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Appointment Surprises & Former Members Reemerge

April 30, 2021

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Key Takeaways

  • GA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Doug Collins (R) Won’t Run
  • OH-Sen: Rep. Tim Ryan (D) Announces for Senate
  • National Apportionment: Only Seven Seats Switch States
  • LA-2: State Senator Troy Carter (D) Wins Special Congressional Election
  • Montana: Recall Election for Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) Qualifies
  • CA-Gov: Washington, DC Statehood Bill Passes House
  • VA-Gov: Ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe Hold Big Dem Primary Lead

Senate

Georgia: A surprising announcement came this week from Georgia. Former US Representative and 2020 US Senate candidate Doug Collins (R), widely believed to again become a Senate candidate, said that he will not run for any office in 2022. Mr. Collins did not rule out again running for public office in the future, however. This could open the door for Georgia football legend Herschel Walker (R) to join the race. 

State Attorney General Chris Carr (R), who had also been considered a potential US Senate, said that he will run for re-election to his current position. Should Mr. Walker decline to run, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler/Savannah) has indicated a desire to become a Senate candidate. Sen. Raphael Warnock (D), who won the 2020 special election, will stand for a full six-year term in 2022.

North Carolina: Both former North Carolina state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D), who lost her position in the 2020 election by just 401 votes statewide, and US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) this week announced for the state’s open US Senate race. Ms. Beasley becomes the tenth Democrat to enter the race, but the only one who has ever been elected statewide. At this point, her most serious Democratic opponent appears to be state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte). Rep. Budd faces former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-US Rep. Mark Walker in the Republican primary. Sen. Richard Burr (R) is retiring.

Ohio: As expected, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) officially announced that he will run for his state’s open US Senate seat next year. Mr. Ryan, first elected to the House in 2002, also briefly ran for President in the 2020 election cycle. With other prominent Democrats opting not to run, it appears the Congressman has a clear shot at the party nomination. He will face a strong Republican in the general election.

House

National Apportionment: The Census Bureau yesterday announced the national apportionment numbers from the 2020 census a full four months after the January 1st deadline, and the report contained more than a few surprises. First, only seven seats changed states and not the ten that analysts had projected. Texas gained two seats instead of the projected three. Florida, one instead of the predicted two. The states gaining one seat apiece were Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon. 

The states losing one seat are California, for the first time in history, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. New York missed holding all 27 of their seats by just 89 people, apparently the second closest number in history. This allowed Minnesota to barely hang onto its eighth CD. 

The surprises came with Texas and Florida gaining one seat less apiece than expected. Arizona was also projected to gain but did not. Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island were expected to lose but were able to keep their full complement of districts. 

The US population rose just 7.4% for the entire decade. Only the 1930 census report, with a 7.3% uptick rate, was lower in the modern era. Utah, with a growth rate of 18.4% during the previous ten years, is the fastest-growing state in the country. Illinois, Mississippi, and West Virginia actually lost population during the decade.

AK-AL: Alaska at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the Dean of the House who was first elected in a 1973 special election, announced during the week that he will return to seek a 26th term next year. Rep. Young is 87 years of age and has spent well over half his life as a member of Congress. In 2020, overcoming strong opposition, Rep. Young was re-elected with a 54%-45% victory margin. 

FL-20: Florida state Rep. Omari Hardy (D-West Palm Beach) announced that he will enter the special Democratic primary to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach). Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has yet to schedule the replacement election, but that has not stopped now eleven Democrats from announcing their candidacies. Winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to election in this congressional district that occupies most of the territory between Ft. Lauderdale and Miami with a segment stretching into Palm Beach County.

LA-2: Last Saturday, New Orleans state Senator Troy Carter won the double-Democratic special election to replace resigned Rep. Cedric Richmond (D-New Orleans) with a 55-45% victory over his colleague in the legislature, state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans).  Turnout reached 87,806 voters, down a touch over 7% from the March 20th jungle primary that sent the two finalists into the runoff election.

The Carter victory will return the Democrats to 219 seats in the House upon the Representative-Elect officially taking office. Republicans will then drop to 211 when Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) resigns his seat on May 16th. The special primary election to fill the late Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) North Texas seat is scheduled for this Saturday. The NM-1 vacancy will be filled on June 1st. The two Ohio vacancies, along with the open South Florida seat, have longer election cycles and come before the voters in 2021’s fourth quarter.

ME-2: GOP state Rep. Mike Perkins (R-Oakland) announced on Friday that he has formed a federal exploratory committee to assess his chances of defeating two-term Maine US Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) next year. Rep. Golden was re-elected last November with a 52-46% victory over former state Rep. Dale Crafts (R) in the district that ex-President Donald Trump won to capture an extra electoral vote. Maine is one of two states that splits its electoral votes, Nebraska being the other. The 2022 congressional election here is likely to again be competitive.

