Category Archives: Senate

RFK Jr. Moves Closer to Presidential Run; Gillibrand’s Ploy re: Cuomo; House Challengers; Pa. Replay?

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 15, 2023

President

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Files Presidential Committee — There has been much speculation that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will soon join the Democratic presidential campaign as an opponent to President Biden. Over the weekend, he took a definitive step toward becoming a candidate when officially filing a presidential exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission. This is typically the first step most individuals take before they formally enter a race.

Kennedy, much more conservative than the typical Democratic voter, is not expected to be a major obstacle for President Biden to overcome as the incumbent prepares to seek renomination.

Senate

New York: Sen. Gillibrand’s Fundraising Ploy — The Politics1 organization and other political media sites are running with a story saying that New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is telling donors that she is concerned ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo may challenge her in next year’s Democratic primary. She sites the fact that he has $9 million remaining in his gubernatorial campaign account, which is $4 million more than she reported on her year-end Federal Election Commission financial disclosure.

Sen. Gillibrand’s play in making these statements is largely a fundraising ploy to encourage liberal donors to support her campaign.

Even if Cuomo, who was forced to resign the governorship in 2021, challenged her, he would immediately begin as an underdog. Secondly, though he still may have approximately $9 million in his state campaign account, a combination of complicated state and federal election laws may not allow a full transfer of those funds into a US Senate campaign. Therefore, the idea of a Cuomo Senate challenge, at least at this time, should largely be discounted.

Pennsylvania: Here They Go Again — A new Public Policy Polling survey (March 9-10; 616 likely Pennsylvania Republican primary voters) finds state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Chambersburg), the 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee who proved non-competitive in the general election, again leading in a statewide Republican primary.

In a hypothetical US Senate nomination contest, PPP finds Sen. Mastriano topping 2022 candidate and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and 2022 Senate candidate Kathy Barnette, 39-21-11 percent. If the race was a two-way between Mastriano and McCormick, the former would lead 42-28 percent. Should these numbers hold, such a primary result would again nullify any realistic chance Republicans have of upsetting Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) in November.

House

FL-25: Retired General Announces Against Rep. Wasserman Schultz — Weston City Commissioner Chris Eddy (R), a retired Air Force general and former FBI analyst, announced his candidacy for the Republican nomination with the hope of facing Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) in the general election. He first must get past 2022 nominee Carla Spalding, however.

The 25th District is reliably Democratic – FiveThirtyEight rates the seat D+18; Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 62.0D – 36.8R – which means the chances of scoring an upset here are slim. Still, Rep. Wasserman Schultz showed some weakness in the 2022 election against Spalding, winning only a 55-45 percent victory, which proved the closest of her 10 career congressional elections.

SC-1: Rep. Mace Challenger Emerges — Museum founder Michael Moore (D), a relative of Civil War figure Robert Smalls, announced that he will enter the Democratic primary to challenge two-term Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston).

There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding this race because earlier this year a South Carolina three-judge federal panel declared the 1st District an unconstitutional racial gerrymander district. This means, unless the SC ruling becomes moot when the US Supreme Court decides the related Alabama racial gerrymandering case, the district will be re-drawn.

A new version under the South Carolina judicial directive should make this seat more Democratic, but a considerable amount of time will likely elapse if and before the seat is reconfigured. Therefore, it is difficult to draw any current conclusions about the 2024 SC-1 campaign.

Gallego Ahead in Arizona; Montana Senate Race Update; Republican Garcia Draws Opponent in Calif.; First Major Candidate Announces in R.I.

By Jim Ellis — Monday, March 13, 2023

Senate

Arizona Rep. Ruben Gallego (D)

Arizona: Gallego Leads & Sinema Gains in New Poll — With no Republican as of yet announcing for the 2024 Arizona Senate race, frequent Arizona pollster OH Predictive Insights released their latest Senate poll. The survey (Jan. 31-Feb. 9; 1,000 registered Arizona voters) gives US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) the lead under all configurations. The pollster continues to add former Gov. Doug Ducey to the Republican candidate mix even though he has repeatedly said that he is not running. Therefore, we will eliminate covering polling results that include him.

Rep. Gallego polls between 31 and 34 percent in scenarios that include former gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, ex-US Senate nominee Blake Masters, and former governor candidate Karrin Taylor Robson. The Republicans post scores between 24 and 26 percent. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party to become an Independent, improves her standing from previous polling. She would take between 19 and 22 percent under the various scenarios.

