By Jim Ellis — Friday, Nov. 3, 2023
HouseAZ-8: Former Congressman Announces Comeback Attempt — Trent Franks (R), who was elected eight times to the House but was forced to resign when it was discovered that he was asking two female staff members to be surrogate mothers for he and his wife, announced that he will enter the open 8th District race next year with the goal of succeeding his successor. Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), who won the seat in a 2018 special election after Franks’ resignation, is retiring.
Franks’ reappearance in Arizona politics is a surprise, and he is certainly no lock to win the August 2024 Republican primary. Already, nine other Republicans have declared their candidacies, including 2022 US Senate nominee Blake Masters, state House Speaker Ben Toma (R-Peoria), 2022 Attorney General nominee Abe Hamadeh, and state Sen. Anthony Kern (R-Paradise).
CO-4: Rep. Ken Buck (R) to Retire — Five-term Colorado US Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor) announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election next year. Saying, “I always have been disappointed with our inability in Congress to deal with major issues and I’m also disappointed that the Republican Party continues to rely on this lie that the 2020 election was stolen & rely on the 1/6 narrative.” Rep. Buck has been an outspoken critic of his party in recent weeks, and his retirement is unsurprising. He had been rumored to be looking at potential media commentator openings as a Republican on the liberal CNN and MSNBC channels.
The 4th District, which covers most of eastern Colorado, is the strongest Republican seat in the state. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+26. Former President Donald Trump carried the seat with a 58-40 percent margin in 2020. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks CO-4 as the 115th most vulnerable seat in the 222-member Republican Conference.
TX-12: Rep. Kay Granger (R) to Retire — The third US House member to announce a retirement in the past two days is House Appropriations Committee chair Kay Granger (R-TX). She also announced Wednesday that she will not seek a 15th term next year. Before winning the 1996 congressional election, Granger served as mayor of Ft. Worth. Rep. Granger’s announcement follows those of Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Ken Buck (R-CO), who also will retire at the end of the current Congress.
The 12th District is anchored in the city of Ft. Worth, which covers approximately 31 percent of Tarrant County, and then stretches west to annex about 80 percent of Parker County. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-12 as R+24. Former President Trump carried the district with a 58-40 percent margin in 2020. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks TX-12 as the 108th most vulnerable district in the Republican Conference.
There are now 24 open seats in the next election. Of those, 15 are currently Democratic held, eight are Republican, and one is an Alabama seat that the new redistricting plan created.
Utah: Gov. Cox (R) Challenged for Renomination — State representative and former San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-Blanding), who was jailed at one point for misdemeanor trespassing (in relation to a land use protest) and includes his mugshot in his campaign announcement video, will challenge incumbent Republican Gov. Spencer Cox in next year’s party nominating convention, and possibly the June 25 primary.
In Utah, the party convention can send two candidates directly to the primary election with at least 40 percent delegate support. Candidates can also petition onto the ballot by obtaining 28,000 registered voters’ signatures. Since Lyman is campaigning against Gov. Cox from the right, he may be able to reach the 40 percent plateau in a convention where the vast majority of delegates are to the right of the incumbent. Gov. Cox should still be favored to prevail in a primary fight, however, as well as in the general election.