Category Archives: Senate

New Hampshire Gov. Sununu Testing Waters for Presidential Run; Senate Challenger in Nebraska; New Challenger for Rep. Boebert; Candidates for House and Gov Races

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Feb. 10, 2023

President

New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R)

Gov. Chris Sununu: Files Super PAC as Prelude to Potential Candidacy — Previously indicating that he is interested in exploring a presidential bid, New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) has formed a Super PAC entitled the “Live Free or Die PAC,” which will allow funds to be raised in order to test the political waters.

Gov. Sununu is not a fan of former President Donald Trump, yet ironically, he and other less known candidates who enter the race increase the chances that the former president will be able to build a plurality coalition large enough to win the Republican nomination — a la what occurred in 2016.

Senate

Nebraska: New Sen. Ricketts Drawing Potential GOP Challenger — Before Cornhusker State Sen. Pete Ricketts (R) was appointed to replace resigned Sen. Ben Sasse (R) on Jan. 12, former gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster indicated he would consider launching a primary against the eventual appointed incumbent. Now, he appears to be doubling down on that comment, again saying he is seriously considering developing a 2024 Senate campaign.

Herbster lost the 2022 Republican primary to now-Gov. Jim Pillen largely with then-Gov. Ricketts’ substantial help. Former President Trump supported Herbster in the primary, but the endorsement came before several women came forth to accuse the agri-businessman of sexual harassment. Though Trump did not rescind the endorsement, his support was not enough to overcome the Pillen-Ricketts team.

House

CO-3: New Rep. Boebert Challenger Comes Forward — Veterinarian Debby Burnett (D), who filed to run against Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) in 2022 but was disqualified from the ballot, is again filing to run in 2024. Though Burnett no doubt will qualify for the Democratic primary in the coming election, she is likely to fall well behind 2022 nominee Adam Frisch, who came within 546 votes of unseating Rep. Boebert. Frisch is indicating that he is likely to run again and will almost certainly have the local Democratic Party’s support.

IN-5: Potential Candidates Begin to Stir — Since two-term central Indiana Rep. Victoria Spartz’s (R-Noblesville) retirement announcement at the end of her current term caught virtually everyone by surprise, potential candidates are now beginning to stir. The first to indicate she is interested in making the open seat race is former congressional aide Megan Savage (R), a former chief of staff to retired 5th District Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R).

Other potential candidates include state Sen. Scott Baldwin (R-Noblesville), former state Sen. John Ruckelshaus, and former state Treasurer Kelly Mitchell (R). A crowded Republican field is expected to emerge in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+22.

Governor

West Virginia: Ag Commissioner to Stay Put — As more individuals begin to become candidates for the open West Virginia governor’s race in 2024, one prospective contender who will remain in his current position is Agriculture Commissioner Kent Leonhardt (R) as his statement Wednesday made clear.

In the GOP gubernatorial race are Secretary of State Mac Warner, state Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston) — son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) — businessman Chris Miller — son of Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington) — farmer Terri Bradshaw, and preschool owner Rashida Yost. No Democrats have yet announced. Gov. Jim Justice (R) is ineligible to seek a third term but may run for US Senate.

Zeldin Considering Challenging Gillibrand; An OH-13 Rematch?; Chicago Mayoral Race Leaders; Michelle Obama Denies Endorsement

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Feb. 9, 2023

Senate

Former NY Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)

New York: Ex-Rep. Zeldin Considering Gillibrand Challenge — Four-term Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R), who gave up his congressional seat to challenge Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) in November and lost 53-47 percent, says he is considering launching a campaign against Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) next year. Zeldin said “it would be a pretty epic clash” between the two if he decided to make the run.

This would be a tough race for Zeldin, or any Republican, in a presidential year. New York will surely back the Democratic presidential nominee meaning it would be even more difficult to defeat a sitting incumbent senator who will be enjoying what should be a favorable turnout model in one of the country’s strongest Democratic states.

House

OH-13: Republican Eyeing Re-Match — Madison Gesiotto Gilbert (R), who lost to now freshman Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) in a tight 53-47 percent November contest, is reportedly mulling taking another shot at winning the seat in 2024. Should the Ohio map be re-drawn, which is a possibility before the 2024 election, this district could become more Republican. If not, then Rep. Sykes will be considered a clear favorite for re-election.

