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Amee LaTour

Amee LaTour is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 19 (April 21, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

April 21, 2022

In this issue: Trump endorses Vance for Senate in Ohio and the latest in WV-02’s incumbent-vs-incumbent primary

Trump endorses Vance in Ohio U.S. Senate primary

On April 15, former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed author J.D. Vance in the May 3 Senate Republican primary. Vance, one of seven GOP primary candidates, will appear at a rally with Trump on April 23.

Trump said, “Like some others, J.D. Vance may have said some not so great things about me in the past, but he gets it now, and I have seen that in spades. He is our best chance for victory in what could be a very tough race.” 

Vance was critical of Trump in 2016 and later supported him. Vance said the endorsement “sends a bit of a signal to all of the people who’ve heard millions of dollars in negative advertising that I’m somehow anti-Trump. … I think it sort of sticks a fork in that.”

Vance and candidates Josh Mandel, Jane Timken, and Mike Gibbons have emphasized connections to and support for Trump in their campaigns. Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt wrote in February that “[t]he Senate race in Ohio is a high-profile example of how Trump is dominating Republican down-ballot primaries, and how his support is seen as make-or-break for those seeking the party’s nomination.” 

As media outlets began reporting that Trump planned to endorse Vance, several dozen GOP county chairs and state committee members urged Trump not to do it, saying in a letter that Vance “referred to your supporters as ‘racists’ and proudly voted for Evan McMullin in 2016.” 

Timken said, “Ohio voters know that J.D. Vance was a ‘never Trumper’. And, more importantly, he said some pretty terrible things about the Trump voter, that they were racist or uneducated.” 

Timken and Mandel said they looked forward to Trump’s endorsement in the general election. 

Gibbons said, “While I would have loved the endorsement, I continue to be in a strong position in this race.” 

And Matt Dolan said Gibbons, Mandel, Timken, and Vance “embraced lies and undermined the Constitution to go all-in for one endorsement.”

RealClearPoliticsaverage of polls conducted from late February to mid-April showed Mandel at 21%, Gibbons at 19%, Vance at 14%, and Dolan and Timken each at 8%. A Trafalgar Group poll conducted April 13-14, just before Trump issued his endorsement, showed Mandel at 28%, Vance at 23%, and Gibbons at 14%. The Trafalgar poll’s margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman’s (R) is retiring. Portman endorsed Timken.

April endorsements and spending in WV-02

In West Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District, Reps. David McKinley and Alexander Mooney are running in the May 10 Republican primary as a result of redistricting. Here’s a rundown of endorsements and satellite spending from this month:

  • On April 11, the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce endorsed McKinley. On April 20, former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) endorsed McKinley.
  • The American Conservative Union, which organizes the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), endorsed Mooney on April 12 and Rep. Ronny Jackson (R-Texas) endorsed Mooney on April 13. 
  • On April 12, Club for Growth announced that Club for Growth Action and School Freedom Fund spent $1.1 million on three ads supporting Mooney. 
  • Two other satellite groups purchased ads in the district earlier this month. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce placed a $160,000 ad buy telling voters to call and thank McKinley for his plan to lower gas prices, while Defending Main Street bought $250,000 in ads opposing Mooney.

McKinley’s other endorsers include Gov. Jim Justice (R) and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (who is now an independent). Trump endorsed Mooney in November.

Newly available finance reports from Jan. 1, 2021, through March 31, 2022, show that Mooney had spent $4.5 million and McKinley had spent $1.3 million. 

According to the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, the new 2nd District is a combination of parts of the old 1st and 2nd districts. The new district contains eight counties Mooney represents and 19 of 20 counties McKinley represents. The first map below shows the old 2nd District and the second map shows the new 2nd.

McKinley was elected in 2010, and Mooney was elected in 2014. Race forecasting outlets view West Virginia’s new 2nd District as Safe Republican. This is one of five districts with incumbents challenging one another in primaries this year.

Former EPA administrator Scott Pruitt files for Oklahoma special U.S. Senate election

Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator Scott Pruitt filed for the special Senate Republican primary. Incumbent Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) is resigning effective Jan. 3, 2023. 

More than a dozen Republicans are running, including state Sen. Nathan Dahm, Inhofe’s former chief of staff Luke Holland, U.S. Rep. Markwayne Mullin, and former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon. 

Inhofe endorsed Holland in his retirement announcement.

Michael Crespin, director of the Carl Albert Congressional Research & Studies Center at the University of Oklahoma, said Pruitt has high name recognition in the state and, “I don’t know if all of his name recognition will be positive,” referring to investigations into Pruitt while he led the EPA. 

Pruitt served as head of the EPA from February 2017 to July 2018. The EPA’s Office of Inspector General, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and the Government Accountability Office conducted several investigations, with most of the inquiries focused on Pruitt’s travel and spending habits while in office. Pruitt resigned, saying that “the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us.” 

In an Associated Press interview, Pruitt said the criticism of his tenure at the EPA came from him heading what he called the “Holy Grail of the American left.” Pruitt said, “I think Oklahomans know when the New York Times and CNN and MSNBC and those places are against you, Oklahomans are for you.”

Pruitt served as Oklahoma’s attorney general from 2011 to 2017 and as a member of the state Senate from 1999 to 2007.

Pruitt is one of several former Trump administration officials running for Congress in 2022. Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is running in Montana’s 1st Congressional District. Former Trump advisor Max Miller is running in Ohio’s 7th. And former White House Assistant Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt is running in New Hampshire’s 1st. 

The special primary is set for June 28. If no candidate gets a majority of the vote, the top two finishers head to a runoff on Aug. 23.

Update: Tennessee GOP removes three candidates from TN-05 ballot

The Tennessee Republican Party voted to remove Baxter Lee, Morgan Ortagus, and Robby Starbuck from the ballot in Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. The party disqualified the candidates for not meeting requirements in its bylaws, which include having voted in three of the last four statewide GOP primaries and participating in state or local Republican parties. As we wrote last week, the state executive committee voted April 9 to remove the candidates, and candidates were able to challenge the vote.

Nebraska gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster is accused of sexual assault and denies allegations

On April 14, the Nebraska Examiner‘s Aaron Sanderford reported that eight women, including state Sen. Julie Slama (R), say gubernatorial candidate Charles Herbster sexually assaulted them between 2017 and 2022.

According to Sanderford, “Slama confirmed that as she walked by Herbster, he reached up her skirt, without her consent, and touched her inappropriately. … [Six women] said Herbster groped them on their buttocks, outside of their clothes, during political events or beauty pageants. … A seventh woman said Herbster once cornered her privately and kissed her forcibly.” 

Sanderford said the Examiner corroborated each account with either at least one witness or at least one individual who was told about the alleged incident on the same day it was said to have occurred. As of April 19, three people in addition to Slama had spoken on the record

Herbster responded, “These libelous accusations are 100% false. For over thirty years, I’ve employed hundreds of people. I’ve respected and empowered women to run my company, my farm and now my campaign. Not once has my integrity EVER been challenged in this manner. It’s only after I’ve threatened the stranglehold the establishment has on this state do they stoop to lies this large. This story is a ridiculous, unfounded dirty political trick being carried out by Pete Ricketts and Jim Pillen.”  

In an April 15 Facebook post, Herbster wrote, “I will not back down. I am a fighter just like Justice Kavanaugh and President Donald J. Trump. I will fight for my character and reputation.” 

Trump endorsed Herbster, who served as the chairman of Trump’s Agriculture and Rural Advisory Committee, in October. On April 19, Trump announced he would hold a rally for Herbster in Greenwood, Nebraska, on April 29.   

Other gubernatorial primary candidates responded to the allegations. 

University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen said, “Sexually assaulting women should be disqualifying for anyone seeking to serve as a leader.” 

State Sen. Brett Lindstrom said, “I was disgusted reading the stories of my colleague, Senator Slama, and the other brave women who came forward today. … We need to listen to and stand with the victims.” 

