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Political Snippets 4.5.21

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

President

Iowa

We may see a split early presidential nomination process in 2024. Late last week, it was announced that the Republican National Committee has reaffirmed Iowa’s initial place on the voting calendar and again committed to the caucus process. It appears likely that the Democrats, however, will change Iowa and Nevada to primaries, and move the latter and South Carolina to more prominent positions in early voting schedule.

U.S. Senate

Alabama

Earlier in the month, six-term Alabama US Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) indicated that she was considering entering the open 2022 US Senate race after incumbent Richard Shelby (R) announced his retirement. Late last week, Rep. Sewell issued a statement saying she will not run for the Senate but will seek a seventh term in the US House. As Alabama’s lone Democratic House member, her district will survive even if the state loses a congressional seat in reapportionment.

Alaska

Alaska Department of Administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R) announced Thursday that she will challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski in next year’s Senate race. Now that Alaska has adopted the first-in-the-nation top four qualifying electoral system, a quartet of jungle primary finishers would advance into the general election. This suggests a credible Republican candidate such as Ms. Tshibaka could be on the November ballot opposite Sen. Murkowski even if a strong Democrat also emerges.

Georgia

The OnMessage polling firm, conducting an independent survey of a potential Republican Senatorial primary (3/14-15; 600 GA likely Republican primary voters; live interview) finds former Congressman Doug Collins leading the field of potential Republican candidates who may enter the race to oppose Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) next year. 

According to the OnMessage results, Mr. Collins would command 35% support, eight points better than former University of Georgia and NFL football great Herschel Walker. Former Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R), who lost the January runoff race to Rev. Warnock, would trail both potential contenders with 22% support.

Missouri

Former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who resigned under scandal less than two years into his single term in elected office, is now running for retiring Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R) open seat. After a new Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey (3/23-25; 400 MO Republican primary voters; live interview) found resigned Gov. Eric Greitens opening up a large 40-11% Republican primary lead over Attorney General Eric Schmitt, others began openly considering the race. State Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Schatz confirms that he is now a potential GOP Senate candidate as does St. Louis businessman and former statewide candidate John Brunner.

North Carolina

North Carolina’s Meredith College polled the Tar Heel State Democrats to test the upcoming open Senate race. The survey (3/12-15; 699 NC registered voters) found no one even reaching the 15% threshold, suggesting the race begins in wide open fashion. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) are tied at 13% apiece. Former state Sen. Erica Smith, who ran for the US Senate in 2020, follows with 11% support, and microbiologist Richard Watkins trails at the 3% mark

Ohio

Cincinnati area US Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R) announced through a staff member yesterday that he won’t be entering the 2022 open US Senate race. Conversely, GOP Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) released a new video indicating that he is actively considering becoming a statewide candidate. Already in the GOP Senate race are former state Treasurer and 2012 Senatorial candidate Josh Mandel and ex-Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) is seriously considering becoming a Senate candidate. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) and David Joyce (R-Russell Township) also confirm to have interest in the statewide contest but are currently viewed as unlikely to run. Ex-Representative and 2018 Senatorial candidate Jim Renacci and author J.D. Vance are other potential candidates.

Utah

Speculation is apparently becoming prevalent in Utah suggesting that former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), who came to national notoriety for his public feud with former President Donald Trump, may attempt a Senate run from this state. Such may mean a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Mike Lee who is standing for a third term in 2022; or he may be looking at a 2024 open race should Sen. Mitt Romney (R) not seek re-election.

Wisconsin

It’s no surprise to see a survey posting a Democratic candidate topping Sen. Ron Johnson (R). The last time he was in-cycle, 2016, Sen. Johnson led in only 4 of 74 polls throughout the cycle, but on Election Day scored a 50-47% victory. Sen. Johnson has not yet said whether he will seek re-election next year. In 2010, when he first ran, he pledged to serve only two six-year terms.

A potential Johnson Democratic opponent, former state Assembly Majority Leader Thomas Nelson, just released his internal Change Research poll. The survey, conducted online during the March 25-27 period of 1,723 Wisconsin likely voters, finds Mr. Nelson leading Sen. Johnson 48-44%. The FiveThirtyEight statistical research organization rates Change Research as a B- pollster and categorizes them with a 2.9 Democratic bias factor, one of the highest swings of all the studied firms.

