Check out these political snippets on congressional, gubernatorial, and state races from across the country.
After an Iowa lower court judge removed former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) from the US Senate ballot by invalidating enough petition signatures where she failed to meet the minimum qualification, the state Supreme Court, with a Republican majority, reinstated her just before the ballot finalization deadline in association with the state’s June 7 primary. The original ruling indicated that the lack of a signature date, as required in Iowa election law, meant the affected names would be rejected. The state Supreme Court Justices ruled that the law doesn’t explicitly identify missing or incorrect signature dates as a reason for disqualification.
OH Predictive Insights released a new survey of the Nevada Senate race and draws a different conclusion from last week’s Blueprint Polling and Suffolk University studies that gave Republican Adam Laxalt leads of 47-40% and 43-40%, respectively, over incumbent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D). The OH data, conducted for the Nevada Independent political blog (4/1-9; 748 NV registered voters; opt-in panel), finds Sen. Cortez Masto back in front of Mr. Laxalt with a 43-35% margin. The original pollsters tested likely voters, while OH surveyed registered voters. The stark contrast underscores the enthusiasm gap responses that polls around the country have been detecting as strongly favoring Republicans.
The Oklahoma candidate filing deadline expired, and we saw a new entry come forth just as the period was ending. Former Trump Administration Environmental Protection Agency director and former Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) announced that he will enter the special election campaign to replace resigning Sen. Jim Inhofe* (R).
Mr. Pruitt will face the race polling leader, US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville), ex-state House Speaker T. W. Shannon, state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), former National Security Council official Alex Gray, and ex-Inhofe chief of staff Luke Holland in the June 28 Republican primary. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to an August 23rd runoff election. Winning the Republican nomination will be tantamount to clinching the seat in November. The eventual Inhofe replacement will serve the balance of the Senator’s term, which means standing for a full six-year term in 2026.
Franklin & Marshall College, a frequent Pennsylvania pollster, released numbers at the end of last week that basically confirm the internal poll that Lt. Gov. John Fetterman made public the day before. The joint conclusion: Mr. Fetterman has a large lead in the Democratic primary. The F&M poll (4/30-4/10; 785 PA registered voters; 356 Democrats, 317 Republicans, & 112 independents; live interview and online) finds the Lt. Governor holding a 41-17-4% lead over Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia). The numbers are similar to Fetterman’s GBAO Strategies poll, except for Kenyatta’s standing, that pegged the Lt. Governor to a 44-19-17% advantage over the others in the same order.
Fetterman not only enjoys strong polling leads for the upcoming May 17 Pennsylvania US Senate primary, but he has an equally significant advantage in fundraising. According to the recently released 1st quarter 2022 campaign finance reports for the period ending March 31, Mr. Fetterman has raised just over $15 million for the race without any self-contribution. His next closest rival, US Rep. Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) reported $5.7 million in receipts for the campaign.
The first quarter 2022 fundraising figures are public, and it appears the aggregate in-cycle Senate incumbents and challengers raised a total exceeding $150 million just for the 12-week period. The top two overall fundraisers for the 2022 cycle are again Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), who has obtained more than $44 million for his first re-election effort, and Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly (D) who has pulled in over $39 million.
The Utah Democratic nominating convention over the weekend voted with a 57% majority not to field a party candidate against Sen. Mike Lee (R), but instead form a coalition to back Independent candidate Evan McMullin. The move was the first of its kind in Utah political history. The delegates clearly agreed with the argument that the party was better coalescing behind McMullin, a 2016 Independent presidential candidate and former Republican who placed a strong third in the state (21.5%) behind Republican Donald Trump (45.5%) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (27.5%) than nominating their own Democratic contender. They understood that supporting Democrat Kael Watson and producing a three-way campaign meant a sure victory for Sen. Lee.
