Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Millionaire Candidate in Florida; Moreno for Senate, Again; MD-6 News; Chicago, the Dem’s Kind of Town

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, April 13, 2023

Senate

Independent Florida businessman Keith Gross

Florida: Sen. Scott Draws Millionaire GOP Opponent — As has been expected for weeks, independent businessman Keith Gross announced his US Senate candidacy against Sen. Rick Scott (R). Gross, a multi-millionaire, will challenge Sen. Scott in the Republican primary. He is clearly running as a conservative, based upon the rhetoric in his announcement video, but it will not be easy getting to the right of Sen. Scott.

Though Gross is capable of self-financing his campaign, resources will not be an issue for Sen. Scott. Then, as Florida’s governor, Scott, not counting money raised, spent $64 million of his own money for the 2018 Senate campaign. The primary challenge could, however, spur a potentially stronger Democratic opponent to come forth, thinking the nomination battle might weaken the incumbent. Therefore, this August 2024 Republican primary will draw national attention.

Ohio: Bernie Moreno Again — In 2022, wealthy Ohio businessman Bernie Moreno (R) entered the open US Senate race but dropped out before the May primary when it became clear he could not win the race. With state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) as the only 2024 announced candidate to challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), and the lone returning 2022 contender, Moreno has again chosen to throw his hat into the ring.

Others are expected to join the race, which will more than likely mean another crowded multi-candidate field, just as we saw a year ago when author and now Sen. J.D. Vance (R) rose to claim the nomination in May and eventually the seat in November. The Ohio race is one of the Republicans’ top national conversion targets.

House

MD-6: Republican Returning for Another Try — US Air Force veteran Mariela Roca, who finished third in a six-way 2022 Republican congressional primary, announced that she will again run in her western Maryland district next year. The 6th District, which the court-drawn plan made more Republican by removing a huge section of Montgomery County, appeared headed for a close finish between Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) and state Delegate Neil Parrott (R-Frederick). After the late votes were recorded, however, Rep. Trone recorded a substantial 55-45 percent victory, a margin of almost 25,000 votes.

In an open seat situation, however, this could become a highly competitive district. Sen. Ben Cardin (D) — who will be 81 years old before the next election — says he will decide shortly if he will seek a fourth term. This, after serving 20 years in the US House and another 20 years in the Maryland House of Delegates.

Should Sen. Cardin opt to retire, Rep. Trone would be a prime prospect to jump into an open Senate race. If these events occur, then the 6th District is sure to feature competitive Democratic and Republican primaries, and a tight general election.

Cities

Democratic National Committee: Chooses Chicago — For the 12th time, the Democratic National Committee has selected Chicago to host its national convention. The 2024 gathering will be the 50th such national conclave. A total of 18 cities have held the 50 Democratic conventions, with Chicago doing so most often. Eight others have hosted more than one: Baltimore (9), New York (5), St. Louis (4), and Philadelphia (3), with two each for Cincinnati, Denver, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Late last year, the Republicans chose Milwaukee as the site of their 2024 national convention.

Biden Confirms He’ll Run Again; Trump Picks Up Endorsements;
A Possible Senate Bid for Police Chief Craig; Casey Announces in PA;
“No Labels” Has Sights Set on Ohio

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, April 12

President

President Joe Biden

President Biden: Plans to Run — In an interview with NBC’s Al Roker, President Biden confirmed that he “plans to run” for re-election, though is not yet ready to make a formal announcement. It is again surprising that the 2024 presidential race on both sides is not coming into form more quickly. With no one launching a serious Democratic primary challenge to the President, he certainly is under no pressure to formally announce his re-election candidacy anytime soon.

Donald Trump: Florida Congressional Endorsements — Former President Donald Trump continues to make inroads from Gov. Ron DeSantis’ home state of Florida. Rep. Cory Mills (R-New Smyrna Beach) announced his endorsement of former President Trump Monday, as did his colleague, Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Naples/Ft. Myers). Previously, Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach) and Anna Paulina Luna (R-St. Petersburg) had publicly announced their support of Trump.

