Category Archives: Primary

Louisiana AG Landry Wins Outright, With Down-Ballot Results; Significant Democrat Primary Challenge in MN-3; New UT-3 Poll

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023

Governor

Republican Attorney General and former Congressman Jeff Landry

Louisiana: AG Landry (R) Wins Outright — Republican attorney general and former Congressman Jeff Landry, whom former President Donald Trump supported as did the Louisiana Republican Party, scored a surprise outright victory on Saturday in the open Louisiana governor’s race, capturing an unofficial 51.6 percent of the vote. Former Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson, the consensus Democratic candidate, received 25.9 percent of the vote in what must be considered a substantial under-performance and a potential warning sign to Democrats. Former gubernatorial chief of staff Stephen Waguespack, who spent heavily on the race, only finished in the five percent range virtually tied with state Treasurer John Schroder (R).

Turnout registered 35.8 percent of Louisiana’s 2.97 million voters, below the 45.9 percent who participated in the 2019 gubernatorial primary and closer to the 39.2 percent turnout recorded in the commensurate 2015 election. Landry will now succeed outgoing Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) who was ineligible to seek a third term.

States

Louisiana: Down Ballot Results — Saturday’s Louisiana regular primary election produced results for several statewide races and ballot propositions. Lt. Gov. Bill Nungesser (R) won a second term with a 66 percent vote total, easily awarding him an outright victory. The open secretary of state, attorney general, and state treasurer positions all will advance to a Nov. 18 runoff election. Each of these offices qualified a Republican and a Democrat.

In the secretary of state race, Assistant Secretary of State Nancy Landry (R) will face Democratic attorney Gwen Collins-Greenup. The attorney general campaign advances to a contest between State Solicitor General Liz Baker Murrill (R) and attorney Lindsey Cheek (D). In the treasurer’s campaign, the finalists are former US Rep. John Fleming (R) and financial planner Dustin Granger (D).

A total of 73 percent of the voters supported a ballot proposition that bans outside organizations helping the state to fund and administer elections. This measure was placed on the ballot as a response to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg spending millions in the last election for election administration. A huge 79 percent majority supported a ballot prop that “provides that freedom of worship is a fundamental right worthy of the highest protection.” By a closer 56-44 percent margin, voters approved a final measure that restricts ad valorem tax exemptions for certain nonprofit organizations. (Ad valorem translated directly from Latin, means “according to the value of something.” In practical use, the term is used in taxation to designate taxes levied against property, real or personal assets, at a certain rate based on the property’s value.)

House

MN-3: Rep. Phillips Draws Significant Dem Primary Challenge — Responding to Minnesota Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth) repeatedly calling for individuals to step forward and challenge President Joe Biden for the Democratic presidential nomination, Democratic National Committee member Ron Harris announced his own intra-party challenge to the congressman. While Rep. Phillips is still not completely ruling out entering the presidential contest, he will now have to concentrate on a Minnesota party convention fight and potentially an August 2024 primary challenge.

Rep. Phillips was first elected in 2018, defeating then-Congressman Erik Paulsen (R). He has averaged 56.9 percent of the vote in his three elections. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MN-3 as D+14. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 63rd most vulnerable district in the 212-member Democratic Conference.

UT-2: New Poll Released for Nov. 21 Special Election — Lighthouse Research conducted a poll of the state’s 2nd District special election for the Utah Debate Commission that would decide which candidates would qualify for the Oct. 26 local PBS forum. The UDC (Sept. 26-Oct. 6; 528 registered UT-2 voters) required that candidates receive at least 5.74 percent support in the poll. Libertarian Brad Green only posted 5.68 percent, meaning he failed to qualify under the commission rules by the slimmest of margins.

Republican Celeste Maloy, resigned Rep. Chris Stewart’s (R) former legal counsel, placed first in the survey with 42.8 percent of the vote. State Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights), was second with 34.3 percent. Maloy’s showing should be considered an under-performance for the Republican nominee in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+23, and the Daily Kos Elections statisticians rank as the 81st most vulnerable district within the 221-member Republican Conference. The special election is scheduled for Nov. 21.

Trump’s Big Lead; Sen. Menendez’s Turmoil; A Plethora of Candidates in FL-9; Candidate Withdraws in OH-13

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

ABC/Washington Post Poll: Again Finds Trump with Big Lead — For the second consecutive time, the ABC/Washington Post (Sept. 15-20; 890 registered US voters; live interview) sees former President Donald Trump building a large lead over President Joe Biden. The latest numbers give Trump a 51-42 percent national advantage, and a larger 52-39 percent lead within the Independent segment. In May, the ABC/Washington Post survey found Trump leading by a similar 49-42 percent margin.

