Category Archives: Election Analysis

Challenger May Be DQ’d in Indiana; California Rep. Napolitano to Retire; Barrett Returns in Michigan;
Top-Four vs. RCV in Idaho

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Senate

Indiana: Banks’ GOP Challenger May Be Out — Last week, egg farmer John Rust announced a challenge to Indiana Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) for the open GOP Senate nomination, but his quest might end before it even begins. This week, as the Daily Kos Elections site reports, we find that Rust may not qualify for the ballot because he is not in good standing as a Republican according to Hoosier State election procedure. Because Indiana is a non-party registration state, the GOP candidate qualification requirements include voting in the two most recent Republican primaries, or the approval of the individual’s local GOP county chair.

Rust last voted in the 2016 Republican primary but also participated in the 2012 Democratic primary. Jackson County Republican chair Amanda Lowery is quoted as saying she wants to speak with Rust before making a final determination regarding his qualification status. For his part, Rep. Banks is saying Rust is “a liberal Democrat trying to run in the GOP primary,” and therefore should not be awarded a ballot line.

House

Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk)

CA-31: Rep. Grace Napolitano to Retire — Veteran Congresswoman Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk), who first won her seat in the 1998 election, announced Monday that she will not seek re-election to a 14th term next November. Napolitano, now 86 years old, is the oldest member of the House. She becomes the 14th House member and 10th Democrat to not seek re-election next year, but only the second to outright retire. The remainder are all running for a different office. Napolitano’s retirement decision also creates the fourth open House seat in the California delegation.

In her statement announcing her retirement, the congresswoman endorsed state Sen. Bob Archuleta (D-Norwalk) as her successor. Ironically, Sen. Archuleta, if elected to the House in 2024, would be, at the age of 79, the second-oldest freshman in American history. At a D+29 rating from the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the seat will not be competitive for a Republican candidate. Chances are high, however, that we would see another double-Democratic general election under California’s all-party top-two jungle primary system. The California qualifying election is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

MI-7: Ex-Sen. Tom Barrett (R) to Return — Former Michigan state Sen. Tom Barrett (R), who was considered at least a slight under-performer in the 2022 election against US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) when losing 52-46 percent, announced he will return next year for another try. Since Rep. Slotkin is running for the state’s open Senate seat, the politically marginal 7th District will also be open. Last week, former state Sen. Curtis Heftel (D) announced his candidacy with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s (D) support. Heftel left the legislature to join Gov. Whitmer’s administration.

Neither man is expected to face much intra-party opposition, but the general election will be hotly contested. MI-7 is one of 20 US House districts where the FiveThirtyEight and Dave’s Redistricting App data organizations disagree over which party has the partisan edge. In this instance, 538 projects the 7th District as having a R+4 rating, while Dave’s App calculates a 49.3D – 47.9R partisan lean.

States

Idaho: Top-Four Primary Initiative Cleared for Signature Gathering — An organized group called Idahoans for Open Primaries has launched an initiative to transform the current Idaho partisan primary system into Alaska’s unique Top Four Primary, which includes a Ranked Choice Voting component for the general election. In the legislative session just concluded, a law was enacted banning Ranked Choice Voting in any Idaho election.

The initiative, if qualified and passed, would repeal the new RCV ban law and institute an all-party open primary where all candidates running for a particular office will compete to finish in the first four positions. All four would then advance into the general election. If no candidate receives majority support, Ranked Choice Voting would be implemented. In Alaska, the system has led to a Democrat winning the at-large congressional seat even though 60 percent of voters chose a Republican candidate in the open all-party primary.

Organizers are now cleared to begin gathering petition signatures. They must secure 63,000 valid Idaho registered voter signatures on or before May 1, 2024. Included in this number must be signatures from at least six percent of residents in 18 of the state’s 35 legislative districts.

