Category Archives: Senate

Manchin Will Not Run for President; Ramaswamy Announces Presidential Bid; Sen. Tester to Seek Re-Election; Ex-San Jose Mayor Looks to Challenge

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Feb. 24, 2023

President

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

Sen. Joe Manchin: Will Not Run for President — Sen. Manchin (D-WV) made it clear Wednesday that he would not run for president. Rumors had abounded that the West Virginia senator might run for governor or president, both of which he has now dispelled. Previously, on national television, the senator said he will not again run for governor. With Gov. Jim Justice (R) ineligible to seek a third term in the Mountain State and broadly hinting that he will run for the Senate, the door would have opened for Manchin to again run for governor, a position he held from 2005-2010.

A seriously discussed option was for Manchin to run for president on a “No Labels” ticket, possibly even with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) as his running mate. Now that both running for president and governor are eliminated options, Sen. Manchin will soon opt for re-election to the Senate or outright retirement from politics. The early tea leaves suggest he will seek a third full term.

Vivek Ramaswamy: Announces for President — Venture capitalist Vivek Ramaswamy announced his candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination in a move that was anticipated. Ramaswamy, whose personal wealth is estimated to exceed $500 million, is basing his campaign on promoting the free enterprise system and opposing corporate “wokeism.”

While Ramaswamy’s wealth will certainly allow him to run extensive electronic advertising, he is a very long shot to become a top-tier candidate. Still, he is someone worthy of attention.

Senate

Montana: Sen. Jon Tester (D) to Seek Re-Election — Through a Twitter announcement Wednesday, Montana Sen. Jon Tester (D) announced that he will seek a fourth term next year. Speculation about his potential retirement had become relatively intense.

The Democratic leadership needs Sen. Tester to run again in order to increase hope of holding onto the party’s tenuous Senate majority. The Democrats face a 2024 election map that forces them to defend 23 of 34 in-cycle seats, and keeping the Montana seat is no sure thing even with their best candidate.

While the media and the senator himself will continue to use a “moderate,” label to describe Tester, his voting record has moved decidedly to the left during this term and is now a solid leadership vote. Regardless of who ultimately becomes the Montana Republican Senate nominee, we can count on seeing an ideological contrast race being run with the GOP accusing Tester of being out of step with the state’s electorate, and the senator firing back with extremist claims about whomever his Republican opponent is.

House

CA-16 & 18: Ex-San Jose Mayor to Challenge a Democratic Incumbent — Former San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo (D), who was ineligible to seek a third term in 2021, Wednesday said he has informed both Reps. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton; Palo Alto), and Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) that he plans to challenge one of the two veteran Democratic incumbents next year. Liccardo says he has polled both Rep. Eshoo’s 16th CD and Rep. Lofgren’s 18th District to assess his chances in what would likely transition into a double Democratic general election.

The 18th CD contains most of the city of San Jose, but Rep. Lofgren responded to Liccardo with a statement that she plans on seeking re-election in 2024. Lofgren, who was first elected in 1994, has been re-elected against light challenges with over 65 percent of the vote ever since. In the 2022 jungle primary, Rep. Eshoo dropped below the 50 percent mark suggesting some vulnerability to a future Democratic challenge.

Calif. Rep. Lee Declares for Senate;
RI-1 Resignation; VA-4 Winner;
Dems Disqualified in Mississippi

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Feb. 23, 2023

Senate

California Rep. Barbara Lee (D)

California: Rep. Barbara Lee (D) Declares for Senate — In an expected move, 12-term California US Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) announced that she will officially join the open US Senate campaign to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D). Rep. Lee had already filed a Senate committee with the Federal Election Commission, and had been making it clear she would announce once Sen. Feinstein made her retirement plans public.

Already declared are fellow Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). Schiff has recruited endorsements from 15 members from the California Democratic delegation, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). At this point, however, no statewide elected office holders are making a move to run for the Senate. California features an all-party jungle primary system, so it is likely that two Democrats will advance to the general election. In 2024, because it is a presidential election year, the California primary moves to Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

While Rep. Lee is the only major candidate at this point hailing from northern California, she will be a decided underdog on the fundraising circuit. Both Reps. Porter and Schiff are two of the most prolific House fundraisers in the country. Though the seat will remain in Democratic hands, this race will continue to feature a highly competitive cycle-long open seat campaign.

House

RI-1: Rep. David Cicilline (D) to Resign — Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) announced that he will resign from the House on May 31 to accept a new position as president and CEO of the Rhode Island Foundation. Cicilline’s move will require Gov. Dan McKee (D) to schedule a special election later in the year to fill the congressional post.