With a late primary in August 2024, much will happen to develop the ultimate candidate lineup. This poll, as do others, suggest a wide-open three-way race where either Gallego, a Republican, or Sinema ultimately could eventually win. Arizona will once again be at the forefront of the battle for the Senate majority.

Montana: Rep. Rosendale Leads in Primary & General — The OnMessage Republican polling firm released the results of their latest Montana US Senate poll (Feb. 18-21; 600 likely Montana voters with an over-sample of 100 Republicans for GOP primary questions; live interview) and the results provide good news across the board for US Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive).

Though no one has announced a Senate bid against three-term incumbent Jon Tester (D), OnMessage tested a hypothetical Republican primary consisting of Reps. Rosendale and Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) along with former Secretary of State Corey Stapleton. For this question, Rep. Rosendale posted a 36-26-6 percent lead over Zinke and Stapleton. Attorney General Austin Knudsen (R), who has also been mentioned as a possible Senate candidate, was not tested.

In the general election, in a reversal of a previous Political Company survey result, OnMessage finds Rep. Rosendale topping Sen. Tester, 46-41 percent. There is no report as to whether the pollsters tested the other candidates singularly against Sen. Tester.

House

CA-27: Rep. Garcia Draws New Opponent — GOP Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) has won three elections in a seat that favors the Democrats against former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), but he’s almost certain to see a new challenger in 2024.

Franky Carrillo (D) was falsely imprisoned for 22 years, convicted for a murder later proven he did not commit and was awarded $11 million in compensation after winning a lawsuit against the state of California. Since then, Carrillo has been appointed as a Los Angeles County Probation Oversight commissioner. Last week, he announced that he will run for the US House next year.

It’s clear that the Democrats must change the paradigm against Rep. Garcia, and it remains to be seen if Carrillo is the type of candidate who can alter the partisan flow of this northern Los Angeles County CD against an incumbent who has proven he can draw crossover votes.

RI-1: First Major Candidate Announces — Last week, Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) announced that he is resigning his seat on June 1 to accept a position with a non-profit organization. While the list of potential Democratic candidates who might declare for the impending special election to be scheduled later this year is long, the first major contender just announced her plans late last week. Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D), the former president of the Providence City Council, formally declared her congressional candidacy.

The real political battle for this seat will be fought in the Democratic primary. In a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+32, it is a foregone conclusion that Rep. Cicilline’s eventual successor will be a Democrat. Expect a crowded field and a plurality primary victory that will lead to an easy Democratic special general election win.

Klain Says No; Rogers Won’t Run; Republican to Challenge Rep. Gonzales; Graves to Bypass Gov Race

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 10, 2023

Senate

Ron Klain

Indiana: Klain Says No — It appeared for a time that Democratic leaders were attempting to recruit Biden former White House chief of staff Ron Klain into the open Hoosier State Senate race. Incumbent Republican Sen. Mike Braun is foregoing re-election to instead run for governor.

The Klain idea, however, was not met with overwhelming acceptance. The 2022 Indiana Democratic Senate nominee, Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott, for example, expressed opposition to Klain, pointing out that the Washington, DC political establishment did nothing to help him in his failed race against GOP Sen. Todd Young despite several polls suggesting the race was close early. For his part, Klain responded by saying he has never run for office and, therefore, has no plans to become a Senate candidate in 2024.

Michigan: Ex-Rep. Mike Rogers Won’t Run — Former Congressman Mike Rogers (R), who chaired the House Intelligence Committee during his tenure in office and was considering a political comeback in the open Michigan Senate race, says he will not run. The list of Republicans still considering the campaign is dwindling. With both Rogers and former gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon out of the race, the list of potential candidates now include Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland), and former Reps. Fred Upton and Peter Meijer. Of this group, Meier appears to be making the most moves to organize a campaign.

House

TX-23: Another Republican to Challenge Rep. Gonzales — For the second time this week, a Republican has come forward to announce a GOP primary challenge to two-term Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio) after the incumbent was censured by the Texas Republican Party for taking certain issue positions. Joining Medina County Republican Party chair Julie Clark in the race is retired ICE officer Victor Avila. Since Texas is a runoff state, a crowded field does not necessarily help an incumbent. In a non-runoff state, a crowded field splitting the anti-incumbent vote would allow the latter to win with a plurality.

