Category Archives: States

Why Trone Lost in Maryland; North Dakota House Primary Tightening, Armstrong Up in Two Polls; Virginia Gambling Initiative Opposed

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, May 16, 2024

Senate

Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac)

Maryland: Why Trone Lost — There are specific reasons as to why Maryland Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) lost to Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) by a large margin even with his huge financial advantage. First, as we had been stating in these posts all along, Trone’s exorbitant spending, estimated to be a self-contributed $62 million, which is an all-time record candidate investment for a Senate primary, was placing him ahead in polling but not to the point where he was substantially pulling away from Alsobrooks.

In contrast, she had strong grassroots support within the African-American communities in PG County and Baltimore, which is very important in a Maryland Democratic primary and could partially compensate for being outspent. She was also smart about how to spend the money she did have, working the ground early and spending her funds late in the campaign, knowing that she could not equal Trone’s largess.

Additionally, Trone likely became over-saturated to the point people were tuning him out because of over-exposure. His last ads, attacking former Gov. Larry Hogan, also reverberated negatively toward Trone. Though Hogan is a Republican, he generally possesses a positive image among most Democrats.

Furthermore, the Trone campaign strategy appeared misapplied. He attempted to secure the left flank of the party while Alsobrooks was firmly entrenched within the faction. Therefore, he left more centrist Democrats in places like Baltimore County and the Annapolis area with no place to go. The fact that the entire Democratic congressional delegation, with the exception of retiring Sen. Ben Cardin who stayed neutral, and Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Cockeysville) who supported Trone, along with Gov. Wes Moore, all not backing the congressman also proved damaging to his credibility.

For Trone to win the nomination, he would have needed to carry five of the state’s eight congressional domains, including Districts 1 (Rep. Andy Harris-R), which he did, 2 (Rep. Ruppersberger), which he did not, 3 (retiring Rep. John Sarbanes-D), which he did not, and 8 (Rep. Jamie Raskin-D), which he did not. In the end, he topped Alsobrooks only in the lone Eastern Shore Republican district and his own western Maryland 6th District. Adding the sum of these factors, in addition to making three verbal and strategic gaffes at the end, culminated in what appears to be a 12-point loss even with his approximate 10:1 spending advantage.

House

ND-AL: Tight Primary Unfolding — As part of their statewide polling project, DFM Research (May 6-8; 550 likely North Dakota Republican primary voters; live interview & text) tested the open Republican primary for the state’s at-large US House seat. Three-term incumbent Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Bismarck) is running for governor, thus leaving a competitive GOP congressional primary in his wake.

The contest, heading for a June 11 primary election, appears too close to call. The DFM results find former state Rep. Rich Becker leading Public Service Commissioner Julie Fedorchak by a 29-26 percent margin with former Miss America Cara Mund trailing at 14 percent. Thus, between Becker and Fedorchak, the race appears as a toss-up. The plurality primary winner will have the inside track toward winning the seat in November.

Governor

North Dakota: Rep. Armstrong Up in Two Polls — DFM Research and Guidant Polling & Strategy returned Republican primary survey data on the impending North Dakota open governor’s race, which is headed for a June 11 nomination election. Both find Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Bismarck) posting major, and almost identical, leads over Lt. Gov. Tammy Miller.

DFM Research (May 6-8; 550 likely North Dakota Republican primary voters; live interview & text) posts Rep. Armstrong to a 56-18 percent advantage. Guidant (May 4-8; 500 likely North Dakota Republican primary voters; live interview & text) sees virtually the same result favoring Armstrong, 60-19 percent. The eventual Republican nominee will be a heavy favorite in the general election to replace retiring Gov. Doug Burgum (R).

States

Virginia: Statewide Gambling & Candidate Polling Results — An organization attempting to defeat a proposed Virginia gambling ballot proposition, Virginians Against Neighborhood Slot Machines, commissioned a joint statewide poll from two major polling organizations, Fabrizio Ward & Associates, a Republican firm, and the Democratic polling group, Impact Research. The pollsters (released May 10; surveyed April 26-28; 500 registered Virginia voters; live interview & text) found wide opposition to the gambling measure (opponents outnumbering supporters by a 20 point margin), and then tested the key statewide contests.

On the candidate front, surprisingly President Joe Biden held only a one-point ballot test lead over former President Donald Trump, 43-32 percent, while Sen. Tim Kaine (D) outpaced retired US Navy captain and 2022 congressional candidate Hung Cao (R) by 12 percentage points, 48-36 percent. If additional research suggests a tightening at the presidential level, Virginia could move into a more competitive political realm in the coming months.

