Category Archives: Senate

Sen. Cruz in Potentially Competitive Re-Election Bid; Senate Challenge in New Mexico; Rep. Susie Lee Draws Opponent in Nevada; Redistricting Developments in Wisconsin

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 29, 2024

Senate

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Texas: Tight New Poll — Emerson College just released the results of their latest Texas statewide survey (Jan. 13-15; 1,315 registered Texas voters; interactive voice response system & online) that finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) heading into a potentially competitive general election. The ballot test found the senator leading US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) by a slight 42-40 percent margin, and holding only a one-point, 41-40 percent split over state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio). Simultaneously, former President Donald Trump leads President Joe Biden 49-41 percent.

The poll is not particularly surprising in that Sen. Cruz’s personal favorability numbers have never been particularly good. However, there are a number of things that favor Sen. Cruz: the presidential election turnout model, Trump beating Biden in the state, the Biden energy policies being detrimental to Texas, and the southern border controversy — all play politically to Sen. Cruz’s favor. Therefore, despite the likelihood that we will see many close Texas Senate polls between now and the November election, the actual votes will favor Sen. Cruz winning re-election by a relatively comfortable margin.

New Mexico: Republicans Making Move to Challenge Sen. Heinrich — In order to expand what is a favorable Republican US Senate map, a prominent member of the GOP announced her candidacy. Nella Domenici, a former hedge fund CEO and daughter of the late six-term Sen. Pete Domenici (R), is the latest Republican to declare for the seat. Last week, former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales switched parties to enter the GOP Senate primary. The eventual winner of the June 4 Republican primary will challenge two-term incumbent Sen. Martin Heinrich (D).

The senator is favored for re-election, but Republicans improving among Hispanics could make this a competitive contest. New Mexico’s Hispanics register 50.2 percent of the state population universe according to the latest US Census report. The last time Republicans won a New Mexico statewide race was in 2014 when then-Gov. Susanna Martinez was re-elected. An August Public Policy Polling survey showed President Biden topping former President Trump 49-41 percent, suggesting the state could become competitive in the national election.

House

NV-3: GOP Ex-State Treasurer Announces for House — Earlier this month, Republicans lost their top congressional recruit in state Assemblywoman Heidi Kasama (R-Las Vegas), who instead of running for the House will seek re-election to what could become a tight Nevada Assembly. Kasama was clearly the top contender for the GOP nomination in a seat that is the most winnable for a Republican (FiveThirtyEight data organization rating: D+2) of the three Las Vegas competitive districts.

Now, former State Treasurer Dan Schwartz (R) is coming to the forefront to announce his congressional candidacy. While winning a statewide position in 2014, Schwartz has not fared well since, losing landslide races in his attempts to be elected governor, lieutenant governor, and a previous run for the 3rd Congressional District. It is likely the Republicans will have to recruit a stronger candidate against Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) if they are to move this race into the top tier.

Wisconsin: Congressional District Lines Challenged — A citizens group that famed Democratic election lawyer Marc Elias represents filed suit before the Wisconsin state Supreme Court arguing that the panel’s rejection of the state Senate and Assembly maps compels them to reconsider striking down the state’s congressional map.

According to the Daily Kos Elections site’s legal analysts, the legislature’s maps were returned for a re-draw because the court rejected the “least change” (from the previous map) practice that the legislature relied upon to draw the 2021 maps. The Elias group’s lawsuit maintains that the congressional map was also drawn under the “least change” practice, and therefore should be redrawn.

So far, however, the court has not taken action against the congressional map and time is running out. The secretary of state has informed the court that unless new maps are enacted into law by March 15, they will not be able to convert the electoral system in time for the 2024 election.

Pennsylvania Poll Shows Biden Over Trump Signifigantly With Senate Race Tightening; More New Hampshire News; NJ, VA House Polling

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024

President

President Joe Biden / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Pennsylvania: Biden Lengthens Polling Lead — Susquehanna Polling & Research released the results of their latest Pennsylvania statewide survey (Jan. 15-21; 745 registered Pennsylvania voters; live interview & online) and finds a surprising result. The Susquehanna data sees President Joe Biden assuming an eight-point lead over former President Donald Trump, 47-39 percent, which is well beyond other pollsters’ findings during the past month.

