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Political Snippets 8.6.2021

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

U.S. Senate

Alaska

A new Alaska Survey Research poll (7/11-21; 947 AK registered voters; online) finds Sen. Lisa Murkowski* (R) in much better position than previous studies. The ASR data finds the Senator leading former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R), 36-27%, with state Rep. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) and former Senate nominee Joe Miller trailing with 19 and 18%, respectively. Under Alaska’s new top-four primary system, all four of these candidates would advance into the general election.

Former Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin surfaced again, telling a group of evangelical leaders, “if God wants me to run for the US Senate next year, I will.” She went onto scold the leaders saying, “I would say you guys better be there for me this time, because a lot of people were not there for me last time.” Should Ms. Palin enter the race, the political situation would drastically change, but at this point it is difficult to predict in what manner.

Georgia

The Associated Press ran a story at the close of last week reporting that Cindy Grossman, ex-wife of former NFL football star and potential Georgia US Senate candidate Herschel Walker, obtained a 2005 restraining order against the retired player four years after their divorce for threatening to shoot she and her boyfriend. Though the reported incidents occurred more than 15 years ago, the stories coming back into focus could certainly have an adverse effect upon whether Mr. Walker decides to run for the Senate.

Iowa

The Iowa statewide political picture became a bit clearer this week as US Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines), a potential US Senate candidate, attended an event for former Congresswoman and announced Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer (D). As part of the event agenda, Rep. Axne publicly endorsed Ms. Finkenauer.

The move takes Rep. Axne out of the Senate picture but does not close the door on a potential gubernatorial run. Decisions will be made after the redistricting map is drawn and released. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) promises a decision about whether he will seek an eighth term before November 1st.

Missouri

US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), who had been on the verge of entering the open US Senate primary ever since incumbent Sen. Roy Blunt (R) announced his retirement, officially became a statewide candidate with his declaration late this week. He joins former Gov. Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/ Columbia) as strong candidates for the party nomination.

Ohio

WPA Intelligence, testing the Ohio Republican Senate primary for the Club for Growth (7/27-29; 500 OH likely Republican primary voters; live interview), finds a unique ballot test result within the open Buckeye State GOP field. This means a new trend may be forming or the poll is an outlier. According to WPAi, former state Treasurer and 2012 Senate Republican nominee Josh Mandel is developing a commanding lead. Their data finds him holding 40% support while his closest opponent, author J.D. Vance who the CfG supports, draws just 12 percent.

The biggest changes from previous polling are Mandel gaining significant support and former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, who had been polling near the top, falling all the way to 8% in third place. More data is required to determine if the race is significantly shifting.

Pennsylvania

The Roll Call Capitol Hill newspaper reported yesterday that sources close to Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon/Pittsburgh) indicate that the Congressman will enter the open US Senate race on August 6th. Rep. Lamb escaped a tough challenge from Republican Sean Parnell in 2018 – Mr. Parnell is also in the Senate race – and his future in the House is uncertain with Pennsylvania losing another congressional seat, which is likely to come from western PA.

Wisconsin

State Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), a former Minority Leader, announced yesterday that he is withdrawing from his short-lived US Senate campaign and will instead endorse Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) for the position. Sen. Larson said he is leaving the race to keep from “splitting the progressive vote.”

State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, Milwaukee Bucks senior executive and ex-Obama White House aide Alex Lasry, Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, and five minor candidates remain in the Democratic primary race. Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has not formally declared for re-election.

House

AZ-2

Earlier this week, Juan Ciscomani (R), a senior aide to Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive, announced that he is joining the crowded open seat Tucson anchored congressional contest. Mr. Ciscomani becomes the tenth Republican to enter the party primary, a race that won’t be decided until a year from now, on August 2, 2022. Democrats have nine candidates, including one state Senator and two state Representatives. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) is retiring.

FL-20

The Data for Progress research group conducted a poll of the special election scheduled in South Florida’s 20th District for November 2nd, which will be the first step in replacing the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach). The poll was conducted during the July 6-7 period, but released only now. The group surveyed 314 likely Democratic special election voters via text and weighted the responses. With the August 10th candidate filing deadline approaching, 15 Democrats have already announced for the safe Democratic seat.

The DfP survey found Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness leading the Democratic field, but with only 17% support, with fellow Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief close behind at 14% preference. State Rep. Omari Hardy (D-West Palm Beach) is the only other candidate reaching double-digits at 10 percent. 

IA-1

Freshman Rep. Ashley Hinson* (R-Marion) is a former Cedar Rapids news reporter and anchor, as was her probable next general election opponent. State Rep. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha), as expected, announced this week that she will enter the 1st District congressional race in what promises to be a highly competitive contest.

ME-2

Former Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R) announced yesterday that he will attempt to regain his former position, saying he will challenge Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) in a re-match from their 2018 contest.

Mr. Poliquin was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2016. He lost to Rep. Golden two years hence, once the Ranked Choice Voting system put the Democratic challenger over the top after several rounds of counting. The original count, which would have re-elected Rep. Poliquin under previous Maine election law, would have yielded a 49-48% win. Because the leading total was under 50%, the ranked choice process took effect. A new Golden-Poliquin campaign promises to become 2022 a toss-up.

