Tag Archives: New York

New York Rep. John Katko to Retire

New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 18, 2021 — New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) announced Friday that he will not seek a fifth term later this year, creating a 47th open seat for the 2022 US House elections.

Katko, who indicated that he and his wife buried all four of their parents during the past three years, which he said was “gut-wrenching,” says he now desires more time with his family. He leaves a seat where he has averaged 56.5 percent of the vote as one of only eight Republicans from the 27-member Empire State delegation.

Other factors may also have played a role in his retirement decision. Redistricting appeared to be creating some re-election problems for Rep. Katko, as had former President Donald Trump.

New York lost a seat in reapportionment — a district collapse that will come from the Upstate region. Early maps suggested that Katko’s Syracuse-anchored seat would be combined with Rep. Claudia Tenney’s 22nd District, which would result in a paired incumbent situation before the primary winner likely would face another competitive general election campaign.

In the past two election cycles, Rep. Katko’s opponent was college professor Dana Balter (D), and her challenges resulted in expensive and hard fought 53-43 percent (2020) and 52-47 percent (2018) victories. Balter spent $2.7 million and $3.3 million in her two successive races against Rep. Katko, totaling $6 million, which he countered with a combined $6.3 million. Additionally, both candidates received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from their respective political parties and outside groups.

The NY-24 seat is one of only nine districts where the electorate supported President Biden and elected a Republican to the House. In the current Congress, the 24th is one of just three districts that Hillary Clinton carried while electing a Republican Representative. Katko had repeatedly proven himself as an effective and successful political candidate.

In a paired 2022 situation against Rep. Tenney, however, the retiring congressman would have faced increasing pressure from his political right largely because of his vote to impeach former President Trump. Additionally, the New York Conservative Party leadership said they would not allow Katko to run with their ballot line in the 2022 general election. In New York, a candidate can run with more than one party designation.

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Rep. Lawrence to Retire;
Open US House Seats Now Up to 44

By Jim Ellis

Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield)

Jan. 7, 2022 — Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) became the latest Democratic incumbent to announce her retirement. She is the 25th Dem to not seek re-election as compared to 11 Republicans.

Saying, “this is the right time to turn the page and spend more time with my family — my husband, daughter, son and granddaughter — and put them first,” Lawrence made official her decision not to seek a fifth term next year. She is 67 years old. Prior to her election to Congress, Lawrence served as Southfield’s mayor for 14 years. She is the only African American in the Michigan delegation and the lone Wolverine State Democrat to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.

It is speculated upon that the new Michigan map influenced her retirement decision, but Rep. Lawrence said she was confident of being able to be re-elected in the new 12th District. Though her home base of Southfield was included in MI-12, the cities of Dearborn, Westland, and the western part of Wayne County would have, for her, been foreign political turf.

In her closing comments to the Detroit Free Press newspaper, Rep. Lawrence said, “I’m incredibly grateful for the people of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District who have placed their trust in me — in me, a little Black girl from the east side of Detroit.”

The Lawrence decision greatly changes the Detroit area congressional campaigns. Immediately upon Rep. Lawrence announcing her retirement plans, neighboring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) declared that she will seek re-election in the 12th District, saying that she currently represents more of this CD than the downtown Detroit-anchored MI-13. This leaves the 13th open and will create a major Democratic primary battle. CD-13 is a majority African American district and heavily Democratic, meaning that winning the party primary is tantamount to election in November.

A group of current and former Detroit state legislators announced Wednesday that they are filing a lawsuit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, saying the new congressional, state Senate, and state House of Representatives’ boundaries discriminate against black voters, and therefore violate the Voting Rights Act. If the lawsuit successfully overturns the Detroit district draws, new mapping instructions could be forced upon the commission before the 2022 election.

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Rep. Bobby Rush to Retire

US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 6, 2022 — From Illinois Black Panther Party co-founder to 30-year member of Congress, US Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) after the first of the year announced that he will not seek a 16th term next year. Rush becomes the 24th Democrat to leave the House either for retirement or seeking another elective office. A 25th Democratic seat, that of the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-FL), will be filled next week (Jan. 11) in a special election.

Bobby Rush co-founded the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in 1968, but left for the Democratic Party in 1974. He was elected to the Chicago City Council in 1983, and then to the US House in the 1992 election. In addition to his civil rights activism and background, his claim to national fame was defeating then-state Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic congressional primary of 2000.

Obama, of course, would go onto win the US Senate election in 2004, and the presidency in 2008. Interestingly, former President Obama is not the only recent president who lost a race for the House of Representatives. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush also failed to win a district contest.

Illinois’ 1st District is heavily Democratic, even in its new form that meanders farther away from its south Chicago population anchor. The new 1st stretches all the way to the city of Wilmington, some 60 miles from the traditional heart of IL-1.

