The U.S. Senate confirmed four nominees to U.S. District Court judgeships. The Senate has confirmed 192 of President Trump’s Article III judicial nominees—two Supreme Court justices, 51 appellate court judges, 137 district court judges, and two U.S. Court of International Trade judges—since January 2017.
The confirmed nominees are:
Philip Halpern, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. Halpern was confirmed on a 77-19 vote. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), one of Halpern’s home-state senators, voted against his confirmation. After Halpern receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have three vacancies, 19 Democrat-appointed judges, and six Republican-appointed judges.
John Kness, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. Kness was confirmed on an 81-12 vote. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have two vacancies, 13 Democrat-appointed judges, and seven Republican-appointed judges.
Matthew Schelp, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri. Schelp was confirmed on a vote of 72-23. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have no vacancies, five Democrat-appointed judges, and four Republican-appointed judges.
Joshua Kindred, confirmed to the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska. Kindred was confirmed on a 54-41 vote where Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona joined 52 Republicans to confirm the nominee. After he receives his judicial commission and takes his judicial oath, the court will have no vacancies, one Democrat-appointed judge, and two Republican-appointed judges.
There are 94 U.S. District Courts. They are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system.
The filing deadline to run for elected office in Pennsylvania is on February 18, 2020. In Pennsylvania, prospective candidates may file for the following federal and state offices:
• 18 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives
• State auditor general, attorney general, and treasurer
• 25 seats in the Pennsylvania State Senate and 203 seats in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
The primary is scheduled for April 28, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.
Pennsylvania’s filing deadline is the 13th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 2 in Nebraska.
Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.
This week: Susan B. Anthony List endorses Loeffler after opposing her, Empower Texans donors make donations in three-way HD92 primary, and Jon Huntsman picks gubernatorial running mate.
On the news
Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.
“The only reasonable step at this point is to strip Romney of his committee assignments and expel him from the Senate Republican caucus. While there is truth to Romney’s claim that he votes for the bulk of the administration’s policy proposals, if he is truly as principled as he claims to be, he will continue to do so as an independent senator.
In his speech Wednesday, Romney declared that the impeachment verdict ‘will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgment of the American people.’
He is correct. The American people should have a vote on both the Trump presidency and on a previously Trump-endorsed senator who went on to betray the will of his constituents. With the backing of national party leadership, the Utah state legislature should immediately pass H.B. 217 in order to allow for the recall of Sen. Romney. This would force him to stand for reelection this year, sharing a ballot with the Democratic presidential nominee he has already done so much to assist.”
“If you honestly would prefer your children grow up to be more like Donald Trump than Mitt Romney, I don’t know that there’s anything left to talk about. Watch his actual speech on the floor. I have no problem with people who disagree with his reasoning. But to come away thinking he’s anything other than a man molded by charactering-building [sic] institutions (his family, his church, the Senate itself) who is trying to do right by them strikes me as a kind of Trump-personality-cult derangement. …
The hysterics insisting that Romney must be kicked out of the GOP—an effort Mitch McConnell sees for the idiocy it is—are in effect arguing that you can vote for all of Trump’s judges and the vast bulk of his legislative initiatives and it counts for nothing if you don’t accept full baptism into his cult of personality.
I’ve been saying for 20 years that the cult of unity is a poison and that the hero in the American political tradition is not the mob, but the man who stands up to it. This week there was one hero and it wasn’t Donald Trump.”
Jason Church and Tom Tiffany are running in the Republican primary election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District on Feb. 18. The district’s special general election is May 12.
Church and Tiffany agree on most policy positions but have highlighted their different backgrounds. Church describes himself as an outsider and a “combat veteran looking to continue my service on behalf of the people of Wisconsin’s 7th district.” Tiffany, a state senator, describes himself as a proven conservative who would “provide the leadership to get things done.”
The special election was called to fill the vacancy left by Sean Duffy’s (R) Sept. 2019 resignation. Duffy cited the impending birth of his child as his reason for resigning. He was first elected in 2010 and won re-election in 2018, defeating Margaret Engebretson (D) 60% to 39%.
Incumbent, party chairs back Garbarino in NY-02
State Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino picked upendorsements from retiring Rep. Peter King (R) and chairs of the state, Nassau County, and Suffolk County Republican parties in the Republican primary for New York’s 2nd Congressional District.
Garbarino is one of six candidates running in the June 23 primary. The filing deadline is April 2.
The field currently includes Islip Councilwoman Trish Bergin Weichbrodt, Suffolk County Director of Health Education Nancy Hemendinger, real estate developer Robert Kudler, Suffolk County Board of Elections member Nick LaLota, and state Assemblyman Michael LiPetri. Garbarino has been in the state Assembly since 2013.
The general election is rated Lean Republican. Barack Obama won the presidential election in the district in 2008 and 2012, and Donald Trump won it in 2016. King, first elected in 1992, won re-election in 2018 with 53% of the vote.
New York’s 2nd is one of 36 House districts with an open seat in the 2020 elections due to congressional retirements. Twenty-seven Republican representatives and nine Democrats are not seeking re-election.
Susan B. Anthony List endorses Loeffler after opposing her
Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Kelly Loeffler in Georgia’s special Senate election after opposing her appointment to the seat last fall.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigned Dec. 31 for health reasons. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) appointed Loeffler, a financial executive and co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA team, to fill the vacancy. She took office Jan. 6.