Former state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau said, “The allegations outlined against Charles Herbster are morally repugnant and in stark contrast to the principles of basic human decency. … I unequivocally support Senator Julie Slama and the seven brave young women who shared their stories.”

On April 15, Nebraska Republican Party Chairman Dan Welch said, “Without casting judgement in this matter, the NEGOP condemns all forms of sexual assault and believes any allegation must be investigated appropriately. … Per the NEGOP Constitution, the party remains neutral in the Governor’s primary. … The NEGOP will support our nominees for the general election.” 

The primary is scheduled for May 10.

Recent polling and PAC spending in Georgia

Former President Donald Trump’s leadership PAC donated to a super PAC opposing incumbent Brian Kemp in Georgia’s Republican gubernatorial primary. Recent polling shows Kemp leading the race. 

Save America PAC, which Trump formed shortly after the 2020 general elections, gave $500,000 to the super PAC Get Georgia Right. The latter group ran a TV ad saying Kemp “dismissed concerns about voter fraud in the 2020 election.”

Politico‘s Alex Isenstadt said this was Save America PAC’s first major midterm spending: “While Trump has cut small checks to favored candidates and spent money to stage rallies, he had yet to direct a sizable sum toward bolstering a particular contender.” 

A recent Landmark Communications poll showed Kemp leading David Perdue 52% to 28%, with 10% undecided. The poll was conducted April 14 and has a margin of error of +/- 3.8 percentage points.

Trump has been critical of both Kemp and Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R) for certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia. Trump endorsed Perdue in the gubernatorial race and Jody Hice in the secretary of state race. 

In the secretary of state GOP primary, the Landmark poll showed Jody Hice leading Raffensperger 35% to 18%, with 33% of respondents undecided. 

An Emerson College poll from early April showed Kemp leading Perdue 43% to 32% and Raffensperger leading Hice 29% to 26%. The poll had a credibility interval (similar to a margin of error) of +/- 4.3 percentage points.

In Georgia, if no candidate wins a majority of the vote in an election, a runoff is held between the top two vote-getters. The primaries are set for May 24.

Competitiveness data: Arkansas and California  

Akransas’ filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 1, and California’s was March 14. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 19 (April 21, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

April 21, 2022

In this issue: The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC backs Brown over Turner in OH-11 and a look at the first U.S. House debate in Vermont

Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC backs Brown over Turner this year

The Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC endorsed incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown in a rematch against Nina Turner in Ohio’s 11th Congressional District. This is a change for the PAC, which endorsed Turner in the 2021 special primary election. Brown defeated Turner 50% to 45% last August. Brown was sworn into office in November and has since become a member of the Progressive Caucus.

PAC co-chairs Mark Pocan (Wis.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), and Jamie Raskin (Md.) said in a statement announcing Brown’s endorsement as part of a slate, “Each and every one of [the endorsees] is working every day to take on corporate special interests, fight for economic and social justice, universal health care, climate action, and bold solutions to the urgent crises facing our country.” 

Cleveland.com’s editorial board and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recently endorsed Turner, as they did in 2021. Turner co-chaired Sanders’ 2020 presidential campaign. 

The PAC Protect Our Future has spent more than $1 million supporting Brown. Last week, we wrote about that group’s spending in Oregon’s 6th Congressional District primary. 

Last year’s special election was held after former incumbent Marcia Fudge (D) became secretary of Housing and Urban Development in President Joe Biden’s administration. Brown served on the Cuyahoga County Council from 2015 until she joined the House in November. Turner was a state senator from 2008 to 2015. 

The primary is scheduled for May 3.

Rep. Chuy Garcia endorses Jonathan Jackson in IL-01

Rep. Chuy Garcia (D-Ill.) endorsed Jonathan Jackson, son of Jesse Jackson Sr., in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District Democratic primary. Jonathan Jackson is the national spokesman for the Rainbow PUSH Coalition, which says it is “a multi-racial, multi-issue, progressive, international membership organization fighting for social change.” Jesse Jackson Sr. formed the group in 1996.

Twenty candidates are running for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush (D) is retiring and endorsed Karen Norington-Reaves, former CEO of the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, in the primary. 

Campaign finance filings current through March 31 show Chicago Ald. Pat Dowell and Jonathan Swain led with $382,000 and $376,000, respectively. Norington-Reaves raised the third-highest amount with $291,000, and Jackson was next with $145,000.

Politico‘s Shia Kapos wrote, “Rush’s seat holds historical significance for many Chicagoans. The nation’s first Black congressman elected in the 20th century, Oscar De Priest, held Illinois’ 1st Congressional District for three terms, previewing the political shifts wrought by the Great Migration. Black men have held the seat ever since.”

Kapos wrote, “While it remains predominantly African American, the [1st District’s] new boundaries extend farther into suburban, whiter, Republican neighborhoods to the southwest. … For the Democratic primary, … 75 percent of the votes will come from Chicago and 85 percent from the broader Cook County, [redistricting consultant Frank Calabrese] said.” 

The primary is set for June 28.

Vermont’s U.S. House candidates meet for first debate

Four Democratic candidates for Vermont’s sole U.S. House seat met for a debate sponsored by VTDigger on April 14. Incumbent Rep. Peter Welch (D) is running for U.S. Senate, leaving the district open for the first time since 2006.

Candidates Becca Balint, Sianay Chase Clifford, Molly Gray, and Kesha Ram Hinsdale discussed the invasion of Ukraine, what they would do differently than Welch, and drug legalization, among other topics.

Balint, who currently serves as state Senate president pro tempore, said she might support a U.S. military intervention in Ukraine if Russia uses chemical weapons. Balint also said she supports strengthening sanctions against Russia and sanctioning Belarus.

Chase Clifford, who was a staffer for U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), opposes sending the U.S. military to Ukraine and supports targeting sanctions to reduce their impact on vulnerable communities.

Gray, the current lieutenant governor, opposes a no-fly zone over Ukraine and said she would not support U.S. military intervention unless allied organizations like the United Nations decided on it. 

Ram Hinsdale, a state senator, supports the president’s response and said the role of fossil fuels in global crises should be discussed.

The four were also asked about votes Welch made that they disagreed with.

Balint said she opposed Welch’s vote for additional funding for the Afghanistan and Iraq wars in 2007. 

Chase Clifford said she was concerned that Welch may have used his position to make advantageous stock trades. 

Gray criticized Welch for not doing more to pass paid family and medical leave. 

Ram Hinsdale said that “for a long time [Welch] was accepting corporate PAC dollars” and that she was glad Welch was not accepting those donations in his run for U.S. Senate.

Balint and Ram Hinsdale said they support the federal legalization of marijuana and other controlled substances. Chase Clifford said she supports marijuana legalization and decriminalizing other substances. Gray said she supports decriminalizing marijuana and not other substances. 

The Democratic primary is set for Aug. 9. Three election forecasters rate the general election Solid Democratic.

Update: Finkenauer back on Iowa’s U.S. Senate ballot

The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that Abby Finkenauer can appear on the Senate Democratic primary ballot after a lower court ruled she could not. The state supreme court said the state legislature “did not include missing or incorrect dates as one of the grounds for sustaining an objection to a petition.” As we wrote last week, a lower court said Finkenauer didn’t meet the state’s ballot access requirements.  

N.C. Democratic Party Progressive Caucus rescinds endorsement in 4th Congressional District

On April 17, the North Carolina Democratic Party Progressive Caucus rescinded its endorsement of state Sen. Valerie Foushee over contributions Foushee received from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Foushee is running in the 4th Congressional District Democratic primary.

In a press release, the Progressive Caucus said, “No American candidate should be accepting funds from an organization that provides financial support for those seeking to destroy our democracy,” referring to AIPAC’s endorsement of 37 Republicans who voted against confirming the results of the 2020 presidential election on Jan. 6, 2021, while Congress counted the electoral votes.

