Monthly Archives: April 2022

Michigan Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

April 22, 2022 — Major party candidate filing has now closed in the Wolverine State, and we see some highly competitive contests forming for November.

With no senator on the 2022 ballot, the governor’s race tops the ballot. No fewer than 10 Republicans filed in an attempt to oppose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in the November election. The governor drew no Democratic opposition for the Aug. 2 state primary.

The leading GOP contender appears to be former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, but he must first secure the Republican nomination.

Within the large field, he can expect competition at least from chiropractor and well-known anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano, former Berrien County Commissioner and ex-state police captain Mike Brown, and online talk show host Tudor Dixon. The general election yields a race that promises to be one of the top campaigns in the country and polling suggests that the projected Whitmer-Craig contest is already a toss-up.

We will also see serious November competition in most of the state’s 13 congressional districts on a map the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members purposefully drew to feature the maximum number of tight political districts.

In two contests, the major party general election pairings are already set. First District US Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/ Upper Peninsula) must subdue a challenge from Marquette County Medical Director Bob Lorinser (D). In an R+24 district, according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, where the congressman exceeded 61 percent of the vote in 2020, Rep. Bergman becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-election in November.

What began as an incumbent pairing between Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) because the state lost a seat in national reapportionment, is now a general election that will produce little in the way of political suspense.

With Upton recently announcing his retirement and state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo) deciding to exit the congressional race and seek re-election to his current position, those moves have surprisingly left Rep. Huizenga unopposed for re-nomination in the new 4th CD. His general election opponent will be retail banker Joseph Alfonso (D) in a race that should offer only minimal competition for the six-term incumbent.

Reps. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Lisa McClain (R-Bruce) face little in the way of competition for both re-nomination and re-election. Rep. Dingell, however, is placed in a new 6th District that contains 44 percent new territory and is without the family’s home base of Dearborn. A member of the Dingell family has represented Dearborn as a part of their district in Congress consecutively since 1933.

Freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) received one of the tougher draws on the new map. His 3rd District, while still anchored in Grand Rapids, moves from an R+9 rating to D+3. He first must secure re-nomination over former Trump Administration official John Gibbs and attorney Gabi Manolache. Meijer then will again face his 2020 opponent, Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten, who held him to a 53-47 percent victory in the more Republican 3rd District version. The new 3rd contains 50 percent new territory for the congressman, including the Democratic city of Muskegon.

Even though Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) loses her home base, finds herself in a district with 38 percent new territory, and must compete in an R+7 new 7th District, she actually gains a political point when compared to the current 8th District that she now represents. Still, winning re-election with just a 51-47 percent spread and facing tougher Republican competition from state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Lansing) means this race will become a top GOP national target.

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Self-Funding Candidates Saving GOP

By Jim Ellis

April 21, 2022 — The first-quarter financial reports are now public and we see a stark difference between Democrats and Republicans in funding for the key May primary Senate races, particularly in Pennsylvania and Ohio. If it wasn’t for self-funding candidates in these two states, the GOP would be in trouble.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman holds strong polling leads over his primary opponents as well as a major fundraising advantage over all contenders. According to the Federal Election Commission’s March 31 campaign finance reporting, Fetterman has raised just over $15 million for his US Senate effort.

His receipts total is well over $9 million more than his chief Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), and his $5.7 million aggregate figure. The third competitive Democrat, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), has obtained $1.8 million. None of the three Democrats have self-funded their races to any degree.

The Pennsylvania Republicans, on the other hand, offer a stark contrast. While the top two GOP resource candidates, television doctor Mehmet Oz and ex-hedge fund CEO David McCormick, report aggregate receipts in the same realm as Fetterman, the sources are very different.

Dr. Oz posts total receipts through March 31 of $13.4 million and McCormick has $11.3 million. The difference, however, is that 82 percent of Dr. Oz’s money comes from him, and 61 percent of McCormick’s money is self-donated, mostly in the form of campaign loans.

