Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and state races from across the country.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis finally announced his long-awaited presidential campaign this week in a technically flawed Twitter interview with Elon Musk.
Thus, the slow developing national campaign is now getting underway. In addition to the DeSantis announcement, ex-Vice President Mike Pence, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie are all expected to soon enter the race, joining former President Donald Trump, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. The first vote will be in the Iowa Caucuses currently scheduled for February 5, 2024.
In a major step toward former Vice President Mike Pence entering the race to compete against the man he served as President, the Committed to America super PAC was filed this week with the Federal Election Commission. The committee will be the principal early vehicle to promote Mr. Pence’s impending presidential campaign. Whether or not the former VP can advance into the top tier is uncertain at the moment, but his entry into the race has been anticipated for months.
Gov. Chris Sununu
New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu said at the end of last week that he will make a formal announcement about his potential presidential candidacy by the end of this month. Reading the political tea leaves suggests that he will enter the race but foregoes a fifth run for Governor later in the cycle presuming he fails to win the Republican presidential nomination.
The National Research, Inc. polling firm, surveying for the American Greatness organization, tested the New Hampshire Republican electorate and found Gov. Sununu gaining ground. He will obviously need to score well before his home electorate if he is to become a viable national contender. According to the NR data (5/15-17; 500 NH likely Republican presidential primary voters), former President Donald Trump continues to lead the group of candidates with 39% support. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is second with 18%, with Gov. Sununu now close behind at 17%. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy surprisingly rose to the top of the second tier with 6%. No other candidate or potential contender even broke the 3% threshold.
Former University of Arizona Regent Karrin Taylor Robson (R), who lost a 48-43% gubernatorial Republican primary to Kari Lake in 2022, announced yesterday that she would not enter what will be a three-way Senate race among the eventual GOP nominee, Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and who appears to be a consensus Democratic candidate, US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix). Ms. Lake is a likely GOP Senate candidate.
The Arizona race continues to evolve as possibly the most interesting campaign in the country considering it will be a three-way contest where each of the major candidates, Sen. Sinema, Rep. Gallego, and the undetermined Republican will have a legitimate path to victory.
California US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) released the results of a three-pollster conglomeration that included 1,380 California likely voters mostly via live interview with some text responses over the May 13-21 period. The three involved polling firms were FM3, Evitarus, and HIT Strategies. A second California Senate poll released in consecutive days, this one from the University of California at Berkeley for the Los Angeles Times (5/17-22; 7,465 CA registered voters; 5,236 likely jungle primary voters; online), found similar results.
In both surveys, a Republican candidate, former Attorney General contender Eric Early, claimed the lead. With a split among the three Democratic House members of Reps. Lee, Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Mr. Early placed first in this comprehensive jungle primary survey with a preference figure of 27%. Reps. Porter, Schiff, and Lee followed with 24, 21, and 11%, respectively. In the LA Times/UC poll, the candidates split 18-17-14-9% in the same order.
The result is interesting in that these ballot tests suggest a Republican could well advance into the general election with two of the Dem House members eliminated early from the competition. Clearly, this jungle primary will be another of the most interesting campaigns we will see on the March 5th Super Tuesday election calendar.
Delaware Senator Tom Carper* (D) announced during the week that he will conclude his long political career at the end of this Congress. Doing so means he will have served in elective office for 48 consecutive years when his current term ends.
Sen. Carper was first elected state Treasurer in 1976, then to the US House in 1982, Governor in 1992, and the US Senate in 2000. During his retirement announcement, he encouraged At-Large US Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-Wilmington), one of his former congressional staff members and state appointees, to run for the Senate seat.
Mr. Carper becomes the fifth Senator to forego re-election in 2024 and fourth Democrat. He joins Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Mike Braun (R-IN), Ben Cardin (D-MD), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) in the group who are voluntarily ending their Washington careers. All are retiring from politics with the exception of Senator Braun who is running for Governor of Indiana.
The Hawaii News Network is reporting that a Survey Monkey text poll is being conducted in the state pitting former US Congresswoman and presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard against Sen. Mazie Hirono (D). Ms. Gabbard was quick to dispel the possibility of her running for the Senate, saying she is not associated with the poll and has “no plans to run for the Senate.” The 2024 election is rated as “Safe” for Sen. Hirono.