Senate

Michigan: Ex-Police Chief Craig Looking Toward Senate — Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) had planned to enter the Michigan governor’s race in 2022 but failed to submit the required number of valid petition signatures. Now, reports are surfacing that Craig is considering entering the open US Senate race. At this point, Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder is the only current or former Republican elected official to declare for the race. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) is the most well-known Democrat to step forward.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is not seeking a fifth term. Democrats will be favored to retain the open Michigan seat, but another close election result is expected.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Casey Announces — Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) indicated his re-election plans were on hold until he received a clean bill of health from his surgeon. Earlier in the year, Sen. Casey underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer. Apparently, the senator has received positive reports from his physicians, because on Monday he announced his re-election effort.

Sen. Casey, who is the son of the late former Pennsylvania Governor Bob Casey Sr., was first elected in 2006, defeating then-Sen. Rick Santorum (R). He was re-elected in 2012 and 2018 with 54 and 56 percent of the vote, respectively. He will again be favored to clinch a fourth term next year.

States

Ohio: No Labels Files Signatures — The No Labels organization is attempting to qualify for ballot position in many states with the goal of offering centrist candidates in various races, possibly including that of president. The entity has so far qualified for a ballot line in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon. Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) announced Monday that the No Labels organization has petitioned for recognition in the Buckeye State. LaRose indicated that the signature verification process to determine if the group has met the state political party recognition requirement has begun.

Though the No Labels leadership — which includes former US senator and 2000 Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Lieberman and former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan as national co-chairmen — has so far indicated they are not looking to file a presidential candidate, both parties are wary that they might.

In different states, No Labels could hurt each party. It is also conceivable that Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema could run for re-election on the No Labels line since the party has qualified in her state of Arizona. The Arizona Democratic Party, however, has filed a lawsuit attempting to invalidate its status claiming the No Labels organization has not completely fulfilled Arizona’s legal requirements.

Arizona Sheriff May Announce for Senate; Senate Candidates Poised in Nevada; CA-27 Candidates Emerging

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Senate

Arizona’s Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R)

Arizona: Republicans May Soon Have a Candidate — Political reports in Arizona suggest that Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R) may announce his US Senate candidacy as early as this week. Most of the attention so far has been upon whether 2022 gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake would enter the race. She has yet to say whether another campaign is in her immediate plans.

Democratic Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) is an announced candidate, and has been leading in the most recent polling. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) appears to be preparing to seek a second term, but has not yet said whether she will run on the No Labels Party ticket after leaving the Democrats. Count upon the Arizona Senate race again becoming one of the top races in the country next year.

Nevada: Rosen Raising; Republicans Deciding — Nevada political sources indicate that both former GOP US Senate candidate Sam Brown and defeated 2022 congressional nominee April Becker may both soon announce 2024 US Senate campaigns.

Brown became more of a factor in the 2022 Senate primary than originally expected due to impressive fundraising, but still lost to former state Attorney General Adam Laxalt who would then lose a close general election contest to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D). Becker lost a 52-48 percent decision to Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) in the 3rd Congressional District battle.

Meanwhile, incumbent Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) has been hard at work on the fundraising trail. Her campaign indicates the senator will report $2.4 million raised for the quarter ending March 31, with more than $6 million cash-on-hand. Expect another close race here, but Sen. Rosen must be considered the favorite to win a second term.

House

CA-27: Two Democrats Making Moves — Southern California US Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) won his most impressive victory in 2022, a 53-47 percent victory over former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D) in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+8, and Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the district partisan lean at 53.7D – 44.3R. With Smith now losing three times, Democrats are looking toward other options. We can again expect this to become a national congressional campaign.

Former Virgin Galactic CEO and ex-NASA chief of staff George Whitesides (D), who was the first to announce his candidacy earlier this year, is reportedly going to disclose more than $500,000 raised for the 2024 race in the March 31 Federal Election Commission quarterly disclosure report and another $500,000 self-contributed.

Franky Carrillo (D), who was wrongly imprisoned for 22 years for a murder later proved that he did not commit, and was then awarded a $19 million settlement from the state of California, is expected to formally launch his campaign later this month.

Retired Army Pilot Returns for
Re-Match in PA-1; Archuleta to Retire?; Missouri Gov. Race; Denver, Houston Mayoral Races

By Jim Ellis — Monday, April 10, 2023

House

Retired Army pilot Ashley Ehasz (D)

PA-1: Nominee Returning — Retired Army pilot Ashley Ehasz (D), who fell last November to four-term Pennsylvania Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) by a 55-45 percent count, will return for a re-match, she announced late last week. The 10-point spread was the congressman’s strongest performance since he first began running for the seat in 2016.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the Philadelphia suburban district as EVEN. It is likely Democrats will want to find a stronger 2024 candidate, but Ehasz’s presence in the race suggests a primary contest will result if the party leadership decides to recruit a different contender.