Once again, the ABC/WaPo poll gives Trump a bigger lead than other polls conducted during a similar time frame. Since Sept. 14, six national surveys have been conducted from six different pollsters, and these firms see Trump holding leads of four and one point, with four ties.

Senate

New Jersey: Sen. Menendez’s Indictment — Sen. Bob Menendez (D), who is in-cycle next year, was indicted on Friday along with his wife and three others. All five defendants were charged on two counts: bribery, and honest services fraud, as it relates to an Egyptian foreign affairs funding issue. Senator and Mrs. Menendez were also indicted on a conspiracy to commit extortion charge. How this affects the 2024 Senate election remains to be determined.

Sen. Menendez beat a different set of federal charges in 2015. In response to this latest indictment, he said, “For years, forces behind the scenes have repeatedly attempted to silence my voice and dig my political grave. To my supporters, friends and the community at large, I ask that you recall the other times the prosecutors got it wrong and that you reserve judgement.”

New Jersey is a strong Democratic state, so the June 2024 primary election may be the senator’s toughest obstacle. Credible candidates currently in the race are municipal planning director Kevin Cupples and real estate financing company executive Kyle Jasey. Former Gov. Chris Christie, still a presidential candidate, confirmed after the Menendez indictment announcement that he will not run for the Senate.

Some Democratic leaders, however, are calling upon Sen. Menendez to resign. Among them are Gov. Phil Murphy, Attorney General Matt Platkin, and Reps. Donald Norcross (D-Camden City), Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair). At this point, the lone House member making a public statement in Menendez’s favor, unsurprisingly, is the senator’s son, Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City).

House

FL-9: A Plethora of Candidates — In a seat that should be solid for Democrats, former Kissimmee City Commissioner and ex-congressional candidate Wanda Rentas surprisingly became the sixth Republican to enter the 2024 GOP primary. Though the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the district D+16 and the Daily Kos Elections site ranks FL-9 as the 85th safest Democratic seat in the House, local Republicans think the district can be won. In 2022, Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) won a fourth term with a lower than expected 54-46 percent victory margin.

Among the six GOP candidates we find former state representative and ex-Osceola County Commissioner John Quinones. It is likely that the race will winnow down to a contest between Quinones and Rentas, but both would still begin the general election as a clear underdog to Rep. Soto.

OH-13: Challenger Candidate Withdraws — Attorney Greg Wheeler (R), who had declared his candidacy for Congress months ago, on Friday announced that he would suspend his campaign. This leaves Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg as the lone Republican candidate hoping to challenge freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron).

Banweg then announced that Sen. J.D. Vance (R) is endorsing his candidacy, which may be a precursor to the party establishment soon following suit. For a time, it was believed that former Ohio Republican Party chair and 2022 US Senate candidate Jane Timken might enter the race, but she has since removed her name from consideration.

Rep. Sykes defeated Republican Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (R) in last November’s election by a 53-47 percent margin. Originally, Gilbert, too, was planning to run in 2024, but last month withdrew to accept a spokesperson’s position with the Republican National Committee. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates OH-13 as D+2. The Daily Kos Elections site rank the district as the 13th most vulnerable seat within the Democratic conference.

Pennsylvania’s McCormick Announces for Senate; Retired Police Chief Craig to Announce Candidacy; Anti-Impeachment Rep. May Resign; IL-17 Battle; No Re-Election Run for Rep. Baird; Primary Clash Evolving in Maine; Chaffetz Declines to Run

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Sept. 25, 2023

Senate

Pennsylvania: Republicans Get Their Man — David McCormick, the former CEO of the Bridgewater Associates hedge fund who lost to Dr. Mehmet Oz by just 950 votes in the 2022 Pennsylvania US Senate race, announced late last week that he is returning next year to challenge Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D). Though he faces an uphill battle, McCormick’s presence gives the Republicans a credible candidate with whom to challenge the three-term incumbent.

Though Pennsylvania decidedly leans Democratic, it is one of the top targeted states in the presidential election. While that will mean more focus on former President Donald Trump throughout the general election campaign, it also means that McCormick will be the beneficiary of more party resources being spent on organization and voter turnout operations. At this point, Sen. Casey must be rated a clear favorite for re-election, but this contest is now a race to watch.

Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R)

Michigan: Another Candidate to Announce — According to the Politico publication, retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) will announce his US Senate candidacy at the beginning of October. Craig had filed to run for governor in 2022 but failed to return the proper number of valid petition signatures, thus disqualifying him.

Assuming this report is true, Craig will enter an Aug. 6 Republican primary against the favorite for the nomination, former Congressman Mike Rogers, and Michigan Board of Education member Nikki Snyder who was the first candidate to announce. The winner will then likely challenge Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) who is favored to win the Democratic nomination.

House

CO-4: Rep. Buck Faces Potential GOP Challenge, May Resign — Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor), who has been critical of the House Republican leadership for moving to an impeachment hearing against President Joe Biden, may resign his seat. Apparently, he is talking to both MSNBC and CNN about developing a contractual relationship.

Additionally, as a direct result of his latest Republican-on-Republican attacks, Rep. Buck may have drawn a potential GOP primary challenger. State Rep. Richard Holtorf (R-Akron) filed a congressional exploratory committee to assess his chances against Rep. Buck in the expansive eastern Colorado district. The 4th District is safely Republican (R+26 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization) and encompasses most of the Colorado territory north and east of the Denver metropolitan area.

IL-17: Former Local Judge to Run for Congress — Former Circuit Judge Joseph McGraw (R), who resigned from the bench in July igniting speculation that he would run for Congress, has filed an organizational committee with the Federal Election Commission. He would join a field that includes businessman Ray Estrada and farmer Scot Crowl. The eventual Republican nominee will then challenge freshman Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline) in a heavily gerrymandered district that begins in the city of Rockford, meanders west to capture the Illinois side of the Quad Cities, then back east to the cities of Galesburg, Peoria, and Bloomington.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+4. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 51.1D – 44.0R. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks IL-17 as the 26th most vulnerable seat in the Democratic conference. Republican Esther Joy King twice ran here, losing a competitive 2022 battle to Sorensen by a 52-48 percent count.

IN-4: Rep. Baird Reportedly Won’t Run for Re-Election — The local Indiana blog Howey Politics is reporting that US Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) is planning to retire in 2024 but may time his announcement to block other Republicans from challenging his son, state Rep. Beau Baird (R). The 4th District, located north and west of Indianapolis, is safely Republican. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+33. The Daily Kos House overview ranks IN-4 as the 59th safest seat in the Republican conference.

Now that local media reports are already covering this story, the element of surprise has been lost. Therefore, potential candidates wanting to run will now be ready to file in case Rep. Baird does not.

ME-2: Republican Primary Developing — Maine’s 2nd Congressional District, which has delivered an electoral vote to Donald Trump both in 2016 and 2020, is rated as the second-most vulnerable seat in the Democratic conference. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+10 yet, and largely thanks to Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting system, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) has won three consecutive elections here.

With former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) out of the 2024 picture, Republican leaders were pleased to see state representative and former NASCAR driver Austin Theriault (R-Fort Kent) come forward last week to declare his congressional candidacy. Now, Theriault has company. Fellow state Rep. Michael Soboleski (R-Phillips) declared his candidacy, thus creating a Republican nomination battle in the June 18, 2024, state primary. Regardless of who wins the party nomination, ME-2 will be a major GOP target race next year.

Governor

Utah: Ex-Rep Chaffetz Not Likely to Run — Former congressman and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz (R) late last week ruled out challenging Gov. Spencer Cox in next year’s Republican primary and also said, while not closing the door on running for Sen. Mitt Romney’s (R) open seat, that the Senate race is “not something I’m actively pursuing.” The political move that he finds most attractive at present is entering the open 2028 gubernatorial campaign when Gov. Cox will be ineligible to seek re-election.

Pennsylvania’s McCormick to Announce; Ex-San Jose Mayor Won’t Run; MI-13 Challengers; Anchorwoman to Run in PA-10; Progressive Mayor Elected

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023

Senate

Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R)

Pennsylvania: McCormick to Announce on Thursday — David McCormick, the former hedge fund CEO and Republican US Senate candidate who lost his 2022 party nomination bid to Dr. Mehmet Oz by just 950 votes, is reportedly poised to make a run at three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey (D) next year. He has scheduled an announcement event for Thursday, which should officially launch his 2024 campaign. Though it is unlikely that McCormick will face a strong challenge for the party nomination, Sen. Casey will begin the active campaign season as the clear favorite to win the race.