Montana: Less than a week since the Census Bureau made official that Montana would gain a second congressional seat, former Interior Secretary and ex-US Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) filed a 2022 Federal Election Commission committee for the state’s new CD. Since the new congressional map will likely divide the state into a western and eastern district, the way Montana used to look before the second district was lost in the 1990 census, it is clear that freshman at-large Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) will run in the eastern seat since his hometown lies so close to the North Dakota border. This means we will see a new open western district that will likely be the more Democratic of the two.

Ryan Zinke was elected to the House in 2014 and re-elected in 2016. Shortly after Donald Trump won the presidential election, he selected Rep. Zinke as his Interior Secretary. Mr. Zinke returned to Montana after serving two years in the Trump cabinet. 

NJ-5: Investment banker Frank Pallotta (R), who held Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff) to a 53-46% re-election victory in November said late this week that he will return for a re-match next year. Mr. Pallotta can count on heavy funds being spent against him because Rep. Gottheimer is one of the strongest fundraisers in the House. In 2020, he raised just under $8 million for his re-election effort and he’s already obtained close to $1 million in the 2022 election cycle. This race has competitive potential, but Rep. Gottheimer remains the definitive favorite for re-election.

OH-15: In a move that surprises no one, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced that he will schedule the special election to replace outgoing Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) to run concurrently with the calendar for the 11th District special election necessary to replace HUD Secretary and former Representative Marcia Fudge (D Cleveland/Akron). This means a primary on August 3rd, with the associated general election on November 2nd. Rep. Stivers has announced that he will leave the House on May 16th to become the President/CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.

During the week, state Rep. Jeff LeRe (R-Violet Township) and Fairfield County Commissioner Jeff Fix (R) joined state Sen. Bob Peterson (R-Fayette County) and state Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Circleville) as special election candidates. The only Democrat so far to announce is actor Daniel Kilgore.

PA-16: Ending rumors that western Pennsylvania US Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Butler) would either run for the open Senate or Governor’s position, the Congressman announced yesterday that he will run for neither but intends to seek re-election to his House seat. Rep. Kelly was re-elected to a sixth term in November with 59.3% of the vote after a close 52-47% result in 2018. 

TX-6The Data for Progress research organization tested the North Texas special congressional election scheduled for May 1st (4/5-12; 344 TX-6 likely special election voters; text and web panel response) and found Susan Wright (R), widow of Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington), leading the pack of 23 candidates with 22% of the vote. In second place is 2018 congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez (D) with 16% as state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) trails with 13%. All others have 10% or less. 

If Ms. Wright and Ms. Sanchez advance, the early ballot test gives the former a ten-point lead, 53-43%. In 2020, Rep. Wright was re-elected with a 53-44% margin. Once the primary vote canvass is complete and a runoff is officially necessitated, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the secondary vote likely for late June.

Governor

California: Six weeks after more than 2.2 million signatures were presented demanding a recall of Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from office, the Secretary of State’s office finally issued a statement officially qualifying the election. With counting still progressing, more than 1.6 million signatures have already been validated. 

Reality TV star and Olympic Gold Medal winner Caitlin Jenner announced during the week that she will enter the California gubernatorial recall election. Once the vote is scheduled, likely in October or November of this year, California voters will first choose whether to recall him from office. If they do, then candidates such as Ms. Jenner will be voted upon within the same election framework. Currently announced as candidates are 2018 gubernatorial finalist John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), and ex-US Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento). Another 36 minor candidates have also declared their intention to run. 

Florida: In what appears to be a prelude to another gubernatorial run, US Representative and former Florida Governor Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) has formed a state committee for what appears to be purposes of running for Governor next year. Mr. Crist served one gubernatorial term as a Republican from 2007-2011. Prior to winning the Governorship, Mr. Crist was elected Attorney General, Education Commissioner, and state Senator, all as a Republican, before winning his congressional seat in 2016 as a Democrat. He has also lost statewide races as a Republican, Democrat, and an Independent. 

Florida CEO Nikki Fried (D) is also making preparations to run for Governor. Additionally, as noted above, state Sen. Randolph Bracy (D-Orlando) said he wants to challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) next year unless US Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) decides to run. Gov. DeSantis is expected to seek re-election. 

Virginia: A new poll from Christopher Newport University of the Virginia Tidewater region (4/11-20; 800 VA registered voters) tested the Democratic primary electorate for the upcoming 2021 gubernatorial campaign. Confirming other data, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe maintains a big lead for the June 1st nomination election, 47-8-6-5-1% over Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), former state Delegate Jennifer Carroll-Foy, and state Delegate Lee Carter (D-Manassas), respectively. Mr. McAuliffe is expected to easily win the party nomination and begin the general election campaign as the favorite opposite whomever the Republicans nominate in their hybrid May 8th convention.

States

FloridaIn an unusual move, and particularly so since the legislature is scheduled to adjourn this week, the state Senate Democratic conference voted unanimously to sack Minority Leader Gary Farmer (D-Ft. Lauderdale) and replace him with state Senator Lauren Book (D-Plantation), who also represents part of Broward County.