CA-31: Preparing for Retirement? — California state Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Norwalk) filed a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission last week. This is a curious move since veteran Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) has not announced that she is retiring. The act of filing a federal committee is not necessarily an official declaration of candidacy, but does allow the raising of federal funds.

Rep. Napolitano will be 87 years old at the time of the next election and is clearly a retirement possibility. Sen. Archuleta is now officially waiting in the wings. It is unlikely that he will launch a primary challenge against the incumbent since he would be risking his state Senate seat to do so. The 31st Congressional District is heavily Hispanic and Democratic, so any primary challenge will likely result in a double Democratic general election campaign under California’s all-party jungle primary system.

Governor

Missouri: Secretary of State Enters Governor Race — As expected, the “Show Me” state’s Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft (R), the son of former Missouri senator and US Attorney General John Ashcroft (R), announced late last week that he will enter the open 2024 governor’s race. Ashcroft was first elected to his statewide post in 2016, and re-elected in 2020. He lost his first race, however, a St. Louis-area state Senate campaign in 2014.

Gov. Mike Parson (R), who assumed the governorship in June of 2018 after then-Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was forced to resign and then was elected to a full term in 2020, is ineligible to seek a second full term.

Already in the open Republican primary are Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe and state Sen. Bill Eigel (R-St. Charles County), thus guaranteeing a nomination fight. No Democrat has yet declared his or her candidacy. Republicans will be favored to hold the position in the general election.

Cities

Denver Mayor: Runoff Set — Last Tuesday’s open mayoral primary in Denver that featured 16 candidates attempting to succeed retiring Mayor Michael Hancock (D), who is ineligible to run for a third term, has now been officially decided. The two candidates advancing to the November runoff election are both Democrats.

The official general election contenders will be former state senator and ex-gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston and ex-Denver Chamber of Commerce CEO and former mayoral chief of staff Kelly Brough. Brough served as then-Mayor John Hickenlooper’s top aide. Hickenlooper is now, of course, Colorado’s current junior US senator and a former governor and presidential candidate. A competitive general election is expected.

Houston Mayor: New Candidate Emerging — Former Houston mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee, who lost the 2019 runoff to Mayor Sylvester Turner, 55-45 percent after spending $12 million of his own money, may enter the 2023 campaign. Buzbee was quoted as saying he could spend $15-50 million more of his own money to win the election. His stated belief is that he is the only candidate who could defeat US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston), who is now an official mayoral contender.

Candidate filing does not conclude until August, so this open race still has much time to solidify. Mayor Turner is ineligible to seek a third term and is openly considering entering the 2024 Senate race against incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

Trump’s Numbers Under Indictment; House Battles in CA-45, MI-3, NM-2; Morrisey to Run for WVa Governor

By Jim Ellis — Friday, April 7, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump appears in court with members of his legal team for an arraignment on Tuesday, April 4. (Andrew Kelly/Pool/Reuters)

Under Indictment: Trump’s Numbers — Though under indictment, former President Donald Trump sees his polling numbers continue to improve, this time in three states. His lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and others, has grown according to new surveys from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, while his deficit has tightened in Florida.

Clearly, looking at his flash polling numbers and post-indictment, multi-million dollar fundraising haul, there is no question that former President Trump’s political base is rising to the occasion. The question is, as this legal process will almost assuredly drag on for the foreseeable future, will he be politically sustained for the long run?

The early states next year will be critical for Trump. The court scheduled his next appearance for Dec. 4, which is just two months before the Feb. 5 Iowa Caucuses. At that point, perception could change.

House

CA-45: New Field Forming Against Rep. Steel — Harvard-educated attorney Aditya Pai, who moved to Orange County from India as a child when eight years old, announced that he will join the growing field to challenge two-term Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County) in next March’s all-party jungle primary. Already declared are Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Nguyen and attorney Cheyenne Hunt. Jay Chen, the Community College Trustee who held Rep. Steel to a 52-48 percent re-election win in November, is also a potential candidate.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-45 as D+5. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a 52.2D – 45.9R partisan lean. Rep. Steel was recently added to the Democrats’ Frontline target list. We can expect another competitive campaign here next year.

