Category Archives: Governor

Michigan Moves Primary; New Polling Results For Arizona Senate Race; Tillis Out in NC Gov. Race

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

President

Michigan: State House Passes Bill to Move Primary — The Michigan House of Representatives approved a measure to move the state’s primary to the fourth Tuesday in February, just ahead of the Super Tuesday voting primaries. Michigan was one of the states that President Biden outlined in his suggested primary schedule changes. Dropping Iowa and adding Georgia along with the Wolverine State and keeping South Carolina, New Hampshire and Nevada as the five states with permission to vote before Super Tuesday recaps the president’s recommendations.

The Michigan Senate has already approved the primary election measure, which means the bill will head to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) for her signature. Republicans opposed the legislation because moving the primary would cause them to violate the GOP party rules that only allow Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina to vote early. Such penalties could mean the forfeiting of 90 percent of a state’s delegate votes.

Expect the parties and states to come to a scheduling agreement in the near future. The first votes are scheduled for this time next year.

Senate

Arizona: New Three-Way Polling — The Normington Petts survey research firm conducted a poll (Jan. 18-23; 80 registered Arizona voters) for three progressive left Arizona organizations testing Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) opposite Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, and both 2022 Arizona gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake (R), who has not closed the door on running for the Senate, and former Gov. Doug Ducey (R), who says a Senate race is not under his consideration.

While the poll sponsors were highlighting Gallego’s performance, it is Sinema’s standing that has greatly improved since previous polls were made public. In the configuration with Gallego and Lake, Sen. Sinema, while still running in third place, improves her standing to 24 percent as opposed to 14 and 13 percent respectively in December and early January polls from Public Policy Polling and Blueprint Polling. Rep. Gallego and Lake were tied at 36 percent apiece.

When Normington Petts tested Sen. Sinema with Rep. Gallego and former Gov. Ducey, the congressman held a 37-31-27 percent advantage over the GOP ex-state chief executive and Sen. Sinema, respectively. The progression suggests that Sen. Sinema is coming into a competitive position as the prospective candidates begin to prepare for a three-way race.

Michigan: Ex-Congressman Contemplates Senate Race — Former US Rep. Mike Rogers (R), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during part of his seven-term congressional career, confirms that he is considering making a return to elective politics with a potential US Senate run. The move would give the Republicans a strong contender in a state that routinely produces close statewide elections. Before his election to the US House, Rogers served six years in the Michigan state Senate. He has been in the private sector and the media since his retirement from Congress.

Governor

North Carolina: Sen. Tillis Out of Gov Race — Despite his name being added to ballot test questions from some pollsters surveying the impending open North Carolina governor’s race, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) made the definitive statement yesterday that he will not be a candidate for the state’s chief executive post. Sen. Tillis did say, however, that he expects a contested GOP primary to evolve. At this point, the leading Republican candidate appears to be Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein is the lone major announced contender in his party.

A Trend of Candidates Declining to Run … And a Challenger in NY-22

By Jim Ellis — Feb. 2, 2023

Senate

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R)

Indiana: Ex-Gov. Mitch Daniels Won’t Run — Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), who was considering entering the 2024 open US Senate race from his state, said he would not become a candidate. The announcement is good news for Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City), who had previously declared his own Senate candidacy. Immediately after the Daniels announcement, National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) chairman Steve Daines (R-MT) heaped praise upon Rep. Banks, whom he described as one of the party’s “top recruits.”

Daniels served two full terms as governor, from 2005-2013. His last time on the ballot, however, was for re-election in 2008. Daniels indicated that he was not right for the Senate, since developing seniority is still important in being able to achieve major goals. Since Daniels would be 75 years old upon election, his ability to accumulate many years of Senate seniority would be obviously limited.

Incumbent Sen. Mike Braun (R) is not seeking re-election in order to run for governor. Republicans are prohibitive favorites to hold the seat in the general election.

House

NY-22: Freshman Brandon Williams (R) Draws Challenger — Manlius Town Councilmember Katelyn Kriesel (D) declared her congressional candidacy at the beginning of the week. She will challenge freshman upstate New York Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) in what promises to be another close election.

In November, Rep. Williams succeed retiring US Rep. John Katko (R) with a 51-49 percent victory over former US Intelligence analyst Francis Conole (D) in a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+2. We can expect further Democrats to come forward for this race, possibly including Conole, for a re-match. NY-22 will likely be a national top Democratic target in 2024.

