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Ethan Rice

Ethan Rice is a staff writer at Ballotpedia. Contact us at editor@ballotpedia.org.

Giannoulias defeats Valencia in the Democratic primary for Illinois secretary of state

Alexi Giannoulias defeated Anna Valencia and two other candidates in the Democratic Party primary for Illinois secretary of state on June 28, 2022. Giannoulias received 53% of the vote to Valencia’s 40%.

Giannoulias and Valencia led in media attention, fundraising, and endorsements going into the primary. David Moore and Sidney Moore also ran in the primary.

Giannoulias served as Illinois state treasurer and was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois in 2010. Former Gov. Pat Quinn (D) appointed Giannoulias as chairman of the Illinois community college system in 2011. Giannoulias also worked as a professor and founded the Kanela Breakfast Club Restaurant Group. Giannoulias said he decided to run because the government “has prioritized the interests of the powerful and wealthy over the welfare of the majority, resulting in a lack of trust and confidence in our elected officials, especially among those with less means and people of color who have been left out and alienated by the status quo.”

Valencia has been Chicago’s city clerk since 2017. Valencia worked for the campaigns of Sen. Dick Durbin (D), Sen. Gary Peters (D), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D) and as director of legislative counsel and government affairs in the Chicago mayor’s office. Valencia said she would “fight to improve services by increasing transparency, modernizing state government, and focusing on more flexible services” and “be a voice for people who often don’t see themselves in state leaders like downstaters, working families, moms, and people of color.”

Describing the dynamics of the race, the Chicago Tribune‘s Jeremy Gorner said, “Giannoulias and Valencia have made ethics a central issue in the race for an office that has a history of corruption in Illinois.” Giannoulias said Valencia, as Chicago city clerk, should have been more transparent about her husband’s work as a lobbyist. “She’s currently married to someone who lobbies the city of Chicago that she serves, and yet she says that if she’s elected, she says she won’t (vouch for him) then,” Giannoulias said. “My opponent wants to distract from his 10 years of being MIA, and then popping up to run,” Valencia said.

Valencia criticized Giannoulias’ handling of Bright Start, the state’s college savings fund, during his time as state treasurer and said the bank Giannoulias’ family founded, Broadway Bank, made “sketchy loans to mobsters.” Giannoulias said he was “very proud of the work I did as state treasurer. We ran one of most ethical offices in the country,” adding that Broadway Bank “helped tens of thousands of people achieve the American dream.”

Incumbent Jesse White (D), who did not seek re-election, was first elected to the secretary’s office in 1998. In the last general election, White defeated Jason Helland (R) 68% to 29%.



Joe O’Dea wins Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Colorado

Joe O’Dea defeated Ron Hanks in the Republican Party primary for U.S. Senate in Colorado on June 28. O’Dea received 55.5% of the vote to Hanks’ 44.5%.

Leading up to the primary, Hanks and O’Dea led in media attention, and O’Dea maintained a lead in fundraising. According to the most recent Federal Election Commission data available, O’Dea had raised over $2.3 million and Hanks had raised $124,840 as of June 8.

O’Dea is the CEO of a Denver-based heavy civil contracting company and owner of the Mile High Station and Ironworks event centers. O’Dea said he ran for Senate “[t]o break the cycle of partisanship. To rebuild this country. To get it moving forward again. Colorado deserves a Senator who represents our voice.”

Hanks is a member of the Colorado House of Representatives representing District 60 since his election in 2020. A U.S. Air Force veteran, Hanks also worked as a linguist, a counterdrug officer, and a counterintelligence agent. Hanks said he was “the only proven conservative state legislator running” and “is adamantly pro-life and an ardent and active supporter of our second amendment.”

Key issues in the race included abortion and the 2020 election. Hanks said all abortions should be banned, and he “believe[s] life starts at conception. There should not be any exceptions.” The primary will “come down to that issue first and foremost. Are we a pro-life party, or aren’t we? I will tell you, I am pro-life, and my opponent is not. End of story,” Hanks said. 

