Now that term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey (R) has removed himself as a potential US Senate challenger to special election winner Mark Kelly (D), the political jockeying among Republicans is beginning. Attorney General Mark Brnovich, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, US Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert), and former Congressman Matt Salmon are potential Senate or open gubernatorial race candidates.
One elected official who says he won’t run statewide is Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale). Yesterday Rep. Schweikert indicated his position on the House Ways & Means Committee could improve to the point of him becoming a subcommittee ranking member or chairman, the latter if the GOP were to capture the House majority in the 2022 election, should he win re-election to another term.
North Carolina state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), who for a time considered challenging Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in 2020, announced yesterday that he will enter the open seat contest to succeed retiring Republican Senator Richard Burr. Mr. Jackson was first elected to the legislature via a party replacement procedure in 2014. He won a full term later that year and was re-elected in 2016, ‘18 and ‘20.
It is likely the open seat battle will attract crowded primaries in both parties. Previously announced on the Democratic side is former state Senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. The only major declared Republican candidate to date is former US Rep. Mark Walker.
Democrat Phil Arballo, who spent over $5.1 million against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) in losing 54-46%, says he will run again in 2022. Mr. Arballo believes the California Citizens Redistricting Commission will make the 22nd District more competitive, thus enhancing his chances of unseating the ten-term incumbent. Rep. Nunes was the strongest fundraiser of any House Republican in both 2020 and 2018. In the most recent election, he banked a whopping $26.3 million for his re-election run and ended the race with more than $4 million in his campaign account.
Non-profit organization director Jonah Schulz (R), who failed to win the Republican nomination in the heavily Democratic 11th District last May, says he will launch a primary challenge against nearby Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River/North Olmsted) next year. Rep. Gonzalez was one of ten House Republicans to support President Trump’s latest impeachment.
The fact that Mr. Schulz is moving from another district may not be much of an issue. Redistricting will recast all of the district boundary lines before the 2022 election meaning the impending political situation could look much different than before.
Pete Snyder, a Republican venture capital businessman and former convention candidate for Lt. Governor, announced that he will enter the ongoing Virginia gubernatorial battle to succeed term-limited Gov. Ralph Northam (D). Already in the GOP race are former state House Speaker Kirk Cox and state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian). For the Democrats, former Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax are the key candidates.
Calling Sen. Michael Bennet (D) "so wishy-washy and so middle-of-the-road that we don't know which road he walks on," former state Rep. Joe Salazar (D) announced that he will launch a Democratic primary challenge to the two-term incumbent and former presidential candidate.
Mr. Salazar was a spokesman for the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign and will obviously campaign to Sen. Bennet’s ideological left. The incumbent, however, is the clear early favorite to win both the Democratic primary and the 2022 general election.
Two-term Ohio Republican Sen. Rob Portman, who was expected to seek a third term in 2022, has decided not to run for re-election. His surprise announcement expressed frustration with the even more partisan direction in which the Congress is heading and he indicated that accomplishing policy objectives is becoming even more difficult.
Sen. Portman is the third GOP Senator to make a public statement saying he will voluntarily leave the Senate at the end of the current Congress. He joins North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr and Pennsylvania’s Pat Toomey in retirement. Other potential open seats include Alabama and Iowa, where Sens. Richard Shelby (R) and Chuck Grassley (R) will be 88 and 89 years of age, respectively, and that of Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R) who pledged to only serve two terms when he first ran in 2010.
The open Ohio seat will be competitive, but Republicans, based upon the state’s voting history in the past three elections, will begin as the favored party to win the race.
Last week, Ocean County Commissioner Joe Vicari, billed as “New Jersey’s longest serving elected official,” announced what he called a “favorite son” campaign for Governor. Mr. Vicari indicated he would remain in Ocean County to discuss issues and draw his opponents toward him. His statewide campaign lasted exactly one week. Yesterday, Mr. Vicari announced that he is already abandoning his statewide effort. Hailing from Toms River, the long-time local official was first elected to the County Commission in 1981 and has remained on the panel ever since.
Former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli is the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate. Upon winning the party nomination, he will face Gov. Phil Murphy (D) who is seeking a second term.
New York City has adopted the Ranked Choice Voting system, and already it is changing this year’s open campaign for Mayor. Yesterday, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera (D-Bronx) announced that he is supporting City Comptroller Scott Stringer as his first choice and non-profit organization executive Dianne Morales as his second.
Under Ranked Choice Voting in the New York system, voters categorize their choices from 1-5. If no one receives majority support, the last place person is eliminated. Ballots are located that chose the last place finisher first, and their second choices are added to the vote totals. If all candidates are still under 50% support, the process repeats.
The 2021 NYC mayoral election will be the first where Ranked Choice Voting is implemented and it will be interesting to see if its administration is smooth, and just how the procedure changes the way each contender campaigns.
Sen. Mark Kelly (D) won the 2020 special statewide election and can expect a tough 2022 challenge when he stands for a full six-year term. One person he won’t have to face, however, is term-limited Gov. Doug Ducey (R). Late last week, Gov. Ducey said he will not challenge Sen. Kelly, thus depriving the GOP of the person who appears as their strongest challenger. Expect the Arizona Senate race to again be key next year as the GOP is still expected to field a strong nominee. With Gov. Ducey out, the candidate field becomes wide open.
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