The Texas primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024; a runoff, if necessary, would be held May 28. The 23rd District is a politically marginal seat that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso and contains more of the US-Mexico border than any other district. The GOP challenges will likely spur the Democrats to recruit a strong general election candidate, so Rep. Gonzales is likely to face several serious campaigns next year.

Governor

Louisiana: Rep. Graves Decides to Bypass Gov Race — After much speculation suggesting five-term US Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) would soon join the open 2023 governor’s race this year, the congressman announced this week that he will remain in the House of Representatives. Graves said in his released written statement that he looks forward to helping unite the Republican Party behind a candidate “… with a bold, hopeful vision of Louisiana’s promise that is equal to her potential.”

State House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales) and Stephen Waguespack, the president and CEO of the Louisiana Association of Business & Industry and former gubernatorial chief of staff, are now expected to join a Republican field that includes attorney general and ex-congressman, Jeff Landry, state Treasurer John Schroder, state Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Chalmette), and state Rep. Richard Nelson (R-Mandeville).

For the Democrats, former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson appears to have successfully unified the party behind his candidacy. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who publicly supports Wilson, is ineligible to seek a third term.

Dixon Won’t Run for Senate; Pelosi Successor Waiting in the Wings; A Gonzales Challenger; A Republican Leads Liberal Group’s Poll

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Senate

Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder (R)

Michigan: Tudor Dixon Won’t Run for Senate — Over the weekend, Tudor Dixon, the defeated 2022 Republican gubernatorial candidate, announced she will not join the forming open US Senate field. Last week, three-term US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) entered the race, and is widely viewed as the favorite for the Democratic nomination and the seat. In December, four-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she will retire at the end of this Congress.

We can soon expect more Republican action in this race. Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder is the only announced GOP candidate. Others reportedly considering the race are US Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland), and former Reps. Fred Upton, Mike Rogers, and Peter Meijer.

House

CA-11: Pelosi Successor Waiting in the Wings — California state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is making his political future known. Anticipating that former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) will not seek re-election in 2024, Sen. Wiener has filed a congressional exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission. He says he will run for the 11th District seat, which covers most of the San Francisco peninsula, if Rep. Pelosi decides to retire.

He could be getting the jump on another scenario, also. Should Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly (D) resign later this year to mount a race for governor of Indiana as many believe he will, odds are strong that Pelosi will be appointed as his replacement. If so, a special election would then be scheduled for District 11. The ambassador of the United States to the Holy See is the official representative of the United States of America to the Holy See, the leadership of the Catholic Church. Before his ambassadorial appointment, Donnelly served both in the House and Senate. He was defeated for re-election to the Senate in 2018.

TX-23: Rep. Gonzales’ Primary Challenge — US Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio), after the Texas Republican Party recently voted to censure him for his support of gun control legislation, voting for the establishment of the January 6th Committee, and border legislation that the organization felt was not strong enough, drew Republican primary opposition. Medina County Republican Party chair Julie Clark announced that she will challenge the two-term incumbent who in 2022 scored the largest re-election percentage (55.9 percent) for any Republican since former Rep. Henry Bonilla’s 2004 victory.

Governor

North Carolina: GOP Lieutenant Governor Leads Liberal Group’s Poll — Raleigh based Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of the North Carolina electorate for the progressive left Forward Carolina organization (March 2-3; 704 registered North Carolina voters) and finds an unsurprisingly tight battle developing between unannounced gubernatorial candidate Mark Robinson (R), the state’s lieutenant governor, and Attorney General Josh Stein (D) who is an official contender. The poll results find the two locked in a dead heat with Robinson holding a 44-42 percent edge. The lieutenant governor’s strong 56-28 percent showing in the state’s substantial rural areas is what catapults him to the lead.

Robinson was elected lieutenant governor as a Republican in 2020 despite now term-limited Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper (D) winning re-election. Robinson carried the state 51.6 – 48.4 percent. Attorney General Stein survived a close re-election battle in the same year, slipping past his Republican opponent with only a 50.1 – 49.9 percent victory margin. The open NC governor’s race will undoubtedly feature a tight finish.