Monday, SBA List Candidate Fund said in its endorsement, “During her first week in office, she co-sponsored three major pro-life bills that would stop late-term abortions, protect babies who survive abortions, and end the funneling of taxpayer dollars to the abortion industry.”
In November, Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser called a hospital whose board Loeffler sat on a “training ground for abortionists” and said her connection to the hospital should “disqualify her from representing the state in the U.S. Senate.”
Susan B. Anthony List says its “mission is to end abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.”
Four Republicans, five Democrats, and one independent are currently running in the Nov. 3 all-party general election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two will be Jan. 5, 2021.
As we reported earlier, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins—President Donald Trump’s preferred pick for the Senate appointment—entered the special election Jan. 29.
Jon Huntsman picks gubernatorial running mate
Utah gubernatorial candidate Jon Huntsman, Jr. (R) announced Friday he had selected Provo Mayor Michelle Kaufusi (R) as his running mate. Huntsman is the second Utah gubernatorial candidate to select a running mate — Thomas Wright (R) formed a ticket with Rep. Rob Bishop (R) last month. Five other Republican candidates have yet to pick a running mate.
Kaufusi was elected mayor of Provo in 2017, becoming the first woman to hold the job. She earlier served six years on the Provo School Board.
Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) became the first of the seven Republican candidates to formally turn in his nominating signatures Monday. Candidates seeking the Republican nomination for governor of Utah may qualify for the primary ballot by either submitting petitions or winning the party’s nomination at the annual convention.
Candidates may choose to focus on one track or pursue both. Every candidate other than Jason Christensen and Greg Hughes is seeking to qualify via petition. If Cox files the required 28,000 valid signatures, he will appear on the June 30 primary ballot regardless of his performance at the nominating convention.
The candidate filing deadline is March 19. The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only.
Dan Forest the fundraising leader in North Carolina GOP gubernatorial race
Dan Forest (R) leads Holly Grange (R) in fundraising with less than one month remaining before North Carolina’s gubernatorial primary, according to reports filed Jan. 31. Forest, the incumbent lieutenant governor, and Grange, a state representative, are the two candidates seeking the Republican nomination.
The reports cover all fundraising and spending between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2019. During that time, Forest raised $1.4 million to Grange’s $100,000. Since the beginning of the election cycle in Jan. 2017, Forest has raised $4.1 million, and Grange has raised $160,000.
The March 3 primary is open to registered Republicans and unaffiliated voters only. The last Republican to win election as governor of North Carolina was Pat McCrory (R) in 2012.
Abortion amendment vote sets off intraparty fight in Kansas
Last week, Kansas House Republicans fell four votes short of the threshold needed to send an abortion-related constitutional amendment to the August ballot. All House Democrats and four Republicans—Don Hineman, Jan Kessinger, Bill Pannbacker, and Tom Phillips—opposed the amendment. The four Republicans each expressed concerns about placing the issue on the August primary ballot instead of the November general election ballot when turnout would be higher. As soon as the amendment failed, Senate President Susan Wagle pulled several bills related to Medicaid expansion from consideration in the Senate and said none would be considered until the amendment passed the House.
In recent Kansas history, division within the Republican Party has led to primary battles between conservative and moderate factions of the party. In 2016, 14 conservative incumbents lost primary elections to opponents running against the tax cuts signed by then-Gov. Sam Brownback (R). The 2018 primary season saw a continuation of that fight, with 23 of the 31 contested primaries featuring at least one tax cut supporter and opponent.
Of the four Republicans that voted against the amendment in the House, only two (Hineman and Kessinger) have filed to run for re-election so far, and neither has a primary challenger. The filing deadline for those races is June 1.
Empower Texans donors make donations in three-way HD92 primary
Empower Texans was the group that published the recording leading to the retirement of Texas Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Bonnen was recorded offering the group House media credentials in exchange for working to defeat 11 Republican members of the House. Bonnen initially denied that the meeting with Empower Texans occurred, before later apologizing to the Republican caucus in a letter and announcing his retirement.
Three tapped to fill Alaska House vacancy
As we reported last week in Heart of the Primaries, Alaska Rep. Tammie Wilson’s (R) retirement created an opportunity for the chamber’s Republican minority to pick up a seat. Wilson was one of eight Republicans who created a coalition majority with 15 Democrats and two independents in Feb. 2019. This meant that although Republicans had a numerical majority in the House, a Democrat was selected as Speaker.
The Alaska Republican Party submitted three names to Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) to consider for the open District 3 seat.
Michael Prax is a former member of the Fairbanks borough assembly and has worked on several campaigns, including Dunleavy’s, in the past.
Thomas Studler is the chief of staff for District 6 Rep. Dave Talerico.
Frederick Villa retired last year from his position as Associate Vice President of Workforce Programs for the University of Alaska System.
Dunleavy said he would meet with all three nominees to discuss their policy positions before making an appointment. In a statement, Dunleavy said he wants to discuss “creating a sustainable and affordable state budget, making Alaska safer, and developing Alaska’s vast reserves of natural resources.” Dunleavy has until Feb. 23 to make an appointment.
