Scanning the Country – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2017 — Continuing on our political journey around America, we now look at the next set of states — Hawaii through Michigan — examining whether members from the various federal delegations may be looking to retire and/or seek a different office.

Hawaii: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D) stands for her first re-election and major opposition is not expected. Gov. David Ige (D) will likely seek a second term. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) will be safe for their respective re-elections, though the latter has had meetings with the Trump Transition team indicating at least the possibility of a future Administration appointment.

Idaho: Gov. Butch Otter (R) will not seek a fourth term, meaning an open governor’s race. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) has already publicly expressed his potential interest in running for the position. After easily fending off a 2014 primary challenge, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) is again secure for re-election. Idaho has no US Senate election in 2018.

Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is sure to draw major competition. Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson/Chicago) and Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) have been mentioned among many others as potential candidates. Sen. Dick Durbin (D) has already said he will not run for governor in 2018. Rauner’s chief opponent, however, could be Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy (D), son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar became the first official Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Illinois has no Senate race in the coming cycle. Returning Rep. Brad Schneider (D) may get yet another challenge from outgoing Rep. Bob Dold (R). If so, it will be the fourth consecutive election cycle in which the two will have faced each other.

Indiana: With the governor’s race just being decided in November, Sen. Joe Donnelly’s (D) re-election battle will take center stage on the Hoosier State ballot. He can expect tough competition, and the Indiana contest will be one of the top national Senate campaigns. Several names are coming to the forefront as potential challengers including incoming Ft. Wayne Rep. Jim Banks (R), but Rep. Luke Messer (R-Greensburg) appears to be the most serious potential GOP candidate.

Iowa: Gov. Terry Branstad’s (R) appointment as US Ambassador to China allows Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) to ascend to the state’s top job. It is likely she will not draw any primary opposition, meaning the three GOP US Reps are probably frozen in place. The state’s lone Democratic Representative, David Loebsack (D-Iowa City), is mentioned as a possible statewide candidate. Iowa has no 2018 US Senate race.

Kansas: Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, thus opening the major statewide race. With no Senate contest coming in 2018, the governor’s race will attract most of the Kansas political attention. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) appears poised and well positioned to run for the open position. A mid-year special congressional election will take place to determine a successor to Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Wichita) upon his confirmation as CIA Director.

Kentucky: The House races will lead the 2018 ballot, since the next governor’s race will be in 2019 and neither US Senator must stand for re-election. All six Kentucky incumbents are secure, and each is expected to seek another term at the present time.

Louisiana: As in Kentucky, the US House races will lead the 2018 ballot. No Senate race is featured here next year, and Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) doesn’t again face the voters until 2019. As usual, little in the way of challenges is expected for the state’s six congressional incumbents. The primary will again be held concurrently with the 2018 general election (Nov. 6, 2018), so expect Louisiana to once more be the slowest developing political state.

Maine: Sen. Susan Collins (R), not having to defend her seat until 2020, has publicly flirted with the idea of running for governor since incumbent Paul LePage (R) cannot seek a third term. Sen. Angus King (I) stands for his first re-election and Gov. LePage is publicly considering challenging him. Both Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/Portland) and Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/ Bangor) have confirmed at least a passing interest in running for governor.

Maryland: Gov. Larry Hogan (R) will seek a second term in 2018, meaning a new round of political musical chairs among Democratic office holders. Reps. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Cockeysville), John Delaney (D-Potomac), and Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore) have all been mentioned as potential candidates, as well as incoming Rep. Anthony Brown (D) who lost to Hogan in a major upset back in 2014. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) is expected to face little opposition if he chooses to run for a third term.

Massachusetts: Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) will be on the ballot for a second term and appears as a lock for re-election. She is unlikely to face any Democratic primary opposition. Gov. Charlie Baker (R) will seek re-election, and the one name surfacing as a potential opponent from the congressional delegation is two-term Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem). Several Democrats are making moves to run against Gov. Baker, with Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D) being the most active in the early going.

Michigan: Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is ineligible to run for a third term, but the Republican congressional delegation appears quiet in terms of fielding a gubernatorial candidate. Democratic Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Flushing/Flint) and Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn) are prominently mentioned as potential statewide candidates for their party. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is expected to seek a fourth term. At this point, little in the way of opposition to her is developing.

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