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More 2022 House and Senate Candidates Declare

April 2, 2021

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

Key Takeaways

  • IA-Pres: 2024 Dem Changes Coming
  • UT-Sen: Ex-Sen. Jeff Flake (R) Switching States?
  • WI-Sen: Sen. Ron Johnson (R) Trailing in New Poll
  • IA-2: Candidate Rita Hart (D) Withdraws Election Challenge
  • NM-1: Dems Choose State Rep. Melanie Stansbury for Special Election
  • GA-Gov: Gov. Brian Kemp’s (R) Potential Primary Opponent
  • NE-Gov: Sen. Deb Fischer (R) Says No to Gov Run


IowaWe may see a split early in the 2024 presidential nomination process. Late this week, it was announced that the Republican National Committee has reaffirmed Iowa’s initial place on the voting calendar and again committed to the caucus process. It appears likely that the Democrats, however, will change Iowa and Nevada to primaries, and move the latter and South Carolina to more prominent positions in the early voting schedule.


Alaska: Alaska Department of Administration commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R) announced yesterday that she will challenge Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) in next year’s Senate race. Now that Alaska has adopted the first-in-the-nation top four qualifying electoral system, a quartet of jungle primary finishers would advance into the general election. This suggests a credible Republican candidate such as Ms. Tshibaka could be on the November ballot opposite Sen. Murkowski even if a strong Democrat also emerges. 

Missouri: As covered last week, former Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who resigned under scandal less than two years into his first term in elected office, is now running for retiring Sen. Roy Blunt’s (R) open seat. After a new Fabrizio, Lee & Associates survey (3/23-25; 400 MO Republican primary voters; live interview) found resigned Gov. Eric Greitens opening up a large 40-11% Republican primary lead over Attorney General Eric Schmitt, others began openly considering the race. State Senate President Pro Tempore Dave Schatz confirms that he is now a potential GOP Senate candidate as does St. Louis businessman and former statewide candidate John Brunner.

Ohio: Cincinnati area US Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R) announced through a staff member yesterday that he won’t be entering the 2022 open US Senate race. Conversely, GOP Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) released a new video indicating that he is actively considering becoming a statewide candidate. Already in the GOP Senate race are former state Treasurer and 2012 Senatorial candidate Josh Mandel and ex-Ohio Republican Party chair, Jane Timken. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) is seriously considering becoming a Senate candidate. Reps. Bill Johnson (R-Marietta) and David Joyce (R-Russell Township) also confirm to have interest in the statewide contest but are currently viewed as unlikely to run. Ex-Representative and 2018 Senatorial candidate Jim Renacci and author J.D. Vance are other potential candidates.

Utah: Speculation is apparently becoming prevalent in Utah suggesting that former Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R), who came to national notoriety for his public feud with ex-President Trump, may attempt a Senate run from this state. Such may mean a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Mike Lee who is standing for a third term in 2022, or he may be looking at a 2024 open race should Sen. Mitt Romney (R) not seek re-election. 

Wisconsin: It’s no surprise to see a survey posting a Democratic candidate topping Sen. Ron Johnson (R). The last time he was in-cycle, 2016, Sen. Johnson led in only 4 of 74 polls throughout the cycle, but on Election Day scored a 50-47% victory. Sen. Johnson has not yet said whether he will seek re-election next year. In 2010, when he first ran, he pledged to serve only two six-year terms.

A potential Johnson Democratic opponent, former state Assembly Majority Leader Thomas Nelson, just released his internal Change Research poll. The survey, conducted online during the March 25-27 period of 1,723 Wisconsin likely voters, finds Mr. Nelson leading Sen. Johnson 48-44%. The FiveThirtyEight statistical research organization rates Change Research as a B- pollster and categorizes them with a 2.9 Democratic bias factor, one of the highest swings of all the studied firms.


CA-25: Ex-California state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), who has twice lost to Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) including by just 333 votes in November, has changed her mind. Earlier in the year, Ms. Smith announced that she would run for her former Assembly seat in 2022, but now says she will return for a third run against Rep. Garcia. Former Congresswoman Katie Hill (D), who resigned from the House under pressure involving a sex scandal, is also reportedly considering making a comeback run. Simi Valley City Councilwoman Ruth Luevanos (D) also says she will run for the San Fernando Valley House seat joining the other announced Democrats.

GA-10: Former Georgia US Rep. Paul Broun (R), who left the House in 2014 to run for the Senate when then-incumbent Saxby Chambliss (R) retired, is looking to make another comeback for the House seat he vacated seven years ago. He returned to join a group of candidates challenging 9th District incumbent Doug Collins (R) in 2016, but the Congressman easily defended himself and won re-nomination outright with 61% of the vote. Mr. Broun placed second among the five candidates.

IA-2In the middle of the week, Iowa congressional challenger Rita Hart (D), who lost to Republican Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) by just six votes after a recount, has withdrawn her challenge before the House Administration Committee. Ms. Hart bypassed the Iowa court system in contesting 22 ballots that she claimed should have been added to the tally but Iowa election officials had rejected during the two canvasses. 

