Democrats Back Independent in Utah; House Race News; Kansas Redistricting Map Rejected

By Jim Ellis

April 28, 2022:

Senate

Utah Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin

Utah: Democrats Back Independent — The Utah Democratic nominating convention over last weekend voted with a 57 percent majority not to field a party candidate against Sen. Mike Lee (R), but instead form a coalition to back Independent candidate Evan McMullin.

The move was the first of its kind in Utah political history. The delegates clearly agreed with the argument that the party was better coalescing behind McMullin, a 2016 Independent presidential candidate and former Republican who placed a strong third in the state (21.5 percent) behind Republican Donald Trump (45.5 percent) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (27.5 percent than nominating their own Democratic contender. They understood that supporting Democrat Kael Watson and producing a three-way campaign meant a sure victory for Sen. Lee.


House

FL-5: US Rep. Al Lawson May Challenge Fellow Incumbent — Florida US Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) has difficult choices ahead of him in determining where to seek re-election in the north Florida region. The new Florida congressional map collapses his current district. The Politico publication reports that Lawson is leaning toward challenging Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) in the new 2nd District, an R+16 CD but one that includes Rep. Lawson’s home base of Tallahassee.

MA-4: No Re-Match — Former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell, who lost the 2020 Democratic primary to current US Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Newton) by just one percentage point, announced that she will not return for a re-match. Therefore, Rep. Auchincloss becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-nomination and re-election. The Massachusetts primary is not until Sept. 6, and the candidate filing deadline is May 31.

MN-1: No Official GOP Endorsement — First Congressional District Republicans convened over the weekend to potentially endorse a candidate in the special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester). Though state Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) attracted 55 percent of the delegate vote, it was not enough to secure the official endorsement. Doing so requires 60 percent. This means we will see an open special election primary on May 24 with no officially endorsed candidate, though Rep. Munson appears to be a clear front runner.

Utah: Two Reps Under-Perform at Convention — US Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo), posted only 41 percent of the convention vote on the first ballot, which was just enough to avoid an embarrassing defeat, since he did not also opt to obtain petition signatures. The later rounds pushed him to 45 percent, but the congressman still must win a Republican primary against the man whom he defeated in a 2017 special election and the 2018 GOP primary, — former state Rep. Chris Herrod. Despite Rep. Curtis’ poor showing at the party convention, he is still expected to win the primary and general elections.

First District Rep. Blake Moore (R-Salt Lake City) also found wavering support among the delegates. He drew only 34 percent of the delegate vote, but had already qualified for the primary ballot via the petition signature process. Marketing executive Andrew Badger, who pledges to join the House Freedom Caucus if elected, captured just under 60 percent of the delegate vote. Badger and Morgan County Councilwoman Tina Cannon, who also gained ballot access through the petition option, will both oppose Rep. Moore in late June.

Reps. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington) and Burgess Owens (R-Salt Lake City) both easily qualified for the ballot with 84 and 68 percent of the vote, respectively. Both, however, will face petition primaries against attorney Erin Rider and technology executive Jake Hunsacker.


Redistricting

Kansas: Another Congressional Map Rejected — Continuing a string of adverse rulings from judges over maps that the corresponding state legislature had passed, another Republican judge has tossed a Republican drawn map. Wyandotte County Judge Bill Klapper declared the map unconstitutional on the basis of racial and partisan gerrymandering of the state’s 3rd District that Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Roeland Park/Kansas City) represents. He ordered the legislature to draw a new map. Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), who is running for governor, said the state will immediately appeal to the Kansas Supreme Court. The state’s candidate filing deadline is June 1 in conjunction with the Aug. 2 state primary.

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