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US Senate and House Candidate Shuffle

June 11, 2021

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

Key Takeaways

  • AZ-Sen: AG Mark Brnovich (R) Declares Senate Candidacy
  • NC-Sen: Lara Trump (R) Won’t Run; Ex-Pres. Trump Endorses
  • OH-15: State Legislator Drops Out of Special Election
  • TX-6: Susan Wright (R) Leads in New Runoff Election Poll
  • NJ; VA-Gov: ’21 Governors’ Campaigns Now Set after 6/8 Primary
  • OH-Gov: Ex-Rep. Jim Renacci (R) to Challenge GOP Gov. DeWine
  • Cities: Texas GOP Mayoral Sweep

Senate

Alabama: Katie Britt (R), the former Alabama Business Council President and CEO, early this week announced her US Senate candidacy. She is also a former chief of staff to retiring US Senator Richard Shelby (R). Ms. Britt will be a formidable candidate opposite Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and ex-US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard in the GOP primary. Democrats do not yet have an announced candidate. Early reports suggest that Sen. Shelby will endorse Ms. Britt.

Arizona: Saying new Senator Mark Kelly (D) has “been complicit in the ongoing war on our basic freedoms,” two-term Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) announced his US Senate candidacy yesterday. It appears Mr. Brnovich is the top-tier type of candidate the Republican leadership has desired, so expect the Arizona campaign to again become a national Senate race.

Missouri: Six-term Missouri Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) declared her US Senate candidacy this week. She will join an open-seat Republican field that includes former Governor Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and attorney Mark McCloskey with Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), Billy Long (R-Springfield), and Jason Smith (R-Salem/ Bootheel region) remaining as possible entrants. At this time, former St. Louis area state Senator Scott Sifton appears to be the leading Democrat.

Ohio: Former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken has released her new US Senate poll that shows her gaining support. The survey, from Moore Information for the Timken campaign (5/26; 600 OH likely Republican primary voters; live interview), still projects former state Treasurer and 2012 US Senate nominee Josh Mandel as leading the race, but Ms. Timken has drawn closer to him. According to the numbers, Mandel has a 24-19% edge over Timken, down from the 20-5% spread the survey research firm found in February.  

Countering the Timken campaign poll, Mr. Mandel responded with data of his own. The Remington Research Group conducted a poll for the Mandel campaign (6/1-3; 1,040 OH likely Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system) and posted the former state Treasurer and 2012 US Senate nominee to a 45-22% advantage. 

None of the other nine announced or potential GOP candidates, including author J.D. Vance, businessman and former US Senate candidate Mike Gibbons, and state Senator and Cleveland Indians baseball club minority owner Matt Dolan were included on the RRG ballot test. This clouds the results since it is clear the Republican Senate primary is far from a two-way contest. 

North Carolina: Lara Trump, daughter-in-law of ex-President Donald Trump decided not to enter the 2022 open US Senate contest in her native state of North Carolina. Quickly after she made her decision public, Mr. Trump endorsed US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in the GOP primary. The Congressman is opposing former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-US Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro). The leading Democrats are former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte). This is another national US Senate campaign.

Pennsylvania: Two-term Pennsylvania US Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-Devon) announced this week that she will not enter the open US Senate Democratic primary but instead will seek re-election, saying her “highest best use” is to remain in the House. House. Pennsylvania will lose one seat in reapportionment, which means her 6th District, like all other Keystone State seats, will undergo significant boundary changes. changes. With the Democratic majority at only five seats, once all the special elections conclude, Rep. Houlahan gives the party their best chance of retaining what could again become a competitive US House seat.

House

FL-7: While elective politics in the Orlando area has recently centered around whether Reps. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) and Val Demings (D-Orlando) would run statewide – Rep. Murphy decided to seek re-election while Ms. Demings will run for Senate – a new political move suggests that we will also see a potentially credible challenge emerging on the congressional district level. State Rep. Anthony Sabatini (R-Clermont), in anticipation of a new redistricting map, has changed his committee placeholder filed with the Federal Election Commission from running in Rep. Dan Webster’s (R-Clermont) 11th District to challenging Rep. Murphy in the 7th. 

NY-1Nancy Goroff, who held Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/East Long Island) to a 55-45% re-election victory, will not return to compete in the open seat now that the Congressman is running for Governor. Ms. Goroff attended Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn’s (D) congressional announcement and formally endorsed her candidacy. At this point, four Democrats have announced for the seat, including now two Suffolk County legislators, but no Republicans to date. This, for a seat that Republican Zeldin has held for four terms.

OH-15: The special Republican primary election to nominate a candidate to succeed resigned Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) has one less contender. State Rep. Brian Stewart (R-Ashville) announced during the week that he is withdrawing from the race after filing his papers to become a candidate. Before the Stewart decision became public, a total of 12 Republicans had filed including four sitting state legislators, two from each House. 

Mr. Stewart says he couldn’t compete financially with state Rep. Jeff LaRe (R-Violet Township) now that former Rep. Stivers has launched a support independent expenditure for him with much of his current campaign war chest that totals more than $2.3 million. Additionally, former President Trump issued an endorsement for Ohio Coal Association chairman Mike Carey (R). The special congressional primary is scheduled for August 3rd, and the eventual GOP winner will become the heavy favorite to carry the November 2nd special general election.

