Tag Archives: Gov. Jim Pillen

Ricketts Already Draws Challenge; West Virginia Gov. Eyes Senate Bid; More Challenges re: Rep. Schweikert; Another One Jumps the Gun in CA-30

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023

Senate

Nebraska Rancher Chuck Herbster (R)

Nebraska: 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.

House

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.

Ricketts Selected to Replace Sen. Sasse; CA-30 Race Already Rolling; Elvis’s Cousin Announces for Gov.

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 13, 2023

Senate

Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts selected to replace Sen. Ben Sasse.

Nebraska: Gov. Pillen Tabs ex-Gov. Pete Ricketts for Vacant Senate Seat — Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has officially resigned his seat in order to assume his new duties as president of the University of Florida, and new Gov. Jim Pillen (R), as expected, chose former Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) as the interim replacement. Ricketts will serve until the next general election in 2024. The seat is next in-cycle for a six-year term in 2026.

Gov. Pillen wanted to pick a senator who would commit to serving a long while in order to build seniority for the state to compliment two-term Sen. Deb Fischer (R) who is seeking re-election in 2024. Therefore, Ricketts committed to running both in 2024 and 2026. Senate-Designate Ricketts will be sworn into office when the Senate next convenes on Jan. 23.

House

CA-30: House Race Already Rolling — California Rep. Katie Porter’s (D-Irvine) move to declare for the Senate even before incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) announces her retirement has already set off a chain of reaction. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) says she will announce once Sen. Feinstein makes her retirement public. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) looks to be doing the same. In anticipation of the latter jumping into the Senate race, Los Angeles School Board member Nick Melvoin (D) announced yesterday that he will run for Schiff’s House seat.

Governor

Louisiana: Rep. Graves Considering Gov Race — Saying, “I think that the sentiment out there in the public for another candidate in this race is absolutely extraordinary,” Louisiana US Rep. Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) confirmed that he is still considering whether to run for governor later this year, and promises a decision in the next few days. The open gubernatorial field has changed drastically with both Sen. John Kennedy (R) and Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) declining to become candidates.

Graves was first elected to the House in 2018 and easily re-elected in 2020 and 2022 with 71 and 80 percent of the vote, respectively. He would not have to risk his congressional seat to run for governor in this odd-numbered year election. Attorney General Jeff Landry (R), state Treasurer John Schroder (R), and Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) presently appear to be the leading contenders.

The candidate filing deadline is not until Aug. 10. The jungle primary is scheduled for Oct. 14. If no one receives majority support in the initial vote, the top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 18 runoff election. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Mississippi: Elvis’s Cousin Announces for Governor — Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D), a second cousin to the late music legend Elvis Presley, announced that he will compete for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in a quest to challenge Gov. Tate Reeves (R) later this year. Presley was elected to the Public Service Commission in 2007 after serving seven years as mayor of Nettleton, a town of approximately 2,000 residents. He is the first person to become an official 2023 opponent to Gov. Reeves. Secretary of State Michael Watson is a potential Republican primary challenger.

Candidate filing closes Feb. 1. The statewide primary is set for Aug. 8 with a runoff date on Aug. 29 for those races where no candidate achieves majority support in the initial vote. The general election is Nov. 7.

Two Announce in Michigan; Gov. Vacancy in Nebraska; House Announces Committee Chairs; Turmoil in Louisiana

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023

Senate

Michigan: First Two Announce — The first two candidates came forward to announce their intention to run for what will now be an open Michigan US Senate seat in 2024. Former state Rep. Leslie Love (D) and attorney Jacquise Purifoy (D) both declared their candidacy yesterday. These are the first in what is expected to be a long list of contenders for both parties. Last week, Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in 2024.

One person who will not likely be in the field is Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who indicated yesterday that she will continue to serve in her current position.

Former Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, likely replacement for Sen. Ben Sasse.

Nebraska: Officially Vacant — Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has officially resigned his seat in order to assume his new duties as president of the University of Florida. This means new Gov. Jim Pillen (R) will now be able to name a replacement. Odds are strong that he will choose former Gov. Pete Ricketts (R). The announcement could come as early as today.

Once a replacement is chosen, the individual will then come before the voters in a special 2024 election, run concurrently with the general cycle, to fill the balance of the unexpired term. The seat next comes in-cycle for a full six-year term in 2026.

House

AZ-1: Rep. Schweikert Already Draws First Opponent — Veteran Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) had another close call in the 2022 election, winning a seventh term with just 50.4 percent of the vote in a newly configured district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+7. His opponent was first-time candidate Devin Hodge (D), a communication consultant who may well run again.

Yesterday, however, orthodontist Andrew Horne (D) became Rep. Schweikert’s first 2024 challenger with his announcement of candidacy. We can again expect this race to be competitive in two years. A crowded Democratic field is expected to form.

