Listed below are political snippets on congressional, gubernatorial and local races across the country. Enjoy!
US Senate candidate and former US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard (R) tacitly admitted she is considering ending her bid for federal office and moving into the Governor’s race to launch a Republican primary challenge to incumbent Kay Ivey. Ms. Blanchard exiting the open Senate contest would largely leave a two-way Republican contest between US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and former Alabama Business Council president/CEO Katie Britt to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R). Democrats do not yet have a viable Senate candidate.
The Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll released their new survey over the weekend (released 8/22; 1,000 FL likely voters; interactive voice response system) and much of the data appears curious to say the least. In the Senate race, two-term incumbent Marco Rubio* (R) holds a 55-45% advantage over Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando). While that spread seems reasonable, the difficulty comes in the crosstab report. The partisan tabs show Sen. Rubio receiving 52% of the Democrats’ votes while 42% of Republicans prefer Rep. Demings. There is no corroborating reason to support such numbers, meaning this poll is likely an outlier.
Countering the Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll survey, Change Research released their new Florida poll (8/14-17; 1,585 FL likely voters; online), and they see Sen. Rubio holding a 47-44% edge. The partisan crosstabs were not released but it is clear with this type of aggregate ballot test that both party bases are firmly behind the candidate from their own political entity, which is, of course, the typical pattern.
Former University of Georgia and NFL football legend Herschel Walker (R) filed documents with the Federal Election Commission Tuesday, the first step to becoming a US Senate candidate. No announcement accompanied the filing, and the act of submitting these organizational documents does not compel an individual to formally file with the state prior to the candidate filing deadline. The exploratory committee, however, will allow the potential contender to begin raising funds to assess chances of attaining ultimate victory.
Thomas McDermott (D), who has been the city of Hammond’s Mayor since 2004, announced that he will enter the statewide Democratic primary in hopes of challenging first-term Sen. Todd Young (R) next year. Mr. McDermott ran for the open 1st Congressional District seat in 2020, losing a four-point Democratic primary race to the district’s eventual winner, freshman Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Highland). Mr. McDermott is a decided underdog against Sen. Young should he ultimately come through the Democratic primary.
A very surprising survey from VCreek/AMG was released late this week. The poll (conducted for the Americas PAC; 8/9-14; 567 NV registered voters; live interview) finds former Attorney General, 2018 Republican gubernatorial nominee, and recently announced US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt leading first-term Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto by a margin well beyond the polling margin of error, 42-32%, but with a high undecided factor. The Silver State has been known for its recent close elections and the 2022 Senate contest already appears to be headed along a similar track. Expect the Democrats to soon counter with polling data of their own.
National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) said in an interview with the Milwaukee Journal newspaper that he expects Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) to seek re-election and make an announcement in the Autumn. Sen. Johnson originally took a two-term pledge when he first ran in 2010 but did begin to hedge about keeping the commitment earlier in the year. He also made other statements suggesting that he would honor his pledge.
Eleven Democrats have already announced their Senate candidacies including Badger State Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski. US Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay) is the most likely Republican to run should the Senator decide to retire.
U.S. House of Representatives
This week, five-term California Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) announced that he will join the burgeoning candidate field to challenge Rep. David Valadao*(R-Hanford) next year. To review, former state Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D), Delano Mayor Brian Osorio (D), former congressional aide Angel Lara (D), and ex-Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys (R) are all announced and running. Mr. Valadao ousted Rep. T.J. Cox (D) in 2020 after the latter man unseated the former in 2018. It appears unlikely, at this point, that Mr. Cox will seek a re-match.
Democrat Dustin Granger ended his challenge to three-term Louisiana US Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette) this week, opting instead to run for the state Senate. Bartender Ryan Abshire, running as an Independent, is now Mr. Higgins’ lone opponent. It appears Rep. Higgins, a former law enforcement official who became a YouTube sensation with his Crime Stoppers videos, will have another easy re-election run in 2022.
Yesterday, Office of Management & Budget chief of staff Nikki Budzinski (D) announced she is returning to Illinois with the goal of challenging five-term Rep. Rodney Davis* (R-Taylorville). Illinois’ 13th District could be in the mix for elimination because the state loses a congressional seat. The district sits in the middle of the Downstate region, which is the area losing the most population. Redistricting will be the major factor in likely deciding who runs in which district.
State Sen. Trey Stewart (R-Presque Isle), the youngest member of the Maine legislature at 27 years of age and serving his first term in the Senate after entering the state House when he was 23, has ended his 2022 congressional run and endorsed former US Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R). Mr. Poliquin was elected in 2014 but lost his seat in 2018 due to Ranked Choice Voting after he scored a plurality victory on election night. Mr. Poliquin announced his new campaign last week.
