Category Archives: Governor

Michigan Senate Candidate Switches Races; New Mexico Redistricting Appeal; Replacement Nominee for NY-26; How Governors Rank

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023

Senate

Michigan State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh (D)

Michigan: Democratic Senate Candidate Switches Races — Michigan State Board of Education president Pamela Pugh, who was facing an uphill Democratic US Senate primary against US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), exited the statewide campaign and on Monday declared for the now open 8th Congressional District race. Last week, six-term US Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley (D), a former state representative, is also expected to join the party primary.

The 8th District is politically marginal. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+1, but Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 51.0D – 46.1R. President Joe Biden carried the district with a slight 50.3 – 48.2 percent margin. Therefore, both parties can expect to see competitive nomination battles and a toss-up general election.

House

New Mexico: State Supreme Court Rejects GOP Redistricting Appeal — The New Mexico state Supreme Court unsurprisingly unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that concluded the state’s congressional map did not constitute and “egregious gerrymander.” Therefore, the current map will stand for the remainder of the decade.

The courts sited the closeness of the 2022 District 2 election that saw Democratic local official Gabe Vasquez unseat freshman Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell by less than a percentage point (1,350 votes) from just under 193,000 cast ballots. Herrell is returning for a rematch next year, which is again expected to be close.

NY-26: One Man May Pick the Next Congressman — With 10-term Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) announcing that he will resign during the first week of February to run a civic organization back in Buffalo, speculation is churning as to who will replace the outgoing congressman. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will calendar a special election after the resignation is official, and then the party county chairmen will choose their nominees.

New York’s 26th District is comprised of parts of two counties, Erie and Niagara, and since the district is heavily Democratic (FiveThirtyEight rates the seat as D+18; the Daily Kos Elections site ranks NY-26 as the 78th-most vulnerable seat within the Democratic Conference), one man will effectively have the power of anointing the next congressman.

Since 80 percent of the district lies in Erie County, that county’s Democratic party chairman will have a greater weighted say than the Niagara County chair. Odds appear strong that chairman Jeremy Zellner will choose Eric County Executive Mark Poloncarz as the party nominee. Poloncarz will then easily win the succeeding special election.

Governor

Morning Consult: New Approval Ratings Rank Governors Highly — Morning Consult released their quarterly report on the nation’s governors Monday, and again we see almost all state chief executives posting strong job approval ratios. As has been the case for the past couple of years, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) have the strongest ratings at 84:13 percent and 74:16 percent positive to negative, respectively.

All but seven governors reached at least the 50 percent approval mark and only one, Mississippi’s Tate Reeves (R), was slightly upside-down with a 45:46 percent index. Yet, he was just re-elected to a second four-year term at the beginning of the month.

The top 10 highly rated governors are: Scott and Gordon; Govs. Josh Green (D-HI), Chris Sununu (R-NH), Kay Ivey (R-AL), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Jared Polis (D-CO), Ned Lamont (D-CT), Jim Justice (R-WV), and Spencer Cox (R-UT). Those with the poorest ratings are Reeves and Govs. Tina Kotek (D-OR), Kim Reynolds (R-IA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Katie Hobbs (D-AZ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Dan McKee (D-RI), Tony Evers (D-WI), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Mike Parson (R-MO).

West Virginia Gov. Justice’s Strong Senate Primary Lead; House Retirements Continue; An Armey Makes a Move; Morrisey in Front

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023

Senate

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R)

West Virginia: Gov. Justice Records Strong Primary Lead — American Pulse, surveying for WMOV radio (Nov. 13-14; 414 WV likely Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Gov. Jim Justice developing a commanding lead over US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) in a just-released poll that was conducted in mid-November. This data shows Gov. Justice with a huge 56-20 percent lead over Rep. Mooney in a primary race that is now likely to determine the state’s next US senator. The race drastically changed when Sen. Joe Manchin (D) announced he would not seek re-election. At this point, Democrats do not have a credible announced candidate.

House

MN-3: Rep. Dean Phillips Won’t Seek Re-Election — Three-term Minnesota US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth), who is challenging President Joe Biden for the national Democratic nomination, announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election to the House next year. Phillips, said that running for Congress would be “both unproductive and uncomfortable,” and also that it is “time to pass the torch” in terms of representing Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District.