House

CA-16, 18: Ex-Mayor Won’t Run — Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D) who said earlier in the year he was deciding whether to challenge Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) or Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) in California’s March Democratic primary will not run against anybody. Instead, he has accepted a position with a legislative advocacy firm. Both Reps. Eshoo and Lofgren appear as prohibitive favorites to win another term in the House irrespective of who might be their Democratic primary and general election opponents.

MI-13: Two Will Return to Challenge Rep. Thanedar — Freshman Michigan Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit), who won a crowded open Democratic primary in 2022 with just 28 percent of the vote, will face at least two of the same opponents in his renomination fight next year. Former state Sen. Adam Hollier and John Conyers III, whose father held this same seat for 52 years, appear to be sure bets to return for another electoral battle. Once again, however, a crowded field will help Thanedar, because his opposition vote will be split. The Democratic primary will determine who represents the district. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MI-13 as D+46.

PA-10: Anchorwoman May Soon Declare — Veteran news anchorwoman Janelle Stelson (D) has resigned her position with WGAL-TV in Lancaster, PA, ostensibly to soon declare her candidacy opposite US Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg). While Stelson is well known in the Lancaster area, a media market that touches York County, the bulk of the 10th District population lies in the Harrisburg/Dauphin County region. Therefore, she does not command district-wide name identification.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 10th District as R+9, which suggests a competitive race but one that a Republican should typically win. Rep. Perry was originally elected in 2012. He begins this race as a clear favorite for re-election.

Cities

Nashville, Tenn.: New Mayor Elected — The open mayoral runoff election was held on Tennessee’s unique Thursday election day at the end of last week, and the progressive left candidate, Freddie O’Connell an elected member of the Davidson County Metro Council, claimed the victory.

He easily defeated GOP strategist Alice Rolli on a 63-36 percent count. O’Connell will succeed Mayor John Cooper, brother of former Congressman Jim Cooper (D), who did not seek re-election.

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney to Retire; Local Wisconsin Republican Announces for Senate; Michigan Secretary of State Slates Trump; OH-13 House News

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney announces he will not run for re-election: C-SPAN

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 14, 2023

Senate

Utah: Sen. Mitt Romney to Retire — “It is time for a new generation of leaders,” Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) said yesterday. “I would be in my mid-eighties if I were to serve another full term.” With that, the Beehive State senator announced that he will not seek a second term next year.

Romney becomes the sixth senator — four Democrats and now two Republicans — to retire when their respective terms end in January of 2025. While Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Tom Carper (D-DE), and Ben Cardin (D-MD), are all retiring from politics, Indiana’s Mike Braun (R) is running for governor instead of seeking re-election.

Had he sought another term, Sen. Romney would have faced an active Republican primary challenge. Since he would not likely have fared well at the conservative-dominated Republican nominating convention, it is probable that he would have been forced to access the ballot via the petition signature route. Now, we will see a highly competitive GOP primary battle to succeed Romney in what will be an open-seat campaign.

Wisconsin: Local Republican Steps Forward — Trempealeau County Supervisor Stacey Klein (R) announced yesterday that she will enter next year’s statewide US Senate campaign with the hope of unseating two-term incumbent Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D). This race has been very slow to develop, and Klein now becomes the most politically accomplished individual in the Republican primary.

This, despite her western Wisconsin county serving as home to less than 30,000 individuals. Unless a more senior opponent soon announces, Sen. Baldwin could coast to a third term in what should be a very competitive political environment come November.

President

Michigan: Dem Secretary of State Slates Trump — Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D) yesterday announced that she will award former President Donald Trump a ballot position on the Michigan primary ballot, unless a court decision directs otherwise. Benson stated that “… the courts, and not secretaries of state, should decide if the US Constitution disqualifies Trump.” The Michigan primary is scheduled for Feb. 27, 2024. Presumably, she will also slate Trump in the general election, again barring a court ruling, should the former president win the Republican presidential nomination. Michigan is a critical swing state, so ensuring a ballot position here is a must for the Trump campaign.

House

OH-13: Ex-GOP Chair Won’t Run for House — Jane Timken, the former Ohio Republican Party chair who was a 2022 US Senate candidate, announced yesterday that she will not enter next year’s Republican primary in Ohio’s Akron anchored 13th District. GOP candidates will be vying for the opportunity to challenge freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron).