Foushee’s campaign said, “Her 25 years of elected service to her community speaks to her deep commitment to progressive values,” and, “Senator Foushee is going to Washington to unify, not divide, as she has always done.

Foushee is a state senator, former Orange County commissioner, and former member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education. Foushee is running against seven other candidates in the Democratic primary, including former American Idol contestant and National Inclusion Project co-founder Clay Aiken and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, the first Muslim woman elected to public office in North Carolina.

Both Foushee and Allam have received noteworthy endorsements in this primary. State Attorney General Josh Stein (D), EMILY’s List, and the state AFL-CIO endorsed Foushee. U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), and Our Revolution endorsed Allam.

Incumbent Rep. David Price (D) is not seeking re-election, leaving the solidly Democratic district open for the first time since 1972. The 4th District is located outside of Raleigh, including portions of the state’s Research Triangle. The district has the largest percentage of voters between the ages of 18 and 29 (27%) and the largest percentage with a bachelor’s degree (52%) in North Carolina.

Pelosi endorses Crist in Florida governor primary

On April 18, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) endorsed Charlie Crist in Florida’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Crist represents Florida’s 13th Congressional District in the House. 

Pelosi said, “From his tireless work in Congress to his commitment to Floridians across the state, Charlie Crist has an impenetrable record of fighting for the people of the Sunshine State and delivering results that matter. … Charlie can and will defeat the current Governor and hit the ground running on Day 1 in Tallahassee.”  

Crist said Pelosi’s “leadership uplifts the voices of all Floridians that are ready to put divisive, inflammatory rhetoric behind us and truly get to work for the people.”

Crist was Florida’s governor from 2007 to 2011. He was elected as a Republican and switched his affiliation to Independent in 2010, then to Democratic in 2012. 

Five other candidates are running, including state Commissioner of Agriculture and Consumer Services Nikki Fried. 

Fried called herself a true Democrat and said, “Look, every single issue that we as Floridians are fighting for today — whether that is access to affordable health care, whether that’s affordable housing, our environment, to criminal justice reform, to medical marijuana and legalization, to civil rights, to criminal justice reform, you name the issue — unfortunately, Charlie was on the other side of it.”

The Democratic primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Competitiveness data: Arkansas and California  

Akransas’ filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 1, and California’s was March 14. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 18 (April 14, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

April 14, 2022

In this issue: Trump endorses Oz in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate primary and candidates qualify at the Colorado Republican Party Assembly

Trump endorses Oz in Pennsylvania U.S. Senate primary

On April 9, former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Mehmet Oz in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania. Oz is one of seven candidates running in the May 17 Republican primary. Oz and David McCormick have performed best in polling and received the most endorsements.

In September 2021, Trump endorsed Sean Parnell in the primary. Parnell dropped out of the primary after losing a custody battle in November and endorsed McCormick in January. 

Incumbent Pat Toomey (R) is not running for re-election. Toomey was one of seven Republican senators who voted “guilty” at Trump’s impeachment trial following the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

Three independent forecasters rate the general election either Toss-up or Tilt Republican. President Joe Biden (D) won the state by 1.2 percentage points in the 2020 presidential election. In 2016, Toomey won re-election by 1.5 percentage points and Trump won the presidential election by 0.7 points. The state’s other U.S. Senator, Bob Casey Jr. (D), won re-election by 13 percentage points in 2018.

Executive committee removes four candidates from TN-05 primary

The Tennessee Star reported that the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee voted on April 9 to remove Baxter Lee, Morgan Ortagus, Stewart Parks, and Robby Starbuck from the 5th Congressional District ballot. The candidates may challenge the committee’s ruling and request a restoration vote no later than April 21. 

The Tennessee Star said that the party’s bylaws allow the committee to remove candidates if they “were not considered active members in the TNGOP, local party, or recognized affiliate, did not vote in three of the last four statewide Republican primaries, or in races where there is a Republican incumbent, did not submit a filing fee.”

The Associated Press reported that challenges against Ortagus, Lee, and Starbuck concerned their voting records. Ortagus said in a statement, “I respect the rules and the process outlined by TNGOP, and I’m a bona fide Republican by their standards.”

Former President Trump endorsed Ortagus in January. Ortagus moved from Washington, D.C., to Nashville in 2021.

The primary is set for Aug. 4. At least seven candidates made the ballot so far, including former state House Speaker Beth Harwell and Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles.

This vote was separate from the legislation and challenge we wrote about last week. SB2616 requires primary candidates for Congress to meet residency requirements for state legislators contained in the state constitution. The bill became law on April 13 without the governor’s signature. Because it didn’t become law before the April 7 filing deadline, its requirements don’t apply to this year’s congressional primaries. Three residents filed a lawsuit challenging the residency requirement.

Federal judge dismisses lawsuit seeking to prevent unaffiliated voters from voting in Colorado primaries

On April 8, U.S. District Judge John Kane dismissed a lawsuit that sought to prevent unaffiliated voters from voting in the state’s June 28 primary. 

Five members of the Colorado Republican Party State Central Committee filed the lawsuit against Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) in February. John Eastman and Randy Corporon represented the plaintiffs. Eastman was a legal adviser to Trump who wrote a memo about how Vice President Mike Pence (R) could intervene in the Jan. 6, 2021, electoral vote counting. Corporon is a talk radio host and member of the Republican National Committee.

The suit challenged Proposition 108, a ballot measure that allowed unaffiliated voters to vote in partisan primaries. Voters approved Proposition 108 53% to 47% in 2016. The plaintiffs argued that Proposition 108 violated their First Amendment right to freedom of speech and association and their Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Among the plaintiffs were two current Republican candidates for office: U.S. Senate candidate and state Rep. Ron Hanks and 7th Congressional District candidate Laura Imer.

Assistant Solicitor General Grant Sullivan said that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing because the Colorado Republican Party didn’t join the lawsuit. Sullivan also said the party had the option to carry out a non-taxpayer-funded primary where only party members could participate. The party’s central committee voted against that option in September. 

Kane ruled that the plaintiffs didn’t have standing for most of their claims and that a political party member “suffers no constitutional injury when denied the preferred method for selecting his party’s nomination of a candidate for office.” 

U.S. representatives not seeking re-election

As of the end of March—seven months before the general election—46 members of the U.S. House had announced they would not seek re-election. At the same time in the 2020 election cycle, 35 representatives had announced they wouldn’t seek re-election. That number was 49 in 2018.

A total of 23 Republican members of Congress are retiring in the 2022 cycle, representing 8.8% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2020 election. Twenty-nine Republican members retired in the 2020 cycle, representing 11.5% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2018 election.

Of 2022’s retiring Republican incumbents, three are retiring from seats with a margin of victory of fewer than 10 percentage points in the last election. In the 2020 cycle, this number was seven. 

Two candidates secure spots in Colorado Secretary of State primary at Republican Party Assembly

Mesa County Clerk and Recorder Tina Peters and Mike O’Donnell secured spots on Colorado’s Republican primary ballot for secretary of state at the Republican State Assembly on April 9. Peters received 61% of delegates’ support and O’Donnell, executive director of a nonprofit lender, received 39%. 

Pam Anderson, a former Jefferson County clerk and former executive director of the Colorado County Clerks Association, qualified for the ballot after submitting a nominating petition with the required number of signatures.

In March, the Colorado Republican Party called on Peters to suspend her campaign after a grand jury indicted her on several felony and misdemeanor counts amid an investigation into equipment tampering and official misconduct. Party leaders said in a statement, “It is our belief, as leaders of the Colorado Republican Party, that any Republican candidate who is indicted with felonies by a grand jury and who will be charged by a Republican District Attorney should suspend their campaign while they undergo the legal challenges associated with those indictments.”