It is now likely that the ex-Congressman becomes a consensus Republican candidate, thus setting the stage for a re-match with the man who ousted him three years ago, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston). ME-2 is one of seven districts that former President Donald Trump carried (52-45%) and elected a Democrat to the House.
Powerhouse New Jersey fundraising congressional sophomore Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair) may have drawn her most credible challenger of the five Republicans who have so far declared their candidacies. Morris County Commissioner and former Chatham Mayor Tayfun Selen (R), a long-time immigrant from Turkey who promotes the American Dream, announced his congressional candidacy last week. Rosemary Becchi (R), who was the 2020 Republican nominee has not yet entered the race and now appears unlikely to do so.
Frank McCaffrey (R), a news reporter for the NewsNet syndicated network and a man with a strong media background in television, announced his candidacy for the 15th District Republican congressional nomination in what could be a very interesting 2022 South Texas border district US House campaign.
Three-term Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) won re-elected with only 50.5% of the vote in 2020, defeating insurance agent Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez (R). Ms. de la Cruz-Hernandez spent only $404,000 on her campaign yet attracted just short of a 48% vote share. She is also returning for an attempted re-match. It is likely we will see others emerge once the redistricting process is completed.
House Generic Ballot
A common survey question asks respondents if they will vote for a Democrat or a Republican for the US House in the coming election. Often, the answers are not consistent with the final congressional result. Now, we see erratic responses spanning across the spectrum within the same polling time sphere.
Echelon Insights (8/13-18 1,016 US registered voters; online from web panel) finds the Democrats holding a strong 50-40% advantage. Simultaneously, however, Susquehanna Polling & Research (8/12-18; 800 US likely voters; live interview) sees the Republicans recording a 39-38% edge. NBC News (Hart Research/Public Opinion Strategies; 1000 US adults; 790 US registered voters; live interview) reveals that 47% prefer Democrats to control the House after the next election, while 46% say they have a Republican preference. In 2020, the last 17 polls gave the Democrats an average 7.1% lead on the generic question, yet they lost a net 13 seats when the actual votes were counted.
Former Gov. Bill Walker (I), who did not seek re-election in 2018 because his approval ratings were low and polling showed he would lose with Democratic former US Senator Mark Begich in the candidate field, declared last week that he will return in the 2022 election because of the top-four primary election format. He also announced that former Alaska Labor Secretary Heidi Drygas (D) will join his ticket in the Lt. Governor slot. Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) is seeking re-election. Former state Rep. Les Gara is the only announced Democratic candidate, to date.
A Cygnal firm survey conducted for the Alabama Daily News (8/17-18; 600 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, and text) finds Gov. Kay Ivey easily leading the Republican primary but is well below the 50% plateau in support. The ballot test breaks 42-9-4-3% over state Auditor Jim Zeigler, 2010 gubernatorial contender Tim James, who is not currently a candidate, and pastor Dean Odle.
Surprisingly, Mr. Zeigler says he wants the other potential candidates to enter the race. He says these candidates could reach people he cannot and indicated that having a crowded field would enhance the prospects of the Governor being forced into a runoff election.
A lawsuit was filed during the week questioning the constitutionality of a part of the California recall system. The suit contends that the replacement election is unconstitutional because a recall winner could garner less votes than the recall subject even if Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), in this case, loses the recall vote. Under California election law the subject of the recall is ineligible to run in the replacement election.
The legal argument does not question whether a Governor can be recalled, rather the succession process if the official is removed. The plaintiffs argue that such a vacancy should be filled by the sitting Lt. Governor and not the winner of a plurality replacement vote.
In the replacement race, former Congressman Doug Ose (R) suffered a heart attack over last weekend and has ended his campaign. His name, however, will still appear on the September 14th ballots that are now being mailed to voters throughout the state.
As shown in the Florida Senate section above, the Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll announced their new survey results (released 8/22; 1,000 FL likely voters; interactive voice response system) and questions abound. In the Governor’s race, the Listener data gives US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) a whopping 57-43% lead over Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), while Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) maintains a 53-47% advantage. Change Research (8/14-17; 1,585 FL likely voters; online) produced a much different result. They see Gov. DeSantis holding a 49-45% edge over Rep. Crist, and a 49-44% spread opposite Ms. Fried.
The Fabrizio Lee firm, as described in the Senate piece above, surveyed the Georgia Republican electorate and tested former Senator David Perdue in a GOP primary battle against Gov. Brian Kemp. The results show a close race. Gov. Kemp, who scores only a 69:27% favorability rating among the Republican primary voters questioned, would lead announced candidate Vernon Jones, a former Democratic county executive and state legislator, and Mr. Perdue, 41-19-16%, respectively. Isolating Gov. Kemp and Mr. Perdue, the margin decreases to 46-40% in favor of the Governor.