U.S. House of Representatives

AL-5

With Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) soon to formally announce his bid for the Senate, we see the first of what will likely be many would-be successors for his congressional seat coming forward. Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong (R) formally declared his federal candidacy at the end of the week. Madison County, which houses the city of Huntsville, is the largest of the 5th District’s five counties housing just under half of the entire CD population base.

AZ-2

State Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson), the surgeon who saved Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) life when she was tragically shot in 2011, as expected announced his congressional candidacy in late March. His goal is to succeed retiring US Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson). Already in the Democratic primary is state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson) who declared her congressional candidacy earlier in the week. Many analysts pegged Dr. Friese as the heir apparent to the congressional seat even before Rep. Kirkpatrick was elected in 2018.

CA-25

Ex-California state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), who has twice lost to Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) including by just 333 votes in November, has changed her mind. Earlier in the year Ms. Smith announced that she would run for her former Assembly seat in 2022, but now says she will return for a third run against Rep. Garcia. Former Congresswoman Katie Hill (D), who resigned from the House under pressure involving a sex scandal, is also reportedly considering making a comeback run. Simi Valley City Councilwoman Ruth Luevanos (D) also says she will run for the San Fernando Valley House seat joining the other announced Democrats.

GA-10

Former Georgia US Rep. Paul Broun (R), who left the House in 2014 to run for the Senate when then-incumbent Saxby Chambliss (R) retired, is looking to make another comeback for the House seat he vacated seven years ago. He returned to join a group of candidates challenging 9th District incumbent Doug Collins (R) in 2016, but the Congressman easily defended himself and won re-nomination outright with 61% of the vote. Mr. Broun placed second among the five candidates.

IA-2

In the middle of last week, Iowa congressional challenger Rita Hart (D), who lost to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) by just six votes after a recount, has withdrawn her challenge before the House Administration Committee. Ms. Hart bypassed the Iowa court system in contesting 22 ballots that she claimed should have been added to the tally but Iowa election officials had rejected during the two canvasses.

In a released statement, Ms. Hart said, "Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans."

In actuality, it became clear that there were not enough Democrats agreeing to remove Rep. Miller-Meeks from office this far into the term. She was sworn into office with all other members, but on a provisional basis until the Hart challenge was decided. It remains to be seen if we will see a re-match of this virtually tied contest come 2022.

LA-2

The April 24th special election in the vacant New Orleans-Baton Rouge 2nd Congressional District became more interesting last week. Third place special primary finisher Gary Chambers, Jr. (D) publicly endorsed state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) in a move that could bring a substantial number of Baton Rouge votes her way.

In the special primary, she and Mr. Chambers received a combined 65% of the Baton Rouge vote, with state Senator Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) falling way back into third place.

Sen. Carter’s New Orleans strength was such that he was still able to finish first districtwide, twelve points directly ahead of Sen. Peterson. To overcome Sen. Carter, Ms. Peterson will have to improve her standing in New Orleans even when presumably securing more votes from Baton Rouge.

LA-5

In the second Louisiana special election, this one to replace the late Rep-Elect Luke Letlow (R) who tragically passed away after winning the general election runoff and before assuming office, the result produced no surprise. Julia Letlow* (R), the Congressman-Elect’s widow, easily won the seat outright, capturing 65% of the vote over eleven opponents. Turnout was almost 31% higher than when Luke Letlow won the seat in the December 5th runoff. In this district, just over 35% of the people voted early. 

MI-6

Freshman state Rep. Steve Cara (R-Kalamazoo) announced that he will join the burgeoning field of Republican candidates lining up to challenge veteran US Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) next year. Also in the race is Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, pastor Jerry Solis, and manufacturing company executive Jon Rocha.

In a plurality primary system, an incumbent facing multiple challengers generally has the advantage because the base support is usually high enough for him or her to win with less than majority support. Rep. Upton is attracting more opposition than usual because he voted in favor of the second Trump impeachment procedure.

NM-1

In a come-from-behind runoff victory before the 200 New Mexico Democratic State Central Committee members, state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) defeated state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque), 51-49%, to win the Democratic congressional election for the special election to replace Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (D) who resigned from the House to accept the cabinet appointment.

