Category Archives: Senate

Polling Projects Electoral College Win for Trump; California Senate Jockeying; New Jerseyans Want Menendez Out; New Candidate in MN-2; GOP Candidate Emerges in NC

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Oct. 23, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump

Trump’s Numbers: Polling Finds 291 Electoral Votes — According to a series of concurrently conducted independent polls, former President Donald Trump today would lead in enough states to provide him with 291 electoral votes, or 21 more than required to unseat President Joe Biden. Morning Consult, polling for Bloomberg News in various targeted states, projects Trump to leads in Arizona (+4), Georgia (+5), North Carolina (+4), Pennsylvania (+1), and Wisconsin (+2).

Last week, Emerson College also found Trump holding an advantage in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Simultaneously, the Marketing Resource Group saw Trump running seven points ahead in Michigan, but the more current Morning Consult/Bloomberg data shows the two candidates tied before the Wolverine State electorate. It is these aforementioned states that will make the difference nationally.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., now running as an Independent candidate, was not tested in the MC/Bloomberg survey series.

Senate

California: Sen. Butler Out; LA Anchorwoman I — Appointed California Sen. Laphonza Butler (D) announced yesterday that she will not run for a full term next year. Despite having more than a year in office after replacing the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), the early March 5 all-party jungle primary allowed her little time to begin competing against Reps. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Katie Porter (D-Irvine), Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) and former baseball great Steve Garvey (R), all of whom have a major head start in fundraising and campaign organization.

Los Angeles news anchor Christina Pascucci (D), on the other hand, became a late entry into the crowded US Senate contest, but said she is getting into the race “ … because I have to fight for what I believe is possible for California and for this country.” Pascucci describes herself as a “moderate Democrat.”

New Jersey: Constituents Favor Menendez Resignation — A newly released Fairleigh Dickinson University poll of the Garden State electorate (Aug. 6-14; 813 New Jersey adults; live interview & text) finds that 70 percent of the respondents, including 71 percent of Democrats, believe that indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D) should resign his seat even without him having a chance to defend himself in court.

So far, Sen. Menendez has been adamant about not resigning over the federal charges that accuse he, his wife, and several associates of engaging in bribery. While the senator is not forced to leave office, polls such as this clearly suggest that he will be a severe underdog in a June Democratic primary race against US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) and potentially several others.

House

MN-2: New Republican Candidate — The GOP leadership is making another attempt to unseat Minnesota US Rep. Angie Craig (D-Prior Lake), but this time it is likely they will have a new standard bearer. Former federal prosecutor Joe Teirab announced his congressional candidacy late last week. In the past two elections, Rep. Craig has defeated military veteran Tyler Kistner but with an average vote percentage of only 49.5 percent. Republicans hope a fresh face will be able to get the extra support to top the three term House incumbent.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MN-2 as D+1, while the Daily Kos Elections site ranks the southeast Minnesota congressional district as the 14th most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference.

Governor

North Carolina: New Republican Candidate Emerges — Attorney Bill Graham (R), who says he will invest at least $5 million of his own money into his statewide race, announced his candidacy for the state’s open governor’s position. Many in the Republican establishment doubt that the early front runner, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson, can win a protracted campaign, which is sure to feature a barrage of attack ads portraying him as an extremist.

The leading Democratic nominee is Attorney General Josh Stein, but he only won the 2020 re-election campaign with 50.1 percent of the vote. Therefore, the Republicans will be competitive in the governor’s race regardless of who they nominate. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Harris vs. Newsom for President?; Good/Bad News for Sen. Tester; Rep. Lesko to Retire; New Redistricting Maps in North Carolina; VA-10 News

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Oct. 20, 2023

President

Vice President Kamala Harris / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Democratic Poll: Harris vs. Newsom — Rumors have been rampant that the Democrats may somehow soon replace President Joe Biden as the party nominee. The Premise survey research company (Oct. 11-16; 1,417 registered US voters; 847 US Democratic registered voters; online) just tested the highly unlikely supposition.

The pollsters paired Vice President Kamala Harris against California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Many believe that Newsom would be Biden’s hypothetical replacement, but this first poll doesn’t concur. Premise reports a Harris lead over Newsom of 23-15 percent with a huge undecided factor. Expect President Biden to again become the Democratic nominee.