The same pattern also appears for the third-highest funded Republican candidate, former US Ambassador Carla Sands. She reports $4.62 million in receipts, but 85 percent of that total comes from her personal funds. The fourth-place candidate, former lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos, is the only one with a majority percentage of his dollars coming from contributors. He has raised $3.4 million, with 62 percent coming from individuals other than himself.

The story is the same in neighboring Ohio. There, the two top fundraising Republicans report self-funding as their major source.

Businessman Mike Gibbons leads all candidates in total receipts with $17.4 million raised. In his case, all but $1 million, or 94 percent of his aggregate total, comes from his own funds. The second-highest Republican in terms of dollars raised is state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who is a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians MLB baseball club, with $11.1 million in receipts. He also has self-donated, mostly in terms of personal loans, 94 percent of his campaign treasury.

We also see the same pattern appear for the Ohio Democrats that exists in Pennsylvania. US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) is the consensus party candidate, way ahead of former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official and 2020 congressional candidate Morgan Harper in terms of polling and money.

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Maryland’s New Map Filing Closes

Please click on the image above or here to go to an interactive version of the map on FiveThirtyEight.

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2022 — A surprising court decision that invalidated the original 2022 Maryland congressional map has made the Free State slightly more competitive for the coming election, and now we see the candidate universe.

The Maryland filing deadline was moved to April 15 from the first postponed deadline of March 22. The original filing was scheduled for Feb. 22 in conjunction with the June 28 primary. The latter election date was moved to July 19 as a result of the original congressional map being disqualified in court.

With the new map in place, two districts were most affected. The new 1st District of Rep. Andy Harris (R-Cockesyville) returns to safe Republican status at R+25 according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical team. Under the rejected Democratic legislature’s map, the Harris seat was rated only R+8. Rep. David Trone’s (D-Potomac) western Maryland 6th District now moves into Republican territory at R+1, a major change from the D+12 seat that the Democratic legislature drew.

A total of 69 candidates are running for the US House in Maryland, but the most emphasis will be the Democratic primary in Rep. Anthony Brown’s (D-Bowie) open 4th District and Trone’s 6th CD in the general election.

The Democrat’s July 19 primary will determine Rep. Brown’s successor as he joins the open race for state attorney general. The new 4th District, anchored in Prince Georges County, and which stretches as far north as Laurel, is just under 60 percent black and 87.7 percent minority. Therefore, this majority minority seat will elect its new member in the Democratic primary.

A familiar face filed towards the end of the period — former 4th District Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D), who won a special election in 2008, and then clinched four more regular electoral contests. She unsuccessfully ran for the Senate in 2016, and now is attempting a comeback with her successor, Rep. Brown, moving on.

Edwards’ main competitor is former Prince Georges County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey who was the clear leader until the former congresswoman returned. The third key candidate is former state Delegate Angela Angel. A fourth contender, state Delegate Jazz Lewis (D-Largo), decided to file for re-election and dropped out of the congressional race. Six other Democrats filed, but appear to be minor candidates as the race is winnowing to the three aforementioned contenders.

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Senate Snippets

By Jim Ellis

April 19, 2022 — We have seen recent changes in many key 2022 in-cycle Senate races. Below is a competitive state-by-state recap:

Alabama: Polling now consistently shows that the GOP nomination battle, which will determine who will replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), is turning into a two-way race. Early leader Mo Brooks, the northern Alabama congressman who former President Trump originally endorsed only to see him recently rescind his support, has now dropped well back. It appears clear that “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant and former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt will advance to a runoff election. The Alabama primary is May 24 with the succeeding runoff scheduled for June 21.

Alaska: State Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) withdrew from the race to seek re-election to the legislature, and 2020 Senate nominee Al Gross filed to run for the at-large US House special election; thus the Democrats have no announced candidate. Candidate filing is June 1 for the Aug. 16 primary. The new election system will send four candidates to the general election, so whoever comes forth as a Democratic contender will likely advance to November. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is seeking re-election.

