Daily Archives: June 21, 2024

Trump Endorses Alaska Lt. Gov. Dahlstrom for House Seat; Ciscomani Leads in Arizona; Rare Poll in IL-17; Five-Term Rep. Graves Won’t Run in LA-6

By Jim Ellis — Friday, June 21, 2024


Alaska Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom (R)

AK-AL: Trump Endorses Lt. Governor — The Alaska at-large district is the most Republican seat that a House Democrat holds. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) has won three congressional elections, largely through the state’s Ranked Choice Voting system. This year, the stage may be set for a similar conclusion. Businessman Nick Begich III (R), nephew of former Democratic US Sen. Mark Begich (D), ran against former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) in the special election when veteran Rep. Don Young (R) passed away, and for both succeeding regular terms. This year, while Palin is not running, Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom has joined the Republican congressional field.

Under the Alaska system, all candidates appear on the jungle primary ballot, and the top four primary finishers advance into the general election irrespective of political party affiliation. Former President Donald Trump announced his endorsement for Dahlstrom, the candidate who enjoys the national and state Republican Party leadership backing. With two strong candidates battling for the Republican vote, it is likely that Rep. Peltola will again finish first among the top four general election finalists. The question to be answered is whether she can reach the 50 percent mark. If not, Ranked Choice Voting then takes effect.

Begich says he will withdraw if Dahlstrom places ahead of him in the initial qualifying election on Aug. 20. Dahlstrom has yet to make a similar promise.

In the latest available published poll, though dated, from Data for Progress (Feb. 23-3/2; 1,120 likely AK-AL voters; online), Begich had a large 41-12 percent lead over Dahlstrom. In a head to head pairing against Rep. Peltola, the congresswoman and Begich tied at 50-50 percent. Once again, the Alaska at-large campaign is a race to watch.

AZ-6: Rep. Ciscomani Holds Comfortable Lead — An internal Public Opinion Strategies poll (May 28-30; 300 likely AZ-6 general election voters; live interview) for the Juan Ciscomani re-election campaign finds the freshman Arizona congressman holding a 50-39 percent advantage over former state senator and 2022 Democratic congressional nominee Kirsten Engel as the two prepare for a rematch from the campaign of two years ago.

The 6th District, which sits in Arizona’s southeastern corner, is politically marginal in nature but made more Republican in the 2021 redistricting plan. In the previous election, Ciscomani defeated Engel, 50.7 – 49.2 percent, a margin of 5,232 votes. The same survey finds former President Donald Trump leading President Joe Biden, but with a smaller margin than Rep. Ciscomani’s advantage, 49-45 percent. In 2020, Biden carried this region with the slightest 49.3 – 49.2 percent edge.

IL-17: Rare Poll is Published — If there is a competitive seat in the Illinois delegation, it is the far western 17th District, anchored in the Quad Cities, which freshman Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline) now represents. Republicans nominated retired circuit judge Joe McGraw back in March. The 1892 survey research organization just released their polling data (released June 19; 400 likely IL-17 voters; live interview) and the results find Rep. Sorensen holding a 44-35 percent lead over McGraw.

The 17th was highly competitive prior to the last redistricting, but the legislative Democrats who drew the plan configured the 17th in a much different manner. The district configuration now resembles the form of a letter “C” beginning in the city of Rockford, then coming west to pick up the Illinois section of the Quad Cities, meaning the cities of Rock Island and Moline, and then turns east to include Galesburg, downtown Peoria, and the territory all the way to Bloomington. The FiveThirtyEight data organization calculates a D+4 rating for the post-redistricting 17th, but that number should realistically increase because of a new Democratic incumbent seeking re-election.

LA-6: Rep. Graves Won’t Run –– This year’s final chapter in the Louisiana redistricting saga perhaps has now been written. Earlier in this election cycle, a court struck down the Louisiana congressional map as a racial gerrymander because a second majority minority seat could be drawn and was not. Then the map was redrawn to transform the current 6th CD into such a district, but it stretched from Baton Rouge to Shreveport. Activists sued to get the map disqualified since it was similar to a draw the courts rejected in 1994 because the Constitution forbids race being a determining factor in drawing districts. Subsequently, the US Supreme Court issued a stay on that ruling, thus reviving the original redraw that created the state’s second majority minority seat.

Though there is likely to be a future challenge to the map, it appears evident that this will be the Louisiana congressional plan that prevails at least for the 2024 election. As a result, the odd man out on this draw is five-term Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) who was left with the choice of running in a decidedly Democratic new 6th CD (Biden ’20: 59-39 percent) or challenging either Republican incumbents Julia Letlow (R-Start) or Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette).

Graves has now decided not to challenge either member, saying he does not wish to upset the Republican political apple cart for what could only be a short-term map. The litigation in this redistricting case is far from over, so Graves’ congressional career may not be ending, but only suspended.

With Rep. Graves leaving the House and state Sen. Michael Rulli (R) winning the OH-6 special election on June 11, it means there are now 50 open congressional seats, 25 from the Democratic column, and 24 from the Republican side, along with the newly created Alabama district through that state’s redraw. The open seat number will reduce to 49 when the vacant Colorado District 4 is filled in a special election on June 25.