In an open Senate race that so far has more people declaring they are not running as opposed to those who want to enter the race, Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth (R) said yesterday that he will not run for the Senate emphasizing his role in state politics. Previously, Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Haleyville) also said they will not run for the Senate. Veteran Sen. Richard Shelby (R) has already announced that he will not seek a seventh term next year.
In relation to the CPAC event, Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R) made a statement that, “Nebraska is a lot Trumpier than I am. But, I got a lot more votes than he did.” While true that Sen. Sasse’s vote total in 2020 was larger than President Trump’s in the state, it is important to note that the Democratic Senate nominee was virtually purged by his own party leadership. Due to MeToo allegations, the Nebraska Democratic Party formally went on record asking their nominated candidate, Chris Janicek, to withdraw from the race so they could choose a replacement. He refused.
Considering the state party was actively campaigning against the Democratic candidate, it is little wonder that Sen. Sasse scored such a large victory. It is unclear what would have been the result had the Democrats actually contested his re-election.
Wisconsin Congressman Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) was first elected to the House in 1996, and many times has flirted with running for higher office but never pulled the trigger. He now confirms that he is considering entering the 2022 Senate race, but this political situation is murky. Sen. Ron Johnson (R) confirmed again over the weekend that he has not yet made a decision about whether or not to seek re-election.
The chances of Rep. Kind now running statewide are enhanced because his southwestern Wisconsin congressional district is becoming more competitive. In 2020, the Congressman’s re-election percentage dropped to 51.3%, and former President Trump carried the seat by approximately five percentage points in both of his national campaigns.
In a Fox News interview at the CPAC conference, Ohio Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Troy) confirmed that he is not only considering entering the open US Senate race next year but is contemplating a Republican nomination challenge to Gov. Mike DeWine (R). Mr. Davidson, who won a crowded special election in 2016 to replace resigned House Speaker John Boehner (R), has recorded three more easy victories in his western Ohio congressional district.
Rep. Davidson cited Gov. DeWine’s “overbearing” approach to the COVID-19 restrictions, saying that he should have adopted more open policies closer to that of Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).
Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced that he will not call a special election in Boston once Mayor Marty Walsh (D) is confirmed as US Labor Secretary. Citing the fact that an open regular election is already scheduled in September, the time frame of the eventual winner’s service would be too short to justify the expense of an additional primary and runoff election series. That being the case, City Council President Kim Janey (D) will serve as interim Mayor once Mr. Walsh leaves the post to assume his federal position.
Ms. Janey is not yet an announced Mayoral candidate, but speculation suggests that she will enter the race later in the year. Becoming the interim Mayor will certainly help her ability to win election in her own right.
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) has a history of considering statewide office and then retreating to his House seat, and his typical political decision-making process may be beginning again. Last month, he indicated that he would launch his impending US Senate campaign in March, but now we see equivocation. The Congressman told a Spectrum News reporter that, “we’ll make a decision here, I guess, in the coming weeks. I don’t think a March kickoff is going to happen.”
The cavalcade of candidates seeking to replace the late Texas Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) continues. The latest to join the field are former Health & Human Services Department official and George W. Bush White House aide Brian Harrison (R) and Democratic attorney Tammy Holloway. Currently, we see seven Republicans and six Democrats as announced candidates. Therefore, the idea that Mr. Wright’s widow, Susan Wright, entering the race would freeze the field, has not happened.
There is, however, only one sitting elected official in the race: freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). Mr. Ellzey ran for the open congressional seat in 2018, and forced Mr. Wright, then the Tarrant County Tax Assessor, into a runoff. He would then come within just under 1,100 votes of winning the race.
The special election, which will be in jungle primary format, is now officially scheduled for May 1st. With the large number of candidates declaring, it’s less likely to see any one contender claiming majority support in the first election. Under Texas special election law, the runoff contest featuring the top two finishers is not scheduled until the first election is complete and the need for a secondary vote becomes official. Such a runoff will eventually occur in late June or early July.
California Democrats are beginning to rally around Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) as he looks to be soon facing a recall election. State Treasurer Fiona Ma (D) made her intention clear at the end of the week that she would not run in the recall substitution election and remains a part of “Team Gavin.”
Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took a different approach with a Politico reporter saying, “In the middle of the worst pandemic in 100 years, the last thing I’m thinking about is politics.” Such a response isn’t quite the same as ruling out a gubernatorial race, so he is certainly a person to watch as the recall qualification deadline draws near. All petition signatures are due on March 17th.
Former Acting US Intelligence Director Ric Grenell (R) is making noises suggesting he will enter the substitute election field. Republicans already have two candidates, 2018 gubernatorial jungle primary finalist John Cox, and former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. Mr. Grenell also entering the race diminishes the party’s chance of winning a substitute election should Gov. Newsom be recalled. The Governor could be in trouble, however, if a credible Democrat such as Mr. Villaraigosa eventually decides to run.
Reports are coming from Michigan that defeated 2018 congressional candidate and businesswoman Lena Epstein (R) is considering declaring her gubernatorial candidacy in hopes of facing incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D). Ms. Epstein was state co-chair of the 2016 Trump for President campaign and lost an open Republican congressional district two years later to current Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills/ Livonia), 52-45%. In November, Republican Eric Esshaki held the Congresswoman to a tighter 50-48% victory margin. Only businessman Austin Chenge is a declared Republican gubernatorial candidate at this early point in the election cycle.
Three-term Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) announced yesterday that she is “seriously considering” running for the Senate and is embarking on a “listening tour” throughout the state. The interesting part of her statement, however, reveals that she is looking at both the 2022 election against Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and the 2024 contest against Sen. Rick Scott (R).
Furthermore, her announcement made no mention of the Governor’s race, though she had been mentioned as a possible candidate. This is likely because Florida’s only Democratic statewide elected official, Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Commissioner Nikki Fried, is making serious moves to enter the Governor’s campaign.
The Rundown Blog
Learn more about the candidates who will support a pro-jobs America.