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Florida Senate Race is Heating Up; Clarity in NYC Mayoral Race

July 9, 2021

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

Key Takeaways

  • FL-Sen: Money Wars Begin; Rubio, Demings Over $4M for Quarter
  • UT-Sen: Sen. Mike Lee's Second GOP Challenger
  • KY-3; MD-2; NJ-10; NY-12: Dem Primary Challenges Emerge
  • OH-11: Special Election Tightens
  • MA-Gov; TX-Gov: GOP Primary Challengers Announced
  • NYC-Mayor: Eric Adams Finally Wins Dem Primary
  • Staten Island: Ex-Rep. Vitto Fossella (R) Returns with Primary Victory

Senate

Alabama: Former Alabama Business Council President/CEO Katie Britt (R), who declared her Senate candidacy with retiring Sen. Richard Shelby’s (R) endorsement – she was formerly his chief of staff – announced that she will report over $2.2 million raised in the quarter just ended June 30th. This is an impressive amount for an initial candidate report and would certainly qualify Ms. Britt as an early top-tier candidate. 

Florida: The Florida US Senate campaign is already kicking into high gear. Both Sen. Marco Rubio (R) and Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) are on record-setting fundraising paces. Each will report raising over $4 million for the quarter ending June 30th. The full reports will be made public after July 15th.

Pennsylvania: Carla Sands (R), the former US Ambassador to Denmark, announced her candidacy for Pennsylvania’s open US Senate seat. She joins businessman and former Lt. Governor nominee Jeff Bartos and former congressional candidate Sean Parnell in the Republican battle to succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Crowded fields are expected in both parties to decide what could well become the most hard-fought 2022 Senate campaign.

Utah: Former LDS Church spokesperson and ex-Kaysville City Councilmember Ally Isom says she will join the Republican primary against Sen. Mike Lee (R). Ms. Isom and former state Rep. Becky Edwards are opposing Sen. Lee from his political left, which won’t help either woman in the Utah Republican Party nominating convention. Therefore, it is likely that both will opt to petition their names onto the primary ballot. Their strategy, before one of the most conservative electorates in the country, appears dubious at best, so Sen. Lee is again in the driver’s seat for re-nomination and re-election.

House

KY-3: House Budget Committee chairman John Yarmuth (D-KY) drew what could become a serious Democratic primary challenge from state Rep. Attica Scott (D-Louisville). Ms. Scott, formerly a member of the Louisville Metro Council, defeated a Democratic incumbent in 2016 to capture her seat in the state House. She was unopposed for re-election in 2018 and 2020. Rep. Yarmuth was first elected in 2006, defeating then-Rep. Anne Northup (R). The 3rd District is fully contained within Jefferson County and includes the entire city of Louisville.

MD-2: Brittany Oliver, a communications consultant, and Civil Rights activist, yesterday announced her Democratic primary challenge to veteran Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Cockeysville). Ms. Oliver said the 2nd District is 35% black and 47% minority and should have more diverse representation in Congress, thus her main reason for running. Mr. Ruppersberger was first elected to the House in 2002 after serving a pair of four-year terms as the Baltimore County Executive. 

MT-2Two more individuals declared their candidacies for the yet undrawn 2nd District of Montana, the seat awarded the state in national reapportionment. The assumption is the state will be drawn in an eastern and western district configuration, as was the case before Montana dropped into at-large status in the 1990 census. Since Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-At Large) is from the far eastern part of the state, it is further assumed that a western district will be the open seat.

Earlier this week, former state Senator and statewide candidate Al Olszewski (R-Kalispell) declared his intentions to run for the new congressional seat as did attorney Monica Tranel (D), a former member of two US Olympic rowing teams. Previously declared candidates are former US Interior Secretary and ex-Congressman Ryan Zinke (R) and state Rep. Laurie Bishop (D-Livingston).

NE-2: Mental health counselor and defeated 2020 US Senate candidate Alisha Shelton announced that she will enter the Democratic primary hoping to oppose three-term Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha) next year. Mr. Bacon, who was a four-point re-election winner last November despite former President Trump losing the 2nd District by over 22,000 votes, was considering a bid for Governor but has decided to seek a fourth term in the House next year.

NH-1: New Hampshire’s 1st District has defeated more incumbents since 2004 than any congressional district in the country, re-electing its US House member-only twice in the eight elections during that time span. It is presumed that Republicans, who control this year’s redistricting process, will attempt to make the 1st District more Republican while conceding the swing 2nd District to Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Concord). 

Earlier this week, state Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Seabrook) announced his congressional candidacy in what promises to be a crowded Republican primary. Incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester), who won re-election last November with 51.3% of the vote, may run for Governor if the seat is drawn Republican and incumbent Chris Sununu (R) decides to run for the Senate.

NJ-10Saying the Newark anchored congressional district “…has long been underserved by government officials and exploited by corporations,” former state leg legislative aide and progressive activist Imani Oakley announced her Democratic primary challenge to veteran New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne, Jr. (D-Newark). The Congressman remains a definitive favorite for re-nomination, which is tantamount to re-election in the 10th District.

