Jan. 9, 2017 — Continuing our five-part political journey around America, we now look at the next nine states — North Carolina through South Dakota — examining whether certain members from the various federal delegations are looking to retire and/or seek a different office.
North Carolina: After a heavy 2016 political cycle, Tar Heel State voters will get a political respite for the election two years hence. With no governor or US Senate race on the ballot, the 13 congressional races will lead the North Carolina ballot. After a mid-decade redistricting battle, the 10R-3D delegation split did not change.
Though Democrats won their lawsuit, they are now suing again because they still did not like the final results. Unless the districts again change, 12 of the 13 incumbents should be in strong re-election position. The lone exception will be Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-Charlotte), whose new district is 60 percent different than his former one and is politically marginal. He can be assured of tougher opposition in 2018, and a strong campaign being waged against him. Just barely winning his 2016 nomination battle in the new 9th district, he can potentially expect another Republican primary challenge, too.
North Dakota: With it now clear that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) will not be joining the Trump Administration, the North Dakota Senate race becomes a top national Republican target. At-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) is now acknowledging that he is at least considering a run for the Senate. He would likely be the national Republicans’ top choice as Heitkamp’s opponent. Should Cramer enter the Senate contest, the race would be rated a toss-up. His open House district would lead to a major convention nomination battle for Republicans, with the eventual GOP nominee being the favorite to hold the seat in the general election. Should Cramer not challenge Heitkamp he would be safe for re-election, yet the Senate race will still be highly competitive.
Jan. 6, 2017 — Continuing our five-part political journey around America, we now look at the next set of states — from Minnesota to New York — examining whether certain members from the various federal delegations are looking to retire and/or seek a different office.
Minnesota: After publicly contemplating an open race for governor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) announced to the Minneapolis press that she will seek a third term next year. With an open governor’s race also on the ballot, it is doubtful that the senator will face any major opposition. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is barred from running for a third term. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), who survived a close re-election call in November (50.3/49.6 percent), is now purportedly looking at a statewide run. Republican Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Delano), the unsuccessful 2012 gubernatorial nominee, and Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) are mentioned as potential GOP candidates.
Democrats will target freshman Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Woodbury), another close winner in his southern Minneapolis suburban CD. Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) and Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth), who also had competitive contests in northern districts where Donald Trump carried 62 and 54 percent of the respective vote, can expect active opponents in 2018. Retired Air Force officer Dave Hughes, scoring 47 percent against Rep. Peterson while not even spending $50,000, has already announced that he will run again.
Mississippi: Sen. Roger Wicker (R) is on the ballot next year and is not expected to face difficult competition. There is no 2018 governor’s race in Mississippi and the congressional delegation is secure. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Biloxi) is perennially subject to a Republican primary challenge, but now in his fourth term the seat may be secure.
Jan. 5, 2017 — Continuing on our political journey around America, we now look at the next set of states — Hawaii through Michigan — examining whether members from the various federal delegations may be looking to retire and/or seek a different office.
Hawaii: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D) stands for her first re-election and major opposition is not expected. Gov. David Ige (D) will likely seek a second term. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) will be safe for their respective re-elections, though the latter has had meetings with the Trump Transition team indicating at least the possibility of a future Administration appointment.
Idaho: Gov. Butch Otter (R) will not seek a fourth term, meaning an open governor’s race. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) has already publicly expressed his potential interest in running for the position. After easily fending off a 2014 primary challenge, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) is again secure for re-election. Idaho has no US Senate election in 2018.
Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is sure to draw major competition. Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson/Chicago) and Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) have been mentioned among many others as potential candidates. Sen. Dick Durbin (D) has already said he will not run for governor in 2018. Rauner’s chief opponent, however, could be Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy (D), son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar became the first official Democratic gubernatorial candidate.
Illinois has no Senate race in the coming cycle. Returning Rep. Brad Schneider (D) may get yet another challenge from outgoing Rep. Bob Dold (R). If so, it will be the fourth consecutive election cycle in which the two will have faced each other.