During that time span, the Bullfinch Group, Redfield and Wilton Strategies, and Quinnipiac University were all testing the Keystone State electorate and determined much closer ballot test results. Those firms saw results ranging from even support between the two candidates (Bullfinch), to Trump leading by one point (Redfield), and Biden up two (Q-Poll). We can expect to see regular Pennsylvania polling from now to Election Day producing a myriad of results that will, at one time or another, favor each candidate.

Senate

Pennsylvania: Senate Race Tightening — In the same Susquehanna Polling & Research study that produced an eight-point lead for president, the data firm returned the closest US Senate poll we’ve seen from Pennsylvania in more than a month. According to the Susquehanna results, Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) edges Republican David McCormick by only a four-point margin, 46-42 percent. This is a surprising result from the same sample that produced an eight-point lead for President Biden.

Other pollsters during the past 30-day period see the race trending significantly more one-sided than Susquehanna. The Bullfinch Group in mid-December found Sen. Casey holding a 15-point lead, while Quinnipiac University, which produced a similar ballot test result for the Biden campaign, projects Sen. Casey to be leading McCormick, 53-43 percent. The Susquehanna poll is the first poll within the current time frame to find the Pennsylvania Senate race falling within the polling margin of error.

Governor

New Hampshire: Ex-Sen. Ayotte Leads in GOP Primary Poll — A new University of Massachusetts at Lowell survey (Jan. 6-16; 600 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; online) finds former US Sen. Kelly Ayotte establishing a big lead over former state Senate president and 2022 US Senate candidate Chuck Morse. According to the survey results, Ayotte is staked to a 54-22 percent advantage.

The New Hampshire regular primary cycle is a long one, with the election not scheduled until Sept. 10. Democrats also feature two major candidates, Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington and former Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is retiring after what will be four complete terms.

House

NJ-7: Early Polling Data Favors Rep. Kean — While many political prognosticators rate New Jersey’s 7th District race as a toss-up campaign for freshman incumbent Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), a recent Public Policy Polling survey (Jan. 16-7; 608 NJ-7 voters; multiple sampling techniques) casts the GOP congressman to a lead well beyond the polling margin of error. According to the PPP results, Rep. Kean would hold a 41-33 percent lead over former US State Department official Jason Blazakis (D).

In other 7th District news, the man who Rep. Kean unseated, two-term Rep. Tom Malinowski (D) this week ended his flirtation with entering the US Senate race and endorsed his former colleague, US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) in his Democratic primary challenge to embattled Sen. Bob Menendez. While Malinowski has not firmly rejected running for his former House seat, there is no tangible evidence suggesting he is preparing a House run. In addition to Blazakis, progressive activist Sue Altman is a declared candidate.

VA-7: 2022 GOP Nominee Endorses Another — Prince William County Supervisor Vesli Vega, the 2022 Republican congressional nominee who held Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) to a 52-48 percent re-election victory in what many believed was an under-performance for the GOP in a more favorable post-redistricting 7th CD, issued a statement earlier this week. Many believed that she would again enter the crowded candidate field but instead she endorsed defense contractor and retired Navy SEAL Cameron Hamilton (R).

Though we see a field of eight announced Republicans for what is now an open seat, the Vega endorsement will help Hamilton unite GOP voters behind his campaign. Six Democrats have announced for their party’s nomination including state Del. Briana Sewell (D-Woodbridge), Prince William County Supervisor Margaret Franklin, ex-state Delegate Elizabeth Guzman, and retired Army colonel and National Security Council official Eugene Vindman.

Contrasting Polling Results in New Hampshire; Mississippi Senate, House News; Another House Retirement;
A No Labels Party Win in Arizona

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 19, 2024

President

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

New Hampshire: Suffolk’s Different View — Yesterday, we reported upon an American Research Group survey that posted former President Donald Trump and ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley into a 40-40 percent tie for the coming New Hampshire primary on Jan. 23. Suffolk University’s new data release, however, has a much different take.

Their poll (Jan. 15-16; 500 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; live interview) sees Trump with a substantial 16-point lead over Haley, which is obviously quite a difference. Instead of a tie, Suffolk posts the division between the two candidates at 50-34 percent. The Suffolk results are closer to the three other polls released in January, making the ARG numbers, so far, the outlier.

