Check out these political snippets on the presidential, congressional, gubernatorial and state races from across the country.
Former President Donald Trump indicated during the week that he would not join the other Republican national candidates at the September 27th debate forum at the Ronald Reagan Library in southern California. Instead, he made a speech about the striking United Auto Workers union to lay the groundwork to gain potential support in the general election.
Continuing to hold a big lead over the entire GOP candidate field, Mr. Trump would stand to gain little by participating in the next forum. Due to more stringent debate requirements, the Republican National Committee leadership expects to have fewer candidates earning a debate podium, with North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and ex-Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson unlikely to qualify.
ABC/Washington Post Poll
For the second consecutive time, the ABC/Washington Post (9/15-20; 890 US registered voters; live interview) sees former President Donald Trump building a large lead over President Joe Biden. The latest numbers give Mr. Trump a 51-42% national advantage, and a larger 52-39% lead within the Independent segment. In May, the ABC/Washington Post survey found Mr. Trump leading by a similar 49-42% margin.
Once again, the ABC/WaPo poll gives Trump a bigger lead than other polls conducted during a similar time frame. Since September 14th, six national surveys have been conducted from six different pollsters, all seeing Mr. Trump holding leads of four and one point, with four ties.
The new NBC News national poll has been released (Public Opinion Strategies; 9/15-19; 1,000 US registered voters; live interview) and it generally contains bad news for both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. While the ballot test shows both candidates with 46% support, President Biden’s approval rating is 15 points underwater, (41:56% favorable vs. unfavorable). More troubling for the President, 59% of sampled Democrats want to see a candidate challenge Mr. Biden for the party nomination.
Though Republicans are viewed at a record high positive in dealing with crime, the economy, immigration, and protecting democracy, the ballot test is still tied, and Mr. Biden has an 18 point lead among those who somewhat disapprove of his job performance. This latter category has proven key in projecting the outcome of recent campaigns.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) announced his US Senate candidacy. Mr. Craig had filed to run for Governor in 2022 but failed to return the proper number of valid petition signatures, thus disqualifying him. Assuming this report is true, Mr. Craig will enter an August 6th Republican primary against the favorite for the nomination, former Congressman Mike Rogers, and Michigan Board of Education member Nikki Snyder who was the first candidate to announce. The winner will then likely challenge Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) who is favored to win the Democratic nomination.
Garden State Senator Bob Menendez (D), who is in-cycle next year, was indicted along with his wife and three others. All five defendants were charged on two counts: bribery, and honest services fraud, as it relates to an Egyptian foreign affairs funding issue. Senator and Mrs. Menendez were also indicted on a conspiracy to commit extortion charge. How this affects the 2024 Senate election remains to be determined.
Sen. Menendez beat a different set of federal charges in 2015. In response to this latest indictment, he said, “For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. To my supporters, friends and the community at large, I ask that you recall the other times the prosecutors got it wrong and that you reserve judgement."
New Jersey is a strong Democratic state, so the June 2024 primary election may be the Senator’s toughest obstacle. Many Garden State Democratic leaders, however, are calling upon Sen. Menendez to resign. Among them are Gov. Phil Murphy, Attorney General Matt Platkin, and Reps. Donald Norcross (D-Camden City), Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wycoff), Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch), Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair). At this point, the lone House member making a public statement in Mr. Menendez’s favor is Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City), the Senator’s son.
Rep. Kim wasted no time and announced that he will challenge Sen. Menendez in next year’s Democratic primary. Other Democrats following suit would make this contest quite crowded, which would actually help Menendez because the anti-incumbent vote would be split. Those mentioned as possible candidates include New Jersey’s First Lady Tammy Murphy, and US Reps. Norcross, Gottheimer, and Pallone. Only Rep. Kim has made a firm declaration.
David McCormick, the former CEO of the Bridgewater Associates hedge fund who lost to Dr. Mehmet Oz by just 950 votes in the 2022 Pennsylvania US Senate race, announced that he is returning next year to challenge Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D). Though an uphill battle, Mr. McCormick’s presence gives the Republicans a credible candidate with whom to challenge the three-term incumbent.