O’Dea said he didn’t support overturning Roe v. Wade or total bans on abortions: “I don’t support a total ban. The country is not 100% pro-life. The country is not 100% pro-choice.” O’Dea said he “would vote for a bill that protects a woman’s right to choose early in the pregnancy. I would also protect that right in cases of rape, incest and medical necessities.”

On the 2020 election, Hanks said he believed former Pres. Donald Trump (R) won. Hanks said election security became a priority for him after 2020: “Just like the changes we felt after 9/11, my mission as a state representative shifted to election integrity. I have been fighting for it ever since.” O’Dea said he did not believe the election was stolen and that Republicans should “stay to the issues” in their campaigns. “I’ve been very clear about my stance. Biden’s our president. He’s lousy,” O’Dea said.

Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D) was first elected in 2008, and in the 2016 election, won re-election with 50% of the vote. In the state’s 2020 U.S. Senate election, John Hickenlooper (D) defeated incumbent Cory Gardner (R) 54% to 44%, and Joe Biden won the state in the 2020 presidential election by 13 percentage points. In its June 14 ratings, The Cook Political Report rated the general election as Likely Democratic.



Bonta and Hochman advance from top-two primary for California attorney general

Incumbent Rob Bonta (D) and Nathan Hochman (R) advanced from the top-two primary for California attorney general on June 7, 2022. Bonta received 55% of the vote and Hochman received 18%.

In the weeks leading up to the election, Bonta, Eric Early (R), Hochman, and Anne Marie Schubert (I) led in media attention and fundraising. Daniel Kapelovitz (G) also ran in the primary. The Los Angeles Times‘ George Skelton said, “Whether [Bonta is] contested competitively in November may well hinge on whom voters select as his challenger.”

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appointed Bonta on March 24, 2021. Bonta was a Democratic member of the California General Assembly, representing District 18 from 2012 until his appointment. According to Bonta’s campaign website, “As California’s Attorney General and California’s chief law officer, Bonta is the ‘attorney for the people’ and holds those who break the law – especially those in positions of power – accountable and wins justice for California families.”

Hochman served as assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California and assistant attorney general of the United States Department of Justice. Hochman also worked as a defense attorney, civil litigator, and appellate counsel. Hochman said his “360-degree perspective allows me to be in the best position to evaluate those who constitute true public safety threats and must be incarcerated from those who don’t pose such threats and can serve their debt to society through, for example, community service.”

California’s crime rate was an issue in the race, with other candidates criticizing Bonta’s record as attorney general. Hochman said there was “a spiral of lawlessness going on in our society” and Bonta was “not enforcing the laws that are on the books.” Responding to this criticism, Bonta said, “Public safety is, and has been, job No. 1, 2 and 3. I’m fully aware that in politics people like to take political shots that are not based on the facts.”

Politico’s Jeremy B. White said Bonta “embodies a broader tilt away from stringent criminal penalties, and his opponents have accused him of shifting too far in that direction,” but added that Bonta will “go into the general election contest with a likely financial advantage, a large Democratic voter registration edge and the unified support of California’s Democratic political establishment.”

Democrats have occupied the office of attorney general in California since 1999. Xavier Becerra (D) occupied the office before Bonta, serving from 2019 to 2021 when he was confirmed as U.S. secretary of health and human services.



Vallejo defeats Ramirez in Texas’ 15th Congressional District Democratic primary runoff after recount

A recount of votes in the May 24 Democratic primary runoff in Texas’ 15th Congressional District showed Michelle Vallejo defeating Ruben Ramirez by 35 votes, according to an announcement by the Texas Democratic Party on June 17.

Vallejo declared victory in the runoff election on June 1 after unofficial results showed her leading Ramirez by 33 votes. “I am so proud of all that we have accomplished and with final results coming in, I am honored to be the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 15th Congressional District,” Vallejo said.

