TagHeart of the Primaries

Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 10

In this issue: A primary rematch in NY-12 and dueling endorsements in MI-11’s incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary

Suraj Patel challenges Rep. Carolyn Maloney again in NY-12 

New York’s 12th Congressional District Rep. Carolyn Maloney faces at least seven challengers in the Democratic primary, including one she’s faced twice before. Suraj Patel, who Maloney defeated most recently in 2020 43% to 39%, announced his bid this week.

Patel, a former campaign staffer for President Barack Obama, called himself “pro-growth, pro-democracy, pro-science and pro-safety” and said, “This is a new decade, a new district, and as we enter year 3 of a pandemic we’ve got new challenges, which means we need a government that proactively develops 21st-century solutions to 21st-century problems.”

Maloney was first elected in 1992. Maloney’s campaign website says her “position as a hard-hitting progressive leader is indisputable.” When announcing her bid for a 16th term, Maloney said, “Now more than ever, our city needs innovative leaders to spearhead our rebuilding from the COVID-19 crisis … From securing federal funding to help New Yorkers get vaccinated, pay their rent, and feed their families, I have led efforts that will enable New York City and New York State to build back better.”

Jewish Insider‘s Matthew Kassel said redistricting expanded the 12th District “westward into Manhattan, where [Maloney] is likely to pick up a cluster of new voters that will add to a traditional support base in her home neighborhood of the Upper East Side. Meanwhile, the new boundaries cut back on left-leaning enclaves in Brooklyn and Queens, where Maloney has performed poorly in recent elections.” The new map is being challenged in court.

Patel said the new district map could benefit him, pointing to parts of the former 10th District—which Rep. Jerry Nadler represents—that became part of the 12th and saying his positions are closer to Nadler’s than Maloney’s are.

Candidate Rana Abdelhamid launched her campaign last April with support from Justice Democrats. Abdelhamid said, “As the pandemic has exacerbated inequities in our communities, this district deserves a representative who fights for renters instead of developers, and small shops instead of big banks … A leader who went to New York City public schools, isn’t a millionaire, and answers to all of us — not just the corporate PACs who fund her reelection campaigns.”

According to The City‘s Clifford Michel, candidate Maud Maron “is looking to promote issues such as public safety and wants to get rid of masking in schools. Her moderate credentials could siphon votes from Maloney while the incumbent tries to fend off a progresive [sic] challenge.” Maron’s campaign website says she “rejects ideological purity in favor of practical solutions. She was one of the very first candidates to reject ‘Defund Police’ proposals because all communities need safe streets, parks and transportation.”

The primary is set for June 28.

Ocasio-Cortez rallies, Sanders endorses in TX-28, TX-35

On Feb. 12 and Feb. 13, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) campaigned in Texas for U.S. House candidates Jessica Cisneros (District 28) and Greg Casar (District 35), including at a rally for the candidates in San Antonio. 

Ocasio-Cortez criticized U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, who faces Cisneros in the March 1 primary, for saying last summer that he wouldn’t vote for a budget resolution needed to pass the Build Back Better Act unless the House first voted on an infrastructure bill the Senate had passed, as we wrote about two weeks ago. Ocasio-Cortez said, “A lot of people say ‘Manchin, Manchin, Manchin . . . But we know it’s not just Manchin. You know who’s helping him? Henry Cuellar.” Ocasio-Cortez said, “If you’re upset about Build Back Better, you can elect Jessica Cisneros.” 

The Build Back Better Act passed the House, with Cuellar’s support, in November. The Senate has not yet taken it up. 

Before the rally, Cuellar said, “The voters will decide this election, not far left celebrities who stand for defunding the police, open borders, eliminating oil & gas jobs, and raising taxes on hard working Texans. Members should take care of their own district before taking failed ideas to South Texas.”

On Feb. 14, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Cisneros and Casar. 

Tannya Benavides is also running in the 28th District primary. Casar faces three other candidates in the open 35th District. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a runoff on May 24. 

Three major race forecasters consider the 28th District general election either Lean or Likely Democratic. The 35th District is Safe or Solid Democratic.

Retiring Rep. Brenda Lawrence, Congressional Progressive Caucus endorse in two-incumbent primary

On Feb. 10, retiring Michigan 14th Congressional District Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) and the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC) endorsed different incumbents running in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District Democratic primary. 

Lawrence endorsed Rep. Haley Stevens, saying that “no person represents the quality, the compassion, the work ethic better than Haley Stevens.” The CPC endorsed Rep. Andy Levin, saying he “is a progressive champion driven by a commitment to universal justice and equity, not backroom special-interest agendas.”

Both Stevens and Levin were first elected in 2018. According to data from Daily Kos, 45% of the newly drawn 11th District’s population comes from Michigan’s old 11th District (which Stevens represents), 25% comes from the old 9th District (which Levin represents), and 30% comes from the old 14th District (which Lawrence represents).

Last month, Stevens criticized Levin’s decision to run in the 11th District, saying she “couldn’t imagine abandoning over 70% of [her] current constituents in an open and winnable congressional seat to primary a fellow Democrat.” Three independent race forecasters rate Michigan’s new 10th District, which 71% of Levin’s old district was drawn into, Tilt or Lean Republican. Levin said, “No current Member of Congress has represented the new districts as drawn, full stop. I am running in the district drawn around the home where I’ve lived for 16 years.” 

Independent forecasters rate the general election in Michigan’s 11th Safe or Solid Democratic. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 2.

U.S. representatives not seeking re-election

As of the end of January—nine months ahead of the general election—42 members of the U.S. House had announced they would not seek re-election. At the same time in the 2020 election cycle, 34 representatives had announced they wouldn’t seek re-election. That number was 45 in 2018.

On Tuesday, Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.) announced her retirement, bringing the total up to 43 incumbents not seeking re-election this year.

Brooklyn Democratic Party, NY Working Families Party endorse in governor primary

The Brooklyn Democratic Party endorsed Gov. Kathy Hochul in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The New York Working Families Party endorsed primary challenger Jumaane Williams.

New York Daily News‘ Tim Balk said the Brooklyn Democrats’ vote dealt “a significant — but not unexpected — blow to city Public Advocate Jumaane Williams’ bid to unseat the incumbent” and that Williams “will now officially be running without the support of his local Democratic Party chapter.”

The New York Times‘ Nicholas Fandos wrote that Sochie Nnaemeka, director of the New York Working Families Party, “said she was concerned that without a robust voice from the left, Democratic leaders were being swayed by other candidates — centrists in their own party like Representative Tom Suozzi and Republicans like Representative Lee Zeldin — who have sought to stir up public outrage over Ms. Hochul’s handling of the virus, the economy and public safety.”

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) also recently endorsed Hochul. And the group Our Revolution endorsed Williams.

Hochul succeeded Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) after he resigned last August. Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2014 and re-elected in 2018, defeating Williams in the Democratic primary that year 53% to 47%. 

Five candidates are running in the Democratic primary so far. The primary is scheduled for June 28.

Illinois Sec. of State Jesse White endorses in state supreme court race

Last week, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White (D) endorsed Elizabeth Rochford, a judge on the 19th Circuit Court, in the state supreme court 2nd District Democratic primary. Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering and 16th Circuit Court Judge René Cruz are also running in the primary.

Democrats currently hold a 4-3 majority on the court. There are two partisan elections and two retention elections taking place this year against the backdrop of redistricting. 

The 2nd District position is open for two reasons.

In 2020, 3rd District Justice Thomas Kilbride (D) became the first justice in Illinois’ history to lose a retention election. Robert Carter (D) was appointed to fill the vacancy and is not seeking election to a full term.

Last year, the Illinois Legislature redrew the state’s five court district lines for the first time since they were enacted in 1964. As a result, the current 2nd District justice, Michael Burke (R), was moved to the 3rd District, where he is seeking election to a full term after his appointment in 2020.

According to the Center for Illinois Politics, under its new lines, the 2nd District voted for Joe Biden (D) over Donald Trump (R) 56-42% in 2020. In 2018, J.B. Pritzker (D) defeated then-Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) 48%-46% in the district. As with 2018, Illinois is holding a gubernatorial election this year.

Justices Rita Garman (R) in the state’s western 4th District and Mary Jane Theis (D) in the 1st District (Cook County) face retention elections.

The primary is scheduled for June 28.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 9

February 10, 2022

In this issue: Ocasio-Cortez, Our Revolution get involved in Texas and a former Lt. Gov. seeks old office in Vermont 

Ocasio-Cortez holding rally with Cisneros and Casar in Texas

U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) said she will travel to San Antonio on Feb. 12 for a rally to support Democratic congressional primary candidates Jessica Cisneros and Greg Casar.

Cisneros is running in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th Congressional District against Tannya Benavides and incumbent Henry Cuellar. Cuellar defeated Cisneros 51.8% to 48.2% in the 2020 Democratic primary.

Cuellar, a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, was first elected to Congress in 2004. Cisneros, an immigration attorney, cited her criticism of Cuellar’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as a key reason she is running again. Cisneros has also criticized Cuellar for opposing legalized abortion and his votes on federal immigration bills. 

Casar is running in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 35th Congressional District against Eddie Rodriguez, Carla-Joy Sisco, and Rebecca Viagran. Incumbent Lloyd Doggett (D) is running for re-election in the 37th District, leaving the 35th District open for the first time since its creation following the 2010 census. 