While Pennsylvania decidedly leans Democratic, it is one of the top targeted states in the presidential election. This means more focus on former President Donald Trump throughout the general election campaign, but also suggests that Mr. McCormick will be the beneficiary of more party resources being spent on organization and voter turnout operations. At this point, Sen. Casey must be rated a clear favorite for re-election, but this contest is now a race to watch.
U.S. House of Representatives
State Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), who represents a western Alabama legislative district, announced that he is forming a congressional exploratory committee to launch a Democratic primary challenge against seven-term Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham). Since his district lies in the heart of Rep. Sewell’s seat, the state Senate’s top Democrat said, "I’m not running in the new district. I’m running in Congresswoman Sewell’s ... I want the big fish." The new district will likely be drawn with Montgomery County as the population anchor, which will encompass much of the southeastern side of the state.
Sen. Singleton won’t have much time to weigh his chances. The candidate filing deadline is November 10th for the March 5, 2024, Alabama primary. The new redistricting map will likely be completed next week.
Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) who said earlier in the year he was deciding whether to challenge Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) or Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) in California’s March all-party jungle primary will not run against anybody. Instead, he has accepted a position with a legislative advocacy firm. Both Reps. Eshoo and Lofgren appear as prohibitive favorites to win another term in the House irrespective of who might be their Democratic primary and general election opponents.
Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor), who has been critical of the House Republican leadership for moving to an impeachment inquiry of President Joe Biden, may resign his seat. Apparently, he is talking to both MSNBC and CNN about developing a contractual relationship.
Additionally, as a direct result of his latest Republican-on-Republican attacks, Rep. Buck may have drawn a potential GOP primary challenger. State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron) filed a congressional exploratory committee to assess his chances against Rep. Buck in the expansive eastern Colorado district. The 4th District is safely Republican (R+26 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization) and encompasses most of the Colorado territory north and east of the Denver metropolitan area.
In a seat that should be solid for Democrats, former Kissimmee City Commissioner and ex-congressional candidate Wanda Rentas surprisingly became the sixth Republican to enter the 2024 GOP primary. Though the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the district D+16 and the Daily Kos Elections site ranks FL-9 as the 85th safest Democratic seat in the House, the local Republicans think the district can be won. In 2022, Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) secured a fourth term with a lower than expected 54-46% victory margin.
Among the six GOP candidates we find former state Representative and ex-Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones. It is likely that the race will winnow down to a contest between Mr. Quinones and Ms. Rentas, but both would still begin the general election as a clear underdog to Rep. Soto.
Freshman Michigan Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), who won a crowded open Democratic primary in 2022 with just 28% of the vote, will face at least two of the same opponents in his renomination fight next year. Former state Sen. Adam Hollier and John Conyers III, whose father held this same seat for 52 years, appear to be sure bets to return for another electoral battle. Once again, however, a crowded field will help Mr. Thanedar because his opposition vote will be split. The Democratic primary will determine who represents the district. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MI-13 as D+46.
Democratic leaders are still trying to find the top candidate they believe can unseat freshman Rep. Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), but two of their key prospects have both declined to run. Former state Senator, ex-Assemblyman, and previous gubernatorial candidate Ray Lesniak said he will not enter the 7th CD race, as did Dr. Tina Shah, a veteran of both the Obama and Biden Administrations. In the race are Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello, who left the Senate race to run here, former State Department official Jason Blazakis, and political organizer Sue Altman.
The FiveThirtyEight organization rates NJ-7 as R+3. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the seat as the 16th most vulnerable seat in the 222 member House Republican Conference.
While Sen. Bob Menendez (D) is publicly defending himself over a new indictment brought against he, his wife, and three other associates, freshman Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City), the Senator’s son who has defended his father, may be looking at a serious primary challenge. New Jersey’s 8th Congressional District is solidly Democratic. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates it as D+47. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks NJ-8 as the 167th safest seat of the 212-member House Democratic Conference. Therefore, Rep. Menendez’s more significant re-election obstacle is renomination.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla (D) confirmed earlier in the week that he is considering launching such a primary challenge. Hoboken, with a population just over 53,000 residents, represents about 7% of the 8th District’s population but is a considerably larger share of a Democratic primary vote.