The Rhode Island Foundation is a 100-plus year-old donating nonprofit entity with an endowment of more than $1.3 billion according to their latest public financial statement. The organization specializes in providing financial grants and scholarships particularly in the areas of community development and education.

The FiveThirtyEight organization rates RI-1 as D+32. The neighboring 2nd District has a D+17 rating, but hosted a competitive 2022 open seat race after veteran Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) decided to retire. State Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D) recorded a 50-47 percent win over former Cranston mayor and two-time Republican gubernatorial nominee Allan Fung in a race the national GOP had high hopes of winning.

VA-4: State Sen. McClellan (D) Wins Special Election — Virginia state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) easily won the state’s 4th District special election Tuesday night, earning the right to succeed the late Congressman Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) who passed away at the end of November.

McClellan was the clear favorite going into the election after winning the Democratic nomination process in December. She easily defeated Republican Leon Benjamin, a frequent candidate, with 74 percent of the vote. The 4th District, which stretches from Richmond to the North Carolina border, is heavily Democratic. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the district D+30, while Dave’s Redistricting App scores the seat’s partisan lean at 66.8D – 31.6R.

Governor

Mississippi: Two Democrats Disqualified — A pair of minor Democratic gubernatorial contenders have been disqualified from the ballot for failing to meet the state’s candidate requirements. This means that Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, cousin to the late music legend Elvis Presley, will be unopposed for the party nomination.

With Gov. Tate Reeves (R) facing only minor opposition in the Aug. 8 Republican primary, we will now assuredly see both the governor and Presley advancing into the general election. Therefore, a defined Mississippi gubernatorial campaign commences and will continue for the better part of this year. The general election date is Nov. 7.

Trump vs. DeSantis – Who Wins?;
Ariz. Senate Race; Feinstein Fallout; Indiana Candidate Search

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump (R); Florida Gov. Ron Desantis (R)

Quinnipiac: Poll Supports Crowded Primary Analysis — Quinnipiac University released their latest national presidential poll (Feb. 9-14; 1,580 US adults; 1,429 self-identified registered voters; 592 self-identified Republican or Republican leaning voters; live interview) and the results confirm some relatively common analyses. The numbers appear to support the idea that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could deny former President Donald Trump renomination if the race comes down to a choice directly between him and the former president.

Though a national poll is useful for detecting a popularity trend, a party nomination is won in the states. Looking at publicly released surveys since mid-November to the present, we see 29 state polls coming from 16 voting entities, including the pre-Super Tuesday locations of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

From those 29 polls, a total of 17 tested Trump and DeSantis in a head-to-head contest. Already, DeSantis was polling ahead of the former president in 14 of those surveys. When the field was crowded, it was Trump who fared better. In the dozen multi-candidate studies, the former president led Gov. DeSantis in eight.

Senate

Arizona: Rep. Gallego Leads in New Polling, But Numbers are Close — OH Predictive Insights, a frequent Arizona pollster, produced new numbers from their Jan. 31 – Feb. 9 survey of 1,000 registered voters through an online opt-in panel. Under various configurations, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) leads the various candidate fields, but he scores only between 31-34 percent in the three-way hypothetical contests.

Along with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I), Gallego was tested individually with Republicans Doug Ducey (the former governor), 2022 Senate nominee Blake Masters, 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake, and 2022 gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson. Sen. Sinema slightly improves her standing, topping out at 22 percent, while the highest Republican score is 27 percent for Ducey. However Ducey has repeatedly said he will not be a Senate candidate in 2024.

The online poll conducted over a long sampling period is often considered less reliable than other methodologies. The bottom line from this and other early AZ Senate polls, is that any one of the three, Gallego, Sinema, or an eventual Republican nominee, can win a tight three-way contest.

California: Rep. Lee Files Senate Committee with FEC — Now that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has announced, as expected, that she will not seek re-election in 2024, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) immediately filed a Senate committee with the Federal Election Commission. Lee had been sending clear signals that she planned to enter the open Senate race, but would do so only after Sen. Feinstein made her plans known. The act of filing a FEC committee does not necessarily mean a Senate candidacy is forthcoming, but it is a clear indication this is where Rep. Lee is headed.

Indiana: NRSC Sending Banks Signals — Though former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R) and other GOP leaders are attempting to recruit a candidate to oppose conservative Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) for the open Indiana US Senate race, National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Steve Daines (R-MT) appears to be headed toward the congressman’s camp.

Reports suggest the Daniels group may be close to backing former Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R) for the Senate nomination, but with Banks having the rightward faction and what well could be the NRSC endorsement and resource support, the latter man will be very difficult to derail. Next week, Sen. Daines is hosting a fundraising event for Rep. Banks sending clear signals that the national party is going to back the northern Indiana House member.