Announced Republican candidates are Hudson City Councilman Chris Banweg and 2022 congressional candidate Greg Wheeler. Republican leaders are reportedly attempting to recruit former state senator and ex-Rep. Kevin Coughlin.

The 13th will likely feature a competitive general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat R+2. Dave’s Redistricting App, however, casts the partisan lean in the Democrats’ favor, 50.7D – 47.0R. President Joe Biden carried the district over former President Trump, 50.7 – 48.0 percent.

Former Rep. Rogers Enters Michigan Senate Race; New Candidate Announces in Texas; Alabama Redistricting Map Struck Down; Primary Results in RI-1 and UT-2

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 8, 2023

Senate

Michigan: Ex-Rep. Rogers Enters Senate Race — As expected, via a strong video announcement, former US Rep. Mike Rogers (R), who served in Congress from 2001 to 2015 and rose to chair the House Intelligence Committee, officially declared his US Senate candidacy.

“No candidate is better prepared to have an impact on day one,” Rogers said in his video announcement. “I’m ready to serve again.”

The Rogers entry gives the Republicans a top-tier candidate in a state that has trended against the GOP in the last two elections. Polling suggests the favored Democratic candidate, US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), who represents the same Michigan congressional district as did Rogers, would have only a small lead to start the campaign.

Former US Rep. Peter Meijer is also a potential Republican candidate, though the Rogers entry would make him a major underdog in a statewide primary. Meijer was elected to the House in 2020 but lost his bid for renomination in 2022. Rep. Slotkin faces state Board of Education President Pamela Pugh, actor Hill Harper, and former state Rep. Leslie Love in the Democratic primary. Both Rep. Slotkin and Rogers should be viewed as heavy favorites to win their respective partisan primaries.

Texas: New Dem Candidate Announces — Republicans in the Texas legislature have been coalescing in an attempt to strip Nueces County District Attorney Mark Gonzalez (D) from his office for failing to prosecute large numbers of criminals, following the lead of several big city DA’s such as those in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles.

Instead of dealing with a potential legislative battle, Gonzalez abruptly resigned his post and then declared his candidacy for the US Senate. He, however, must first face US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio) in the Democratic primary before getting a chance to make a statement in opposing incumbent US Sen. Ted Cruz (R). In what the Democratic leadership was hoping would become an easy primary for their favored candidate, Rep. Allred, is now evolving into something quite the opposite.

House

Alabama Redistricting: Replacement Map Struck Down — Yesterday, a federal three-judge panel in Alabama struck down the legislature and governor’s new map enacted to comply with the US Supreme Court’s June ruling that ordered a redraw for racial considerations. The argument rested upon census numbers indicating that a second majority minority seat could be drawn in the state.

The legislature’s map increased the African American population in District 2 from 30 to 39 percent, but the three-judge panel ruled the new plan did not go far enough. The judicial panel also ordered a special master to draw a new map.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) stated immediately after the new ruling that the state will appeal the decision. Redistricting appeals automatically go to the US Supreme Court. Considering the time required for the appeal to be heard and ruled upon, there is some chance that a new map will not be in place until after the 2024 election.

RI-1: Ex-White House Aide Wins Special Dem Primary — The long-awaited special primary election to replace resigned Rep. David Cicilline (D) was conducted Tuesday, and former Biden and Obama Administration official Gabe Amo clinched the crowded Democratic primary with a 32-25-14 percent victory over former state Rep. Aaron Regunberg and state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket). The remaining nine candidates, including Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, failed to even reach the 10 percent threshold.

Amo will be a lock to defeat the Republican winner, military veteran Gerry Leonard Jr. in the Nov. 7 special general election and upon election will be the first person of color to represent Rhode Island in Congress.

UT-2: Party-Endorsed Candidate Claims GOP Nomination in Special Primary — In Utah’s 2nd District, where Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington) will resign his seat on Sept. 15 due to family considerations, polling suggested that former state Rep. Becky Edwards had a significant lead in a three-way contest, and early vote counting seemed to confirm this prediction.

As counting progressed, however, Republican district convention winner Celeste Maloy chipped away at Edwards’ metro-area lead once the rural counties tallies began mounting. She then won a tight, but still unofficial, Republican primary special election. In third place, also relatively close, is former Republican National Committeeman Bruce Hough.