Utah GOP Nominating Convention Upends Establishment; After Just Filing for FL-8 Race, Posey Withdraws; Rehberg Trails in MT-2 Poll

By Jim Ellis — Monday, April 29, 2024

States

Riverton, Utah Mayor Trent Staggs

Utah: GOP Nominating Convention Upends Establishment — After being booed during his speech to the Republican nominating convention delegates on Saturday, Gov. Spencer Cox fell to state Rep. Phil Lyman (R-Blanding) by a whopping 67-33 percent vote. To qualify for the ballot in a statewide race, a candidate needed to attract at least 40 percent of the delegate vote. While the governor did not qualify through the convention process, he had filed to get the necessary 28,000 valid petition signatures prior to the party assembly to guarantee his ballot position in the June 25 Republican primary.

In the Senate race, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs rode former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, which was announced just before the convention began. Staggs proved himself the delegates’ favorite with a 70-30 percent victory over Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo).

The vote makes Mayor Staggs the only candidate qualifying through the convention process. Rep. Curtis submitted the requisite number of petitions, so he, too, will be on the primary ballot. Joining them are a pair of others qualifying via petition, former state House Speaker Brad Wilson, and businessman Jason Walton. Attorney Brent Orrin Hatch, son of the late Sen. Orrin Hatch, who fell short of the 28,000 signature requirement, did not receive 40 percent delegate support. Therefore, he is eliminated from further competition.

In the House races, both Reps. Blake Moore (R-Salt Lake City) and Celeste Maloy (R-Cedar City) finished second to a Republican opponent but cleared the 40 percent threshold. Rep. Moore had previously qualified through petition, but Rep. Maloy was a “convention only” candidate. Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Salt Lake City) was renominated by acclamation. In the open 3rd CD, the only candidate to win the delegate support is state Sen. Mike Kennedy (R-American Fork). Qualifying through petition are State Auditor John “Frugal” Dougall, Roosevelt Mayor J.R. Bird, and businessman Case Lawrence. The Utah primary will be conducted on June 25. The eventual GOP nominee in all races will be favored in the general election.

House

FL-8: Rep. Posey Withdraws — After filing for re-election, eight-term Florida US Rep. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) announced that he is withdrawing from the race.

Immediately, and obviously after receiving a tip from the congressman, former state Senate President Mike Haridopolos (R) filed his own federal campaign committee. Since Florida does not extend candidate filing time when the incumbent does not seek re-election, Haridopolos is clearly the front runner to succeed the 30-year office holder. In addition to his 16 years in Congress, Rep. Posey served another 16 years in the legislature, eight in each house.

Attorney Joe Babits and technology company executive John Hearton, both viewed as minor candidates, are the only other individuals to have declared their candidacies. For the Democrats, West Melbourne City Councilman Don McDow is favored for the party nomination over attorney Sandy Kennedy.

Florida’s 8th District, that stretches from Titusville to Vero Beach on the Atlantic Coast, is safely Republican. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+23. Former President Trump carried the district, 58-41 percent, in 2020. The Posey retirement means there are now 52 open seats headed into the next election, with 26 coming from the Democratic Conference versus the Republicans’ 25. One seat is newly created in Alabama.

MT-2: Ex-Rep. Rehberg Trails in New Poll — Guidant Polling & Strategy just released the results of their recent Montana Republican primary congressional poll (April 14-17; 400 likely MT-2 Republican primary voters). The data find State Auditor Troy Downing (R) leading former Congressman Denny Rehberg and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, 38-26-10 percent.

Ex-Rep. Rehberg, who represented the at-large district for 12 years after serving six years as lieutenant governor, is being heavily outspent. Downing, through March 31, had spent just over $630,000 compared to Rehberg’s $7,300. The former congressman then infused his own campaign treasury with a loan of $300,000.

The winner of the June 4 primary election will succeed retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) in the safely Republican eastern Montana seat.

Party Division Changes in US House; Credible Challenger in FL-6; Challenger to Rep. Mace Drops Out; Legal Wranglings in New Jersey

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, April 2, 2024

House

House: Party Division Changes — There is a great deal of confusion as to where the House party division currently stands with the large number of resignations and related special elections soon to occur. Because of this unusual situation the numbers are going to change frequently as we head through the June primaries.