Hogan Won’t Run for President; RFK Jr. May Soon Announce; No Senate Run for Nevada’s Amodei; OR-6 Candidate Redux; New Orleans’ Mayoral Recall

By Jim Ellis — Monday, March 6, 2023

President

Former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R)

Gov. Larry Hogan: Won’t Run for President — Over the weekend, former Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said he would not join the Republican presidential field. Hogan explaining his decision said, “I have long said that I care more about ensuring a future for the Republican Party than securing my own future in the Republican Party.”

Hogan had previously expressed his analysis that a crowded Republican field would only help Donald Trump win renomination, something the former Free State governor wants to see avoided. He also indicated his belief that with Trump and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis running far ahead of the lesser-known candidates, it doesn’t leave the lower tier contenders much of an opportunity to compete for the win.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. May Soon Announce Presidential Campaign — Robert F. Kennedy Jr., son of the late senator and attorney general, Robert F. Kennedy, is moving closer to announcing a presidential campaign. It appears he will run in the Democratic primary on an anti-vaccination platform. Kennedy became a national activist opposing mandatory vaccinations during the Covid shutdown.

It is possible that he could win the New Hampshire primary. President Biden may not enter the Granite State nomination contest if the NH leadership doesn’t recognize the new Democratic National Committee schedule that takes New Hampshire out of their traditional first-in-the-nation voting position. Therefore, it is quite possible that the primary race could come down to a contest between Kennedy and author Marianne Williamson, who formally announced her own candidacy on Saturday.

Senate

Nevada: Rep. Amodei Won’t Run for Senate — Nevada’s lone Republican Congressman, Rep. Mark Amodei (R-Carson City), said on Friday that he will not challenge Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) next year. The Nevada race should be one of the most competitive campaigns in the country, just as it was in 2022. In that election, Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) slipped past GOP challenger Adam Laxalt by only a 7,928-vote margin (48.8 – 48.0 percent), which was the closest raw vote spread of all ‘22 Senate campaigns.

At this point, Republicans have no announced candidate, but that will soon change. Along with Montana, Ohio, and West Virginia, the Nevada race will eventually become one of the Republicans’ 2024 top-tier challenge races. Disabled Iraq War veteran and 2022 Senate candidate Sam Brown is considering running again. No one else has so far made a move to enter the Senate race including the state’s two down ballot constitutional officers, Lt. Gov. Stavros Anthony and state Controller Andy Matthews. Look for this race to become the top candidate recruitment target for the national Republican leadership.

House

OR-6: 2022 Candidate Will Try Again — Dundee Mayor David Russ (R) announced on Friday that he will return to again run for Congress in 2024. In the previous election, Russ placed sixth in a field of seven Republican candidates with only 3.8 percent of the vote, more than 30 percentage points behind the GOP nominee, Mike Erickson. Erickson would hold then-state Rep. Andrea Salinas (D-Tigard) to a 50-48 percent victory margin in the 6th District’s first ever congressional race. Due to population growth, Oregon was awarded a new seat in the 2020 national reapportionment formula.

The 6th will again yield a competitive race, but chances will likely prove that the Republicans’ best chance to win this district occurred in the last election. Rep. Salinas will begin as the favorite to hold the seat in the ’24 cycle.

Cities

New Orleans: Mayoral Recall Drive Changes — The signature petition drive to qualify a recall effort against New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) is continuing toward a March 22 deadline. Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin has set 45,000 valid registered voter signatures as the number necessary to force a recall vote.

Mayor Cantrell was elected in 2017 and was easily re-elected in 2021. The NoLaToya campaign is centered upon the rising murder and crime rate in the city, along with a decline in local services. It remains to be seen if the committee can gather the necessary number of petition signatures in order to schedule a recall election.

Presidential Data Points; Williamson Challenges Biden; Dems Look for Cruz Challenger; Slotkin’s Senate Track; Wilson to Announce for Louisiana Governor’s Race?

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, March 2, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump; Florida Gov. Ron Desantis

Emerson College Poll: National Data Reveals Interesting Underlying Points — Emerson College is reporting the results of their latest national survey (Feb. 24-25; 1,060 registered US voters; interactive voice response system & online panel) and while some of the results are consistent with other polling – former President Trump leading Gov. Ron DeSantis and the GOP field by a wide margin nationally; President Biden upside-down on the job approval question (44:50 percent) – other data points are proving more interesting.