Senate

Mississippi: Sen. Wicker’s Opponents — Candidate filing has closed in Mississippi and an official candidate list has been released. While Sen. Roger Wicker (R) is a prohibitive favorite over the lone Democrat who filed, 2023 secretary of state nominee Ty Pinkins who received 40.5 percent of the vote against incumbent Michael Watson (R) in the November election, the senator does have Republican primary opposition.

State Rep. Dan Eubanks (R-Walls) and retired Marine Corps Colonel T. Ghannon Burton are both qualified candidates. While it is doubtful that either can raise sufficient funds to run a major campaign against Sen. Wicker, who has been in the Senate since the last day of 2007 after being elected six times to the US House, all primary campaigns are worth watching. Mississippi has a runoff law, so Eubanks and Burton will attempt to keep the senator from receiving 50 percent of the vote in the March 12th primary election. Sen. Wicker remains a heavy favorite for renomination and re-election.

House

MS-4: Rep. Ezell’s Primary Challenge — In 2022, then-Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell was one of six Republicans who challenged six-term Congressman Steven Palazzo in the GOP primary. The group forced Palazzo into a runoff election, and Sheriff Ezell defeated him 54-46 percent. He then went on to record a landslide general election victory with 73 percent of the vote. Now, Rep. Ezell faces his own primary challenge.

With Mississippi candidate filing now closed, Rep. Ezell has drawn two Republican opponents, local businessman Carl Boyanton who ran in 2022 but received only six percent of the vote in the GOP primary election, and Army veteran Michael McGill. Rep. Ezell will be favored to win outright in the March 12 primary election, but this is another race to follow. A runoff will be held on April 2 should no candidate reach the 50 percent plateau. Rep. Ezell is favored for renomination and re-election in this southeastern Mississippi congressional district.

SC-3: Rep. Jeff Duncan (R) to Retire — Seven-term Palmetto State Republican Congressman Jeff Duncan (R-Laurens) is the latest House member to announce that he will not seek re-election. Duncan was hit with media reports back in September that he admits to having several extra-marital affairs all the while campaigning as a traditional values politician. It is probable the negative publicity influenced his decision to leave Congress.

Rep. Duncan’s western South Carolina 3rd District is safely Republican and has been so since the late Democratic US Rep. Butler Derrick left office at the beginning of 1995. Duncan now becomes the 45th House member not seeking re-election. Of the group, 23 seats are currently Democratic held while 21 come from the Republican column. One seat, the new 2nd District in Alabama, is created through the new court ordered redistricting map. It is likely we will see a similar situation develop in Louisiana when that new court-ordered map is drawn before the end of the month.

States

Arizona: No Labels Party Wins Federal Ruling — Rather surprisingly, a federal judge has ruled in Arizona that the No Labels Party can bar candidates from running on their party line for races other than president even though the entity is an official Arizona political party. Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) has pledged to appeal the ruling on behalf of the state. It seems difficult to imagine a similar ruling being rendered if the Republican or Democratic Parties were to make such a move.

Fontes, who said the ruling is “dead wrong,” argues that the “ … current decision will disenfranchise almost 19,000 registered Arizona voters, and if it stands, it could potentially derail the entire candidate nomination process,” according to an Associated Press story. If state candidates run under the No Labels party line, then the national party would have to disclose its donors under Arizona election law, something the national entity so far has been able to avoid. It remains to be seen if this ruling is allowed to stand.

Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus Winners, Losers & Runners-Up; California Senate Polling Update; NY-26 Special Election Nominee

Gov. Ron DeSantis celebrates with supporters at a caucus night watch party at the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel in Iowa. / Photo by Gage Skidmore

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024

President

Iowa Republican Presidential Caucus: Winners, Losers & Runners-Up — The first votes of the presidential campaign have been cast, and former President Donald Trump met expectations last night in the Iowa Caucuses as he became the first non-incumbent candidate to secure a majority of the vote in the state’s history. The Democrats first voted in Iowa back in 1972, with Republicans following in 1976.

It appears he will place first in 98 of the state’s 99 counties, losing apparently by just one vote in Johnson County, home to the University of Iowa. He also won closely, and below 50 percent in Story County, the home of Iowa State University, and in the state’s most populous county, Polk, the home to the capital city of Des Moines. He recorded plurality victories in eight other counties.

At this writing, and mostly in the rural regions, Trump exceeded 60 percent of the vote in 41 counties, and topped 70 percent in eight. His best showing appears to be in Keokuk County, where he recorded 74 percent. There is likely to be some change in these numbers once all of the votes are counted and canvassed.