Committee Chairs: Steering Committee Elects Three Newcomers — With the Speaker’s election now complete, the Republican Steering Committee met yesterday to finalize the remaining committee chairman posts. In a bit of a surprise, the committee, with Speaker Kevin McCarthy holding four votes and Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA) having two, elected Rep. Jason Smith (R-MO) as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee defeating favored Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Rep. Adrian Smith (R-NE) in a contest that went to a second ballot.

In other contests, Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), a former military doctor, defeated Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-TX) for the Homeland Security Committee post. Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC), as expected, was elected chair of the Education and the Workforce panel, and Texas Rep. Jodey Arrington (R-Lubbock) will be the new Budget Committee chairman. He defeated Reps. Buddy Carter (R-GA) and Lloyd Smucker (R-PA).

Governor

Louisiana: Lt. Gov. Shakes Up Field — In a surprising move, Louisiana Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) changed his mind about running for governor and instead yesterday announced his intention to seek re-election later this year. Before, Nungesser said he would run for governor if Sen. John Kennedy (R) didn’t. After Sen. Kennedy declined to enter the race, it was assumed that Nungesser would immediately jump and become one of the leading contenders. Several others were declaring for the lieutenant governor role with the understanding that the seat would be open.

With Nungesser’s decision to stay put, it appears that attorney general and former Congressman Jeff Landry (R), someone Nungesser described as “not a good person” when previous discussion arose about his intentions regarding the governor’s election, becomes the front runner to replace term-limited incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D).

As a result of the Nungesser decision, state Treasurer John Schroder (R) then entered the governor’s race. The leading Democrat to date is Transportation Department Secretary Shawn Wilson. Candidate filing does not end until Aug. 10 for the Oct. 14 jungle primary, so the fluid contender field can still greatly change. If no candidate receives majority support in this first election, the top two finishers will runoff on Nov. 18.

Nebraska Appointment Coming Soon; A Look at Indiana Campaign Chests; Kennedy Declines to Run;
Chicago Mayoral Race Heats Up

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Jan. 6, 2023

Senate

Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R)

Nebraska: Appointment Coming Soon — Sen. Ben Sasse (R) has already delivered his farewell speech to the Senate, and scheduled Sunday, Jan. 8 as his official resignation day. He is leaving the Senate to become president of the University of Florida. With Gov. Jim Pillen (R) being sworn into office yesterday, he will soon announce his appointed choice to replace Sen. Sasse.

The odds clearly favor outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) as Pillen’s selection, but such a move is reportedly not being completely well received within Nebraska GOP circles. Charges of an inside deal surround the potential pick since Gov. Ricketts was instrumental in helping Pillen win a crowded Republican primary back in May. Whoever is chosen must stand for election in 2024 to fill the remaining two years of the present term. The seat is next in-cycle in 2026.

Governor

Indiana: Equivalent Resources — 2024 Indiana gubernatorial candidates are already releasing their financial figures in anticipation of the state’s impending disclosure deadline. At this point, the three announced Republican candidates, US. Sen. Mike Braun, Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, and businessman Eric Doden are all indicating they have in the neighborhood of $3 million in their individual campaign accounts. The combined funds comes from contributions, transfers from previous campaign committees, and self-funding loans or donations. Sen. Braun is the clear favorite to win both the Republican primary and general election, but it is also clear that he will have competitive party nomination opponents.

Louisiana: Without Kennedy, Tight Gov Campaign — Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) announced yesterday that he will not enter the 2023 Louisiana governor’s race, thereby creating a wide-open race to succeed term-limited Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards. Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) said he will run if Sen. Kennedy does not, and his now released internal poll from last month testing his standing against potential opponents has great relevancy.

The BDPC local Louisiana consulting firm poll conducted in mid-December (Dec. 7-13; 603 likely Louisiana jungle primary voters; live interview) sees Lt. Gov. Nungesser and Democratic Department of Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson tied at 23 percent apiece. Closely following is Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) with 22 percent, which means a virtual three-way tie.

The Louisiana jungle primary is scheduled for later this year, on Oct. 14. If no one receives majority support, which is likely, the top two finishers will advance to a Nov. 18 runoff election.

Cities

Chicago: Mayor Lightfoot Unloads on Rep. Garcia — Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D), in a fight for her political life as the nine candidates move toward the Feb. 28 Windy City municipal election, has released a major negative attack against who polling shows to be her chief opponent, US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago).

Her new media ad attacks Rep. Garcia as being corrupt for his association with, and receiving financial favors from, indicted crypto currency fund owner Sam Bankman-Fried, along with his relationship with indicted former Speaker of the House Mike Madigan (D), and for what she claims is his delivering the deciding vote for a red light camera company contract just hours after receiving a contribution from the manufacturing company. The gloves have already come off in this major mayoral battle, and it is certainly a campaign to watch.