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Ohio Announcements & Retirements; Indiana Redistricting Map to the State Senate

September 24, 2021

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

Key Takeaways    

  • AZ-Sen: AG Mark Brnovich (R) Leads Big in GOP Primary Poll
  • IA-Sen: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) Opens With Solid Advantage  
  • Indiana: State House Passes Congressional Redistricting Map   
  • OH-16: Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R) Announces Retirement  
  • RI-Gov: Gov. Dan McKee (D) Draws Dem Opponents    
  • North Carolina: Voter ID Law Again Struck Down

Senate

Arizona: The OnMessage survey research firm, polling for the Advancing Arizona Forward organization that supports Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) for the US Senate, released the ballot test results from the September 9-12 Arizona statewide poll (sample size and methodology not publicized). The study finds Mr. Brnovich, twice elected Attorney General but ineligible to seek a third term, taking a commanding lead in the GOP primary. According to the OnMessage numbers, Mr. Brnovich enjoys a 41-6-5-4% lead over venture capitalist Blake Masters, businessman Jim Lamon, and retired Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Mick McGuire. The eventual Republican nominee will face freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D) in the general election.

Colorado: The co/efficient polling organization surveyed the Colorado electorate, testing Sen. Michael Bennet (D) against former US Olympian Eli Bremer (R). The survey (9/9-12, but released earlier this week; 742 CO likely voters) finds Sen. Bennet leading Mr. Bremer by a 40-32% count. It is unsurprising that Sen. Bennet holds a definitive lead at this point in the cycle, but his 40% support figure is much lower than one would expect for a 12-year Senate incumbent.  

Iowa: Selzer & Company, Iowa’s most accurate pollster, went into the field for the Des Moines Register newspaper (9/12-15; 805 IA adults; 620 IA likely voters; live interview) and found seven-term Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) in strong position against former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D). The ballot test gave the Senator a 55-37% advantage over Ms. Finkenauer with a 47:40% positive to negative job approval ratio. Sen. Grassley has said he will make a decision about seeking an eighth six-year term by November 1st. 

Ohio: State Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) made his US Senate exploratory official this week in announcing that he would become an open seat statewide candidate. Sen. Dolan is also a minority owner of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, which has apparently disqualified him from obtaining former President Donald Trump’s support. Mr. Trump said in reference to Sen. Dolan’s candidacy, “Anybody that changes the name of the once storied Cleveland Indians to the Cleveland Guardians should not be running for the United States Senate representing the great people of Ohio.”  

Wisconsin: Clarity Campaign Labs tested the Wisconsin electorate (9/8-11; 756 WI likely voters; live interview and interactive voice response system) and found Sen. Ron Johnson (R) and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) tied in an early 2022 general election pairing. Both candidates pulled 43% support. Sen. Johnson has not yet committed to running for a third term, but promises a decision “in the Fall.” 

House

Indiana: The Indiana congressional redistricting map cleared the state House of Representatives with all but three of 70 Republicans supporting the bill. The 29 Democrats were unanimously opposed to a map that will likely return the current seven Republicans and two Democrats to Washington for most of the decade. The state Senate soon begins consideration of the new map.

The big change is making the central state 5th District, that was becoming marginal, much more Republican. This will help freshman Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) become more politically secure. She won her first election in November with a 50-46% victory margin. Former President Trump carried the seat in 2020 with only a 50-48% count. The new boundary lines are estimated to now make this a 57% Republican district.

NM-2: Last week, freshman state Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill (D-Silver City) confirmed that she was considering a bid against freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) but now has announced that she will not run for Congress next year. Political reports suggest the Democratically controlled legislature will attempt to draw the 2nd District more favorably for their party, thus making the seat more competitive. This plays favorably for Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez, who is already picking up major endorsements, such as the one from US Sen. Martin Heinrich (D), and now appears to be the leading Democratic candidate.  

NY-19: Republican leaders for the two election cycles have been trying to convince Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) to challenge Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) in New York’s Upstate 19th District. It appears the leadership has now convinced him. Mr. Molinaro filed a 2022 congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission. It remains to be seen, however, how the 19th CD’s new configuration will unfold. 

OH-16: Two-term Ohio US Representative Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) announced late last week that he would not seek a third term, thus avoiding a tough primary with a Trump-endorsed opponent. Rep. Gonzalez was one of ten House Republicans who supported impeaching the then-President as a result of the January 6th US Capitol invasion, and since that time he and Mr. Trump have been in a feud. Rep. Gonzalez indicated he wants to spend his political time helping to deny Mr. Trump again becoming President, while the former national chief executive was claiming victory over one of the ten targeted GOP impeachment votes.