Rep. Phillips was already facing a Democratic primary challenge due to his move against President Biden. Democratic National Committee member Ron Harris announced for the House seat immediately upon the congressman declaring his presidential candidacy. Several weeks later, state Sen. Kelly Morrison (D-Deephaven) followed suit. We can expect a crowded and contested Democratic nominating convention along with a likely Aug. 13 primary campaign.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MN-3 as D+14. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 63rd-most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference. Republicans will likely make an effort here, but the eventual Democratic nominee will begin as a clear favorite to win the general election.

TX-26: Former Majority Leader’s Son to Try Again — When Texas US Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Pilot Point/Denton) first won his House seat in 2002, he defeated Scott Armey in a Republican runoff. Armey, then the Denton County Judge (Executive), is the son of former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who he was attempting to succeed. With Burgess last week announcing his retirement after serving what will be 22 years in the House, the younger Armey again declared his candidacy for the seat during the Thanksgiving break.

The 26th District is solidly Republican (FiveThirtyEight rates it as R+26; Daily Kos Elections Rank shows it as the 96th safest Republican seat), so Rep. Burgess’ successor will almost assuredly be decided in a Republican nomination process that will likely include a May 28 runoff after the March 5 primary. At this point, six Republicans have declared for the seat but so far the field of candidates features no sitting elected official.

Governor

West Virginia: Morrisey Back in Front — The aforementioned American Pulse poll for WMOV radio (see West Virginia Senate above) also tested the Republican sampling universe for the open gubernatorial primary. With Gov. Jim Justice moving into the Senate race, the May 14 GOP primary will very likely decide who will succeed Gov. Justice.

Rebounding from an August MetroNews poll that showed him trailing, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has assumed the lead according to the American Pulse results. In this study, Morrisey, twice elected as AG, leads state Delegate Moore Capito, son of US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), 31-23 percent. Secretary of State Mac Warner posts 14 percent in third position with businessman Chris Miller, son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington), at 10 percent. While Morrisey has a clear advantage, this poll suggests the race could evolve into a four-way battle as the primary date gets closer.

Endorsing NJ’s First Lady;
GOP Primary Challenge in SC-4; Washington’s Surprising Republican Contender; Louisiana Runoff Results

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2023

Senate

Tammy Murphy, New Jersey’s First Lady

New Jersey: Tammy Murphy Scoring Key Endorsements — Being New Jersey’s First Lady certainly has its perks. Since announcing her Senate challenge to indicted incumbent Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) late last week, Tammy Murphy, the wife of incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy (D), already has secured four important county party endorsements.

In New Jersey, official county party endorsements mean more than in other states because the favored candidates received substantially better ballot positions in addition to having access to party resources. So far, the state’s two largest Democratic local party organizations, Bergen and Middlesex Counties, along with those in Camden and Hudson, have awarded Ms. Murphy their endorsements.

Additionally, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wycoff), who is reportedly testing the waters for a 2025 gubernatorial race when Mr. Murphy is ineligible to seek re-election, became the state’s first sitting US House member to endorse the First Lady. Aside from Sen. Menendez, who has yet to say whether he will seek re-election, US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) is in what is already becoming a highly competitive statewide Democratic primary campaign.

House

SC-4: Rep. Timmons Facing Potentially Strong Primary — In 2022, South Carolina Rep. William Timmons (R-Greenville) found himself winning his renomination campaign with just 53 percent of the vote against what were thought to be minor opponents. A highly publicized extra-marital affair that included accusing the congressman of using his office resources to conceal his activity was largely the reason his primary was so close.

On Friday, state Rep. Adam Morgan (R-Taylors) announced that he will challenge Rep. Timmons in the June primary election. Since Morgan will be a stronger opponent than any of the three individuals who ran in 2022, the 2024 primary will be one worth watching.

Governor

Washington: PPP’s Surprise Poll — Public Policy Polling again conducted one of their regular Washington statewide surveys for the Northwest Progressive Institute and the results are eye-opening. According to the PPP study (Nov. 14-15; 750 registered Washington voters; multiple sampling techniques), former Congressman Dave Reichert (R) and Attorney General Bob Ferguson (D) are tied with 31 percent support apiece.

The shocker comes when the pollsters queried the respondents about who they would support in a general election assuming that both Reichert and Ferguson advance from the all-party jungle primary into the November election. On the ballot test, Reichert enjoyed a 46-44 percent lead over AG Ferguson. It is an astonishing result in that a Republican would post any kind of an advantage in Washington, one of the most Democratic states in the Union.

