This weekly roundup of election news and notes is compiled for Thompson Coburn by the The Ellis Insight.
Alabama: Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall (R) stated publicly that he will not enter the open US Senate race in 2022, instead declaring his intention to seek re-election for the office he currently holds. On the other hand, Birmingham area Congresswoman Terri Sewell (D), who has run unopposed in the last four consecutive elections, confirmed that she is considering entering the open 2022 Senate contest. The Republicans expect a crowded field to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), while no Democrat has yet officially come forward to declare a candidacy.
Florida: Three-term US Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) announced yesterday that she is “seriously considering” running for the Senate and 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 prominently 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.
Georgia: Last week, it appeared that former Sen. David Perdue (R) was preparing to challenge Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in 2022 when last November’s special election winner stands for a full six-year term. Saying it is a personal and not a political decision, Mr. Perdue indicated late this week that he will not re-enter the political arena. The former Senator leaves a wide-open Republican nomination battle in his wake, which could include former Sen. Kelly Loeffler, ex-Representative and 2020 Senate candidate Doug Collins, Attorney General Chris Carr, and former US Ambassador Randy Evans, among others.
Ms. Loeffler announced this week that she is forming a Georgia organization to increase voter registration and grassroots activities for right of center voters. She indicates that the organization’s goal is to counter Democrat Stacey Abrams Fair Fight group that took the lead in registering African Americans and left of center voting prospects.
New Hampshire: The University of New Hampshire pollsters released their latest Granite State Poll (2/18-22; 1,861 UNH panel members; 1,676 NH likely general election voters; online; weighted) testing Sen. Maggie Hassan (D) against both Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and former Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R). The numbers gave Gov. Sununu, serving his third two-year term as the state’s chief executive, a 48-46% edge over Sen. Hassan, but the incumbent posts a 48-43% lead over Ms. Ayotte, whom she defeated by a percentage point back in 2016.
Additionally, retired Army General Don Bolduc, who lost the 2020 Senate Republican primary to businessman Corky Messner, 51-43%, says he will again run in 2022 irrespective of who else runs, including Gov. Sununu.
Should the Governor decide to launch a Senate campaign, such a race could quickly become the Republicans’ top national conversion opportunity. It is doubtful that Mr. Sununu and Ms. Ayotte would oppose each other. Should Gov. Sununu run for the Senate, it is more likely that Ms. Ayotte would enter the open Governor’s race.
Pennsylvania: State Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) announced late last week that he will enter the open Democratic primary for the seat from which Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is retiring. Mr. Kenyatta becomes the second official Democratic candidate after Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who has also made public his intention to compete for the seat.
LA-2: There are 15 candidates on the jungle primary ballot attempting to succeed resigned Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) in the March 20th special election, but one contender, state Sen. Troy Carter (D-New Orleans), who already has former Rep. Richmond’s endorsement, attracted an interesting supporter this week. Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee Sheng added her name to Sen. Carter’s endorsement list. What makes her unique is that she a Republican, meaning cross-party confirmation.
While Ms. Sheng may not help Sen. Carter in a typical Democratic primary, the jungle primary where all voters participate, is a different story. This could be a particularly significant support development if Sen. Carter advances to a runoff election with another Democrat, which is a likely scenario.
NC-11: 2020 Democratic congressional nominee Moe Davis, a retired US Air Force Colonel who lost to freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) 54-42% and announced late last month that he is seeking a re-match, now has company in the future Democratic primary. Yesterday, Iraq War veteran and state Representative nominee Josh Remillard announced that he plans to run for Congress in 2022, as well. The 2020 race became competitive, but Rep. Cawthorn ended with a substantial win and far better than analysts had predicted.
OH-16: Former White House aide and Trump campaign operative Max Miller announced that he will oppose Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River/Wadsworth) in next year’s Republican congressional primary. Mr. Gonzalez, a five-year NFL football player for the Indianapolis Colts after a star career at Ohio State University, is serving his second congressional term and one of ten House Republicans to vote for then-President Trump’s second impeachment. With a spate of these members already getting announced opponents, it would not be surprising to see all of them battle in Republican nomination contests next year.
