BIPAC Election Insights - Rosen to Challenge Heller and Perlmutter Not Running in 2018

July 13, 2017

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


On the heels of Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) deciding not to challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) next year, Remington Research tested the Missouri electorate to determine how other prospective candidates might fare. Surprisingly, however, RR did not test Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), the man creating the most political buzz as a potential candidate. The poll (7/7-8; 928 MO registered voters) actually finds several Republican potential candidates already topping the incumbent Senator.

The individual most openly considering the race, US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia), notched a 48-44% advantage over Sen. McCaskill in the poll. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth/Jefferson City) does best, scoring a 50-43% margin. Also leading McCaskill are state Treasurer Eric Schmitt (49-45%) and Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem/Cape Girardeau), 48-45%.

As she promised last week, freshman Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Las Vegas) announced her US Senate candidacy and the Democratic establishment is already falling into line behind her. Upon the official announcement, freshman Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) publicly endorsed Ms. Rosen's effort, as did fellow Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. This, even though Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) still maintains that she is considering her own Senate candidacy. Former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) engineered all the moves, thus likely setting up a major Senate race confrontation with Republican incumbent Dean Heller, who is clearly the most vulnerable GOP incumbent standing for re-election next year.


With US Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Las Vegas) now in the Nevada Senate race, the open 3rd District will witness another close open seat campaign. In November, both President Trump and Rep. Rosen won the district by one percentage point. Republican state Sen. Scott Hammond has already registered a campaign account with the Federal Election Commission but has yet to officially announce his congressional candidacy, and now former 4th District Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) is said to be considering hopping into the open CD. We can expect a group of Republicans and Democrats to be soon vying for this swing seat that stretches from south Las Vegas all the way to the Arizona and California borders.

In a related story, Las Vegas City Councilman Stavros Anthony (R) announced his candidacy for the 4th District, potentially creating a GOP primary battle for the right to challenge Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) in the adjacent CD.

Pennsylvanian Christina Hartman, who attracted some national Democratic attention and raised over $1 million for her open seat battle against Republican state Sen. Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster) last November, is returning for a re-match. The 16th District is traditionally Republican, so Mr. Smucker's 54-43% wasn't particularly surprising. Three other Democrats have already announced their candidacies, so Ms. Hartman does not have clear sailing to the party nomination. The Democrats' redistricting lawsuit looms large over the state. If successful and the districts are re-drawn, then the Keystone State becomes a political wild card in the 2018 elections.

Former US Rep. Pete Gallego (D-TX), who won the sprawling West Texas 23rd District in 2012 but was defeated in 2014, and then lost a follow-up re-match last November, looks ready to try again. Mr. Gallego recently formed a new congressional exploratory committee. Though he has twice lost to current incumbent Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), the district was recently declared illegal by the special three-judge panel hearing the Democrats' redistricting lawsuit claims. With a district very likely to be re-drawn, all bets are off as to how an impending 2018 campaign might end.

Rep. John Carter (R-TX) has had relatively little re-election competition since he first won his Central Texas 31st District back in 2002. He may have just drawn his toughest opponent, however. Former Air Force combat pilot Mary Jennings (MJ) Hegar announced her candidacy this past week. She is a Distinguished Flying Cross medal winner and was awarded a Purple Heart for injuries sustained in Afghanistan. She is the author of the book, "Shoot Like a Girl: One Woman's Dramatic Flight in Afghanistan and on the Home Front," and could become a formidable candidate despite the district's strong Republican nature.


Colorado US Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) surprised everyone by deciding to withdraw from the open Governor's race after just three months of active campaigning. The Congressman also reiterated that he won't seek re-election, reportedly losing his desire to compete in elective politics. Mr. Perlmutter's decision leaves US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder), former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, and businessmen Noel Ginsburg and Adam Garrity as substantial Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term. Regional District Attorney George Brauchler is viewed to be the leading Republican candidate. The open 7th Congressional District will likely remain Democratic.

New Mexico Congressman Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) announced that he will enter the state's open Governor's race. Mr. Pearce is serving his seventh non-consecutive term in the House. He was first elected in 2002, but vacated to run unsuccessfully for US Senate six years later. He re-captured the southern 2nd Congressional District in 2010. If successful in winning the GOP nomination, he would likely face fellow US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) in the statewide general election. Gov. Susana Martinez (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.