Rep. Raskin Won’t Run for Senate; Retired Navy Captain Running for Senate in Virginia; House Race Updates; New Mexico Supreme Court Allows Gerrymandering Case

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Senate

Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park)

Maryland: Rep. Raskin Won’t Run for Senate — Saying, “if these were normal times, I’m pretty sure I would run for the Senate,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Takoma Park) said he will not enter the race to succeed retiring Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D). The congressman, as he has in the past, continued to thank the medical personnel who helped him through six rounds of five-day chemotherapy treatments that appears to have eradicated his cancer. Raskin further said he can best way he can “make a difference in American politics,” is to seek re-election to the US House. He will be a prohibitive favorite to win a fifth term next year.

Virginia: Ex-Congressional Candidate Announces for Senate — Retired Navy Capt. Hung Cao (R), who held Rep. Jennifer Weston (D-Leesburg) to a 53-47 percent re-election win in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+8 and the Dave’s Redistricting App partisan lean projects a 55.2D – 43.0R Democratic advantage, will now attempt to challenge Sen. Tim Kaine (D).

Cao faces eight announced opponents in the Republican primary but will likely be favored to win the party nomination. He will be a clear underdog against Sen. Kaine, but Cao will give the Republicans a credible nominee and potentially a candidate who can forge bridges into the state’s substantial Asian community. The demographic now accounts for 8.2 percent of the statewide population, but almost 16 percent in the Northern Virginia region, where Republicans don’t fare well.

House

CA-34: Rep. Gomez Rival Returns for Third Race — Largely because there is no inter-party political drama in California’s 34th Congressional District located wholly within Los Angeles County that contains a large portion of downtown LA, the two close races between Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles) and former prosecutor David Kim (D) have generated little publicity. In 2020, Rep. Gomez defeated Kim, 53-47 percent in the first of their two double-Democratic general elections. In 2022, the congressman’s margin dropped to 51-49 percent. On Friday, Kim announced that he will return for a third run.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-34 as D+63, and President Joe Biden defeated former President Donald Trump here, 81-17 percent. The district is almost 88 percent minority. The Hispanic segment accounts for 61.6 percent of the population, while Asians comprise 20.4 percent. Expect this race to again be close and Kim must be considered a significant challenger candidate.

New Mexico: State Supreme Court Allows Republican Lawsuit to Proceed — The New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously at the end of last week that the Republicans’ political gerrymandering lawsuit can move forward against the state. Reflecting upon the US Supreme Court’s recent ruling on the North Carolina judicial role in redistricting, the state high court is in much stronger position to review the 2021 congressional and state legislative maps as political gerrymanders. For example, the congressional plan eliminated the state’s lone Republican seat in the current draw.

Whether the map will be invalidated is yet to be determined, but the high court agreed that the case has merit to continue.

PA-7: New Challenger Emerging — In the past two elections in the Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton 7th District of Pennsylvania, Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) has won two 51-49 percent victories over former Lehigh County Commissioner and businesswoman Lisa Scheller (R). On Friday, a new candidate, Pennsylvania Convention Center director and DeSales University trustee Maria Montero (R), filed a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.

While Scheller is not expected to return for a third run, Montero is likely to have Republican primary competition. Technology firm owner and 2022 congressional candidate Kevin Dellicker, who held Scheller to only a 51-49 percent GOP primary victory, is expected to again surface as a candidate. State Rep. Ryan MacKenzie (R-Macungie) is another potential participant.

The 7th District general election should again be highly competitive. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+4, but Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean in the Democrats’ favor, 50.4D – 47.4R.

UT-2: Two File Special Election Petition Signatures — After the Utah 2nd District Republican endorsing convention chose congressional legal counsel Celeste Maloy to replace her boss, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington), most contenders from the large field ended their Sept. 5 special primary election campaigns.

Two, however, are moving forward. Former state Rep. Becky Edwards and ex-Republican National Committeeman Bruce Hough were the only two who submitted petition signatures in an attempt to qualify for the special primary ballot. It remains to be seen if there are 7,000 valid 2nd District registered voter signatures from each of their submissions.

Assuming the pair qualifies, the three candidates will comprise the primary election field. The winner will advance to a Nov. 21 election against the unopposed Democratic candidate, state Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights), and any Independent or third party contender who can also qualify for the ballot. Rep. Stewart has announced he will leave office on Sept. 15.

