Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats – Issue 5

In this issue: FL-20 rematches on the horizon and several Tennessee counties opt for partisan school board elections

Rematches on horizon in FL-20 Democratic primary

On Jan. 11, Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D) won a special election to succeed former Rep. Alcee Hastings (D), who died in April of last year. Cherfilus-McCormick received 79% of the vote. If Cherfilus-McCormick runs for a full term later this year, she’ll once again face several opponents from last November’s special Democratic primary, including second-place finisher Dale Holness and third-place finisher Barbara Sharief.

Cherfilus-McCormick defeated Holness by 5 votes in the special primary. Both candidates had 23.8% of the vote. Sharief received 17.7%. Holness and Sharief were Broward County commissioners. Cherfilus-McCormick is CEO of Trinity Health Care Services. 

Cherfilus-McCormick campaigned on $1,000-per-month payments to people over 18 making less than $75,000 a year, Medicare for All, and a $20 minimum wage. Holness’ campaign website said he would fight to make the district “a beacon of economic growth throughout America.” Sharief’s platform included a $15 minimum wage and expanding Medicare and Medicaid coverage.

The Democratic primary for the November 2022 general election is set for Aug. 23.

In addition, three special primary elections were held Tuesday for legislative districts where incumbents resigned to run in the special Democratic primary for Congress. 

  • Florida Senate District 33: Rosalind Osgood defeated Terry Edden 74% to 26%.
  • Florida House District 88: Jervonte Edmonds defeated Clarence Williams 65% to 35%.
  • Florida House District 94: Daryl Campbell defeated three other candidates with 40% of the vote. Josephus Eggelletion III was second with 29%.

Osgood and Edmonds face Republican challengers in special general elections on March 8. The general election for House District 94 was canceled due to lack of opposition.

Chicago Ald. Dowell drops SoS bid to run in 1st District primary

On Jan. 5, Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell (D) announced she would end her bid for Illinois secretary of state and instead run in the Democratic primary for the 1st Congressional District. Dowell made the announcement following 1st District Rep. Bobby Rush’s (D) announcement that he would not seek re-election. The Chicago Sun-Times‘ Lynn Sweet said Dowell’s political and fundraising campaign operation would give her a strong position in the primary

Sweet also reported that Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norington-Reaves launched a primary campaign for the 1st District. Rush told the Chicago Sun-Times he plans to endorse a successor in the coming weeks. Sweet said that “there are signs pointing to Norington-Reaves getting his nod. She worked with Rush in bringing to his district the Chatham Education and Workforce Center.”

The 1st Congressional District contains portions of Chicago’s South Side and southern suburbs. According to The Cook Political Report, the district is solidly Democratic.

Rush was first elected in 1992 and is the only politician to defeat former President Barack Obama (D) in an election. Rush defeated then-state Sen. Obama 61%-30% in the 2000 U.S. House Democratic primary.

Clay Aiken launches second U.S. House bid in N.C.

Clay Aiken, an entertainer and former American Idol contestant, announced his bid for North Carolina’s 6th Congressional District on Jan. 10. In 2014, Aiken won the Democratic primary in North Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District. Incumbent Renee Ellmers (R) defeated him in the general 59% to 41%. 

In 2003, Aiken lost Season 2 of American Idol to Ruben Studdard by a 134,000-vote margin out of 24 million votes cast.

Other Democratic primary candidates so far include Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, state Sen. Valerie Foushee, and state Sen. Wiley Nickel.

The redrawn 6th District includes much of the current 4th District, which retiring Rep. David Price (D) represents. Three independent outlets have rated North Carolina’s 6th as Safe or Solid Democratic

In December, the North Carolina Supreme Court postponed the state’s 2022 primary election from March 8 to May 17 to allow time for redistricting map challenges to move through the courts. On Jan. 11, the Wake County Superior Court ruled in favor of the congressional district maps. Appeals are possible.