States

Louisiana: Runoff Election Results — After electing a new governor outright in the Nov. 14 election as Governor-Elect Jeff Landry (R) was able to secure majority support, Republicans finished the 2023 statewide elections with a landslide sweep. The GOP won the secretary of state, attorney general, and state treasurer’s office with between 65 and 67 percent of the vote. Former Congressman John Fleming (R) returns to elective office with his victory as State Treasurer.

Turnout was extremely low with almost 670,000 votes cast, which is just 44 percent of the total participation figure from the last statewide runoff in 2019. In that election, however, the governor’s race was being decided. The lack of the governor and lieutenant governor being forced into runoffs is the obvious reason turnout was down by such a large proportion.

Sen. Tim Scott Out; Primary Rematch Announced in Rep. Omar’s District; Candidate Again Switches Districts; Two Texas Reps Out; Spanberger to Run for Governor

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023

President

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

Sen. Tim Scott: Suspends Campaign — South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott announced that he is suspending his 2024 presidential campaign, effectively ending his effort to secure an upset win for the Republican presidential nomination. In late October, Sen. Scott’s campaign principals announced they were turning the strategic focus toward the Iowa Caucuses, but the decision did not result in any appreciable gain in support. This, and barely qualifying for his last debate, led the Palmetto State lawmaker to leave the race. He follows former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-US Rep. Will Hurd in exiting the campaign.

The Republican presidential campaign now actively features former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the top tier of candidates. Long shots Doug Burgum, the governor of North Dakota, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also remain in the race.

House

MN-5: Dem Primary Rematch Announced — Former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels, who held controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) to a 50.3 – 48.2 percent renomination victory in the 2022 Democratic primary, has officially announced that he will return for a rematch next year. Two other candidates previously announced, so it remains to be seen if they will continue their campaigns or if they will give Samuels a clear path toward challenging Rep. Omar.

Sarah Gad, an attorney who previously ran for office in Illinois, and businessman Tim Peterson are the announced Democratic candidates. Neither had raised even $55,000 through the Sept. 30 campaign finance reporting deadline. Considering Rep. Omar’s outspoken position regarding the war in Israel, we can expect that particular issue to play a major role in the 2024 campaign. The Minnesota primary is scheduled for Aug. 13, 2024.

NC-6: Candidate Hines Again Switches Districts — Republican Bo Hines, who many observers say proved himself a weak candidate when he lost the politically marginal 13th District to now-Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary) in 2022, has again switched districts. Before losing the 13th District race last November, he originally declared to run in a western North Carolina district. Earlier this year, Hines announced a re-match effort against Rep. Nickel. Now, post-redistricting Round II, he is switching yet again. This time, he will run in the new 6th District against Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro).

Redistricting appears to have made NC-6 the most vulnerable district in the House Democratic Conference, so Republican chances of converting this seat are strong. Hines, however, must face former Congressman Mark Walker in the Republican primary. After the districts were passed into law, Walker abandoned his long-shot gubernatorial campaign and now becomes a clear favorite to win the Republican nomination in the new 6th, which closely resembles the district he represented for three terms.

TX-4 & 26: Two Texas Reps Won’t Seek Re-Election — As candidate filing deadlines begin to approach in the early primary states, we are seeing 2024 electoral decisions being made. Two more members of the Texas US House delegation announced that they will not run for re-election next year. Veteran Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Pilot Point), in a 26th District that covers three-quarters of Denton County, all of Cooke and two-thirds of Wise County in North Texas, announced that he will not seek an 11th term in the House. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco), in a more surprising move since he was elected to Congress just three years ago, is opting to run for the state Senate seat that he left to originally run for Congress.

Both Texas seats are safely Republican. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-4 as R+31, while TX-26 is rated R+26. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the 4th and 26th as the 159th and 127th most vulnerable seats, respectively, in the Republican Conference.

VA-7: Rep. Spanberger to Run for Governor — Three-term US Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) announced that she will run for governor of Virginia in 2025. The move means she will not seek re-election to the House in 2024.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), under Virginia’s unique one-term limit law for its state chief executives, is ineligible to seek re-election. Therefore, the position will again be open for the 2025 election. Rep. Spanberger reports more than $1.4 million cash-on-hand in her congressional committee, all of which is transferable to a Virginia state campaign.

Without Spanberger seeking re-election, the 7th District becomes highly competitive in the general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+2. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates 51.1D – 47.2R partisan lean. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks VA-7 as the 17th most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference.