Peters said she didn’t break any laws and had been attempting to locate evidence of voter fraud.

Republican candidates who qualified for the primary ballot for other offices at the assembly include state Rep. Ron Hanks, who qualified for the U.S. Senate primary, and former Parker Mayor Greg Lopez and University Colorado Regent Heidi Ganahl, who qualified for the gubernatorial primary.

Competitiveness data: Oregon and Nevada  

Oregon’s filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 8, and Nevada’s was March 18. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Oregon

Nevada

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 18 (April 14, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Democratic Edition

April 14, 2022

In this issue: The Blue Dog Coalition PAC’s first 2022 endorsements and PAC spending mounts in OR-06

Blue Dog PAC announces first round of 2022 endorsements

The Blue Dog Coalition PAC made its first endorsements in the 2022 elections: Ruben Ramirez in Texas’ 15th Congressional District, Adam Gray in California’s 13th, and Rudy Salas in California’s 22nd.

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Fla.), coalition co-chair, described the candidates as “independent-minded individuals who are committed to serving a diverse constituency.”

The PAC’s website says the U.S. House’s Blue Dog Coalition is a group of 18 “moderate, fiscally-responsible Democrats who represent every corner of the country and continue to work to end the divisive and toxic nature of politics today.”

Ramirez, an Army veteran and former attorney and educator, is running against Michelle Vallejo in a May 24 Democratic primary runoff in Texas’ 15th. Forecasters rate the general election either Tilt or Lean Republican. Ramirez ran in the same district in 2012 and 2016, finishing with 5% and 6% of the Democratic primary vote, respectively. He was the first-place finisher in this year’s Democratic primary, with 28% of the vote to Vallejo’s 20%.

Gray, a state assemblyman and owner of a public affairs firm, is one of five candidates running in the open race for California’s 13th. The two Democrats and three Republicans running will appear on the same primary ballot, with the top two finishers advancing to the general election regardless of partisan affiliation. The other Democrat running in the 13th District is Phil Arballo, who ran against Devin Nunes (R) in the 22nd District in 2020. Election forecasters rate the general election in the new 13th as Lean or Likely Democratic.

Salas, a state assemblyman and former city councilor, is the only Democrat running for the 22nd District alongside three Republicans, including incumbent David Valadao (R). Forecasters call the general election a Toss-up.

OR-06 candidates respond to House Majority PAC spending

House Majority PAC spent $1 million on TV advertising supporting Carrick Flynn in Oregon’s newly created 6th Congressional District. 

Six of the eight other Democratic primary candidates said in a joint news release, “This effort by the political arm of the Democratic establishment to buy this race for one candidate is a slap in the face to every Democratic voter and volunteer in Oregon.” 

Flynn’s campaign manager said, “Carrick is proud to have the backing from a broad coalition of supporters from throughout Oregon’s 6th congressional district, across the state and from all over the country. … The path to keeping the House in Democratic hands starts right here in Oregon’s 6th and Carrick is the only candidate who can solidly carry this district for the Democrats in the fall.”

Bold PAC, associated with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, endorsed state Rep. Andrea Salinas in the primary. PAC chairman Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) said, “Right now, Democrats should be doubling-down on their investments to empower Latino and Latina candidates like Andrea who are running strong campaigns focused on issues that matter to communities of color and working families.” 

House Majority PAC’s communications director, CJ Warnke, said it is “doing whatever it takes to secure a Democratic House majority in 2022, and we believe supporting Carrick Flynn is a step towards accomplishing that goal.” 

All independent expenditures in this primary reported to the Federal Election Commission as of Wednesday have supported Flynn. Decision Desk HQ‘s March 28 newsletter said the 6th District had the highest independent expenditure amount of all House primaries (excluding Texas, which held its primaries on March 1). 

Protect Our Future PAC, associated with cryptocurrency exchange founder Sam Bankman-Fried, has spent $5 million supporting Flynn. The PAC says it supports “candidates who take a long-term view on policy planning especially as it relates to pandemic preparedness and prevention.” Flynn has worked in the fields of artificial intelligence and disaster relief, co-founding the Centre for the Governance of Artificial Intelligence at Oxford University.

The Justice Unites Us PAC spent more than $800,000 on canvassing supporting Flynn.

Flynn and two other candidates completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. You can read their responses here

The primary is May 17. Three independent forecasting outlets view the general election as Likely Democratic. Oregon was apportioned six U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, one more than after the 2010 census. The 6th District is located in the northwest part of the state and consists of all or parts of Clackamas, Marion, Polk, Washington, and Yamhill counties. 

Iowa judge rules Finkenauer can’t appear on primary ballot

On April 10, Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie ruled that U.S. Senate candidate Abby Finkenauer didn’t meet the state’s requirements to appear on the Democratic primary ballot.

The disqualification process began when two Iowa Republicans challenged Finkenauer’s petitions with the State Objection Panel. The challenge said Finkenauer failed to submit valid signatures from at least 100 eligible voters in 19 different counties, a requirement for U.S. Senate candidates in Iowa, because some signatures were not properly dated. 

On March 29, the panel—comprised of Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate (R), Attorney General Tom Miller (D), and State Auditor Rob Sand (D)—dismissed the challenge in a 2-1 vote, ruling that the dates of the signatures could be inferred using the dates of the signatures before and after the ones in question. Pate voted against allowing Finkenauer on the ballot.

Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie said the panel incorrectly interpreted the regulations governing signature requirements. Beattie ruled that three signatures were invalid, which left Finkenauer with an insufficient number of signatures in two counties. 

Finkenauer appealed the ruling to the Iowa Supreme Court. Finkenauer said, “In a massive gift to Washington Republicans, this partisan decision overrules both the Republican secretary of state’s office and the bipartisan panel, ignores decades of precedent, interferes in the electoral process, and makes a mockery of our democracy.”  

The state supreme court heard oral arguments on April 13 and is expected to issue a ruling this week. No ruling had been issued as of Thursday morning.

Finkenauer represented Iowa’s 1st Congressional District from 2019 to 2021. Michael Franken and Glenn Hurst are running in the Senate Democratic primary, which is scheduled for June 7. 

Update: State Rep. Caraveo is only Democratic candidate to make CO-08 ballot

State Rep. Yadira Caraveo is the only candidate who will appear on the June 28 Democratic primary ballot in Colorado’s 8th Congressional District after receiving 71% of delegates’ support at the district’s April 5 assembly. Chaz Tedesco received 29%.

In Colorado, if U.S. House candidates did not submit 1,500 signatures by the deadline (March 15), then they needed to receive at least 30% of the delegate vote at assemblies to qualify for the ballot. Caraveo was also the only 8th District Democratic candidate who submitted enough signatures to make the ballot.

Colorado was apportioned eight U.S. House seats after the 2020 census, one more than it received after the 2010 census. The Denver Post‘s Alex Burness wrote that the newly created district would be competitive based on recent results.

At least four Republicans have qualified for the GOP primary.

U.S. representatives not seeking re-election

As of the end of March—seven months before the general election—46 members of the U.S. House had announced they would not seek re-election. At the same time in the 2020 election cycle, 35 representatives had announced they wouldn’t seek re-election. That number was 49 in 2018.

A total of 31 Democratic members of Congress are retiring in the 2022 cycle, representing 11.5% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2020 election. Ten Democratic members retired in the 2020 cycle, representing 3.6% of the party’s total caucus members immediately following the 2018 election.

Of 2022’s retiring Democratic incumbents, seven are retiring from seats with a margin of victory of fewer than 10 percentage points in the last election. In the 2020 cycle, this number was zero. 

Three candidates running in Democratic primary for Davidson County District Attorney

Three candidates are running in the May 3 Democratic primary for Davidson County, Tennessee, district attorney: incumbent Glenn Funk, Sara Beth Myers, and Danielle Nellis. Funk was elected to an eight-year term in 2014. 