Right now, the House stands at 218R — 213D. There are four vacancies, three Republican seats — ex-Reps. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA-20), Ken Buck (R-CO-4), and Bill Johnson (R-OH-6) and one Democratic (Brian Higgins (D-NY-26). Rep. Gallagher will resign on April 19. Because Gallagher is staying past April 9, the replacement special election will be concurrent with the general election. The count will then recede to 217R — 213D.

  • The first special election is April 30: Higgins, NY-26. The Democrats are a virtual lock to win. Doing so will make the division count 217R — 214D.
  • The next special is May 21: McCarthy, CA-20. Republicans will win. The division count will then move to 218R — 214D.
  • The Ohio special election is June 11: Johnson, OH-6. Republicans will win in the person of state Sen. Michael Rulli (R-Salem). The division count goes to 219R — 214D.
  • The Colorado special is June 25: Buck, CO-4. The Republicans will win with a caretaker candidate named Greg Lopez, the former mayor of the city of Parker. The division count will then move to 220R — 214D.

FL-6: Prominent NAACP Leader to Challenge Rep. Waltz — Three-term Florida US Rep. Michael Waltz (R-St. Augustine Beach) has drawn a credible challenger for the first time since his original election in 2018. Marion County NAACP president and pastor James Stockton (D) announced his candidacy yesterday as the Florida candidate filing deadline fast approaches on April 26 in conjunction with the state’s Aug. 20 primary election.

Marion County is the second largest population entity in Florida’s 6th District. Though Stockton may be the most credible of Rep. Waltz’s challengers, his chances of upsetting the incumbent are slim to say the least. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates FL-6 as R+28. Former President Donald Trump recorded a 61-38 percent victory percentage here in 2020, the third strongest of Florida’s 20 Republican congressional districts.

SC-1: Ex-Chief of Staff Drops Bid Against Rep. Mace — Earlier this winter, news was made when Dan Hanlon, the former chief of staff to South Carolina US Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) resigned his position and announced he would oppose his former boss in the coming Republican primary. Just before candidate filing expired yesterday, Hanlon closed the committee he filed with the Federal Election Commission and chose not to enter the race.

Perhaps the main reason for his action is the presence of a serious opponent, former South Carolina cabinet secretary Catherine Templeton who clearly is capable to offering a credible Republican alternative to Rep. Mace. Templeton also announced that she has topped the $500,000 mark in fundraising after just eight weeks on the campaign trail.

A third contender, non-profit executive Bill Young, while not a threat to outpace either Mace or Templeton, could attract enough votes to force the leader below the 50 percent mark. Should that happen, the top two finishers would then advance to a June 25 runoff election to determine the nominee. This will be a primary race to watch on June 11.

States

New Jersey: Caveat to Court Ruling — Last week, we reported on a New Jersey court ruling that agreed with Rep. Andy Kim’s (D-Moorestown) lawsuit over the local political parties having the power to award favorable ballot positions at the expense of their primary opponents. The judge agreed and issued an injunction that will stop the practice at least for this election.

Yesterday, however, the judge clarified his ruling in saying that the injunction applies only to the Democratic primary to which the plaintiff, Kim, who is now the prohibitive favorite to win the Senate Democratic primary regardless of where is appears on the ballot, limited his complaint.

Trump Stirs Controversy in Florida; Fong Saga Continues in California; Republicans Choose CO-4 Candidate; New Jersey Primary Challenge

By Jim Ellis — Monday, April 1, 2024

House

Florida Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Tampa)

FL-15: Rep. Lee’s New Opponent — Former President Trump may have ignited a hornets’ nest when he called for a MAGA candidate to come forward to oppose GOP freshman Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Tampa). While that has yet to happen, the controversy within the Republican base may have encouraged a new Democrat to come forward in what is a competitive district. Hillsborough County Commissioner Pat Kemp (D) announced on Friday that he will enter the Democratic primary and immediately becomes the favorite for the party nomination.

Trump targeted Rep. Lee because she was the only member of the Florida Republican delegation to endorse Gov. Ron DeSantis against the former president in this year’s national campaign. Florida’s 15th District carries an R+7 rating from the FiveThirtyEight data organization. However, Trump won the district by only a 51-48 percent margin in the 2020 presidential election.