Casar was a member of the Austin City Council from 2015 to 2022. The San Antonio Express-News‘ Cayla Harris wrote: “Casar is undoubtedly the farthest-left candidate of the group, but Rodriguez’s record is similar: He is ranked among the most liberal members of the state House.”

Early voting in Texas begins Feb. 14.

Checking in on U.S. House incumbent-vs.-incumbent primaries 

There are five primaries with incumbents running against one another so far. Three are Democratic primaries. 

With congressional redistricting unsettled in several states, there could be more incumbent-vs.-incumbent races on the horizon. That could happen if incumbents’ home addresses or political bases of support are redrawn into the same district, or if multiple incumbents determine that the characteristics of a particular district are more favorable to their re-election.

Today, we’re looking at how much money competing incumbents raised in 2021. The following data is from the Federal Election Commission.

Georgia’s 7th (May 24 primary)

  • Carolyn Bourdeaux: $2.4 million
  • Lucy McBath: $3.2 million
  • Donna McLeod (non-incumbent): $23,000

Illinois’ 6th (June 28 primary)

  • Sean Casten: $1.9 million
  • Marie Newman: $1.0 million

Michigan’s 11th (August 2 primary)

  • Andy Levin: $1.3 million
  • Haley Stevens: $2.5 million

There were 11 incumbent-versus-incumbent U.S. House primaries in 2012—five Democratic, three Republican, and three in which candidates of all affiliations competed together. In the three districts where it was possible for candidates of the same party to advance to the general election (two using California’s top-two primary system and one using Louisiana’s majority-vote system), incumbents of the same party also competed in generals. Two additional races featured a general election contest between incumbents of different parties. 

As of Feb. 9, 10 states hadn’t adopted congressional redistricting plans yet and two states had adopted maps that courts then blocked. Thirty-one states had adopted congressional district maps. One state approved boundaries that hadn’t yet taken effect. Six states have a single U.S. House district each, so no congressional redistricting is required.

Arkoosh exits Senate primary in Pennsylvania

Montgomery County Commissioner Valerie Arkoosh suspended her U.S. Senate primary campaign in Pennsylvania. 

As we wrote last week, the state Democratic Party recently held an endorsement meeting where no candidate reached the two-thirds vote threshold for an endorsement. Arkoosh received less than 15% support on the first ballot, disqualifying her from the second round of voting. Arkoosh had raised the third-highest amount in the primary at $2.7 million through Dec. 31.

Conor Lamb and John Fetterman received the highest and second-highest vote percentages from state party members at the endorsement meeting. Fetterman raised $12 million and Lamb, $4 million through Dec. 31.

Former Lt. Gov. Zuckerman joins Democratic primary in VT

Former Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman joined the 2022 Democratic primary for his old position. Zuckerman served in the state House and Senate before serving as lieutenant governor from 2017 to 2021. He has been elected on both the Democratic Party’s and the Vermont Progressive Party’s tickets. Zuckerman lost the 2020 gubernatorial election to incumbent Phil Scott (R), 69% to 27%. Vermont holds state executive elections every two years.

Current Lt. Gov. Molly Gray (D) is running for the state’s open at-large congressional district.

Zuckerman said, “In these uncertain times, by returning me to the office of lieutenant governor, you’ll get experience and stability in our government’s leadership, and you’ll get a fighter who has successfully made positive change happen. … [I]f we work together, we can create a state where all people are welcome, where our rural communities are vibrant and thriving, where people feel safe, and where no family has to struggle to have their basic needs met.”

Charlie Kimbell, Patricia Preston, and Kitty Toll are also running.

Kimbell has been in the state House since 2017 and co-chairs the Rural Economic Development Working Group. His campaign says he believes “in the Vermont political tradition that blends self reliance, social justice, Yankee frugality and environmental stewardship” and that he “is a moderate democrat who believes in a State that supports working Vermonters through affordable childcare, paid parental leave, and good career opportunities.”

Preston, executive director of the Vermont Council on World Affairs, said, “We all know someone who can’t afford to buy a house. Our workforce is shrinking, our infrastructure is aging, and the divisiveness we see in politics today threatens Vermont’s civic life, which I have always treasured. … And … [f]rom our state schools to the climate crisis, we need to take serious action.”

Toll served in the state House from 2009 to 2021. VTDigger‘s Lola Duffort said Toll is “socially liberal and fiscally moderate.” Toll said, “As a former Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, I have extensive experience balancing and managing budgets. … From pandemic recovery, workforce and housing shortages, to climate action, I will bring people together, and listen to Vermonters across the state to get the job done.” 

The primary is set for Aug. 9.

Our Revolution endorses in Travis County (TX) Commission race

On Feb. 7, Our Revolution endorsed Susanna Ledesma-Woody in the Democratic primary for Travis County Commissioners Court Precinct 4. Ledesma-Woody faces incumbent Margaret Gómez in the March 1 primary. Gómez became a commissioner in 1995.

This is the group’s second Travis County Commission endorsement this cycle and its third endorsement in the Austin area. Our Revolution endorsed Bob Libal, who is challenging incumbent Brigid Shea (in office since 2015) in Precinct 2. The group also endorsed Jose Vela in a January special election for Austin City Council, which Vela won.

The group’s political director, Aaron Chappell, told Axios, “This is our vision and something Bernie [Sanders] talked about, about getting progressives to run for office, from dog-catcher on up. You can’t get to a congressional race and hope candidates just come out of the woodwork.” Chappell called the local race strategy “building a bench.”

Our Revolution also endorsed in three Texas congressional races: TX-28 (Jessica Cisneros), TX-30 (Jasmine Crockett), and TX-35 (Greg Casar).

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) launched Our Revolution, a 501(c)4 organization, following his 2016 presidential primary campaign. The group says his goal was “to empower everyday Americans to stand up to corporate interests that seek to manipulate our government for personal gain.”

Texans for Better Dems Coalition supports primary challenges to House incumbents

The Texans for Better Dems Coalition, a group formed in October 2021, is supporting two candidates challenging incumbent members of the Texas House of Representatives. According to The Texas Tribune’s Patrick Svitek, “Campaign fundraising has been light across the two primaries, so the coalition’s involvement could be significant.” Svitek reported that the Coalition plans to spend $250,000 in these two state legislative races as well as a Harris County judicial primary.

In El Paso-area District 79, the Coalition is supporting Rep. Claudia Ordaz Perez over Rep. Art Fierro. Ordaz Perez currently represents District 76, which was moved across the state during redistricting. Svitek wrote that Ordaz Perez criticized Fierro for being among the first Democrats to return to the House floor during a quorum break last year. Fierro said he returned after Democrats achieved the goals they set out to achieve. 

In July 2021, enough members of the Democratic caucus left the state during consideration of voting-related legislation to break quorum. The walkout ended in August.

In District 142, a Houston district, the Coalition is supporting Aldine American Federation of Teachers president Candis Houston against incumbent Rep. Harold Dutton. Svitek said, “Dutton is well known as an occasional outlier in his party,” including Dutton’s support for more charter schools as an example.

The Coalition’s website says the following:

[N]ot all Democratic legislators reflect the values and beliefs of what we have fought for. In response to this need and the recent fight to reach quorum on the House floor as the catalyst, Working Families Party, Communications Workers of America, and Texas Organizing Project have formed the Texans for Better Dems Coalition with the Working Families Party PAC.

Texas election competitiveness data

With the first primaries coming up on March 1, here’s a look at congressional and state legislative election competitiveness data for Texas over the past three cycles.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 9

February 10, 2022

In this issue: Pennsylvania GOP votes not to endorse in statewide primaries and an endorsement divide in TN-05

Trump, other Republican officials and influencers divided over Tennessee U.S. House endorsement

Though the filing deadline for U.S. House candidates in Tennessee is almost two months away, prominent Republican officials and influencers have already issued competing endorsements in the 5th District primary. Located in the Nashville area, the 5th District had heavily favored Democrats under the 2010 district maps but is expected to strongly favor Republicans under the new district maps. 

Former President Donald Trump endorsed former U.S. Department of State spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus on Jan. 25. Ortagus announced her bid this week. Several other elected Republicans and commentators have backed filmmaker Robby Starbuck. 

Trump said Ortagus “understands the threats posed by China, Russia, Iran and others, and will be tough, not just roll over like the Democrats and RINOs. She serves in the U.S. Navy Reserves and will fight for our Military. She won’t bow to the Woke Mob or the Leftist LameStream Media.”  

U.S. Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R) reiterated his endorsement of Starbuck following Trump’s Ortagus endorsement. U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) and former Trump administration official Sebastian Gorka endorsed Starbuck shortly after Trump’s endorsement. Political commentator Candace Owens tweeted, “Nope. Trump has this completely wrong. @robbystarbuck is the correct pick for Tennessee’s 5th district and Tennesseans have his back.”

Ortagus and Starbuck are among five candidates running in the GOP primary so far. The filing deadline is April 7 and the primary, Aug. 4.

Incumbent Jim Cooper (D), first elected in 2002, is not running for re-election.

Beyond endorsements, Trump works to shape candidate fields

Last week, Bernie Moreno dropped out of Ohio’s GOP primary for Senate citing a conversation with Trump. This week, Vernon Jones switched from Georgia’s gubernatorial race to a U.S. House bid after a meeting with Trump.

Moreno said, “After talking to President Trump we both agreed this race has too many Trump candidates and could cost the MAGA movement a conservative seat.” Trump has not endorsed in the May 3 primary, which includes businessman Mike Gibbons, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, former state party chair Jane Timken, and author J.D. Vance. 