U.S. House of Representatives
The Alaska Republican Party took an official stand in the special election that is scheduled for June 11, with the succeeding four-person runoff on the political calendar for August 16th. The AK GOP endorsed software executive Nick Begich III, the grandson of the late former Congressman Nick Begich (D), and nephew of ex-Democratic US Senator Mark Begich. The Alaska Republican State Central Committee took the action even though former Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is also in the huge field of 48 candidates all vying to replace the late Congressman Don Young (R). Earlier in the week, Ms. Palin’s former in-laws, Jim and Faye Palin, also publicly announced they are backing Mr. Begich. One way the party justified their endorsement is to explain that Mr. Begich was the only one of the 13 GOP contenders to follow the party procedure for requesting formal support.
Florida US Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) has difficult choices ahead of him in determining where to seek re-election in the north Florida region. The new Florida congressional map collapses his current district. The Politico publication reports yesterday that Mr. Lawson is leaning toward challenging Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) in the new 2nd District, a R+16 CD but one that does include Rep. Lawson’s home base of Tallahassee.
Confident that freshman Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) will soon declare his intention to run for Governor, former state Senator Jill Tokuda (D) yesterday formally exited the Lt. Governor’s race and announced that she will enter the 1st Congressional District contest. Though Rep. Kahele is still technically a congressional candidate, Ms. Tokuda follows the lead of state Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole (D-Kailua), state Rep. Angus McKelvey (D-Lahaina), and Honolulu City Council chairman Tommy Waters (D) who have all entered the congressional race. The Hawaii candidate filing deadline is June 7 for the August 13 statewide primary, so Rep. Kahele will soon have to make known his 2022 political plans.
The delayed Maryland candidate filing period closed on Friday in conjunction with the postponed state primary, now to be held on July 19. The legal challenges to the Maryland congressional map led to the election calendar change. With the new map in place, two districts were most affected. The 1st District of Rep. Andy Harris (R-Cockesyville) returns to safe Republican status at R+25 according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical team. Under the rejected Democratic legislature’s map, the Harris seat was rated only R+8. Rep. David Trone’s (D-Potomac) western Maryland 6th District moves into Republican territory at R+1, a major change from the D+12 seat that the Democratic legislature drew.
Former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell, who lost the 2020 Democratic primary to current US Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Newton) by just one percentage point, announced yesterday that she will not return for a re-match. Therefore, Rep. Auchincloss becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-nomination and re-election. The Massachusetts primary is not until September 6, and the candidate filing deadline is May 31.
First Congressional District Republicans convened over the weekend to potentially endorse a candidate in the special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester). Though state Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) attracted 55% of the delegate vote, it was not enough to secure the official endorsement. Doing so requires 60 percent. This means we will see an open special election primary on May 24 with no officially endorsed candidate, though Rep. Munson appears to be a clear front runner.
The Differentiators Data research organization, polling for GOPAC (4/25-26; 400 NC-11 likely Republican primary voters; live interview and text), finds that a majority of GOP sampled voters saying they would not vote to re-nominate Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville), but his hard core support group appears large enough to allow him to win a plurality election.
When asked if they would support Rep. Cawthorn in the North Carolina primary, 61% said they would choose another candidate. His 39% coalition that would vote to re-nominate him is large enough to win the primary in a state that has a runoff law, but with only a 30% threshold. Rep. Cawthorn having seven opponents is clearly playing to his benefit.
In a disappointing development for challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, President Joe Biden just involved himself in the impending May 17 Oregon primary by endorsing veteran Rep. Kurt Schrader* (D-Canby) over the more progressive contender who is an attorney and former local city manager. The two are vying to win the party primary for the newly constructed 5th District that is rated D+3, making it the most competitive seat in the Beaver State.
This week, the Tennessee Republican Party officially disqualified three candidates from the new Congressional District 5 ballot because they did not meet the state imposed requirement of voting in three of the last four statewide elections. The three are former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, film producer Robby Starbuck, and businessman Baxter Lee. It will be interesting to see if any or all of the group files a lawsuit in federal court. Their success chances may be favorable because the US Constitution bars states from imposing more requirements to run for federal office than are outlined in the country’s foundation document of principles.
US Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo), posted only 41% of the convention vote on the first ballot, which was just enough to avoid an embarrassing defeat since he did not also opt to obtain petition signatures. The later rounds pushed him to 45%, but the Congressman still must win a Republican primary against the man whom he defeated in a 2017 special election and the 2018 GOP primary, former state Representative Chris Herrod. Despite Rep. Curtis’ poor showing at the party convention, he is still expected to win the primary and general elections.
First District Blake Moore* (R-Salt Lake City) also found wavering support among the delegates. He drew only 34% of the delegate vote, but had already qualified for the primary ballot via the petition signature process. Marketing executive Andrew Badger, who pledges to join the House Freedom Caucus if elected, captured just under 60% of the delegate vote. Mr. Badger and Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Cannon, who also gained ballot access through the petition option, will both oppose Rep. Moore in late June. Reps. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington) and Burgess Owens* (R-Salt Lake City) both easily qualified for the ballot with 84 and 68% of the vote, respectively. Both, however, will face petition primaries against attorney Erin Rider and technology executive Jake Hunsacker.
Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took the final step toward adopting the new Florida congressional plan by signing the bill that the legislature passed. Immediately, several groups, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Equal Ground Education Fund, and Florida Rising Together, along with several individuals filed suit in state court to overturn the map. They claim the new draw violates the “Fair Districts” amendment to the Florida Constitution that voters passed in 2010, which pertains to gerrymandering and minority representation. It is likely the Florida state Supreme Court will ultimately decide the matter.
Continuing a string of adverse rulings from judges over maps that the corresponding state legislature had passed, another Republican judge has tossed a Republican drawn map. Wyandotte County Judge Bill Klapper declared the map unconstitutional on the basis of racial and partisan gerrymandering of the state’s 3rd District that Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Roeland Park/Kansas City) represents. He ordered the legislature to draw a new map. Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), who is running for Governor, said the state will immediately appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court. The state’s candidate filing deadline is June 1 in conjunction with the August 2 state primary.
The New York Court of Appeals, the highest judicial body in the state, upheld the two lower court decisions to invalidate the Democrats’ 22D-4R congressional map. The high court ruled that the legislature did not have the power to usurp the created redistricting commission even though the members could not complete their task by the assigned date. The CoA also ruled that the map is a partisan gerrymander. The court remanded the map back to the lower court and instructed a special master be hired to draw the new congressional and state Senate maps. The court also recommended the June 28 state primary be moved to a time in August.
A federal three-judge panel is taking action to end the court vs. legislature deadlock that has resulted in the state Supreme Court rejecting four different versions of the state House and Senate districts. The panel gave the state’s redistricting commission until May 28 to draw new House and Senate lines and said if the committee again fails, the court will implement a map set that the state Supreme Court previously ruled as unconstitutional. While voters will go to the polls to choose nominees for all other offices on May 3, the state House and Senate primaries will be held at a still undetermined date later in the year.
A new internal Tarrance Group survey for Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) re-election campaign (4/18-20; 600 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview) finds the incumbent in position to win re-nomination outright in the May 24 Republican primary election. Failing to reach the 50% support mark would send the nomination battle into a secondary June 21 runoff election between the top two finishers. The Tarrance results project Gov. Ivey holding a 57% preference figure. Following are former US Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard with 14% and businessman Tim James, son of former Alabama Governor Fob James, posting 12% support. The Republican nomination battle in the Yellowhammer State is tantamount to winning re-election in November.
After the Alaska Republican Party, which has also endorsed businessman Nick Begich, III over former Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin in the US House special election, had already officially endorsed the party’s incumbent Governor, Mike Dunleavy (R), the political entity has now expanded its official support list. In addition to the Governor, the Alaska GOP voted to also endorse Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who is the Governor’s Republican primary challenger.