Governor

Mississippi: 2019 Reeves’ Opponent Won’t Run Again — With candidate filing closing in Mississippi for the 2023 elections, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. (R) announced that he will not challenge Gov. Tate Reeves in this year’s Republican primary. In 2019, the two faced each other with Reeves prevailing, 54-46 percent.

At the end of last week, Secretary of State Mike Watson, another potential Reeves’ primary opponent, also said that he would not run. This leaves physician John Witcher as the governor’s lone GOP primary challenger. Obviously, these developments enhance Gov. Reeves’ political standing. It is likely he will face Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) in the general election.

Cities

Nashville: Mayor Won’t Seek Second Term — Nashville Mayor John Cooper (D), brother of retiring Tennessee Congressman Jim Cooper (D), announced that he will not seek a second term, saying he has completed his objectives upon which he ran in 2019. He went on to say that being in municipal office during the Covid year of 2020 was “like serving an entire term” in and of itself. Local politicos are expecting now to see a highly competitive open-seat mayoral campaign in the Music City.

Schiff Announces After Losing House Intel Committee Spot; Kentucky Gov. Beshear in Strong Shape; Watson Says No to Mississippi Gov. Run

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 30, 2023

Senate

California Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank)

California: Now, Rep. Schiff Announces — As the California US Senate race continues to ripen even though incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) says she will not decide about her own political plans “for a couple of months,” another Democratic candidate late last week announced for the statewide position.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), a day after being stripped of his House Intelligence Committee position, officially entered the 2024 US Senate contest that will first begin with a March primary jungle primary election. Fellow southern California Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) was the first to officially enter, doing so in the early part of this month. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is reportedly telling supporters that she, too, will enter the Senate race. Her fellow San Francisco Bay Area colleague, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), says he will assess the political situation after Rep. Lee makes a decision.

Rep. Schiff says he talks to Sen. Feinstein frequently and “has her blessing” to run, though he did confirm that such a statement does not mean that she is endorsing his candidacy. It is presumed that two Democrats will advance to the general election, but such did not happen in the 2022 governor’s race. Therefore, the March 5, 2024 Super Tuesday California primary will feature much more intrigue than just what happens in the presidential contest.

Governor

Kentucky: Gov. Beshear (D) in Strong Polling Shape — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy just released a survey of the impending Kentucky governor’s race (Jan. 18-23; 625 registered Kentucky voters; 404 likely Kentucky Republican primary voters; live interview) and the data finds Gov. Andy Beshear (D) with high approval ratings and recording sizable leads against all potential Republican opponents. M-D projects the governor’s job approval ratio at 61:29 percent favorable to unfavorable, certainly in the top tier when compared with other state chief executives.

Attorney General Daniel Cameron has developed a big lead in the Republican primary according to the poll, topping former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft, state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles, and state Auditor Mike Harmon by a 39-13-8-5 percent count.

Gov. Beshear enjoys lead of at least 19 points over the latter three Republicans, but at a much closer 49-40 percent divide against AG Cameron. It is likely this race will draw closer before election day, but the incumbent governor is clearly beginning his re-election drive in the favorite’s position.

Mississippi: Sec of State Watson Says No — It appears what could have been a major 2023 Republican primary challenge for Gov. Tate Reeves later this year probably won’t materialize. Secretary of State Michael Watson (R), who was publicly contemplating a gubernatorial run, said late last week that he will not challenge the incumbent. With the candidate filing deadline scheduled for Feb. 1, it is unlikely now that a major GOP player will come forward.

Dr. John Witcher, who is an anti-Covid vaccination physician, formally declared his candidacy earlier this week but is not expected to become a strong challenger. Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bill Waller Jr. (R), who ran against Reeves four years ago, is still a potential candidate, however.

Sen. Feinstein’s Cryptic Statement; Montana Sen. Tester’s Timetable; Sen. Casey Clarifies Re-Election Status in Wake of Cancer Diagnosis; Miss. Gov. Reeves Faces Challenger

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 27, 2023

Senate

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California: Sen. Feinstein’s Cryptic Statement — Responding to a large number of Democrats making political plans based upon what they believe surrounds her impending retirement announcement, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) made a statement Wednesday that at the very least strings along the people chomping at the bit to run for a new or different office.

