CA-20: Ex-Speaker McCarthy to Resign: With the California candidate filing deadline approaching on Friday, former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election to a 10th term and is leaving Congress at the end of the year. The outcome is not surprising and one many expected since his ouster as Speaker two months ago. The McCarthy decision means 35 House seats are now open with seven coming from California alone.
Mr. McCarthy’s Bakersfield anchored district will remain safely in Republican hands, but the question remains to whether a special election will be called. When the most recent California seat became vacant - San Diego’s Duncan D. Hunter resignation in early 2020 - Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) simply didn’t schedule a special election and the seat remained vacant for the better part of a year.
Since Newsom previously got away with this course of action, it is quite possible he will attempt to again hold the McCarthy seat in abeyance particularly since the Republican majority is dwindling with the expulsion of Rep. George Santos and Rep. Bill Johnson’s (R-OH) pending resignation.
California’s 20th District draws a R+31 rating from the FiveThirtyEight data organization and is the safest Republican seat in this heavily blue state. Former President Trump posted a 61-34% victory margin here over President Biden in 2020. For the regular election, seeing a double-Republican runoff evolve from the all-party jungle primary is a distinct possibility. The two leading potential contenders appear to be state Sen. Shannon Graves (R-Bakersfield) and Assemblyman Vincent Fong (R-Bakersfield).
NY-16: Primary Challenge Now Official: Earlier in the week, we reported that Westchester County Executive and former state legislator George Latimer had filed a congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission and was expected to officially declare his Democratic primary candidacy against two-term Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers). Yesterday, Mr. Latimer made his official announcement.
Several key primaries are evolving around the nation, and this challenge is a serious effort. Mr. Bowman, himself, came to Congress through unseating an incumbent, veteran Rep. Eliot Engel, in the 2020 Democratic primary, and now the tables may turn in 2024.
NY-17: Rep. Lawler Avoids Primary Challenge: Former Trump White House aide Bill Maloney, who was considering challenging freshman Rep. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) because he believed the Congressman was not demonstrating sufficient loyalty toward Mr. Trump, now says he will not run. Rep. Lawler is likely to find himself in a very difficult general election campaign, thus making it necessary for him to have an uncontested primary campaign.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates NY-17 as D+7. The district, however, will likely change after a congressional map redraw, so it is likely this Hudson Valley seat will become even more Democratic. The Daily Kos Elections statisticians rank the seat as sixth most vulnerable in the Republican Conference, and is likely to become even more competitive post-redistricting.
TN-7: Disgraced Nashville Mayor Announces Against Rep. Green: Former Nashville Mayor Megan Barry (D) who resigned her position in disgrace as part of a plea deal for misuse of public funds to facilitate an extra-marital affair with a member of her security detail, yesterday announced that she will enter the 7th Congressional District Democratic primary. Should she win the nomination election, Ms. Barry would then challenge three-term Tennessee US Rep. Mark Green (R-Clarksville), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee.
CD-7 is a safely Republican western Tennessee district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+21. Former President Donald Trump carried TN-7 with a 56-41% victory margin. The Daily Kos Elections site rank the seat as the 76th most vulnerable seat in the Republican Conference. Rep. Green was re-elected in 2022 with a 60-38% victory margin.
Utah: Another Gubernatorial Primary Challenger Emerges: Gov. Spencer Cox (R) is favored to win a second term next year, but he will first have to out poll now two intra-party opponents. In late October, state Rep. Phil Lyman (R-Blanding) announced his Republican primary challenge to Gov. Cox, and this week, state Rep. Brian King (R-Salt Lake City) also entered the race.
While Gov. Cox would be favored against multiple candidates on a primary ballot, the candidates will first enter the Utah Republican Party endorsement convention, which can send as many as two candidates to the primary ballot. Not entering the convention, which may be the route Gov. Cox chooses, a candidate would need to recruit 28,000 valid petition signatures in order to compete in the party primary. Expect Gov. Cox to prevail in the nomination process and for re-election next November.
Liz Cheney: Publicly Considers Independent Candidacy: Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R) said yesterday that she is considering running as an Independent in the presidential race for the purpose of taking votes away from Donald Trump.
While Ms. Cheney didn’t declare her candidacy, she might find the ballot qualification obstacles much more formidable than she might believe. Not representing a political party with ballot status, an Independent must navigate 51 different requirement systems to earn a nationwide ballot line. This realization will likely discourage several of the candidates who are looking to launch non-affiliated presidential efforts.
Illinois: Candidate Filing Closes: Candidate filing for the Illinois March 19th primary has concluded, and several points of note are present. With no Senate race in Illinois this year, the focus of attention will be the presidential race and the US House campaigns as well as other down ballot Land of Lincoln campaigns.