Multiple Tennessee counties switch to partisan school board elections 

At least eight of the 10 largest counties in Tennessee will hold partisan primary elections for school board in 2022. Gov. Bill Lee (R) signed a bill in November giving county parties the ability to hold partisan primary elections. Before now, school board elections were nonpartisan with candidates prohibited from identifying or campaigning with any political party. 

Davidson, Knox, Hamilton, Rutherford, Williamson, Sumner, Sullivan, and Wilson counties will hold partisan primary elections for school boards this year. 

In Williamson County, the GOP made the switch first. County GOP Chairwoman Cheryl Brown said, “If you’re running for something, if you’re running for a particular position … you should state your political stance.” The county Democratic Party opposed the switch but followed suit.  The party said in a statement, “While the WCDP firmly believes partisanship has no place in school board elections, we can’t sit idly by while Republicans choose political power and polarization over the quality of education and safety of our children.”

Shelby County, the state’s largest county and home to Memphis, will continue holding nonpartisan school board elections in 2022. County Democratic Party Chairwoman Gabby Salinas said, “All of us, regardless of political affiliation, have a vested interest in the education of our children.” County GOP Chairman Cary Vaughn said the party “see[s] no advantage or benefit in changing our protocol.”

County Democratic and Republican parties had until Dec. 10 to alert county election officials as to whether they would hold a partisan or nonpartisan primary or caucus. In counties where candidates advance from a partisan primary to the general election, party labels will appear beside candidates’ names on the general election ballot.

Click here to learn about prominent conflicts in school board elections across the country.

Oregon governor’s race: Kristof disqualified, Kotek resigns from state House to focus on campaign

On Jan. 6, Nick Kristof was disqualified from Oregon’s gubernatorial primary ballot, and House Speaker Tina Kotek announced she’d resign to focus on her gubernatorial campaign.

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D) said former New York Times columnist Nick Kristof did not meet residency requirements to be on the ballot. Kristof asked the Oregon Supreme Court to overturn her decision. The court will consider the matter.

This year’s gubernatorial candidates must have been Oregon residents since at least November 2019. Kristof voted as a New York resident in 2020. Kristof disputed Fagan’s interpretation of the word resident and said that he meets the requirement partly because he considers his family farm in the state, which he leased in 2018, to be his home. 

Meanwhile, Kotek announced her resignation from the state House effective Jan. 21. Kotek became speaker in 2013 and was the longest-serving speaker in the state’s history. OPB’s Dirk VanderHart wrote that “allies had expected her to lead a tightly scripted one-month ‘short’ session [in February] that will tackle continued police reforms, the state’s ongoing housing crisis, worker protections and more.”

Kotek cited a realization from a one-day special session in December for her resignation: “I always do everything 110% … I want to make sure session has my full attention and I just felt like I couldn’t do it.”

At the end of 2021, Kristoff led in fundraising with $2.5 million. Kotek was second with $838,000 and state Treasurer Tobias Read third with $726,000. 

The filing deadline is March 8 and the primary is May 17. Current Gov. Kate Brown (D) is term-limited.

Bailey switches from AG to Lt. governor’s race in Georgia

Charlie Bailey, the 2018 Democratic nominee for attorney general, ended his 2022 bid for the same office to seek the lieutenant gubernatorial nomination instead. Bailey said, “Leaders in the party asked me to consider the switch, and the more I looked at it, the more I saw I could help the ticket by talking about public safety, criminal justice reform and expanding health care.”

Bailey lost in 2018 to incumbent Chris Carr (R) 48.7% to 51.3%. In the 2022 attorney general Democratic primary, he was set to face state Sen. Jen Jordan, whom several state legislators and national groups endorsed.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein said Bailey “hopes to take advantage of a muddled field with no clear favorite” in the lieutenant gubernatorial primary. The field includes state Reps. Erick Allen, Derrick Jackson, and Renitta Shannon. U.S. Reps. Lucy McBath (D-Ga.) and Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and former Gov. Roy Barnes (D) endorsed Bailey.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan (R) is not seeking re-election. The primary is May 24.