The newly created OH-13 contains the city of Akron and its surrounding areas. The FiveThirtyEight data organization actually rates the seat R+2, but Dave’s Redistricting App sees the partisan lean at 50.7 – 47.0 favoring the Democrats, a split that will only grow once the ’22 race is added to the calculation formula. President Biden carried the district with a result very close to the Dave’s App overall partisan lean, 50.7 – 47.9 percent.

Cities

Chicago: Two New Mayoral Polling Leaders — As we approach the Feb. 28 non-partisan mayoral election in Chicago, an independent IZQ Strategies survey (Jan. 27-2/2; 1,040 likely Chicago primary voters; SMS text) sees former Chicago Schools CEO Paul Vallas taking the lead within the crowded candidate field with 25 percent support.

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who US Reps. Jonathan Jackson (D-Chicago) and Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) support, pulls into second place with 15 percent, while Mayor Lori Lightfoot and US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) drop into a tie for third position with 12 percent preference apiece. From the field of nine candidates, the top two will advance to an April 4 runoff election, assuming no one receives majority support on the 28.

Vallas, though a Democrat, is clearly the most conservative candidate in the field. This can help him traverse a crowded primary, but will make it more difficult to win a runoff election. It is also the first poll where we see neither Mayor Lightfoot nor Rep. Garcia finishing in the top two. It is clear that this mayoral race is anybody’s game at this point as we enter the final three weeks of the campaign.

Philadelphia: Michelle Obama Calls Out Mayoral Candidate — The crowded primary to replace term-limited Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney (D) has created a national controversy. One of the 10 Democrats vying for the position, businessman Jeff Brown, has been running an ad with film of former First Lady Michelle Obama praising him at an event.

According to an official response statement from Ms. Obama, the film is doctored, and she was including both Brown and another individual as praiseworthy for their business and community efforts at a gathering that occurred several years ago. Ms. Obama further stated that she does not take sides in Democratic primaries, and is supporting no candidate in the Philadelphia race.

The field of 10 Democrats vying to win the May 16 primary in order to advance to the November general election features state Rep. Amen Brown (D-Philadelphia), and former City Councilmembers Maria Quinones-Sanchez, Derek Green, Cherelle Parker, and Helen Gym, ex-Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, former Municipal Court Judge Jimmy DeLeon, frequent candidate Warren Bloom, and Jeff Brown.

Michigan GOP Senate Action; Challengers Emerge in House Races; Ex-Congressman Mulls NC Gov. Race

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2023

Senate

Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D)

Michigan: GOP Senate Action Beginning — When Wolverine State Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow announced on Jan. 5 that she would not seek re-election in 2024, a spate of speculative activity occurred particularly among Democrats as to who may run to succeed the veteran incumbent. Despite the seemingly heightened interest level, no major candidate has yet to announce. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) was thought to be on the verge of declaring her Senate candidacy and is still expected to at some point, but she has yet to come forward.

The Republicans were quiet immediately after the Stabenow announcement, which caught many by surprise, but now increased chatter is evident. Last week, former US Rep. Mike Rogers said he is considering running, and this week speculation is surrounding potential Senate bids from Congressman Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and former US Rep. Peter Meijer. The latter man was denied renomination in the 2022 election cycle. The Michigan race promises to be highly competitive, but Democrats will be favored to win a close open seat contest.

House

CA-13: Ex-Candidate Declares Against Rep. Duarte — Fresno area financial advisor and ex-Democratic congressional candidate Phil Arballo (D) says he will return in 2024 to hopefully challenge freshman Rep. John Duarte (R-Modesto) in the general election. The congressman recorded the 2022 election’s second-closest victory margin nationally, a 565-vote win over then-state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D).

Arballo first came on the political scene in 2020 when he challenged then-Rep. Devin Nunes (R). He raised over $5 million for that campaign but secured only 46 percent of the general election vote. He entered the 2022 race in new District 13 but failed to become a November election finalist, placing third in the jungle primary with a 17.4 percent preference total after raising $1.6 million.