NY-12Community organizer Maya Contreras became the fourth Democratic primary challenger to oppose veteran Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) over the holiday weekend. Two other community organizers are also in the race along with 2018 and 2020 challenger Suraj Patel who held the Congresswoman to a tight 43-39% win in the most recent Democratic primary. In 2018, the 15-term Representative defeated Mr. Patel in a one-on-one race, 60-40%. Prior to being elected to Congress, Ms. Maloney served ten years on the New York City Council.

OH-11: Despite former state Senator Nina Turner’s strong financial lead in the special Democratic primary scheduled for August 3rd, Cuyahoga County Commissioner Shontel Brown is waging an increasingly competitive fight. A group called Democratic Majority for Israel just announced a six-figure independent expenditure to help Ms. Brown. Last week, Hillary Clinton and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC) endorsed her for the Democratic nomination. Now, the Congressional Black Caucus has followed suit. 

A total of 13 candidates are on the special Democratic primary ballot, but the race appears to be a two-person contest. The winner advances to the November general election and becomes the prohibitive favorite to serve the balance of the current term. Then-Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) resigned the seat upon her confirmation as Housing and Urban Development Secretary.

WA-8: Jesse Jensen (R), the Iraq War veteran who held Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Sammamish) to a close 52-48% win last November, announced during the week that he will return next year for a re-match. Redistricting will undoubtedly change the district to a degree, but the outer King County CD will likely remain as a competitive seat. Prior to Dr. Schrier winning an open seat in 2018, the 8th District had been in Republican hands since its original creation as a new district from the 1990 national reapportionment. Considering his strong showing in 2020 with little outside help, Mr. Jensen is likely to be treated as a top-tier contender in 2022.

Governor

Colorado: The Global Strategy Group conducted an internal poll for first-term Gov. Jared Polis (D) in June that was just released into the public domain. The survey (6/17-23; 800 CO registered voters; live interview & online) tested the Governor opposite University of Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl (R). The ballot test result found Mr. Polis leading Ms. Ganahl, who is a potential gubernatorial candidate, 54-34%. Against a generic Republican, however, the incumbent’s margin would drop to 49-39%. Gov. Polis is viewed as safe for re-election.

Kansas: Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), who previously announced state House Speaker Ron Ryckman’s (R-Olathe) support in his Republican primary against former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), now adds both former US Senator and GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole and retired Sen. Pat Roberts to his campaign endorsement list in an announcement made late this week. The Kansas primary is more than a year away, scheduled for August of 2022, and the eventual party nominee will then challenge first-term Gov. Laura Kelly (D) in the general election in what promises to be a competitive campaign.

Massachusetts: Former state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R), who challenged Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) in 2018 and lost 59-36%, announced that he will launch a Republican primary challenge to two-term Gov. Charlie Baker (R) in the September 2022 GOP primary. Gov. Baker, should he choose to seek a third term, is the clear favorite both in the Republican primary and for the succeeding general election.

Texas: As expected when he abruptly resigned the chairmanship of the Texas Republican Party in early June after less than a year in office, Allen West announced on the official Independence Day holiday that he will challenge two-term Gov. Greg Abbott in the 2022 Republican primary. Mr. West served one term in Congress from Florida and moved to the Lone Star State to run a non-profit organization soon after his defeat for re-election in 2012. 

Already in the Republican primary is former state Sen. Don Huffines and five minor candidates. State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) said two weeks ago that he would not enter the gubernatorial primary in order to seek re-election to his current position. Gov. Abbott is favored for re-nomination and re-election.

Localities

New York City: Throughout the counting chaos in the New York City Democratic mayoral primary that included city officials mistakenly adding placebo test ballots to the live count, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was finally declared the unofficial winner on the 7th round of Ranked-Choice Voting from the June 22nd election.

His margin was tight, 50.5 – 49.5%, over former New York City Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia who gathered late momentum and became Mr. Adams’ chief opponent. The original count found Mr. Adams holding a comfortable ten-point lead, but his advantage diminished when the city officials began counting more than 200,000 absentee ballots a week after the election. His margin is 8,426 votes of the almost 800,000 ballots that were finally counted. 

Mr. Adams now advances into the November general election where he will face the Republican nominee, Guardian Angels organization founder Curtis Sliwa. With the Democrats having a 7:1 registration advantage in the city, the outcome is hardly in doubt. Expect Mr. Adams to succeed Mayor Bill de Blasio (D), who was ineligible to seek a third term.

Staten Island: With a 290-vote margin, former US Rep. Vito Fossella captured the Republican nomination for Staten Island Borough President, defeating NYC Councilman Steven Matteo. Mr. Fossella served six-plus terms in the US House representing the Staten Island/Brooklyn district, not seeking re-election in 2008 when it was discovered after he was arrested for drunk driving that he maintained a second family in Virginia. He resurfaced in this local election and attracted support from former President Donald Trump and ex-NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani. Mr. Fossella now faces attorney Mark Murphy (D), the son of the late former Congressman John Murphy (D) in the general election.

Syracuse: The closest of all New York local elections finally ended late in the week, as Syracuse election officials released final results that found Common Council member Khalid Bey defeating Common Councilmember Michael Greene by just 36 votes of more than 6,300 ballots cast. Mr. Bey will advance to the general election to challenge incumbent Independent Mayor Ben Walsh.