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski (D) announced at a news event with Prince Georges County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) that he will not become a US Senate candidate next year and is endorsing the latter woman. At this point, Ms. Alsobrooks, US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac), and Montgomery County Executive Will Jawando are the announced open seat Democratic candidates. Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park) is saying “it’s a toss-up” as to whether he will enter the Senate contest, but pledges to decide by the end of this month.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D) is not seeking a fourth term and will retire from politics at the end of the current Congress. This means the Democratic primary will decide his successor in a state where Republicans have little chance to win a statewide federal race. The Democratic contest already is becoming highly competitive and will continue for a year. Voters will make their decision in the May 14, 2024, nomination election.
Resigning as the state’s Natural Resources Commissioner, former state Rep. Leslie Love (D) announced her candidacy for the US Senate, hoping to become Michigan's first African American Senator. Democratic leaders had been interested in recruiting actor Hill Harper into the race. Mr. Harper is a potential opponent that Ms. Love described as being “inexperienced in politics and government,” and further pointed out that he does not even live in Michigan.
State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh (D) has also filed a preliminary Senate committee. If all three African Americans become candidates the race the black vote will likely be split, thus favoring Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) who is commonly viewed as the race leader. The Michigan Senate seat will be open in 2024 because four-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) is retiring.
April Becker, the Republican congressional nominee who held Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) to a 52-48% re-election victory last November and was reported to be considering entering the 2024 US Senate race, has made a decision about her political future. Instead of running for the Senate next year, she will launch a campaign for the Clark County Commission. At this point, it appears that disabled American veteran Sam Brown could become the leading GOP Senate candidate.
New Jersey Democratic investor Kyle Casey became the third member of his party to challenge Sen. Bob Menendez (D), who again faces a federal investigation. Three Republicans have also declared. None of the candidates, however, appear strong enough to run a campaign with the strength to unseat the three-term Senate incumbent and 31-year congressional veteran when adding his seven terms served in the House.
Sen. Menendez will be safe in both the Democratic primary and the general election unless the federal investigation gains legs. The Senator was previously indicted in 2015, but the case fell apart and was dropped in 2018. If his legal trouble worsens, expect stronger candidates, likely from both parties, to come forth.
Tennessee state Representative Gloria Johnson (D-Knoxville), who was one vote away from being expelled from the House for her support of the gun control insurrection at the state Capitol earlier this year, confirmed that she is considering entering the US Senate race to challenge incumbent Republican Marsha Blackburn.
Sen. Blackburn is poised for re-election and will be very difficult to unseat in a state that Donald Trump carried 61-37% in 2020. Sen. Blackburn defeated former Governor Phil Bredesen (D), 55-44%, to initially win her seat in 2018.
Building upon Rep. Colin Allred’s (D-Dallas) US Senate announcement, the University of Texas at Tyler’s recent poll (5/10-21; 1,413 TX registered voters; live interview & online) finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) leading his new opponent, 42-37%. If Texas polling history remains constant in 2024, we can expect relatively close ballot test polling throughout this campaign, with Sen. Cruz in the end winning by a larger margin than forecast.
Riverton Mayor Trent Skaggs (R) announced through a video presentation this week that he will challenge Sen. Mitt Romney in the impending GOP primary. It is likely that Mr. Skaggs will qualify through the convention process, while Sen. Romney will be forced into the signature petition qualification route. Earlier, state House Speaker Brad Wilson had filed a US Senate exploratory committee. Former US Representative and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz is also said to be weighing his potential in a race against Sen. Romney. In any event, having to fight a primary opponent is a likelihood for the incumbent Senator and Republican former presidential nominee.
U.S. House of Representatives
Arizona Rep. David Schweikert’s (R-Fountain Hills) close one-point re-election victory over Democratic newcomer Jevin Hodge last November has led to several different Democrats vying for the right to challenge the veteran GOP Congressman in the next election. The Democratic field is enlarged because Mr. Hodge has decided not to return for a re-match. The new 1st District, that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+7, is six points less Republican than Rep. Schweikert’s previous 6th CD.
Joining the group this week is former television news anchor Marlene Galan-Woods, the wife of the late Attorney General Grant Woods who was originally elected as a Republican but switched to the Democratic Party.
Previously announced are state Representative and physician Amish Shah (D-Phoenix), former Arizona Democratic Party chairman Andrei Cherni, ex-Arizona Red Cross CEO Kurt Kroemer, orthodontist Andrew Horne, and educator and frequent candidate W. John Williamson. Expect this race to again evolve into a national competitive congressional campaign after the Democratic nomination is decided in the August 6, 2024, primary election.
