BIPAC Election Insights - Wagner Out of MO Senate Race and Arizona Democrats File to Face Flake

July 5, 2017

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


Politics are heating up in the impending Arizona US Senate race. Both Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) and state Rep. Randy Friese, MD, (D-Tucson) used the healthcare legislation debate late last week to signal that they are each considering entering the statewide race to challenge Sen. Jeff Flake (R). Both would be formidable nominees, and would certainly move Arizona firmly into a top tier challenge situation for the Democrats. Mayor Stanton is in his second term, after serving twelve years on the Phoenix City Council. Rep. Friese is the doctor who saved then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords' (D-Tucson) life after she was tragically shot during a constituent event. He was later elected to the state legislature. US Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) also remains as a potential candidate.

Missouri US Rep. Ann Wagner (R-St. Louis County) surprised national Senate observers with her holiday announcement that she will not challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) next year, but instead will seek re-election. Ms. Wagner said her desire to continue fully representing her home constituency greatly influenced her decision. The move could signal that Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), who former Sen. John Danforth, ex-Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, and major donor Sam Fox have been very publicly encouraging to run, is moving closer toward entering the race. Despite Ms. Wagner's decision not to run, the Missouri race is still in the very top tier of Republican conversion opportunity races.


A competitive 2018 House Republican primary is brewing in central Florida. Late last week state Rep. Mike Miller (R-Orlando) announced that he will challenge freshman Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) in a newly-drawn 7th District that either party could win in any election. Early this week, state Sen. David Simmons (R-Longwood) said after the Miller announcement that he is "98% likely" to also run. This would yield a late August competitive primary that gives the winner little time to focus on Ms. Murphy. The new Congresswoman defeated veteran Rep. John Mica (R-Winter Park) in the 2016 campaign, doing so with a 51.5% victory percentage. This race will rate high on the Republican conversion target list.

Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Mike Capuano is likely to draw a potentially competitive primary challenger, possibly one of the first examples of what could become a contentious nomination trend that we may see in congressional races developing around the country. Cambridge City Councilman Nadeem Mazen, who has already announced that he won't seek re-election, has not yet said he will run for Congress but told a Boston Globe reporter that he is preparing for a 2018 campaign. In his last re-election for the city council, Mr. Mazen was the top vote getter in the at-large Cambridge campaign. His problem, however, is that only 7% of the city's population lies in Capuano's 7th District. The Congressman was first elected in 1998. He has had little in the way of opposition ever since, but did fail badly in a statewide bid for US Senate, finishing a poor second to then-Attorney General Martha Coakley in the 2010 special election to replace the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Coakley then lost to Republican Scott Brown in a race that drew national attentio

Last week we reported that New York State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D), announced he will enter the congressional primary in order to oppose freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). Surprisingly, a year before what could be a competitive primary, US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has now already gone public with his endorsement of Mr. Brindisi. The 22nd District will host a highly competitive general election campaign. Rep. Tenney won a three-way contest last November with only 44% of the vote and retired Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) hinted last week that he is considering a political comeback attempt, but not under a major party banner. College professor Patrick Madden is so far the only other Democrat in the race.

Pennsylvania Democrats are on the threshold of scoring a major recruit to oppose four-term Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford). State Sen. Daylin Leach (D) is reportedly preparing a candidate announcement for later in the month. Though he may face some primary opposition, Sen. Leach as the party nominee would mean giving Rep. Meehan a stiff challenge in a marginal political district. The situation would become cloudier if the Democrats' state redistricting lawsuit results in a congressional map re-draw, a situation that would place Rep. Meehan's irregularly constructed 7th District at the focal point of any new mapping process.


Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox filed an exploratory committee to seek the Democratic nomination for Alabama Governor late this week. About two weeks ago, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb declared her candidacy, thus setting up what could be a Democratic primary. Gov. Kay Ivey (R), who ascended to the position when Gov. Robert Bentley (R) was forced to resign, has yet to say whether she will seek a full term. Four Republicans have already declared, including Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan and Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. What should be a safe Republican open seat race is quickly becoming a campaign of competitive interest. The intensity will grow even greater if Gov. Ivey ultimately decides to retire.