Category Archives: Senate

Two Announce in Michigan; Gov. Vacancy in Nebraska; House Announces Committee Chairs; Turmoil in Louisiana

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023

Senate

Michigan: First Two Announce — The first two candidates came forward to announce their intention to run for what will now be an open Michigan US Senate seat in 2024. Former state Rep. Leslie Love (D) and attorney Jacquise Purifoy (D) both declared their candidacy yesterday. These are the first in what is expected to be a long list of contenders for both parties. Last week, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in 2024.

One person who will not likely be in the field is Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who indicated yesterday that she will continue to serve in her current position.

Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, likely replacement for Sen. Ben Sasse.

Nebraska: Officially Vacant — Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has officially resigned his seat in order to assume his new duties as president of the University of Florida. This means new Gov. Jim Pillen (R) will now be able to name a replacement. Odds are strong that he will choose former Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). The announcement could come as early as today.

Once a replacement is chosen, the individual will then come before the voters in a special 2024 election, run concurrently with the general cycle, to fill the balance of the unexpired term. The seat next comes in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2026.

House

AZ-1: Rep. Schweikert Already Draws First Opponent — Veteran Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) had another close call in the 2022 election, winning a seventh term with just 50.4 percent of the vote in a newly configured district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+7. His opponent was first-time candidate Devin Hodge (D), a communication consultant who may well run again.

Yesterday, however, orthodontist Andrew Horne (D) became Rep. Schweikert’s first 2024 challenger with his announcement of candidacy. We can again expect this race to be competitive in two years. A crowded Democratic field is expected to form.

Committee Chairs: Steering Committee Elects Three Newcomers — With the Speaker’s election now complete, the Republican Steering Committee met yesterday to finalize the remaining committee chairman posts. In a bit of a surprise, the committee, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy holding four votes and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) having two, elected Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee defeating favored Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) in a contest that went to a second ballot.

In other contests, Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), a former military doctor, defeated Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) for the Homeland Security Committee post. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), as expected, was elected chair of the Education and the Workforce panel, and Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Lubbock) will be the new Budget Committee chairman. He defeated Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).

Governor

Louisiana: Lt. Gov. Shakes Up Field — In a surprising move, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) changed his mind about running for governor and instead yesterday announced his intention to seek re-election later this year. Before, Nungesser said he would run for governor if Sen. John Kennedy (R) didn’t. After Sen. Kennedy declined to enter the race, it was assumed that Nungesser would immediately jump and become one of the leading contenders. Several others were declaring for the lieutenant governor role with the understanding that the seat would be open.

With Nungesser’s decision to stay put, it appears that attorney general and former Congressman Jeff Landry (R), someone Nungesser described as “not a good person” when previous discussion arose about his intentions regarding the governor’s election, becomes the front runner to replace term-limited incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).

As a result of the Nungesser decision, state Treasurer John Schroder (R) then entered the governor’s race. The leading Democrat to date is Transportation Department Secretary Shawn Wilson. Candidate filing does not end until Aug. 10 for the Oct. 14 jungle primary, so the fluid contender field can still greatly change. If no candidate receives majority support in this first election, the top two finishers will runoff on Nov. 18.

Arizona’s Ducey Not Considering Running; Ex-Gov Daniels Tops GOP Field; Former Incumbent, Challenger to Return to House Races

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Jan. 5, 2023

Senate

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R)

Arizona: Ex-Gov Out; Gubernatorial Candidate Considering — Upon exiting office at the end of his two full terms, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey’s (R) name continues to be mentioned prominently as a potential US Senate candidate. The now-former governor again confirmed, however, that he is not even considering running for the federal post in 2024. Another potential Senate candidate who is considering making a run is 2022 gubernatorial candidate Karrin Taylor Robson (R), who lost to former news anchorwoman Kari Lake, 48-43 percent, in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) has not yet announced her re-election intentions but appears to be preparing her Independent run in a three-way race. Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) and Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) are actively assessing their individual chances in what could become a seriously contested Democratic primary. Again, the Arizona Senate race will be one of the focal points of the 2024 election cycle, but this time will feature a unique procedural contest.