The 2022 battle for Arizona’s southeastern politically marginal 6th Congressional District saw Republican Juan Ciscomani* defeating then-state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D) by a tight 50.7 – 49.3% margin. Ms. Engel is returning for a re-match, but she will not have a clean primary.
Already, two Democrats have announced their candidacies, one just this week. Previously, former local school board member Vieri Tenuta declared for the seat. Now, business consultant and non-profit organization executive Jack O’Donnell has also entered the Democratic primary. The nature of the district suggests another close general election battle, but the contested August primary will likely help Rep. Ciscomani better position himself for the November election.
Former federal prosecutor Will Rollins (D), who held veteran California Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) to a 52-48% re-election victory last November, announced this week that he will return for a re-match. The move had been anticipated, but Mr. Rollins presence has not stopped other Democrats from entering the race. Already filed as candidates are San Jacinto City Councilman and pastor Brian Hawkins and Lake Elsinore City Councilman Tim Sheridan.
All contenders, including Rep. Calvert, will appear together on the 2023 all-party jungle primary ballot during the March 5th Super Tuesday vote. With a split Democratic vote, Rep. Calvert will easily place first, meaning the fight will be for second place, the only other position that guarantees advancement into the general election. Mr. Rollins clearly begins as the favorite among the Democrats.
Carl Marlinga (D), the former judge and local prosecutor who held freshman Rep. John James* (R-Farmington Hills) to a victory margin of less than one percentage point last year, announced that he will return for another run. Mr. Marlinga will have to navigate through a Democratic primary, however, since three other Democrats, former 9th District congressional nominee Brian Jaye, and two ex-state House nominees, Emily Busch and Diane Young, are already in the race.
New Jersey’s 7th District is a politically marginal seat anchored in Union County, but the voters there will not see the third version of a Tom Kean, Jr – Tom Malinowski campaign. In 2018, Mr. Malinowski converted the seat for the Democrats, defeating five-term GOP incumbent Leonard Lance. The Democratic Congressman then won a close re-election race against Republican Tom Kean. The 2022 re-match went Mr. Kean’s way, and late this week, Mr. Malinowski announced that he will not return for a rubber match.
The 7th District became more Republican in redistricting but is still competitive. State Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Linden) and Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Roy Freiman (D-Hillsborough) are two potential Democratic candidates who may come forward to oppose Rep. Kean.
As fast as New York television reporter Darius Radzius (D) entered the congressional race with the hope of challenging embattled freshman Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island) last week, he has just as quickly closed his committee with the Federal Election Commission and withdrawn his candidacy “for personal reasons.”
Former state Senator Anna Kaplan and Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan are the two most prominent Democrats to so far come forward. Former US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D), who left the seat in 2022 to run a long shot gubernatorial campaign, says he is considering launching a comeback congressional race but only if the party nominates him for a special election. The former Congressman says he is not inclined to compete in a regular primary. Republicans are likely to find a new candidate should Rep. Santos be convicted in court, expelled from the House, or defeated in a Republican primary.
Retired NYPD Deputy Investigator Alison Esposito (R), who was Rep. Lee Zeldin’s 2022 running mate in the Governor’s race, said she is considering launching a bid against Rep. Pat Ryan (D-Gardiner) in the Hudson Valley’s 18th District. In 2022, Rep. Ryan won a tight 49.6 – 48.3% victory over then-Assemblyman Colin Schmitt (R), who received strong reviews as a candidate.
The 18th, which contains parts of Dutchess, Orange, and Ulster Counties, will be a seat the Republicans contest and it remains to be seen if Ms. Esposito, Mr. Schmitt, or another individual becomes the ultimate party nominee. At this point, there is no indication that Mr. Schmitt is preparing for another congressional run.
In 2022, businessman Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) continued the Republican tradition in this part of the Empire State of winning a congressional seat where the partisan lean favors their Democratic counterparts. Since 1980, GOP Reps. Williams, John Katko, James Walsh, and George Wortley together represented the Syracuse anchored district for all but six years.
It is clear Rep. Williams will be a major 2024 campaign target, but now a Democratic primary potentially looms upon the political horizon. Earlier, DeWitt Town Councilmember Sarah Klee Hood (D) declared her candidacy. This week, associate college professor and author Clem Harris (D) entered the race. Dr. Harris is also a former staff member to then-Gov. David Paterson (D). This is another of the key national 2024 House campaigns that will largely determine the next majority.