TX-6: Susan Wright, the widow of Texas US Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) who passed away in February, just released her American Viewpoint special election runoff survey. Ms. Wright finished first in the May 1st jungle primary and advanced to a July 27th runoff election with state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). According to the AV poll (6/1-3; 400 TX-6 likely special runoff election voters; live interview), Ms. Wright would lead Rep. Ellzey 49-34% if the runoff election were held today. The winner of the July 27th vote will serve the balance of the unexpired term.

Governor

Kansas: Early this week, state House Speaker Ron Ryckman (R-Olathe) announced he would not run for Governor and proceeded to endorse state Attorney General Derek Schmidt in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Mr. Ryckman’s decision to stay in the legislature better defines the GOP primary as a two-way race between AG Schmidt and former Governor and Lt. Governor Jeff Colyer. The winner of next year’s August primary will challenge Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly.

Maryland: A late May poll, just now being released from Gonzales Research & Media Services (5/17-22; 301 MD likely Democratic primary voters; high error factor of 5.8%) finds former Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker leading state Comptroller Peter Franchot, 22-18%, with ex-Democratic National Committee chairman and possible 2022 gubernatorial candidate Tom Perez at 10% preference. This early poll projects that the Democratic primary will be hard-fought ending in a tight finish. With approximately ten months remaining in the nomination campaign, however, much can change.

Michigan: A Competitive Edge Research & Communication survey conducted for the Michigan Republican Party (5/26-6/4; 809 MI likely voters) finds recently retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R) leading Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), 45-38%, which is an obvious improvement over the relatively recent Target-Insyght survey (5/9-11; 800 MI registered voters) that found the Governor topping Mr. Craig, 48-42%. Curiously, the CERC poll found 2020 US Senate nominee John James, who lost a close race to Sen. Gary Peters (D), recording a considerably different result. If he were the Republican nominee, Gov. Whitmer would lead 50-45%. 

New Jersey: New Jersey voters went to the polls on Tuesday and Republicans selected former state Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli to oppose Gov. Phil Murphy this November. Gov. Murphy drew no opposition for his re-nomination in the Democratic primary. Mr. Ciattarelli was favored on the Republican side, as he earned the official party endorsement from local GOP committees in 17 of the Garden State’s 21 counties. He recorded 50% of the vote against three opponents. Though Democrats are the dominant New Jersey political party, we can expect this gubernatorial contest to attract national attention as we move toward a November 2nd general election day vote.

Ohio: Former Congressman and 2018 US Senate nominee Jim Renacci followed through on his previous claims that he would challenge Gov. Mike DeWine in the 2022 Republican primary and made his official announcement on Thursday. Mr. Renacci plans to make the Governor’s COVID-19 shutdown policies a key tenet in his quest to deny Mr. DeWine re-nomination.

Virginia: As expected, former Gov. Terry McAuliffe easily won the Democratic nomination in this week’s Virginia primary with a strong 62.3% victory against four opponents and setting him on course to face former international investment hedge fund CEO Glenn Youngkin (R). The state’s one-term gubernatorial limit prohibits Governors from seeking re-election, hence Mr. McAuliffe’s bid for a second term was delayed four years. He becomes the early favorite in the general election, but a competitive campaign with Mr. Youngkin, who is capable of funding his own campaign, appears probable.

States

Illinois: After passing legislation to re-draw the state legislature’s district lines, as well as those for the state Supreme Court based upon Census Bureau estimates, the Illinois House and Senate sent Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) a bill that will move the state’s 2022 primary from March 14th to June 28th. Many early primary states will be forced to move their nomination elections because the Census Bureau has delayed in producing the necessary redistricting data. 

Texas: Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West, a former Florida Congressman resigned his post at the end of last week after holding the position for less than a year. It is believed that Mr. West is resigning to soon announce his candidacy either in a GOP gubernatorial primary challenge to two-term incumbent Greg Abbott or as a federal candidate in the 32nd Congressional District race against two-term Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas). It is likely that Mr. West will wait until he sees how redistricting might affect the 32nd District before making a decision to again run for the House.

Cities

Arlington, Ft. Worth, McAllen, Texas: Texas Republicans won three Mayoral runoff elections on Saturday night, the biggest surprise of which happened in the Texas-Mexico border city of McAllen, where the Hispanic population in the city registers just under 85%. Republican Javier Villalobos, a former Hidalgo County Republican Party chairman and member of the McAllen City Commission (Council) won a 51% victory in the mayoral runoff.

GOP candidates Mattie Parker and Jim Ross were elected in Ft. Worth and Arlington, respectively. Both Ft. Worth and Arlington lie in Tarrant County, an entity that went for Joe Biden over Donald Trump in November by a slim margin. Mr. Biden was the first Democrat to carry the county since Lyndon Johnson won here in 1964. The mayoral elections, all with increased turnouts from their citywide elections of four years ago, could be a signal of growing post-election GOP strength.

AtlantaLast month, we saw Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) withdraw from her re-election campaign. After her announcement, the candidate field grew to five individuals. Now, former two-term Mayor Kasim Reed (D) is poised to enter the open race in hopes of reclaiming his former political position. Mr. Reed was ineligible to seek a consecutive third term in 2017. He will become the favorite to finish atop the current mayoral field of candidates.