Governor

Maine: Though former Gov. Paul LePage (R) has not yet declared his 2022 gubernatorial candidacy, things are already moving in his direction. Late in the week, moderate Sen. Susan Collins (R) announced that she will support the conservative Mr. LePage, thus going a long way to unite all factions of the Maine GOP behind his unofficial candidacy. It is apparent that Mr. LePage, who served the maximum two consecutive terms as Governor, will return for a 2022 campaign, and he is already the clear favorite to advance into the general election. His eventual opponent, Gov. Janet Mills (D), is preparing to seek a second term.

Michigan: The Trafalgar Group released their new survey of the Michigan electorate (9/13-15; 1,097 MI likely voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, online, and text) and finds retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R), for the first time, leading Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). The ballot test gave the former Chief a 50-44% advantage. 

The Strategic National firm also tested the Governor’s race (9/18-19; 600 MI likely voters) and saw Ms. Whitmer holding just a 47-46% lead over Mr. Craig. The Strategic National poll appears slightly skewed toward Republicans because the number of sampled blacks is low and Republicans high according to the statewide demographic scale. 

New Jersey: After National Research, Inc. earlier this week released their survey (9/13-16; 600 NJ likely voters; live interview) showing former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R) pulling to within three points of Gov. Phil Murphy (D), 45-42%, Monmouth University counters with their new poll (9/16-20; 804 NJ registered voters; live interview), posting the incumbent back to a 51-38% advantage. These are wide spreads, obviously, meaning one is an outlier. This race could get interesting as we head toward a November 2nd finish.

Pennsylvania: Former Chester County Chamber of Commerce president, ex-Lt. Governor and congressional aide Guy Ciarrocchi, who has lost previous electoral campaigns, announced his gubernatorial candidacy at the beginning of the week. He joins former Congressman Lou Barletta, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, two state Senators, and a Harrisburg lobbyist in the GOP field. Democrats are expected to coalesce around Attorney General Josh Shapiro. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Rhode Island: In early March, Rhode Island Lt. Governor Dan McKee (D) was sworn in as the state’s new chief executive when then-Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to become US Commerce Secretary.  It was believed that the new incumbent would have a major fight to keep his position in the 2022 Democratic primary, which, as one of the last in the cycle, is scheduled for September 13th.  

The prediction of a combative primary has already come true. Late this week, former Secretary of State Matt Brown announced he will join the Democratic gubernatorial primary. Already in the race to challenge Gov. McKee are General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and current Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea. It is probable that with more candidates in the field, the stage will be better set for Gov. McKee to win a plurality primary.

Texas: Two hypothetical Texas gubernatorial ballot test responses were released late this weekend, finding Gov. Greg Abbott (R) both leading and trailing. Against a more likely opponent, former Congressman and presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke (D) who is beginning to act like a candidate, the University of Texas at Tyler polling for the Dallas Morning News (9/7-14; 1,148 TX registered voters; live interview & online) conducted an exhaustive 78-question survey and found Gov. Abbott ahead of Mr. O’Rourke only by a 42-37% count. Conversely, if actor Matthew McConaughey (D) were to run, he would top the Governor, 44-35%.  

Localities

Iowa: Tom Miller (D), who is 77 years of age and was first elected Iowa Attorney General in 1978, announced that he will seek an 11th non-consecutive term next year. Mr. Miller served in office from 1979 to 1991, departing after running unsuccessfully for Governor in 1990. He returned to re-claim the Attorney General’s position in 1994, and has held the office ever since. Needless to say, he is the longest serving Attorney General in the country. 

North Carolina: In a scenario that has occurred several times in North Carolina over the past several years, a state three-judge panel struck down the NC voter identification law on a 2-1 decision, ruling that the law is unfair to minority voters. The Republican state legislative leadership will likely appeal the decision, meaning we will again see a legal battle over the requirements surrounding proof of identity before voting. It is unclear how this development could affect the upcoming election cycle. 

Buffalo: The Buffalo Mayor’s race has acted like a seesaw ever since self-proclaimed socialist India Walton (D) denied four-term Mayor Byron Brown re-nomination in the June Democratic primary. Mayor Brown is returning as an Independent, and through various court rulings and then reversals, he is forced to run as a write in candidate. Otherwise, Ms. Walton is unopposed on the general election ballot. A new co/efficient survey (9/16-17; 653 likely Buffalo voters; live interview & text) finds Mayor Brown with an increasingly large lead, now 59-28%. The question is, will these poll numbers translate into actual write-in votes for Mayor Brown. Therefore, this becomes an interesting race.

Cleveland: Cleveland City Council President Kevin Kelley has taken a small lead over attorney Justin Bibb in the city’s mayoral race according to a new citywide poll.  Both men advanced into the general election after placing first and second in the September 14th primary election. While each is a Democrat, the election is ostensibly non-partisan. The Pathway Polling firm (9/17-20; 492 Cleveland likely general election voters) found Mr. Kelley holding a slight 32-30% edge over Mr. Bibb. The latter man, however, finished first in the jungle primary with a 27-19% spread over Council President Kelley.  Mayor Frank Jackson is retiring after 16 years in office.