Marist College: First Three-Way Presidential Poll — Marist College, polling for National Public Radio (Oct. 11; 1,218 registered US voters), is the first survey research entity to release a Biden-Trump-Kennedy poll since Robert F. Kennedy Jr. announced he would run in the general election as an Independent.

While the Biden-Trump ballot test found President Biden leading 49-46 percent, which is slightly better for the incumbent than most other current national polls, the addition of Kennedy sees the electorate break away from former President Donald Trump to the greater degree. The three-way result is 44-37-16 percent in favor of Biden. The big difference comes in the Independent sector. In a two-way, Independents break toward Trump, 49-43 percent. When Kennedy is added, the Trump-Biden-Kennedy split evolves to 34-33-29 percent, respectively.

Senate

Montana: Good News & Bad News for Sen. Tester — Emerson College surveyed the Montana electorate (Oct. 1-4; 447 registered Montana voters; multiple sampling techniques) as part of a series of polls conducted in several states. Here, we see Sen. Jon Tester (D) leading aerospace company CEO Tim Sheehy (R) by a close 39-35 percent split. The good news for Sen. Tester in this poll is his maintaining a lead in a state the Republicans must win if they are to claim the Senate majority. The bad news is he fails to even reach the 40 percent plateau.

Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive), who most believe will enter the race, was not tested because he is not yet an announced candidate. Former Secretary of State Brad Johnson (R) just declared his own candidacy, so he, too, was not included.

House

AZ-8: Rep. Lesko (R) to Retire, Two New Candidate Possibilities — Three-plus term Arizona US Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) announced that she will not seek re-election to her state’s 8th Congressional District next year.

The congresswoman indicated that time away from her family, including her 94-year-old mother, while expressing frustration saying, “it is hard to get anything done [in Congress],” led to the decision to bring her political career to a close.

Lesko first won election to the Arizona House of Representatives in 2008, before capturing a state Senate seat in 2014. After US Rep. Trent Franks (R) resigned from Congress, Lesko won the 2018 special election to become his successor. She was re-elected to a full term in the 2018 regular election and easily won two additional terms.

AZ-8 is reliably Republican. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+22. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a 57.3R – 40.8D partisan lean. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the 8th as the 77th most vulnerable district in the current 221-member GOP Conference. Former President Trump scored a 56.1 – 42.5 percent victory over President Biden here in 2020.

Lesko’s (R-Peoria) retirement announcement has potentially attracted two well known names from the 2022 election cycle. Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh, who lost the statewide race by just 280 votes of over 2.5 million votes cast, and US Senate nominee Blake Masters are among the Republicans being mentioned as potentially having interest in the newly open congressional seat.

North Carolina: New Redistricting Maps Released — Tar Heel State legislative leaders released two proposed congressional maps for legislators to consider. Both would improve Republican prospects and likely break the current 7D-7R map into a plan that would largely benefit the GOP.

Each map would endanger three Democratic incumbents: Reps. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro), Wiley Nickel (D-Cary), and Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte). The first map would likely return a 10R-4D split, while the second plan could conceivably bring the Republicans a 11R-3D division.

The legislators will now have the opportunity to debate the map proposals, consolidate the draws into one map, and amend the bills. Once the legislature passes a final plan, expect the Democrats to sue. The state Supreme Court will likely have to make a final ruling, but this is a much different judicial panel from the one that continued to reject the legislature’s intent during the past decade.

In 2022, Republicans captured a majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court, reversing the Democrats’ 4-3 edge. The new court features five Republicans and two Democrats. Getting to the US Supreme Court is a much more difficult exercise because SCOTUS has generally made the state Supreme Courts the redistricting final arbiter.

VA-10: Del. Filler-Corn Switches to House Race — Former state House Speaker Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Springfield), who was ousted as minority leader after the Democrats lost the state House majority in the 2021 election, has altered her future political path. Originally saying she was not running for re-election to the state House of Delegates in order to prepare a run for governor in 2025, Filler-Corn announced that she now won’t run statewide but will instead enter the 2024 open 10th Congressional District race.

Incumbent Rep. Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) is retiring due to health considerations. The 10th District will remain in Democratic hands, but next year’s nomination process promises to feature a competitive party primary.

Polls: Trump Up in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin & Michigan

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Oct. 16, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump moves ahead of President Joe Biden in three key state polls.