“Empower Texans is a non-profit service organization. Through multiple media formats, we educate and inspire Texans to exercise effective citizenship. Using research, reporting, and advocacy, we empower taxpayers to advocate for good governance and hold their elected officials accountable.” – Empower Texans website
Founded in 2006, Empower Texans is a nonprofit organization that describes its work as “[e]nsuring the Lone Star State shines brightly with empowered citizen-leaders holding elected officials accountable.” The group is affiliated with the Empower Texans PAC, which says it “exists to support conservative, reform-minded candidates for the Texas House and Senate.”
Empower Texans’ projects include Texans for Fiscal Responsibility, Texans for Courageous Courts, and the publication Texas Scorecard. To view 2020 primary endorsements made by Texans for Fiscal Responsibility and Texans for Courageous Courts, click here.
Empower Texans also produces a Fiscal Responsibility Index, which scores state legislators on what it calls their performance on “size and role of government issues.”
This week: U.S. Chamber of Commerce backs Cuellar in TX-28, Chicago mayor endorses Newman in IL-03, and Working Families Party releases endorsements in NY legislative races.
On the news
Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.
“Even as the Iowa Democratic Party was trying to sort out the chaos in its reporting system, a party official announced that turnout was ‘on pace’ with what they had seen in 2016. In other words, it was mediocre. About 170,000 people participated in the 2016 Iowa Democratic caucuses, far short of the unprecedented 240,000 voters who turned out in 2008 and launched Barack Obama on his way to the White House. What was so exciting a dozen years ago was not only how many Iowans showed up, but who they were: young people, first-time caucus-goers, an ethnically diverse mix of voters in an overwhelmingly white state.
Until recent days, there had been plenty of buzz among Democrats that this year would set a new record. There was even some loose talk that turnout could reach 300,000, which would be incontrovertible evidence of the passion that their party is feeling about the prospect of defeating President Trump in November. … So-so turnout blows a hole in the rationale of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), in particular. His electability argument is that he can inspire the passion it takes to bring out young people and disaffected Americans who normally don’t vote.”
“[S]ome Democrats who spoke with local voters didn’t think [low voter turnout in Iowa] was necessarily a bad sign for one somewhat odd reason: Democrats, by and large, were happy with their choices and didn’t feel the need to pick.
Megan Suhr, the former chair of the Marion County Democrats, wasn’t surprised when her caucus site saw lower turnout than 2016. She expected the result.
She knocked doors before the caucuses and said she mostly encountered people who said they would vote for whoever the nominee is in November.
‘There were a lot of different reasons and explanations,’ Suhr said. ‘There were also a lot of people who said they’d been watching all the hearings and they were watching the trial, and to them, whoever the caucus-goers decided, whoever came out of the primaries, was who they were going to support in the fall.’”
The U.S. Chamber of Commercespent $200,000 on a Spanish-language ad supporting Rep. Henry Cuellar in Texas’ 28th Congressional District primary. The ad says Cuellar helped pass the United States-Mexico-Canada trade agreement and protected the auto industry from tariffs.
The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitekwrote: “It is a somewhat unusual move by the powerful Republican-leaning business group, which has previously supported centrist Democrats but has not spent seriously on behalf of one since 2014.”
Cuellar, in office since 2005, is running against immigration lawyer Jessica Cisneros in the March 3 primary. Cisneros’ platform includes Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a $15-per-hour minimum wage. Cuellar has said the district is more moderate. He says he opposes a Green New Deal and supports expanding health care access and protecting local jobs, among other priorities.
Other satellite spending in the race includes $1.2 million on ads supporting Cisneros and opposing Cuellar from Texas Forward—a PAC affiliated with EMILY’s List—and American Workers for Progress’ $700,000 on pro-Cuellar ads.
PAC backs Smith’s Senate bid in NC, Smith disavows PAC
Faith and Power PAC has spent $2.4 million supporting state Sen. Erica Smith in the Democratic primary for Senate in North Carolina. It’s the first noteworthy satellite spending for Smith in the race. Smith distanced herself from the group.
After the group released a T.V. ad and reported $1.6 million in initial expenditures last week, media outletswrote that the group had Republican ties. CNN reported, “The media buyer, Neylan and Partners, has worked on behalf of Republican campaigns before, including a super PAC supporting Carly Fiorina’s 2016 presidential campaign as well as Americans for Tax Reform.”
The group’s ad says Smith is “the only proven progressive” and that she supports Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.
Smith’s campaign said in a statement, “The Erica for U.S. campaign disavows and disassociates ourselves from the interference of Republicans in the Democratic Senate Primary. … This entity is not authorized to represent our views and positions.”
Candidate Cal Cunningham said, “Washington Republicans know Senator Tillis is weak, and apparently they don’t like his chances against me in November. Now they’re resorting to shady tactics to meddle in our election — and it’s disrespectful to North Carolina voters.”
VoteVets Action Fund has spent almost $6 million on ads supporting Cunningham. Cunningham has also released his own ads.
Cunningham’s ads focus on his support for expanding Medicaid, lowering drug costs, and strengthening the Affordable Care Act. Smith’s campaign website says she supports a Green New Deal, the “expansion of affordable healthcare for all,” drug price controls, and Medicaid expansion.
Cunningham ended 2019 having raised $3.3 million and with $1.7 million on hand. Smith raised $213,000 and had $95,000 on hand.
Smith and Cunningham are among the five primary candidates running for the Democratic nomination to run against Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in November. The primary is March 3. Three ratings outlets view the race as a Toss-up or Lean Republican.