Upon exiting Georgia’s gubernatorial primary, Jones endorsed David Perdue. Trump had already endorsed Perdue against incumbent Gov. Brian Kemp. CNN reported that Trump met with Jones and offered “his endorsement in a congressional contest if Jones agrees to exit the GOP primary for governor to instead run for Congress, according to two people familiar with the matter.” This week, Trump endorsed Jones’ bid for the 10th Congressional District. Georgia’s primary is set for May 24.

Last week, we wrote that former Rep. Mark Walker announced he’d stay in the Senate race in North Carolina after his campaign said Trump offered to endorse him if he switched to a House bid. Trump endorsed Ted Budd in the May 17 Senate primary.

Checking in on U.S. House incumbent-vs.-incumbent primaries 

There are five primaries with incumbents running against one another so far. Two are Republican primaries. 

With congressional redistricting unsettled in several states, there could be more incumbent-vs.-incumbent races on the horizon. That could happen if incumbents’ home addresses or political bases of support are redrawn into the same district, or if multiple incumbents determine that the characteristics of a particular district are more favorable to their re-election.

Today, we’re looking at how much money competing incumbents raised in 2021. The following data is from the Federal Election Commission.

Illinois’ 15th (June 28 primary)

  • Rodney Davis: $1.8 million
  • Mary Miller: $777,000

West Virginia’s 2nd (May 10 primary)

  • David McKinley: $1.5 million
  • Alexander Mooney: $3.1 million
  • Carly Braun (non-incumbent): $18,000

There were 11 incumbent-versus-incumbent U.S. House primaries in 2012—five Democratic, three Republican, and three in which candidates of all affiliations competed together. In the three districts where it was possible for candidates of the same party to advance to the general election (two using California’s top-two primary system and one using Louisiana’s majority-vote system), incumbents of the same party also competed in generals. Two additional races featured a general election contest between incumbents of different parties. 

As of Feb. 9, 10 states hadn’t adopted congressional redistricting plans yet and two states had adopted maps that courts then blocked. Thirty-one states had adopted congressional district maps. One state approved boundaries that hadn’t yet taken effect. Six states have a single U.S. House district each, so no congressional redistricting is required.

Pennsylvania State Committee votes not to endorse any statewide candidate at winter meeting

The Pennsylvania Republican State Committee did not endorse any candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, or U.S. Senate at its winter meeting on Feb. 5. Thirteen candidates have announced GOP gubernatorial primary bids and 13 have declared for the Senate primary. Both elections are open—Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is term-limited and Sen. Pat Toomey (R) isn’t running for re-election.

Pennlive.com‘s Jan Murphy wrote that the last time the Republican Party did not endorse a gubernatorial candidate was “in 1978 when the party had a pool of strong candidates for an open governor’s seat. Voters ended up electing Dick Thornburgh as the party nominee in the primary and he went on to win the governorship that November.”

The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari wrote, “Several Pennsylvania Republicans grumbled privately that the failure to wrangle a recommendation to voters, in such a critical year for the GOP and with so many candidates battling for the nominations, reflected the diminishing power of the state party and its leadership.”

Vince Matteo, chairman of the Lycoming County Republican Party, said, “I think we have some really good candidates. I haven’t made up my mind personally in any one of the three races. Why should the party anoint one, if you will?”

As we wrote in last week‘s Democratic issue of The Heart of the Primaries, the state Democratic Party did not endorse in the Senate race as no candidate reached the required two-thirds vote threshold at the party meeting. The party endorsed Josh Shapiro in the gubernatorial primary.

The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rate the Senate and gubernatorial elections Toss-ups.

The filing deadline for major party candidates in Pennsylvania is March 8, and primary elections are scheduled for May 17.

Farm Bureau backs Pillen, Noem backs Herbster in Nebraska governor’s race

The Nebraska Farm Bureau and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) both endorsed candidates in Nebraska’s gubernatorial primary last week. The Bureau endorsed Jim Pillen on Feb.1, and Noem endorsed Charles Herbster on Feb 2.

Nebraska Farm Bureau President Mark McHargue said that a poll of Farm Bureau members “resoundingly said Jim Pillen’s the guy,” and that Pillen “understands we have a broken tax system and that there is overreliance on property taxes (and) he understands that if agriculture does well, our state does well.” 

According to Omaha news outlet 3 News Now, the group hadn’t endorsed in a competitive GOP gubernatorial primary since 2006, when its endorsed candidate, Dave Heineman, defeated Tom Osborne. McHargue said, “We really made a difference in that race. … And we think we can do it again in this one.” 

Incumbent Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) also endorsed Pillen. Ricketts is term-limited.

Noem said Herbster “is a strong conservative, and with decades of experience as a farmer, rancher, and successful businessman, I know that he will fight to advance the America First agenda in Nebraska.” 

Trump endorsed Herbster in Nebraska and Noem’s re-election bid in South Dakota.

Six candidates are running in the May 10 Republican primary so far. 

Texas election competitiveness data

With the first primaries coming up on March 1, here’s a look at congressional and state legislative election competitiveness data for Texas over the past three cycles.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 8

February 3, 2022

In this issue: A likely Brown-Turner rematch in Ohio and Patriotic Millionaires makes first-ever primary endorsements

Brown-Turner rematch likely in OH-11

On Jan. 26, Nina Turner announced she’ll challenge 11th Congressional District incumbent Rep. Shontel Brown (D). Brown defeated Turner in a special primary 50.1% to 44.6% last August. The Hill‘s Julia Manchester described the special primary as “a proxy battle for the Democratic Party establishment and national progressives.”

Turner said that “not much has changed in the material conditions of the poor, the working poor, and the barely middle class. So the reasons are still the same. To lift the people. … Cleveland is the largest poor city in the country. … This region really deserves a leader that is going to fight, not just vote the right way, but fight for what is needed.”

In a Jan. 20 interview with Jewish Insider, Brown said, “I think that the [special primary] local race was really about results. It didn’t get into this progressive-moderate issue. … I know the national narrative was different. But it definitely, on the ground, was about who has been doing the work and who has been delivering for the people.”

Brown served on the Cuyahoga County Council from 2015 until she joined the House in November. Brown has also been chairwoman of the county Democratic Party since 2017. Turner, a former state senator, was a 2016 national surrogate and 2020 co-chair for Bernie Sanders’ Democratic presidential primary campaigns.

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.

Ohio’s congressional district map is unsettled. Last month, the state supreme court ordered state legislators to redraw district lines. The filing deadline is scheduled for March 4 and the primary for May 3. 

Patriotic Millionaires endorses in two U.S. House primaries

The organization Patriotic Millionaires endorsed Jessica Cisneros (TX-28) and Rep. Lucy McBath (GA-6) on Jan. 27. Cisneros faces Rep. Henry Cuellar in a March 1 primary rematch of 2020, while McBath faces fellow incumbent Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux in a May 24 primary due to redistricting. According to The Hill, this was the first time Patriotic Millionaires endorsed in party primaries.

Eric Payne, the group’s founder, said: “These radical moderates have done more damage to President Biden’s agenda than Mitch McConnell and Ted Cruz combined. … Their outright sabotage of President Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda, likely done on behalf of their donors, left us with no choice – it’s time to draw a line in the sand.”

Nine Democratic House members, including Bourdeaux and Cuellar, signed a letter last August saying they wouldn’t vote for a budget resolution needed to pass the Build Back Better Act unless the House first voted on an infrastructure bill the Senate passed. Later that month, the House passed a resolution to advance both bills, with Bourdeaux’s and Cuellar’s support. The resolution contained a nonbinding commitment to vote on the infrastructure bill in September (which did not happen). The House passed the infrastructure bill and then the Build Back Better Act in November. Bourdeaux and Cuellar supported both.

Patriotic Millionaires’ website says it focuses on “promoting public policy solutions that encourage political equality, guarantee a sustaining wage for working Americans, and ensure that millionaires, billionaires, and corporations pay their fair share of taxes.” Among the group’s members are Abigail Disney and Morris Pearl, a former managing director of investment management company BlackRock.

The group has endorsed seven other 2022 U.S. House candidates.

Two Kentucky state legislators face off in open KY-03

Kentucky’s candidate filing deadline passed last week, finalizing primary candidate fields. State Sen. Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey and state Rep. Attica Scott are running in the Democratic primary for the Louisville-area 3rd Congressional District—the only Democratic-leaning district in the state. 

Rep. John Yarmuth (D) is retiring, leaving the district open for the first time since 1994. The Lexington Herald-Leader‘s David Catanese said the primary was shaping up to “showcase some of the same ideological and demographic fissures that are currently splitting Democrats in Washington.”

McGarvey announced his candidacy after Yarmuth’s October retirement announcement. McGarvey said, “Congressman Yarmuth has been an incredible advocate for Kentucky families. … [W]e need to ensure Kentucky continues to send an effective Democratic voice to Congress.”

Scott entered the race last July, expecting to face Yarmuth in the primary. Scott says she’s running “a people-powered campaign where we all win with new and different leadership in Congress. … [F]ar too many of us have been left behind and left out in DC … [Y]oung people, women, and people of color can’t wait.”

Kentucky’s primary is scheduled for May 17, though the state’s recently enacted congressional and state House maps are being challenged in court. 