Key States: Trump Emerges in New Polling — Three of the more important states that will largely determine the 2024 presidential outcome reported new polling data late last week. The results are significant. Three polls from two different pollsters projected former President Donald Trump as surprisingly leading in the critical battleground states of Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Emerson College surveyed voters in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, all between the Oct. 1-4 period. MRG Research, polling for the Detroit News (Oct. 2-8; 600 likely Michigan voters), tested the Michigan electorate.

For the first time since he carried each of these states in the 2016 presidential election, these polls show that former President Donald Trump holds a general election edge over President Joe Biden in all three states. EC projects Trump holding leads of 45-36 percent in Pennsylvania and 42-40 percent in Wisconsin. In Michigan, MRG finds Trump posting a 42-35 percent advantage over President Biden.

Reviewing the national Electoral College map, in order to flip the 2020 election results Trump must convert states holding at least 35 electoral votes. The smallest number of in-play states equaling that particular electoral vote number is two: Georgia (16 electoral votes) and Pennsylvania (19).

If Pennsylvania does not come through for Trump, then a combination of Georgia (16), Arizona (11), and Wisconsin (10) voting Republican would also deliver the former president a victory. These examples, of course, presume that all other states vote the same as they did in 2020.

While it is mathematically conceivable for Trump to win the national election without carrying one of the aforementioned Great Lakes states, from a practical context, when considering recent historical voting patterns, it is virtually impossible. Realistically, if Trump is to turnaround the 2020 election outcome, he must carry at least one of these three domains.

That is why this polling release is worth noting.

Recently, we have been seeing issue polling that clearly favored Republicans on most issues, especially key ones such as economy, border security, immigration, and crime. The party’s positive numbers regarding the handling of those issues, however, were not translating into increased votes for Republican presidential candidates on ballot tests within those same surveys. Now, we see the candidate numbers beginning to turn.

The Emerson College Pennsylvania poll (Oct. 1-4; 430 registered Pennsylvania voters; multiple sampling techniques) projects Trump topping Biden by a large nine-point margin, 45-36 percent, well beyond the polling margin of error. Their Wisconsin survey (Oct. 1-4; 532 registered Wisconsin voters; multiple sampling techniques) also posts Trump to a lead, but a much smaller one, 42-40 percent.

Across Lake Michigan, MRG Research tested the Wolverine State electorate (Oct. 2-8; 600 likely Michigan voters) and their ballot test between Biden and Trump showed the the former president leading by a seven-point margin — 42-35 percent.

What is notable is that the Emerson Pennsylvania poll also tested the state’s budding Senate race between three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) and Republican businessman David McCormick. Here, the same polling sample turns back toward the Democrats.

In answering the Senate ballot test question, the respondents recorded a 41-33 percent split for Sen. Casey, a margin again well beyond the polling margin of error. This result is also stronger for Casey than the first publicly released poll of the Pennsylvania Senate contest, that from Quinnipiac University (Sept. 28-Oct. 2; 1,725 registered Pennsylvania voters). In the Q-Poll, Sen. Casey’s lead was 50-44 percent.

The fact that the polling sample would return to the Democratic column for the Senate race gives greater credence to the presidential number and suggests that this survey is no outlier.

In Emerson’s Wisconsin poll, the interviewers asked an interesting question. They queried both the Trump and Biden supporters whether there was anything their candidate could do that would change their vote. The results were almost identical.

A total of 50 percent of the Trump voters and 51 percent of the Biden voters said their support was solid, and nothing that either man might do between now and election day would change their vote. Conversely, 24 percent of Trump voters and 23 percent of Biden supporters suggested they could change their minds based upon their chosen candidate’s actions.

These responses tell us that both men have equally fervent support, but also gives each plenty of prospects with whom to potentially convince. We can expect Wisconsin to remain in toss-up mode all the way through the final vote.

These surveys mark the first time in this election cycle that Trump has posted such leads in these three critical battleground states. With still more than one year remaining until votes are cast much will happen to change how people will perceive the candidates, thus influencing their vote. For now, the present topsy-turvy political atmosphere seems to be favoring former President Trump.

What Kari Lake’s Senate Bid Means;
Ex-Michigan Police Chief Out to Early Lead; CA-27 Democrat Drops Bid; NJ-7 Candidate Withdraws; Houston Mayoral Runoff Likely

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023

Senate

Kari Lake (R) / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Arizona: Kari Lake Announces — As has been anticipated, 2022 Arizona Republican gubernatorial nominee and former news anchor Kari Lake announced her US Senate candidacy yesterday. She enters what will likely be a three-way race with Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I) and Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix), the latter of whom appears to be the consensus Democratic candidate. With Lake officially in the Senate race, 2022 Senate nominee Blake Masters will likely withdraw. He announced a 2024 campaign several weeks ago but said he would depart if Lake entered the race.