TX-6: Susan Wright, widow of recently deceased Texas US Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington), as expected announced this week that she will run to succeed her late husband. She begins the race as the favorite to win. Two Democrats also made their candidacies official: businesswoman and non-profit organization founder Lydia Bean and real estate developer Matt Hinterlong, joining previously declared candidates Jana Lynne Sanchez, the 2018 Democratic congressional nominee, and local school district official Shawn Lassiter.
Several other Republicans are also running. Freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) announced that he has filed a congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission, and former Trump Administration Small Business Association official Sery Kim (R) also confirmed her candidacy. Previously, businessman and Iraq War veteran Mike Egan, and movie producer Monty Markland had declared their intentions to run.
Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has scheduled the jungle primary for May 1st. If no candidate receives majority support, the Governor will then schedule the runoff election once the top two finishers become known.
UT-4: Former Rep. Ben McAdams (D) confirmed late last week that he is considering seeking a re-match with freshman Rep. Burgess Owens (R-Salt Lake City). In November, Mr. McAdams lost to his Republican opponent in a close 48-47% margin, meaning a vote deficit of only 3,765 votes from more than 376,000 ballots cast. The former Congressman was quoted as saying that Rep. Owens should have a chance to succeed before any campaign decisions are made, and “as a Utahn and American, I want him to be successful.”
Florida: Orlando area state Senator Randolph Bracy (D) is testing the waters about entering the 2022 Governor’s race. Mr. Bracy was first elected to the state Senate in 2016 after serving two terms in the Florida House of Representatives.
Should he enter the race, the state legislator will possibly face primary competition from State Agriculture & Consumer Affairs Commissioner Nikki Fried, Florida’s only Democratic statewide official, US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) who previously served one term as Governor when a member of the Republican Party, and state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami). Ms. Taddeo was Mr. Crist’s running mate when he ran unsuccessfully for Governor under the Democratic ballot line against then-incumbent Rick Scott (R) in 2014.
Illinois: State Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville/ southeastern Illinois), an outspoken opponent of the Illinois pandemic shutdown requirements, announced that he will enter the Republican gubernatorial primary next year. The chances of any Republican ousting Gov. J.B Pritzker (D) are slim, and while Sen. Bailey may have the opportunity of doing well in the GOP primary, he appears to face a very uphill climb in the general election.
New York: It has been reported that Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) is seriously considering initiating a campaign for Governor next year. Now, other delegation names have popped up, including Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) and Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville), neither of whom are closing the door on such a race. With Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) having problems on the nursing home and MeToo front, the 2022 NY Governor’s race could yield a much different campaign than what we’ve seen in the recent past.
Virginia: Virginia is unique in that the nominating system for each party can internally change at will. Republicans have been in a major fight over whether to hold a nominating convention or a straight primary for the 2021 elections. Now, they have decided on a compromise. A “drive-through” convention to nominate its candidate for Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General will be held at Liberty University on Saturday, May 8th, if the school authorities agree. Delegates from around the state are expected to drive to Lynchburg and drop off their ballots.
For a minority party that is losing support in a state, this type of system appears a disincentive toward encouraging new supporters to participate. The eventual nominee will begin in a clear underdog position to the likely Democratic nominee, former Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe. The major Republican candidates are former State House Speaker Kirk Cox, businessmen Pete Snyder, Paul Davis, and Glenn Youngkin, along with state Sen. Amanda Chase (R-Midlothian).
Wisconsin: Several names of potential 2022 gubernatorial candidates are being bandied about in Badger State Republican circles, meaning the GOP will likely have a strong opponent for Gov. Tony Evers (D) who will presumably seek a second term next year. Among the potential entries are former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, ex-Republican National Committee chairman and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay), and former Rep. Sean Duffy.
It is also presumed, should Sen. Ron Johnson (R) decide not to seek re-election, that many of these individuals would decide to enter an open Senate campaign instead of challenging an incumbent Democratic Governor.
Cincinnati: Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (D) is ineligible to seek re-election in the May 4th non-partisan primary, and nine contenders had filed to run. The list was reduced to eight this week, however, as City Councilman Wendell Young was disqualified because he submitted an inadequate number of valid petition signatures.
New York City: Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D), who many believed would enter the race to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), said this week that she will not. The field of candidates is already large, ten announced contenders, with at least four in strong position.
At this point, former presidential candidate Andrew Yang, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan appear to comprise the top tier of candidates. The Democratic primary, which is thought to be tantamount to winning the office in the November general election, is scheduled for June 22nd.