Trouble for Biden in Swing States; Incumbents Reign in 2023 Elections; Former Michigan Rep. Announces for Senate; What the Amo RI-1 Win Means

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023

President

President Joe Biden is in trouble in swing states. / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Siena College/NYT Poll: Trouble for Biden in Swing States — Siena College and the New York Times teamed up on recent polls in six key swing states all conducted during the Oct. 22 to Nov. 3 period. The six states are: Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The tested Republicans against President Joe Biden were former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. In all instances, with the exception of Trump in Wisconsin, the named Republican would poll ahead of President Biden, thus unseating him if the election were today.

Of the three Republicans, Haley performs the strongest against the Biden. Her best number, +14, comes among Wisconsin likely voters. Trump’s best state is Nevada (+11); DeSantis tops President Biden by five percentage points among Arizona registered voters; Biden’s best showing comes against Trump in Wisconsin (+2).

The Democrats certainly have time to right their political ship, and if Trump is convicted in any of his criminal cases, that might get adjudicated before the election, and the tables could quickly turn. This campaign will prove the most unique of presidential elections.

Election 2023

Déjà Vu: Incumbents Reign — The 2023 odd-numbered year elections are now in the books, and, as we saw on Election Night, the results are very similar to what occurred a year earlier in the 2022 midterm elections.

Most of the political pundits are calling this election year a victory for Democrats despite having an unpopular president in office, while others cite the abortion issue as a continuing turnout driver, which also benefits Democrats. Both statements are true, but perhaps the more definitive underlying pattern is that the incumbents, just as they did in 2022, again reign supreme.

In 2022, 55 of the 56 US senators and governors who ran for re-election won. In the US House elections, 98.1 percent of incumbents who ran for re-election were successful. On Election Night, we saw two more incumbent governors win again.

Governors Andy Beshear (D) and Tate Reeves (R) in Kentucky and Mississippi, respectively, were re-elected with similar five percentage point margins. Polling in the two states suggested a closer result for both incumbents, but each was favored to win.

The Virginia situation is a bit different. Largely due to new court-imposed redistricting maps that radically changed the complexion of most districts, voters elected Democratic majorities in both houses of the legislature. It is inconsistent to rate the Virginia results as incumbent-oriented because we saw roughly one-third of all districts run without incumbents, and most of those office holders who did seek re-election found themselves in new districts vastly different from the one in which they were originally elected.

Democrats will now have at least 21 of 40 seats in the Virginia state Senate and 52 of 100 in the House of Delegates. The party division margin differences yield no change in the Senate, while Democrats converted at least four seats in the House.

While it’s difficult to overlay an incumbent victory matrix across the Old Dominion legislative elections, it is not unusual to see a state that has become reliably Democratic over the past two decades to again vote for that party’s candidates in the 2023 elections. Therefore, the fact that the state’s favored party over the course of time again performed better is consistent with the incumbent voting pattern seen elsewhere.

The abnormal facet of the incumbent-oriented elections we have witnessed in 2022 and now 2023 is that the issue polls consistently show voters certainly believing the country is headed down the wrong track, with similar feelings regarding most states. The state right direction/wrong track questions, however, are not as intensely negative as at the national level.

Yet, despite the recorded discontent, voters return to their respective polling places and almost unanimously re-elect the incumbents. This again suggests that the Republican campaign message machine needs an overhaul. It is clear that their campaign themes and approaches are not driving enough voters to support the GOP candidates in the most hotly contested races.

Once numbers become finalized, we can better understand the results. Because the 2023 vote tabulations verified the pattern set in 2022, it is likely this precursor favors incumbents at large, and more specifically the Democrats, to have another positive election year in 2024 despite what today’s issue polls may currently be projecting.

Senate

Michigan: Ex-Rep. Meijer Announces — Former one-term Congressman Peter Meijer (R), who was defeated for renomination in 2022, announced Monday that he will join the open Michigan US Senate field. The move had been expected for weeks, but is a curious one, nonetheless. It is hard to see a victory path for Rep. Meijer since he couldn’t get enough conservative support to defeat his ’22 GOP challenger, John Gibbs. Gibbs would then go onto lose the general election to now freshman Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-Grand Rapids).

The top Republican contenders for the party’s Senate nomination are former US Rep. Mike Rogers and retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig. It is possible that Meijer’s entry could actually help Rogers, since Craig and Meijer will likely both appeal to the more centrist element of the Republican voter base. If so, this will help Rogers unite the conservatives behind his candidacy and propel him to the nomination. Whoever wins the Republican primary will almost assuredly face Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) in the general election.