In 2022, second-time congressional candidate Monica de la Cruz (R) defeated businesswoman Michelle Vallejo (D) by a relatively strong 53-45% victory margin in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rated as EVEN, and Dave’s Redistricting App’s partisan lean calculation favored the Democrats, 51.2D – 47.1R. Ms. Vallejo, however, did not draw favorable reviews as a candidate, nor was her campaign particularly strong.
This, however, has not deterred her from running again. Ms. Vallejo announced her 2024 candidacy this week, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see Democratic leaders search for a different candidate. At this point, and despite the partisan lean and the region’s voter history, Rep. de la Cruz is favored for re-election in this 15th District that stretches from the area just south of Austin all the way to the Mexican border.
The US Supreme Court announced earlier in the week that the justices will hear the Alexander v. South Carolina State Conference of the NAACP case in the Fall term. Earlier, a three-judge panel declared that the state’s 1st District, the Charleston anchored seat that Rep. Nancy Mace (R) represents, as an unconstitutional racial gerrymander, and now the high court will hear arguments from both sides.
The move is interesting since the justices are currently preparing a ruling on the Alabama racial gerrymandering case that is thought to be the vehicle for a landmark ruling. SCOTUS hearing the South Carolina case makes the coming Alabama ruling even more curious.
Just after last week’s Kentucky Republican primary nominated Attorney General Daniel Cameron to challenge Gov. Andy Beshear (D), the co/efficient GOP polling firm, for the Cameron campaign, went into the field. The survey (5/18-19; 987 KY likely 2023 general election voters) sees Gov. Beshear holding only a two-point, 45-43%, edge over AG Cameron.
The closeness of this ballot test result is surprising considering Gov. Beshear’s job approval rating index is very favorable. Expect this race to be in competitive mode all the way through the November election.
Former three-term US Representative Mark Walker (R), who found himself without a district under the state Supreme Court-drawn map in 2020 and then ran an ill-fated 2022 US Senate campaign (losing the Republican primary to now-Sen. Ted Budd and only attracting 9.2% of the vote), this week announced his gubernatorial candidacy.
Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is ineligible to seek a third term, so the position will be open in the 2024 election. So far, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) has a wide early lead for the party nomination and even enjoys a small polling edge over his likely Democratic gubernatorial counterpart, Attorney General Josh Stein. Mr. Walker argues that Lt. Gov. Robinson will be a poor general election candidate, thus potentially leading the party to a big loss in the November 2024 vote: hence, his reasoning for entering the Governor’s race. North Carolina promises to host one of the most competitive gubernatorial campaigns on the 2024 national election card.
Yemi Mobolade, the Independent candidate who was the city’s Small Business Development Administrator and a native of Nigeria, easily won the Colorado Springs mayoral runoff to succeed term-limited Mayor John Suthers (R). Mr. Mobolade’s victory margin was 57-43% over former CO Secretary of State Wayne Williams (R). Mr. Mobolade is an interesting candidate in that he grew up in a socialist country but emphasized business, community and leadership development, entrepreneurship, and ministry in his successful mayoral campaign.
In a victory for Democrats on Tuesday night, converting a mayor’s office that had resided in Republican hands, former local news anchor Donna Deegan scored a 52-48% victory over Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis (R). The media analysts tab the race as an upset since the Republicans held the Mayor’s office for the past eight years in the person of term-limited incumbent Lenny Curry, but Democrats considerably outnumber Republicans in voter registration within the city despite the latter party now having a 400,000+ person advantage statewide.
In the open Philadelphia Mayor’s race, a contest that polling consistently showed as many as five candidates had a chance to win the Democratic primary, the final result proved decisive. Former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker captured the party nomination in rather easy fashion, a 33-23-22-11-9% margin over former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, ex-City Councilmember Helen Gym, former City Councilman Allan Domb, and businessman Jeff Brown. All of the candidates are “formers” because Philadelphia has a resign-to-run ordinance in effect for city officials.
Ms. Parker campaigned as a centrist who said she wants to "stop the sense of lawlessness that is plaguing our city.” She pushed the themes of increasing law enforcement and cracking down on the city’s rapidly rising crime rate. Likely as a result, she attracted much of the Philadelphia political establishment’s support. Term-limited Mayor Jim Kenney (D), while not endorsing anyone in the race, said he cast his own ballot for Ms. Parker.
*Denotes that he/she received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2023-2024 election cycle.
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