By Jim Ellis
Dec. 21, 2016 — We haven’t even entered the new year yet, and already a rather long list is formulating of individuals either announcing candidacies for other offices, saying they won’t run for certain positions, or refusing to rule out future options.
The following have publicly stated their plans to seek a different office in 2018:
Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) – Indicated her desire to run for governor but will make a formal announcement when her husband’s prostate cancer treatment is completed. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is not eligible to seek a third term.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) – Outgoing Rep. Grayson, who lost the 2016 Senate Democratic primary to Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), says he will challenge Rep. Dan Webster (R) in the safely Republican 11th District. The two faced each other six years ago in the former 8th District, a marginal Orange County seat, and Webster won 56-38%.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) – This week Rep. Grisham announced that she will be an open seat gubernatorial candidate in 2018. Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R-OH) – Mandel announced that he will again challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) in the next election. In 2012, Sen. Brown defeated Mandel, 51-45 percent.
Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD) – Just after the 2016 election, Rep. Noem announced that she will enter the 2018 open South Dakota governor’s race.
These individuals are considering, or at least “have not ruled out” running for statewide offices:
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) – After getting into the 2016 Senate race only to resume his House career when Sen. Marco Rubio (R) reversed course and decided to seek re-election, Rep. DeSantis signaled his desire to run statewide. Now, he is apparently considering another run in two years for the open Attorney General’s post.
Rep. Patrick Murphy (R-FL) – After losing the 2016 Senate race to incumbent Marco Rubio, Rep. Murphy will leave the House at the beginning of next year. He says he is leaving the door open for a governor’s run in 2018.
Rep. Luke Messer (R-IN) – Rep. Messer does not deny he is seriously contemplating challenging Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IL) in 2018.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)/Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN) – With Gov. Mark Dayton not eligible to seek re-election, we will likely see a competitive Democratic nomination contest. Both Sen. Klobuchar and Rep. Walz have admitted to be considering the race.
Reps. Ann Wagner (R-MO)/Vicky Hartzler (R-MO) – Both House members are weighing challenges to vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D).
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) – Admitting to be considering entering the open governor’s race, Rep. Ryan’s long-shot challenge to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) now makes more sense. Though his battle against the former House Speaker ended in a big loss, he did establish himself in the party’s moderate wing, and that will help him in a race for governor of Ohio.
Rep. Lou Barletta (R-PA) — After reportedly being under consideration for Secretary of Labor, Rep. Barletta is not ruling out challenging Gov. Tom Wolf (D).
The following have said they will not run a 2018 statewide campaign:
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) – Sinema says she will not challenge Gov. Doug Ducey (R) when he seeks a second term.
Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) – Sen. Udall made an public announcement saying he will not enter the open 2018 governor’s race.
Ex-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) – Cantor confirms that he will not be a US Senate candidate against incumbent Tim Kaine (D).
Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA) – After being active in attempting to construct a 2017 gubernatorial campaign for the better part of this year, Rep. Wittman has officially closed his statewide campaign apparatus, and says he will seek re-election in 2018.
With so many decisions being made at this early point in the election cycle, it is evident that all of the aforementioned categories will grow exponentially over the ensuing months.