By Jim Ellis — Monday, Sept. 11, 2023
HouseME-2: Former NASCAR Driver Declares for Congress — Austin Theriault (R), a retired NASCAR driver who is now a state representative from one of the Canadian border districts in northern Maine, is reportedly planning to challenge Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) in the most Republican district that elects a Democrat to the House. Rep. Golden has twice defeated now-former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) with the help of the Ranked Choice Voting system, which eliminates the possibility of a plurality victory.
Without Poliquin making a return appearance, Republicans need a fresh candidate to potentially take advantage of what could be a more favorable GOP turnout model. Former President Donald Trump has twice carried the 2nd District, in 2020 by six percentage points, so running with him in 2024 is more attractive than in other election years.
Ohio Redistricting: Lines Will Stand for 2024 — The Ohio State Supreme Court late this week rejected plaintiffs’ arguments that a new congressional map should be drawn, meaning the current lines will remain intact for the 2024 election. Under the original redistricting act’s passage, the map was to be reconfigured after four years, meaning before the 2026 election. That remains to be the case. In the meantime, activists are attempting to qualify a ballot initiative that would transform the Ohio redistricting system into a citizens’ commission. The initiative organizers need 413,000 valid Ohio registered voter signatures to qualify their measure for a vote in the 2024 election.
CO-8: GOP State Rep Announces Candidacy — State Rep. Gabe Evans (R-Westminster), an Army veteran and ex-police officer, has entered the 8th District Republican congressional primary with the quest of challenging freshman Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Thornton) who represents one of the most politically marginal districts in the country. The 8th District was awarded to Colorado in the 2020 national apportionment formula due to extensive population growth.
The Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission crafted the seat, just north of Denver, as one that either party can win in any election year. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat R+3, while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a partisan lean that slightly favors the Democrats, 48.3D – 47.0R. President Joe Biden carried the district, 50.8 – 46.3 percent.
Rep. Evans, should he win the primary, will be a strong candidate for the Republicans. State Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer (R-Weld County), who held Rep. Caraveo to a 48.4 – 47.7 percent tight victory, is not seeking a re-match. Instead, she is running for re-election to her current position in the state Senate. Weld County Commissioner Scott James will be opposing Evans for the Republican nomination.
VA-2: Democrats Recruit Challenger Candidate — In further evidence that defeated Rep. Elaine Luria (D) will not seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), Democrats have found a new candidate in the person of Missy Cotter Smasal, a Navy veteran and former state Senate candidate. At this point, she is the only announced Democratic contender and has support from former Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and newly elected US Rep. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond).
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the Virginia Beach anchored 2nd District as R+6. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 50.1R – 48.3D.
WI-3: Former Local Board Chairman Enters Cong Race — Former La Crosse County Board chair Tara Johnson, who served 20 years on the local panel, announced that she is joining the Democratic primary in hope of challenging freshman Rep. Derrick Van Orden (R-Prairie du Chien/La Crosse) in next year’s general election.
The race is getting more attention from Democrats who believe southern Wisconsin will be redrawn with their presumption that the new state Supreme Court Democratic majority will find a way to toss the current map. Johnson joins business owner and 2022 congressional candidate Rebecca Cooke in the Democratic primary. The seat appears relatively safe for Rep. Van Orden in its current configuration, but a redraw could drastically change the situation.