Sen. Sedillo Lopez held a 37-22% lead going into the runoff but could not hold. Rep. Stansbury now faces Republican nominee Mark Moores, an Albuquerque area state Senator and a Libertarian and Independent candidate in the June 1 special election. Ms. Stansbury now becomes the favorite to succeed Secretary Haaland.

NY-22

The 2020 congressional race in New York’s 22nd Congressional District consumed three post-election months just to determine a winner. In the end, former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) returned to the House with a razor-thin victory margin of 109 votes over then-Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). Last Thursday, college admissions counselor Mikayla Ridley (D) announced that she will challenge Rep. Tenney.

It is likely too early to rate the western New York race viability status. With the 22nd and the adjacent District 23 being the two districts with the least population from a state that is losing at least one seat in reapportionment, this geographic sector will look much different in 2022. CD-23 Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) has already announced his retirement, therefore it’s a good bet that the two seats will be combined into one GOP district instead of the present two.

NY-23

Upstate New York Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) announced at the end of March that he will not be running for re-election next year, or any other office. Previously, he began taking steps for a statewide run for Governor including hiring field people. A MeToo accusation was brought against him late last week, and this likely precipitated his move to leave politics at the end of the current Congress especially when his announcement included an apology for his past behavior. Mr. Reed was originally elected in 2010 and took a six-term limit pledge, which also ends in the current term. 

PA-7

Kevin Dellicker (R) a tech company owner, former gubernatorial aide, and National Guard officer, launched an exploratory committee late last week to determine if he will enter the Republican congressional primary with hopes of challenging Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) next year.

Former Lehigh County Commissioner and business owner Lisa Scheller (R), who held the incumbent to a 52-48% re-election victory in 2020, is also considering seeking a re-match. Depending upon how redistricting changes this Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton CD, the 2022 congressional contest could well become highly competitive. President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump here 51-47%. Four years earlier, Hillary Clinton scored a 49-48% win.

RI-2

Former state Rep. Bob Lancia (R) who lost to veteran Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) last November only managed to obtain 42% of the vote. Nevertheless, Mr. Lancia announced that he will return in 2022 for a re-match.

Opposing Rep. Langevin may not be his biggest problem, however. Rhode Island looks to lose one of its two seats in reapportionment, meaning he will likely face 1st District Rep. David Cicilline (R-Providence) in an at-large US House race. Rep. Langevin, apparently looking to avoid a primary with Rep. Cicilline in which he would be cast as the underdog, is reportedly considering running for Governor.

SC-7

Defense contractor and retired Marine Corps veteran Steve Reichert is now the seventh Republican to announce a primary challenge to South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach). Mr. Rice supporting the second Trump impeachment effort is why so many opponents from his own party are coming forward. Regardless of the activity against him, Rep. Rice appears ready to launch a bid for a sixth term.

TX-34

Five-term Texas Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) announced that he will not seek re-election next year, becoming the second Democrat to declare such plans. In late March, Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) declared that the current term will be her last in the House. The move comes as a surprise but does coincide with Mr. Vela recording the lowest victory percentage (55%) of his ten-year congressional career in last November’s election. 

Governor

California

California-based Probolsky Research released a new poll for what will likely be a recall election against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D). According to the survey (3/16-19; 900 CA registered voters; live interview, online, email, and text) the Governor would survive the special vote. Among those considered likely voters, 35% would vote “yes” to recall the Governor versus 52.5% who would “no,” thus allowing him to remain in office. 

Interestingly, when the entire survey response universe is calculated, the gap narrows. From all 900 people surveyed, the Governor’s retain margin would decline to 46-40%. Of those voting to retain, 84% said their vote is definite. Among the recall supporters, a similar 82% say their desire to see a new Governor elected is similarly definite. 
 
Additionally, billionaire and former presidential candidate Tom Steyer (D) is reportedly polling to see if he would have a chance of being elected Governor should incumbent Gavin Newsom (D) fall in the recall election. It is likely that Mr. Newsom’s greatest threat to losing the recall vote is seeing a strong Democratic replacement candidate entering the race. Whether Mr. Steyer is that Democratic candidate remains to be seen.

