Texas: Democrats Searching for Candidate: Just like the Wisconsin Republicans in their quest to find a standard bearer to challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) next year, the Lone Star State Democrats are continuing their search for a strong challenger to oppose Sen. Ted Cruz (R). Still not successfully recruiting either Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) or former HUD Secretary and ex-San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the Democrats are now floating the idea of astronaut Scott Kelly, the twin brother of Arizona Senator and former astronaut Mark Kelly (D).
Though Scott Kelly, who for a time was the world record holder for being in space over the longest duration, 340 days, has not made any confirming statement that he is taking the same political path as his brother, the Democratic leadership convincing him to run would make an interesting race.
NJ-9: Potential Challenge for Rep. Pascrell: Last week we reported that 14-term New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) announced that he would seek re-election next year at age 87. He may not have a free ride, however. Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh is reportedly weighing his chances of challenging Rep. Pascrell in the 2024 Democratic primary.
Prior to being elected to Congress for the first time in 1996, Mr. Pascrell was simultaneously the Mayor of Paterson and a state Assemblyman. In 2012, when New Jersey lost a seat in national reapportionment, Rep. Pascrell and then Rep. Steve Rothman (D) were paired in the new 9th District. Initially, Rep. Pascrell was considered the underdog in the incumbent vs. incumbent Democratic primary, but the elder Congressman would in the end prevail with a landslide 62-38% victory. Rep. Pascrell has not been seriously challenged since.
Chicago: Vallas and Johnson Continue to Battle: The Chicago municipal contest where voters have already defeated Mayor Lori Lightfoot continues to brandish polling showing a very tight runoff contest between former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Several published polls disagree as to who is leading the race. The latest Victory Research survey (3/20-23; 806 Chicago likely runoff voters) sees Mr. Vallas leading 46-44%. IZQ Strategies (3/15-16; 680 Chicago likely runoff voters) arrives at the same 46-44% ballot test result, but they find Commissioner Johnson holding the slight edge.
Mr. Vallas has recently been able to cross racial lines by attracting endorsements from African American former officeholders Jesse White, who served six terms as the Illinois Secretary of State, and ex-Congressman Bobby Rush, who was in office for 30 years. Crime is a big issue in the contest and could be defining. The runoff is scheduled for April 4th.
Jacksonville: Two Advance: The Jacksonville Mayor’s primary was held during the week, and Democrat Donna Deegan topped the field of candidates with 39% of the vote. Daniel Davis (R), the local Chamber of Commerce CEO, was second with 25%. Since neither candidate received majority support, the two will advance to a May 16th runoff election. Combined, Republican candidates received 51% of the vote as compared to the combined Democratic percentage of 48. Republican incumbent Lenny Curry is ineligible to seek a third term.
Monmouth Poll: Trump Continues to Lead National Poll: Monmouth University went into the field with a very small sample of US Republican primary voters (3/16-20; 521 US likely Republican primary voters; live interview & online) and again finds former President Donald Trump holding the advantage. Like in many of the polls, however, Mr. Trump is below the majority support line (50%), and he and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are pulling away from the other tested individuals.
According to the Monmouth data, Mr. Trump leads Gov. DeSantis, 44-36%, with former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-UN Ambassador and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley trailing with 7 and 6% respectively.
The results are typical for what we are seeing elsewhere in national polling. It is important to remember, however, that the national polls do not provide us with a clear indication as to who might prevail in a political contest where the results are decided with delegate votes earned in every state primary or caucus. Based upon available state totals, Gov. DeSantis fares better in the more important state-by-state count.
Gov. Chris Sununu: Still Not Definitive: New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu (R) is still not providing straight answers about whether he will run for President, seek re-election to an unprecedented fifth term as Governor, or retire from politics. The Governor yesterday said he would decide later in the year if he would run for President.
Mr. Sununu’s main advantage is that he governs the first Republican primary state, and therefore can wait to a late date and still enter the race as a main competitor. His hope would be to claim the New Hampshire primary, in a place where he is already extremely well known, and use such a victory to catapult him into the top tier of presidential candidates.
This is a risky strategy that political history suggests will not be successful. Even if not, however, Gov. Sununu could still pivot after the presidential race and run again for Governor since the New Hampshire primary is one of the nation’s latest, typically scheduled for mid-September.
Additionally, the state is only one of two, Vermont being the other, that holds its Governors elections every two years. While Gov. Sununu has won four elections, he is only in his seventh year of service. Yet, he is only the second Governor in state history to win four consecutive statewide elections. The other is Democrat John Lynch, who served from 2005-2013.
CA-41: Rep. Calvert Draws Familiar Challenger: Lake Elsinore City Councilman Tim Sheridan (D), who challenged Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) twice in the pre-redistricting and much more Republican 42nd District, announced this week that he will return to again run for the House in 2024.
In November, Rep. Calvert survived his second closest re-election effort, a 52-48% win over former federal prosecutor Will Rollins (D) in the new 41st District that is fully contained within Riverside County. We could see action in the all-party jungle primary because Mr. Rollins is also considering waging a return re-match with the 16-term incumbent.
RI-1: Special Election Candidate Count Expands to Six: As we reported yesterday, the RI-1 special election will be scheduled when Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) resigns from the House on June 1st. This week, another four individuals announced their special Democratic primary candidacies already bringing the field’s total number to six.
Those previously declaring are Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D) and state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket). The latest to enter are state Rep. Nathan Biah (D-Providence), corporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) consultant Nick Autiello, financial consultant Allen Waters, and bus driver Mickeda Barnes. As mentioned yesterday, the special election will effectively be decided in the Democratic primary from a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+32.