Pennsylvania Democratic Party does not endorse in Senate primary

No U.S. Senate primary candidate reached the two-thirds vote threshold required for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party’s endorsement at a meeting on Jan. 29. Conor Lamb received 61% support on the second and final ballot. John Fetterman received 23%.

Politico‘s Holly Otterbein said: “The non-endorsement is a disappointment for Conor Lamb, who has been trailing behind primary frontrunner John Fetterman … The lack of an endorsement is also a small victory for the other candidates in the primary, who were not expected to win the party’s backing.” 

Fetterman raised $12 million through Dec. 31. Lamb was second with $4 million, followed by Valerie Arkoosh with $2.7 million.

Otterbein reported the following messaging from candidates to state party committee members:

In several mailers sent to state committee members, Lamb’s team argued that he “is the Only Senate Candidate to Beat the Trump Machine — Three Times.” They also championed him as a proponent of ending the filibuster.

Literature passed out by Fetterman’s campaign touted him as an “UNAPOLOGETIC POPULIST” with a “NO-BS STYLE” who is the “ONLY CANDIDATE, DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN, WHO HAS WON STATEWIDE.”

Fetterman is the state’s lieutenant governor, and Lamb represents the 17th Congressional District. 

At least 13 candidates are running in the May 17 primary. Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is retiring.

Jonathan Jackson, son of Rev. Jesse Jackson, files for IL-01

On Jan. 26, Chicago businessman Jonathan Jackson filed with the Federal Election Commission for the Democratic primary in Illinois’ 1st Congressional District. Current incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush (D) is retiring. 

Jackson is the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., who sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served a single term as the District of Columbia’s shadow U.S. senator in the 1990s. Jonathan’s brother, Jesse Jackson Jr., served nine terms representing a neighboring Illinois district in the U.S. House before resigning in 2012.

Fourteen candidates are running in the Democratic primary so far. The candidate filing deadline is March 14. Among the other candidates are Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell, who former U.S. Sen. Carol Moseley Braun (D) endorsed, and Karin Norington-Reaves (D), who Rush endorsed.

The primary is set for June 28. Three election forecasters rated Illinois’ 1st Congressional District Safe or Solid Democratic.

Cooper vetoes primary date change in North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a bill to postpone the state’s primaries from May 17 to June 7. We wrote about the bill the General Assembly passed two weeks ago

The state supreme court postponed the primaries from March 8 to May 17 due to lawsuits challenging the new congressional and state legislative maps. The court heard arguments on Feb. 2. 

Cooper said, “This bill is an additional attempt by Republican legislators to control the election timeline and undermine the voting process. … The constitutionality of congressional and legislative districts is now in the hands of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Court should have the opportunity to decide how much time is needed to ensure that our elections are constitutional.”

WRAL’s Bryan Anderson wrote, “Cooper’s veto likely improves Democrats’ chances of seeing an independent expert appointed to handle a potential redraw process because Republicans may not be able to meet a narrow Feb. 18 deadline if the Supreme Court strikes down the new voting maps, takes a while to issue its ruling and doesn’t delay the primaries.”North Carolina is one of 13 states with a divided government. Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, and the governor is a Democrat.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 8

February 3, 2022

In this issue: Three Texas State Senate candidates reject LIBRE endorsement and Wisconsin poised for expensive gubernatorial primary

Three Texas State Senate candidates turn down LIBRE endorsement 

On Jan. 24, three Republican state Senate candidates in Texas rejected a joint endorsement from LIBRE Action—the political action committee affiliated with the LIBRE Initiative—and Americans for Prosperity (AFP) Action. Pete Flores (SD-24), Mayes Middleton (SD-11), and state Rep. Tan Parker (SD-12) cited disagreement with the LIBRE Initiative’s positions on immigration in their statements.

Flores said, “I do not want the endorsement [of the LIBRE Initiative]. … I have a long track record of fighting against any effort to grant amnesty to those who entered America illegally. I oppose any effort to establish programs that create shortcuts or allow certain people to jump to the head of the line.”

Middleton tweeted, “I didn’t seek their [the LIBRE Initiative’s] endorsement, and I do not accept it. While serving as Texas House Freedom Caucus Chairman, I fought to triple border security and believe we can do more, including finishing President Trump’s wall.”

Parker said, “I completely and unequivocally reject the LIBRE Initiative’s endorsement. The LIBRE Initiative has made clear where they stand on the issue of amnesty and illegal immigration, and we are not in agreement. I believe in the American Dream, and I fully support anyone who comes to this country legally, to achieve this dream. Any attempt to grant amnesty is in direct violation of my core conservative values.”

LIBRE Action and AFP Action said in a joint statement to The Texas Tribune on Jan. 24, “We are disappointed that some state senate candidates accepted a false premise and description of our immigration position and as a result declined our endorsement, which was grounded on their positions on healthcare, education, and the economy. … One thing is clear: The LIBRE Initiative Action is undoubtedly for the rule of law and legal immigration.”

The LIBRE Initiative’s website says, “In the areas Hispanics care about the most – quality education for our children, affordable health care for our families, a strong economy with good jobs, safer communities, and more – LIBRE seeks to fix the broken policies that hinder everyone’s ability to succeed.”

Flores, Middleton, and Parker are each running in contested Republican primaries in districts currently represented by Republicans who are not running for re-election. There are 64 contested GOP primaries and 33 contested Democratic primaries in Texas’ 2022 state legislative elections—26.8% of all primaries. In 2020, 21.4% of the state’s legislative primaries were contested, and in 2018, 28.5% were contested.

Texas’ primaries are scheduled for March 1.

Former Rep. Mark Walker staying in Senate race after Trump offers to endorse a Walker House campaign 

On Jan. 27, former U.S. Rep. Mark Walker announced he is staying in North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race instead of running for the U.S. House. The Associated Press wrote that “Walker’s campaign said he was offered Trump’s endorsement if he ran for a House seat in central North Carolina.” 


Walker said, “When we stepped away from Congress, it was in our heart to run across North Carolina to be able to take what we’ve been able to do in central North Carolina and take it across the state for the U.S. Senate.”

Former President Donald Trump endorsed another Senate candidate, Rep. Ted Budd, in June. The Associated Press said this “add[s] challenges for Walker, a former Baptist minister, to win over Christian conservatives who are also loyal to the former president.”

At least 12 others are running in the Republican Senate primary. Incumbent Sen. Richard Burr (R) is retiring. Budd leads the Republican field in fundraising with $3.1 million through December, followed by former Gov. Pat McCrory with $3.0 million and Walker with $1.6 million.

Burr was first elected in 2004 and most recently defeated Deborah Ross (D) 51% to 45% in 2016. In the state’s 2020 Senate election, Thom Tillis (R) defeated Cal Cunningham (D) 49% to 47%.

North Carolina’s primaries are scheduled for May 17.

Doughty, self-described moderate, challenges Trump-backed Diehl in Massachusetts

Chris Doughty, the president of a gear manufacturing company, announced he is running in the Republican gubernatorial primary and putting $500,000 of his own money into his campaign. 

Doughty said, “When I saw that Governor Baker wasn’t getting back in and I didn’t see any other moderate Republicans, my wife said, ‘Hey, quit complaining about it. Take a courage pill and step out on the stage.'” Doughty said he voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election and for Donald Trump in 2020. 

Doughty discussed affordability and jobs in his campaign announcement video, saying, “The lynchpin in all of this is our education system. … We need to continue to invest from early childhood education all the way through college and trade schools.”

Candidate Geoff Diehl also discussed affordability and jobs in a recent video. Diehl said the state needs to re-evaluate “how we can deliver the best possible education product to the most students affordably” and that parents need to be involved in what children are taught in schools. 

Trump endorsed Diehl in October, before Gov. Charlie Baker (R) announced he wouldn’t seek re-election. Diehl has criticized Baker over state employee vaccine mandates, school mask mandates, and business closures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

We wrote about the conflict between Baker and state Republican Party chair Jim Lyons in our first issue of this cycle’s The Heart of the Primaries.

The primary is set for Sept. 20. To make the primary ballot, candidates need to receive at least 15% support from delegates at the state Republican Party convention in May. The Cook Political Report and Sabato’s Crystal Ball rate the general election Lean Democratic.

Expensive primary expected after Kevin Nicholson announces Wisconsin gubernatorial campaign 

Former Marine and 2018 U.S. Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson announced on Jan. 27 that he is running in Wisconsin’s GOP gubernatorial primary. Nicholson said, “We can’t take Wisconsin to new heights if we elect a Governor from the same, tired political class that lacks the vision, ability, and will to fight for the future of our state.”


The Associated Press’ Scott Bauer wrote that Nicholson is “running as an anti-establishment outsider in a bid to capture conservatives who have not gotten behind [former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch]’s candidacy.” The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Molly Beck wrote that Nicholson “[announced] his campaign days after dressing down the chairman of the state Republican Party at a county party event and often [criticized] the ‘political class’ in the state.”

Before Nicholson’s announcement, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R) said, “I think if [Nicholson] runs, it hurts our chances to defeat Gov. Evers. … I certainly think that having a messy primary where people go after, in a negative way, each other — which is usually what happens in an expensive primary — that just doesn’t help us.” Vos said Kleefisch is “certainly, in [his] mind, the best candidate.” 