First, in the general election ballot test, Trump records a 46-42 percent edge over President Biden nationally, which is one of his better polling showings. Second, in contrast to several other recent national polls, the 476 tested Democratic primary voters give overwhelming support, 71 percent, to President Biden as the 2024 party nominee. Interestingly, a whopping 85 percent within the youngest segment, those aged 18-34, are supportive of this position. Third, while Trump records a 55-25 percent national lead over Gov. DeSantis, the latter manages to gain among Hispanics, college educated Republican voters, GOP voters over 65, and Midwest respondents when compared with Emerson’s January poll.

Marianne Williamson: Biden’s First Dem Challenger Emerges — Author Marianne Williamson (D), who ran for President in 2020 but fared very poorly in that year’s Democratic nomination campaign, said she will formally announce her 2024 national campaign on Saturday. Williamson will not become a major factor in the race, but could earn some delegates in New Hampshire if the state fails to adhere to the Democratic National Committee schedule and, as a result, President Biden decides not to enter the state’s primary. Otherwise, a Williamson campaign will be a non-factor.

Senate

Texas: New Democrat Potential Candidate Emerging — Democratic leaders have been attempting to recruit a strong opponent for Sen. Ted Cruz (R) as he seeks a third term next year, and most of the early speculation has centered around former HUD Secretary, presidential candidate, and ex-San Antonio mayor, Julian Castro, and US representative and former NFL football player Colin Allred (D-Dallas). With neither man so far jumping into the race, statements from Texas Democratic Party chairman Gilberto Hinojosa, as reported in the Daily Kos Elections blog, suggest that outgoing Houston mayor and former veteran state Rep. Sylvester Turner may be moving toward becoming a candidate.

Democrats are expected to make a run at Sen. Cruz, but in a presidential election year with the turnout model almost assuredly favoring the eventual Republican presidential nominee the future Democratic candidate will be in a decided underdog position.

Michigan: Rep. Slotkin’s Senate Track — Three-term US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), as expected for weeks, formally announced that she will run for the Senate next year. In December, four-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she will retire at the end of this Congress. Rep. Slotkin, one of the more prolific fundraisers in the House, is already perceived as the favorite for the Democratic nomination and the general election.

Though there was much activity right after Sen. Stabenow announced that she would step down, only one elected official, Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder (R), has actually declared her candidacy until Rep. Slotkin made her intention known.

While Rep. Slotkin has the inside track to the Democratic nomination and may not even face a significant intra-party opponent, several Republicans are still contemplating whether to run for the open Senate seat. Among them are former gubernatorial nominee Tudor Dixon, US Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland), and former Reps. Fred Upton, Mike Rogers, and Peter Meijer.

Prominent Michigan politicos who have said they will not run for the Senate include Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist (D), Attorney General Dana Nessel (D), Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), US Reps. Haley Stevens (D-Birmingham) and John James (R-Farmington Hills), and state Senate Majority Whip Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland and Wayne Counties).

House

CA-12: First Open-Seat Candidate Emerges — Bay Area Rapid Transit Board member Lateefah Simon (D) became the first individual to announce her candidacy for California’s new open 12th District, which encompasses the cities of Oakland and Berkeley. Twelve-term Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) is leaving the House to run for the Senate.

The 12th, a coalition majority minority seat, is the most Democratic district in this bluest of states. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates it D+77, while the Dave’s Redistricting App partisan lean finds a 89.7D – 8.3R spread. Therefore, two Democrats advancing to the general election in what is expected to be a crowded all-party qualifying election field is a virtual certainty.

Potential candidates include state Sen. Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Assemblywomen Mia Bonta (D-Oakland) and Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland), former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (D), and several local officials.

Governor

Louisiana: Democrats Uniting — While the candidate filing deadline for this year’s Louisiana governor’s race is still more than five months away, Democrats appear to already be uniting behind one candidate. Shawn Wilson is the outgoing state Secretary of Transportation who will be resigning from office on March 4. His official gubernatorial announcement will come soon after. Gary Chambers (D), who ran against Sen. John Kennedy (R) last year and was viewed as a potential candidate now says he will not run and is lining up behind Wilson. Term-limited Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) has already given his tacit endorsement to Wilson.