Both Myers and Nellis have criticized Funk for how he handled the prosecution of Andrew Delke, a Nashville police officer who shot Daniel Hambrick, a Black man, during a traffic stop on July 26, 2018. Funk charged Delke with criminal homicide, making Delke the first Nashville police officer to be charged with an on-duty murder. Shortly before the case was set to go to trial, Delke pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in return for a reduced sentence. Funk said he accepted the plea deal because he did not believe he could get a conviction in a trial. Nellis said she would have taken the case to trial, while Myers said Funk mishandled the entire case. Click here to read candidates’ responses to a question about this case.

Funk is running on his record. Myers and Nellis are campaigning on reforming the criminal justice system and stopping what they say is a rise in the city’s crime rate.  

Funk said he’s helped “restore public confidence in the criminal justice system by effectively prosecuting violent crime while focusing on treatment and rehabilitation for low-level, nonviolent offenders.” Funk said his record includes prosecuting domestic violence cases and offering better support for victims, declining to prosecute cases involving small amounts of marijuana, and declining to enforce a state law he said restricts abortion. 

Myers, who worked as a prosecutor in the U.S. Department of Justice, has campaigned on crime prevention, civil rights advances, and restorative justice. Myers proposes breaking the district attorney’s office “into precincts and assign[ing] assistant DAs to precincts so that they get to know the communities that they’re serving.” 

Nellis, who clerked for a Nashville judge and worked as an assistant district attorney in Funk’s office, said, “We know that most criminal behavior is trauma response. So how are we addressing whatever the underlying trauma is, including poverty, which has been studied and determined to be a traumatic experience? How are we addressing that as a community and the way you do that?”

Nashville, Tennessee’s largest city, is the county seat of Davidson County.

Competitiveness data: Oregon and Nevada  

Oregon’s filing deadline for congressional and state candidates was March 8, and Nevada’s was March 18. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Oregon

Nevada

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Arkansas has most incumbents in contested U.S. House primaries in at least a decade

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Arkansas was March 1. This year, 16 candidates are running for Arkansas’ four U.S. House districts, including eight Republicans, four Democrats, three Libertarians, and one independent. That’s an average of 4 candidates per district, more than the 2.3 candidates per district in 2020 and fewer than the 5.5 in 2018.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • This is the first election to take place under new district lines following the 2020 census. Arkansas was apportioned the same number of congressional districts as after the 2010 census.
  • Incumbents are running in all elections. Arkansas hasn’t had an open House district since the 2014 elections, when two incumbents didn’t run.
  • District 4 incumbent Rep. Bruce Westerman is running unopposed in the Republican primary. This year’s elections have the highest number of incumbents in contested primaries (3, or 75%) since at least 2012. The second-highest was in 2018, when two incumbents (50%) faced contested primaries. No incumbents had primary challengers in 2020.
  • At least one candidate filed for each major party primary in each district.
  • The 1st District race has five candidates, the most of any district. Three Republicans, two Democrats, and one independent are running.

Arkansas’ U.S. House primaries are on May 24, with a June 21 runoff in the event that no candidate receives a majority in a primary. Alabama and Georgia also hold primaries on May 24. Ten states hold primaries before that date.

Additional reading:



Twenty candidates file for Montana’s two U.S. House districts

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Montana was March 14. This year, 20 candidates are running in Montana’s two U.S. House districts, including nine Republicans, six Democrats, four Libertarians, and one independent. That’s an average of 10 candidates per district.

The state gained a congressional district following the 2020 census. In 2020, nine candidates ran for Montana’s lone House district. In 2018, eight candidates ran.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Incumbent Matt Rosendale (R) is seeking re-election in the 2nd Congressional District. He faces three Republican primary challengers.
  • The 1st District race is open.
  • The state’s only congressional district in 2020 was open. Incumbent Greg Gianforte (R) ran for re-election in 2018 and won.
  • This year, more than one candidate filed for both major party primaries in both districts.
  • The 2nd District has the largest candidate field at 11—four Republicans, three Democrats, three Libertarians, and one independent.

Montana’s U.S. House primaries are on June 7, alongside primaries in six other states. Thirteen states hold their primaries before that date.

Additional reading:



Twenty candidates file for Montana’s two U.S. House districts

The filing deadline for candidates running for state or federal office in Montana was March 14. This year, 20 candidates are running in Montana’s two U.S. House districts, including nine Republicans, six Democrats, four Libertarians, and one independent. That’s an average of 10 candidates per district.

The state gained a congressional district following the 2020 census. In 2020, nine candidates ran for Montana’s lone House district. In 2018, eight candidates ran.

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • Incumbent Matt Rosendale (R) is seeking re-election in the 2nd Congressional District. He faces three Republican primary challengers.
  • The 1st District race is open.
  • The state’s only congressional district in 2020 was open. Incumbent Greg Gianforte (R) ran for re-election in 2018 and won.
  • This year, more than one candidate filed for both major party primaries in both districts.
  • The 2nd District has the largest candidate field at 11—four Republicans, three Democrats, three Libertarians, and one independent.

Montana’s U.S. House primaries are on June 7, alongside primaries in six other states. Thirteen states hold their primaries before that date.

Additional reading:



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 17 (April 7, 2022)

In this issue: 48 candidates running in Alaska’s special U.S. House election and a rundown of recent Senate forums in Pennsylvania

48 candidates file for special U.S. House election in Alaska

Forty-eight candidates filed for the special election for Alaska’s at-large congressional district. The primary includes 16 Republicans, six Democrats, two Libertarians, and 24 nonpartisan, undeclared, or otherwise affiliated candidates.

Among the candidates are former governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin (R), who former President Donald Trump endorsed; Emil Notti (D), who ran against former incumbent Rep. Don Young (R) in the 1973 special election that Young won; Young’s former re-election campaign co-chair Tara Sweeney (R); state Sen. Josh Revak (R); state Rep. Adam Wool (D); and North Pole, Alaska, City Council member Santa Claus (formerly Thomas O’Connor), who is undeclared and describes himself as a Democratic socialist.

All will appear on the June 11 primary ballot, with the top four finishers advancing to the Aug. 16 general election. This will be the first congressional election using the state’s new voting system with top-four primaries and ranked-choice voting general elections.

Young died last month. The special election winner will serve the rest of Young’s term until Jan. 3, 2023. Candidates may file for both the special and regular elections. The filing deadline for the regular election is June 1. The regular top-four primary will be held Aug. 16, the same day as the ranked-choice voting special general election.

Upton retiring, leaving one incumbent in MI-04

Rep. Fred Upton (R) announced Tuesday he won’t seek re-election. This leaves Rep. Bill Huizenga as the only incumbent running in Michigan’s 4th Congressional District GOP primary. As we wrote recently, Trump endorsed Huizenga. Upton was one of 10 Republican U.S. House members who voted to impeach Trump after the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach.

Trump to rally for Cawthorn, while Tillis and others endorse challenger

Former President Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in North Carolina on Saturday featuring 11th Congressional District incumbent Rep. Madison Cawthorn and other GOP candidates. Republicans Sen. Thom Tillis, state House Speaker Tim Moore, and state Senate leader Phil Berger recently backed state Sen. Chuck Edwards in the 11th District GOP primary. 

Trump endorsed Cawthorn in May 2021. Tillis said last Thursday, “Unfortunately, Madison Cawthorn has fallen well short of the most basic standards western North Carolina expects from their representatives, and voters now have several well-qualified candidates to choose from who would be a significant improvement. I believe Chuck Edwards is the best choice.”

Last Wednesday, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) met with Cawthorn to discuss a recent podcast interview in which Cawthorn said he’d been invited to an orgy in Washington and observed people doing cocaine. McCarthy said he told Cawthorn that “he’s lost my trust, and he’s going to have to earn it back. … He’s got a lot of members upset. You can’t just make statements out there.” 