MI-3: Another Attempt — Financial Advisor Michael Markey (R) intended to run for the House two years ago, but the company he hired to gather petition signatures failed to complete the job and his candidacy was rejected. Now, with a new incumbent in the redrawn 3rd District, freshman Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids), Markey returns. This time, it is likely he will better handle the campaign mechanics.

Rep. Scholten won the 3rd District after GOP incumbent Peter Meijer was defeated for renomination. For his part, Meijer may run for the Senate. The 2021 redistricting map changed the 3rd CD from one that favored Republicans when then-Rep. Meijer was first elected (R+9 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization), to its current D+3 configuration.

NM-2: Re-Match on Tap — Former New Mexico Congresswoman Yvette Herrell (R), who lost her re-election bid by a razor-thin 50.3 – 49.7 percent margin to freshman Rep. Gabe Vasquez (D-Las Cruces) is preparing for a re-match. Herrell has already filed a 2024 committee with the Federal Election Commission and has scheduled an April 10 kick-off event for her new campaign that will feature House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA).

The 2nd will yield another competitive congressional contest and promises to be a top Republican conversion target. The district was re-drawn with a 19-point swing from the previous version giving the Democrats a small advantage.

Governor

West Virginia: AG Morrisey to Run for Governor — As has been expected at least since a mid-March National Research, Inc. Republican primary poll found him leading the open GOP field, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey announced that he will enter the 2024 gubernatorial campaign.

In 2018, Morrisey held Sen. Joe Manchin (D) to a 49.6 – 46.3 percent re-election win. He has averaged 55.5 percent of the vote in his three victories as the state’s attorney general. In the 2018 Republican Senatorial primary, Morrisey defeated five opponents with 35 percent of the vote.

Currently, there are eight candidates in the gubernatorial race including Morrisey, Secretary of State Mac Warner, State Auditor J.B. McCuskey, state Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston), the son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), and auto dealer Chris Miller, son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington). Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is ineligible to seek a third term, is likely to run for the Senate.

High Possibility Sen. Sinema to Join “No Labels” Party in Ariz.; Hutchinson Announces; Justice With Big Lead in WVa; New Candidates in AZ-1, FL-11

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, April 6, 2023

President

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ)

No Labels Party: AZ Democrats Sue to Disqualify — The No Labels Party is attempting to qualify for the ballot in as many states as possible, and has already done so in Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, and Oregon. The Arizona Democratic Party, however, has filed a lawsuit attempting to disqualify the No Labels entity under the reasoning that Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes was in error for certifying the organization because it doesn’t meet all of the legal qualifications. The ADP claims that No Labels has not filed with the Federal Election Commission nor have they disclosed their donors, both requirements for political parties under Arizona election law.

The Arizona Democrats are particularly concerned about No Labels because a candidate under this banner could potentially draw Democratic votes away from President Biden while further attracting a large percentage of Democratic support for Independent and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a former Democrat, now an Independent. Arizona is again expected to deliver very close statewide election results in 2024, as its electorate has done in the last two elections.

There is a strong possibility that Sen. Sinema could run as the No Labels Senate candidate. Doing so would allow her to qualify for the ballot with far fewer petition signatures than required to secure an Independent ballot line. Under Arizona procedure, an Independent candidate would be required to submit 45,000 valid registered voter petition signatures. A new party’s candidate would see such a signature requirement drop to less than 1,300.

Asa Hutchinson: Announces Candidacy — Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who has repeatedly come out in opposition to former President Donald Trump, announced that he will become a presidential candidate. Though Hutchinson would be considered a “Never Trumper,” his jumping into the race could well help the former president because even small numbers of votes deflect from whoever becomes Trump’s top opponent, likely Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, will allow the former to score a plurality victory.

Senate

West Virginia: New GOP Primary Poll Finds Gov. Justice with Big Lead — The National Public Affairs survey research firm released the results of their new West Virginia US Senate Republican primary poll. The study (March 14-17; 360 likely West Virginia Republican primary voters and Independents likely to vote in the Republican primary; live interview & text), unsurprisingly finds Gov. Jim Justice leading Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) and US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) with a 43-21-10 percent count. If the race were only between Gov. Justice and Rep. Mooney, the governor would hold a 55-24 percent advantage.

It is likely that Morrisey will likely opt for the open governor’s race instead of taking on Justice in another Senate primary. In 2018, Morrisey held Sen. Joe Manchin (D) to a 50-46 percent re-election victory after easily winning the Republican primary. A Senate announcement from Gov. Justice is expected soon.