On Jan. 24, conservative donor Richard Uihlein promised that Nicholson would “have [his] full support and commitment to win the primary and general elections” if he ran. Uihlein gave $11 million to PACs supporting Nicholson’s 2018 Senate primary campaign, which Nicholson lost to former state Sen. Leah Vukmir 43% to 49%.  According to Bauer, Uihlein’s wife, Elizabeth, donated $20,000 to Kleefisch’s 2022 campaign and $200,000 to a super PAC supporting Kleefisch.  

Wisconsin Public Radio’s Shawn Johnson reported that the Uihleins were the fourth-largest donors in the country in the 2020 election cycle, having donated $68 million in support of federal candidates. 

Kleefisch’s campaign raised $3.3 million from September to December.

Incumbent Tony Evers (D), who is running for re-election, defeated former Gov. Scott Walker (R) 49.5% to 48.4% in 2018. The primary is scheduled for Aug. 9. At least five candidates are running.

Paxton launches anti-Gohmert ads

Incumbent Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton recently released several ads targeting primary challenger Louie Gohmert, who represents Texas’ 1st Congressional District. The Texas Tribune‘s Patrick Svitek wrote, “Paxton has criticized individual challengers before this election cycle, but the anti-Gohmert effort marks the first time he is spending real campaign money against one of them.” 

Texas Land Commissioner George P. Bush and former Texas Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman are also running in the GOP primary. 

Paxton has emphasized receiving former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. One of Paxton’s Facebook ads said, “Who is Trump’s pick for Texas Attorney General? Not Louie Gohmert.”

Gohmert said, “The fact that our compromised AG is only attacking me also tells you that he recognizes the real conservative in the race.” A Gohmert campaign ad says, “Ken Paxton is under indictment for securities fraud and facing a federal investigation for bribery and corruption, so Louie Gohmert is running to save Texas and restore honesty and integrity to the office of Attorney General.”

A grand jury indicted Paxton on securities fraud charges in 2015, and former aides have accused him of bribery and abuse of office. Paxton has denied wrongdoing in both cases.

Guzman filled out Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Click here to view her responses.

Cooper vetoes primary date change in North Carolina

Gov. Roy Cooper (D) vetoed a bill to postpone the state’s primaries from May 17 to June 7. We wrote about the bill the General Assembly passed two weeks ago

The state supreme court postponed the primaries from March 8 to May 17 due to lawsuits challenging the new congressional and state legislative maps. The court heard arguments on Feb. 2. 

Cooper said, “This bill is an additional attempt by Republican legislators to control the election timeline and undermine the voting process. … The constitutionality of congressional and legislative districts is now in the hands of the North Carolina Supreme Court and the Court should have the opportunity to decide how much time is needed to ensure that our elections are constitutional.”

WRAL’s Bryan Anderson wrote, “Cooper’s veto likely improves Democrats’ chances of seeing an independent expert appointed to handle a potential redraw process because Republicans may not be able to meet a narrow Feb. 18 deadline if the Supreme Court strikes down the new voting maps, takes a while to issue its ruling and doesn’t delay the primaries.”North Carolina is one of 13 states with a divided government. Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature, and the governor is a Democrat.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 7

January 27, 2022

In this issue: Vincent Fort challenging Rep. David Scott (GA-13) and Massachusetts triplex office primaries take shape

Key dates for Texas primary voters

Texas holds the first primaries of the 2022 elections in just over a month. Here are key dates to be aware of:

  • Voter registration deadline: Jan. 31
  • Early in-person voting: Feb. 14-Feb. 25
  • Mail-in ballot application deadline: Feb. 18
  • Election day: March 1 (Polls open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.)

See the Texas Secretary of State’s website for details on who qualifies to vote by mail, ID requirements, and more.

Former state Sen. Vincent Fort challenging U.S. Rep. David Scott in GA-13

Vincent Fort announced on Jan. 20 he’s challenging U.S. Rep. David Scott in the Democratic primary for Georgia’s 13th Congressional District. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution‘s Greg Bluestein said this is “one of several ideological battles in Georgia that will help shape the direction of the Democratic Party in 2022.”

Fort said the district “needs someone who believes in Democratic ideals and someone who doesn’t vote like a South Georgia Republican. It needs someone who believes in Medicare for All and doesn’t side with the big banks and predatory lenders.” Bluestein said that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Fort’s bid for Atlanta mayor in 2017 due to Fort calling for “the decriminalization of marijuana, free tuition at Atlanta city colleges and other left-leaning initiatives.”

Bluestein described Scott as a moderate, pointing to his membership in the Blue Dog Coalition and saying Scott endorsed Sen. Johnny Isakson’s (R) 2016 re-election bid and had “broken party lines to support then-President George W. Bush’s tax cuts and back Republican-led foreign policy efforts.”

Scott campaign spokesman Ralph Jones said in November, “From climate change and crippling student debt, to skyrocketing prescription costs and an economy struggling to build back from COVID-19, Congressman Scott looks forward to continuing his work in the People’s House to lead on solutions to the unprecedented challenges our communities face.” 

Scott was first elected in 2002. Fort served in the state Senate for 20 years before his mayoral bid, in which he placed 5th of 12 candidates.

South Fulton City Councilman Mark Baker and Antonio Gray are also running. The primary is set for May 24. If no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held on June 21.

House members make dueling endorsements in TX-28 primary, newspaper switches its endorsement from 2020

On Jan. 20, U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) endorsed Jessica Cisneros in the Democratic primary for Texas’ 28th Congressional District. On Jan. 19, House Majority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) endorsed incumbent Henry Cuellar. 

Cuellar and Cisneros also ran against one another in the 2020 Democratic primary, which Cuellar won 51.8% to 48.2%.

The San Antonio Express-News, which endorsed Cuellar in the 2020 primary, endorsed Cisneros on Monday, saying Cisneros: “offers a fresh and compelling vision for the district, although she needs to study up on military issues. We appreciate her expertise in immigration law and the potential for her to give voice to border and immigration issues. We are also troubled by Cuellar’s measured support of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which he said could continue with the presence of the United Nations. We also wonder how well Cuellar works with other border lawmakers.”

In 2020, Cisneros’ endorsers included Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), and Ocasio-Cortez. Cuellar’s endorsers included House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.). 

Tannya Benavides is also running in the March 1 primary. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, the top two vote-getters will advance to a May 24 primary runoff.

Cuellar was first elected to the House in 2004. The 28th District is one of five districts in Texas that the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting. Three independent election forecasters currently rate the general election either Solid Democratic or Likely Democratic.

Democratic fundraising up after Johnson (R) announces re-election bid, Lasry launches seven-figure ad buy

Several Democrats running for U.S. Senate in Wisconsin said they saw boosts in fundraising after incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) announced he would seek re-election on Jan. 9. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes’ campaign said it raised almost $150,000 in the 72 hours following Johnson’s announcement. According to the Wisconsin State Journal’s Alexander Shur, the campaigns of state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, and Milwaukee Bucks Executive Alex Lasry reported fundraising increases.

The deadline for candidates to file their fourth-quarter fundraising report is Jan. 31. The Hill’s Julia Manchester said the Senate race is “on track to be one of the most expensive of the cycle. Barnes raised $1.1 million between July 1 and Sept. 30. Godlewski and Lasry also raised more than $1 million during the time period, but each donated large sums of money to their campaigns.” 

After Lasry’s campaign announced a seven-figure media buy, NBC’s Natasha Korecki said, “This is the largest primary spending by a candidate in the Wisconsin Senate primary race of 2022 so far. … The rotation of ads, first provided to NBC News, offer a glimpse into the issues that could shape the race, such as inflation and the supply chain crunch. They are all issues where the president is faltering nationally but Lasry promises to address back home — and argues he already has.” 

Other issues in the race have manifested in candidates’ early policy plans. According to the Associated Press’ Scott Bauer, while Barnes and Lasry have “focused their first policy initiatives on voting rights and other issues related to protecting the democracy. … Godlewski’s [first major policy plan] takes a different approach, trying to appeal to rural Democrats who could be an important voting bloc in the Aug. 9 primary. [Nelson] has also pitched himself to rural voters as a folksy populist.” 

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 9. 

Who’s running in Massachusetts’ triplex office primaries

Two candidacy announcements within the past week affect primaries for all three of  Massachusetts’ triplex offices—governor, attorney general, and secretary of the commonwealth (also known as secretary of state in many other states). On Jan. 20, Attorney General Maura Healey announced she’s running in the Democratic gubernatorial primary, leaving the attorney general race open. And on Jan. 23, Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin (D) announced he’s running for re-election. 

Politico Massachusetts Playbook‘s Lisa Kashinsky said of the governor’s race, “In a race where other candidates are running more to their party’s flanks — GOP former state Rep. Geoff Diehl is a former President Donald Trump-backed conservative; state Sen. Sonia Chang-Díaz and Harvard political theorist Danielle Allen are progressives — Healey is striking a more moderate tone. She’s focusing less on her liberal-prosecutor past and more on pocketbook issues like the high cost of living.”

Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is not seeking re-election. The state currently has divided triplex control with a Republican governor and Democrats holding the attorney general and secretary offices. 

Quentin Palfrey and Shannon Liss-Riordan had already announced Democratic primary bids for attorney general before Healey’s announcement. State House News Service’s Katie Lannan named former Boston City Councilor Andrea Campbell, who ran for mayor of Boston last year, and Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan as potential candidates. Lannan said, “State election records show the last time more than two AG candidates made it to the ballot for either party primary was in 1974” and that Democrats have held the office since 1969.