PA Sen. Casey Recovering from Cancer Surgery; WV’s Justice Topping Sen. Manchin; Wilson Likely Louisiana Governor Candidate; Missouri Poll Favors Former Senator’s Son

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Feb. 17, 2023

Senate

Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. (D) recovering from cancer surgery.

Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey Jr. Recovering from Cancer Surgery — Sen. Bob Casey, Jr’s. (D) office staff released a statement indicating that the senator’s surgery for prostate cancer is complete and doctors at least preliminarily believe he will need no further treatment. Sen. Casey previously said he hopes to run for re-election to a third term so long as his health responds. With early indications being positive, it is likely the senator will be back on the ballot in 2024.

West Virginia: New Poll Finds Gov. Jim Justice Topping Sen. Manchin — Mountain State Gov. Jim Justice (R) has been leaning towards challenging Sen. Joe Manchin (D) next year, and a new poll will likely add fuel to his fire. The Tarrance Group, polling for the Senate Leadership Fund (Feb. 5-7; 60 registered West Virginia voters, including an over-sample of 100 likely Republican primary voters; live interview), projects Gov. Justice leading Sen. Manchin by a substantial 10-point margin, 52-42 percent.

Testing the other known potential Republican candidates, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey and US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town), the results prove to be very different. Against each of these Republicans, Sen. Manchin holds a lead. If AG Morrisey were to return for a re-match from their 2018 campaign (Manchin won 50-46 percent), the senator would be staked to a reversed 52-42 percent advantage. He would fare better opposite Rep. Mooney. In this pairing, Sen. Manchin’s margin would be an even stronger 55-40 percent.

At this point, Rep. Mooney has announced his Senate candidacy. Morrisey says he is looking at the Senate race, along with governor, Rep. Mooney’s open congressional seat, or running for re-election. Gov. Justice is reportedly nearing a decision.

Governor

Louisiana: Transportation Sec Shawn Wilson Resigning; Likely Gov Candidate — Louisiana Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) announced that he is resigning his position largely with the intent of running for governor later this year. It appears he is doing so with Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) tacit endorsement. Gov. Edwards said of Wilson, “we would be very well served to have Shawn Wilson as our next governor.” Edwards is ineligible to seek a third term. At this point, Wilson would be the lone Democrat in the field.

Among Republicans, attorney general and former Congressman Jeff Landry and state Treasurer John Schroder are announced candidates. US Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) is another potential contender. The field won’t become finalized until Aug. 10. The jungle primary is scheduled for Oct. 14 with a runoff on Nov. 18 if no candidate receives majority support in the first vote.

Missouri: New Poll Favors Former Senator’s Son — The Remington Research Group released a survey of what will be an open 2024 Show Me State governor’s race. The study (Feb. 8-9; 820 presumed likely Missouri Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system) projects state Attorney General Jay Ashcroft, son of former US senator and US Attorney General John Ashcroft, leading the open GOP primary to replace term-limited Gov. Mike Parson (R) in the 2024 election.

The ballot test finds Ashcroft drawing 28Wilson support, more than tripling that of Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe who posts nine percent preference. The eventual Republican gubernatorial nominee will begin the general election campaign as a clear favorite.

Haley Announces Presidential Bid; Sen. Feinstein to Retire; Cruz Commits to Senate Run; Boebert’s 2022 Opponent to Challenge Again; Miss. Gov. Poll Flips Results

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Feb. 16, 2023

President

Nikki Haley (R)

Nikki Haley: Announces Presidential Bid — Former South Carolina governor and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (R), as promised, officially announced her presidential campaign, joining former President Trump in the GOP field. Analysts pointed out that her announcement portfolio relies heavily on her background with little in the way of future vision. This approach largely proved a mistake for Republicans nationally in 2022, and the principal reason that many believed GOP candidates under-performed in the last election.

For his part, former President Trump seems to welcome her into the race, as he probably will with others. He understands a crowded field will likely award him the nomination with base support nationally of approximately 35 percent, just how the 2016 Republican campaign unfolded.

Senate

California: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) Announces Retirement Plans — As expected, veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), now the longest-serving Democrat in the chamber since former Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) retired, announced that she will not seek re-election to a sixth full term in office. The senator originally claimed the seat in a 1992 special election and won her first six-year term two years later.

Sen. Feinstein, who is 89 years old, was first elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969 and became board president in 1978. Later that year, she succeeded then Mayor George Moscone (D) after his tragic assassination. Feinstein would then win election to the position of mayor and serve a total of nine years. She lost the 1988 governor’s race to then-Sen. Pete Wilson (R) but rebounded to win the Senate seat four years later.

Two Democratic House members, Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) had both announced their Senate candidacies weeks before the incumbent made public her own retirement decision.

