North Carolina: Filing Deadline Approaching; New Announcements: The North Carolina congressional campaigns have been active this week, largely because the December 15th candidate filing deadline is fast approaching and members and challengers need to make final decisions about whether their names will be placed on the ballot next year.
Yesterday, saw two announcements. One of the better Republican challenger candidates, state Rep. Erin Pare (R-Holly Springs), who previously announced a congressional bid against US Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary), has decided not to enter the federal race. Instead, she will run for re-election to the state House of Representatives. Ms. Pare is indicating her decision is for family reasons, but 2023 redistricting while making the 13th District much more Republican is no longer geographically favorable to Rep. Pare. The eventual GOP nominee here will be favored to unseat Rep. Nickel in November.
In western North Carolina, Democratic state Rep. Caleb Rudow (D-Asheville) declared his challenge to freshman Rep. Chuck Edwards (R-Flat Rock) in a new 11th District where the 2020 electorate voted 55-44% for former President Trump according to the Daily Kos Elections site statisticians. You will remember that Rep. Edwards is the Republican candidate who denied then-Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) renomination in the 2022 campaign. Though Mr. Rudow is a credible Democratic contender, Rep. Edwards will be heavily favored to retain the seat in the next election.
OH-6: No Special Election to Replace Rep. Johnson: Last week, Ohio US Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) announced that he will leave Congress in March to become president of Youngstown State University. Since Mr. Johnson is leaving the House after the 2024 candidate filing deadline (December 20, 2023), Ohio election procedure indicates there will be no special election to fill the balance of the term. This means the March 19th plurality primary will likely decide Mr. Johnson’s successor within a crowded field of Republican candidates.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates OH-6 as R+31, and former President Trump carried the seat with a strong 64-37% margin in 2020. Therefore, count on the GOP to easily hold the district in the 2024 general election.
Assuming New York US Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island) is soon expelled, and former Rep. Tom Suozzi (D) wins the special election to replace him as expected, the Republican majority after next March will shrink to 220-214. Therefore, the already close House will soon become even tighter.
OH-9: 42-Year Incumbent Dem to Run Again: US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), initially elected in 1982, officially confirmed that she will file to seek a 22nd term. The Ohio candidate filing deadline is December 20th for the March 19th primary, so candidates and challengers in this state, too, are entering the time frame where career decisions must be made.
Though the 9th District favors the Republicans by an average of six percentage points, Rep. Kaptur posted a 57-43% victory margin last November against a weak Republican candidate. With former state Rep. Chris Riedel expected to prevail in the 2024 GOP primary, Rep. Kaptur will face a more difficult re-election campaign. The Congresswoman ranks fourth in US House seniority, and she is the second-longest serving Democrat behind only former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD).
Houston: Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Trails in New Mayoral Poll: Survey USA conducted a poll for the University of Houston pertaining to Texas’ largest city’s mayoral campaign (11/13-18; 1,120 Houston adults; 971 registered voters; 805 likely voters; multiple sampling techniques) as we approach the December 9th runoff election. The ballot test is breaking 42-35% in favor of state Senator John Whitmire (D-Houston), the second-longest serving member of the Texas legislature having been initially elected in 1972. US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston), who qualified in second place for the runoff, continues to trail Mr. Whitmire as the campaign begins to conclude.
According to the S-USA poll, crime is the overwhelming issue of concern. From the tested respondent pool a whopping 63% say they don’t feel safe walking around the city during the day.
Michigan: Democratic Senate Candidate Switches Races: Michigan State Board of Education president Pamela Pugh, who was facing an uphill Democratic US Senate primary against US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing), yesterday exited the statewide campaign and declared for the now open 8th Congressional District race. Last week, six-term US Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley (D), a former state Representative, is also expected to join the party primary.
The 8th District is politically marginal. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+1, but Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 51.0D - 46.1R. President Biden carried the district with a slight 50.3 – 48.2% margin. Therefore, both parties can expect to see competitive nomination battles and a toss-up general election.
New Mexico: State Supreme Court Rejects GOP Redistricting Appeal: The New Mexico state Supreme Court unsurprisingly unanimously upheld a lower court ruling that concluded the state’s congressional map did not constitute and “egregious gerrymander.” Therefore, the current map will stand for the remainder of the decade.