Ramirez did not concede, saying the election was still too close to call. Ramirez said, “it is essential that every voter has their say before a final call is made. South Texas politics has a long tradition of upset victories.” After calling for a recount on June 6, the Texas Democratic Party approved Ramirez’s request on June 9.

According to the Associated Press, “The victory by Vallejo sets up a significant test this fall for progressive Democrats who backed her in the 15th Congressional District, one of two new U.S. House seats awarded to booming Texas after a decade of explosive growth driven by new Latino residents.” Vallejo will face Monica De La Cruz (R), who won the 15th district Republican primary, in the November election.

Another recount of the May 24 runoff results is currently underway in the race between Jessica Cisneros (D) and incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) in Texas’ 28th Congressional District.



Three candidates running for Republican U.S. Senate nomination in Colorado

Three candidates are running in the Republican Party primary for U.S. Senate in Colorado on June 28, 2022. Ron Hanks and Joe O’Dea have led in media attention and fundraising. Daniel Hendricks is running as a write-in candidate.

At the time of the election, Hanks was a member of the Colorado House of Representatives representing District 60 since his election in 2020. Hanks is a U.S. Air Force veteran and also worked as a linguist, a counterdrug officer, and a counterintelligence agent. Hanks said he “is the only proven conservative state legislator running” and “is adamantly pro-life and an ardent and active supporter of our second amendment.”

O’Dea was the CEO of a Denver-based heavy civil contracting company at the time of the election and owned the Mile High Station and Ironworks event centers. O’Dea said he is running “[t]o break the cycle of partisanship. To rebuild this country. To get it moving forward again. Colorado deserves a Senator who represents our voice.”

Key issues in the race include abortion and the 2020 election. Hanks said all abortions should be banned. “I believe life starts at conception. There should not be any exceptions,” Hanks said. O’Dea said he didn’t support overturning Roe v. Wade or total bans on abortions: “I don’t support a total ban. The country is not 100% pro-life. The country is not 100% pro-choice.” On the 2020 election, Hanks said he believed former Pres. Donald Trump (R) won, saying “Trump won this.” O’Dea said, “I don’t believe the election was stolen.”

Incumbent Michael Bennet (D) was first elected in 2008. In the 2016 election, Bennet won re-election with 50% of the vote. In its June 14 ratings, The Cook Political Report rated the general election as Likely Democratic.



Flores wins Texas’ 34th Congressional District special election

Mayra Flores (R) defeated Dan Sanchez (D), Rene Coronado (D), and Juana Cantu-Cabrera (R) in a special general election for Texas’ 34th Congressional District on June 14. The previous incumbent, Filemon Vela (D), resigned on March 31, 2022.

The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek said, “The winner of the special election will only get to finish Vela’s term, which extends until January. But Republicans are eager to capture the seat as they try to gain new ground in South Texas, and the special election is happening under the previous, more competitive boundaries of the 34th District. The November election for a full term in Congress will be held under new district boundaries that were redrawn during last year’s redistricting process.”

Sanchez is a lawyer and was a county commissioner for Cameron County. Sanchez also served as a justice of the peace for Cameron County from 2003 to 2010. “I’m running for Congress to finish Congressman Filemon Vela’s term because South Texas deserves a representative who will focus on what matters: lower costs, affordable healthcare, safe communities, and a secure retirement,” Sanchez said.

Flores is a respiratory care practitioner and also served as the Hidalgo County GOP Hispanic outreach chair. In addition to running in the special election, Flores is also on the ballot for the regular general election on Nov. 8 after advancing from the March 1 Republican primary. Flores said the election would “set the tone for the entire nation in the upcoming midterms” and that “South Texas is ready for true conservative leadership in office.”

The special election was held under previous district lines in which Pres. Joe Biden won by four points in the 2020 election. The November election will be held in the newly redrawn district where Biden would have won by over 15 points, according to the Texas Tribune.



Four candidates running in Illinois secretary of state Democratic primary

Four candidates are running in the Democratic Party primary for Illinois secretary of state on June 28, 2022. Alexi Giannoulias and Anna Valencia have led in media attention, fundraising, and endorsements. David Moore and Sidney Moore are also running.