Indiana: Ex-Gov Daniels Tops GOP Field — A Bellwether Research survey (Dec. 11-17; 1,000 registered Indiana Republican voters; 457 likely Republican primary voters; online & text) was fielded just before Christmas and found former governor, and most recently Purdue University President Mitch Daniels leading a prospective open Indiana Republican US Senate primary. If he were to run, Daniels would top Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) 32-10 percent with former Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, current US Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville), and attorney general and former Congressman Todd Rokita trailing with 9-7-7 percent support levels, respectively.

Sen. Mike Braun (R) is running for governor. None of the aforementioned has officially declared their intention to run for the Senate, but all admit to at least be considering the possibility of launching a campaign.

House

NY-17: Former Incumbent May Return — Democrat Mondaire Jones, who won the 17th Congressional District in 2020 only to depart for a post-redistricting New York City seat in 2022, says he is considering returning to Westchester County to challenge Rep-Elect Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) in 2024. Jones did not want to oppose then-Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in the Democratic primary after the latter man declared his candidacy, so he instead moved to a new Manhattan-Brooklyn 10th District that Rep-Elect Dan Goldman (D-New York City), an heir to the Levi Strauss fortune, eventually won.

In the 17th, Lawler, then a state assemblyman, unseated Rep. Maloney with a 51-49 percent general election victory margin. This, in a new district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7. There is no question that NY-17 will be a top target in 2024.

WA-3: Defeated Favorite to Return — Joe Kent, the Republican who denied then-Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler advancement into the general election but then lost in November to Rep-Elect Marie Gluesenkamp Perez (D-Skamania County) in one of the nation’s biggest 2022 upsets, says he will return for a 2024 re-match. Because Kent was widely favored to win the seat but failed to convert, we can expect intense competition in what will be an August Washington jungle primary. FiveThirtyEight rates WA-3 as R+11.

Governor

Indiana: Braun Tops Field — The aforementioned Bellwether Research poll (see Indiana Senate above) projects Sen. Mike Braun to a large lead in the impending open 2024 GOP gubernatorial contest.

Braun holds a 25-9-7-6-3 percent Republican primary advantage over Attorney General Todd Rokita, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, ex-Rep. Trey Hollingsworth, and businessman Eric Doden, respectively. At this point, Crouch and Doden have announced their candidacies, as has Sen. Braun. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Congress Convenes Tomorrow with 93 New Members; Early Reapportionment Projections

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Jan. 2, 2023

Congress

Montana’s Ryan Zinke (R-Whitehall) returns to the House.

New Members: Congress Convenes Tomorrow with 93 New Members — The 118th Congress is sworn into office tomorrow and like all others, this new assemblage is a unique group.

In the House, we see 85 freshmen members coming to Washington, including the dozen who won special elections during the session just ended. Additionally, one former member, Montana’s Ryan Zinke (R-Whitehall) who also served in the Trump Administration as Interior Secretary, returns to the House.

The Senate, exclusively due to retirements along with one appointed member, California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) seeking a full term, will only welcome eight new freshmen since all incumbents seeking re-election were victorious.

Of the 85 new House members, 46 are Republicans while 39 are members of the Democratic Party. Just over one-third of the incoming group will be serving in their first elected position, a total of 31. Conversely, 37 of the House freshmen have previously been elected to their respective state legislatures. The remaining 17 held other elected positions, typically at the local level as county or city officials.

In the Senate, only two of the eight incoming members have never before served in an elective office: Alabama’s Katie Britt (R) and J.D. Vance (R) of Ohio.

States

Reapportionment: Early Projections — Apparently, it is not too early to begin discussing which states may gain and lose representation in the 2030 census. The first concrete projections have been publicized based upon the country’s current growth trends since the 2020 census was completed.

No real surprises were among the first cut, as eight seats are projected to change states. In the 2020 census, only seven seats changed states. The early estimates suggest that Texas will again be the big gainer, with an additional three seats. This would increase the nation’s second largest population state to 41 seats, if the early guesstimates prove accurate. Florida could gain two seats, with Idaho, Utah, and Washington each gaining one seat.