Likely anticipating that Rush would retire, seven Democrats had previously announced their 2022 candidacies, but none are elected officials. With the incumbent retirement now official, we can expect a number of Chicago Democratic politicians to enter the open race. As many as 11 sitting state and local officials are being mentioned as possible candidates in addition to Lt. Gov. Julianna Stratton.

Regardless of who files before the March 14 candidate declaration deadline, the June 28 Democratic primary winner will easily claim the seat in November. While the new 1st is a bit more Republican than Rep. Rush’s current CD, the new district is still overwhelmingly Democratic and majority minority under the Democratic legislature’s gerrymandered map. According to the FiveThirtyEight statistical site, the new 1st is a D+41, down from the current 1st District rating of D+47.

Of the 24 Democratic incumbents not seeking re-election, 17 are retiring and seven are seeking another office, from US Senate and governor to state attorney general and big city mayor.

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Rep. Titus (D) Decries Nevada Dem Map

By Jim Ellis

Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas)

Dec. 21, 2021 — Nevada Congresswoman Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) is drawing a great deal of recent media attention largely for the vulgar way in which she described the Democrats’ new Sliver State congressional redistricting map before a meeting of the Nevada AFL-CIO.

She is upset because her once politically rock-solid downtown Las Vegas-anchored district is now in the competitive realm, and she believes the legislators not only did her a disservice, but endangered, from a Democratic partisan context, all of the Clark County districts.

At the labor meeting, Titus described what the state Democrats did by saying, as quoted in the Nevada Current online publication:

“… you read that the Republicans are using gerrymandering to cut out Democratic seats, but they didn’t have to in this state. We did it to ourselves.”

Nevada is one of the 15 Democrat trifecta states — which is where one party controls the governor’s office, the state Senate, and state Assembly — and therefore holds the redistricting pen. The number of places where they can actually gain congressional seats through the re-draw process, however, is only four: Illinois, New Mexico, New York, and Oregon, which is why it is critical for the Nevada Democrats to hold their three Silver State seats. Rep. Mark Amodei’s (R-Carson City) northern 2nd District, for geographic and political reasons, must remain safely Republican.

Rep. Titus, however, believes the final map puts all three of the state’s Democratic districts in jeopardy. Predicting what could be a difficult year for the party in Nevada, Rep. Titus apparently thinks Republicans could sweep the state’s four congressional seats in the 2022 election.

She further stated, again as the Nevada Current reported, that,

“Republicans are going to turn out, and they are excited. Democrats are kind of ‘meh, I have to pay more gas prices. Hispanics aren’t going to want to turn out if we don’t get something for immigration. I mean, why would they?”

Titus remembers the 2014 election cycle when Democratic turnout was so poor in a down year for her party that Republicans swept the ticket from top to bottom.

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Rep. Suozzi Announces for
New York Governor

Long Island US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 1, 2021 — Turning down NYC Mayor-Elect Eric Adams’ offer of becoming one of the city’s deputy mayors, Long Island US Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) instead announced Monday that he is joining the fast-growing Democratic primary for governor.

Already in the statewide race is the new incumbent, Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Tish James, and NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. On the Republican side, Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) is clearly the leading candidate for his party’s gubernatorial nomination, having already clinched the official New York Republican Party endorsement.

This is not the first time Suozzi has run for governor. In the 2006 Democratic primary, ill-fated, then-Attorney General Eliot Spitzer crushed Suozzi, 82-18 percent.

The Suozzi strategy is to take advantage of a crowded Democratic field where the other participants are all campaigning to the left. Therefore, he is calling himself the “moderate, common sense Democrat.” In a plurality election, his strategy has a chance of being successful, but the bigger question may revolve around whether he will have adequate resources to effectively communicate his message to a statewide electorate in order to develop such a fractured winning coalition.

With Rep. Suozzi foregoing re-election, it creates an additional open Democratic US House seat, a number that has grown significantly in the past two weeks, and also potentially alters the New York redistricting process.

Suozzi was first elected to the House in 2016 and twice re-elected, but failed to reach 60 percent in any of his congressional campaigns. Prior to his service in Congress, Suozzi held the Nassau County Executive position for two terms but was defeated when trying for a third. Four years later, in 2013, trying to regain his lost position, Suozzi was again defeated, this time by a strong 59-41 percent margin. Before winning his countywide position, Suozzi was twice elected as mayor of his hometown of Glen Cove, NY.

Suozzi’s 3rd Congressional District sits in Long Island’s center-west sector, hugging the north shore. The four districts that are self-contained on Long Island are a combined 148,780 people short of meeting the per-district population quota of 776,971 individuals in each of the state’s 26 congressional districts.

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