Georgia

Former DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer and ex-state Representative Vernon Jones, who became a fixture on television as an African American former Democrat supporting former President Donald Trump, is reportedly beginning to construct a GOP primary campaign to challenge Gov. Brian Kemp.

Mr. Jones served eight years as the DeKalb CEO, all as a Democrat, which was sandwiched between stints in the state House. He also ran for the US Senate in 2008, placing first in the Democratic primary but losing the nomination runoff to Jim Martin who would then fall in the general election runoff to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R). Presumably, with Trump’s backing, if that were to materialize, Mr. Jones could become a serious challenger to Gov. Kemp who has Republican base support problems.
 
Florida

Last month, Mason-Dixon Polling & Research released their statewide Florida survey (2/24-28; 625 FL registered voters; live interview) giving Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) a 51-42% lead over state Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Nikki Fried (D). Yesterday, St. Pete Polls released the state’s most current data. Their latest numbers (3/22-24; 1,923 FL likely voters; online) finds the two potential partisan candidates, Gov. DeSantis and Commissioner Fried, tied at 45% apiece.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has often been the leading state chief executive in job approval scores for most of his seven-year tenure despite being a Republican in this most Democratic of states. Lately, more Democrats are openly talking about challenging him as his positive numbers have fallen somewhat because of COVID-19.

One of his chief critics on vaccination distribution is state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), and she confirmed this week to be considering competing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. So far, only former state Sen. Ben Downing is an announced Democratic candidate.
 
Nebraska

GOP Senator Deb Fischer (R) who had been contemplating a run for Governor next year said last week that she will not become a gubernatorial candidate. With Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) ineligible to seek a third term, the Nebraska Governor’s race is wide open.

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania US Rep. Dan Meuser (R-Dallas), who was re-elected to a second term with 66% of the vote this past November from his largely rural central/eastern Pennsylvania congressional district, confirms that he is considering entering the open race for Governor next year.

While nine Democrats and five Republicans have already announced their Senate campaigns, just one person has done so for Governor: Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale (R). Many potential candidates from both parties are considering running, however, including Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who appears to be the leading potential gubernatorial candidate. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Rhode Island

Gov. Dan McKee (D), rising from his Lt. Governor’s position to assume his current office when then-Governor Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to become US Commerce Department secretary, has chosen a replacement for his former slot. Yesterday, Gov. McKee announced he will appoint Providence City Council President Sabina Matos (D) as the state’s new Lt. Governor. Like Gov. McKee, Lt. Governor-Designate Matos will have 17 months to establish herself in office before facing the all-important September 2022 Democratic primary.

States

California

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), in order to replace resigned Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D), appointed state Assemblyman Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) to fill the position. Mr. Becerra resigned his statewide post to accept an appointment as Health & Human Services Secretary in the Biden Administration. Early reports suggested that Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) was lobbying for the AG appointment, but obviously Gov. Newsom chose to follow a different direction.

Indiana

Two weeks ago, Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita (R), a former US Congressman and Senate candidate, said he will file a constitutional lawsuit against the Democrats’ HR-1 legislation should the bill become law. If such occurs, it is clear that Mr. Rokita will have a great deal of company pursuing similar legal action.

Wyoming

On a vote of 15-14, the Wyoming state Senate defeated a bill that would have created a partisan nomination runoff system to guarantee a winning candidate has majority support. If no candidate reached the 50% threshold in the primary election, a secondary vote would later be conducted between the top two finishers, a common procedure in many southern states.
 
The original bill was thought to be aimed toward at-large Rep. Liz Cheney*( R-Wilson/Jackson) who has drawn multiple Republican opponents since her highly publicized vote for former President Donald Trump’s second impeachment. Once an amendment was adopted to have the legislation take effect after the 2022 election, much support dissipated. This, and the cost argument associated with running a second election proved to be the key points that led to the bill’s close defeat.

Cities
 
Boston

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) won Senate confirmation as the new US Labor Secretary last week, meaning a forthcoming resignation from his current position. City Council President Kim Janey (D) now becomes interim Mayor, which should give her a major boost for the regular election campaign later this year. Earlier, Gov. Charlie Baker (R) decided not to call a special election to replace Mr. Walsh since the regular election occurs in 2021. Therefore, the Governor’s move allows Ms. Janey to assume the Mayor’s position on an interim basis.


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