Kari Lake has created much post-election controversy in Arizona with election fraud accusations, but she is still likely strong enough to win the Republican Senate nomination. Also in the race is Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb. Sen. Sinema has not formally announced her re-election campaign, but she is raising money and taking action to prepare for what will be the most interesting Senate general election in the country. All three candidates will have a path to victory, so the contest officially should be rated a toss-up. This Senate race will attract a great deal of national attention as the election cycle moves forward.

Michigan: Ex-Police Chief Craig Jumps Out to Early Lead — Public Policy Polling went into the Wolverine State to test Republican primary voters and just released their results. The survey (Oct. 9-10; 430 likely Michigan Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques) finds retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig beginning with a 30-19 percent Republican primary lead over former Congressman Mike Rogers in the open US Senate race. This contest will develop over time with a late Aug. 6 primary scheduled.

The winner will likely face US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) who is a clear favorite to win the Democratic nomination. Four-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is retiring at the conclusion of this Congress.

House

CA-27: Democrat Drops Bid — Franky Carillo, who was once convicted of murder but freed after spending decades in prison when DNA evidence proved his innocence and has since become a Los Angeles County probation officer, has ended his congressional bid. This paves the way for former Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides (D) to advance into the general election to face three-term Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita).

CA-27 is one of the most politically marginal seats in the Republican Conference, ranked as the fourth most vulnerable on the Daily Kos Elections site scale. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+8, but Rep. Garcia has proven a consistent winner in the north Los Angeles County district. The 2024 election, however, is the first time he will face an opponent other than former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), whom he defeated three consecutive times.

NJ-7: Mayor Withdraws — Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello (D), who originally announced a challenge to Sen. Bob Menendez (D) but dropped out to instead enter the congressional race against Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), has now withdrawn again. Signorello announced during the week that he would end his congressional effort.

The Signorello move leaves former State Department Counterterrorism official Joe Blazakis and progressive activist Sue Altman as the remaining Democrats vying for the party nomination. Others could still enter the race.

Rep. Kean will be a slight favorite for re-election in a politically marginal district. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat R+3. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a 51.5R – 46.5D partisan lean. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks NJ-7 as the 16th most vulnerable seat in the Republican Conference.

Cities

Houston: Mayoral Runoff Likely — A new poll from the Hobby School of Public Affairs at the University of Houston (Sept. 30-Oct. 6; 800 likely Houston mayoral voters; text message), finds state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) and US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) almost assuredly advancing to a December runoff election from the Nov. 7 initial municipal vote. According to the University of Houston ballot test, Sen. Whitmire, the longest serving legislator in Texas history (first elected in 1972), leads Rep. Jackson Lee 34-31 percent among the seven tested Houston mayoral candidates. A candidate must obtain majority support to be elected outright.

Looking ahead to the succeeding runoff, Sen. Whitmire outpaces Rep. Jackson Lee by a substantial 50-36 percent margin. The best news for Sen. Whitmire is that 40 percent of the undecided voters said they would consider voting for him, while 53 percent said they would never vote for Rep. Jackson Lee. Incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Trump Nips Biden in New Poll; Close Pennsylvania Senate Race; McCarthy Retirement Talk Rumblings; Hoyer Faces More Opposition

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Oct. 6, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Pennsylvania: Trumps Nips Biden in New Q-Poll — Quinnipiac University tested the Keystone State electorate (Sept. 28-Oct. 2; 1,725 Pennsylvania adults; 1,470 registered Pennsylvania voters; 759 self-identified Democratic registered voters; 711 self-identified Republican registered voters; live interview) and sees former President Donald Trump moving into a slight lead over President Joe Biden in this critical swing state. The ballot test yields Trump a 47-45 percent edge.

Both candidates have upside-down favorability scores. President Biden registers 39:57 percent favorable to unfavorable. Trump’s index is a similar 40:56 percent. The president’s job approval ratio is 41:55 percent positive to negative. Pennsylvania has 19 electoral votes and is one of the four states (Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin are the others) that will likely decide the presidential campaign’s final outcome.