Michigan Senate Race Shaping Up; Close Senate Race in Ohio; Potential House Re-Matches in CO-8, NE-2

By Jim Ellis — Monday, July 10, 2023

Senate

Former Michigan Congressman Mike Rogers (R)

Michigan: Ex-Congressman Testing Senate Waters — Former Congressman Mike Rogers (R), who served in the House from 2001 to the beginning of 2015 and chaired the House Intelligence Committee for four years, is reportedly considering entering the open US Senate race.

While Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) is the early favorite for the party nomination and to win the seat, Rogers would probably be the strongest candidate the GOP could field and certainly puts the open seat in play. Other potential Republican candidates are businessman John Tuttle and former US Rep. Peter Meijer. The only announced significant GOP contender is Michigan Board of Education member Nikki Snyder.

While Rep. Slotkin is favored in the Democratic primary, she does have credible opposition. Michigan Board of Education President Pamela Pugh is in the race along with former state Rep. Leslie Love and attorney Jacquise Purifoy. Actor Hill Harper is also expected to announce his candidacy soon.

The Michigan Senate race is now getting more interesting. The seat is open because Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is retiring after serving what will be four terms.

Ohio: Poll Shows Close Race — The Ohio Senate race will be one of the premier 2024 electoral contests and is considered a must-win for Republicans. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) seeks a fourth term, but this may be his toughest campaign as the state has shifted considerably to the right since he was last on the ballot in 2018.

East Carolina University recently polled the state (June 21-24; 805 registered Ohio voters; interactive voice response system & online), and their results find Sen. Brown locked in a tight race no matter who becomes the Republican nominee. While slightly leading against all three tested Republicans, he is nowhere near 50 percent in any configuration.

State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians Major League Baseball club, fares best against Sen. Brown, trailing only 45-44 percent. Businessman Bernie Moreno, despite not having universal name identification, is behind 46-42 percent. Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who is soon expected to become a Senate candidate, would come within 44-42 percent of Sen. Brown. In the Republican primary, LaRose holds a slight 17-14-7 percent lead over Sen. Dolan and Moreno.

House

CO-8: Potential Re-Match — The 8th District of Colorado is the new seat the state gained in national reapportionment and was designed as a politically marginal domain that stretches from the northern Denver suburbs to the city of Greeley. It performed as such last November, as now-Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Thornton) scored a close 48.4 – 47.7 percent victory from a voter pool that exceeded 236,000 individuals.

The losing candidate, state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R-Weld County), is likely to seek a re-match. One candidate who just announced that she will not run again is Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann. She placed second to Kirkmeyer in the 2022 Republican primary. The 8th District is sure to host another hotly contested congressional campaign in 2024.

NE-2: Re-Match on Tap — Last November, Nebraska state Sen. Tony Vargas (D-Omaha) held Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) to a 51.3 – 48.7 percent re-election victory. As expected, late last week Vargas announced that he will return for a rematch in 2024. Nebraska’s 2nd Congressional District is a swing seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+3, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 50.1R – 47.1D.

The 2nd also figures prominently in the presidential race. Nebraska is one of two states — Maine being the other — where the congressional districts carry their own electoral vote. In 2020, the 2nd broke with the state and awarded its electoral vote to President Biden as he carried the district with a 52-46 percent margin, or some 22,000-plus votes.

We can expect heavy campaigning here for all races. In addition to the presidential and congressional campaigns, both US Senate seats will be on the ballot. While Sens. Deb Fischer (R) and Pete Ricketts (R) are secure for re-election, this district will be relatively tight even for them.

A Challenger in NJ Switches Races; Arizona Dem Ends Campaign;
New Candidate in MI-7;
Mondaire Jones Returns

By Jim Ellis — Friday, July 7, 2023

Senate

Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello

New Jersey: Menendez Dem Primary Challenger Switches Races — Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello ended his long-shot Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Bob Menendez, and instead says he will enter the 7th District congressional race against GOP Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield). This, despite his city of Roselle Park lying wholly in Rep. Donald Payne’s (D-Newark) 10th District. Already in the 7th District Democratic primary is Working Families Party state director Sue Altman.

