All of the best for a wonderful holiday season. The Rundown will return in the new year on January 2nd. Thank you for your loyal support.
Democratic leaders nationally and in Iowa are making it clear that they would like to recruit former Governor and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) into the Senate race in order to challenge first-term incumbent Joni Ernst (R). The former Governor and cabinet secretary, however, was vague when asked about his intentions, if not incomprehensible. As reported in many places, Mr. Vilsack responded that, “the door’s not open, closed, shut. I don’t even know where the door is.” It appears apparent that Mr. Vilsack, who was last on the Iowa ballot in 2002, is less than committed to making another statewide run.
2018 Democratic nominee Kara Eastman, who held Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha) to a 51-49% victory margin, says she will run again in the next election cycle. Ms. Eastman upset former US Representative and ex-state Senator Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) in the 2018 Democratic primary to advance into the general election.
Though Mr. Ashford is an unlikely 2020 candidate, his wife, Ann Ferlic Ashford, confirms that she is seriously considering entering the race. Should this occur, a re-match of sorts would be decided before the main rerun is even held. Nebraska’s 2nd District is politically marginal, so we can expect this contest to again be competitive.
The Democratic National Committee has already announced their plan for the presidential debate series coming in 2019 and 2020. The program will feature a dozen candidate debates, six in mid to late 2019, with the remaining forums to be scheduled before the key 2020 primaries.
Changing the Republicans’ approach of 2016 where they divided a large candidate field by poll standing, relegating the weakest candidates to their own debate that quickly was coined a “junior varsity” assembly, DNC chairman Tom Perez said that the “double-header” term would be a better description of their format. Each city hosting a debate will have programs on successive nights. The fields will be determined through drawing lots to determine which candidates will appear on the first night, and who would participate on the second evening.
The 2019 debates will precede the early primaries and caucuses and could possibly include California because the state’s early voting process will begin simultaneously with the earliest events in Iowa and New Hampshire.
Immediately quelling some very early retirement rumors, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) announced yesterday that he is definitely running for re-election in 2020. Mr. Cooper was elected to the 5th District in 2002, when then-incumbent Bob Clement (D-Nashville) ran unsuccessfully for Senate.
Jim Cooper was originally elected to Congress in 1982, when he won the 4th District seat after then-Rep. Al Gore (D) was re-districted into the new 6th CD. After serving six terms, Mr. Cooper ran for US Senate in 1994 but lost to the late Fred Thompson (R). Rep. Cooper has had little trouble winning re-election from the 5th District, one of only two solidly Democratic seats in Tennessee. He will again be a heavy favorite in 2020.
Yesterday, Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert (R) confirmed that he is considering running for the 1st Congressional District seat that Democrat Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) wrestled away from the Republicans last month.
State Rep. Katie Arrington (R), who lost to Cunningham after denying Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) re-nomination and was then involved in a serious automobile accident that landed her in the hospital for an extended stay, is likely to run again and Mr. Covert was already drawing a distinction between he and the 2018 nominee over the important off-shore oil drilling issue that was a large reason for Cunningham’s upset victory. Additionally, Rep. Sanford has yet to confirm or deny any interest in running again.
Dave Giles, a former congressional candidate in 2016 and ’18, apparently will enter the next Arizona election campaign, too. Even though Rep-Elect Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) is not yet even sworn into office after his 61-39% victory over Dr. Steve Ferrara (R) in the Phoenix-anchored 9th District, Mr. Giles is announcing that he will again enter the next GOP primary field. Regardless of who the Republicans nominate, Mr. Stanton will begin his first re-election race as a prohibitive favorite.
Moving east, New Mexico state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) looks to be taking steps to seek a re-match against the woman who defeated her 51-49% in November, attorney and now Rep-Elect Xochitl Torres-Small (D). Though Ms. Herrell is still considering filing a lawsuit over potential voting irregularities in Dona Ana County, she is “not ruling out” another congressional run in 2020.
Outgoing Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), who just lost the Governor’s race but was subsequently elected as the New Mexico Republican Party chairman, is also not closing the door on a second comeback for the seat he vacated to run statewide in both 2008 and 2018.
Four-term Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) has officially formed an exploratory committee to test his viability in the open 2020 Mayor’s race. Before being elected to Congress, Mr. Peters was President of the San Diego City Council. The Congressman said he will decide about running for the city post in the “next few months.” He can expect major competition from both Republicans and Democrats as a number of strong candidates are expected to vie for the office.
Incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. The 52nd District was a politically marginal seat when Mr. Peters first won in 2012, and again in 2014, but he has since racked up strong re-election percentages. As an open seat, however, this again could become battleground territory particularly if Mayor Faulconer would decide to become a congressional candidate.
Though the South Carolina primary is one of the first four nominating events in the presidential cycle and commonly known as the “First in the South” primary, the Republicans may not schedule this voting event in 2020.
Doing so would not be unprecedented. The state Republican Party followed a similar course in 2004 to ensure that President George W. Bush had no impediment to obtaining unified support from the South Carolina delegation. Because of President Trump’s demonstrated strength in this state, party leaders are considering again following such a course. In any event, the Democratic primary will definitely be held and likely scheduled for February 29th.
Sen. Pat Roberts (R), at 82 years of age is a clear retirement prospect particularly after a difficult 2014 re-election campaign, is already drawing a probable 2020 Democratic challenger. Former US Attorney Barry Grissom (D) again reiterated that he is seriously considering entering the Senate campaign in the next cycle. Sen. Roberts has not yet committed to seeking re-election.
Kansas just elected a Democratic Governor, which is not particularly unusual even for this heavily Republican state. Still, though Laura Kelly was elected Governor, her victory percentage was only 48%. Thus, beating a Republican in Kansas during a presidential election year will be no easy feat.
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