Secretary of the Commonwealth William Galvin was first elected in 1994 and faces a primary challenge from NAACP Boston President Tanisha Sullivan. Galvin referred to his experience as equipping him to serve best. Sullivan said she’d expand voting rights and improve public records transparency. 

Primaries are scheduled for Sept. 20.

Tom Suozzi’s first TV ad in NY governor’s race focuses on crime and public safety

Crime and public safety are emerging as issues in New York’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. 

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi released the first TV ad of his gubernatorial bid, saying that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg “is actually proposing to downgrade armed robbery to a misdemeanor and to stop prosecuting resisting arrest.” Suozzi said that “if any DA refuses to enforce the law, I’ll remove them.” 

Suozzi said earlier this month, “Crime is a big problem in our state and the governor has not been talking about some of the more controversial issues that are out there right now. … You can’t make it so that the district attorney in Manhattan is not going prosecute a resisting arrest but you’ll get prosecuted for resisting arrest in Queens; that just doesn’t make any sense — it’s a green light for chaos.” 

Incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul said that “in respect to public safety, my position is very clear… working with the mayor of New York, we are committed to ensuring that there’s public safety for individuals so they don’t have to have that sense of anxiety. And we’re going to get it done.”

Bragg said there was confusion around his memo about downgrading some crimes to misdemeanors. Braggs said robberies with guns will be prosecuted as felonies and resisting-arrest cases involving violence against officers will be prosecuted.

Lee Zeldin, running in the Republican gubernatorial primary, said he would remove Bragg from office. 

Suozzi has also criticized the state’s law, passed in 2019, ending cash bail for certain crimes and criticized Hochul for not taking action to change it. Hochul said she has been in conversation with state legislative leaders about the bail policy.

Hochul, formerly lieutenant governor, assumed the governorship when Andrew Cuomo resigned last year and is seeking a full term. The primary is scheduled for June 28. Three other candidates are running in the Democratic primary so far, including New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Bulmaro Vicente challenges California Assemblyman Tom Daly 

Democrat Bulmaro Vicente announced he is challenging state Rep. Tom Daly in the Assembly District 68 top-two all-party primary. 

Vicente is the policy director for Chispa, which describes itself as an “organizing political home for young Latinx identifying peoples.” With Chispa, Vicente campaigned to pass Senate Bill 2 in the California Assembly, a law allowing police officers to be decertified for certain cases of misconduct. The Daily Post‘s Gabriel San Román wrote that Daly was the only Orange County Democratic Assembly member to vote in favor of the law, which passed. Other county Democrats abstained. 

San Román said, “Even though Daly delivered on what Chispa campaigned for, Vicente counts him as a moderate out of step with the changing progressive politics” of the district. Daly said, “The police decertification bill was the result of months of negotiating, haggling and compromise. There were progressive and moderate elements in that bill and many others.”

Daly has emphasized his record on veterans issues and transportation: “In my first term I was able to change state law so that transportation agencies, like OCTA, are able to combine the design and construction process for major projects. … It’s certainly progressive for taxpayers because it saved them a lot of money.”  

Vicente said, “We needed our state leaders to protect tenants from being evicted — and we didn’t see that. We saw politicians, like Daly, side with landlords, who were evicting tenants late in the pandemic.”

Daly has served in the state Assembly since 2012. Daly currently represents Assembly District 69 but is running in District 68 this year due to redistricting. San Román said, “The new 68th District still encompasses Santa Ana, Anaheim and a larger share of Orange while shedding its portion of Garden Grove. Largely intact, the district favors Latinos, who comprise 56% of the eligible voters, and registered Democrats.”

Vicente served on Berkeley’s Police Review Commission from 2015 to 2017. 
In 2020, no Democratic incumbents in the state legislature were defeated during primary or general elections. Thirty-seven incumbents (43%) total had primary challengers. California’s 2022 primary elections are scheduled for June 7.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 7

Welcome to The Heart of the Primaries, Republican Edition

January 27, 2022

In this issue: Colorado’s O’Dea takes petition route to Senate primary ballot and Dunleavy gets another GOP challenger in Alaska’s top-four primary

Key dates for Texas primary voters

Texas holds the first primaries of the 2022 elections in just over a month. Here are key dates to be aware of:

  • Voter registration deadline: Jan. 31
  • Early in-person voting: Feb. 14-Feb. 25
  • Mail-in ballot application deadline: Feb. 18
  • Election day: March 1 (Polls open 7 a.m.-7 p.m.)

See the Texas Secretary of State’s website for details on who qualifies to vote by mail, ID requirements, and more.

Colorado Senate candidate O’Dea will submit petitions to make primary ballot

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Joe O’Dea announced on Jan. 19 that he plans to submit petitions to make the primary ballot instead of going through the party’s nominating assembly. Colorado provides major party candidates those two paths to the primary election ballot.

At the party assembly, a candidate must receive 30% of delegates’ votes to be listed on the ballot. If no candidate receives 30%, a second vote is taken. If no candidate receives 30% in that vote, the top two vote-getters appear on the ballot.

U.S. Senate primary candidates taking the petition path must collect 1,500 signatures from registered primary voters in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. A candidate who takes the assembly path and does not win at least 10% of the vote cannot use the petition route to get on the same party’s primary ballot.

O’Dea is one of eight Republicans seeking the GOP nomination. Incumbent Sen. Michael Bennet (D) is running for re-election. O’Dea is so far the only GOP candidate seeking to make the ballot via petition, which must be filed with the secretary of state’s office by March 15. The Republican Party’s nominating assembly is April 9.

Fellow Republican Senate candidate Gino Campana wrote, “Joe Odea is petitioning onto the ballot because it’s painfully obvious he is way too liberal to win at the convention. … I have built a grassroots campaign supported by President Trump’s advisors, and I will use this energy to win at the convention.”

O’Dea’s campaign representative said, “Gino can stick his dishonest insults in his very own tax-and-spend-liberal ear. … Joe’s going to compete for every vote in every corner of the state — Republican insiders, Republican outsiders, and all the many Coloradans who are tired of Joe Biden and Michael Bennet’s failed leadership.”

The primary is set for June 28.

Ted Cruz campaigns with David McCormick in Pennsylvania

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) joined Republican Senate primary candidate David McCormick, the former CEO of Bridgewater Associates, at a campaign rally on Jan. 25. As we wrote last week, McCormick also has former Republican primary candidate Sean Parnell’s support. 

Currently, Cruz is the only GOP senator to make an endorsement in the primary. City & State Pennsylvania has tracked endorsements from several U.S. representatives, state legislators, local officials, and more for candidates Kathy Barnette, Jeff Bartos, McCormick, Mehmet Oz, and Carla Sands. Check the list out here.

Last week, we also wrote about ad spending from candidates and satellite groups. Politico wrote this week, “Republican candidates and groups supporting them spent and reserved a combined $15.3 million on TV ads, according to our pals at AdImpact. Of that total, about $3.5 million was reserved by outside GOP groups.”

Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is retiring. The primary is scheduled for May 17.

Primary field in Florida’s 13th Congressional District grows

On Jan. 19, attorney Kevin Hayslett entered the Republican primary in Florida’s 13th Congressional District. Incumbent Rep. Charlie Crist (D) is running for governor, a position he held from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican.

Hayslett has endorsements from Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri (R) and Gualtieri’s predecessor, Jim Coats (R). Five other candidates are running for the Republican nomination, including Anna Paulina Luna, the Republican Party’s 2020 nominee in the district, and Amanda Makki, another returning candidate. Former President Donald Trump (R) endorsed Luna last September and Makki has promoted her endorsements from 12 area mayors.

Luna defeated Makki and three others in the 2020 Republican primary, winning 36% of the vote to Makki’s 28%. Crist defeated Luna in the general election 53-47%.

Florida is in the process of redistricting. Currently, the 13th District has a slight Republican lean of R+1. Most plans would give the Tampa-area district a more Republican tilt ranging from R+2 in the state House’s plan to R+14 in a plan Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) proposed.

The primary will take place on Aug. 23.

Kenai Mayor Charlie Pierce (R) joins top-four Alaska gubernatorial primary

Last week, Kenai Mayor Charlie Pierce (R) announced he is running in Alaska’s gubernatorial primary. Pierce is the second Republican officeholder to challenge incumbent Mike Dunleavy (R). Pierce’s announcement comes as Alaska prepares to hold its first gubernatorial election using a new election system voters approved in 2020 involving top-four all-party primary elections and ranked-choice voting general elections.

Pierce, who was elected mayor in 2017, said he was running due to frustration with Dunleavy and former Gov. Bill Walker (I). Walker is also running this year. The Anchorage Daily News described Pierce’s differences with Dunleavy as “more based on style than substance or policy.”

Dunleavy’s other elected Republican challenger, state Rep. Chris Kurka (R), has criticized the governor’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying that Alaska was “awash in Big Pharma-manipulated federal blood money” spent to promote vaccination. 

Also last week, the Alaska GOP announced it was endorsing Dunleavy for re-election. Former President Trump endorsed Dunleavy late last year (on the condition that Dunleavy not endorse U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) for re-election). 

In other related news, the Alaska Supreme Court upheld the election system voters approved in 2020. The court’s ruling means that the system will go into effect for this year’s elections, including the Aug. 16 gubernatorial primary. Under the system, every candidate will appear on the same primary ballot, regardless of their partisan affiliation. The top four candidates will advance to the general election, in which voters can rank their preferences rather than voting for a single candidate. Click here for details on how ranked-choice voting works.