The open Michigan race is likely to be close, but Democrats will have at least a slight edge in the general election. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is retiring after serving what will be four full terms once the current congressional session concludes at the beginning of 2025.

House

RI-1: Gabe Amo (D) Wins Special Election — Former Biden and Obama White House aide Gabe Amo virtually assured himself of succeeding resigned Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) when he won the Sept. 5 special Democratic primary. Amo easily defeated Republican Gerry Leonard Tuesday in the special general election. Upon winning the seat, Amo now will be sworn in to the House and serve the balance of the current term.

Rhode Island’s 1st Congressional District is solidly Democratic. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+32. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 64.9D – 33.1R. President Biden carried the seat with a 64-35 percent victory margin in 2020. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the seat as the 99th most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference — pretty secure. Therefore, there was little doubt as to which candidate would win the special election.

The Amo victory will bring the Democrats back to their full 213-member compliment in the House. The next special election, in UT-2, will be held on Nov. 21. Republican Celeste Maloy is favored to hold resigned Rep. Chris Stewart’s (R-Farmington) seat. Should she win, the House will be restored to its post-regular election division of 222R-213D.

Kennedy Breaks 20 Percent Threshold; Nevada’s Lombardo Endorses One-Time Opponent; US Governors’ Approval Ratings; Early Voting Trends Ahead of Tuesday

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Nov. 6, 2023

President

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., running as an Independent general election candidate.

Quinnipiac Poll: Kennedy Breaks 20 Percent Threshold — A new national Quinnipiac University survey (Oct. 26-30; 1,772 US Adults; 1,610 US registered voters; live interview) finds Robert F. Kennedy Jr., running as an Independent general election candidate, securing 22 percent support in a ballot test featuring him, President Joe Biden, and former President Donald Trump. The Kennedy presence dragged both President Biden (39 percent) and Mr. Trump (36 percent) below the 40 percent mark. Kennedy’s strongest groups were voters aged 18-34 (38 percent), Independents (36 percent), and Hispanics (33 percent).

As has been the case with other polling, Kennedy draws slightly more support from the Trump/Republican coalition than he does from the Biden/Democratic voter group. In this particular survey, 14 percent of Republicans and 12 percent of Democrats support Kennedy.

House

NV-4: Governor Endorses Ex-North Las Vegas Mayor — Gov. Joe Lombardo (R) has already waded into the 4th Congressional District Republican primary to endorse former North Las Vegas Mayor John Lee, a Democrat turned Republican. Interestingly, Lee opposed Lombardo in the 2022 governor’s race, but fared poorly in garnering only eight percent support. Lombardo, then the Clark County Sheriff, would go on to defeat incumbent Gov. Steve Sisolak (D) in the associated general election to become the only challenger to unseat either a sitting governor or a senator in the entire country.

The 2024 4th District Republican primary winner will challenge Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) in what is likely to become a competitive race. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates NV-4 as D+5. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 34th most vulnerable seat in the 213-member Democratic Conference.

Governor

Morning Consult: Governor Approval Survey — The Morning Consult firm released their regular report measuring job approval scores of all 50 US governors and found everyone in positive territory. Govs. Phil Scott (R-VT; 83:14 percent approval/disapproval), Mark Gordon (R-WY; 73:13 percent), Chris Sununu (R-NH; 67:28 percent), Josh Green (D-HI; 66:25 percent), and Mike Dunleavy (R-AK; 63:25 percent) were the five governors commanding the strongest ratios.

The five with the worst ratings are: Govs. Tina Kotek (D-OR; 44:41 percent approval/ disapproval), Tate Reeves (R-MS; 46:44 percent), Katie Hobbs (D-AZ; 48:40 percent), Kim Reynolds (R-IA; 49:47 percent), and outgoing Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-LA; 49:43 percent). The poorer scores were particularly concerning for Mississippi Gov. Reeves, who is on the ballot for re-election Tuesday, Gov. Reynolds in Iowa who was consistently highly rated in previous surveys, and Gov. Edwards who will leave office in December but, heretofore, had enjoyed reliably positive scores.

States

Early Voting: Monitoring Trends Before Tuesday — Since most states have adopted some form of early voting, analyzing the pre-election vote has proven to be an accurate way to forecast momentum. Monitoring early voting becomes a reliable precursor to forecasting which party will do better when all ballots are counted. Unfortunately, for Tuesday’s election, Mississippi is one of the three states that has no early voting program. Kentucky only allows in-person early voting on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday before the election so early trends are not available in those two states.