Chicago mayor endorses Newman in IL-03
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot endorsed Marie Newman in her rematch against incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski. Chicago makes up about one-third of Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District.
Lightfoot said Saturday that Newman would stand in solidarity with immigrants and refugees. She said Lipinski “voted against Obamacare, mocks efforts to combat climate change, and is actually still opposed to marriage equality.”
As we reported in our first issue of Heart of the Primaries, Lipinski announced in January that 27 mayors and village presidents had endorsed his re-election bid. Three days before Lipinski’s announcement, Lightfoot tweeted, “I support a big tent but there’s no room under the flaps for anyone who is actively seeking to deny women control over our bodies. Time to leave @danlipinski.”
Newman lost to Lipinksi 51% to 49% in the 2018 Democratic primary.
WI-07 special primary election Feb. 18
Lawrence Dale and Tricia Zunker are running in the Democratic primary election for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District on Feb. 18. The district’s special general election is May 12. The special election was called to fill the vacancy left when Sean Duffy (R) resigned in Sept. 2019. Duffy cited the impending birth of his child as his reason for resigning. He was first elected in 2010 and won re-election in 2018, defeating Margaret Engebretson (D) 60% to 39%.
Dale, an insurance salesperson, previously ran as a Green Party candidate for Wisconsin’s 7th Congressional District in 2014 and as a Democratic candidate for District 34 of the Wisconsin state Assembly in 2016. His priorities include transitioning the area’s timber pulp industry to hemp pulp, growing the local farming industry, and passing Medicare for All.
Zunker, a member of the Wausau School Board and an associate justice of the Ho-Chunk Nation Supreme Court, said she would be an advocate for local farmers and work to improve public education. Zunker said she favors “Medicare for All for those who want it.” Zunker received endorsements from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the 7th Congressional District Democratic Party.
Josh Owens drops out of Indiana gubernatorial primary, leaving Woody Myers uncontested for the nomination
Josh Owens (D) suspended his campaign for Indiana’s Democratic gubernatorial nominationWednesday, leaving Woody Myers (D) as the only Democrat in the race ahead of the Feb. 7 filing deadline.
Owens, the chief executive officer of tech firm SupplyKick, offered Myers his endorsement and said the desire for a strong Democratic ticket in the general motivated his decision.
Indiana Democrats have not had a contested gubernatorial primary since 2008. That year, former Rep. Jill Long Thompson (D) defeated businessman Jim Schellinger (D) by 50.6% to 49.4%. Incumbent Mitch Daniels (R) defeated Thompson 58% to 40% in the general election.
Myers will face the winner of the Republican primary, contested between incumbent Eric Holcomb (R) and challenger Brian Roth (R), in the November general election. No Democratic candidate has won election as governor of Indiana since Frank O’Bannon (D) in 2000.
Pennsylvania Democrats nominate attorney general and treasurer candidates, auditor nomination to be contested in primary
The Democratic Party of Pennsylvania held its annual winter meeting Feb. 1 in Harrisburg, where the party endorsed Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) and Treasurer Joe Torsella (D) but did not settle on a nomination for state auditor ahead of the contested primary.
Incumbent auditor Eugene DePasquale (D) is running for the U.S. House rather than seeking re-election, leaving the office open. Six Democrats, including former Philadelphia Deputy Mayor Nina Ahmad (D), state Rep. Scott Conklin (D), and Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb (D), have so far declared they will run in the April 28 primary.
The candidate filing deadline is Feb. 18. The last Republican to serve as state auditor was Barbara Hafer (R), who left office in 1997.
North Carolina lieutenant gubernatorial candidates meet for forum
All six Democrats running for the party’s nomination for lieutenant governor of North Carolina met for a candidate forum in Kannapolis Sunday, where they discussed their plans for the office.
North Carolina is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is elected separately from the governor. Incumbent Dan Forest (R) is running for governor this year, leaving the office open. The lieutenant governor of North Carolina presides over the state senate and casts tie-breaking votes in addition to serving as acting governor while the governor is out of state. The governor may choose to delegate additional powers to the lieutenant governor.
The March 3 primary is open only to registered Democrats and unaffiliated voters. Should no candidate win a majority of the vote, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff. No Democrat has won election as lieutenant governor of North Carolina since Walter Dalton (D) in 2008.
Working Families Party releases endorsements in NY legislative races
The Working Families Party (WFP) endorsed 21 incumbent lawmakers representing portions of New York City. In a statement, State Director Sochie Nnaemeka praised each endorsed lawmaker as a “progressive champion” and said that each played a part in the party’s most successful legislative session in decades.
One of the group’s nine endorsements in the Assembly brings it into direct conflict with the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). In District 57, the WFP endorsed Walter Mosley (D), who faces a primary challenge from the DSA-backed Phara Souffrant Forrest. The DSA has endorsed five legislative candidates this cycle, and the WFP did not endorse a candidate in any of the other four races with a DSA candidate.
Chicago mayor endorses pair of legislative candidates
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) also endorsed Reps. Eva Dina Delgado (D-3) andJonathan Pizer (D-12) in their re-election campaigns. Politiconoted the endorsements came at a time the mayor is trying to convince lawmakers to amend a casino bill to the city’s benefit. Delgado faces two opponents in her Democratic primary, while Pizer faces five opponents. Neither district has a Republican candidate.