The losing states would again be familiar, as Illinois and New York could be on a path to lose two seats apiece. Pennsylvania would again be slated to lose one. The new losing states would be Connecticut, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, all possibly losing one of their current districts. None of these projections are firm, and much will happen to change the national and regional growth rates in the coming eight years.

Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech; McCarthy Vote Count on Shaky Ground; VA-4 Update

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

Senate

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D)

Vermont: Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was first elected in 1974 and went onto win seven more statewide elections. He is the third-longest serving senator in the history of the United States — in office for 48 years — and now is retiring as a historic figure in American politics. Sen. Leahy made his farewell speech on the Senate floor Tuesday in the waning days of his final term. The new dean of the Senate will be Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who was first elected in 1980. Two other top-10 senators in seniority, Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) are also retiring when this Congress officially ends at the end of the year.

House

Speaker Race: McCarthy Vote Count Appearing Weak — More media attention is being paid to the impending House Speaker’s race to be settled when the new House convenes on Jan. 3, 2023. Earlier in the week, Speaker-Designate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has the official Republican conference nomination for Speaker by virtue of winning a 188-31-5 vote in defeating Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and others, released a list of his strongest supporters. For his part, Biggs pledges to challenge McCarthy in the January roll call vote signaling the beginning of the Congress.

McCarthy’s list of his strongest supporters, those who say they will vote for no other in what could become a lengthy process should the Speaker election progress through multiple rounds, is smaller than one would have otherwise surmised. The total only identified 54 such Republican members, not even a full quarter of the conference. Some believe this number signifies weakness as opposed to strength. In a Fox News article by Chad Pergram published Tuesday, the reports suggest the number of Republican members who could vote for someone else on the floor could be as high as 20, though only five have publicly expressed at least preliminary public opposition.

The last time a Speaker election went multiple rounds occurred in 1923. The voting will continue until some candidate receives majority support of the present and voting House members. No doubt, this will be the most interesting Speaker election we will have witnessed to date in the modern political era.

VA-4: Counting Didn’t Begin Until Yesterday — The Democrats held their “firehouse primary” Tuesday to choose a special election nominee to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond), but considering we now regularly see the slow counting of votes during the present political period, the tabulation process did not begin until a day later.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) is the party leadership’s choice and faces a challenge from controversial state Sen. Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), who was once convicted of having sexual relations with a minor (a girl who he later married), was summarily forced to resign his seat in the House of Delegates but then won it back as an Independent in the special election to elect a successor. He later resigned again and moved into a Richmond Senate district where he would then defeat a Democratic incumbent. Former state delegate Joe Preston and businessman Tavorice Marks also are in the race.

The Democratic winner will face the new Republican nominee, pastor Leon Benjamin who has twice been the GOP’s congressional candidate in this district. In a D+30 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the winner of this Democratic nomination has the clear inside track for the special election on Feb. 21.

Lightfoot Drops to Third in New Poll; Dolan Prepares for Ohio Senate Bid; Mississippi, NC Governor Races

By Jim Ellis, Wednesday, Dec. 21, 2022

Cities

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D)

Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot Drops to Third in New Poll — An M3 Strategies poll for News Channel Fox32 in Chicago (Dec. 11-13; 440 Chicago likely municipal election voters; SMS web to text) finds Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) dropping to third place in anticipation of the Feb. 28 non-partisan jungle primary election. In this system, only the top two finishers would advance to an April 4 runoff election from the field of nine contenders if no individual receives a majority from the initial vote.

The M3 ballot test result sees US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) leading the field at 28 percent support with former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas in second place with 19 percent preference. Mayor Lightfoot is in third position posting only 14 percent backing for a second term. The mayor points out that she was at one percent in polling this time four years ago.

Senate

Ohio: Former Senate Candidate Preparing Another Run — State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) who placed third in the 2022 Republican US Senate primary, finishing nine percentage points from the lead, is reportedly building another campaign operation to this time challenge Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the next election. Dolan, a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians baseball club and chairman of the state Senate’s Finance Committee, spent more than $11 million on his 2022 campaign, almost $8 million of which came from his personal finances. He began the race as a minor candidate but finished strong, making himself a viable contender as the primary campaign drew to a close.