Jan. 4, 2017 — Embarking upon the new year, which we hope proves happy for all, it is a good time to spend this first week setting the political stage for the coming election cycle. Today, we cover the first 10 states — Alabama through Georgia reporting which members from the various federal delegations may be looking to retire and/or seek a different office.
Alabama: Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R) selection as US Attorney General has thrown the state into political chaos. Five of the six Republican House members report interest in being appointed to the Senate. With Attorney General Luther Strange (R) already declaring that he will run for the seat no matter who is appointed, things may be taking on a different look. Everything will remain murky until Sen. Sessions is confirmed to his new position and Gov. Robert Bentley (R) makes an interim appointment.
The one Republican not looking at the Senate seat is Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile). He is likely to again run for Governor in 2018, when the seat is open. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is also a potential gubernatorial candidate should she not be appointed senator. Gov. Bentley is ineligible to seek a third term.
Alaska: Independent Gov. Bill Walker is eligible to run for re-election. There is no Senate election here in 2018. Rep. Don Young (R-At-Large) is expected to seek a 24th term though, at age 83, he is a perennial retirement candidate.
Dec. 21, 2016 — We haven’t even entered the new year yet, and already a rather long list is formulating of individuals either announcing candidacies for other offices, saying they won’t run for certain positions, or refusing to rule out future options.
The following have publicly stated their plans to seek a different office in 2018:
Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) – Indicated her desire to run for governor but will make a formal announcement when her husband’s prostate cancer treatment is completed. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is not eligible to seek a third term.
Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL) – Outgoing Rep. Grayson, who lost the 2016 Senate Democratic primary to Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), says he will challenge Rep. Dan Webster (R) in the safely Republican 11th District. The two faced each other six years ago in the former 8th District, a marginal Orange County seat, and Webster won 56-38%.
Dec. 16, 2015 — Already, calling potentially five special elections may be necessary even before the new 115th Congress convenes. Now, a sixth is on the political horizon now that Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) has been nominated as US Interior Secretary.
As we have detailed in previous Updates, Sen. Jeff Sessions’ Alabama seat could go to a special election after an interim appointment is made, and the North Dakota Senate seat will definitely go before the voters if president-elect Donald Trump chooses Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) as Agriculture Secretary.
In the House, three seats will be vacated either before or just after the new Congress begins. Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA-34) has already resigned his seat to accept Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) appointment as attorney general, replacing Sen.-Elect Kamala Harris (D). The KS-4 and GA-6 districts will be opened when Reps. Mike Pompeo (R-Wichita) and Tom Price (R-Roswell) are confirmed as CIA Director and Secretary of Health & Human Services, respectively.
So far, all of the seats, including the North Dakota Democratic Senate seat, should easily go Republican in special elections. The Montana at-large seat, however, may well become competitive.
Dec. 9, 2016 — Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) has yet to resign his seat after Gov. Jerry Brown (D) officially appointed him to replace Senator-Elect Kamala Harris (D) as California’s Attorney General, but already a crowded field to replace him is forming.
The 34th is a heavily Democratic district that features a 64.1 percent Hispanic population, and will almost assuredly evolve into a run-off between two Democrats.
Immediately upon Rep. Becerra being tabbed as the appointment, former state Assembly Speaker John Perez (D) declared his congressional candidacy. His action has hardly scared anyone away, however. State Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D) then announced his candidacy, as did labor union activist Wendy Carillo (D). Also in the running is former Los Angeles City Council aide Sarah Hernandez (D), who claims she has put together more than $100,000 for a congressional run.
Hernandez’s former boss is LA City Councilman Jose Huizar (D). Already a poll has been fielded testing potential special election candidates. Public Policy Polling surveyed just after the Becerra appointment announcement (Dec. 1-2; 369 CA-34 registered voters), and found Huizar leading the pack of purported candidates with 22 percent of the vote. Huizar, however, says he will not become a congressional candidate.