Both Delgado and Pizer were appointed in the last three months. Delgado was appointed in November 2019 to replace Luis Arroyo, who was charged with bribery as part of a corruption probe. Pizer was appointed on Feb. 10 to replace Sara Feigenholtz (D), who was appointed to theIllinois State Senate.
Delgado faces a challenge outside of her primary as well. Minority Leader Jim Durkin (R) and Rep. Anne Stava-Murray (D) filed a qualifications challenge against Delgado. They alleged that the process to appoint Delgado was flawed, pointing specifically to the counting of Arroyo’s proxy votes in the selection process. House rules dictate that a special committee must review the appointment.
Fundraising reports show distinct differences in Philly Senate race
In Pennsylvania state Senate District 1, which covers portions of Philadelphia, Sen. Larry Farnese (D) faces challenger Nikil Saval in the April 28 Democratic primary. Recent fundraising reports analyzed by the Philadelphia Public Record show distinct differences between the two. Farnese received $5,625 from individuals giving up to $250, while Saval received $27,948. Saval received $0 from PACs, while Farnese received $196,900. Farnese ended the January 31, 2020, report with a $296,000 cash balance to Saval’s $104,000.
The Philadelphia Inquirercalled the primary “the latest battle between old and new Philadelphia politics,” describing Farnese as representative of the area’s older machine politics and Saval as a self-described democratic socialist. The primary challenge is Farnese’s first since winning the seat in 2008.
Saval cofounded the group Reclaim Philadelphia in May 2016 with former staff and volunteers from the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign. The group has been behind several other successful campaigns in the city in recent years, including District Attorney Larry Krasner’s 2017 campaign and 2018 primary victories for Elizabeth Fiedler and Joe Hohenstein.
Farnese initially won the seat with the backing of 30-year incumbent Vince Fumo. Fumo told the Inquirer that he specifically drew the district to split it between two ideological camps of liberal and conservative Democrats. That balance has eroded in recent years, with more progressive Democrats gaining control of several other wards in the district.
“Formed by Members of the New Democrat Coalition, the NewDem Action Fund helps re-elect House NewDems and elect new, like-minded leaders who can help develop a positive policy agenda and message. In 2018, NewDems delivered the Democratic Majority in the House by flipping 31 of 40 net seats blue and contributing about $18 million to electing House Democrats.” – NewDem Action Fund website
The NewDem Action Fund, which is affiliated with the New Democrat Coalition, says it “helps elect and re-elect forward-thinking leaders who will help ensure everyone in America has the opportunity to earn a good life.”
The NewDem Action Fund website highlightsinnovation, growth, solutions, and the middle class as areas of focus and says its members have “built a reputation as effective leaders on the critical issues of technology policy, economic growth, security and personal responsibility.”
The New Democrat Coalition was founded in 1997. According to its website, “The New Democrat Coalition is made up of 103 forward-thinking Democrats who are committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies.”
The filing deadline to run for elected office in Pennsylvania is on February 18, 2020. In Pennsylvania, prospective candidates may file for the following state offices:
U.S. House of Representatives (18 seats)
State Senate (25 seats)
House of Representatives (203 seats)
The primary is scheduled for April 28, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.
Pennsylvania’s statewide filing deadline is the 13th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 2 in Nebraska.
Pennsylvania has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
As of February 10, 2020, 2,523 major party candidates have filed to run for the Senate and House of Representatives in 2020.
So far, 355 candidates are filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) to run for U.S. Senate in 2020. Of those, 302—159 Democrats and 143 Republicans—were from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 527 candidates filed with the FEC to run for U.S. Senate, including 137 Democrats and 240 Republicans.
For U.S. House, 2,436 candidates are filed with the FEC to run in 2020. Of those, 2,221—1,059 Democrats and 1,162 Republicans—are from one of the two major political parties. In 2018, 3,244 candidates filed with the FEC, including 1,566 Democrats and 1,155 Republicans.
Thirty-six representatives are not seeking re-election. Of those, 27 are Republican and nine are Democratic. Four senators (three Republicans and one Democrat) are not running for re-election. In 2018, 55 total members of Congress—18 Democrats and 37 Republicans—did not seek re-election.
On November 3, 2020, 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats are up for election. Of those Senate seats, 33 are regularly scheduled elections, while the other two are special elections in Arizona and Georgia. Twelve are Democratic-held seats and 23 are Republican-held seats. In the House, where all seats are up for election, Democrats currently hold a majority with 232 seats.
Fifteen candidates are running in the Republican primary for Texas’ 13th Congressional District on March 3. Incumbent Mac Thornberry (R), who was first elected in 1994, announced in September 2019 that he would not seek re-election. Thornberry won his last election in 2018 by a margin of victory of 65 percentage points.
Media coverage and endorsements have focused on six candidates: Chris Ekstrom, Lee Harvey, Elaine Hays, Ronny Jackson, Vance Snider II, and Josh Winegarner. According to financial reports through the end of 2019, Ekstrom led the candidates in total receipts with around $531,000 followed by Winegarner with $345,000. All other candidates reported less than $100,000 in receipts.
