Check out these political snippets on congressional and gubernatorial from across the country.
Two-term Maine Sen. Angus King, who is elected as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats, announced that he will seek a third term next year. It was expected that Sen. King, who will be 80 years of age at the next election and a cancer survivor, would run again. Before his original election to the Senate in 2012, Mr. King served two terms as Maine’s Governor. The Senator is a prohibitive favorite to win re-election next year.
Saying, “if these were normal times, I’m pretty sure I would run for the Senate,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park) said he will not enter the race to succeed retiring Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D). The Congressman, as he has in the past, continued to thank the medical personnel who helped him through six rounds of five-day chemotherapy treatments that appear to have eradicated his cancer. Mr. Raskin further said the best way he can “make a difference in American politics,” is to seek re-election to the US House. He will be a prohibitive favorite to win a fifth term next year.
As expected, actor Frank Eugene “Hill” Harper (D), one of the stars of the “CSI: NY” and “The Good Doctor” television programs, announced that he will compete in the open Michigan US Senate primary. He becomes the fourth major candidate, and third African American, in the Democratic primary. He joins US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), Michigan State Board of Education president Pamela Pugh, and former state Rep. Leslie Love.
The crowded field likely plays well for the perceived leader, Rep. Slotkin. This primary will take a long while to unfold, however. The Michigan primary election won’t occur until August 6, 2024, and its competitiveness could tamp down the Democrats’ advantage in the general election. Though the party primary may well be more eventful considering Mr. Harper’s entry, Rep. Slotkin must still be rated as the favorite for the party nomination and to win the seat in the November election. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is retiring after serving what will be four full terms.
In another move that has been expected for several months, disabled Afghan War veteran and 2022 Senate candidate Sam Brown (R) announced he will return to again compete in a Nevada US Senate race. This time, he hopes to capture the Republican nomination and challenge first-term Democratic Sen. Jacky Rosen.
In ’22, Mr. Brown lost the party primary to former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, 56-34%, but raised an impressive $4+ million for his effort. Mr. Laxalt would then lose the general election to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) by less than 18,000 votes from more than 1 million ballots cast. Now, it appears that Mr. Brown has the inside track for the party nomination and would be an interesting candidate in the general election. A strong Brown candidacy could elevate Nevada into top tier campaign status.
Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello ended his long shot Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Bob Menendez, and instead says he will enter the 7th District congressional race against GOP Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield). This, despite his city of Roselle Park lying wholly in Rep. Donald Payne’s (D-Newark) 10th District. Already in the 7th District Democratic primary is Working Families Party state director Sue Altman.
Rep. Kean unseated then-Rep. Tom Malinowski (D) 51-49% last November. The NJ-7 race is expected to be a major Democratic challenge opportunity race. Mr. Malinowski, who recently joined the McCain Institute for International Leadership, is unlikely to seek a re-match. State Senate President Nick Scutari is a potential Democratic candidate in this district.
The Ohio Senate race will be one of the premier 2024 electoral contests and is considered a must-win for Republicans. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) seeks a fourth term, but this may be his toughest campaign because the state has shifted considerably to the right since he was last on the ballot in 2018.
East Carolina University recently polled the state (6/21-24; 805 OH registered voters; interactive voice response system & online), and their results find Sen. Brown locked in a tight race no matter who becomes the Republican nominee. While slightly leading against all three tested Republicans, he is nowhere near 50% in any configuration.
State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball club, fares best against Sen. Brown, trailing only 45-44%. Businessman Bernie Moreno, despite not having universal name identification, is behind 46-42%. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is soon expected to become a Senate candidate, would come within 44-42% of Sen. Brown. In the Republican primary, Mr. LaRose holds a slight 17-14-7% lead over Sen. Dolan and Mr. Moreno.
San Antonio area state Senator Roland Gutierrez (D) announced that he will enter the Texas Democratic primary, which will likely ignite a difficult nomination battle against US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) who announced his candidacy in early May. The eventual party nominee will then challenge two-term Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the general election.
Sen. Gutierrez, who represents a legislative domain similar to that of US Rep. Tony Gonzales*’ (R-San Antonio) congressional district in that it begins in the Alamo City metro area and then stretches through most of west Texas toward El Paso, is a strong gun control advocate. Prior to defeating a Republican incumbent to win a Senate seat in 2020, Mr. Gutierrez had served six terms in the state House of Representatives.
Rep. Allred is reporting raising over $6.2 million for his Senate effort after announcing his candidacy, but now will have to spend heavily just to win the party nomination in March. It is likely the beneficiary of what will be a hotly contested race between Messrs. Allred and Gutierrez is Sen. Cruz. The Texas primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
Retired Navy Captain Hung Cao (R), who held Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) to a 53-47% re-election win in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+8 and the Dave’s Redistricting App partisan lean projects a 55.2D – 43.0R Democratic advantage, will now attempt to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D). Mr. Cao over-performed in the congressional race and may find more favorable territory in a statewide domain.