The only individual to announce for the Senate so far is Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), but her move kicked off an array of candidates, six to be exact, already declaring for what they believe will be her open congressional seat, while others openly plan to enter the statewide race.

In a way of saying, “not so fast,” Sen. Feinstein said that she will make up her mind about the 2024 election “in the next couple of months.”

Montana: Sen. Tester’s Timetable — Sen. Jon Tester (D), answering reporters’ questions about whether he will run for a fourth term from Big Sky Country earlier this week, said he would make a decision by the end of the first quarter. Sen. Tester will face a difficult re-election in a state that has turned decidedly more Republican since he was re-elected in 2018. In that year, his victory margin was only 50-47 percent over Matt Rosendale (R) who was subsequently elected to the House in 2020.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Casey Clarifies Re-Election Status — Just after he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, Keystone State Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) indicated that he would be running for re-election once he recovers from his impending surgery. Clarifying his status yesterday, the senator said running will be dependent upon his health once he completes his cancer treatment, but his goal is to run again. Sen. Casey said he is not yet ready to commit to launching another campaign.

House

CA-45: Rep. Steel (R) Draws Different Challenger — Golden State Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County), fresh from a 52-48 percent victory in a new 45th District that contained only 16 percent carryover from the 48th District to which she was originally elected in 2020, has drawn a potentially new opponent for 2024.

Garden Grove City Councilwoman Kim Bernice Nguyen (D), a twice defeated county supervisor contender, announced her congressional candidacy Wednesday in a district that is 41.4 percent plurality Asian and over 72 percent minority. Community College Trustee Jay Chen (D), who held Rep. Steel to her four-point win in a district that contains a five-point Democratic lean according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, is also a potential candidate, but has not yet formally decided whether he will seek a re-match.

Governor

Mississippi: Gov. Reeves Faces GOP Challenge — With the Feb. 1 candidate filing deadline fast approaching for the 2023 governor’s race, incumbent Tate Reeves will not have a free ride in the Republican primary. Dr. John Witcher, who is an anti-Covid vaccination physician, formally declared his candidacy Wednesday. This could be a harbinger to Gov. Reeves getting a stronger GOP opponent, however, such as Secretary of State Michael Watson who has still not ruled out entering the governor’s contest. Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley is the leading Democratic candidate.

Gallego, Kaine Announce for Senate; Cameron Leads in Kentucky; Lightfoot’s Downward Trend Continues

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023

Senate

Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) Announces for Senate.

Arizona: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) Announces for Senate — Taking quick advantage of Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) not pursuing a US Senate run next year, fellow Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix), a long-presumed 2024 Senate candidate, officially declared his candidacy yesterday. At this point, he must be considered the leading candidate for the Democratic nomination and his moving so quickly after Rep. Stanton’s announcement is intended to lock down the nomination way in advance of the candidate filing deadline.

The general election will be tough in that Independent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema is likely to be in the field and certainly whittles away some Democratic support. While her prospects of winning a Democratic primary against Rep. Gallego or anyone else appear poor, her victory path is more reasonable in a three-way general election. As has been the case in the past three elections, the Arizona Senate race will again become a key national campaign.

Five-term Rep. Gallego says he is not opposing incumbent Sen. Sinema because “she abandoned the Democratic Party — it’s that she abandoned Arizona.” Rep. Gallego, who was long expected to be a Democratic Senate candidate long before Sen. Sinema switched her partisan allegiance in December, at this point sees no major intra-party opposition. US Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix), who would have been a top contender, but on Friday said he would not enter the statewide contest.

The Arizona nomination system is long, and we are still more than a year away from the April 2024 candidate filing deadline, so much will happen in this Senate contest before the political dust settles. Should Sen. Sinema seek re-election, a legitimate three-way race among she, presumably Rep. Gallego on the Democratic line, and a Republican nominee would yield a race in which any of those three contenders, under the right circumstances, could win the general election.

Virginia: Sen. Tim Kaine (D) Announces for Re-Election — Though some speculation was beginning to percolate that Democratic senator and 2016 vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine would retire, on Friday he announced that he will seek a third term. At this point, he becomes a prohibitive favorite to win the 2024 general election in a state that is moving into the reliably Democratic category even after the Republican success in the 2021 odd-year elections.