MO-2

State Rep. Trish Gunby (D-Ballwin), who was elected to the Missouri House in a 2019 special election but survived her 2020 re-election contest with just a 406-vote margin, announced that she will challenge five-term US Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin) next year. In 2020, Congresswoman Wagner turned back a strong challenge from state Sen. Jill Schupp (D-Ladue) in which more than $10.4 million was raised and spent to support the Democratic nominee or oppose the incumbent.

Businessman and former gubernatorial aide Ben Samuels is already an announced Democratic candidate, in addition to a minor contender, so there will be an August Democratic congressional primary in this St. Louis suburban district.

MT-1

While the focus has been on who will run for Montana’s new congressional district, which is expected to occupy the western part of the state, current at-large Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) has drawn an opponent. Considering Rep. Rosendale resides in the far eastern part of the state, it is presumed he would seek re-election in the eastern CD, which we will temporarily label as MT-1.

Outdoor sportsman journalist and conservationist Jack Ballard (D) said yesterday that he plans to challenge Rep. Rosendale in the eastern district. Both seats are expected to favor Republicans.

NH-1

Reports are surfacing in New Hampshire that 2020 1st District Republican congressional nominee Matt Mowers, who held Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) to a 51-46% victory in a district that has only re-elected its incumbent three times since the 2002 election, will return for another run next year and will formally announce his intentions in September.

Republicans control the redistricting process in the state and are looking to make the 1st District more favorable for a Republican. Should this happen, Rep. Pappas may forego a re-election run and move toward what may become an open Governor’s race.

NY-1

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) has held New York’s 1st Congressional District for four terms but is leaving the House in the next election to launch a gubernatorial effort. Already, five Democrats have announced their congressional candidacies but, curiously, until this week no Republican had come forward for a seat that elects more Republicans than Democrats. Robert Cornicelli, chairman of the Smithtown Republican Party and a retired Army officer, formally announced his congressional candidacy. The open 1st District race is expected to be competitive.

NY-24

Of the ten Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching then-President Donald Trump in relation to the January 6th Capitol disturbance, New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) was the only one who did not draw immediate Republican primary opposition. That situation has changed. This week, US Air Force veteran John Murtari (R), an engineer and parental rights activist, announced his candidacy for the GOP nomination.

OH-11

Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown won the special Democratic primary in the Cleveland-Akron vacated district, defeating ex-state Senator Nina Turner, a former national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders for President campaign. The fairly substantial victory margin of 50-44% capped an impressive comeback win for Ms. Brown, who in addition to her service on the County Council is the Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair. At the beginning of the race, Ms. Turner held a 50-15% lead in the first poll and will end the campaign outspending the contest winner by a better than 2:1 margin.

Ms. Brown now advances to the special general election on November 2nd, where she is heavily favored to defeat her Republican opponent, Cleveland political activist Laverne Gore. The 11th District was an 80%+ CD for both President Joe Biden in 2020 and Hillary Clinton in 2016.

OH-15

In what turned into a strong night for Ohio Coal Association president Mike Carey and former President Donald Trump who endorsed him, the former man easily captured the GOP special congressional nomination on a 37-13% count over state Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Canal Winchester). Former state Rep. Ron Hood and state Sen. Bob Peterson (D-Sabina) finished closely behind Mr. LaRe.

Democratic state Rep. Allison Russo (D-Columbus) won her Democratic primary in a landslide but will be a severe underdog to Mr. Carey in the November 2nd special general election. GOP turnout of just over 50,000 people was low but dwarfed the Democratic participation figure of 16,130 voters. Mr. Carey’s victory was complete, as he won 11 of the district’s 12 counties, losing only small Fayette to hometown state Senator Peterson.

SC-7

Of the ten Republican House members who voted to impeach former President Trump over the January 6th violent disturbance at the US Capitol, South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice* (R-Myrtle Beach) has drawn the most GOP primary opposition. On Friday, state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Surfside Beach) became the 13th Republican to enter the 2022 GOP primary, attempting to deny Rep. Rice a fifth term. Fanning the political fires, the South Carolina Republican Party officially censured the Congressman over his impeachment vote.

SD-AL

Three-term state Rep. Taffy Howard (R-Rapid City) is in the early stages of launching a statewide primary challenge against at-large two-term Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell). Ms. Howard, a strong Trump supporter, will be attacking the Congressman from his political right. For his first re-election in 2020, Rep. Johnson faced only a Libertarian Party opponent and secured an 81% victory. In the Republican primary, the Congressman was re-nominated with 77% of the vote, thus making him a very difficult target for 2022. Rep. Johnson remains a prohibitive favorite for re-nomination and re-election.

TX-6

Texas state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) again defied the political odds as he recorded a stronger vote than predicted and upset favored Susan Wright, widow of deceased north Texas Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington), in the double-Republican special runoff election with a 53-47% win in the state’s 6th District. As also predicted, voter turnout was low: 38,994 voters as compared to 78,471 individuals who voted in the jungle primary contest. Such a result is not surprising since Democrats, with no candidate in the race, had little reason to participate.