Texas: Sen. Cruz Seeks Re-Election, No Presidential Run — Two-term Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R) announced that he is fully committed to seeking re-election to his current position and will not enter the 2024 presidential contest. Under Texas law, it would have been permissible for Sen. Cruz to simultaneously run for both offices, but he has chosen to concentrate on winning another senatorial term. In 2018, he defeated then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) only 51-48 percent in a race many thought the senator might lose. His focus on re-election suggests that we will see a more aggressive Senate campaign in this election cycle.

At this point no major Democrats have yet come forward to challenge Sen. Cruz. The party leadership would like to see Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) enter the statewide campaign, but with Allred now holding a safe House seat, his risking the chances of making a statewide bid lessen.

House

CO-3: Re-Match on Tap — Aspen Democratic former City Councilman Adam Frisch, who held Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) to the closest victory in any House race (546 vote margin), announced Wednesday that he will return to seek a re-match with the two-term congresswoman.

Frisch, however, already has Democratic primary opposition. Late last week, veterinarian and former congressional candidate Debby Burnett announced her candidacy, but she faces a difficult road to deny Frisch renomination after his strong general election performance. It is likely we will see another close general election here in 2024.

Governor

Mississippi: New Poll Finds Gov. Reeves Trailing — A late January 2023 Mississippi gubernatorial poll, for the first time, shows Gov. Tate Reeves falling behind Democratic Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley in a head-to-head ballot test question. Tulchin Research, polling for the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Southern Majority IE PAC (Jan. 21-25; 500 projected likely Mississippi voters; live interview, email & text) projects Presley, a cousin to the late singing legend Elvis Presley, pulling ahead of Gov. Reeves, 47-43 percent.

An earlier January poll, from Siena College (Jan. 1-12; 821 registered Mississippi voters), however, posted Gov. Reeves to a 43-39 percent edge. The closeness of the two early polls project that we will likely see a hard-fought gubernatorial campaign conducted in the Magnolia State later this year.

Kemp Expanding Federal PAC; NJ Senate Race; Oregon House Challenger; More Chicago Data

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Feb. 13, 2023

National

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R)

Gov. Brian Kemp: Expanding Federal PAC — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) has hired two national fundraisers to expand his federal political action committee’s financial base. Some believe his strengthening the Hardworking Americans PAC is a prelude for Kemp joining the presidential campaign, but it could also bring long term benefits for a potential US Senate run when Sen. Jon Ossoff (D) next comes in-cycle in 2026. Gov. Kemp was re-elected to a second term over Stacey Abrams (D) with a 53-46 percent victory margin. He is ineligible to again run for his current position in the 2026 election.

Senate

New Jersey: Local Democrat to Challenge Sen. Menendez — Two-term Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello announced late last week that he will launch a Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Bob Menendez in the New Jersey June 2024 primary election. Sen. Menendez is not expected to have much trouble winning renomination and re-election next year, but he now has at least one opponent who attracts significant media attention even though he is a small town mayor. Roselle Park is a city of approximately 14,000 people within populous Union County.

House

OR-5: Freshman Republican Gets First Opponent — Oregon freshman Rep. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-Happy Valley) has drawn her first 2024 opponent. Former congressional aide and political consultant Kevin Easton (D), who originally ran for the state’s new 6th District in 2022 only to suspend his campaign prior to the Democratic primary, announced that he will run in the 5th District in 2024.

In November, Chavez-DeRemer defeated former local California elected official Jamie McLeod-Skinner (D), 51-49 percent, to convert the new 5th District to the Republicans after the latter woman unseated veteran Rep. Kurt Schrader (D) in the May Democratic primary. After losing the primary, Schrader correctly predicted the seat would go Republican in the general election because he claimed McLeod-Skinner is well to the left of the district’s electorate.

Cities

Chicago: More Polling Fluctuation — We have covered several polls of the upcoming Chicago mayor’s campaign, and one more was released yesterday. This latest survey finds US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) rebounding from some previous polls that were showing him trending downward. The new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies survey conducted for four local Chicago news outlets (Jan. 31-Feb. 3; 625 likely Chicago primary voters; live interview) returns Rep. Garcia to the lead with 20 percent support followed by former Chicago Schools CEO Paul Vallas at 18 percent, and Mayor Lori Lightfoot placing a close third with 17 percent.

The non-partisan primary is scheduled for Feb. 28, and since it is clear no candidate will get close to the 50 percent mark, the top two finishers will advance to an April 4 primary. The polling is so tight that any two of the top five candidates could qualify for the April election. Should she make the runoff, the outlook for the secondary election is poor for Mayor Lightfoot, however. With more than 80 percent of voters first choosing someone other than the incumbent, the chances of her prevailing in a runoff would seem highly unlikely.

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.