The Candidates Start Lining Up

It’s already been a busy political new year. Two days ago we witnessed several potential candidates for various offices around the country quickly quelling speculation about their specific individual political plans. Yesterday, we see the opposite as several potential candidates confirmed they will seek different positions.

California Senate

The daily open Golden State Senate report includes an announcement from Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) that she will run for retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D) office. The development was expected after Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom made public his intention to remain in his current job, and then attempt to succeed incumbent Jerry Brown (D) when the latter is ineligible to seek another term in 2018.

But, the Harris decision to enter the Senate race is apparently not dissuading other contenders. Both former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) immediately issued separate statements reaffirming that they are both individually “seriously considering” becoming Senatorial candidates. Twenty-two Democrats and twelve Republicans confirm publicly that they have not yet ruled out running for the California Senate seat, the first such open contest in 24 years.

Louisiana Senate

Rep. John Fleming (R-LA-4) has made no secret of his desire to run for the Senate. He has publicly declared himself available for appointment should Sen. David Vitter (R) win election as the state’s chief executive later this year. Yesterday, Rep. Fleming went a step further. He made a public statement saying that he will run for the Senate in 2016, regardless of whether he is appointed to the position or not. Sen. Vitter is the early favorite to capture the governor’s mansion, succeeding outgoing incumbent Bobby Jindal (R) who is ineligible to seek another term.

Should Fleming carry through to implement his stated intention, his western Shreveport-Bossier City anchored 4th District would move into the 2016 open seat category. He would be the fifth member to already leave the House or announce that he will not return after the 2016 election. Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NH-11) resigned after being convicted of federal tax fraud; Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13) announced on Election Night that this will be his last term; Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA-8) is honoring a self-imposed eight-year combined service term limit; and Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY-19) said on the day he was sworn into office for the current term that he would not seek re-election in 2016, almost assuredly a precursor to his own run for governor in 2018.

North Dakota Governor

Speculation has been rampant that first-term Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) is going to run for governor in 2016. Earlier this week she did little to halt the rumors. In fact, she fueled conjecture that she will run for the state post. Her Senate seat is not in-cycle until 2018.

In answering a reporter’s question about whether she will run for governor, Sen. Heitkamp responded that “the proof is in the past”, an obvious reference to her failed 2000 gubernatorial campaign. She went on to say that being elected governor is “the greatest honor that you can have from the people of North Dakota.”

Incumbent Jack Dalyrmple (R) has not said whether he will run for a second full term. The governor assumed the final two years of now-Sen. John Hoeven’s (R) gubernatorial term while lieutenant governor, and then won in his own right in the 2012 election. Should he seek re-election, Gov. Dalrymple would be considered the odds on favorite to win, but clearly Sen. Heitkamp is the strongest possible Democratic opponent he could expect to face.


2014 congressional nominee Mark Assini (R), who came within 584 votes of defeating veteran Rep. Louise Slaughter (D), announced that he will seek a re-match for the Rochester-anchored seat next year. It remains to be seen if the 85-year-old incumbent and former House Rules Committee chair will run for a 16th term next year.

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