Alaska is the first state to adopt top-four primaries and the second to adopt ranked-choice voting for statewide elections, after Maine.

Maryland gubernatorial candidate fundraising data

Former Maryland Commerce Secretary Kelly Schulz has raised $1.5 million toward her gubernatorial campaign. Former state Del. Robin Ficker loaned his campaign $1.1 million. Del. Daniel Cox raised $344,000. 

Gov. Larry Hogan (R) is term-limited and endorsed Schulz. Former President Trump endorsed Cox. We wrote about the dueling endorsements in our second issue.

Democratic primary candidates have raised more than GOP candidates. Wes Moore led Democrats with $4.8 million. Former Secretary of Labor Tom Perez raised $2.7 million and former U.S. Secretary of Education John King Jr., $2.5 million. Several other candidates have announced Democratic primary bids.

Former Lt. Gov. and former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele recently announced he would not enter the GOP primary. 

The primaries are scheduled for June 28.  

Ricketts endorses Pillen for governor

On Jan. 18, Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) endorsed Jim Pillen in the Republican gubernatorial primary. In October, former President Trump endorsed Charles Herbster in the primary. Ricketts is term-limited. 

Pillen has served on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents since 2013. Ricketts said, “Whether creating Nebraska jobs, fighting Critical Race Theory at the University system, or supporting his fellow ag producers, Jim has consistently shown he’s a leader of principle and integrity.” 

Herbster owns a manufacturing company and the cattle ranch Herbster Angus Farms. Trump said Herbster “has been a tremendous supporter of America First and Make America Great Again, right from the beginning.” 

Ricketts said, “While I agree with President Trump on many things, I strongly disagree that Charles Herbster is qualified to be our next governor — from his choice to headquarter his business in Missouri to his support of tax policy that would tax medical services, prescriptions, and food, as well as more than doubling our sale tax.” 

Herbster said, “It is disappointing to me that Governor Ricketts is supporting a candidate who has a weak record on illegal immigration, who failed to stop Critical Race Theory from seeping into public universities and then voted to fund it with taxpayer dollars, and who has admitted to polluting our most precious resource, water.” 

Several other candidates have filed for the primary so far.


Ricketts also endorsed state Sen. Mike Flood in his Republican primary bid against incumbent Rep. Jeff Fortenberry in Nebraska’s 1st Congressional District. Ricketts said, “Mike will be able to focus his entire energy on representing the first district here in Nebraska and stopping this radical agenda coming out of DC.” Fortenberry said Ricketts’ and former Gov. Dave Heineman’s endorsements of Flood were “particularly disappointing.” 

In October, a federal grand jury indicted Fortenberry on one count of scheming to falsify and conceal material facts and two counts of making false statements to federal investigators. Fortenberry pleaded not guilty. 

Nebraska’s primary is scheduled for May 10.

South Carolina Senate District 31 special primary results

On Tuesday, Mike Reichenbach defeated Jay Jordan in the special Republican primary election for Senate District 31 53% to 47%. Former incumbent Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R) died on Nov. 12. Reichenbach will face Suzanne La Rochelle (D) in the special election on March 29.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 6

January 20, 2022

In this issue: U.S. Rep. Larson has first primary challenge since 1998 and Democratic candidates air ads criticizing Sen. Joe Manchin

Shanelle Jackson launches primary challenge to Rep. Rashida Tlaib

On Jan. 14, former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson (D) announced she would challenge U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) in the Democratic primary for Michigan’s newly redrawn 12th Congressional District. Jackson ran against Tlaib in the 2018 Democratic primary for the 13th District, which Tlaib won with 31% of the vote. Jackson received 5%.

Jackson said in a recent interview with Jewish Insider, “I think we’ll be very different, obviously, in our approaches. I don’t hate banks. I don’t hate subprime lenders. I know, as an African American that has been poor and has been better, that we need all options on the table and that our situation is nuanced.” 

In a press release supporting the 2020 Public Banking Act, Tlaib said large financial institutions “held the country hostage for their reckless behavior” and, “It is time for this relationship to be reciprocated and have the banks work for the people and not solely privatized profits wreaking havoc on communities of color.”

Jackson also said Tlaib, who supported the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, “obviously is carrying the water of Palestine in all that she does.” Jackson said she would work to strengthen ties with Israel and believes “the United States and Israel are sisters, and I can’t imagine living in a world where our nation didn’t have Israel’s back. It’s heartbreaking, to be honest with you, to have Rep. Tlaib not even wanting to explore that path.”

Tlaib voted against funding for Israel’s Iron Dome defense system in September 2021, saying, “I will not support an effort to enable and support war crimes, human rights abuses and violence. The Israeli government is an apartheid regime.” 

Tlaib announced on Jan. 5 she would run in the open 12th District, which she said includes about two-thirds of the people she currently represents. As of Jan. 19, Jackson and Tlaib were the only declared candidates for the Democratic primary, scheduled for Aug. 2.

U.S. Rep. John Larson announces re-election amid first primary challenge since 1998

U.S. Rep. John Larson (D) announced on Jan. 14 that he’s running for re-election to Connecticut’s 1st Congressional District. But for the first time since his initial win in 1998, Larson will face a primary challenge.

Primary candidate Muad Hrezi, a 27-year-old former staffer to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, writing that he is most passionate about “unrigging our economy, making sure everyone has access to medical care at an affordable price, stopping catastrophic climate change, and making sure all communities are safe and free from discrimination.” Click here to read his full responses.

On his campaign website, Larson said he “has delivered real results and real solutions on big issues — like Covid-relief, infrastructure, and health care reform — and on local issues — helping over 17,500 constituents with problems involving veteran’s affairs, social security, immigration, and more.”

CTMirror.org’s Mark Pazniokas wrote, “Hrezi is hoping to catch a wave, testing whether there might be an undetected vein of dissatisfaction with Larson — and if anything in the playbook used by U.S. Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley might work here.”

The primary is scheduled for Aug. 9. The winner is likely to go on to win the general election; Larson has won re-election 11 times by an average margin of 36 percentage points.

Democratic candidates air ads criticizing Sen. Joe Manchin

Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate in at least four states have run ads criticizing Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.V.), who is next up for re-election in 2024. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (Wis.), Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (Penn.), retired Adm. Michael Franken (Iowa), and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan (Ohio) are among the 15 Democratic congressional candidates who have run a combined 700 negative ads against Manchin so far this cycle, according to Newsweek’s Shane Croucher.

The bulk of the negative ads have criticized what they describe as Manchin’s unwillingness to work with fellow Democrats, particularly on the negotiations surrounding the Build Back Better bill. With the Senate split 50-50, Democrats would need the support of every Democratic senator—as well as Vice President Kamala Harris’ (D) tie-breaking vote—to pass the $1.75 trillion budget framework.

On Dec. 19, Manchin cited concerns about debt, inflation, threats from COVID and other nations, and the reliability of the electric grid, saying, “I have always said, ‘If I can’t go back home and explain it, I can’t vote for it.’ Despite my best efforts, I cannot explain the sweeping Build Back Better Act in West Virginia and I cannot vote to move forward on this mammoth piece of legislation.”

The ads are “another reminder of the depth of the disappointment and hostility toward Manchin that’s taken hold of the Democratic base,” according to the Pennsylvania Capital-Star’s John Micek.

Nate Lerner, founder of the digital consulting group Build the Wave, said in an interview with Newsweek that “It is extremely uncommon to name a party colleague in a negative ad outside of a primary…I think we will see more of it moving forward as progressives split further from right-leaning Democrats like Manchin and [Arizona Sen. Krysten] Sinema.”

Manchin was governor of West Virginia from 2004 to 2010, when he was first elected to the Senate. In 2012, Manchin defeated Republican opponent John Raese 61% to 37%. In 2018, Manchin defeated Patrick Morrisey (R) 49.6% to 46.3%. Former President Donald Trump (R) defeated President Joe Biden (D) 69% to 30% in West Virginia.

NY governor updates: De Blasio not running, eviction moratorium becomes issue

Former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced he will not run for governor. The Democratic primary so far includes incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul, U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi, and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

Hochul was elected lieutenant governor in 2018 and became governor last year when Andrew Cuomo (D) resigned. Hochul defeated Williams in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor 53% to 47%.

At a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event on Jan. 17, Williams said, “Dr. King’s birthday was on Saturday. On Saturday, we allowed the eviction moratorium to lapse without even putting some ‘Good Cause Eviction’ in place to protect someone and no money to protect small homeowners who are going to foreclose.” The New York Daily News said Williams was “referring to a tenants’ rights bill that Hochul has withheld support for.” Williams said, “We did that in the middle of winter and a COVID surge. …That wasn’t the Republicans — I want to be clear about that.” 

Hochul extended New York’s eviction moratorium in September after the federal moratorium ended. She said recently, “We talked about giving people a little more breathing room, giving them a little more relief on a short term basis and that went all the way until Jan. 15.” Hochul signed a letter with other governors requesting more federal rental assistance funds.

Responding to a landlord at a tele-town hall event on Jan. 6, Suozzi said, “There are people who are abusing the system … It’s common sense that if somebody is working and they got the money and they are living in your house and they are not paying rent then you should be able to kick them out. If I’m the governor, I’ll give you that kind of protection.”