Four delegation incumbents drew no major party general election opposition. Reps. Jesue “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago), Jan Schacowsky (D-Evanston), Mary Miller (R-Oakland), and Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) look to have free rides in the general election. Reps. Miller and LaHood also drew no primary opponent.
Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago), running for a 15th term, has five Democratic primary opponents. While the effort against him is serious considering his 2022 renomination percentage was only 51.9, the fact that so many people are on the ballot will split the anti-Davis vote and allow him to win renomination with plurality support. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) sees a primary battle emerging from the party’s 2022 gubernatorial nominee, former state Senator Darren Bailey.
The most competitive general election race looks to be in the Quad Cities area of western Illinois where freshman Rep. Eric Sorensen (D-Moline) is likely to face retired circuit judge Joe McGraw (R).
NY-3: Democrats Want More Time to Pick Nominee: A bit of a political surprise has occurred on Long Island. Yesterday was the planned day that former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) was scheduled to be presented as the party’s special election nominee to replace expelled Rep. George Santos (R). While Nassau County chairman Jay Jacobs has a virtual monopoly on naming the nominee, he says more time is required to consult with party leaders on the county committee, in addition to US House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn), and other prominent Democrats.
Mr. Jacobs, who is also the New York State Democratic Committee chairman, further said that the nomination is not a “lock” for any candidate and that contenders in addition to Mr. Suozzi are being interviewed before the party committee structure. Republicans are going through the same process. Yesterday, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) set the 3rd District special election for February 13th.
NC-10: Rep. Patrick McHenry to Retire: House Financial Services chairman Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman), who is the Speaker Pro Tempore and presided over the election of Speaker Mike Johnson, announced yesterday that he will not seek an 11th term in the House next year. Term-limited in his chairmanship even if the Republicans hold the majority, Mr. McHenry, still only 48 years of age, will end his congressional tenure after 20 years in office.
The McHenry retirement means that 34 seats and counting will be open for the next election. NC-10 should remain safely in Republicans hands (Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a 56.6R – 41.3D partisan lean), so the battle to succeed the retiring Congressman will lie in the Republican primary. The NC primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5th. If no one reaches 30% of the vote, a runoff election will be held on May 14th.
Maryland: Rep. Trone Leads in New Internal Poll: The Trone for Senate campaign released an internal Hickman Analytics survey (11/27-30; 1,000 MD likely Democratic primary voters; live interview) that projects US Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) leading his top primary competitor in the open Senate race, Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks, by a 41-34% spread.
Rep. Trone, who is largely self-financing his own campaign, has already spent more than $10 million on his statewide effort. The Hickman poll sample consisted of 50% white and 42% black voters, which may prove an accurate depiction of the Maryland Democratic primary’s racial composition. On the other hand, the sample was weighted heavily toward females, with women comprising 62% of the respondent base. This number will prove too high. The Maryland primary is scheduled for May 14th.
Ohio: Virtual Three-Way Tie: A new co/efficient poll for the Bernie Moreno (R) Senate campaign finds the Ohio businessman edging ahead of his two Republican opponents, Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Senator Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls). Mr. Moreno has gained support with a new ad tying him to former President Donald Trump. Still, with the overwhelming majority of respondents classifying themselves as Undecided, and the trio of candidates separated by a total of two percentage points, this Republican primary race appears as a pure three-way tie. The Ohio plurality primary is scheduled for March 19th.
NJ-8: Rep. Menendez Gains Endorsement; Fares Poorly in Poll: It appears that freshman New Jersey Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City) is absorbing heavy political baggage from his indicted father, Sen. Bob Menendez (D). While just winning the Hudson County Democratic Party’s endorsement, which houses 72% of the 8th District’s population and translates into a very favorable primary ballot position, a new Change Research poll (11/28-12/1; 762 NJ-8 likely Democratic primary voters; online) suggests Rep. Menendez is in trouble for re-nomination.
According to the Change Research results, Rep. Menendez’s favorability index stands at a poor 17:51% favorable to unfavorable. In a ballot test with his top Democratic primary opponent, Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla who had already raised $400,000 through the end of September, the Congressman posts only a 16-13% edge. Clearly, this primary challenge will be a race to monitor throughout the early cycle. The New Jersey plurality primary is scheduled for June 4th.
NY-16: County Executive Files Congressional Committee: Another hotly contested Democratic primary battle is beginning. Yesterday, Westchester County Executive and former state legislator George Latimer (D) filed a congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission. A formal declaration of candidacy is likely to happen today. Mr. Latimer will be challenging two-term Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) who himself came to office by denying an incumbent renomination. In 2020, Mr. Bowman unseated veteran Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel.
Mr. Latimer has been in elective office consecutively since the beginning of 2005. This includes his time as Westchester County Executive, a state Senator, and a state Assemblyman. He will be able to command financial resources and clearly has a base of support. Westchester County comprises 91% of the 16th Congressional District’s population. Rep. Bowman’s base comes from the African American community, which is a quarter of the resident base but accounts for a far greater percentage in the Democratic primary.