One of the closest 2022 campaigns occurred in southern New Mexico where then-Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D) defeated freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) by a scant 50.3 - 49.6% victory margin in a gerrymandered district designed to elect a Democrat. Survey USA was just in the field testing the 2024 re-match campaign. Again, the polling results suggest a toss-up finish.
The S-USA study (9/6-12; 541 NM-2 likely voters; live interview & online) sees Ms. Herrell clinging to a slight one point edge over Rep. Vasquez, 46-45%. If the Republicans are to hold their slim House majority, they must win tight districts such as this one to neutralize the Democrats’ apparent advantage in the second round of redistricting.
Attorney Greg Wheeler (R), who had declared his candidacy for Congress months ago, announced that he would suspend his campaign. This leaves Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg as the lone Republican candidate hoping to challenge freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron).
Mr. Banweg then announced that Sen. J.D. Vance (R) is endorsing his candidacy, which may be a precursor to the party establishment soon following suit. For a time, it was believed that former Ohio Republican Party chair and 2022 US Senate candidate Jane Timken might enter the race, but she has since removed her name from consideration.
Rep. Sykes defeated Republican Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (R) in last November’s election by a 53-47% margin. Originally, Ms. Gilbert, too, was planning to run in 2024, but last month withdrew to accept a spokesperson’s position with the Republican National Committee. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates OH-13 as D+2. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 13th most vulnerable seat within the Democratic conference.
The third Democratic challenger hoping to face six-term Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg) this week announced his candidacy. International business consultant John Broadhurst has joined the Democratic primary field that includes 2022 nominee Shamaine Daniels, a member of the Harrisburg City Council, and Carlisle School Board Member Rick Coplen. Former Lancaster television news anchor Janele Stelson is also expected to soon become a Democratic congressional candidate.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates PA-10 as R+9. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the seat as the 37th most vulnerable district in the Republican Conference. Therefore, the data again favors Rep. Perry regardless of who wins the upcoming Democratic primary.
For the second time, a former staff member of Texas US Rep. Henry Cuellar*’s (D-Laredo) is challenging him for re-election. Jose Sanz, who left Rep. Cuellar’s staff as his District Director earlier in the year, is returning as a Republican candidate to hopefully challenge his ex-boss in the 2024 general election. Previously, a former office intern has twice opposed the Congressman in the Democratic primary. Jessica Cisneros ran two close primary campaigns against Mr. Cuellar. In 2022, she forced him into a runoff before losing by just under 300 votes in the secondary election.
Ms. Cisneros says she is contemplating a third run. Rep. Cuellar is favored for re-election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-28 as D+7. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 53rd most vulnerable seat in the 213 member House Democratic Conference.
Iraq War veteran and attorney Derrick Anderson (R) who ran for the 7th District seat in the last election but failed to win the Republican primary, announced that he will return in 2024. Four other Republicans have already declared their candidacies for the politically marginal seat.
Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) is reportedly studying a 2025 run for Governor, and if she ultimately moves in that direction would not seek re-election to the House in 2024. Therefore, this race would move up the competitive scale. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the VA-7 seat as D+2. The Daily Kos Elections statisticians rank the 7th as the 14th most vulnerable seat in the 213-member Democratic conference.
Three-term Virginia US Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) announced during the week that she will not run for a fourth term next year due to a tragic health diagnosis.
"I've always believed that honesty is the most important value in public service, so I want to be honest with you now – this new diagnosis is a tough one. There is no 'getting better' with PSP (Progressive Supranuclear Palsy).”
Virginia’s 10th Congressional District is anchored in Loudoun County and contains Fauquier and Rappahannock counties along with parts of Prince William and Fairfax counties. The cities of Manassas and Manassas Park are also included.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+8, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 55.2D – 43.0R. President Joe Biden carried this district with a substantial 58.3 – 40.2% margin. We can expect a competitive open campaign to develop here, but the eventual Democratic nominee will have a clear advantage in the general election.