Senate

Pennsylvania: Q-Poll Shows Close Race — The aforementioned Pennsylvania Quinnipiac Poll (see presidential post above) also tested the state’s budding Senate race between three-term incumbent Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) and Republican businessman and 2022 Senate candidate David McCormick (R).

Here, we see a closer than expected early result with Sen. Casey holding only a 50-44 percent lead over McCormick. The surprising data point in this survey is McCormick already carrying the Independent voter segment by a percentage point, 45-44 percent.

Sen. Casey holds a 48-31 percent job approval score. With 57 percent of the people saying they need to know more about McCormick, he records a 25:17 percent favorability index. By contrast, Gov. Josh Shapiro (D) holds a strong 53-27 percent job approval rating, but Sen. John Fetterman (D) finds his ratio in upside-down territory at 41:48 percent favorable to unfavorable.

House

CA-20: McCarthy Could Retire — Former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) conceded that he will not again run for his former House speaker position and said he will not resign, but left unanswered whether he will seek another term in Congress. The California candidate filing deadline is Dec. 8 for the March 5, 2024, all-party jungle primary, so the congressman does not have much time to decide. Should he opt for retirement, it is likely that several of the state legislators whose districts overlap his Central Valley CD will enter what would be an open race.

State Sen. Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), a former Minority Leader, represents 89 percent of the 20th Congressional District, thus putting her in strong position to be McCarthy’s successor. The state assemblyman with the most overlap is Vince Fong (R-Bakersfield), who represents 58 percent of the McCarthy territory.

CA-20 is the safest Republican district in California with a FiveThirtyEight data organization rating of R+31. The Daily Kos Election site ranks CA-20 as the 146th-safest seat of the 222-member Republican Conference.

MD-5: Dem County Chairman to Oppose Rep. Hoyer — Charles County Democratic Party chair Lenny Proctor earlier this week became the fifth member of Rep. Steny Hoyer’s (D-Mechanicsville) party to announce a primary challenge against the former majority leader, a 44-year congressional veteran who appears primed to seek election to yet another term.

The crowded field, also including Prince Georges County Environmental Director Angela Crooms, public affairs specialist Sean McKelvey, two-time congressional candidate McKayla Wilkes, and Democratic activist Joey Thompson, will split the anti-Hoyer vote, thus allowing him to again win easily.

Hoyer will have little trouble winning the Democratic primary, and then the general election in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates at D+28. The Daily Kos Election site ranks MD-5 as the 109th-safest seat of the 213-member Democratic Conference.

RFK Jr. to Announce Independent Run; Sen. Feinstein Replacement Options; Menendez’s Re-Election Chances

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Oct. 2, 2023

President

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

RFK Jr.: To Announce Independent Run — Media reports are indicating that Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will end his Democratic nomination challenge to President Joe Biden and instead launch a general election campaign. It is unclear whether he will run as an Independent or seek the nomination of an existing minor party.

Kennedy came to the realization that the Democratic Party establishment was going to block him from delegate acquisition, which gave him no hope of mounting even a competitive bid against President Biden. Kennedy’s name on the ballot could prove more detrimental to President Biden, though he will also take votes from former President Donald Trump.

The other question that Kennedy must answer is whether his candidacy will simply attempt to affect the general election outcome, or does he strive for a national victory. If the latter, he may have a difficult time in qualifying for the ballot in all 50 states. In any event, Kennedy’s appearance on the general election ballot can certainly change the course of the presidential campaign.

Senate

California: Sen. Feinstein Replacement Options — Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) death on Friday means California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) will apparently soon appoint an interim replacement to serve the balance of the current senatorial term. Earlier in the year, Gov. Newsom indicated that he would appoint a black woman to the seat if the position opened. This seemed to indicate that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) would have the inside track. The two are close and both hail from the San Francisco Bay Area.

Now, however, Gov. Newsom — quite correctly — is saying he will not appoint one of the open seat Senate candidates who are currently vying for one of the two general election qualifying positions that will be determined in the March 5 Super Tuesday all-party jungle primary. Since Rep. Lee is a candidate, it appears she is no longer under consideration for the appointment. Gov. Newsom said he does not want to give one of the candidates, who are all working hard, an unfair advantage in the open primary by appointing one of them to the seat.