A recent Siena College poll showed Hochul with 46% support among registered Democrats. De Blasio had 12%, Williams 11%, and Suozzi 6%. The margin of error was +/- 4 percentage points. 

The primary is scheduled for June 28.

Noteworthy campaign support in Illinois’ secretary of state primary

Two Democratic candidates running in the Democratic primary for Illinois secretary of state recently received noteworthy campaign support. 

Alexi Giannoulias, a former state treasurer, received endorsements from the Cook County Democratic Party and former candidate Pat Dowell, who dropped out of the secretary of state race to run for U.S. House.

Anna Valencia, who serves as Chicago city clerk, chose Laura Ricketts to co-chair her campaign’s finance committee. Ricketts is a co-owner of the Chicago Cubs baseball team and raised money for both Barack Obama’s (D) and Hillary Clinton’s (D) presidential campaigns. 

At least one other Democrat, Chicago Alderman David Moore, is running in the primary. As of Jan. 5, Giannoulias led the Democratic field in cash on hand with $4 million. Valencia had about $820,000, and Moore had about $105,000. 

Incumbent Secretary of State Jesse White (D) is retiring. He was first elected in 1998. In the 2018 general election, White defeated Jason Helland (R) 68% to 29%.

The primary is set for June 28.

N.C. Legislature passes bill further delaying primaries

On Wednesday, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill moving the primary date to June 7 from May 17 and setting the candidate filing period to run between March 24 and April 1. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) would need to sign the bill for it to take effect. Cooper said he’d need to see the final version before deciding whether to do so.

The North Carolina Supreme Court initially postponed the primaries from March 8 to May 17 due to lawsuits challenging the new congressional and state legislative maps. The court is set to hear arguments on Feb. 2.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Republicans-Issue 6

January 20, 2022

In this issue: Millions spent on Senate primary ads in PA so far and VA-07 to hold primary instead of convention

McCormick enters Senate primary in PA, candidates and satellite groups spend millions on ads

David McCormick, a former George W. Bush administration treasury official and hedge fund CEO, officially entered Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate race on Jan. 13. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Julian Routh, McCormick “has the support of various state party stalwarts and veterans of [former President Donald Trump]’s administration advising his campaign.”  

Sean Parnell, who withdrew from the race in November, endorsed McCormick. Parnell said, “I have been watching and hoping a candidate would emerge—someone who could give me total confidence that they will fight for Pennsylvanians and never back down to the Woke mob, but that just hasn’t happened, until now.” Trump endorsed Parnell in September.

American Leadership Action, a super PAC supporting Mehmet Oz’s campaign, spent around $550,000 on ads against McCormick in the week following his announcement. The super PAC Honor Pennsylvania, which supports McCormick, is spending more than $900,000 on an ad against Oz. The super PAC Jobs For Our Future is spending $2 million on an ad opposing McCormick and Oz and supporting Jeff Bartos.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jonathan Tamari, Oz will spend close to $5 million on ads running through February, McCormick has spent $3 million, and former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands has spent $2 million. 

Tamari wrote, “The blasts of cash — four months before the primary — show the impact of the Republican candidates’ immense personal wealth, and signal an extraordinarily expensive and drawn-out campaign, one that could saturate (and maybe overwhelm) viewers with competing information. It could also potentially squeeze candidates in both parties with less to spend. In a state as large as Pennsylvania, covered by more than a half-dozen media markets, television advertising is crucial for reaching a mass of voters, though it isn’t always decisive.”  

Incumbent Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not running for re-election. The filing deadline is March 8 and the primary is scheduled for May 17.

VA-07 to hold GOP primary instead of convention

Earlier this month, the 7th District Congressional Republican Committee voted to hold a primary election instead of a convention to select the party’s nominee for the general election. Seventh District Republicans used nominating conventions in recent elections.

FiveThirtyEight says the redrawn 7th leans Democratic (D+2), a change from a Republican lean (R+5) before redistricting. Abigail Spanberger (D) represents the 7th and is running for re-election in the new 7th. Spanberger defeated incumbent David Brat (R) in 2018. Brat upset House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the last Republican primary the district held in 2014.

At least 11 candidates are running in the GOP primary so far, including state Del. John McGuire, state Sen. Bryce Reeves, and Prince William County Supervisor Yesli Vega.

Club for Growth shifts opposition focus in Ohio U.S. Senate primary

Club for Growth, which describes itself as the “leading free-enterprise advocacy group in the nation,” has a new focus in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio—former state Republican Party Chairwoman Jane Timken. The group said it plans to spend $750,000 on TV and digital ads opposing Timken into the second week of February. Club for Growth endorsed state Treasurer Josh Mandel last March. 

In October, Club for Growth Action spent nearly $500,000 on TV and radio ads criticizing J.D. Vance, one of 14 candidates vying for the Republican nomination. Club for Growth released a poll it commissioned in early January that showed Vance in fourth place with 10% behind Mike Gibbons (14%), Timken (15%), and Josh Mandel (26%). A poll the group commissioned last July had shown Vance in second with 12% behind Mandel (40%). Both polls had margins of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.

A Trafalgar Group poll from December showed Mandel with 21%, Vance with 15%, Gibbons with 12%, and Timken with 10%. The poll’s margin of error was +/- 3 percentage points.

The primary is scheduled for May 3. Incumbent Sen. Rob Portman (R) isn’t seeking re-election.

In other Club for Growth news, their PAC endorsed Rep. Mary Miller’s (R-Ill.) re-election campaign on Jan. 18. Miller will face Rep. Rodney Davis (R) in Illinois’ 15th Congressional District. Miller represents the 15th District under the old congressional map, and part of that district is in the new 15th. Illinois’ new map placed Miller’s Oakland residence in the new 12th District. 

Aurora mayor joins Illinois gubernatorial primary

Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin announced he’s running in the June 28 Republican gubernatorial primary. The Chicago Sun-Times reported that a network of consultants with connections to former Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) and former U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) recruited Irvin to run. Incumbent Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) defeated Rauner 55% to 39% in 2018.

Lynn Sweet wrote, “Irvin’s viability hinges on getting the support of billionaire Ken Griffin, and Irvin’s team has signaled that may be in the works.” Griffin, the CEO of Citadel, gave $54 million to defeat a graduated income tax ballot measure in 2020 that Pritzker supported with $58 million. 

Aurora is the second-largest city in Illinois, with an estimated population of 180,542 as of 2020 according to the Census Bureau.

Also running in the Republican primary so far are state Sen. Darren Bailey, Cheryl Erickson, Gary Rabine, Christopher Roper, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, Max Solomon, and Jesse Sullivan.

Highlights from PA’s gubernatorial primary debate

Eight candidates running for the Pennsylvania GOP’s gubernatorial nomination met for a debate sponsored by the Lawrence County GOP on Jan. 12, the second to take place so far this year. The candidates’ priorities for their first weeks in office were among the topics of discussion.

Guy Ciarrocchi, the chairman of the Chester County Chamber of Commerce, said he would remove mandates and lockdowns if any were in effect and ask the legislature to “give us a bill to help our kids. There are so many kids trapped in failing schools. … If there’s a school in Pennsylvania where no one on the school board would send their child, that school oughta close.”

Charlie Gerow, the vice-chairman of the Conservative Political Action Conference and CEO of Quantum Communications, said he would repeal Act 77, a law Gov. Tom Wolf (D) signed in 2019 that changed several election procedures. Gerow said, “I fought for election integrity, I did it immediately after the 2020 election, and I’ve continued to do it.”

Melissa Hart, a former U.S. representative, said she would “place out there an agenda of making sure number one that our students will be in school, no more instability.”

Bill McSwain, a former U.S. attorney, would repeal Act 77 and said, “I support public education, but school choice means we’re going to support students, and families, and teachers. And we are not going to support the teacher’s unions.”

Jason Richey, a partner at K&L Gates LLP, said, “If we bring ourselves down to zero percent income tax, unleash our manufacturing and energy capabilities, we will make Pennsylvania an economic juggernaut, where our kids and grandkids will stay.”

John Ventre, a former UPS executive, said he would focus on economic growth: “We are rated number 42 in business growth, number 48th in population, the way you fix that is with a very large business tax cut.”

David White, the founder of DWD Mechanical Contractors, said he would remove the state from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and, “We have to get back to a program that if you are on unemployment you need to look for a job, you need to be actively seeking a job. We have to stop subsidizing people not to work.”

Dr. Nche Zama, a surgeon and immigrant from Cameroon, said he would “establish a pandemic management and interceptive medicine council like no other state has” within 24 hours of taking office.

The eight candidates who appeared at the Jan. 12 debate are among at least 13 Republicans who have said they’re running for governor. Among the declared candidates who did not attend the debate were former U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, state Senate President pro tem Jake Corman, and state Sen. Scott Martin. 

The primary is scheduled for May 17.

N.C. General Assembly passes bill further delaying primaries

On Wednesday, the North Carolina General Assembly passed a bill moving the primary date from May 17 to June 7 and setting the candidate filing period to run between March 24 and April 1. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) said he’d need to see the final version before deciding whether to sign it into law.
The North Carolina Supreme Court initially postponed the primaries from March 8 to May 17 due to lawsuits challenging the new congressional and state legislative maps. The court is set to hear arguments on Feb. 2.



Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats – Issue 5

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

Rematches on horizon in FL-20 Democratic primary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Multiple Tennessee counties switch to partisan school board elections 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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