Dolan is likely to be a stronger GOP nomination contender in 2024 in what is likely to be a crowded primary, but would have a tough run in the general election against Sen. Brown, who will be running for his fourth term after originally being elected to the statewide post in 2006. Prior to his tenure in the Senate, Sen. Brown served seven terms in the US House and eight years as Ohio’s Secretary of State.

Governor

Mississippi: Potential GOP Primary Challenge Brewing — The Politics1.com site is reporting that GOP Secretary of State Michael Watson is polling the state to test his chances against Gov. Tate Reeves (R) in the upcoming 2023 Republican gubernatorial primary. In 2019, Reeves, then the state’s lieutenant governor, defeated former state Supreme Court Associate Justice Bill Waller Jr., 49-33 ;ercent. Waller was a 22-year veteran of the high court, half of which he spent as Chief Justice.

Reeves would go on to win the general election against four-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood by a tighter 52-47 percent count. In a state where the GOP is the dominant party, the Republican primary is likely to be Gov. Reeves’ toughest re-election test next year.

North Carolina: Lt. Gov. Robinson Way Up in Early GOP Polling — The Differentiators Data firm conducted an early 2024 North Carolina Republican gubernatorial poll (Dec. 8-11; 500 North Carolina Republican primary voters; live interview & text) and found Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson in very strong position as speculation begins regarding who will run for what will be an open Tar Heel State governor’s position in 2024. Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper is ineligible to seek a third term.

Against former governor and 2022 US Senate candidate Pat McCrory, Lt. Gov. Robinson would lead 60-21 percent. If ex-vongressman and 2022 US Senate candidate Mark Walker (R) were his opponent, Lt. Gov. Robinson would lead by a whopping 58-8 percent. Finally, if state Treasurer Dale Folwell were Robinson’s Republican primary opponent, the lieutenant governor would lead by an even larger 60-6 percent margin.

Differentiators did not test the candidates in a multi-candidate format. None of the individuals paired with Robinson have indicated that they would run for governor. In fact, after this year’s Senate primary, McCrory indicated that he would not again pursue public office. The polling firm also did not test a potential Democratic field.

Opposition Candidates Announce to Run Against VA Sen. Kaine; Quick “Firehouse” Primary Set; Retiring Congressman Plans Mayoral Run

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 16, 2022

Senate

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D)

Virginia: Many Announce Against Sen. Kaine — For a Senate race that appears safe in this early part of the 2024 election cycle, the Virginia contest is surprisingly already drawing a great deal of candidate interest. It’s unlikely that any of the five Republicans and one Democrat who have announced their candidacies can defeat Sen. Tim Kaine (D), but we are at least assured of seeing a multi-candidate Republican nomination battle.

Of the five announced candidates, only two, financial advisor and retired Army officer Eddie Garcia and attorney and Navy veteran Chuck Smith, seem credible enough to become potentially viable candidates.

House

VA-4: Republicans Schedule Quick Firehouse Primary — Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) call to the political parties to choose their nominees by Dec. 23 for the Feb. 21 special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) has given the party leaders precious little time, but now both entities have scheduled “firehouse primaries.” As reported yesterday, the Democrats will hold their primary next Tuesday, Dec. 20. Now the local Republicans are moving even quicker. They will hold their special primary tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 17.

The schedule is ridiculously short and does not give the candidates time to campaign nor the voters an adequate ability to know who is running and where to vote, since the polling places in a “firehouse” primary are very scarce. At this point, Democrats have five candidates and Republicans four.

Governor

Louisiana: Sen. Kennedy Releases Another Poll — While Sen. John Kennedy (R) says he will make a decision about running for governor after the first of the year, he continues to release polling data showing him holding a lead against a field of prospective open seat 2023 gubernatorial candidates.