Arizona: Recent polling continues to show a tight GOP contest among Attorney General Tim Brnovich, and businessmen Blake Masters and Jim Lamon. Candidate filing is closed, so the field is set for the Aug. 2 primary. The eventual Republican nominee will challenge freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D).

Arkansas: Sen. John Boozman continues to campaign hard in a Republican primary battle against former University of Arkansas football player and Iraq War veteran Jake Bequette. The senator is still a heavy favorite for re-nomination and re-election.

California: Appointed Sen. Alex Padilla (D) is a cinch for election to a full term in the autumn.

Colorado: Only state Rep. Ron Hanks (R-Fremont) and construction company owner Joe O’Dea qualified for the Republican primary either through the state nominating assembly or petitioning onto the ballot. Early leaders Deborah Flora, a talk show host, and former Olympian Eli Bremer failed to qualify. Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is favored for re-election.

Connecticut: Seven Republicans have announced their candidacies against Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D). The two most credible candidates appear to be former Republican National Committeewoman Leora Levy, who has almost $1 million cash-on-hand, and state Senate Minority Leader Themis Klarides. This race may draw a bit of attention, but it’s still a very long shot for any Republican to beat Sen. Blumenthal.

Florida: Both Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) have now each raised more than $30 million for the 2022 race, and both have over $13 million cash-on-hand. Sen. Rubio remains favored in a state that is moving closer to the GOP, but Rep. Demings has now actually raised a bit more money than the incumbent. A close finish here is virtually guaranteed.

Georgia: Polling suggests that former University of Georgia and NFL football star Herschel Walker will win the Republican nomination outright on May 24, thus setting the stage for the general election between he and freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D).

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Ohio Entering Home Stretch

Ohio redistricting map in question (click on map above or here to go to FiveThirtyEight’s interactive map)

By Jim Ellis

April 18, 2022 — We’re on the threshold of entering the final two weeks before the Ohio primary on May 3, and the candidates for all offices are swinging into high gear just as the state Supreme Court rejected another set of redistricting maps.

The state House of Representatives and Senate primaries having been postponed, because the legislature and state Supreme Court cannot find common ground pertaining to the new district lines; no new primary date has been set. Late last week, for the fourth time, the judicial body rejected the legislature’s draw for their own political boundaries in both chambers. Since the Ohio Constitution does not give the courts the authority to draw maps, all the justices can do is return the plans to the legislature and order them to begin yet again.

News is occurring in the races that are headed toward nominations. The new Remington Research Group US Senate GOP primary survey (April 11-12; 884 likely Ohio Republican primary voters, interactive voice response system) finds former state treasurer, Josh Mandel, forging back into the lead and state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians MLB franchise, moving into contention.

The statewide GOP primary ballot test finds Mandel leading the pack with 23 percent as compared to businessman Mike Gibbons’ 17 percent, Sen. Dolan’s 15 percent, former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken posting 12 percent, and author J.D. Vance trailing at 10 percent.

Reports suggest that an endorsement coming for Vance from former President Donald Trump is imminent. If so, the polling standings will change. Remington posed a second ballot test question to the current respondent pool asking how they would vote if knowing Trump had endorsed Vance. While Mandel would still lead, his edge shrinks to 19 percent; Gibbons, Dolan, and Vance would bunch together at 15 percent; and Timken drops to 11 percent.

If the reports of Trump endorsing Vance prove true, the Remington poll suggests that such a move would likely change the race’s flow. The Trump involvement in such a manner appears to make a close contest even closer.

The Remington survey is the tenth poll taken of the Republican Senate primary since the beginning of February. Gibbons has led in six of them and Mandel three, with one showing a three-way tie among the two aforementioned men and Vance. The fact that all five of the key candidates, at one time or another, have been within shouting distance of the lead suggests that any one of them could catch a flyer at the end and propel themselves into a nomination victory with a small plurality.

On the Democratic side, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) appears to be cruising toward an easy nomination victory against former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official and 2020 failed congressional candidate Morgan Harper.

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