The Virginia numbers for the state’s legislative races are interesting. As reported through Nov. 2 from the Target Smart organization, Republican early voting is up three percentage points when compared to the party’s 2021 performance, while Democrats are down 2.7 percent under the same model. Unaffiliated voters are down 0.4 percent from their 2021 performance statistics. Democrats, however, still have more people casting their ballots than do Republicans and unaffiliated voters (52.2 percent of early ballots come from Democrats, 32.7 percent from Republicans, and 15.0 percent from the unaffiliated segment).

The Virginia Public Access Project also charts the pre-election voting. In addition to the early vote by party, they also track the early in-person vote. Here, Republicans have clear momentum for the Tuesday legislative elections. Compared to the 2021 turnout (numbers are recorded in 2021 and 2023 at the 16-day before election mark), Republican early in-person turnout is up 7.4 percentage points, while Democratic early in-person participation is down 6.3 points. Again, however, more Democrats than Republicans have voted, but the comparison within each party’s previous performance has routinely proven significant.

Former Congressman Announces Comeback Attempt; Reps Buck, Granger to Retire; Utah Governor Challenged for Renomination

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Nov. 3, 2023

House

Former Arizona Congressman Trent Franks (R) announces comeback attempt. / Photo by Gage Skidmore

AZ-8: Former Congressman Announces Comeback Attempt — Trent Franks (R), who was elected eight times to the House but was forced to resign when it was discovered that he was asking two female staff members to be surrogate mothers for he and his wife, announced that he will enter the open 8th District race next year with the goal of succeeding his successor. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), who won the seat in a 2018 special election after Franks’ resignation, is retiring.

Franks’ reappearance in Arizona politics is a surprise, and he is certainly no lock to win the August 2024 Republican primary. Already, nine other Republicans have declared their candidacies, including 2022 US Senate nominee Blake Masters, state House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria), 2022 Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh, and state Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Paradise).

CO-4: Rep. Ken Buck (R) to Retire — Five-term Colorado US Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election next year. Saying, “I always have been disappointed with our inability in Congress to deal with major issues and I’m also disappointed that the Republican Party continues to rely on this lie that the 2020 election was stolen & rely on the 1/6 narrative.” Rep. Buck has been an outspoken critic of his party in recent weeks, and his retirement is unsurprising. He had been rumored to be looking at potential media commentator openings as a Republican on the liberal CNN and MSNBC channels.

The 4th District, which covers most of eastern Colorado, is the strongest Republican seat in the state. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+26. Former President Donald Trump carried the seat with a 58-40 percent margin in 2020. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks CO-4 as the 115th most vulnerable seat in the 222-member Republican Conference.

TX-12: Rep. Kay Granger (R) to Retire — The third US House member to announce a retirement in the past two days is House Appropriations Committee chair Kay Granger (R-TX). She also announced Wednesday that she will not seek a 15th term next year. Before winning the 1996 congressional election, Granger served as mayor of Ft. Worth. Rep. Granger’s announcement follows those of Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ken Buck (R-CO), who also will retire at the end of the current Congress.

The 12th District is anchored in the city of Ft. Worth, which covers approximately 31 percent of Tarrant County, and then stretches west to annex about 80 percent of Parker County. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-12 as R+24. Former President Trump carried the district with a 58-40 percent margin in 2020. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks TX-12 as the 108th most vulnerable district in the Republican Conference.

There are now 24 open seats in the next election. Of those, 15 are currently Democratic held, eight are Republican, and one is an Alabama seat that the new redistricting plan created.

Governor

Utah: Gov. Cox (R) Challenged for Renomination — State representative and former San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-Blanding), who was jailed at one point for misdemeanor trespassing (in relation to a land use protest) and includes his mugshot in his campaign announcement video, will challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Spencer Cox in next year’s party nominating convention, and possibly the June 25 primary.

In Utah, the party convention can send two candidates directly to the primary election with at least 40 percent delegate support. Candidates can also petition onto the ballot by obtaining 28,000 registered voters’ signatures. Since Lyman is campaigning against Gov. Cox from the right, he may be able to reach the 40 percent plateau in a convention where the vast majority of delegates are to the right of the incumbent. Gov. Cox should still be favored to prevail in a primary fight, however, as well as in the general election.