Earlier this year, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach) indicated interest in running for what will be an open Governor’s office when incumbent Ron DeSantis (R) will be ineligible to seek a third term. Now, he is saying that such talk is premature. On the other hand, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples) confirmed yesterday that he would consider such a run. Though it is years away, this open Governor’s race will be highly competitive in both party primaries and the general election.
If Gov. DeSantis were to win his current campaign, he of course would resign as Governor before assuming the Presidency. Such would mean Lt. Governor Jeanette Nunez (R) ascending to the Governor’s position. She would not be barred from running in 2026 for a full term in her own right.
The October 14th open Louisiana primary is nearing, and a new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey for Gray Television (9/12-15; 625 LA registered voters; live interview) projects Attorney General and former Congressman Jeff Landry (R) leading Democratic ex-Transportation Department Secretary Shawn Wilson and previous gubernatorial chief of staff and business leader Stephen Waguespack (R) by a 40-24-9% margin.
All candidates are placed on the same ballot for the October 14th election. If no candidate receives majority support, which is a likely result, the top two finishers would advance to a November 18th runoff election.
Mr. Landry looks to be in good shape against his potential runoff opponents. Opposite Mr. Wilson, the Landry advantage is 52-39%. If Mr. Waguespack were to qualify for the second runoff position, the Attorney General’s lead is an even greater 52-27%. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who has endorsed Mr. Wilson as his successor, is ineligible to run for a third term.
Progressive left pollster Change Research sampled the Tar Heel State electorate (9/1-5; 914 NC likely 2024 general election voters; online) and found Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) leading Attorney General Josh Stein (D) by a 42-38% count in the open Governor’s race. The four-point Republican margin is the same as CR found in the presidential contest, as former President Donald Trump held a 46-42% edge over President Biden. Both Messrs. Robinson and Stein are heavy favorites to win their respective party’s gubernatorial nomination.
Former Congressman and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz (R) this week ruled out challenging Gov. Spencer Cox in next year’s Republican primary and also said, while not closing the door on running for Sen. Mitt Romney*’s (R) open seat, that the Senate race is “not something I’m actively pursuing.” The political move he finds most attractive at present is entering the open 2028 gubernatorial campaign when Gov. Cox will be ineligible to seek re-election.
Late this week, the Pennsylvania Senate on a lopsided 45-2 vote endorsed legislation that would move the state’s primary, including nomination votes for all 2024 offices, from April 23rd to March 19th. The move would place the state in a more influential position for the presidential nomination process. If the state House of Representatives and Governor Josh Shapiro (D) agree, the change in date will place the Keystone State vote on the same day as primaries in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, and Ohio. All March 19th primaries except for Illinois and Ohio feature stand-alone presidential primaries for both parties.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) this week indicated that he would select December 9th as the runoff election date for any contest that is not decided in the coming November 7th election.
Under Texas law, a runoff is not officially scheduled until it is certain that one would be required. The open Houston mayoral contest largely between US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) and state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) is likely the premier electoral contest that will require a secondary vote. The Abbott comments give the candidates a better idea as to how much time they will have for runoff campaigning.
The open mayoral runoff election was held on Tennessee’s unique Thursday election day, and the progressive left candidate, Freddie O’Connell who is an elected member of the Davidson County Metro Council, recorded the victory. He easily defeated GOP strategist Alice Rolli on a 63-36% count. Mr. O’Connell will succeed Mayor John Cooper, brother of former Congressman Jim Cooper (D). The Mayor did not seek re-election.
Dan Lurie, an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune and cousin to freshman US Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY), announced that he will join San Francisco County Supervisor Ahsha Safai (D) as 2024 election opponents to San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D). The mayoral campaign, labeled as nonpartisan, will be run concurrently with the regular 2024 election calendar. Both Lurie and Safai are attacking Mayor Breed on her handling of the crime issue, which has led to many businesses and residents leaving the city. Expect this to be a competitive contest.
*denotes candidate received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2023-2024 election cycle.
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