The battle for second in Iowa is close, as predicted, though it appears that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and not the candidate the media proclaimed had the most momentum, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, finishes second. DeSantis was hovering around the 21 percent mark, some 30 points behind Trump. Haley was further back approaching 19 percent of the caucus votes. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, as polling also predicted, was well back with just under eight percent support. After considering his fourth-place finish, Ramaswamy announced that he was dropping out of the presidential race.

“There is no path for me to be the next president, absent things that we don’t want to see happen in this country,” he said at his Iowa watch party at the Surety Hotel in downtown Des Moines.

“I am so proud of every one of you who have lifted us up,” he said to the crowd. He then announced that he would give his “full endorsement” to Trump. Ramaswamy said he had called Trump to tell him that he was suspending his campaign and would endorse the former president.

Senate

California: Schiff and Porter Lead New Poll — The University of California at Berkeley’s Institute for Government Studies, a regular California political pollster, released their latest US Senate survey result. This poll, for the Los Angeles Times (Jan. 4-8; 8,199 registered California voters; 4,470 weighted sub-sample; online), again finds Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) leading the crowded field, but with a smaller margin than found in other recent polls.

Baseball great Steve Garvey (R), who had placed second in two December polls, is third here, but still gained support when compared to the previous Berkeley IGS survey (10 percent in October poll; 13 percent in current edition). Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine), second in their previous polls, is also second now, but remains stagnant at 17 percent support when compared to the two previous Berkeley IGS studies. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) remains languishing with single digit support with nine percent preference.

The California jungle primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5. The top two finishers regardless of percentage attained or political party affiliation will advance into the November general election.

House

NY-26: Democrats Choose Special Election Nominee — The local Erie and Niagara County Democratic Party chairmen announced that they have chosen state Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) as their special election congressional nominee once Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) resigns in early February. Once the seat officially becomes vacant, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will call a special election to fill the seat for the balance of the current term. The Republican chairmen will announce their pick at a later date.

Under New York election procedure, a district’s county chairmen have the power to nominate a special election candidate in lieu of holding a party primary or special district convention.

Nate McMurray, a former western New York local official who ran two close campaigns in the former 27th District that was collapsed in 2021 reapportionment, declared after the announcement naming Sen. Kennedy as the special election Democratic nominee that he will launch a regular Democratic primary challenge against him for the full term.

Trump Over 50 Percent in Iowa;
Dead Heats in Arizona & Michigan; Casey Expands Lead in Pennsylvania

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 15, 2024

President

Former President Donald Trump

Iowa Caucus Polls: Trump Over 50 Percent; Haley in Second Place — The first votes of the presidential campaign are to be cast tonight. In frigid temperatures, Iowa Republicans will attend their individual precinct caucus meetings to cast the first votes of the 2024 presidential election beginning at 7 p.m. Central time. Because of a schedule change on the Democratic side, only the Republicans are voting tonight. No non-incumbent has ever topped the 50 percent plateau, but polling shows that Trump may well exceed that number in these caucus votes.

Suffolk University released a new Iowa Caucus survey in preparation for today’s vote. This survey (Jan. 6-10; 500 likely Iowa Republican Caucus attenders), as every other Iowa poll has projected, sees former President Donald Trump attracting majority support (54 percent). Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, according to the Suffolk data, has surpassed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for second place with 20 percent as compared to DeSantis’ 13 percent.

In terms of interesting side questions, the sampling universe broke virtually evenly regarding the traits of the candidate they want to support. Three responses dominated the answers. The one most often articulated is the respondent’s desire to support a candidate who can defeat President Joe Biden (27.2 percent). Next, is an individual having strong moral character (25.8 percent), and a close third is a person who “has the right experience” (25.0 percent).

Asked of people who said that Donald Trump was neither their first nor second choice, 45 percent said they would support the former president if he became the party nominee, 16.5 percent said they would vote for Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and 15.3 percent said they would support Biden.

No fewer than five polls have been released since Wednesday, including the survey that is typically regarded as the state’s most accurate — the Selzer & Company poll, routinely conducted for the Des Moines Register newspaper.

