By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023
SenateNebraska: Senator-Designate Ricketts Already Draws a Potential Challenge — Not yet even sworn into office, Nebraska Senate-Designate Pete Ricketts (R), who new Gov. Jim Pillen (R) last week chose to fill the vacancy that former Sen. Ben Sasse’s (R) resignation created, may already be drawing a 2024 Republican challenger.
Rancher Chuck Herbster, the 2022 gubernatorial candidate who former President Trump endorsed and would lose to Pillen with then-Gov. Ricketts’ strong support, confirmed that he is considering launching a nomination challenge when the latter man first faces the voters in the May 2024 Republican primary. One reason Herbster lost the ’22 primary, however, was because several women went public with sexual harassment accusations, a controversy sure to arise again if he makes another attempt to seek public office.
Regardless of Herbster’s plans, it is probable that Ricketts will face a contested primary next year. His appointment was not unanimously well received within all quarters of the Nebraska Republican Party, but he has a full year in which to build an expanded intra-party winning coalition.
West Virginia: Governor Contemplates Senate Campaign — In a media interview at the end of last week, term-limited West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) confirmed that he is “seriously considering” making a US Senate run next year. Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has not committed to seeking re-election. He could retire, or enter the open governor’s race, since Gov. Justice is ineligible to run for a third term. Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) already has announced his intention to challenge Sen. Manchin. At this point, West Virginia appears as the Republicans’ top national conversion target.
AZ-1: More Challenges Brewing Against Rep. Schweikert — Arizona Rep. David Schweikert’s (R-Fountain Hills) 3,195-vote victory over media consultant Jevin Hodge — a percentage margin of just 50.4 – 49.6 percent — proved to be the 12th-closest US House result in the 2022 election cycle. Predictably, Schweikert — who has been plagued with an ethics controversy surrounding his handling of campaign and federal monies and who significantly under-performed in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+7 — will draw another serious challenge in 2024.
Already, three individuals are publicly taking action or mulling challenges. Dr. Andrew Horne, a local orthodontist, has officially announced his candidacy. Hodge, the 2022 nominee, confirms that he is considering another run. Former local news anchor Marlene Galan-Woods (D), widow of the late Republican-turned-Democrat Attorney General Grant Woods, also acknowledges her potential interest in making a congressional run in the state’s new 1st CD. Count on this race developing into another major national target campaign next year.
CA-30: Another One Jumps the Gun — We continue to see a chain reaction of political moves in California since Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) announced her intention last week to run for the Senate. In anticipation of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) entering the Senate contest (though he has yet to say so), we now have two credible Democratic candidates announcing for what they think will be the congressman’s open seat.
As we previously reported, Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education Vice Chairman Nick Melvoin (D) declared for the House seat, and immediately afterward state Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) announced that she, too, will compete for Rep. Schiff’s federal position. Through all of this, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) has yet to announce her own 2024 plans, though all of these moves are based upon her expected retirement.