Rep. Kean unseated then-Rep. Tom Malinowski (D) 51-49 percent last November. The NJ-7 race is expected to be a major Democratic challenge opportunity race. Malinowski, who recently joined the McCain Institute for International Leadership, is unlikely to seek a re-match. State Senate President Nick Scutari is a potential Democratic candidate in this district.

House

AZ-6: Democrat Ends Campaign — Last month, businessman Jack O’Donnell declared his congressional candidacy in the Democratic primary hoping to challenge freshman Rep. Juan Ciscomani (R-Tucson). Now, O’Donnell has already ended his fledgling campaign. He was an underdog even in the primary with former state senator and 2022 congressional nominee Kirsten Engel already in the race. Rep. Ciscomani defeated Engel by 5,505 votes last November, and we can expect another close race in this politically marginal southeast Arizona district.

MI-7: First Candidate Comes Forward — Former state senator and ex-Ingham County Commissioner Curtis Hertel (D), who just left his position as legislative affairs director to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), filed a congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission. He was expected to enter the race and does so with Gov. Whitmer’s endorsement.

Hertel is the first official candidate for what will be a hotly contested open seat both in the Democratic primary and general election. Three-term incumbent Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) is running for the Senate. Former state senator and 2022 Republican congressional nominee Tom Barrett is expected to again run for the seat. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MI-7 as R+4, but Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean in the Democrats’ favor, 49.30D – 47.88R.

NY-17: Ex-Rep. Mondaire Jones Returns — One of the strangest situations that occurred in the 2022 election cycle was first-term Westchester County Rep. Mondaire Jones (D) leaving his upstate seat to seek re-election in an open New York City district. In a way, he was pushed out when then-Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) chairman Sean Patrick Maloney decided to seek re-election in Jones’ 17th District. The move was controversial and certainly contributed to Maloney losing a close general election to Republican Mike Lawler.

Jones announced Wednesday that he will return to the 17th District and attempt to regain the seat he initially won in 2020. This will be a top national congressional campaign. Though Rep. Lawler is the incumbent, the general election will be challenging for him in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 56.4D – 41.3R.

Maine Sen. King, 80, to Seek Third Term; Illinois House News; Potential GOP Candidate in Washington

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, July 6, 2023

Senate

Sen. Angus King, Maine (I)

Maine: Independent Incumbent Will Seek Re-Election — Two-term Maine Sen. Angus King, who is elected as an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats, announced that he will seek a third term next year. It was expected that Sen. King, who will be 80 years old at the next election and a cancer survivor, would run again. Before his original election to the Senate in 2012, King served two terms as Maine’s governor. The senator is a prohibitive favorite to win re-election next year.

House

IL-12: Primary Challenge Brewing — Former state senator and 2022 Illinois gubernatorial Republican nominee Darren Bailey is hosting a major gathering where he is expected to announce that he will launch a Republican primary challenge to five-term Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro/Carbondale), the current chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

The challenge is a surprising one in that Rep. Bost is just as conservative as Bailey, so there will be little to draw contrast with him at least in terms of public policy. Because Illinois is so heavily gerrymandered, the 12th CD is one of three solidly Republican seats in the state. Therefore, the only threat to Rep. Bost comes in the GOP primary. Expect the congressman to win renomination and re-election next year. The Illinois primary is early, scheduled for March 19, 2024.

IL-17: Potential Candidacy Brewing — Former state Rep. Dan Brady (R), who represented a central Illinois seat in the state legislature for 20 years before running unsuccessfully for Secretary of State last November, is reportedly close to launching a congressional campaign against freshman Democratic US Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline).

On the gerrymandered Illinois congressional map, the 17th appears to be the most competitive seat in the state. In November, Republican Esther Joy King held Sorensen to a 52-48 percent victory in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+4. The seat is shaped almost like a C, beginning in Rockford, and then swinging west to the Quad Cities area, before moving southeast and east through Galesburg and Peoria before ending in Bloomington. Rep. Sorensen will be favored for re-election, but this district could become highly competitive.