The 13th District race will be a major national Democratic conversion target, so we can expect a large jungle primary field to form. At this point, there is little indication that Gray will return for a re-match.

NY-19: Field Forming to Challenge Rep. Molinaro — We’ve already seen brisk political activity in several upstate New York districts. Over the weekend, Dan Butterman (D), an insurance executive who has three times failed to win a state assembly seat, says he will join the growing field to challenge freshman Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-Red Hook). Also in the race are Democratic activist Joe Cerullo and Independent marketing executive Hal Stewart. Stronger Democratic candidates are expected to emerge.

Molinaro won the 19th District general election with a 51-49 percent victory over attorney Josh Riley (D), after the new congressman lost the special election conducted earlier in the year to replace former US Rep. Antonio Delgado (D) who resigned from the House to become lieutenant governor.

In two other Upstate districts, former Congressman Mondaire Jones (D) is contemplating a comeback effort against freshman Rep. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) in the Westchester County-anchored 17th CD, and a pair of Democrats have announced their candidacies against freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) in the 22nd District.

Governor

North Carolina: Former Congressman Considering Gov Race — Former Tar Heel State three-term Congressman Mark Walker (R-Greensboro), who was redistricted out of his 6th District seat and then subsequently lost a GOP US Senate primary, indicated he is now interested in running for governor next year.

Walker fared poorly in the 2022 US Senate contest, however, placing a distant third to now-Sen. Ted Budd in the Republican primary. In that race he secured only 9.2 percent of the GOP vote. In the governor’s race, Walker would face Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) and likely several others. Incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

It is probable that a new congressional redistricting map will be drawn to replace the current interim court map before the 2024 election. As has been the Republican map drawers’ past practice, a new plan would reconfigure one of the seats in the Greensboro area to favor a Republican candidate. Therefore, again running for the House could be another option for Walker.

DNC Votes For New Primary Schedule; Potential New Candidate in Montana; Indiana’s Spartz to Retire From House

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023

President

Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison speaks at the DNC’s winter meeting, in Philadelphia.

DNC: Votes to Change Primary Schedule — At the Democratic National Committee’s Winter Meeting in Philadelphia over the weekend, the membership officially adopted President Biden’s recommendations for a new pre-Super Tuesday primary voting schedule. As part of the major action, party members removed the Iowa Democratic Caucuses from their traditional first voting state slot. This means the Hawkeye State nomination schedule is forced to move after the Super Tuesday date of March 5, 2024.

The new schedule propels South Carolina, home to DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison, as the first primary state, which will presumably be scheduled for Feb. 3, 2024. New Hampshire and Nevada would share a primary date almost exactly a year from now, on Feb. 6, 2024. Georgia would then vote on Feb. 13, with Michigan following on Feb. 27. The Committee is giving both New Hampshire and Georgia, which are asked to comply with the new DNC schedule, until June 3, 2023 to enact new election laws. Considering the two states have Republican governors and legislatures, it appears such approval will not be easy to obtain. The Michigan legislature and governor have already taken action to move their primary.

On the other hand, Republicans are keeping the traditional early schedule of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. This means we could see at least some of these states holding separate nominating events for each party.

Senate

Montana: Potential New Candidate — The National Journal is reporting that first-term state Attorney General Austin Knudsen, the former eastern Montana Roosevelt County District Attorney, is considering a US Senate run. Most of the attention, in terms of potential opponents for Sen. Jon Tester (D), has centered around US Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) and Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish). A spokesperson for AG Knudsen did not confirm or deny the report, only to say that “announcements regarding future plans will come at a later date.”

The Montana race will be a top Republican conversion target in 2024. Sen. Tester said he will make a decision about seeking a fourth term before the end of March. Should Knudsen enter the Senate race, he would risk his current position as his office is also on the ballot in 2024.

House

Indiana Rep. Victoria Spartz (R)

IN-5: Rep. Victoria Spartz (R) to Retire — Second-term Indiana US Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) announced on Friday that she will not enter the open US Senate primary, and won’t even seek re-election to the House. Rep. Spartz had previously confirmed that a Senate race was under consideration, but she was not viewed as a particularly strong potential candidate. The surprise decision, however, was her saying that she will retire completely from elective politics when her current term ends. The congresswoman said she has teenage daughters who need her guidance at home.