House

AZ-1: Democrats Rebound with New Candidate — Late last week, 2022 congressional nominee Jevin Hodge (D), who held Arizona Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) to a tight 50.4 – 49.6 percent victory margin, announced that he would not return for a re-match. State Rep. Amish Shah (D-) said Monday that he will run.

The newly-configured 1st District electorate is voting much more Democratic than the FiveThirtyEight R+7 rating would suggest. Though Rep. Schweikert barely won, President Joe Biden, Sen. Mark Kelly (D), and Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) all carried the 1st district in their 2020 and 2022 elections, albeit by similarly slim margins. Expect AZ-1 to be a top-tier Democratic conversion seat in the next election.

FL-11: Rep. Webster to Face Primary Challenge — Former Florida state Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R), who finished a distant second to now-Rep. Cory Mills (R-New Smyrna Beach) in the open 7th District Republican primary last year, announced that he will challenge veteran Rep. Dan Webster (R-Clermont) next year in the neighboring 11th District. Sabatini will be a long-shot contender, but he will likely be able to attract sufficient resources to become competitive.

No 2024 Re-Match in Ariz.;
MI-4 Re-Match on the Horizon; Killdeer Announces Cancer Diagnosis; Re-Election Run in WI-1

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, April 5, 2023

House

Arizona businessman Jevin Hodge (D)

AZ-1: No 2024 Re-Match — Arizona businessman Jevin Hodge (D), who held veteran Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) to a scant 50.4 – 49.6 percent re-election victory last November, a margin of 3,195 votes that proved the 12th-closest vote spread of all US House races, said Friday that he will not return to seek a re-match in 2024.

Even without Hodge as the party nominee, the Democrats are expected to make this race a key 2024 conversion target. Rep. Schweikert, still dealing with the after-effects from the penalties for 11 House ethics violations and an official reprimand in 2020, only recorded 43 percent in a three-way 2022 Republican primary. Therefore, it is probable that the congressman will again have strong Republican and Democratic challengers next year. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 1st District as R+7. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 50.9R – 47.5D.

MI-4: Re-Match on the Horizon — After Michigan Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) was the victim of his state losing a congressional seat in 2020 national reapportionment, he found himself paired with veteran Rep. Fred Upton (R). Upon Upton then deciding to retire after serving 18 terms, Rep. Huizenga was viewed as a lock for re-election. Surprisingly, however, his victory margin was only 54-42 percent against Marine Corps veteran Joseph Alonso (D) who spent just $36,159 on his campaign.

Last Friday, Alonso announced he will return for a re-match in 2024, and we can expect the Democrats to take a more serious look at his candidacy and the new 4th District. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat R+9, and the newly adjusted Dave’s Redistricting App calculations casts a 51.8R – 45.1D partisan lean. Rep. Huizenga is reportedly considering a run for the state’s open Senate seat but is ultimately expected to seek re-election next year.

MI-8: Rep. Killdeer Announces Cancer Diagnosis — Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) made public last week his cancer diagnosis, but the prognosis for full recovery post-treatment is strong. At this point, the congressman is expected to seek re-election next year. In 2024, he turned back a competitive challenge from former news anchorman Paul Junge (R) with a 53-43 percent margin.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MI-8 as R+1, but Dave’s Redistricting App, in their adjusted post 2022 election ratings, calculates the partisan lean at 51.0D – 46.2R.

WI-1: Rep. Steil “Plans” to Seek Re-Election — During an interview last Friday, House Administration Committee chairman Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) says he is “planning” to seek re-election to his southern Wisconsin US House district and not challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) next year. The senator is expected to formally announce her re-election campaign later this month.

The statewide odd-year election could potentially change Rep. Steil’s mind, however. Should Democrat Janet Protasiewicz win the state Supreme Court election and flip the judicial panel to a Democratic majority, it is likely that immediate lawsuits will be filed to overturn the state’s congressional map. Protasiewicz has already said that she thinks the current 6R-2D federal plan is “unfair,” so it is likely that she, and the other Democratic justices, would vote to overturn the map.

If all of this happens, both Reps. Steil and freshman Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien/La Crosse) could find their congressional districts on the partisan chopping block. At that point, talk of Rep. Steil running for the Senate could re-emerge.