Giannoulias served as Illinois state treasurer and was the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Illinois in the 2010 general election. Former Gov. Pat Quinn (D) appointed Giannoulias as chairman of the Illinois community college system in 2011. Giannoulias also worked as a professor and founded the Kanela Breakfast Club Restaurant Group. Giannoulias said he is running because “[n]ow more than ever, we need good people, committed to true public service, to step up, get involved and serve the public for the right reasons. I’m running because I wholeheartedly believe in public service, which is guided by the principle of rebuilding that trust.”

Valencia has been Chicago’s city clerk since 2017. Valencia worked for the campaigns of Sen. Dick Durbin (D), Sen. Gary Peters (D), and Rep. Mike Quigley (D), and as director of legislative counsel and government affairs in the Chicago mayor’s office. Valencia said she “will fight to improve services by increasing transparency, modernizing state government, and focusing on more flexible services” and “will be a voice for people who often don’t see themselves in state leaders like downstaters, working families, moms, and people of color.”

Describing the dynamics of the race, the Chicago Tribune’s Jeremy Gorner said, “Giannoulias and Valencia have made ethics a central issue in the race for an office that has a history of corruption in Illinois.” Giannoulias said Valencia, as Chicago City Clerk, should have been more transparent about her husband’s work as a lobbyist. “She’s currently married to someone who lobbies the city of Chicago that she serves, and yet she says that if she’s elected, she says she won’t (vouch for him) then,” Giannoulias said. “My opponent wants to distract from his 10 years of being MIA, and then popping up to run,” Valencia said.

Valencia criticized Giannoulias’ handling of Bright Start, the state’s college savings fund, during his time as state treasurer and said the bank Giannoulias’ family founded, Broadway Bank, made “sketchy loans to mobsters.” Giannoulias said he was “very proud of the work I did as state treasurer. We ran one of most ethical offices in the country,” adding that Broadway Bank “helped tens of thousands of people achieve the American dream.”

Incumbent Jesse White (D), who did not seek re-election, was first elected to the secretary’s office in 1998. In the last general election, White defeated Jason Helland (R) 68% to 29%.



Texas Democratic Party approves recount in Texas’ 15th Congressional District Democratic primary runoff

On June 9, the Texas Democratic Party approved Ruben Ramirez’s request for a recount in the May 24 Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 15th Congressional District. Official results showed Ramirez trailing Michelle Vallejo (D) by 30 votes. 

Under Texas law, a recount can be requested within five days after election day or two days after the canvass, whichever is later. The required margin is less than 10% of the winning candidate’s vote. There is no deadline for completion.

Vallejo declared victory in the runoff election on June 1 after unofficial results showed her leading Ramirez by 33 votes. “I am so proud of all that we have accomplished and with final results coming in, I am honored to be the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 15th Congressional District,” Vallejo said.

Ramirez did not concede, saying the election was still too close to call. Ramirez said “it is essential that every voter has their say before a final call is made. South Texas politics has a long tradition of upset victories.”

Texas’ 28th Congressional District candidate Jessica Cisneros (D) also requested a recount of the May 24 runoff results. Official results showed incumbent Rep. Henry Cuellar (D) leading Cisneros by 281 votes. Ramirez applied for a manual recount of votes, while Cisneros requested an electronic recount.

“The Texas Democratic Party is the Recount Coordinator for both of these recounts and is supporting all of our County Chairs in these two districts, who will work closely with their election officials to carry out thorough, accurate recounts of the votes,” a Texas Democratic Party spokesperson said.

According to the Texas Tribune, “The recounts mean it will be at least weeks before an undisputed winner emerges in each runoff.”

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Four candidates running in Texas’ 34th Congressional District special election

Four candidates are running in a special general election to fill the seat representing Texas’ 34th Congressional District in the U.S. House on June 14, 2022. The special election will fill the vacancy left by Filemon Vela (D), who resigned effective March 31, 2022.

