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Herschel Walker takes first step to becoming a US Senate candidate in Georgia

August 27, 2021

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

Key Takeaways

  • GA-Sen: Herschel Walker (R) Files Senate Committee
  • NV-Sen: GOP’s Adam Laxalt Leads Sen. Cortez Masto (D) in New Poll
  • CA-21: Rep. David Valadao (R) Draws Top Dem Opponent
  • ME-2: Ex-Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) Becoming Consensus Challenger
  • AL-Gov: Serious GOP Primary Forming Against Gov. Kay Ivey (R)
  • VA-Gov: Ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) Leads in New Polls

Senate

Alabama: US Senate candidate and former US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard (R) tacitly admitted she is considering ending her bid for federal office and moving into the Governor’s race to launch a Republican primary challenge to incumbent Kay Ivey. Ms. Blanchard exiting the open Senate contest would largely leave a two-way Republican contest between US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and former Alabama Business Council president/CEO Katie Britt to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R). Democrats do not yet have a viable Senate candidate.

Florida: The Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll released their new survey over the weekend (released 8/22; 1,000 FL likely voters; interactive voice response system) and much of the data appears curious to say the least. In the Senate race, two-term incumbent Marco Rubio (R) holds a 55-45% advantage over Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando). While that spread seems reasonable, the difficulty comes in the crosstab report. The partisan tabs show Sen. Rubio receiving 52% of the Democrats’ votes while 42% of Republicans prefer Rep. Demings. There is no corroborating reason to support such numbers, meaning this poll is likely an outlier.

Countering the Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll survey, Change Research released their new Florida poll (8/14-17; 1,585 FL likely voters; online), and they see Sen. Rubio holding a 47-44% edge. The partisan crosstabs were not released but it is clear with this type of aggregate ballot test that both party bases are firmly behind the candidate from their own political entity, which is, of course, the typical pattern.

Georgia: Former University of Georgia and NFL football legend Herschel Walker (R) filed documents with the Federal Election Commission yesterday, the first step to becoming a US Senate candidate. No announcement accompanied the filing, and the act of submitting these organizational documents does not compel an individual to formally file with the state prior to the candidate filing deadline. The exploratory committee, however, will allow the potential contender to begin raising funds to assess chances of attaining ultimate victory.

Nevada: A very surprising survey from VCreek/AMG was released late this week. The poll (conducted for the Americas PAC; 8/9-14; 567 NV registered voters; live interview) finds former Attorney General, 2018 Republican gubernatorial nominee, and recently announced US Senate candidate Adam Laxalt leading first-term Nevada Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto by a margin well beyond the polling margin of error, 42-32%, but with a high undecided factor. The Silver State has been known for its recent close elections and the 2022 Senate contest already appears to be headed along a similar track. Expect the Democrats to soon counter with polling data of their own.

House

CA-21: This week, five-term California Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) announced that he will join the burgeoning candidate field to challenge Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) next year. To review, former state Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D), Delano Mayor Brian Osorio (D), former congressional aide Angel Lara (D), and ex-Fresno City Councilman Chris Mathys (R) are all announced and running. Mr. Valadao ousted Rep. T.J. Cox (D) in 2020 after the latter man unseated the former in 2018. It appears unlikely, at this point, that Mr. Cox will seek a re-match.

LA-3: Democrat Dustin Granger ended his challenge to three-term Louisiana US Rep. Clay Higgins (R-Lafayette) this week, opting instead to run for the state Senate. Bartender Ryan Abshire, running as an Independent, is now Mr. Higgins’ lone opponent. It appears Rep. Higgins, a former law enforcement official who became a YouTube sensation with his Crime Stoppers videos, will have another easy re-election run in 2022.

ME-2: State Sen. Trey Stewart (R-Presque Isle), the youngest member of the Maine legislature at 27 years of age and serving his first term in the Senate after entering the state House when he was 23, has ended his 2022 congressional run and endorsed former US Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R). Mr. Poliquin was elected in 2014 but lost his seat in 2018 due to Ranked Choice Voting after he scored a plurality victory on election night. Mr. Poliquin announced his new campaign last week.

It is now likely that the ex-Congressman becomes a consensus Republican candidate, thus setting the stage for a re-match with the man who ousted him three years ago, Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston). ME-2 is one of seven districts that former President Trump carried (52-45%) and elected a Democrat to the House.

TX-15: Frank McCaffrey (R), a news reporter for the NewsNet syndicated network and a man with a strong media background in television, announced his candidacy for the 15th District Republican congressional nomination in what could be a very interesting 2022 South Texas border district US House campaign. 

Three-term Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) won re-elected with only 50.5% of the vote in 2020, defeating insurance agent Monica de la Cruz-Hernandez (R). Ms. de la Cruz-Hernandez spent only $404,000 on her campaign yet attracted just short of a 48% vote share. She is also returning for an attempted re-match. It is likely we will see others emerge once the redistricting process is completed.

House Generic Ballot: A common survey question asks respondents if they will vote for a Democrat or a Republican for the US House in the coming election. Often, the answers are not consistent with the final congressional result. Now, we see erratic responses spanning across the spectrum within the same polling time sphere.