U.S. House of Representatives
Businessman Nick Begich, III, whose grandfather was a Democratic Congressman, and uncle, Mark Begich, served as a Democratic US Senator before losing to current Republican Senator Dan Sullivan, will again run for the state’s at-large US House seat. He participated in the 2022 special and regular elections as a Republican, qualifying for the secondary election both times, but failing in Ranked Choice Voting.
Many observers believed he would be the strongest candidate against Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) who won both of those elections by outdueling Sarah Palin in the Ranked Choice rounds. Running in the 2024 cycle, it is probable that Mr. Begich would have a strong chance to face Rep.Peltola in the final round. The at-large Alaska seat is now the most Republican congressional district in the country to send a Democrat to the US House.
Last month, businessman Jack O’Donnell declared his congressional candidacy in the Democratic primary hoping to challenge freshman Rep. Juan Ciscomani* (R-Tucson). Now, Mr. O’Donnell has already ended his fledgling campaign. He was an underdog even in the primary with former state Senator and 2022 congressional nominee Kirsten Engel already in the race. Rep. Ciscomani defeated Ms. Engel by 5,505 votes last November, and we can expect another close race in this politically marginal southeast Arizona district.
Veteran Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), who first won her seat in the 1998 election, announced that she will not seek re-election to a 14th term next November. Ms. Napolitano, at 86 years of age, is the oldest member of the House. She becomes the 14th House member and 10th Democrat to not seek re-election next year, but only the second to outright retire. The remainder are all running for a different office. Ms. Napolitano’s retirement decision also creates the fourth open House seat in the California delegation.
In her statement, the Congresswoman endorsed state Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Norwalk) as her successor. Ironically, Sen. Archuleta if elected to the House in 2024 would be, at 79 years of age, the second oldest freshman in American history. At a D+29 rating from the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the seat will not be competitive for a Republican candidate. Chances are high, however, that we would see another double-Democratic general election under California’s all-party top-two jungle primary system. The California qualifying election is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.
Largely because there is no inter-party political drama in California’s 34th Congressional District located wholly within Los Angeles County that contains a large portion of downtown LA, the two close races between Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) and former prosecutor David Kim (D) have generated little publicity. In 2020, Rep. Gomez defeated Mr. Kim, 53-47% in the first of their two double-Democratic general elections. In 2022, the Congressman’s margin dropped to 51-49%. Mr. Kim announced that he will return for a third run.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-34 as D+63, and President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump here, 81-17%. The district is almost 88% minority. The Hispanic segment accounts for 61.6% of the population, while Asians comprise 20.4%. Expect this race to again be close and Mr. Kim must be considered a significant challenger candidate.
One of the closest 2022 congressional elections came in the northern Denver suburbs from a new seat that Colorado earned in national reapportionment. In November, then-state Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Thornton) defeated state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R), 48.3 - 47.7%, to become the first winner of this new congressional district. In 2024, the Republicans will have a new candidate.
Late this week, Ms. Kirkmeyer announced that she will not return for a congressional rematch next year, instead saying she will seek re-election to the state Senate. Upon that announcement, Weld County Commissioner Scott James (R) immediately filed a congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission. The close political nature of this new district means we will again see a competitive race here in 2024, and very likely another close finish.
At a 4th of July celebration event, former state Senator and 2022 Illinois Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey announced a congressional primary challenge to veteran Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro), the chairman of the House Veteran Affairs Committee.
Immediately after the 4th, the Cor Strategies firm went into the field with a survey (7/5-8; 661 IL-12 registered Republican voters; multiple sampling techniques) and sees Rep. Bost posting only a 43-37% advantage over Mr. Bailey. The Congressman leads big in the southern and western parts of the large southern Illinois district while Mr. Bailey has a clear advantage in the northern and eastern geographic sections.
Former state Rep. Dan Brady (R), who represented a central Illinois seat in the state legislature for 20 years before running unsuccessfully for Secretary of State last November, is reportedly close to launching a congressional campaign against freshman Democratic US Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline).
On the gerrymandered Illinois congressional map, the 17th appears to be the most competitive seat in the state. In November, Republican Esther Joy King held Mr. Sorensen to a 52-48% victory in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+4.
The seat is shaped almost like a capital C, beginning in Rockford, and then swinging west to the Quad Cities area, before moving southeast and east through Galesburg and Peoria before ending in Bloomington. Rep. Sorensen will be favored for re-election, but this district could become highly competitive.
Former Michigan state Senator Tom Barrett (R), who was considered at least a slight under-performer in the 2022 election against US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) when losing 52-46%, announced he will return next year for another try. Since Rep. Slotkin is running for the state’s open Senate seat, the politically marginal 7th District will also be open. Former state Sen. Curtis Heftel (D) declared his candidacy with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) support. Mr. Heftel left the legislature to join Gov. Whitmer’s Administration.
Last November, Nebraska state Senator Tony Vargas (D-Omaha) held Rep. Don Bacon* (R-Papillion) to a 51.3 – 48.7% re-election victory. As expected, Mr. Vargas announced that he will return for a rematch in 2024. Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District is a swing seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+3, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 50.1R – 47.1D.