Informed that former President Donald Trump supports Mr. Perdue, the gubernatorial primary ballot test shifts to a 41-26-13% Perdue-Kemp-Jones prospective finish. These numbers suggest that Gov. Kemp has not yet broken free of his post-election unpopularity in relation to his handling of the Georgia voter fraud allegations.
Businesswoman Vicky Cayetano (D), wife of former Gov. Ben Cayetano (D), announced that she will enter the open Governor’s race. Already in the Democratic primary are Lt. Gov. Josh Green and former Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell. Mr. Cayetano served as Governor from 1994-2002, after eight years in office as the state’s Lt. Governor. Gov. David Ige (D) is ineligible to run for a third term. The eventual Democratic nominee is a lock to win the general election.
Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) has already pulled to within one percentage point of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) according to a firm that regularly polls the Michigan electorate. EPIC-MRA, who frequently releases Wolverine State data published their most recent poll (9/9-15; 600 MI likely voters) and found Gov. Whitmer leading Mr. Craig by just a 45-44% clip. The numbers are even more encouraging for the GOP challenger when seeing that only 48% of those surveyed said they are familiar with Mr. Craig.
The Monmouth University pollsters released their new survey of the Garden State electorate, and the results show little change from what we have seen in the past relating to the 2021 Governor’s race. According to the poll (8/11-16; 810 NJ registered voters; live interview), Gov. Phil Murphy (D) continues to lead former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R) by a solid 52-36% margin.
In office less than a full day after succeeding resigned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), new Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has already drawn a potential 2022 Democratic primary opponent. Hours after Ms. Hochul took office, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano (D) announced that he will form an exploratory committee to run for Governor next year. It is probable that Gov. Hochul will face significant Democratic opposition as she prepares to run for a full term. US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) is in position to capture the GOP nomination and become a credible general election candidate.
State Labor Commissioner Val Hoyle (D) announced that she will not enter the open race for Governor next year. Gov. Kate Brown (D) is ineligible to seek re-election, but this has been a slow developing open seat statewide campaign. To date, Yamhill County Commissioner Casey Kulla is the only Democrat in the gubernatorial field. Five Republicans have declared, but all of them are looked upon as minor candidates. Once redistricting plans become known in this state that is gaining a new congressional seat, the Governor’s race will likely attract greater attention.
Survey ballot tests have brandished tight results in this open seat Virginia race since former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and hedge fund former CEO Glenn Youngkin (R) each won their respective party nominations. Now, we see several new university polls coming to the political forefront. Virginia Commonwealth University (8/4-15; 823 VA adults; 770 VA registered voters; live interview) forecasts only a 40-37% lead for Mr. McAuliffe, consistent with most other public polls but with a much lower firmly decided sample cell.
Roanoke University (8/3-17; 558 VA likely voters; live interview) had not been as accurate as most other pollsters in the past but developed an improved methodology during recent elections. Roanoke finds the McAuliffe advantage as to be 46-38%, the largest spread between the candidates of any poll released to date. Progressive left survey research company Change Research released their first Virginia Governor’s poll (8/14-18; 1,334 VA likely voters; online) and they draw the same conclusion as other pollsters. The Change ballot test produced a 47-44% lead for ex-Governor McAuliffe.
For the first time, however, we do see a poll finding Mr. McAuliffe reaching the 50% mark in a statewide voter survey. According to the new Wason Center Christopher Newport University survey conducted for AARP (8/15-23; 800 VA likely voters; live interview), Mr. McAuliffe holds a 50-41% advantage over Republican Glenn Youngkin.
Change Research conducted an internal poll for the Annissa Essaibi George campaign (8/16-21; 600 Boston likely voters; online) and found at-large City Councilwoman Michelle Wu leading Acting Mayor Kim Janey and Councilwoman George, 27-15-15%. Councilwoman Andrea Campbell trails with 10% preference. All of the leading candidates are Democrats.
The nonpartisan – meaning candidates’ political parties are not listed on the ballot – primary is scheduled for September 14th. The field of seven competitors will be pruned to two in the first election. The top finishers will then advance to the regular general election on November 2nd. Former Mayor Marty Walsh (D) resigned earlier this year to become US Labor Secretary in the Biden Administration.
The 2021 Buffalo Mayor’s race has so far been peculiar as the four-term Mayor, Byron Brown, lost the Democratic primary to self-described socialist India Walton, and returns for the general election as a write-in candidate. Last week we covered a poll suggesting that Mayor Brown now leads Ms. Walton, 50-40%.
Another odd turn occurred this week when it became known that Ms. Walton had been previously arrested for threatening a colleague at the hospital in which they worked. Both she and the accuser are nurses. It was proven that Ms. Walton threatened bodily harm over a three-month period in 2014 and was charged with harassment, but the candidate says she was not serious and shouldn’t have been feared. Ms. Walton pointed to the fact that she is 4’11” tall and was on disability as a result of surgery during the particular time period in question. This bizarre campaign will conclude on November 2nd.