Assuming this election is certified, and the 1,400-plus vote margin is likely enough to withstand a recount should Edwards move to have one conducted, Maloy will advance to the special general election where she will face state Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights). Riebe was unopposed in last night’s Democratic primary.

Now, the partisans will turn their attention to the special general election scheduled for Nov. 21. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the UT-2 seat as R+23, and former President Donald Trump defeated President Joe Biden here, 57-39 percent. Last November, Rep. Stewart was re-elected with a 60-34 percent vote spread. Therefore, Maloy begins the special general cycle as a heavy favorite to carry the day for the GOP.

The 14th Amendment Controversy

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023

President

Trump: Insurrection or Rebellion? — There is a great deal of discussion mounting about whether a key provision of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution will disqualify former President Donald Trump from the 2024 presidential election ballot.

Recently, two US senators, Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Mike Lee (R-UT), assumed opposite debate positions. The phrase “have engaged in insurrection or rebellion” is at the crux of the argument. Sen. Kaine believes Trump engaged in insurrection with regard to his actions surrounding the January 6th Capitol incursion and should be disqualified from running for office. Many legal scholars agree.

Conversely, Sen. Lee objects, citing that the US Senate found then-President Trump not guilty of insurrection in the second impeachment vote. Therefore, he says, the “rebellion or insurrection” phrase does not apply. Many legal scholars agree.

Sen. Kaine, during a CNN interview, argued that “the language (of the amendment) is specific: If you give aid and comfort to those who engage in an insurrection against the Constitution of the United States — it doesn’t say against the United States, it says against the Constitution. In my view, the attack on the Capitol that day was designed for a particular purpose … and that was to disrupt the peaceful transfer of power as is laid out in the Constitution.”

In an interview with Utah’s Deseret News, Sen. Lee indicated he agrees with the arguments put forth from University of California at Berkeley professor John Yoo and others who published a paper pertaining to this subject.

Professor Yoo and the others penned in part, “if it were clear that Trump engaged in insurrection, the Justice Department should have acted on the January 6 Committee’s referral for prosecution on that charge. Special Counsel Jack Smith should have indicted him for insurrection or seditious conspiracy, which remain federal crimes. If it were obvious that Trump had committed insurrection, Congress should have convicted him in the two weeks between January 6 and Inauguration Day. Instead, the House impeached Trump for indictment to insurrection but the Senate acquitted him.”

Obviously, there are strong opinions on both sides of this argument and, as Sen. Kaine said, the courts, and most likely the US Supreme Court, will ultimately have to make a ruling.

The larger question, however, that no one is yet addressing, is when all of this will happen. If, for example, Trump is convicted in the Washington, DC trial regarding his January 6th actions, the 14th Amendment move to disqualify him could be triggered. Should this scenario unfold, perhaps the most important point would be whether the timing is before or after the Republican National Convention now scheduled for July 15-18, 2024.

If Trump’s name is stricken from the ballot, and that will likely become a state by state issue, then the Republicans will have to nominate a new candidate, assuming that Trump has accumulated enough delegates to clinch the nomination. Currently, the latter observation appears highly likely.

If the disqualification move comes before the RNC meets, the delegates could then nominate a new candidate in an open convention. After Trump becomes the official party nominee, then a whole new set of circumstances will occur, most of which will be subject to conjecture.

Will the vice presidential nominee automatically assume the top ballot positions? Would the RNC instead be called into a special convention to nominate another candidate? Would every state recognize the RNC action, regardless of the course the national political party chooses?

Should the 14th Amendment scenario not be solved before the convention convenes, it is probable the delegates would pass binding resolutions to cover a succession protocol in case what currently exists in the party bylaws is not wholly clear or does not fully apply to the current situation. In any event, political and legal chaos would undoubtedly ensue.

Consider the situation already coming to the forefront in Arizona. Democratic Secretary of State Adrian Fontes says his state’s Supreme Court has already answered the 14th Amendment issue. Fontes says, though he disagrees with the court’s ruling, that the Arizona Supreme Court has dictated Congress would have to specifically designate that Trump, or any other candidate, is to be disqualified from the ballot as it relates to the 14th Amendment insurrection or rebellion language. Otherwise, the candidate in question would be placed on the Arizona ballot.

It is very likely we will see other states invoking some exception or quirk in their own election law that would either place Trump on their ballot or disqualify him. Therefore, the 2024 election participants would then be forced to traverse another set of controversial circumstances that will clearly affect the outcome of the still unfolding campaign.