His latest survey, again from Torchlight Strategies (Dec. 6-9; 861 likely Louisiana 2023 gubernatorial election voters; live interview and text), projects Sen. Kennedy to be holding a 42-22-14 percent lead over state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) and attorney general and former US Congressman Jeff Landry (R) in what will be an Oct. 14, 2023 jungle primary. In potential runoff pairings, which would be scheduled for Nov. 18 of next year, Sen. Kennedy would lead AG Landry 46-21 percent and Secretary Wilson by a much larger 58-27 percent.

These numbers, and the fact that Kennedy is releasing them, clearly suggests that the senator will affirmatively announce his gubernatorial campaign in January. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Cities

West New York: Retiring Congressman Plans Mayoral Run — Though New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) is retiring from the House of Representatives this year after serving eight terms, he is apparently not finished with elective politics. Reports suggest that Sires will soon announce his candidacy for mayor of West New York, a town in New Jersey — one of the elected positions he held before winning his seat in Congress.

Sires served as mayor from his original election in 1995 until he won the US House position in 2006. Beginning in 2001, he was also an elected member of the New Jersey state Assembly, where he became Speaker in 2002.

Cruz Polling Up for Renomination, Down for President; Ariz. Dem Primary Looking Competitive; VA-4 Special Election Scheduled;
Sen. Braun Announces Candidacy

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022

President

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R)

Texas: Cruz Polling Up for Renomination, Down for President — According to a Texas-based Republican pollster, Sen. Ted Cruz is in strong shape among prospective GOP primary voters for renomination, but not for a presidential campaign. The CWS Research firm recently conducted a Texas poll (Nov. 8-29; 860 likely Texas 2024 Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system and online) and finds the senator posting a strong 81 percent renomination score, but only records three percent support for another presidential bid.

The CWS poll leader is former President Donald Trump at 37 percent preference with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis following closely with 34 percent. Former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-UN Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also finish slightly ahead of Sen. Cruz in his home state. Pence draws five percent backing and Haley four percent, as compared to Sen. Cruz’s three percent.

Senate

Arizona: Dem Primary Could Be Competitive — Apparently Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) is not the only Arizona Democratic congressman considering a run for the Senate. According to a report from the Daily Kos Elections site, Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) — who served six years as mayor of Phoenix and nine years on the Phoenix City Council before being elected to the US House in 2018 — has conducted a statewide US Senate poll. If he were to run in what would now be an open US Senate Democratic primary since new Independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will advance directly into the general election, a tough battle would develop in an August 2024 primary between the two Phoenix-based congressional Democrats.

Rep. Stanton was re-elected in November with a 56-44 percent margin against a credible Republican, businessman Kelly Cooper. This, after his district was changed from a D+15 to a D+1 rating according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization calculations, meaning he rather impressively exceeded expectations.

House

VA-4: Special Election Scheduled — Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has surprisingly scheduled the special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) for Feb. 21. With Democrats certain to hold this seat in the special election, it was thought Gov. Youngkin would delay a bit longer, possibly to early April, in order to give the Republicans a further one-seat edge in the House party division count.

With the Feb. 21 general election date that will fast approach, the political parties must quickly assemble and determine how their nominees will be chosen. At this point, their realistic options are to nominate in a special district convention or hold a “firehouse primary,” that is an election with very few polling places around the district.

The Democratic nomination will be the contest to watch, since the 4th District is rated as D+30. At this point, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond) have announced their intention to file as candidates. For the Republicans, two-time nominee Leon Benjamin and insurance agent and frequent candidate Ron Wallace have declared that they will run.

Governor

Indiana: Sen. Braun Announces — First-term Hoosier State Sen. Mike Braun (R) made his obvious intentions to run for governor official Monday with his formal announcement. He will be a strong favorite for the Republican nomination, which gives him the inside track in the general election.

There is a good possibility that his Democratic opponent will be former US senator and current Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly. The Holy See is the government of the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the Pope in his role as the bishop of Rome. Ironically, this would set a re-match between the two men of the 2018 Senate race, a campaign that Sen. Braun won with a 51-45 percent victory margin. The Braun announcement now sets into motion a competitive Senate campaign that will likely feature a crowded Republican primary.