The Selzer poll, released late on Saturday night (Jan. 7-12; 705 likely Iowa caucus attenders; live interview) and conducted for the Des Moines Register and NBC News, found Trump below 50 percent but holding at 48 percent support, ahead of Haley, in second place again with 20 percent, and DeSantis in third, posting 18 percent preference. Businessman Vivek Ramaswamy trailed in single digits with eight percent. Of the five polls conducted during the final week of campaigning, this is the only one that projects Trump with under 50 percent support.

Senate

Arizona: New Poll Shows Virtual Dead Heat — Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Replace Sinema PAC (Jan. 5-6; 590 registered Arizona voters; multiple sampling techniques) sees a dead heat developing between Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) and former news anchor and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake. Incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, running on an Independent ballot line, significantly trails.

According to the ballot test data, Rep. Gallego would record a 36-35 percent edge over Lake with Sen. Sinema well behind with a 17 percent support figure. Among the key non-affiliated voting sector, Lake takes the largest share with 31 percent. Sen. Sinema posted 27 percent from this category, while Rep. Gallego trailed with 24 percent. If the race were a two-way contest between Gallego and Lake, the Republican would hold a 46-45 percent edge. This poll again shows that the Arizona Senate race continues as a true wild card campaign.

Michigan: Virtual Ties All Around — The Glengariff Group, a Michigan-based pollster who frequently conducts political surveys for media organizations, tested the Wolverine State electorate for the Detroit News and WDIV-TV Channel 4 (Jan. 2-6; 600 likely Michigan voters) though the partisan division within the polling sample looks to have comparable numbers of Democrats and Republicans. Michigan does not register voters by political party, but it is clear through voter history statistics that the state houses at least a slightly higher number of Democrats than Republicans. Therefore, these results, though weighted to decrease a bias factor, are likely skewed somewhat toward Republicans.

The ballot test results find Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) and three potential Republican opponents all locked into virtual ties. Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig matches up most favorably with Rep. Slotkin, leading her 38-36 percent. Former Rep. Peter Meijer is tied with Slotkin at 36-36 percent, while former US Rep. Mike Rogers trails her by just one percentage point.

It is likely that the Michigan race will become a top-tier general election Senate campaign irrespective of which Republican candidate claims the party nomination in August.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Casey Expands Lead — The new Quinnipiac University Pennsylvania poll (Jan. 4-8; 1,680 self-identified registered Pennsylvania voters; 746 Democrats; 651 Republicans; live interview) finds three-term Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) expanding his lead over Republican challenger David McCormick (R) to a full 10-point advantage, 54-43 percent, an improvement of a net four percentage points when compared to the October Q-Poll. Within this survey sample, the split between Democrats and Republicans is almost spot on, with Republicans under-counted by approximately just one percentage point.

The Casey lead is strong in comparison to how President Biden fares. Biden posts a job approval rating of only 40:58 percent as compared to Sen. Casey’s 51:31 percent. The president, however, still leads former President Trump, 49-46 percent in a general election ballot test. The Pennsylvania office holder with the best job approval ratio is Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) who records a 59:23 percent favorability index.

The Effect of Christie Exiting Race; Dems Line Up for 2028; New Mexico’s Party-Switching Candidate;
MI-8 Republican Changes Mind

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 12, 2024

President

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) exits the presidential race. / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Chris Christie: Exits Race: Seeing no viable victory path toward the Republican nomination, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped out of the presidential campaign in an address to New Hampshire town hall meeting attenders and the media Wednesday. On the eve of the Iowa Caucus vote scheduled for Monday, Christie’s departure will likely have little effect upon the Hawkeye State outcome.

The ex-governor was a factor in New Hampshire, however, where the campaign will move after Iowa. Some polls are showing former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley gaining on former President Donald Trump with Christie recording double digit support in third place. Without him on the New Hampshire ballot, it is possible that Haley will see a bump in her support.

Even if she were to score an upset in New Hampshire, the big showdown would come in Haley’s home state of South Carolina before an electorate that twice elected her governor. At this point, however, her support appears to be lagging well behind Trump.

Democrats: Candidates Already Preparing for 2028 — Headed toward a 2024 rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Trump means that the 2028 presidential race will be open since neither man will be able to seek re-election in four years. Already, we see several Democratic governors making moves in anticipation of that impending campaign. Govs. Wes Moore (D-MD) and Andy Beshear (D-KY) have each formed federal political action committees to help Democratic candidates around the country, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) has been running a national media effort for months.