CA-20: Appellate Court to Hear Fong Ballot Status — The Vince Fong ballot saga is not yet over. You may remember because former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R) resigned from the House at the California candidate filing deadline, the Secretary of State disqualified Fong from running for Congress because he was already certified as a candidate for state Assembly to remain in his seat there. California election law prohibits candidates from running for more than one office simultaneously and the withdrawal deadline had already expired.

Fong sued over the decision and the court awarded him the congressional ballot line. Secretary of State Shirley Weber (D) appealed the ruling, however, and arguments will be heard this week. Therefore, though Assemblyman Fong has qualified for both the special and regular general elections for the congressional seat, an adverse appellate court ruling could send this succession election into political chaos.

CO-4: Republicans Choose Caretaker Candidate — Late last week, the local Republican committee formed to choose a special election nominee for Colorado’s 4th Congressional District special election to replace resigned Rep. Ken Buck (R) chose a candidate who agreed not to run for the regular term. The move is a break for US Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt), switching over from District 3, and the 10 other candidates in the regular Republican primary.

The committee chose former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez as their special election candidate. He will be favored to win the upcoming special election which is held concurrently with the regular primary on June 25.

Lopez, a former state director for the Small Business Administration, will be favored against the Democratic nominee who will be chosen later today. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CO-4 as R+26. Former President Donald Trump won the seat 58-39 percent in the 2020 presidential election.

States

New Jersey: Court Rejects Party County Line Balloting — New Jersey is one of the few remaining states where the county political parties have substantial power. What makes them strong is endorsing candidates in the primary and providing them extremely favorable ballot placements to the point where opponents are listed on separate ballot pages.

Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown), running for the Senate, filed suit against the practice and the federal judge granted a preliminary injunction to halt the practice. While Kim is now becoming the prohibitive favorite to win the Democratic Senate nomination since First Lady Tammy Murphy exited the race and Sen. Bob Menendez announced that he is not seeking the party nomination, his legal move will likely create a more even playing field for down-ballot races. This will probably become a major factor in changing how New Jersey primaries are run.

New Hampshire Primary Today; Close Race in Delaware; Gov. Burgum to Retire; Opponents Look to Change Alaska’s Ranked-Choice Voting

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024

President

Candidate signs along the road in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire: Primary Election Today — At one point it appeared that former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley was well positioned against former President Donald Trump in the New Hampshire primary, but a plethora of late polls find the former president expanding his advantage well into double digits.

Also on the ballot tonight is the Democratic presidential primary, though sans President Joe Biden. He is bypassing this event because the state refused to accept the Democratic National Committee recommended primary schedule change that would have deprived New Hampshire of its cherished first-in-the-nation primary status.

Ten polls have been released since Saturday from as many different pollsters, and except for the American Research Group, all show Trump holding leads between 10 and a whopping 27 percentage points. The ARG survey finds Trump holding only a 33-29 percent edge.

The Democratic race is much more difficult to forecast because of the write-in campaign underway for the president. The three polls, from the American Research Group, the University of New Hampshire for CNN, and Emerson College for WHDH-TV in Boston, see the Phillips support line falling between 10 and 18 percentage points.

The New Hampshire primary could effectively spell the end to competitive challenges.

First, for Haley: it’s hard to see a path going forward should she lose by the amounts suggested in most polls. The candidates’ next stop is Nevada. The legislature and former governor forced a primary law upon the state, but Republicans still wanted to have their caucus as in years past. Thus, the Nevada GOP is holding both a primary and a caucus, with the caucus being the delegate apportionment body, not the primary.

The candidates could only participate in one of the contests, and curiously Haley entered the primary. The other candidates, when they were in the race, chose the caucus. Therefore, regardless of how many primary votes Haley attracts in the primary, Trump is going to sweep the Nevada delegation because he is the only active candidate who will be receiving pledged delegates.

The South Carolina primary — Haley’s home state — will hold their primary on Feb. 24, and it will be interesting to see whether her candidacy will even remain alive at that time. Polling already shows Trump holding strong leads in the Palmetto State.

For the Democrats, US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) may well be a “one and done” candidate. He will have little in the way of an argument moving forward against President Biden if he fails to overtake him in New Hampshire where the incumbent’s name was not even on the ballot.

With data showing the respective party leaders expanding their leads, it will be an even bigger upset tonight if either President Biden or Donald Trump fail to meet their enhanced expectations.

Governor

Delaware: First Dem Primary Poll Suggests Close Race — With Gov. John Carney (D) being ineligible to run for a third term, lieutenant governor and gubernatorial candidate Bethany Hall-Long (D) released the results of her internal Public Policy Polling Democratic primary survey (Jan. 10-11; 643 likely Delaware voters; live interview & text).

