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Youngkin Takes Lead in VA; Friese Drops Out of AZ-2 Race

September 10, 2021

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

Key Takeaways

  • NC-Sen: Ex-NC Supreme Ct. Justice Cheri Beasley Leads Dem Primary
  • OH-Sen: Close Open Senate Race Gen Election Polling
  • AZ-2: Open Seat Favorite Dr. Randy Friese (D) Drops Out
  • WY-AL: Trump Endorses Harriet Hageman (R) Against Rep. Cheney
  • CA-Gov: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) Recall Election on Tuesday
  • VA-Gov: Glenn Youngkin (R) Takes First Polling Lead

Senate

North Carolina: The EMILY’s List organization commissioned a Public Policy Polling survey (8/31-9/1; 700 NC likely Democratic primary voters; live interview & text) for the North Carolina Democratic US Senate primary and found their endorsed candidate, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, leading state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) by a nine-point, 33-24%, margin. 

While 11 Democrats have announced for the open primary, the early contest is clearly segmenting into a two-way battle between Ms. Beasley and Sen. Jackson. Incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) is retiring. The leading Republican candidates are ex-Gov. Pat McCrory, US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), and former US Rep. Mark Walker.

Ohio: London-based pollster Redfield & Wilton Strategies released their latest results for the open Ohio Senate race (8/20-24; 1,200 OH likely voters) that show former state Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) faring best among the GOP candidates opposite US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/ Youngstown). The R&W results see Mr. Mandel holding a 41-37% edge among those most likely to vote. Rep. Ryan holds small leads over author J.D. Vance (37-36%) and former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken (38-36%).

Wisconsin: The Milwaukee County District Attorney has indicted US Senate candidate and Milwaukee Alderwoman Chantia Lewis (D) on five counts of embezzling over $20,000 from her campaign and the Milwaukee Common Council travel fund.  Ms. Lewis claims the transactions were “accounting errors,” and she promises to “make the necessary corrections.” Her attorney says he will file a dismissal motion. It appears Ms. Lewis will continue her US Senate.

House

AZ-2: State Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson), long thought of as the favorite to replace retiring Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) next year, has decided to end his congressional candidacy. Dr. Friese, a surgeon who came to statewide prominence as the physician who saved then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D) life after she was tragically shot in 2011, says the increase in COVID cases is requiring him to spend fulltime treating patients in his practice. 

Eight Democrats, including state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D-Tucson), are announced candidates. Others may join post-redistricting. The eventual Democratic nominee, at least if the new boundaries are similar to what currently exists, will be favored to hold the seat in the 2022 general election.

Colorado: The second Centennial State redistricting map was released, this time from the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission staff. The map was the result of listening to public input from a series of hearings. While the new map is much different from the first, it still creates a marginal new district that each party can win along with a district for each incumbent to seek re-election. 

A new round of public hearings will now begin. Under the state redistricting deadlines, the Commission members, with minimum support from eight of the 12-member body, must pass a map to the state Supreme Court for review by September 28th. If the Commission members cannot agree with a super majority, the staff then submits directly to the high court. The state Supreme Court must approve the congressional and state legislative maps by December 15th.

MI-6: Veteran Michigan Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), who was one of ten Republicans to support impeaching then-President Trump over the January 6th Capitol invasion, now faces a Trump-endorsed opponent. The former President announced that he is backing state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo) in his challenge to Rep. Upton. 

At this point, five Republicans have announced their primary bids, but Rep. Carra is the only one who has even raised $100,000 in the early going. The Trump endorsement will likely further establish Mr. Carra as the Congressman’s chief Republican opponent. Rep. Upton has not yet announced his bid for re-election, but he is expected to run. The Congressman was first elected in 1986.

NH-1: As expected, former television news reporter Gail Huff Brown (R), wife of former Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown (R), this week formally declared her candidacy for New Hampshire’s 1st Congressional District race. Redistricting is expected to make this wildly swing seat more Republican, hence the interest among several candidates. Matt Mowers, the former Trump White House aide who held incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) to a 51-46% re-election win, is returning for another run. Karoline Leavitt, another ex-Trump White House aide, and state Rep. Tim Baxter (R-Portsmouth) are also announced candidates.

OK-5: Democrat Abby Broyles, a former television news reporter who as the 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee lost 63-33% to veteran Sen. Jim Inhofe (R), announced that she will return to candidate status, but this time for the US House. Ms. Broyles announced her intention to oppose freshman Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City) next year. Ms. Bice, then a state Senator, unseated one-term Rep. Kendra Horn (D) in November. 

The Broyles move suggests that Ms. Horn will not be resigning her federal appointment in the Biden Administration to attempt to regain her House seat. Rep. Bice will be favored for re-election in what has traditionally been a Republican seat.

TX-32: As last week closed, hospital executive John Porro (R) announced that he is joining the growing field of GOP candidates positioning themselves to challenge Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) next year. The field includes 2020 nominee Genevieve Collins (R) who fell to Rep. Allred, 52-46%. 