The budding Republican candidate field is not impressive so far, but retired Navy Capt. Hung Cao, who scored 47 pecent against Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) in a 10th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+8 and Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 55.2D-42.99R, is apparently considering a Senate challenge. Cao would provide Republicans with a credible and interesting candidate, but with the state continuing to move toward the Democrats, which is accentuated in a presidential year, Sen. Kaine is in a strong political position as he begins his quest for a third term.

Governor

Kentucky: AG Cameron Opens with Lead — A Meeting Street Kentucky statewide poll (Jan. 9-11; 500 likely Kentucky Republican primary voters; live interview & text) gives Attorney General Daniel Cameron a strong opening advantage for the party nomination in the May primary election. In a field of a dozen candidates vying for the opportunity of challenging Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear in November, AG Cameron is staked to an early 39-8-8 percent lead over state Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles and former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft.

Cameron is clearly the most well known and positively viewed of the GOP candidates. His favorable recognition and positive image among the Republican voter sample was 62 percent as compared to Quarles’ 28 percent and Craft’s 22 percent. In 2019, Cameron was elected attorney general with a 58-42 percent victory margin.

Cities

Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot’s Downward Re-Election Trends Continue — Two new polls continue to show Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) in an underdog position for re-election in likely the nation’s most important 2023 mayoral election.

The surveys, from M3 Strategies (Dec. 11-13; 440 likely Chicago voters; SMS text to web) and a more recent study from Lester & Associates for the Sophie King campaign (Jan. 9-14; 600 likely Chicago voters; live interview), find Mayor Lightfoot trailing in the Feb. 28 non-partisan primary election. There is also a fair chance that she will fail to even qualify for the April 4 runoff, a secondary election that appears inevitable since no one is close to obtaining majority support.

Both polls find US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) claiming first place. The M3 poll showed Lightfoot dropping to third position behind former Chicago budget director Paul Vallas, while Lester & Associates sees the incumbent mayor holding the second slot. The M3 poll found Lightfoot saddled with a terrible 25:74 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio. This latter statistic might be most indicative in suggesting that she will fail to win re-election.

Phoenix Restaurant Owner Makes House Run; CA-30 Field to Replace Schiff Grows; Puerto Rico Resident Commissioner Challenger; Miss. Gov. Gov. Reeves Clings to Tight Lead

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 23, 2023

House

Phoenix area restaurant owner Kelly Cooper (R)

AZ-4: Cooper to Return — Phoenix area restaurant owner Kelly Cooper (R), who lost in November to Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix), 56-44 percent from a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates only as D+1, said late last week that he will run again in 2024. With Congressman Stanton eschewing a US Senate run, the chances are good that we will see a re-match congressional race here next year. In 2022, Cooper upset GOP establishment favorite Tanya Wheeless in the Republican primary with a 28-25 percent win within a field of five contenders.

CA-30: Field to Replace Schiff Again Grows — Though California Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has yet to announce that he is running for the Senate, it is becoming a foregone conclusion that he will officially declare his candidacy when Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) publicly confirms her retirement. We now see a fourth Democratic candidate coming forward to run in what they believe will be an open 2024 congressional race.

Actor Ben Savage (D), brother of actor Fred Savage, who has appeared in film and television in roles from 1989 to the present, made public his intention to enter the 30th District congressional field. Already in the race are Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank), Los Angeles Unified School District board member Nick Melvoin, and businessman John Bocanegra. CA-30 is a safely Democratic seat that will likely advance two Democrats from the top-two jungle primary format.

IN-3: First Open Seat Potential Candidate Emerges — Responding to four-term northern Indiana Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) announcing for the open Senate race, the first major potential US House candidate has filed an exploratory committee. State Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) confirmed that he is testing the waters for a congressional run but has not made any final decision about entering the open contest. A crowded Republican field is expected in a seat where the GOP nominee will have a major advantage in the general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates IN-3 as R+34.

Puerto Rico: Resident Commissioner Draws Challenger — There are several unique points in Puerto Rico politics associated with sending one non-voting Delegate to the US House of Representatives. First, the position in Puerto Rico is designated as “Resident Commissioner,” second, the term is four years instead of two, and third, the political parties are different.

The current Resident Commissioner, Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon, is a member of the New Progressive Party (PNP), which is closely associated with the Republican Party. Yesterday, she received a challenge for the 2024 election from attorney and former gubernatorial aide Pablo Jose Hernandez Rivera of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), which is closely aligned with the mainland Democratic Party.