Senate

New Mexico: Republicans Get Party-Switcher Candidate — Former Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales announced that he is leaving the Democratic Party and will challenge Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) as a Republican. The move gives the Republicans a well known candidate, but this is still a long shot GOP conversion opportunity. If the Republicans are to maximize their opportunities on a favorable Senate map, however, they need to put more seats in play.

Heinrich, after serving two terms in the US House and one on the Albuquerque City Council, was elected to the Senate in 2012 and re-elected in 2018. Sen. Heinrich averaged 52.5 percent of the vote in his two successful statewide runs.

House

MI-8: Republican Changes Mind — Michigan state Rep. Bill G. Schuette (R-Midland) last week announced that he would enter the open 8th Congressional District race, but this week he has changed his mind. Now, Schuette says he will run for re-election to the state House. The move may suggest an opening of the door for his father, former attorney general, appellate judge, US congressman, and US Senate nominee Bill Schuette to run for the open 8th.

Since the 8th CD is a politically marginal district and will host one of the most competitive congressional races in the country, we can expect both parties to invest heavily in the 2024 campaign. Democrats already have several strong candidates, such as state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet (D-Bay City), the national Democratic establishment choice; Michigan Board of Education president Pamela Pugh; Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley; and former Genessee County Democratic Party chairman Dan Moilanen.

Presley Stands Aside; CA-20 Special Election Scheduled; Pence to Retire; Buffalo Mayor Won’t Run for Open House Seat; Vermont Governor’s Race

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024

Senate

Former Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D)

Mississippi: Brandon Presley Won’t Run — Former Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D), who held Gov. Tate Reeves (R) to a 51-48 percent re-election victory in November, said he will not challenge Sen. Roger Wicker (R) later this year, but indicated that his time in politics is not yet over. This could mean he is already laying the groundwork to again run for governor in 2027 when the position will be open. Presley is a second cousin to the late “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” singer Elvis Presley. Gov. Reeves will be ineligible to stand for a third term. With Mississippi candidate filing closing today, it is unlikely the Democrats will field a strong candidate against Sen. Wicker.

House

CA-20: Special Election Scheduled — Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that the special election to replace resigned Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R) will be held on March 19, two weeks after the California state primary on March 5. Therefore, two candidates will advance to the regular general election before the special vote is held. Under California election law, if no candidate receives majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will be held at a later date. Gov. Newsom has scheduled the potential runoff for May 21.

CA-20 is the safest Republican seat in California. State Assemblyman Vincent Fong (R-Bakersfield) is favored to succeed Rep. McCarthy. His strongest competitor appears to be Tulare County Sheriff Mike Bourdeaux (R).

IN-6: Rep. Greg Pence (R) to Retire — The House retirement drumbeat continues; another announcement comes from three-term Rep. Greg Pence (R-Columbus), brother of former Vice President Mike Pence. Saying it is an “honor and privilege” to serve the people of Indiana’s 6th Congressional District, Pence stated that he decided he would not seek a fourth term. The House open seat count now ticks upward to 44. Four of these races will be decided in special elections before the regular election.

The 6th District will remain in Republican hands. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+37, making it the safest Indiana seat for the GOP. A majority of the Hoosier State Republican delegation (4 of 7) will not be seeking re-election. Reps. Victoria Sparts (R-Noblesville), Larry Bucshon (R-Evansville) and Pence all are retiring. Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) is running for the Senate.

NY-26: Mayor Won’t Run — Five-term Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D) announced that he will not compete for what will be an open congressional seat headed for a special election. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) is resigning his office in February, at which point Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will schedule a special election. Since the county party chairmen have the power to nominate candidates for special elections, it appears a lock that state Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) will be the Democratic candidate to replace Rep. Higgins. With a FiveThirtyEight data organization rating of D+18, Sen. Kennedy will become a prohibitive favorite to replace Rep. Higgins.

Governor

Vermont: Democratic Former Local Official Files — Despite running in one of the most heavily Democratic states, Republican Gov. Phil Scott consistently ranks as the most popular state chief executive in the country. While he has yet to announce that he will seek a fifth two-year term — Vermont and New Hampshire are the only states that limit their governors to two years between elections — former Middlebury Town Selectwoman Esther Charlestin this week announced that she will seek the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.

Should Gov. Scott decide to retire, the Democrats will have the inside track toward converting the State House. If he runs again, Gov. Scott becomes a prohibitive favorite.