Indiana’s post-redistricting 5th CD is securely in the Republican column. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+22, and Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 57R – 40D. The major population centers are the communities of Fishers, Muncie, Noblesville, and Kokomo.

The Spartz retirement decision means six seats will already be open in the 2024 election cycle. Aside from the Indiana congresswoman leaving the House, Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jim Banks (R-IN), and Alex Mooney (R-WV), have all formally announced their intentions to run for the Senate.

States

North Carolina: State Supreme Court will Reconsider Election Rulings — In a continuing game of political football between what was the Democratic controlled state Supreme Court and the Republican legislature, the new Supreme Court voted to reconsider two election-oriented decisions that the previous panel rendered at the end of its tenure in January. The previous court, a 4D-3R majority, struck down the North Carolina state Senate map as a partisan gerrymander, and determined the state’s voter ID law is unconstitutional. The new court, a 5R-2D majority, will now reconsider each of those rulings.

North Carolina redistricting has been a decade-long battle between the state Supreme Court and the legislature. In the Tar Heel State, the governor has no veto power over redistricting. Now that the high court is in Republican hands, it is likely the justices will interpret the laws closer to what the Republican majority in the legislature has repeatedly enacted. This, and the US Supreme Court hearing the North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case, is likely to soon stabilize the NC redistricting and election law situation.

Pelosi Endorses in Calif. Senate Race; A Challenger for Sen. Cruz in Texas; FEC Publishes Year-End Finances; Mississippi Candidates Set for ’23

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Feb. 6, 2023

Senate

Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) endorses Adam Schiff.

California: Rep. Schiff Attracts Major Political Endorsements — Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), the veteran former House Speaker, said yesterday that she will support Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) in the 2024 US Senate race so long as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) decides to retire. An additional 14 California US House members also publicly pledged their support to Rep. Schiff. This, even though Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) is already in the race, and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is a virtual certainty to also enter. The March 5, 2024 California jungle primary is likely to advance two Democrats into the general election.

Texas: Ex-Presidential Candidate Considers Senate Race — Former US Housing & Urban Development Secretary and ex-San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro (D), is reportedly considering entering the Texas US Senate race to challenge two-term incumbent Ted Cruz (R). US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) is also discussed as a possible candidate, but the Congressman has yet to confirm that he has interest in running statewide.

Though Sen. Cruz only won re-election in 2018 with a 51-48 percent victory margin over then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), he appears to be in stronger position this year. In a presidential year, and with Republicans still controlling all of the major Texas statewide elected offices, Sen. Cruz must begin this race as a solid favorite for re-election.

Finance Numbers: FEC Publishes Senators’ Year-End Filings — The Senate campaign finance figures are now public, thus giving us clues as to which incumbents are best prepared to wage their re-election campaigns. Though not facing a competitive 2024 battle, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) ended the year with the most cash-on-hand, well over $9.7 million.

The senator who has the highest account balance while facing a competitive challenge is West Virginia’s Joe Manchin (D). He appears to have the most difficult re-election path of any in-cycle Senate incumbent. In his two-congressional district state, Sen. Manchin posts just over a whopping $9.5 million in his campaign account. The two senators with the lowest cash-on-hand figures are Mitt Romney (R-UT) with $3,569, and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) who holds just $9,968.

States

Mississippi: Candidates Set for ’23 Off-Year Election — The Magnolia State’s candidate filing period has closed and in all eight statewide races set for this year’s ballot, each currently Republican held, Democrats have candidates for every campaign. The two elections sure to attract the most attention are the battles for governor and lieutenant governor, though the latter is a GOP primary confrontation.

It is likely the general election will feature Gov. Tate Reeves (R) and Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D) in what many observers believe will become a significant race. The Republican lieutenant governor primary highlights state senator and former US Senate candidate, Chris McDaniel, challenging incumbent Delbert Hosemann.

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

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Feb. 3, 2023

President

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

Governor

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

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

By Jim Ellis — Feb. 2, 2023

Senate

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R)

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

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

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

House

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

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

Governor

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

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

Cities

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