Cawthorn said in a statement last Friday,

Western North Carolina, you sent me to Washington to change the culture. If you want Washington to operate without accountability, send someone else. If you want someone who will throw the entire DC swamp into a meltdown because I call out corruption — send me back.

The left and the media want to use my words to divide the GOP. They are terrified of Republicans taking back the House and seeing Leader McCarthy become Speaker McCarthy. Their efforts to divide us will fail.

Cawthorn faces seven challengers in the May 17 primary. Cawthorn was first elected in 2020.

Competitiveness data: North Carolina’s primaries

North Carolina’s filing deadline for congressional and state elections was March 4. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.

Tennessee bill that would prevent Trump-endorsed candidate from running faces court challenge

The Tennessee General Assembly passed a bill last week that would disqualify a Trump-endorsed U.S. House candidate from running in the Republican primary. The bill has been challenged in U.S. district court.

According to the Nashville Tennessean‘s Melissa Brown, SB2616 “implicitly targeted the candidacy of [former U.S. Department of State spokeswoman] Morgan Ortagus” for Tennessee’s 5th Congressional District. Trump endorsed Ortagus in January.

The bill says primary candidates for Congress would have to meet residency requirements for state legislators contained in the state constitution. That means a candidate would need to have been a Tennessee resident for at least three years and a resident of the relevant district for at least one year before the election. Ortagus moved to Nashville from Washington, D.C., in 2021.

State Sen. Frank Niceley (R), who sponsored the bill in the Senate, said that people who don’t meet the residency requirements could still run as independent or third party candidates.

Ortagus said, “No one questioned my residency when I served our country in the intelligence community, the Trump Administration, nor in the U.S. Navy Reserves, and President Trump certainly didn’t question my residency when he endorsed me for this seat.”

According to University of Iowa College of Law professor Derek Muller, “[W]hile there’s a partisan valence to this specific situation, the position has attracted wide bipartisan support in Tennessee. There is nearly unanimous support to stop ‘carpetbaggers’ from getting elected to Congress.” 

The Senate passed the bill 31-1 on Feb. 28. Brown said of the voter against the bill, “[Sen. Todd Gardenhire (R)] didn’t object to the details of the bill but said he wouldn’t support the effort in the middle of an ongoing campaign season.” The House passed the bill 70-18 on March 28, with 12 Republicans and six Democrats voting against it. 

The bill was sent to Gov. Bill Lee (R) on April 1. As of the morning of April 7, he hadn’t taken action on it. The filing deadline for the primary is April 7. We’ll follow up in a future issue on the outcome.

On March 31, three 5th District residents who say they plan to vote in the Republican primary filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, asking the court to declare the bill unconstitutional and to ensure Ortagus remains on the ballot. 

The plaintiffs’ attorney said, “The legislature’s last minute attempt to restrict President Trump’s endorsed candidate from running for Congress clearly violates the US Constitution and Supreme Court precedent.”

Tennessee’s primaries are set for Aug. 4.

Pennsylvania U.S. Senate candidates participate in forums

Six Republican primary candidates for Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seat participated in a forum on April 2 at the Pennsylvania Leadership Conference. Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, George Bochetto, Sean Gale, Mehmet Oz, and Carla Sands attended. The race’s seventh candidate—David McCormick—did not participate. A campaign representative said he was holding other events on that date.

PennLive.com‘s Charles Thompson wrote, “All the candidates said they would embrace a Trump endorsement; oppose [U.S. Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown] Jackson’s confirmation; would support either greater regulation or the break-up of Big Tech companies like Facebook and Twitter as a matter of protecting free speech; and support tougher policies against China, including a strong defense of Taiwan.”

An Emerson College poll of 372 likely Republican primary voters conducted from March 26 through 28 showed 50% were undecided. David McCormick and Mehmet Oz both had 14%. Barnette and Sands received 6% support each, and Bartos was fifth with 5%. The margin of error was +/- 5 percentage points.

Last week, McCormick and Oz participated in a forum together for the first time. The Associated Press‘ Marc Levy wrote, “Energy was a constant theme … since Pennsylvania is the nation’s No. 2 natural gas-producing state” and that Oz “absorbed the brunt of criticism from rivals.” McCormick said that Oz has argued for increased fracking regulations, which Oz said was untrue. 

Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not seeking re-election. In 2016, Toomey defeated Katie McGinty (D) 49% to 47% to win a second term. 

Pennsylvania is one of two states holding a Senate election in 2022 with a GOP incumbent that Joe Biden (D) won in the 2020 presidential election. And it’s one of three Senate election states with one Democratic and one Republican senator. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) holds Pennsylvania’s other Senate seat.

The primary is May 17.

Ted Cruz endorses Josh Mandel in Ohio Senate primary 

On April 4, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R) endorsed Josh Mandel in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio. 

Cruz said, “A United States Marine, Josh is a proven fighter for our American way of life, a champion for the unborn, and a stalwart advocate for our religious liberties.” U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.) and U.S. Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Cynthia Lummis (Wyo.) have also endorsed Mandel. 

A number of other Republican members of Congress have endorsed candidates. Retiring incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (Ohio) endorsed Jane Timken, as did Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (W.V.), Joni Ernst (Iowa), and Deb Fischer (Neb.) and Reps. Elise Stefanik (N.Y.) and Bob Gibbs (Ohio). Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) endorsed Mike Gibbons. Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.) and Reps. Jim Banks (Ind.) and Marjorie Taylor Greene (N.C.) endorsed J.D. Vance. 

An exchange between Gibbons and Mandel at a March 18 debate drew heightened attention to the primary. Gibbons said Mandel never worked in the private sector. Mandel rose from his seat to stand in front of Gibbons and said he had done “[t]wo tours in Iraq, don’t tell me I haven’t worked.” Gibbons said, “You don’t know squat,” and Mandel said, “Watch what happens.”

Gibbons’ campaign released a statement saying Mandel “doesn’t have the temperament, experience, or fortitude to be a U.S. Senator and Ohio voters got a first-hand look at just how unprepared Josh Mandel has become and that will be reflected on the ballot on May 3.” 

On March 26, Mandel released an ad in which a Gold Star mother says, “Mike Gibbons has the nerve to say military service doesn’t count as real work.”  

Vance said Gibbons and Mandel “completely made clowns of themselves.” 

Timken criticized the debate moment along with a comment Gibbons had made about her, saying she barely worked before serving as state GOP chair. Timken said, “Friday and Monday night’s antics, the only person who really won was Tim Ryan. … What happens if Mike Gibbons is the nominee? The Democrats will gladly pour 50 million dollars into the race to defeat him and he has given them much fodder.”

The primary is set for May 3. Along with Pennsylvania, Ohio is one of the three states with a Senate election this year that has one Republican and one Democratic senator—Sherrod Brown (D) holds the state’s other U.S. Senate seat.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 17 (April 7, 2022)

In this issue: Recent polling and debate in Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race and state Sen. Steve Roberts challenges Cori Bush in MO-01

Recent polling and debates in the Democratic Senate primary in Pennsylvania

There’ve been a number of developments in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania since our last issue, including a new poll and the first debate. 

Rep. Conor Lamb and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta participated in the April 3 debate at Muhlenberg College. The candidates disagreed on fracking policy. 

Lamb said, “It is very, very widely supported by people all over the state because of the opportunities that it brings” and that it is the “single technology that has allowed us to reduce our carbon emissions in the United States the most.” Lamb added that “it has to be done responsibly.”

Kenyatta said pipeline developers have faced sanctions and lawsuits and, “If we’re going to get to a clean energy future, we have to stop approving new fracking permits.”

The Associated Press‘ Marc Levy reported, “Pennsylvania is the nation’s No. 2 natural gas-producing state.” 

Lt. Gov. John Fetterman did not participate in this debate, saying that he’s committed to three others that will reach more viewers. Lamb and Kenyatta criticized Fetterman for not attending and brought up a 2013 incident in which Fetterman pulled a gun on an unarmed Black man.

