Rep. Bucshon to Retire; No Labels: ME, AZ

Continuing the recent cavalcade of retirements, seven-term Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Evansville) announced that he will not seek re-election later this year.

Mr. Bucshon becomes the 43rd member leaving the House, and the 19th Republican. This is another seat that will be non-competitive in the general election, however.

The 8th District, formerly one of the most hotly contested seats in the country to the point where it was nicknamed “the Bloody Eighth,” is no longer a domain that produces close general election results and a large number of incumbent defeats. In his seven successful elections, Rep. Bucshon averaged 61.7% of the vote and has broken the 60% threshold in his last five consecutive campaigns.

IN-8 occupies the southwest corner of Indiana, bordering Kentucky on the south and Illinois on the west. The two largest population centers are the cities of Evansville and Terre Haute. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates IN-8 as the second safest Republican seat in the Hoosier State at R+36. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 50th safest seat in the Republican Conference.

With Reps. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) running for the Senate and Reps. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) and Bucshon retiring, one-third of Indiana’s nine congressional seats now lie in the open category. The candidate filing deadline is February 9th for the associated May 7th Indiana primary election.

No Labels

The No Labels political party, self-described as a centrist organization comprised of “common sense” Democrats and Republicans, announced they have qualified for the ballot in another state but simultaneously are challenging the state of Arizona for allowing candidates for all offices to file under their ballot line.

It is still unclear whether No Labels will file a presidential candidate, which originally appeared as their reason for attempting to obtain ballot presence in all 50 states. Originally, the party had a meeting scheduled in Dallas for April 14-15, at which time the organization would decide whether to file a presidential ticket.

In recent weeks, the leadership has cancelled the in-person meeting and will instead conduct a vote of eligible party members online to determine whether they will move forward with a presidential ticket and who will be their choices if they do proceed.

No Labels has now officially qualified for a ballot line in Maine, increasing the number of states to 13 where they will have ballot presence for the 2024 election. The states where the party has so far secured ballot position are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, and Utah. The party officials claim to have active ballot qualification petition drives underway in an additional 14 unidentified states.

Conversely, the party leadership has filed suit in Arizona trying to block candidates for offices other than President from using their ballot line. The Arizona Secretary of State, Adrian Fontes (D), is treating No Labels as the state would any other political party. That is, a registered voter in that party is eligible to run for any office.

The lawsuit appears dubious. It is doubtful that No Labels will be granted a court ruling that allows the party leaders to bar a qualified individual from running under their ballot line.

Commenting on the No Labels Arizona legal action, Federal Election Commissioner Trey Trainor said, “the No Labels movement attempting to limit ballot access would be a clear violation of the 1st Amendment and, frankly, runs counter to everything the organization has done to qualify for ballot lines in other states.”

Arizona has what is commonly referred to as a “modified primary.” That is, individuals registered as a member of a particular political party must vote in that party’s primary. If one is registered as “Other,” meaning non-affiliated, such an individual may choose a party primary in which to vote. For the presidential election, however, the state uses a closed primary system. That means only people registered in the particular party can vote in the partisan primary election.

Currently, according to the official Arizona Secretary of State voter registration statistics updated for October 2023, the “Other” or non-affiliated category has the most voters, 1,459,432 (34.7% of the Arizona registered universe). Republicans are second with 1,444,953 (34.3%), followed by the Democrats with 1,252,630 (29.7%), the Libertarians (33,713; 0.8%), and No Labels (18,799 registrants; 0.5%).

Considering it is much easier to run as the nominee of a political party in Arizona than an Independent, particularly in the area of recruiting petition signatures, it would not be surprising to see Sen. Kyrsten Sinema* (I) file in the No Labels primary. The Arizona candidate filing deadline is April 8th for the associated August 6th primary election. The Arizona stand-alone presidential primary is scheduled for March 19th.

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