Governor

Washington: Ex-GOP Rep Looking at Governor’s Race — Former congressman and ex-King County Sheriff Dave Reichert (R), who served in the House from 2005 to the beginning of 2019, is reportedly exploring a bid for the open governor’s office. Reichert has looked at statewide office before but has not run. His chances of qualifying for the general election in the jungle primary would be good since he would likely corral the votes of what should be a united Republican Party behind him. In the general election, however, probably opposite Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D), he would be a distinct underdog.

New California Senate Entry; Montana’s Sheehy Gets Major Endorsement; Former Nevada Senate Candidate Ready to Announce; Louisiana & North Carolina Governor News

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, July 5, 2023

Senate

Former Google executive Lexi Reese

California: New Senate Entry — Wealthy former Google executive Lexi Reese (D), who says she will spend some of her own fortune on the open statewide US Senate race, announced that she will enter the California March 5 all-party primary for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D).

While her path to claim one of the two qualifying positions necessary for advancing into the general election is narrow since she faces sitting US Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), Katie Porter (D-Irvine), and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), the chances of her taking enough Democratic votes to potentially allow a Republican to sneak past the Democratic field and clinch a general election ballot slot becomes more plausible. The California Senate race will be one of the main attractions on Super Tuesday.

Montana: Another Major Endorsement for Sheehy — On the heels of retired Navy SEAL and aerospace company CEO Tim Sheehy announcing his senatorial campaign and receiving the National Republican Senatorial Committee endorsement, another has come his way. Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) also announced his public support for Sheehy.

It is clear the Republican political establishment is getting solidly behind Sheehy in an attempt to deny Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive), who soon will announce his own Senate candidacy, the nomination. Rep. Rosendale begins with a large polling lead, so it will be worth watching to see if the Montana Republican establishment has enough pull to thwart a strong Rosendale bid. The eventual party nominee then challenges three-term Sen. Jon Tester (D) in what should be considered a must-win contest for the GOP.

Nevada: Former Candidate Ready to Announce — Disabled Afghan War veteran Sam Brown lost the 2022 Senate Republican primary to former Attorney General Adam Laxalt, but raised more than $4.4 million for his race, which caught the attention of the Nevada Republican leaders. Reports are surfacing that suggest Brown will return for the 2024 campaign and will announce his intentions this month. Should he enter the Republican primary, he will face former state assemblyman and ex-Secretary of State nominee Jim Marchant.

The eventual Republican nominee will then challenge first-term Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) in what has the potential of becoming a top-tier 2024 Senate race.

Governor

Louisiana: Dueling Polls — Two all-party jungle gubernatorial primary polls have been released brandishing very different conclusions. The Remington Research Group (June 22-25; 896 likely Louisiana voters) released a survey this week that projected a close open contest. They found the lone Democratic candidate, former Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, who is now the officially endorsed party candidate, usurping all Republicans to capture the lead with 27 percent, two points ahead of Attorney General Jeff Landry. Former Louisiana Chamber of Commerce CEO and ex-gubernatorial chief of staff Stephen Waguespack placed a relatively close third with 16 percent.

WPA Intelligence released their earlier poll to counter the Remington data. In their survey (June 15-17; 500 registered Louisiana voters; live interview & text) WPAi sees Landry (R) leading the candidate field with a 35 percent preference figure. Former Secretary Wilson secures the second general election runoff slot with 17 percent. In this poll, Waguespack (R) is a distant third with six percent support.

The Louisiana open governor’s primary is scheduled for Oct. 14. Since it is likely that no candidate will receive majority support, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance into the general election runoff, which is on the calendar for Nov. 18. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who has already endorsed Wilson, is ineligible to seek a third term.

North Carolina: Budding Dem Primary on the Horizon — It has been presumed that Attorney General Josh Stein (D) would see little in the way of Democratic primary opposition in his bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Roy Cooper (D), but such may not ultimately be the case. Democratic state Supreme Court Justice Michael Morgan made a public comment late last week that clearly suggests he is seriously considering becoming a gubernatorial candidate.

Understanding that Stein was only re-elected attorney general with just 50.1 percent of the vote in 2020, many in the Democratic Party may believe the party would fare better with a fresh face come the 2024 general election. Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson and former Congressman Mark Walker are the leading Republican candidates. This is a developing story.