The study finds the lieutenant governor posting an early 30-23 percent lead over New Castle County Executive Matt Meyer. National Wildlife Federation CEO Collin O’Mara, also an announced candidate, was not included on the Democratic primary ballot test.

The Delaware primary is one of the latest in the cycle, scheduled for Sept. 10, so much time remains for this race to develop. The eventual Democratic nominee will be in commanding position to win the open race in November.

North Dakota: Gov. Doug Burgum to Retire — Former presidential candidate Doug Burgum (R) announced yesterday that he will not seek a third term as North Dakota’s governor despite high approval ratings. With his endorsement of former President Trump, and the ex-chief executive indicating that Gov. Burgum would be primed for a position in a new Trump Administration should the 2024 election go the Republicans’ way, Gov. Burgum’s time in politics may not be coming to an end.

The decision to leave the governorship when his current term ends will open a highly competitive race for the Republican nomination through the state party convention and potentially a June 11 open primary. The eventual Republican nominee becomes a prohibitive favorite to succeed Gov. Burgum.

States

Alaska: Ranked Choice Voting Opponents File Petition Signatures — The proponents of a ballot proposition to repeal the state’s Top Four and Ranked Choice Voting systems have presented 55 percent more than the required number of signatures to reach the ballot, but they may be short on another qualifying requirement. While the group will likely have the proper aggregate number of valid signatures, there are questions as to whether they have met the requirement that certain numbers of the signatures must come from all the required districts. Therefore, it remains to be seen if this repeal measure will qualify for the 2024 election ballot.

The Ranked Choice system could have a wide-ranging effect on the coming presidential race, just as it has in the last two Alaska congressional campaigns.

Dem West Virginia Senate Candidate Emerges; Indiana Rep to Retire; Kentucky Candidate Filing Closes;
No Labels Party Qualifies in Maine

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2024

Senate

Wheeling, WVa., Mayor Glenn Elliott (D)

West Virginia: Democratic Candidate Emerges — Wheeling Mayor Glenn Elliott (D), a former staff member for Senate Majority Leader Robert Byrd (D-WV), announced that he will seek the Democratic nomination for the open seat that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) is vacating. Though a long shot to overtake favored Republican candidate Jim Justice, the state’s two-term governor, the Democrats now appear to have a credible candidate to fill the major void that Sen. Manchin leaves for his party. Also in the Republican Senate primary is US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town).

House

IN-8: Rep. Larry Bucshon (R) to Retire — Continuing the recent cascade of House retirements, seven-term Indiana Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Evansville) announced that he will not seek re-election later this year. Bucshon becomes the 43rd member leaving the House, and the 19th Republican. This is another seat that will be non-competitive in the general election, however.

The 8th District, formerly one of the most hotly contested seats in the country to the point it was nicknamed “the Bloody Eighth,” is no longer a domain that produces close general election results and a large number of incumbent defeats. In his seven successful elections, Rep. Bucshon averaged 61.7 percent of the vote and has broken the 60 percent threshold in his last five consecutive campaigns.

IN-8 occupies the southwest corner of Indiana, bordering Kentucky on the south and Illinois on the west. The two largest population centers are the cities of Evansville and Terre Haute. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates IN-8 as the second-safest Republican seat in the Hoosier State at R+36. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 50th-safest seat in the Republican Conference.

With Reps. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) running for the Senate and Reps. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) and Bucshon retiring, one-third of Indiana’s nine congressional seats now stand in the open category. The candidate filing deadline is Feb. 9 for the associated May 7 Indiana primary election.

Kentucky: Candidate Filing Closes — One more state, Kentucky, has closed its candidate filing period for the 2024 primary election. With no Senate or governor’s race on the 2024 ballot, the presidential and congressional races will lead the ticket.

All six US House incumbents have political opponents, but Reps. Thomas Massie (R-Garrison) and Hal Rogers (R-Somerset) drew no Democratic general election competition in Districts 4 and 5, respectively. Both have Republican primary opposition. It appears that all six incumbents, five Republicans and one Democrat, will have easy runs in the general election.

States

No Labels Party: Qualifies in Maine; Objecting in Arizona — The No Labels Party announced that they have qualified for a ballot line in Maine, to date increasing the number of states to 13 where they will have ballot presence for the 2024 election.