Governor

Mississippi: Gov. Reeves’ Tight Lead — A Siena College poll conducted for the Mississippi Today organization (Jan. 8-12; 821 registered Mississippi voters; live interview) finds first-term Gov. Tate Reeves (R) holding only a four-point, 43-39 percent, edge over newly announced Democratic candidate Brandon Presley, a cousin to the late music legend Elvis Presley, as the Feb. 1 candidate filing deadline fast approaches. The statewide primary is scheduled for Aug. 8, with a runoff on Aug. 29 for those races where no candidate receives majority support on the initial vote.

Gov. Reeves polled close in the 2019 election, but in the end won a 52-47 percent victory over four-term Attorney General Jim Hood (D). While his job approval rating, according to the Siena poll, is 48:45 percent positive to negative, his personal rating is an upside down 40:48 percent. It is unusual to see a personal rating register more negative than a job approval score.

Kari Lake Considering Senate Run; State Senator Declares for Porter’s Seat; Louisiana Rep. Graves Poised to Enter Gov Race; Two Dem Reps Oppose Mayor Lightfoot in Chicago

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 20, 2023

Senate

Former news anchor and candidate for governor, Kari Lake (R), is considering Senate run.

Arizona: Kari Lake (R) Considering Senate — Media reports from Arizona suggest that defeated gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, a former multi-decade Phoenix news anchor, is considering entering the 2024 US Senate contest. This campaign will be unique since it features the incumbent, Kyrsten Sinema, originally elected as a Democrat running as an Independent.

Democrats could be headed for a tough primary battle between Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) and Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix). The latter man also served six years as Phoenix’s mayor before being elected to the House. Other potential Republican candidates include Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb and state Treasurer Kimberly Yee. This race will prove interesting since both eventual major party nominees and Sen. Sinema all would have legitimate victory scenarios in a tight three-way general election campaign.

House

CA-47: State Senator Declares for Porter’s Seat — The whirlwind of California political activities in early anticipation of the 2024 election continues. With Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) already declaring for the US Senate and three others announcing for Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Burbank) House seat even though he has yet to say he’s running for the Senate, we now see a state legislator, Sen. David Min (D-Irvine), making a move.

Min announced his intention to compete for Rep. Porter’s open seat and will have the congresswoman’s endorsement. Since California state Senate seats are larger than congressional districts, Min’s overlay into the current 47th CD from his 37th District state Senate seat is substantial and includes the region’s anchor city of Irvine.

Governor

Louisiana: GOP Rep. Graves Poised to Enter ’23 Gov Race — It is believed that US Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge), who was just elected to a fifth term in the House, will imminently announce his 2023 gubernatorial candidacy. With both Sen. John Kennedy (R) and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) deciding not to run for governor and incumbent John Bel Edwards (D) ineligible to seek a third term, the race becomes wide open.

The early leader appears to be attorney general and former Congressman Jeff Landry (R), but with the candidate filing deadline set for Aug. 10 and the initial primary scheduled for Oct. 14, this race still has months to develop. Since this is an odd-year election, Rep. Graves would not have to risk his House seat in order to enter the statewide contest.

North Carolina: AG Josh Stein (D) Declares for Governor — Two-term state Attorney General Josh Stein (D), who barely won re-election in 2020 with a scant 50.1 – 49.9 percent majority, announced his bid for governor Wednesday. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term in 2024, which will lead to another tight North Carolina open statewide campaign. Stein, who is the early favorite to win the Democratic nomination, will probably face Republican Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, who looks to have the inside track toward becoming the GOP standard bearer. We can expect another close statewide election in this highly competitive political state.

State & Local

Chicago: Two Dem Reps Oppose Mayor Lightfoot — Embattled first-term Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to see support drift away. At an event the Chicago Teachers Union sponsored to declare its support of Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson for mayor, US Reps. Jonathan Jackson (D-Chicago) and Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) also announced their endorsement of the county official. Rep. Jackson criticized Mayor Lightfoot for not keeping her 2019 campaign promises.

The congressional member endorsements were a bit surprising since polling suggests that Mayor Lightfoot’s top competitor is their colleague in the House of Representatives, Congressman Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago). The mayoral election is Feb. 28. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to an April 4 runoff election.