Ekstrom has received endorsements from U.S. Reps. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ron Wright (R-Texas) and Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), and the organization Club for Growth. Harvey received an endorsement from the Wichita Falls Police Officers Association. Hays received endorsements from former U.S. House Majority Leader Dick Armey (R-Texas) and the Amarillo Police Officers Association. Jackson was endorsed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R). Snider was endorsed by the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen and the Smart TD Transportation Union. Winegarner received endorsements from U.S. Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Texas) and numerous agricultural groups, including the Texas Farm Bureau Friends of Agriculture Fund.
The other candidates running in the primary are Catherine Carr, Jamie Culley, Jason Foglesong, Richard Herman, Diane Knowlton, Matt McArthur, Mark Neese, Asusena Resendiz, and Monique Worthy.
If no candidate receives a majority of the vote in the primary election, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will be held on May 26, 2020. The winner of the primary will run in the district’s general election on November 3, 2020.
The major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Indiana is on February 7, 2020. The filing deadline for independent and minor party candidates is June 30. In Indiana, prospective candidates may file for the following offices:
• U.S. House (9 seats)
• Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General
• State Senate (25 seats)
• State House (100 seats)
• Indiana Supreme Court (1 seat)
• Indiana Court of Appeals (6 seats)
• Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Allen County
• Marion County
• Decatur Township Metropolitan School District
• East Allen County Schools
• Fort Wayne Community Schools
• Franklin Township Community School Corporation
• Indianapolis Public Schools
• Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township
• Metropolitan School District of Perry Township
• Metropolitan School District of Pike Township
• Metropolitan School District of Warren Township
• Metropolitan School District of Washington Township
• Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township
• Northwest Allen County Schools
• Southwest Allen County Metropolitan School District
The primary is scheduled for May 5, and the general election is scheduled for November 3, 2020.
Indiana’s statewide filing deadline is the 12th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on February 18 in Pennsylvania.
Indiana has a Republican state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) outraised its Democratic counterpart by more than two-to-one for the eighth consecutive month, while the Democratic House and Senate committees outraised their Republican counterparts, according to year-end 2019 campaign finance reports filed with the FEC Jan. 31.
The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) raised $7.3 million and spent $6.0 million last month, while the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) raised $7.0 million and spent $5.0 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the NRSC has raised 7.3% more than the DSCC ($67.7 million to $62.9 million). The NRSC’s 7.3% fundraising advantage is down from 8.7% in December and 8.8% in November.
On the House side, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) raised $14.6 million and spent $5.1 million last month, while the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) raised $8.1 million and spent $5.7 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the DCCC has raised 37.8% more than the NRCC. The DCCC’s 37.8% fundraising advantage is up from 35.5% in December and 36.0% in November.
At this point in the 2018 campaign cycle, Democrats led in both Senate and House fundraising, although their advantage in the House was smaller than in this cycle. The DSCC had raised 25.9% more than the NRSC ($54.4 million to $41.9 million), while the DCCC had raised 21.5% more than the NRCC ($105.5 million to $85.0 million).
Republicans continue to lead in national committee fundraising. The Republican National Committee (RNC) raised $26.5 million and spent $17.7 million while the Democratic National Committee (DNC) raised $8.7 million and spent $6.9 million. So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC has raised 90.2% more than the DNC ($241.1 million to $91.2 million). The RNC’s 90.2% fundraising advantage is up from 88.9% in December and 89.1% in November.
At this point in the 2016 campaign cycle (the most recent presidential cycle) the RNC had a smaller 48.7% fundraising advantage over the DNC ($105.6 million to $64.3 million).
So far in the 2020 cycle, the RNC, NRSC, and NRCC have raised 34.1% more than the DNC, DSCC, and DCCC ($394.0 million to $279.0 million). The Republican fundraising advantage is down from 34.6% in December and 34.2% in November.
This week: Doug Collins enters special Senate election in GA, Feenstra leads IA-04 GOP field in fundraising, and retiring TX Speaker donates to seven incumbents
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Where do Republican and conservative pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.
“Trump is not making the effort [to visit Iowa] because he is afraid of his two hapless Republican challengers, former Rep. Joe Walsh and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld. …
Still, Trump has something to prove. Given his success in the 2016 GOP race, it is easy to forget that he started out by losing the Iowa caucuses to Ted Cruz. So he wants to make up for that. But more importantly, he wants to cement Iowans’ support for his reelection. Plus, he wants to take advantage of the increased intensity of support among Republicans who believe Trump has been treated unfairly by Democrats in Washington.”
“[Trump] easily carried [Iowa] during the last general election. His hold on the Senate majority, though marginal, likely faces little to no danger here. He will easily wipe away a small band of little-known candidates mounting primary challenges against the longest of odds to deny him the GOP nomination.
So why was the president of the United States in Des Moines on a Thursday night when he still stands trial for impeachment in Washington? Because Donald Trump had a simple message for the Democrats lining up for a chance to take him on in November: As far as he’s concerned, Iowa belongs to him.
U.S. Rep. Doug Collins announced Jan. 29 he is running in the special election for U.S. Senate in Georgia. He joins three other Republicans—including incumbent Sen. Kelly Loeffler—four Democrats, and one independent currently running in the Nov. 3 all-party general election.
Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned Dec. 31 for health reasons.
If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two will be Jan. 5, 2021.
Several mediaoutletsreported that President Donald Trump wanted Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) to appoint Collins to the Senate seat. Kemp chose Loeffler, a financial executive and co-owner of Atlanta’s WNBA team, to fill the vacancy created when Isakson retired.