Sacred Heart University released a new poll of the Governor’s campaign, which is expected to become competitive once we enter the post-primary period. The survey (3/24-4/11; 1,000 CT residents; online) finds Gov. Ned Lamont (D) opening with a substantial lead over businessman and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski (R). The ballot test finds the Governor holding a 48-30% advantage. The poll, however, has a questionable methodology. The sampling period of 18 days is very long, and the respondent universe did not segment for likely or even registered voters. Therefore, the result likely places Gov. Lamont in a better position than he might be before a more targeted poll.
The new University of Georgia poll conducted for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution news site (4/10-22; 886 GA likely Republican primary voters; live interview) finds Governor Brian Kemp (R) expanding his polling lead over former US Senator David Perdue as the two move toward the May 24 GOP primary. The UGA numbers post the Governor’s advantage to 53-27% with educator Kandiss Taylor pulling a mere 4% support. Former President Trump has endorsed Mr. Perdue. Gov. Kemp has been ahead during the entire campaign, but his margin has clearly increased as we head toward the beginning of May.
The University of Massachusetts at Lowell just released a statewide survey of the Democratic gubernatorial primary (4/2-11; 800 MA likely Democratic primary voters) that posted state Attorney General Maura Healey to a powerhouse 62-17% lead over Democratic primary rival, state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston). Gov. Charlie Baker (R), who this poll finds with a 78% approval rating, is not seeking a third term. Therefore, Democrats have an open door to reclaiming the inside track for the general election, hence the importance of winning the party primary. The Massachusetts nomination election isn’t until September 6, but Ms. Healey clearly has established herself as the early race leader.
State Sen. Brett Lindstrom (R-Omaha) released the results of his internal 3D Strategies survey (4/10-12; 500 NE likely Republican primary voters; live interview) that projects he and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen tied at 27% apiece with Conklin Company CEO Chuck Herbster a close third at 23%. This poll was taken just before eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama, went public with sexual assault accusations against Mr. Herbster. Former President Donald Trump long ago endorsed Mr. Herbster while Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) backs Mr. Pillen. Gov. Ricketts is ineligible to seek a third term.
The OH Predictive Insights firm that tested the Nevada Senate race (4/1-9; 748 NV registered voters; opt-in panel) also tested the state’s gubernatorial campaign. As mentioned in the Senate section above, OH surveyed only registered voters as compared to other polls that sample likely voters. Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) holds comfortable leads over Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo (R), 44-35%; a 46-33% spread against former US Senator Dean Heller; and 46-33% clip over North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, who relatively recently switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party. Because of the likely voter performance detected in other polls, the spread here is probably too optimistic for the Democratic candidates, but there is no doubt that both the Nevada Senate and Governor’s races will be hard fought and close.
Republican Tommy Thompson was elected four consecutive times as Wisconsin’s Governor, but lost his last attempt to win public office, a 51-46% loss in 2012 to Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D). Reports had surfaced that Mr. Thompson, now 80 years old, was considering a return to the Governor’s race after being away from the office for 21 years. Toward the end of this week, Mr. Thompson announced that he would not enter the race to challenge Gov. Tony Evers (D). The leading Republican candidate is former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch.
Georgia Secretary of State
The aforementioned Landmark Communications poll conducted for WGCL Channel 46 (see Governor’s section above) also tested the Georgia Secretary of State’s race where embattled incumbent Brad Raffensperger faces US Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro) among other opponents. Mr. Raffesnperger was at the center of the election fraud controversy in Georgia and the poll suggests he has not recovered from the post-election fall-out. The Landmark ballot test finds Rep. Hice posting 35-18% advantage over the Secretary of State with former Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle recording 10% preference. The Georgia primary is May 24. Should a runoff be necessary, that election will be conducted on June 21.
* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle.
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