Lamb said, “It was wrong when he did that. … And he skipped the debate today because he doesn’t think he has to answer.”

Kenyatta said, “[Fetterman] was dead wrong. … And now he refuses to come here but expects you to vote for him.”

Fetterman has said he heard what he believed were gunshots and saw a man running toward an elementary school. Fetterman said he called the police and followed the man in his truck. The man, Christopher Miyares, said Fetterman pointed a shotgun at his chest. Fetterman said the gun was not loaded and that he did not point it at Miyares. According to police reports, Miyares was unarmed.

Fetterman responded to Lamb’s criticism, “Conor is in the middle of a meltdown because he saw his poll numbers at 10%. … So he is resorting to these desperate smears against fellow Democrats that I wouldn’t choose to make, but that’s the campaign he’s running.”

A recent Emerson College poll showed Fetterman with 33% support among likely Democratic primary voters. Lamb received 10%, Kevin Baumlin (who withdrew from the race on March 31) received 9%, and Kenyatta, 8%. Thirty-seven percent were undecided. The poll was conducted between March 26 and March 28 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.5 percentage points. 

As we wrote last month, Lamb received the Philadelphia Democratic Party’s endorsement. Lamb also received 61% support on the second ballot at the state Democratic Party’s meeting —short of the two-thirds required for an endorsement but ahead of Fetterman, who received 23%, and Kenyatta, who received 15%.  

Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not running for re-election. Pennsylvania is one of two states holding a Senate election in 2022 with a GOP incumbent that Joe Biden (D) won in the 2020 presidential election. And it’s one of three Senate election states with one Democratic and one Republican senator. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) holds Pennsylvania’s other Senate seat.

The primary is set for May 17. 

Dale Holness makes second FL-20 candidacy official

Former Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness, who lost the special primary election for Florida’s 20th Congressional District by five votes last year, officially announced his campaign for the district’s 2022 regularly scheduled election. 

Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, CEO of Trinity Health Care Services, won the special election to complete former Rep. Alcee Hastings’ (D) term ending Jan. 3, 2023. She ran against Hastings in the 2018 and 2020 Democratic primaries. Cherfilus-McCormick hasn’t announced whether she’ll run this year.

Holness said, “Families are hurting these days as the costs of everyday necessities — including housing, childcare, healthcare, gas, and groceries — continue to rise but wages fail to keep up. … Our communities deserve a champion with experience and follow-through to build a stronger, healthier future for all of us.” Holness’ campaign said that “voters are feeling fatigued with some candidates and incumbents overpromising and under-delivering.”

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. Cherfilus-McCormick said within her first 30 days in office, she cast important votes including for the COMPETES Act, which she said would contain inflation and “bolster American independence and self-sufficiency in manufacturing.” Cherfilus-McCormick also said she is “the first Democrat of Haitian descent elected to Congress, and I am here to bring that voice and understanding and cultural competency of being a Caribbean, being a woman and representing a district full of minorities.”

Holness filed two lawsuits last year requesting that uncounted mail ballots be counted and alleging in part that Cherfilus-McCormick’s basic income proposal amounted to bribery. No court took up the suits.

Former Broward County Commissioner Barbara Sharief placed third in the special primary and recently announced she would run for state Senate this year instead of running in the 20th Congressional District race. 

The primary is set for Aug. 23. Florida’s congressional district map is unsettled. Last week, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) vetoed the maps the legislature approved.

State Sen. Steve Roberts challenges Cori Bush in MO-01

On March 28, state Sen. Steve Roberts announced his Democratic primary bid for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. Roberts joins five other candidates, including incumbent Cori Bush.

Roberts said, “We all had the highest hopes for Congresswoman Bush but she’s shown over the past year and a half that she’s not interested in the job of United States Representative. We don’t have time for slogans; I’m ready to get to work, bring people together, and deliver results for the families of the 1st district.” In a statement, Roberts’ campaign representative criticized Bush’s vote against the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, among other things. 

Bush said she voted against the infrastructure bill because the House voted on it before the Build Back Better Act: “St. Louis deserves the president’s entire agenda. … So that means both the bipartisan infrastructure package and the Build Back Better act. We cannot push away one part of President Biden’s agenda because it’s difficult or because a couple of people don’t want it.”

Bush’s campaign released the following statement in response to Roberts’ announcement:

“The people of St. Louis will have a choice: between their Congresswoman who loves them and delivered hundreds of millions of dollars to St. Louis, and a host of ego-driven men who seem to think all that Black women leaders do is never good enough. Among that crowded field is at least one candidate who has been credibly accused of rape, and such men do not belong in public service, much less representing the incredible people of St. Louis in Congress.”

Roberts said, “They can try to distract voters from her indefensible voting record by recycling old false stories about me, but I don’t think it’s gonna work.”

In 2016, state Rep.-elect Cora Walker (D), who died last month, accused Roberts of raping her. Roberts denied the allegations. No charges were filed after a special prosecuting attorney said there was not enough evidence to establish non-consensual activity. Roberts later sued Walker for defamation, and Walker countersued Roberts. Both parties dropped their suits in 2019. 

Roberts served in the state House of Representatives from 2017 to 2021. He won election to the state Senate in 2020 and became the youngest Black state senator in Missouri’s history. Bush defeated 10-term incumbent William Lacy Clay in the 2020 Democratic primary.

The primary is set for Aug. 2.

Trudy Busch Valentine enters Senate primary in Missouri

On March 29, Trudy Busch Valentine announced her campaign for U.S. senator from Missouri. State Sen. Scott Sifton dropped out of the race on March 28 and endorsed Busch Valentine, a registered nurse and the daughter of August Busch, the former majority shareholder of beer company Anheuser-Busch. 

In her campaign launch video, Busch Valentine says, “Too often, neighbors and families just stop talking to each other. And the politicians in Washington continue to divide us even further. Most Missouri families include Democrats, independents, and Republicans. Mine sure does. But it seems we’ve lost our ability to be understanding and compassionate for each other.” 

The Kansas City Star‘s Daniel Desrochers said that Busch Valentine’s campaign launch video “appears focused on the political middle-ground, drawing on an argument recently made by former U.S. Sen. Jack Danforth that there’s room for a centrist candidate in the U.S. Senate race because of voter fatigue with the polarization of the two major parties.” 

Desrochers contrasted that to candidate Lucas Kunce’s approach, saying Kunce “has been attempting to run a populist campaign to win back working-class voters who have fled the Democratic Party for the GOP.”

Kunce is a former Marine and is the director of national security policy at the American Economic Liberties Project. His campaign representative said, “Missouri deserves a warrior for working people, a proven patriot who’s served his country, who has the courage to stand up to criminal politicians, corrupt elites running massive multinational corporations and billionaire heiresses who have been stripping our communities for parts.”

As of Dec. 31, Kunce had raised $2.5 million. Sifton was second with $890,000.

The primary is set for Aug. 2.

Tim Ryan’s first TV ad focuses on China, Morgan Harper responds

Tim Ryan’s first TV ad in Ohio’s U.S. Senate election focuses on China. Ryan says, “China is out-manufacturing us left and right. … America can never be dependent on Communist China. … We need to build things in Ohio, by Ohio workers.”

Senate candidate Morgan Harper released an ad on social media calling Ryan “Trumpesque” and alternating footage of Ryan and former President Donald Trump saying “China.” Harper wrote, “We will not win by trying to be Republicans. We can be honest about the threats we face while also energizing people towards a positive vision for the future.”

The Asian American Midwest Progressives, which endorsed Harper, said the ad “builds upon long-standing racist and demonizing narratives about people of Chinese descent” and called on Ryan to take it down.