Greg Bluestein at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution wrote that Kemp’s choice was part of a strategy to recapture Georgia suburbs following his 1.4-percentage-point victory over Stacey Abrams (D) in 2018. Kemp avoided a runoff in that election with 50.2% of the vote. Bluestein wrote:
Abrams came within a whisker of forcing a runoff against Kemp by blazing a blue streak across north Atlanta suburbs where Republicans once dominated. …
With Loeffler, who would be the second female U.S. senator in Georgia history, he’s trying to expand the Georgia GOP’s appeal to those moderate and independent voters who have fled the Republican fold.
National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Kevin McLaughlin said of Collins’ entrance to the race, “All he has done is put two Senate seats, multiple House seats and Georgia’s 16 electoral votes in play.”
Collins tweeted, “Republican voters in Georgia should choose their candidate — not one politician or a Super PAC in Washington. The time for that contest is now so we can unite well before November. Fighting ourselves and the left at the same time is a bad strategy.”
Club for Growth announced plans to spend $3 million on ads opposing Collins. Collins released a digital ad referring to the group as a “Never Trump, anti-agriculture group” and to a farm bill that he supported and the organization opposed.
After Collins and Democrat Raphael Warnock announced their candidacies last week, The Cook Political Reportchanged its special election rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican:
All these dynamics — long and protracted attacks between Collins and Loeffler and the entrance of Warnock — make it clear that this race is moving up the list of GOP headaches and Democratic opportunities, giving them yet another seat in their path to a majority. With its rapidly changing demographics, Georgia is a state that will be contested at the presidential level, and also sees Republican Sen. David Perdue running for re-election. But this is the more competitive race of the two.
While the all-party special general election is not a primary, the race will be the first contest for the Senate seat in Georgia, and it is unlike most other Nov. 3 general elections in that it may not be the last.
Satellite groups spending on Byrne in Senate primary in AL
Two groups are running ads supporting and opposing U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne in the Senate primary in Alabama, marking an uptick in satellite spending in the race.
Fighting for Alabama, Inc. spent $351,000 through Jan. 31 on a TV ad calling Byrne “one of President Trump’s strongest defenders.”
Club for Growth spent $274,000 last week re-airing an ad that first ran in November opposing Byrne. The ad says, “Byrne voted three times to fund a government giveaway program that hands out billions of dollars to help big companies make more profits overseas.”
Byrne’s campaign representatives have called the Club for Growth a pro-China group that opposed Trump’s presidency and agenda.
Byrne is one of six candidates in the March 3 primary. There will be a March 31 primary runoff if no candidate receives a majority of the primary vote.
Other candidates include Jeff Sessions, who held the seat for 20 years before the president appointed him U.S. attorney general; former football coach Tommy Tuberville; and 2017 special Senate election candidate Roy Moore, who lost to Doug Jones (D) by 1.7 percentage points.
In two internal polls from the Sessions campaign, Sessions led with 43% and 44%—below the threshold needed to avoid a runoff— and Byrne and Tuberville were in competition for second place.
In addition to satellite spending for and against Byrne, the Senate Conservatives Fund has spent $219,000 since May 2019 on digital ads, direct mail, and more supporting state Rep. Arnold Mooney in the race.
Jones is the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama since 1992. The Republican primary winner will face him in November.
Feenstra leads IA-04 GOP field in fundraising
In Iowa’s 4th Congressional District GOP primary, year-end campaign finance reports show state Sen. Randy Feenstra starting 2020 with $489,000 in cash on hand compared to $32,000 for incumbent Rep. Steve King.
Feenstra raised $721,000 throughout 2019 to King’s $263,000.
As we reported in our January 22 issue of Heart of the Primaries, King has been in the House since 2003. His closest re-election contest came in 2018 when he defeated J.D. Scholten 50%-47%.
Bret Richards raised $256,000, the third-most of the Republican field, and had $100,000 on hand. Currently, one candidate is running in the Democratic primary—J.D. Scholten, King’s 2018 opponent. Scholten raised $734,000 and had $540,000 on hand.
The primary is June 2, and the filing deadline is March 13. There are currently six candidates in the Republican primary.
Congressional Leadership Fund releases pro-Granger ads in TX-12
Last week, we looked at the Club for Growth PAC’s endorsement of Chris Putnam’s primary challenge to U.S. Rep. Kay Granger in Texas’ 12th District. Since then, the Congressional Leadership Fund released pro-Granger TV and radio ads highlighting Trump’s endorsement of her. The group said it spent $300,000 on the TV ad.
New Jersey gubernatorial primary begins to take shape as Ciattarelli launches campaign
Fewer state executive races take place in presidential election years than in midterm years. This year, there are 159 state executive offices on the ballot nationwide, compared to 303 offices up in 2018. Just 37 of those seats are top four offices (governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, and secretary of state); down from 123 in 2018. In this year’s run of Heart of Primaries, our coverage of state executive races will include stories on emerging state executive candidate fields in the 2021 and 2022 elections as well as the most recent news from 2020.
This week, we turn to New Jersey, where Republicans are gearing up to try and retake the governor’s mansion in the 2021 elections. Incumbent Phil Murphy (D) was elected to succeed term-limited Gov. Chris Christie (R) in 2017 and is expected to seek re-election next year, although he has yet to formally declare. The Republican candidate field has begun to take shape this year, with former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli launching his campaign Jan. 21.