WI-3: Potential Challenger Candidates Skeptical: The 3rd District of Wisconsin occupies the state’s southwestern region and while often voting Republican for President, the electorate returned Democratic Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) to office 13 consecutive times. Mr. Kind retired in 2022, and the Democratic leadership basically conceded the seat to Republican Derrick Van Orden in that the national party spent no money to protect a seat their member held for 26 consecutive years. In the end, Mr. Van Orden did win, but his victory margin fell far below predictions in defeating state Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse) 52-48%.
It appears that Mr. Pfaff and two other former congressional candidates, La Crosse City Councilman Mark Neumann and small business owner Rebecca Cooke, are considering entering the 2024 congressional race. All, however, are saying they won’t run unless they are assured of national outside party support.
New Orleans: Recall Effort Fails: The move to force a recall vote against Crescent City Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) came to an abrupt end at the petition signature deadline. The recall organization fell woefully short of recruiting the 45,000 registered voter signatures necessary to force a confirmation election. The Cantrell opposition group was only able to qualify approximately 27,000 signatures, or just 60% of the required number. The next regular mayoral election is scheduled for 2025.
Michigan: State School Board President Considers Senate: Michigan School Board President Pamela Pugh (D), who has won two statewide elections to the state school board, a post that features eight-year terms, says she is considering entering the Democratic primary for US Senate.
At this point, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) is unopposed for the party nomination, but Ms. Pugh says she is concerned with the lack of African American representation throughout the state. Even the congressional delegation has no black Democrats despite the two Detroit anchored congressional seats featuring plurality African American populations. The only black in the congressional delegation, freshman Rep. John James, is a Republican.
Washington: Sen. Cantwell (D) Cruising in New Poll: Public Policy Polling, the regular survey research firm for the Northwest Progressive Institute, released their latest Washington statewide study (3/7-8; 874 WA registered voters; live interview & text) and tested the 2024 Senate race featuring four-term incumbent Maria Cantwell (D). Paired with former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), who is reportedly considering the challenge, PPP finds Sen. Cantwell holding a comfortable 50-35% advantage.
The 2022 Washington Senate race was billed as a competitive contest between Sen. Patty Murray (D) and Republican Tiffany Smiley, but ended in a 57-43% result. Since Republicans have a target-rich Senate cycle in 2024, it is doubtful the party will invest any serious resources toward a Cantwell challenge.
Wisconsin: Ex-Gov. Scott Walker (R) Says No: While Republicans are searching for a candidate to challenge two-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) in a race that could become competitive, one prominent Republican closed the door on a candidacy. Former two-term Governor Scott Walker (R), who twice was elected Governor but was defeated for a third term after not faring well in the 2016 presidential race, says he will not run for the Senate next year. The two potential GOP candidates most talked about are Mr. Walker’s former Lt. Governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, and businessman Scott Mayer.
MI-7: Mayor Won’t Run: Recently, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor (D) launched a congressional exploratory committee since Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) will vacate the 7th Congressional District seat in order to run for the state’s open Senate seat. Typically, filing such a committee is the first step to announcing a candidacy, but in this case the opposite has occurred. Clearly, Mayor Schor did not find the results for which he had hoped, and announced yesterday that he would not be a candidate for the 2024 open seat.
No one has yet announced for the 7th District as yet. It is presumed that 2022 Republican candidate Tom Barrett, now a former state Senator, will again make a run for the seat. He lost 51-46% to Rep. Slotkin last November.
RI-1: Second Special Election Candidate Announces: Though Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) will not resign from the House until June 1st to accept a position running a large Rhode Island non-profit organization, two Democratic candidates wanting to succeed him in Congress have now announced for the impending special election. Last week, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D) declared her candidacy, and now state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket) has followed suit.
Once Rep. Cicilline officially resigns, Gov. Dan McKee (D) will then schedule a special election to fill the seat for the balance of the current term. The special election will be decided in the Democratic primary in a safe seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+32.
IA-3: Swing District Freshman Draws Challenger: Freshman US Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) was one of the few challengers to win a House seat in 2022 when he scored a 49.6 – 48.9% win over two-term Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines), a margin of 2,145 votes from more than 315,000 ballots cast. On Friday, mental health therapist Tracy Limon (D) announced her congressional candidacy, the first individual to come forward for the 2024 election. This could be a signal that former Rep. Axne will not return for a re-match, since the Democratic primary would likely be cleared for her if she desired to make a comeback.
MN-2: Kistner Considers Third Run: Navy veteran and businessman Tyler Kistner (R) has lost two close congressional races to Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig (D-Prior Lake), and confirms that he is considering launching another re-match in 2024. The 2020 election proved his better showing, losing 48-46%. In the redistricted 2nd District, which now stretches from the Wisconsin border southwest to include the southern St. Paul and Minneapolis suburbs, the result was not as close, 51-46%, in the Congresswoman’s favor. A Kistner third run would not likely change the result since he received 46% in both of his elections. Republicans might find more success in 2024 with a fresh candidate.
Utah: Gov. Cox to Seek Re-Election, but Chaffetz is the Story: Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announced on Friday that he will seek a second term next year, but more of the political attention centers around former Congressman and current Fox News commentator Jason Chaffetz (R). There has been much speculation, and not denied, that Mr. Chaffetz is considering launching a Republican primary challenge against either Gov. Cox or Sen. Mitt Romney (R). Therefore, it appears the 2024 Utah nomination convention and Republican primary will feature some meaningful political action.
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