Mr. Ellzey, considerably improving his election day performance and remaining strong in early voting particularly in Tarrant County, the district’s largest population sector, was able to convert the final result from a predicted loss into a victory. Upon his swearing into the House, the Republican Conference will grow to 212 members versus the majority Democrats’ 220.

Governor

California

Core Data Analytics (7/27-29; 804 CA registered voters; online) and Emerson College (7/30-8/1; 1,000 CA likely recall voters; combination text, interactive voice response system; online) released their new recall poll findings this week. Within the entire Core Data sampling universe, the split breaks 48-39% in Gov. Gavin Newsom’s favor. Among those who say they will definitely vote in the recall election, however, the division breaks evenly, 41-41%. The result is 38-38% for those who say they are likely to vote.

Emerson also finds a tight margin. They see the Governor surviving the recall with only a 48-46% margin. In the replacement election, both pollsters find conservative commentator and radio talk show host Larry Elder leading the huge group of 46 candidates.

Idaho

Bonner County Commissioner Steven Bradshaw became the eighth Republican to enter the 2022 Republican gubernatorial primary against incumbent Brad Little. Of the eight, only two, Mr. Bradshaw and Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin are elected officials.

Illinois

Last week, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced that he will seek a second term, and this week he is already running commercials. His first media wave targets a trio of areas outside of Chicago with three individual ads each highlighting an area service person and their contribution to fighting COVID. The geographically targeted spots feature individuals from Rochelle, located south of Rockford, the state capital of Springfield, and Belleville, which lies on the Illinois side of the St. Louis suburbs. Gov. Pritzker is favored for re-election, but Republicans are expected to heavily target the race.

Florida

St. Pete Polls released their latest statewide survey (8/2/3; 3,952 FL likely voters; online) and finds a tightening of the 2022 Governor’s race. The results show Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) in a virtual dead heat with Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg), a former Republican Governor, as he slightly trails 45-46%. Opposite state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D), Mr. DeSantis holds a 45-42% edge. Florida’s voting history suggests that we will see close polling results all the way through the midterm election.

Nebraska

Former Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R), who served two full terms after an initial two years in office when succeeding a resigned state chief executive, confirms that he is considering returning for another run next year. Current incumbent Pete Ricketts (R) is ineligible to run for a third consecutive term. Mr. Heineman said just before the weekend began that he would give launching a new campaign intense thought over the summer and announce his decision “in the Fall.” The early prevailing political wisdom suggests that he will run.

New York

State Senator Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx), who once worked on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff, confirmed that she is considering opposing the three-term incumbent in the 2022 Democratic primary. With the impeachment proceedings against Mr. Cuomo dragging and will likely not come to conclusion, the election will be the real test if the embattled state chief executive is to run and win a fourth term in office. For the Republicans, US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is already the officially endorsed Republican candidate.

Ohio

Former Congressman Jim Renacci (R) released his early gubernatorial campaign finance figures according to the Daily Kos Elections website, and while his total receipt column shows over $1 million, only $22,000 came from donors other than himself. Mr. Renacci is challenging Gov. Mike DeWine in the 2022 Republican primary and principally attacking him over his highly restrictive response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile, US Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Troy) says he will decide in September if he will challenge Gov. DeWine.

South Carolina

State Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) ended wild political speculation saying yesterday that he will not challenge Gov. Henry McMaster in the 2022 Republican primary. Mr. McMaster assumed the Governorship in 2017 when then-Gov. Nikki Haley (R) was appointed United States Ambassador to the United Nations, and then was elected in his own right in 2018. He is eligible to seek another four-year term under the state’s term limit law and plans to do so.

Localities

Atlanta

Survey USA went into the field to test the 2021 open Atlanta Mayor’s race (7/20-25; 650 Atlanta adults; 527 registered voters; interactive voice response system and text) and finds none of the ten candidates even reaching the 20% support plateau.

Former Mayor Kasim Reed (D), who jumped into the race soon after incumbent Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) announced that she would not seek re-election, leads the group, but with just 17% support among the registered voters. City Council President Felicia Moore (D) is second with 10%, while the remaining eight contenders all fall under 7% preference. Crime is a top concern. A total of 77% of those questioned categorized crime as a major issue in the city, and an additional 16% labeled it a “minor issue.”

Detroit

Mayor Mike Duggan (D) easily placed first in this week’s non-partisan jungle primary, scoring 72% of the vote in a field of ten candidates. He advances into the general election against former Deputy Mayor Anthony Adams (D) who managed just 10% of the vote. Mayor Duggan is the prohibitive favorite to win a third term in the November general election.

Los Angeles

California Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) confirmed that she is considering running for Los Angeles Mayor next year, saying many people have been urging her to do so. Incumbent Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) has been appointed as Ambassador to India and will resign upon his confirmation to the foreign post.

The Council has three options for filling a vacancy in the mayor’s office. They can order a special election, appoint an interim Mayor, or allow the City Council President to serve as Acting Mayor. This complicates the 2022 election since there will likely be at least an acting incumbent in office.


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