Virginia: An Early Showdown: A year and one-half before the next Virginia gubernatorial primary election, we already have a brewing contest. In mid-November, US Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) announced she would forego re-election to a fourth term in the US House in order to run in the open 2025 Governor’s race. Now, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney has already joined the Democratic primary race with his announcement yesterday.
Since Virginia is the only state in the Union that has a one-term limit for its Governors, incumbent Republican Glenn Youngkin is ineligible to seek re-election, thus guaranteeing an open contest in 2025.
Chris Christie: Fails to Qualify for Maine Ballot: Due in part to a notary clerical error, GOP presidential candidate Chris Christie has failed to qualify for the Maine Super Tuesday primary scheduled for March 5, 2024. It remains to be seen if the Christie campaign attempts to access the ballot via court order. Mr. Christie is the only significant GOP candidate not to meet the Maine ballot qualification requirement of submitting 2,000 valid registered voter petition signatures.
Florida Redistricting: Appeals Court Overturns Map Rejection: A Florida appeals court overturned a lower court ruling that declared the state’s congressional map as an illegal racial gerrymander. This means the ruling that the northern portion of the map be redrawn is nullified. An appeal to the state Supreme Court is likely. Even if the plaintiffs move forward, however, the time for the high panel to hear the complaint could well extend past the April 26th candidate filing deadline. This means the current map now has a relatively strong chance of lasting at least through the 2024 election cycle.
In its ruling, the appellate directive stated, "[T]he constitution cannot demand that all voters are treated equally without regard to race and at the same time demand that voters are treated differently based on race." The plaintiffs want a majority minority district reinstated in northern Florida. In the previous decade a 5th District that stretched from Tallahassee into Jacksonville was drawn to elect an African American Representative.
NY-3: Rep. Santos Expelled: Based upon the House Ethics Committee report about now former Rep. George Santos’ (R-Long Island) alleged unethical and illegal activities, the House on a 311-114 count reached the necessary 2/3 vote of those present and voting to expel the freshman member. A special election will now be called to fill the balance of the term. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will have ten days in which to schedule the vote. According to New York governing parameters, the eligible election days are February 20 or 27th.
Under the Empire State procedure, the affected county party chairmen have the power to nominate their special election standard bearers. Because Nassau County comprises ¾ of the 3rd District, only one individual will effectively select the nominee for the various parties. Since the county chairmen votes are weighted based upon entity population, the Nassau chairman can out-vote the Queens Borough chairman.
The Democrats are apparently going to announce their nominee tomorrow, which will very likely be former Congressman Tom Suozzi. He will be favored in the special general against whomever the Republican chairman chooses. It is less clear what action the Republican chairman will take and when.
Mr. Suozzi represented the 3rd District for three terms beginning in 2017. He did not seek re-election in 2022 because he launched a long shot campaign for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination and was unsuccessful.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates NY-3 as D+4, but Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a more favorable Democratic partisan lean, 56.4D – 42.0R. President Biden posted a 53.6 – 45.4% victory here opposite Donald Trump in 2020. Republicans scored a rebound in 2022, however. Gubernatorial nominee Lee Zeldin carried NY-3 with a 56-44% margin despite losing statewide. The Republicans also saw their Nassau County Executive candidate unseat a Democratic incumbent.
UT-2: New Rep. Maloy Already Challenged: While Utah Rep. Celeste Maloy (R-Cedar City) was just sworn into office last week after winning the November 21st special election, she has already drawn a 2024 Republican primary opponent. Army Reserve Colonel and technology company executive Colby Jenkins (R) declared his congressional candidacy against the new Congresswoman on Friday.
Mr. Jenkins says he will pursue the controversial ruling that awarded Ms. Maloy a ballot position even though she registered to vote after the candidate filing deadline. At this point, Rep. Maloy should be favored for renomination, but it is likely that she will already become embroiled in a new campaign. The Utah state primary is scheduled for June 25th.
House Members: Re-Election Announcements: While we saw a spate of House retirements in November (13), five members on Friday declared for re-election. Reps. Ken Calvert (R-CA), Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA), Chris Smith (R-NJ) second in House seniority and returning to seek a 23rd term, Frank Lucas (R-OK), and Joe Wilson (R-SC) are en masse reversing the retirement trend.
Washington: Sen. Cantwell Easily Leads in New Poll: Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Northwest Progressive Institute (11/14-15; 700 WA likely general election voters; live interview & text) finds Sen. Maria Cantwell (D), running for a fifth six-year term, leading physician and former gubernatorial candidate Raul Garcia (R) by a 51-38% margin. Sen. Cantwell is a clear favorite for re-election in a race that should not become particularly competitive.
The Rundown Blog
Learn more about the candidates running in key elections across the United States.