A new Emerson College survey (3/25-27; 687 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview, interactive voice response, text & online) confirms what we saw from the Cygnal research group last week. That is, retired “Black Hawk Down” pilot and Alabama businessman Mike Durant leading former Business Council of Alabama president & CEO Katie Britt, with US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) falling well behind.
The new Emerson numbers find Durant leading Britt and Brooks, 33-23-12%. The previous Cygnal poll pegged the race at 35-28-16% in the same candidate order. Both studies suggest, at this point in time, that Mr. Durant and Ms. Britt will advance to a secondary runoff election. The Alabama primary is May 24th. If no one receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to the August 23rd runoff election. The eventual Republican nominee becomes a prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R) who is leaving office after serving what will be 36 years in the Senate.
The open new downtown Detroit district features a crowded Democratic primary in what the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as a D+46 seat. John Conyers III, son of long-time Congressman John Conyers who passed away in 2019 after serving 52 years in the House, recently entered the race and actually leads the field according to a new Public Policy Polling survey (3/21-22; 463 MI-13 likely Democratic primary voters).
Mr. Conyers pulls 19% preference, well ahead of former Detroit City Councilwoman Sheila McPhail’s 9% and state Rep. Shri Thaneder’s (D-Detroit) 7%. The other six candidates trail with 6% and less. The Michigan primary is scheduled for August 2nd, so this is the first preliminary poll we have seen of the race. This seat became open when Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) announced her retirement and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) decided to seek re-election in the new 12th CD.
Though the new congressional lines have not yet been adopted in Missouri, candidates still filed to run in districts with the current boundaries. In the downtown St. Louis anchored seat that freshman Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) won in 2020 when she ousted veteran Rep. Lacy Clay (D) in the Democratic primary, state Senator and former state Representative Steven Roberts (D-St. Louis) announced that he will challenge the Congresswoman, wanting to move closer to the political center than does Ms. Bush, one of the Socialist Democrats elected in the last two elections. This will be a credible challenge, and though Rep. Bush has the initial advantage, the August 2nd primary will likely turn into a political battle to watch.
Taking steps that the Louisiana legislature hasn’t done in almost two decades and for only the third time in history, the state Senate joined the Louisiana House in voting to override Gov. John Bel Edwards’ (D) veto of the new congressional map. The plan largely keeps the 5R-1D delegation split intact, with little change from the current map.
Gov. Edwards vetoed the bill saying that a second black district can be drawn in the area in and around the major population centers of New Orleans and the capital city of Baton Rouge. The override means the new map becomes law, but lawsuits can certainly be filed against the plan. Until such is done and a court strikes the map down, the Louisiana 2022 redistricting cycle is completed.
The only outstanding states in drawing new congressional lines now that Louisiana is done are Florida, Missouri, and New Hampshire. A total of 397 of the 435 districts have now been completed, all pending legal action.
Former St. Louis area state Senator Scott Sifton (D), who had been one of the top two contenders for the Democratic US Senate nomination, surprisingly exited the race just before yesterday’s candidate filing deadline and instead endorsed newcomer Trudy Busch Valentine. The Senate seat is open because incumbent Roy Blunt (R) is retiring. Ms. Valentine is the daughter of the late beer magnate, August Busch, Jr. The other top Democratic candidate appears to be Iraq War veteran Lance Kunce. Republicans are favored to hold the seat in the general election.
As he promised, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) vetoed the legislature’s congressional map as soon as it hit his desk because the draw did not change northern Florida’s minority district. The Governor says the legislature’s map violates the Voting Rights Act, in that the statute is interpreted incorrectly. US Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee), who represents the district in question, and many others dispute the Governor’s reading of the Act.
The legislative leaders will not attempt to override the Governor’s veto and will instead proceed to a special redistricting session that will occur during the April 19-22 period. Under the legislature’s vetoed plan, Republicans would likely have increased their share of the Florida delegation from the current 16R-11D division to 18R-10D when including the new seat that the state earned through national reapportionment. The map Gov. DeSantis favors could push the GOP total to 20 favorable seats.
The Maryland legislature looks to be complying with the state judge’s schedule to return to the court a less partisan map by today’s deadline. Senior Judge Lynne Battaglia last week struck down Maryland’s new congressional map as an “impermissible partisan gerrymander.”
A bill expected to quickly clear the state House would restore Rep. Andy Harris’ (R-Cockeysville) Eastern Shore 1st District as safely Republican, while also making Rep. David Trone’s (D-Potomac) 6th CD less Democratic. Even the new map, if approved, would likely yield a 7D-1R delegation split. Should the state appeal Judge Battaglia’s original ruling and be successful at a higher court, the rejected map would return. The Maryland Attorney General has not yet committed to appealing the judge’s original decision.
The Missouri Senate appeared to have derailed the effort of some Republican members who were holding out to make a 7R-1D map by altering Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver’s (D-Kansas City) 5th District. Instead, the Senators passed a plan that keeps the 6R-2D split. Yesterday, the House rejected the new Senate version. Therefore, the impasse between the two GOP factions continues. The delays could mean a federal court would draw the eventual Missouri map, which is more likely to result in an even less friendly Republican plan.
It appears the legislature-passed congressional map will be used for the 2022 election. Last week the state Supreme Court indicated that it could not hear complaints against the new map because a final ruling was issued when rejecting the original plan. The court informed the Democratic plaintiffs that they would have to file a new lawsuit. They did so, but the briefing schedule has been set for a period two months after the state’s May 3rd primary. Therefore, the new congressional map looks to remain in place for 2022.
A second set of state legislative district maps were previously struck down and now a second primary will be held for the state House and Senate offices. The lawsuit against the congressional map could well move forward, but any changes resulting from the action would likely mean a new draw for the 2024 election. After a string of favorable congressional map court rulings for Democrats, the lack of further judicial action in Ohio looks to favor the Republicans, at least for the short term.
The lone announced Democratic US Senate candidate, state Senator Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage), issued a statement on Friday that she is not now entering the statewide race, and instead will seek re-election to the legislature. Ms. Gray-Jackson’s departure leaves the Democrats without a Senate candidate under a system where at least one Democrat would be all but certain to qualify for the general election under the state’s new top-four primary system.
It was thought that 2020 nominee Al Gross, who raised almost $20 million for his previous campaign would eventually enter the race, but he chose to join the at-large open US House field. The candidate filing deadline is June 1st for the August 16th primary election, so party officials clearly have remaining time to recruit a candidate.
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