Many names are under consideration, but it is unlikely individuals such as Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass (D) would give up their current positions to serve in the Senate for just a year. Therefore, Newsom could turn to a senior individual who has served either in elective office or a key appointed position. One such individual who might be considered is retired US Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). Should Newsom go in that direction, and if she would agree to serve again, he would likely receive no objection since he can justify the appointment arguing the statewide voters elected her four times and she could “hit the ground running,” due to her Senate experience. Sen. Boxer served from 1997-2015, after winning election to five terms in the House.

New Jersey: First Post Indictment Poll — Public Policy Polling quickly jumped into the field to test the New Jersey electorate right after Sen. Bob Menendez was indicated. The PPP survey, for the VoteVets Action Fund (Sept. 26-27; 565 New Jersey voters; multiple sampling techniques), explored several potential general election scenarios, none of which looked favorable for the incumbent.

Against a generic Republican opponent, the senator would trail 42-20 percent. If Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), who has already announced his candidacy, were paired with the generic Republican, he would lead 44-32 percent. In a hypothetical match between Kim and former Gov. Chris Christie (R), though the latter man has already said he will not run for the Senate, the former would lead 46-20 percent. Christie, however, would nip Sen. Menendez 27-24 percent. PPP did not test any Democratic primary pairings, which is the more definitive battle.

Rep. Lee in Trouble in California; Potential AL-7 Challenger; Prominent Dems Decline to Run in NJ; Rep. Cuellar Challenged by Former Staffers

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Sept. 29, 2023

Senate

California Rep. Barbara Lee (D), “seriously falling off the pace.”

California: Reps. Schiff & Porter Favored to Advance — The Public Policy Institute of California conducted another of their statewide polls (Aug. 28-Sept. 5; 1,671 California adults; 1,414 California registered voters; online) and sees Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) seriously falling off the pace in the crowded open US Senate field. Though only one candidate even reaches the 20 percent support mark, there is a clear break between the top two poll finishers and the rest of the candidates.

The PPIC survey finds Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) leading fellow Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) by a 20-15 percent count. Rep. Lee trails with just eight percent support. All other candidates are in low single digits. California features an all-party top two jungle primary format. The pair of top finishers in the March 5 primary regardless of party affiliation and percentage attained will advance into the November general election. This poll suggests we will see an eight month Double-Democrat bruising campaign between Reps. Schiff and Porter.

House

AL-7: Legislative Leader Exploring Cong Run Against Rep. Sewell — State Senate Minority Leader Bobby Singleton (D-Greensboro), who represents a western Alabama legislative district, announced he is forming a congressional exploratory committee to launch a Democratic primary challenge against seven-term Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham). Since his district lies in the heart of Rep. Sewell’s seat, the state Senate’s top Democrat said, “I’m not running in the new district. I’m running in Congresswoman Sewell’s … I want the big fish.” The new district will likely be drawn with Montgomery County as the population anchor, which will encompass much of the southeastern side of the state.

Sen. Singleton won’t have much time to weigh his chances. The candidate filing deadline is Nov. 10 for the March 5, 2024, Alabama primary. The new redistricting map will likely be completed late this week or early next.

NJ-7: Prominent Democrats Won’t Run — Democratic leaders are still trying to find the top candidate they believe can unseat freshman Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), but two of their prospects have both declined to run. Former state senator, ex-assemblyman, and previous gubernatorial candidate Ray Lesniak said he will not enter the 7th CD race, as did Dr. Tina Shah, a veteran of both the Obama and Biden Administrations. In the race are Roselle Park Mayor Joe Signorello, who left the Senate race to run here, former State Department official Jason Blazakis, and political organizer Sue Altman.

The FiveThirtyEight organization rates NJ-7 as R+3. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the seat as the 16th most vulnerable seat in the 222 member House Republican Conference.

TX-28: Ex-Staffer to Challenge Rep. Cuellar — For the second time, a former staff member of Texas US Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) is challenging him for re-election. Jose Sanz, who left Rep. Cuellar’s staff as his district director earlier in the year, is returning as a Republican candidate to hopefully challenge his ex-boss in the 2024 general election.

Previously, a former office intern has twice opposed the congressman in the Democratic primary. Jessica Cisneros ran two close primary campaigns to Cuellar. In 2022, she forced him into a runoff before losing by just under 300 votes in the secondary election.

Cisneros says she is contemplating a third run. Rep. Cuellar is favored for re-election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-28 as D+7. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 53rd most vulnerable seat in the 213 member House Democratic Conference.