Echelon Insights (8/13-18 1,016 US registered voters; online from web panel) finds the Democrats holding a strong 50-40% advantage. Simultaneously, however, Susquehanna Polling & Research (8/12-18; 800 US likely voters; live interview) sees the Republicans recording a 39-38% edge.  NBC News (Hart Research/Public Opinion Strategies; 1000 US adults; 790 US registered voters; live interview) reveals that 47% prefer Democrats to control the House after the next election, while 46% say they have a Republican preference. In 2020, the last 17 polls gave the Democrats an average 7.1% lead on the generic question, yet they lost a net 13 seats when the actual votes were counted.

Governor

Alabama: A Cygnal firm survey conducted for the Alabama Daily News (8/17-18; 600 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, and text) finds Gov. Kay Ivey easily leading the Republican primary but is well below the 50% plateau in support. The ballot test breaks 42-9-4-3% over state Auditor Jim Zeigler, 2010 gubernatorial contender Tim James, who is not currently a candidate, and pastor Dean Odle. 

Surprisingly, Mr. Zeigler says he wants the other potential candidates to enter the race. He says these candidates could reach people he cannot and indicated that having a crowded field would enhance the prospects of the Governor being forced into a runoff election.

Florida: As shown in the Florida Senate section above, the Listener Group’s Political Matrix Poll announced their new survey results (released 8/22; 1,000 FL likely voters; interactive voice response system) and questions abound. In the Governor’s race, the Listener data gives US Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) a whopping 57-43% lead over Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), while Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried (D) maintains a 53-47% advantage. Change Research (8/14-17; 1,585 FL likely voters; online) produced a much different result. They see Gov. DeSantis holding a 49-45% edge over Rep. Crist, and a 49-44% spread opposite Ms. Fried.

Michigan: Retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) has already pulled to within one percentage point of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) according to a firm that regularly polls the Michigan electorate. EPIC-MRA, who frequently releases Wolverine State data published their most recent poll (9/9-15; 600 MI likely voters) and found Gov. Whitmer leading Mr. Craig by just a 45-44% clip. The numbers are even more encouraging for the GOP challenger when seeing that only 48% of those surveyed said they are familiar with Mr. Craig. 

New York: In office less than a full day after succeeding resigned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), new Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has already drawn a potential 2022 Democratic primary opponent. Hours after Ms. Hochul took office, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano (D) announced that he will form an exploratory committee to run for Governor next year.   It is probable that Gov. Hochul will face significant Democratic opposition as she prepares to run for a full term. US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) is in position to capture the GOP nomination and become a credible general election candidate.

Virginia: Survey ballot tests have brandished tight results in this open seat Virginia race since former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) and hedge fund former CEO Glenn Youngkin (R) each won their respective party nominations. Now, we see several new university polls coming to the political forefront. Virginia Commonwealth University (8/4-15; 823 VA adults; 770 VA registered voters; live interview) forecasts only a 40-37% lead for Mr. McAuliffe, consistent with most other public polls but with a much lower firmly decided sample cell. 

Roanoke University (8/3-17; 558 VA likely voters; live interview) had not been as accurate as most other pollsters in the past but developed an improved methodology during recent elections. Roanoke finds the McAuliffe advantage as to be 46-38%, the largest spread between the candidates of any poll released to date. Progressive left survey research company Change Research released their first Virginia Governor’s poll (8/14-18; 1,334 VA likely voters; online) and they draw the same conclusion as other pollsters. The Change ballot test produced a 47-44% lead for ex-Governor McAuliffe. 

For the first time, however, we do see a poll finding Mr. McAuliffe reaching the 50% mark in a statewide voter survey. According to the new Wason Center Christopher Newport University survey conducted for AARP (8/15-23; 800 VA likely voters; live interview), Mr. McAuliffe holds a 50-41% advantage over Republican Glenn Youngkin. 

Localities

Boston: Change Research conducted an internal poll for the Annissa Essaibi George campaign (8/16-21; 600 Boston likely voters; online) and found at-large City Councilwoman Michelle Wu leading Acting Mayor Kim Janey and Councilwoman George, 27-15-15%. Councilwoman Andrea Campbell trails with 10% preference. All of the leading candidates are Democrats. 

The nonpartisan – meaning candidates’ political parties are not listed on the ballot – primary is scheduled for September 14th. The field of seven competitors will be pruned to two in the first election. The top finishers will then advance to the regular general election on November 2nd. Former Mayor Marty Walsh (D) resigned earlier this year to become US Labor Secretary in the Biden Administration.

Buffalo: The 2021 Buffalo Mayor’s race has so far been peculiar as the four-term Mayor, Byron Brown, lost the Democratic primary to self-described socialist India Walton, and returns for the general election as a write-in candidate. Last week we covered a poll suggesting that Mayor Brown now leads Ms. Walton, 50-40%

Another odd turn occurred this week when it became known that Ms. Walton had been previously arrested for threatening a colleague at the hospital in which they worked. Both she and the accuser are nurses. It was proven that Ms. Walton threatened bodily harm over a three-month period in 2014 and was charged with harassment, but the candidate says she was not serious and shouldn’t have been feared. Ms. Walton pointed to the fact that she is 4’11” tall and was on disability as a result of surgery during the particular time period in question. This bizarre campaign will conclude on November 2nd