The large contender field is surprising because redistricting will likely award Rep. Allred a much stronger Democratic seat considering the recent Dallas County voting trends. With a new district likely coming to the Dallas metro area, expect most of the competition to transfer to that seat, when it is eventually drawn, and away from a direct challenge to Rep. Allred. 

WY-AL: Harriet Hageman, who just resigned her position as the Republican National Committeewoman from Wyoming, joined the crowded field of candidates opposing at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson). Immediately, former President Donald Trump endorsed Ms. Hageman. Now we will see an effort to unite the anti-Cheney Trump Republicans behind the newly endorsed candidate. Harriet Hageman ran for Governor in 2018, finishing third in the GOP primary. The open Wyoming primary does not conclude until August 16, 2022.  

Governor

California: Now just days away from the California gubernatorial recall election, polling continues to indicate that Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is in position to remain in office. Three new surveys were just released, from the Trafalgar Group, Targoz Market Research, and the Public Policy Institute at the University of California at Berkeley. 

The cumulative ballot tests produce a Newsom victory (meaning a NO vote on the recall question), spanning from ten to 19 points. Trafalgar (9/2-4; 1,079 CA likely voters; live interview, interactive voice response system, email & text) finds Newsom surviving, 53-43%, and Targoz (8/23-25; 797 CA likely voters; online) sees a similar 51-41% split. UC Berkeley, a regular California pollster (8/20-29; 1,080 CA likely voters; live interview) projects an even larger Newsom survival margin, 58-39%. 

While these polls suggest the trend is clearly favoring a Newsom retention, his approval numbers remain weak and his strength among the key Hispanic minority group is waning. Turnout in this irregular election will be the determining factor.

Illinois: Saying he has already identified over $10 million in campaign support, venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan (R) late this week announced his entry into the 2022 Illinois Republican gubernatorial primary from which he hopes to challenge Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in the regular election. Gov. Pritzker, himself a venture capitalist, spent more than $171 million of his own money to win his position in 2018 defeating then Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). 

Kansas: As we reported last week, former Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) has ended his 2022 gubernatorial bid for health reasons. Since then, endorsements have been forthcoming, including those from all three Kansas Republican US House members, for Attorney General Derek Schmidt’s (R) gubernatorial bid. AG Schmidt was Mr. Colyer’s chief GOP opponent. 

Now, it appears the party is fully uniting behind Mr. Schmidt. Late this week, former Lt. Governor nominee and ex-gubernatorial candidate Wink Hartman, who was said to be considering another run for Governor, also announced his support for Mr. Schmidt. It is now highly probable, just under a year before the August 2nd Kansas primary, that we will see Mr. Schmidt nominated to challenge first-term Gov. Laura Kelly (D) in what is likely to become a toss-up campaign.

Michigan: Auto dealership owner Kevin Rinke (R) is launching a gubernatorial exploratory committee to assess his chances of unseating Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). Mr. Rinke pledges to invest $10 million of his own money into the campaign should he officially become a candidate. Credible contenders already in the Republican primary are retired Detroit Police chief James Craig and talk show host Tudor Dixon.

Minnesota: State Sen. Paul Gazelka (R-East Gulf Lake), who recently stepped down as the state Senate’s Majority Leader, announced that he will enter the Republican gubernatorial primary with the goal of opposing Gov. Tim Walz (D) next November. Mr. Gazelka joins state Sen. Micelle Benson (R-Ham Lake), former state Senator and physician Scott Jensen, Lexington Mayor Mike Murphy, and physician Neil Shah in running for the GOP nomination. At this point, Gov. Walz is a strong favorite for re-election.

Ohio: The aforementioned Redfield & Wilton Strategies (8/20-24; 1,200 OH likely voters) also tested the Ohio Governor’s race. The data finds incumbent Mike DeWine (R) in a strong position against his potential opponents. He leads Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley (D), 46-27%, and Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley (D), 47-25%. Numbers as to how Gov. DeWine would fare in a contested Republican primary against former US Rep. Jim Renacci were either not released or the segmented question not asked.

Virginia: WPA Intelligence, polling for the Glenn Youngkin for Governor campaign (8/30-9/2; 734 VA likely voters), finds former hedge fund CEO Youngkin taking his first lead in the 2021 Virginia Governor’s campaign. According to the WPAi results, Mr. Youngkin tops former Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), 48-46%. Despite the lead change, this poll is in line with all others that forecast a tight vote featuring both candidates consistently landing in the 40s.

Wisconsin: Former White House Chief of Staff and ex-Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus said this week that he will not enter the 2022 Wisconsin Governor’s race. Mr. Priebus was viewed as a dark horse candidate, so this decision is not particularly surprising. 

A just-released Redfield & Wilton Strategies survey (8/20-24; 730 WI registered voters) finds Gov. Tony Evers (D) and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R), who has already filed a gubernatorial committee and is expected to formally announce next week, in a 41-41% tie among those who self-identify as likely voters. Redfield & Wilton is a London based research company who rates as a B/C pollster on the FiveThirtyEight pollster ranking system.