibly headed for impeachment after striking and killing a pedestrian in a September traffic incident. Mr. Ravnsborg said he thought he hit a deer and not a person, but the State Police put a hole in his argument when testifying that the victim’s eyeglasses were found inside Mr. Ravnsborg’s car.

The legislature is pursuing impeachment action against the Attorney General after he has rebuked calls for his resignation even from Gov. Kristi Noem (R). Now, former Attorney General Marty Jackley (R), who lost to Gov. Noem in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, 56-44%, says he is interested in returning to his former position and will run for the office in 2022.

Cities

Cincinnati

Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (D) is ineligible to seek re-election in the May 4th non-partisan primary, and nine contenders had filed to run. The list was reduced to eight, however, as City Councilman Wendell Young was disqualified because he submitted an inadequate number of valid petition signatures.

Boston

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that he will not call a special election in Boston once Mayor Marty Walsh (D) is confirmed as US Labor Secretary. Citing the fact that an open regular election is already scheduled in September, the time frame of the eventual winner’s service would be too short to justify the expense of an additional primary and runoff election series. That being the case, City Council President Kim Janey (D) will serve as interim Mayor once Mr. Walsh leaves the post to assume his federal position.

New York City

Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D), who many believed would enter the race to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), said this two weeks ago that she will not. The field of candidates is already large, ten announced contenders, with at least four in strong position.

At this point, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan appear to comprise the top tier of candidates. The Democratic primary, which is thought to be tantamount to winning the office in the November general election, is scheduled for June 22nd.

Minneapolis

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey (D), who came under criticism for the way he handled the summer protests and riots that led to extensive property damage in the city, has drawn Democratic opposition for re-election. Former state Representative Kate Knuth, who at 26 years of age, was one of the youngest people ever elected to the legislature, announced that she will enter this year’s Mayor’s campaign. Ms. Knuth, whose father also served in the state House, served three terms beginning in 2007. The Mayor’s race is expected to be competitive.


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