All of this likely means Wilson will surely advance into the general election runoff. Republicans will split their votes, thus ensuring that no candidate will reach the 50 percent mark in the Oct. 14 all-party jungle primary. The top two finishers will advance into the Nov. 18 general, meaning Wilson will await the outcome of a tight GOP gubernatorial nomination contest. Republicans will be favored to convert the Louisiana governorship, but Democrats are clearly doing their best to correctly position themselves for the autumn election.

Biden Weak Among Dems; Desantis Leads Trump; Two Potential Michigan Candidates Decline to Run; Chicago’s Lightfoot Trails in Mayoral Race

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2023

President

President Joe Biden

National Polling: Biden Weak Among Dem Voters — While First Lady Jill Biden was questioning over the weekend why people are not fully believing that President Biden is running for re-election when he has repeatedly said that he is, national Democratic primary voter polling since the 2022 election suggests internal weakness for the party’s incumbent. Though Democrats generally rate his job performance as very positive, a large percentage would also prefer another candidate run in 2024.

For example, the new California Field Poll conducted at the University of California at Berkeley (Feb. 14-20; 7,51 registered California voters; online) finds 86 percent of the state’s Democrats approving of President Biden’s job performance, but only 57 percent of this same segment favor him running for re-election.

Four national Democratic primary polls have been conducted since the 2022 election from Emerson College, YouGov, Reuters/Ipsos, and Harvard University/Harris; just among Democrats, President Biden only scores between 35-42 percent preference within a hypothetical field of notable Democratic potential candidates. Though this suggests weakness for renomination, it doesn’t appear that the president will face major intra-party competition as he begins his 2024 campaign.

California: DeSantis Leads Trump — The California Field Poll conducted at the University of California at Berkeley (Feb. 14-20; 7,512 registered California voters; 1,755 self-identified California Republican voters; online) also looked at the Republican presidential field. The statewide totals find Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, an unannounced candidate for president, topping former President Donald Trump, 37-29 percent, with former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley recording seven percent preference. All other potential Republican candidates score support figures of four percent or less.

The important point to remember about the California Republican nomination system is that the state selects delegates through its 52 congressional districts. Therefore, though DeSantis may be leading in the statewide count, the nomination battle is determined through the votes tabulated in the individual congressional districts. This system could make the California primary a wild card state on Super Tuesday.

Senate

Michigan: Two Say No — Two-time GOP US Senate nominee John James, who won the 10th District US House race last November, says he will not compete for Michigan’s open Senate seat next year and will instead defend his politically marginal congressional district in a bid for re-election. James was one of the national Republicans’ top Senate prospects, but his decision is good news for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

For the Democrats, state Senate Majority Whip Mallory McMorrow (D-Oakland and Wayne Counties) also said she will not enter the US Senate race. Though candidate speculation has been heavy, only Michigan School Board member Nikki Snyder (R) has announced her Senate candidacy among current elected officials. After much speculation and anticipation, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) entered the Senate race yesterday, saying in a campaign video that “We all know America is going through something right now, we seem to be living crisis to crisis,” after which she speaks to a relatively broad agenda. “Look, our country is going to get through this,” she declares. “It’s hard work, but that’s what Michiganders do.” In December, four-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she would not seek a fifth term.

Cities

Chicago: Closing Mayoral Poll Suggests Defeat for Incumbent Lori Lightfoot — The Chicago non-partisan mayoral primary is today, and a closing poll from M3 Strategies (Feb. 20-21; 450 likely Chicago voters) gives former Chicago Schools CEO Paul Vallas a substantial lead with 32 percent of the vote. Vallas is a Democrat but widely seen as the most conservative candidate in the nine-person field.

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson, who Reps. Jonathan Jackson (D-Chicago) and Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) support, is second with an 18 percent support factor. Mayor Lori Lightfoot now trails with only 14 percent backing, and Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), who once led the race, drops all the way back to fourth position at 12 percent preference. Though all the candidates are relatively close, the poll shows the real possibility that Mayor Lightfoot would fail to qualify for the runoff election.

The city is reporting that over 210,000 mail ballots have been requested. Since the ballots may be postmarked on election day, Feb. 28, it could be several days before final tallies are reported. Under Chicago election law, however, mail ballots received before election may be counted early and added to the initial public reports on election night. If no candidate receives majority support in today’s election, which is a virtual certainty, the top two finishers will advance to an April 4 runoff contest.