Dan Sanchez (D) and Mayra Flores (R) have led in media attention and fundraising. Rene Coronado (D) and Juana Cantu-Cabrera (R) are also running. The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek said, “The winner of the special election will only get to finish Vela’s term, which extends until January. But Republicans are eager to capture the seat as they try to gain new ground in South Texas, and the special election is happening under the previous, more competitive boundaries of the 34th District. The November election for a full term in Congress will be held under new district boundaries that were redrawn during last year’s redistricting process.”

Sanchez was elected county commissioner for Cameron County in 2011 and previously served as justice of the peace for Cameron County from 2003 to 2010. “I’m running for Congress to finish Congressman Filemon Vela’s term because South Texas deserves a representative who will focus on what matters: lower costs, affordable healthcare, safe communities, and a secure retirement,” Sanchez said. Sanchez received endorsements from Vela and U.S. Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D).

Flores’ career experience includes working as a respiratory care practitioner. She also served as the Hidalgo County GOP Hispanic Outreach Chair. Flores said the election would “set the tone for the entire nation in the upcoming midterms” and that “South Texas is ready for true conservative leadership in office.” Flores received endorsements from Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R), Texas GOP chair Matt Rinaldi (R), and the Congressional Leadership Fund.

In addition to running in the special election, Flores is also on the ballot for the regular general election for District 34 on Nov. 8 after advancing from the March 1 Republican primary. Vicente Gonzalez Jr. (D) advanced from the March 1 Democratic primary and will also be on the general election ballot.

Prior to resigning, Vela had represented the distinct since 2013. In the 2020 general election, Vela defeated Rey Gonzalez Jr. (R) with 55% of the vote to Gonzalez Jr.’s 42%.

If no candidate earns a majority of the vote in the general election, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election. According to the proclamation announcing the special election, a runoff election would likely be held in August.



Walker wins Republican Senate primary election in Georgia

Herschel Walker defeated five other candidates in Georgia’s Republican primary for U.S. Senate on May 24, 2022. Walker received 68% of the vote, and Gary Black was second with 13%. Before the election, Walker, Black, Kelvin King, and Latham Saddler led in fundraising and media attention. Josh Clark and Jonathan McColumn also ran.

Walker was a professional athlete and Olympian and worked for a number of food-supply businesses. Former President Donald Trump (R) appointed Walker as chair of the Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition in 2018. Walker said his campaign was about “saving our country and the great state of Georgia from President Biden’s disastrous agenda which has led to higher prices, out-of-control crime, dangerous open borders, and ‘America Last’ foreign policy.” Trump endorsed Walker in September of 2021, and Walker also received endorsements from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R), former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R), Fox News host Sean Hannity, and evangelist Franklin Graham.

At the time of the election, Black was Georgia’s Commissioner of Agriculture. Black worked as a cattle rancher and held positions in the Georgia Farm Bureau and Georgia Agribusiness Council. “I’m running for the U.S. Senate to take America back! We need our government to focus on its fundamental responsibility — not the change to the foundations of our country being pushed by Raphael Warnock and Joe Biden,” Black said. Former Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal (R), U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), and U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde (R) endorsed Black.

Before the primary, NPR’s Domenico Montanaro said, “Walker, a former Heisman-winning University of Georgia Bulldog who has Trump’s endorsement, may have high name identification in the state, but he’s untested as a candidate. Walker has written about his battle with dissociative identity disorder and is facing allegations of domestic abuse from past relationships and that he exaggerated his post-football business success.”

Black challenged Walker’s electability based on past allegations of domestic abuse, saying, “Folks, he can’t win in November. The baggage is too heavy. It’ll never happen.”

Responding to critics of Walker’s electability, campaign representative Mallory Blount said, “Their only strategy to gain any sort of relevance is to obsess over Herschel. Herschel is solely focused on beating Raphael Warnock.”

At the time of the primary, the Cook Political Report rated the general election a Toss-up, meaning ratings indicate that neither party has an advantage.