In a released statement, Ms. Hart said, "Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans."  

In actuality, it became clear that there were not enough Democrats agreeing to remove Rep. Miller-Meeks from office this far into the term. She was sworn into office with all other members, but on a provisional basis until the Hart challenge was decided. It remains to be seen if we will see a re-match of this virtually tied contest come 2022.

LA-2: The April 24th special election in the vacant New Orleans-Baton Rouge 2nd Congressional District became more interesting yesterday. Third place special primary finisher Gary Chambers, Jr. (D) publicly endorsed state Sen. Karen Carter Peterson (D-New Orleans) in a move that could bring a substantial number of Baton Rouge votes her way. 

In the special primary, she and Mr. Chambers received a combined 65% of the Baton Rouge vote, with state Senator Troy Carter (D-New Orleans) falling way back into third place. Sen. Carter’s New Orleans strength was such that he was still able to finish first districtwide, twelve points directly ahead of Sen. Peterson. To overcome Sen. Carter, Ms. Peterson will have to improve her standing in New Orleans even when presumably securing more votes from Baton Rouge.

MI-6: Freshman state Rep. Steve Cara (R-Kalamazoo) announced that he will join the burgeoning field of Republican candidates lining up to challenge veteran US Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) next year. Also in the race is Berrien County Commissioner Ezra Scott, pastor Jerry Solis, and manufacturing company executive Jon Rocha. 

In a plurality primary system, an incumbent facing multiple challengers generally has the advantage because the base support is usually high enough for him or her to win with less than majority support. Rep. Upton is attracting more opposition than usual because he voted in favor of the second Trump impeachment procedure. 

NM-1: In a come-from-behind runoff victory before the 200 New Mexico Democratic State Central Committee members, state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) defeated state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque), 51-49%, to win the Democratic congressional election for the special election to replace Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (D) who resigned from the House to accept the cabinet appointment. 

Sen. Sedillo Lopez held a 37-22% lead going into the runoff but could not hold. Rep. Stansbury now faces Republican nominee Mark Moores, an Albuquerque area state Senator and a Libertarian and Independent candidate in the June 1st special election. Ms. Stansbury now becomes the favorite to succeed Secretary Haaland.

NY-22: The 2020 congressional race in New York’s 22nd Congressional District consumed three post-election months just to determine a winner. In the end, former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) returned to the House with a razor-thin victory margin of 109 votes over then-Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). Yesterday, college admissions counselor Mikayla Ridley (D) announced that she will challenge Rep. Tenney.

It is likely too early to rate the western New York race viability status. With the 22nd and the adjacent 23rd District being the two districts with the least population from a state that is losing at least one seat in reapportionment, this geographic sector will look much different in 2022. CD-23 Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) has already announced his retirement, therefore it’s a good bet that the two seats will be combined into one GOP district instead of the present two. 

SC-7: Defense contractor and retired Marine Corps veteran Steve Reichert is now the seventh Republican to announce a primary challenge to South Carolina Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach). Mr. Rice supporting the second Trump impeachment effort is why so many opponents from his own party are coming forward. Regardless of the activity against him, Rep. Rice appears ready to launch a bid for a sixth term.


Georgia: Former DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer and ex-state Representative Vernon Jones, who became a fixture on television as an African American former Democrat supporting ex-President Trump, is reportedly beginning to construct a GOP primary campaign to challenge Gov. Brian Kemp. 

Mr. Jones served eight years as the DeKalb CEO, all as a Democrat, which was sandwiched between stints in the state House. He also ran for the US Senate in 2008, placing first in the Democratic primary but losing the nomination runoff to Jim Martin who would then fall in the general election runoff to Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R). Presumably, with Trump’s backing, if that were to materialize, Mr. Jones could become a serious challenger to Gov. Kemp who has Republican base support problems.

Massachusetts: Gov. Charlie Baker has often been the leading state chief executive in job approval scores for most of his seven-year tenure despite being a Republican in this most Democratic of states. Lately, more Democrats are openly talking about challenging him as his positive numbers have fallen somewhat because of COVID-19. One of his chief critics on vaccination distribution is state Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Boston), and she confirmed this week to be considering competing for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. So far, only former state Sen. Ben Downing is an announced Democratic candidate.

Nebraska: GOP Senator Deb Fischer (R) who had been contemplating a run for Governor next year said on Thursday that she will not become a gubernatorial candidate. With Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) ineligible to seek a third term, the Nebraska Governor’s race is wide open.

Rhode IslandGov. Dan McKee (D), rising from his Lt. Governor’s position to assume his current office when then-Governor Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to become US Commerce Department secretary, has chosen a replacement for his former slot. Yesterday, Gov. McKee announced he will appoint Providence City Council President Sabina Matos (D) as the state’s new Lt. Governor. Like Gov. McKee, Lt. Governor-Designate Matos will have 17 months to establish herself in office before facing the all-important September 2022 Democratic primary.