Ryan said the ad was directed at the Chinese government and, “I’ve spent my entire career sounding the alarm on China, who — thanks to a concerted strategy by their Communist government that has included currency manipulation, intellectual property theft, and artificially depressed wages, use of child labor, and brutal working conditions — has been our greatest economic adversary for 40 years.”

Harper also released her first TV ad recently. She says in the ad, “I’m the only Democrat for Senate who’s always supported Medicare for All and a $15 living wage, who’s always been pro-choice and supports expanding the Supreme Court to protect women’s rights.”

Ryan has served in the U.S. House since 2003. He was a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. Harper was a senior advisor for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and challenged Rep. Joyce Beatty (D) in the 3rd Congressional District primary in 2020, losing 32% to 68%. Tech executive Traci Johnson is also running in the May 3 primary.

Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) isn’t seeking re-election. Three election forecasters rate the general election either Lean, Likely, or Solid Republican.

Competitiveness data: North Carolina’s primaries

North Carolina’s filing deadline for congressional and state elections was March 4. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.


Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 16 (March 31, 2022)

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

In this issue: Challengers to incumbents get support in Georgia and Wyoming, and Fortenberry resigns 

VIEWPAC endorses Jennifer Strahan against Marjorie Taylor Greene in GA-14

Value in Electing Women (VIEW) PAC endorsed Jennifer Strahan in Georgia’s 14th Congressional District. Strahan faces Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and five others in the Republican primary. Roll Call reported that this is the first time the PAC has endorsed a primary challenger to an incumbent member of Congress. 

VIEWPAC’s website says it was founded in 1997 “to help elect qualified, viable Republican women to Congress.” 

Strahan is CEO of a healthcare advisory firm. She said in a campaign ad, “Out-of-control inflation, a crisis at the border, and 13 flag-draped caskets are a harsh reminder that this is not the time for unserious politicians who just want to hear themselves talk.”

Greene, who used to own a CrossFit gym, was first elected in 2020. She said in a September campaign ad, “In 2022, I’m going to blow away the Democrats’ socialist agenda,” saying House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) tried to fund the Green New Deal in the Build Back Better budget. The ad depicts Greene blowing up a car with the word “Socialism” on it with a 50-caliber rifle.

VIEWPAC hasn’t reported any independent expenditures in Georgia’s 14th to the Federal Election Commission. Of the $56,000 in independent expenditures published on the FEC website as of Tuesday, $36,000 opposed and $20,000 supported Greene. 

Right Women PAC is one of the groups supporting Greene. The group’s website says there is “a desperate need in the US House of Representatives for bold, unflinching conservative women. … No other PAC focuses exclusively on electing solidly conservative women.”

Redistricting placed a portion of Cobb County in the 14th District. The Associated Press wrote that the county is “a core part of the metropolitan area and a onetime GOP stronghold that shifted steadily to the left during the Trump era.”

The primary is scheduled for May 24.

More than 100 House Republicans participate in fundraiser for challenger to Liz Cheney 

On Wednesday, more than 100 Republican U.S. House members participated in a fundraiser for Harriet Hageman, who is challenging Rep. Liz Cheney (R) in the August 16 primary for Wyoming’s At-large Congressional District. 

House Republicans last May removed Cheney as Republican Conference chairwoman with a voice vote following her vote to impeach President Donald Trump in January 2021 and her public criticisms of Trump’s statements on the 2020 election.

Fundraiser participants included Rep. Elise Stefanik, who replaced Cheney as Republican Conference chair, and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy.

Cheney’s representative Jeremy Adler said, “A leader with honor would be rejecting – not protecting – the pro-Putin, anti-Semitic, white nationalist members of the party, instead of fighting against Liz Cheney for telling the truth.”

McCarthy told CNN that his endorsement of Hageman was a special case and that he supported the re-election campaigns of other Republicans who voted to impeach Trump. 

Cheney was one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach. Of the seven who are running or may run for re-election, Trump has endorsed challengers to six.

U.S. Rep. Fortenberry resigns, exiting primary and triggering special election

On Saturday, U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) announced his resignation from the House, effective today. Last week, a jury found Fortenberry guilty of one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. 

Fortenberry said he would appeal the verdict. He said in a letter to supporters, “Due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer effectively serve.”

Fortenberry’s resignation leaves four candidates running in the Republican primary for Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District: Mike Flood, Curtis Huffman, John Glen Weaver, and Thireena Yuki Connely. Fortenberry’s name will still appear on the ballot since the deadline to withdraw has passed. The primary is May 10.

Aside from Fortenberry, Flood has received the most media attention. Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) endorsed Flood.

A special election must be held within 90 days of Fortenberry leaving office, according to state law. Ricketts has yet to announce a date for the special election. Each major party’s executive committee will pick its nominee for the special election, meaning there won’t be a special primary. The special election winner will serve the remainder of Fortenberry’s term, ending Jan. 3.

RGA releases second pro-Kemp ad, Trump campaigns for Perdue in Georgia

The Republican Governors Association (RGA) released its second ad supporting Gov. Brian Kemp, and former President Trump held a rally supporting primary challenger David Perdue.

RGA Georgia 2022 PAC, a Republican Governors Association (RGA) affiliate, released its second ad in the primary. As we wrote in February, this is the first time the RGA is airing ads supporting an incumbent facing a primary challenger. The second ad buy, at $350,000, brings the group’s spending in the primary so far to $850,000.

The ad criticizes Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, saying, “While some traveled the world seeking fame, promoting their businesses, putting themselves first, Georgia had a leader here at home working hard, solving problems, getting results: Governor Brian Kemp.” Kemp defeated Abrams 50.2% to 48.8% in the 2018 gubernatorial election.

Kemp faces Perdue and three others in the primary. Perdue served in the U.S. Senate from 2015 to 2021, when he lost his re-election bid to Jon Ossoff 49.4% to 50.6% in a runoff election. In the 2020 general election, Perdue received 49.7%—less than the majority needed to win outright—to Ossoff’s 47.9%.

Trump held a “Save America Rally” in Commerce, Georgia, on March 26, featuring Perdue and other candidates, including Senate candidate Herschel Walker and Georgia’s 14th Congressional District Rep. Greene, as speakers. 

Trump said at the rally, “Before we can defeat the Democrat socialists and communists … we first have to defeat the RINO sellouts and the losers in the primaries this spring.” 

Perdue said at the rally that “our elections in 2020 were absolutely stolen.” Kemp certified the presidential election results after two statewide recounts.

The primary is scheduled for May 24.

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) officially endorses in GOP gubernatorial primary

Term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R) made his endorsement of gubernatorial candidate Kelly Schulz (R) official on March 22. 

Schulz served as director of the state Department of Commerce under Hogan. Hogan said, “There’s only one candidate who has the experience, the ability, and the desire to keep moving Maryland forward, to keep changing Maryland for the better, who can get the job done and can continue the legacy.” 

In November, we wrote about Hogan’s support for Schulz and Trump’s endorsement of state Del. Dan Cox in the primary. Trump said on Nov. 22 that Cox was “MAGA all the way—unlike his opponent, Kelly Schulz, who was handpicked by her ‘boss,’ RINO Larry Hogan, who has been terrible for our Country and is against the America First Movement.” 

Cox currently serves as one of three District 4 representatives in the state House of Delegates. Schulz previously held one of the three District 4 seats.

Hogan has endorsed Republicans around the country who have been critical of Trump and, in some cases, who face primary challengers Trump endorsed. 

The Associated Press reported that Hogan planned to host events for Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)—one of seven GOP senators who voted to convict Trump in the 2021 impeachment trial—and Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.)—one of the 10 House GOP members who voted to impeach. Hogan has also fundraised for Brian Kemp in Georgia.

Maryland’s primary is scheduled for July 19.

Competitiveness data: Nebraska and Idaho  

Nebraska’s filing deadline for federal and state candidates was Feb. 15, and Idaho’s was March 11. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.

Nebraska

Idaho

Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.

Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.