The 2nd also figures prominently in the presidential race. Nebraska is one of two states, Maine being the other, where the congressional districts carry their own electoral vote. In 2020, the 2nd broke with the state and awarded its electoral vote to President Joe Biden as he carried the district with a 52-46% margin, or some 22,000+ votes.
We can expect heavy campaigning here for all races. In addition to the presidential and congressional campaigns, both US Senate seats will be on the ballot. While Sens. Deb Fischer (R) and Pete Ricketts (R) are secure for re-election, this district will be relatively tight even for them.
The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously during that the Republicans’ political gerrymandering lawsuit can move forward against the state.
Reflecting upon the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the North Carolina judicial role in redistricting, the state high court is in much stronger position to review the 2021 congressional and state legislative maps as political gerrymanders. For example, the congressional plan eliminated the state’s lone Republican seat in the current draw. Whether the map will be invalidated is yet to be determined, but the high court wholly agreed that the case has merit to continue.
One of the strangest situations that occurred in the 2022 election cycle was first-term Westchester County Rep. Mondaire Jones (D) leaving his Upstate seat to seek re-election in an open New York City district. In a way, he was pushed out when then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney decided to seek re-election in Jones’ 17th District. The move was controversial and certainly contributed to Maloney losing a close general election to Republican Mike Lawler*.
Mr. Jones announced that he will return to the 17th District and attempt to regain the seat he initially won in 2020. This will be a top national congressional campaign. Though Rep. Lawler is the incumbent, the general election will be challenging for him in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 56.4D – 41.3R.
Freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) scored a 50-49% win in November to secure a D+2 (according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization) seat for the GOP. A pair of Democrats had already announced, including local town councilwoman Sarah Klee Hood, and now state Sen. John Mannion (D-Geddes) says he will enter next year’s congressional race. During Rep. John Katko’s (R) four-term congressional career, the district was perennially competitive, and the same pattern is likely to continue well into this decade.
In the last two elections in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton 7th District of Pennsylvania, Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) has won two 51-49% victories over former Lehigh County Commissioner and businesswoman Lisa Scheller (R). A new candidate, Pennsylvania Convention Center director and DeSales University trustee Maria Montero (R), filed a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.
While Ms. Scheller is not expected to return for a third run, Ms. Montero is likely to have Republican primary competition. Technology firm owner and 2022 congressional candidate Kevin Dellicker, who held Ms. Scheller to only a 51-49% GOP primary victory, is expected to again surface as a candidate. State Rep. Ryan MacKenzie (R-Macungie) is another potential participant.
The 7th District general election should again be highly competitive. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+4, but Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean in the Democrats’ favor, 50.4D – 47.4R.
In 2020, Republican Mayra Flores won a special election to succeed resigned Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) in the pre-redistricting 34th District. The post-redistricting seat changed the 34th from a D+5 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization into a D+17. Predictably, Ms. Flores, then being forced to run against another incumbent, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen), lost by a substantial 53-44% margin.
Ms. Flores announced that she will return for a rematch with Rep. Gonzalez, though her odds of attaining victory are not appreciably better. Her presence makes the seat somewhat competitive, but Rep. Gonzalez must again be considered a strong favorite in a district drawn to elect a Democrat so a Republican, in this case Rep. Monica de la Cruz (R-McAllen), could win the adjacent 15th CD.
After the Utah 2nd District Republican endorsing convention chose congressional legal counsel Celeste Maloy to replace her boss, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington), most contenders from the large field ended their September 5th special primary election campaigns.
Two, however, are moving forward. Former state Rep. Becky Edwards and ex-Republican National Committeeman Bruce Hough were the only two who submitted petition signatures in an attempt to qualify for the special primary ballot. The Secretary of State announced that both candidates submitted 7,000 valid 2nd District registered voter signatures and have earned ballot positions in the special Republican primary.
The winner will advance to a November 21st election against the unopposed Democratic candidate, state Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights), and any Independent or third party contender who can also qualify for the ballot. Rep. Stewart has announced he will leave office on September 15th.
New York Redistricting
A lower appellate court sided with the Democratic lawsuit challenging New York’s court-drawn congressional map and ordered the Independent Redistricting Commission to begin a new re-mapping process. Republicans will then appeal to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals, which is the panel that made the original ruling that created the current map. Republicans gained seats on the current map; hence, the reason why Democrats are moving to replace the plan. It appears a final decision about whether we will see a new map for 2024 is undoubtedly months away.
Former Congressman and ex-King County Sheriff Dave Reichert (R), who served in the House from 2005 to the beginning of 2019, has filed documents to create a campaign committee for the open Governor’s office.
Mr. Reichert has looked at statewide office before but has not run. His chances of qualifying for the general election in the jungle primary would be good since he would likely corral the votes of what should be a united Republican Party behind him. In the general election, however, probably opposite Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D), he would be a distinct underdog. This will be an open race because Gov. Jay Inslee (D) chose not to seek re-election to a fourth term.
*denotes candidate received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2023-2024 election cycle.
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