Conversely, they have also filed suit in Arizona trying to block candidates for offices other than president from using their ballot line. Arizona Secretary of State Adrian Fontes (D) is treating No Labels as the state would any other political party. That is, a registered voter in that party can run for office. It is doubtful that No Labels will be granted a court ruling that allows the party leaders to bar a qualified individual from running under their ballot line.

The states where No Labels has qualified for ballot position are: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, South Dakota, and Utah. The party officials claim to have active ballot qualification petition drives underway in an additional 14 unidentified states.

New York Redistricting Action; NY-26 Leading Contender Out; Jackson Lee Faces Battle in TX-18; Two Former US Reps Run for California State Office

New York State Congressional Map / Click map or here to go to DavesRedistricting.org to see interactive version.

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023

House

New York Redistricting: High Court Orders New Map — The high court ruling in Albany Tuesday could change the balance of power in the US House of Representatives. The New York Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, on a 4-3 vote ordered that the congressional districts be redrawn for the 2024 election, a move the Democratic plaintiffs sought. The majority agreed with the argument that the court-drawn map for the 2022 elections should stand only for that one period since the voters changed the state Constitution in order to empower the Independent Redistricting Commission with map drawing responsibilities.

With the map being sent back to the commission members, the redistricting process begins again. The high court established a Feb. 28, 2024, deadline for map completion and legislative agreement. Under the constitutional amendment procedure, the legislature must approve the commission prepared map. The New York state primary is scheduled for June 25, and the candidate filing deadline will be set for a date in late March.

NY-26: Leading Contender Won’t Run — Ten-term New York Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) announced last month that he will resign in February to accept a position to lead a Buffalo non-profit organization. Replacing Rep. Higgins largely falls to one man, Erie County Democratic Party chairman Jeremy Zellner.

Under New York election procedure, the various county party chairmen in a congressional district decide who becomes the party nominee in the event of a vacancy. The chairman from counties with the largest population get more influence because the chair votes are weighted. Since 80 percent of the NY-26 constituency lies in Erie County and only 20 percent in Niagara County, the Erie County chairman, i.e., Zellner, will effectively appoint the next congressman. Since the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates NY-26 as D+18 and President Biden scored a 61-37 percent victory here in 2020, the eventual Democratic special election nominee will become the prohibitive favorite to succeed Rep. Higgins.

It appeared that Chairman Zellner was ready to nominate Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz (D) for the congressional post, but now such won’t happen. Poloncarz surprisingly announced that he will not run for Congress. This leaves, for now, state Sen. Tim Kennedy (D-Buffalo) as the only announced Democratic candidate. Five-term Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown (D), however, is also indicating interest in the congressional seat.

Mayor Brown is a former New York State Democratic Party chairman and an ex-state senator. He began his political career as a member of the Buffalo Common Council. Brown was actually defeated for renomination in 2021 but returned in the general election to win an unprecedented fifth term as a write-in candidate. Once Rep. Higgins resigns in February, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will call a special election to fill the balance of the current term. At that point, Chairman Zellner will make his decision.

TX-18: Primary Forced Against Rep. Jackson Lee — Updating the story of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) quickly turning around to file for re-election after losing the Houston mayor’s race on Saturday, the congresswoman will now face an active primary campaign for renomination. Former Houston City councilmember and ex-US Senate candidate Amanda Edwards says she will continue with her campaign and challenge the incumbent.

Edwards originally filed in case the 18th District seat would open because of a Jackson Lee victory in the mayor’s race. Instead, we will see a legitimate primary challenge in the March 5 Super Tuesday election. Three other Democrats also filed in anticipation of an open seat. Therefore, if none of the candidates reach the 50 percent plateau, a runoff would occur between the top two finishers on May 28.

Rep. Jackson Lee will be favored for re-election, but the Edwards challenge merits attention. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-18 as D+43, so the Republican primary becomes irrelevant.

States

California: Two Ex-Congressmen Running for Legislature — With the California candidate filing deadline closing last Friday, we see the unusual situation of two retired eight-term US congressmen now running for seats in the California legislature. Former Rep. Jerry McNerney (D), who retired from Congress at the beginning of this year, filed for the open Stockton-anchored state Senate seat, and George Radanovich (R), who left the House at the beginning of 2011, is running in an open Fresno area Assembly district.

For Radanovich, this will be his second try for the legislature. In the 2022 election, he ran for an open state Senate seat but failed to advance into the general election from the all-party jungle primary.