The courts sited the closeness of the 2022 District 2 election that saw Democratic local official Gabe Vasquez unseat freshman Republican Rep. Yvette Herrell by less than a percentage point (1,350 votes) from just under 193,000 cast ballots. Ms. Herrell is returning for a rematch next year, which is again expected to be close.
NY-26: One Man May Pick the Next Congressman: With ten-term Rep. Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo) announcing that he will resign during the first week of February to run a civic organization back in Buffalo, speculation is turning as to who will replace the outgoing Congressman. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) will calendar a special election after the resignation is official, and then the party county chairmen will choose their nominees.
New York’s 26th District is comprised of parts of two counties, Erie and Niagara, and since the district is heavily Democratic (FiveThirtyEight rates the seat as D+18; the Daily Kos Elections site ranks NY-26 as the 78th most vulnerable seat within the Democratic Conference), one man will effectively have the power of anointing the next Congressman.
Since 80% of the district lies in Erie County, that county’s Democratic Party chairman will have a greater weighted say than the Niagara County chair. Odds appear strong that chairman Jeremy Zellner will choose Eric County Executive Mark Poloncarz as the party nominee. Mr. Poloncarz will then easily win the succeeding special election.
Morning Consult: New Approval Ratings Rank Governors Highly: Morning Consult released their quarterly report on the nation’s Governors yesterday, and again we see almost all state chief executives posting strong job approval ratios. As has been the case for the past couple of years, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) and Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) have the strongest ratings at 84:13% and 74:16% positive to negative, respectively.
All but seven Governors reached at least the 50% approval mark and only one, Mississippi’s Tate Reeves (R), was upside-down with a 45:46% index. Yet, he was just re-elected to a second four-year term at the beginning of the month.
The top ten highly rated Governors are: Messrs. Scott and Gordon, and Govs. Josh Green (D-HI), Chris Sununu (R-NH), Kay Ivey (R-AL), Kristi Noem (R-SD), Jared Polis (D-CO), Ned Lamont (D-CT), Jim Justice (R-WV), and Spencer Cox (R-UT). Those with the poorest ratings are Mr. Reeves, and Govs. Tina Kotek (D-OR), Kim Reynolds (R-IA), John Bel Edwards (D-LA), Katie Hobbs (D-AZ), Jay Inslee (D-WA), Dan McKee (D-RI), Tony Evers (D-WI), Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM), and Mike Parson (R-MO).
West Virginia: Gov. Justice Records Strong Primary Lead: American Pulse, surveying for WMOV radio (11/13-14; 414 WV likely Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Gov. Jim Justice developing a commanding lead over US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) in a just-released poll that was conducted in mid-November. This data shows Gov. Justice with a huge 56-20% lead over Rep. Mooney in a primary race that is now likely to determine the state’s next US Senator. The race drastically changed when Sen. Joe Manchin (D) announced he would not seek re-election. At this point, Democrats do not have a credible announced candidate.
MN-3: Rep. Dean Phillips Won’t Seek Re-Election: Three-term Minnesota US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth), who is challenging President Biden for the national Democratic nomination, announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election to the House next year. Mr. Phillips, saying again running for Congress would be “both unproductive and uncomfortable,” while indicating that it is “time to pass the torch” in terms of representing Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District.
Rep. Phillips was already facing a Democratic primary challenge due to his move against President Biden. Democratic National Committee member Ron Harris announced for the House seat immediately upon the Congressman declaring his presidential candidacy. Several weeks later, state Sen. Kelly Morrison (D-Deephaven) followed suit. We can expect a crowded and contested Democratic nominating convention along with a likely August 13th primary campaign.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MN-3 as D+14. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 63rd most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference. Republicans will likely make an effort here, but the eventual Democratic nominee will begin as a clear favorite to win the general election.
TX-26: Former Majority Leader’s Son to Try Again: When Texas US Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Pilot Point/Denton) first won his House seat in 2002, he defeated Scott Armey in a Republican runoff. Mr. Armey, then the Denton County Judge (Executive), is the son of former House Majority Leader Dick Armey who he was attempting to succeed. With Mr. Burgess last week announcing his retirement after serving what will be 22 years in the House, Mr. Armey again declared his candidacy for the seat during the Thanksgiving break.
The 26th District is solidly Republican (538: R+26; Daily Kos Elections Rank: 96th safest Republican seat) so Rep. Burgess’ successor will almost assuredly be decided in a Republican nomination process that will likely include a May 28th runoff after the March 5th primary. At this point, six Republicans have declared for the seat but so far the field of candidates features no sitting elected official.