Ciattarelli, who served seven years in the state Assembly, was one of five Republicans who ran for the GOP nomination in 2017. Although then-Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno defeated him in the primary, Ciattarelli won seven of New Jersey’s 21 counties and was the only candidate other than Guadagno to receive more than 10% support statewide. Ciattarelli’s early endorsers for his 2021 run include Somerset County GOP Chairman Al Gaburo and state Sen. Kip Bateman.
Other potential candidates include state GOP Chairman Doug Steinhardt, state Assembly minority leader Jon Bramnick, and 2017 candidate Joseph “Rudy” Rullo. Another potential candidate, Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R) confirmed to Insider NJ on Jan. 31 that she would not run in 2021.
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox picks gubernatorial running mate
Montana Attorney General Tim Fox (R) announced Wednesday that former state Rep. Jon Knokey (R) would serve as his gubernatorial running mate. Candidates for governor of Montana are required to name a running mate at the time they file for election.
Knokey was elected to his Bozeman-area state House seat in 2016, defeating incumbent Christopher Pope (D) by a margin of 0.9 percentage points. Knokey suspended his bid for re-election in August 2018, saying that he had recently accepted a job offer that would leave him without time to serve as a legislator.
Fox’s selection of Knokey leaves Rep. Greg Gianforte as the final Republican candidate who has not yet selected a running mate. State Sen. Al Olszewski is running alongside fellow state Sen. Kenneth Bogner. On the Democratic side, neither Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney nor consultant Whitney Williams has selected a running mate.
The June 2 primary is open to all voters. No Republican candidate has been elected governor in Montana since Judy Martz (R) in 2000.
Follow-up: Second Utah poll finds Huntsman and Cox leading, large segment of undecided voters
Last week, we reported on a Suffolk University/Salt Lake Tribune poll of primary voters in Utah’s gubernatorial race. That poll found former Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) apparently leading Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) 26-18 with 48% of voters undecided.
A Deseret News/Hinckley Institute poll released Thursday paints a similar picture, with Huntsman apparently leading Cox 33-25 and 25% of voters undecided. None of the other candidates received more than 5% support. The Deseret News poll also surveyed voters who said that they were not Republicans but planned to join the party ahead of the gubernatorial primary. When those voters are included, Huntsman’s apparent lead grows to 35-25, while the share of undecided voters is reduced to 23%.
Six of the seven Republican candidates took part in the first debate of the primary Friday at the Salt Lake Palace Convention Center, discussing education and economic development. The candidate filing deadline is March 19. The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only.
Ohio GOP meeting to reconsider endorsement of candidate
On Thursday, the Ohio Republican Party will meet to reconsider its endorsement of Joe Dills in the three-way Republican primary in House District 65. In January, the party endorsed Dills against the recommendation of the House Republican Caucus, which asked it to endorse Jean Schmidt instead. Schmidt is a political ally of House Speaker Larry Householder.
Dills, Schmidt, and Dillon Blevins are running in the March 17 primary. The winner will face Alan Darnowsky (D) in the general election. The retiring incumbent, John Becker (R), received at least 66 percent of the vote in each of the last four elections. District 66 is located east of Cincinnati. Republicans hold a 61-38 majority in the House.
Retiring TX Speaker donates to seven incumbents
Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R) made donations to the campaigns of seven incumbents facing primary challengers this year. He donated $15,000 each to Dan Flynn, Chris Paddie, Geanie Morrison, Jared Patterson, Briscoe Cain, Dennis Paul, and Phil Stephenson. A spokesperson for Bonnen said the donations were given in exchange for help with passing Bonnen’s legislative priorities in last year’s session.
Bonnen announced his retirement in October 2019 after a recording was released of Bonnen telling a group he would give them media credentials in exchange for working to defeat 10 Republican incumbents in the 2020 elections. Bonnen was first elected to the House in 1996 and was elected Speaker in Jan. 2019.
Republican member of AK House coalition retires
Last week, Alaska Rep. Tammie Wilson (R) retired, creating an open race in the 3rd District. Wilson was one of eight Republicans who created a coalition majority with 15 Democrats and two independents in Feb. 2019. This meant that although Republicans had a numerical majority in the House, a Democrat was selected as Speaker. Wilson said she was leaving the legislature in order to take a job with the Alaska Office of Children’s Services.
The filing deadline in Alaska is June 1 and there are so far no declared candidates in the race. All 40 House districts are up for election in November. Republicans hold a 22-15 numerical House majority, along with one vacancy and two unaffiliated members.
“The Club for Growth is a national network of over 250,000 pro-growth, limited government Americans who share in the belief that prosperity and opportunity come from economic freedom.” – Club for Growth website
According to the Club for Growth website, the organization focuses on the following issues: budget and spending, education, entitlements, free trade, regulation, taxes, term limits, and tort reform.
The Club for Growth PAC “endorses and raises money for candidates who stay true to the fundamental principles of limited government and economic freedom,” according to its website. The PAC focuses on U.S. House and Senate races. To view a list of 2020 candidate endorsements, click here.
The super PAC Club for Growth Action can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. The group cannot contribute directly to a politician or political party, but it can spend independently to campaign for or against political figures. According to the group’s website, it “[runs] independent hard-hitting TV, radio, Internet, and direct mail campaigns in critical Senate and House races across the country.”