West Virginia: Morrisey Back in Front: The aforementioned American Pulse poll for WMOV radio (see West Virginia Senate above) also tested the Republican sampling universe for the open gubernatorial primary. With Gov. Jim Justice moving into the Senate race, the May 14th GOP primary will very likely decide who will succeed Mr. Justice.
Rebounding from an August MetroNews poll that showed him trailing, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has assumed the lead according to the American Pulse results. In this study, Mr. Morrisey, twice elected as AG, leads state Delegate Moore Capito, son of US Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R), 31-23%. Secretary of State Mac Warner posts 14% in third position with businessman Chris Miller, son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington), at 10 percent. While Mr. Morrisey has a clear advantage, this poll suggests the race could evolve into a four-way battle as the primary date gets closer.
CA-16: Rep. Anna Eshoo to Retire: Veteran California US Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Atherton) announced yesterday that she will conclude her congressional career at the end of the current Congress. Rep. Eshoo, first elected in 1992, is completing her 16th term.
Rep. Eshoo might have faced a serious Democratic intra-party challenge. Santa Clara Supervisor and former state Senator Joe Smitian (D) was close to announcing his congressional effort. Upon Rep. Eshoo’s announcement, speculation is circulating that state Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Cupertino) will quickly announce his intention to run for Congress.
The FiveThirtyEight organization rates the seat as D+49. It is likely that we will see two Democrats emerge from the March 5th jungle primary and advance into the general election. Ms. Eshoo is the sixth House Californian not to seek re-election in this political cycle.
MI-8: Rep. Dan Kildee Won’t Seek Re-Election: The cavalcade of retirements continues, and one of the latest involves Michigan. Six-term Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) also announced yesterday that he will not run again. This move is a bit of a surprise, though the Congressman did experience a cancer-related health scare before the previous election.
Unlike most of the other open seats, Michigan’s 8th CD will be hotly contested. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat R+1, though Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean in the Democrats’ favor, 51.0D-46.2R. President Biden carried the seat in 2020 with a slight 50.3 – 48.2% victory margin. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the seat as the 11th most vulnerable in the Democratic Conference.
OH-6: Rep. Bill Johnson Accepts: Eastern Ohio GOP Congressman Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) announced yesterday that he will accept the offer from Youngstown State University to become the institution’s president. Mr. Johnson had sent a release earlier in the week indicating that he had received an offer from the Board of Trustees to accept the University’s top position.
It is likely that Rep. Johnson will resign the seat before the term ends, and he certainly will not be on the ballot in the 2024 regular election. We can expect a crowded Republican primary field to form in order to battle for the Republican nomination in Ohio’s March 19th election.
The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+31. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks OH-6 as the 82nd safest seat in the Republican Conference. With Mr. Johnson leaving and the UT-2 seat being filled, we see 32 open seats on the election board, 20 from the Democratic side as compared to 11 Republican-held districts. One open seat was created from the new Alabama redistricting map.
UT-2: Republican Maloy Wins Special Election: Republican Celeste Maloy was declared the victor in the Utah 2nd Congressional District special election early in the evening last night as she recorded an unofficial 58-34% victory, performing almost exactly as the district’s vote history would have projected.
While Democrat Kathleen Riebe, an area state Senator, easily won Salt Lake County with almost 2/3 of the vote, Ms. Maloy, the former legal counsel to resigned Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington), claimed each of the district’s 12 other counties with percentages between 59 and 90% of the cast ballots.
With Democrat Gabe Amo’s special election victory earlier in the month from Rhode Island, the House now returns to its full compliment of 435 members for the first time since June 1st. Last night’s Republican victory in Utah restores the House to its partisan divide of 222 Republicans and 213 Democrats.
Michigan: Toss-Up New Poll: Regular Michigan pollster EPIC-MRA, conducting another survey for the Detroit Free Press newspaper (11/10-16; 600 MI likely general election voters) again sees a close US Senate general election. The eventual winner will succeed Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) who is retiring after four terms.
While the presidential ballot test finds former President Trump leading President Biden 46-41%, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley posting an eleven point advantage against the incumbent, US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) still maintains a small margin over both leading Republicans, former Congressman Mike Rogers and retired Detroit Police Chief James Crag. Against each, Ms. Slotkin holds a two-point edge, meaning the open Michigan Senate race could soon be rated as a top tier 2024 campaign.
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