The Political Report – 3/21/21

“The first competitive special congressional election of the Biden era is most likely heading to a runoff next month, but the battle lines are already drawn ahead of the initial balloting on Saturday in the race to succeed former Rep. Cedric Richmond of Louisiana,” the New York Times reports.

“At the center of the debate: which of two New Orleans Democrats positioned to face off in April can better leverage their connections to lift a South Louisiana district hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.”

CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR — Wednesday was the deadline for Republicans seeking to recall Democratic incumbent Gavin Newsom to turn in their signatures, and even the governor recently acknowledged they’ve likely collected enough to force a special election. However, as Politico details, there are a number of logistical steps ahead that, while very unlikely to stop the recall vote from going forward, mean it can’t be officially scheduled for months. Barring any big surprises, Sept. 17 would be the day that Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis would declare the election date, and unnamed “experts” anticipate that Election Day will be “somewhere between October and late November” of this year.

Voters would be presented with two questions on their ballot. First, they’d be asked if they want to recall Newsom, and second, they’d be asked to select a replacement candidate. If a majority voted no on the recall question, Newsom would stay in office. However, if a majority voted to recall him, the replacement candidate with the most votes would take his seat for the remainder of his term: There would be no primary or runoff, so the new governor could be elected even if they don’t come anywhere close to taking a majority of the vote.

Several notable Republicans are already running including 2018 nominee John Cox, former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer, and ex-Rep. Doug Ose, and others are considering. A crowded GOP field could allow one strong Democrat to collect enough votes to win a race to replace Newsom, and the Los Angeles Times’ George Skelton reports that former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa “has been calling around the state feeling out possible support for a candidacy.”

Skelton adds that Villaraigosa, who lost the 2018 top-two primary to Newsom, plans to “watch the polls, measure Newsom’s strength and decide sometime in summer when an election date is set and there’s a deadline for filing candidacies.” However, Skelton predicts that Villaraigosa won’t enter the race in the end because of pressure from Newsom and his allies to stay out. No matter what happens this year, the regularly scheduled contest for a full four-year term will take place in 2022.

FLORIDA GOVERNOR — The Tampa Bay Times name-drops Palm Beach County State Attorney Dave Aronberg as a potential Democratic candidate, but there’s no word if he’s interested.

MARYLAND GOVERNOR — While Anne Arundel County Executive Steuart Pittman had been mentioned as a possible Democratic candidate for governor last year, he’s made it clear he’s seeking re-election in 2022 in what could be a competitive race.

ILLINOIS 16TH CD — Chiropractor Leona Di Amore announced this week that she would challenge Rep. Adam Kinzinger, who voted to impeach Donald Trump in January, in the Republican primary. It remains to be seen if Di Amore, a Navy veteran whose campaign slogan is “Love Wins 2022,” has the resources and connections to run a serious campaign, but her presence could split the anti-Kinzinger vote.

NEW HAMPSHIRE 1ST CD — 2020 Republican nominee Matt Mowers this week said he hadn’t decided if he’d seek a rematch against Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in 2022, though WMUR reports that many members from both parties expect him to. Last year, Pappas beat Mowers 51-46 as Joe Biden was carrying this swing seat by a similar 52-46 margin. Republican map-makers, though, will have the opportunity to make this constituency more conservative.

NEW MEXICO 1ST CD — Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver announced Wednesday that June 1 would be the date of the special election to succeed former Rep. Deb Haaland, a Democrat who resigned the previous day to become secretary of the interior. This Albuquerque-based seat supported Joe Biden 60-37 last year.

New Mexico state law requires each party’s central committee, rather than primary voters, to pick their candidate by be April 6.

Eight Democrats are currently competing for the nomination:

  • Filmmaker Francisco Fernández
  • Community organizer Selinda Guerrero
  • State Rep. Georgene Louis
  • Attorney Randi McGinn
  • Former gubernatorial legislative director Victor Reyes
  • State Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero
  • State Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez
  • State Rep. Melanie Stansbury

Reyes recently went up with a TV ad, though there’s no word how much he’s spending to reach this very small electorate.

Seven Republicans are competing here as well, and state Sen. Mark Moores looks like the most prominent candidate by far. Complicating Team Red’s already tough chances, though, is the campaign of independent Aubrey Dunn, who was elected state land commissioner in 2014 as a Republican.

The GOP’s central committee will hold its own nominating meeting three days earlier on March 27, and anti-abortion activist Elisa Martinez, who lost last year’s Senate primarykicked off her campaign this week. This Albuquerque-based seat supported Joe Biden 60-37 last year.

WISCONSIN GOVERNOR –– While Republican Sen. Ron Johnson continues to keep the political world guessing about his re-election plans, he did definitively say Tuesday that he wouldn’t be running for governor. “I have no idea who started that rumor, but if I run for anything, it’s not going to be for governor,” Johnson told a conservative radio host, adding, “So anybody considering governor, you’re not going to have me entering any kind of primary for governor.”

The senator, though, doesn’t need to look very far to find the rumor-monger in question. Johnson himself said, “Never say never,” in 2019 when asked about a possible bid against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, and he didn’t take the time to get around to saying never until now.  

PENNSYLVANIA GOVERNOR — The Republican firm Susquehanna Polling & Research has released what it calls an “independent” poll of an extremely hypothetical GOP primary scenario between five men who aren’t currently running. It finds former Rep. Lou Barletta, who was Team Red’s 2018 Senate nominee, beating state Sen. Doug Mastriano by 20-11. Rep. Dan Meuser and former U.S. Attorney William McSwain are each at 3%, while former Lt. Gov. Jim Crawley brings up the rear with 2%.

NEW JERSEY GOVERNOR — Former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who is the heavy favorite to claim the Republican nomination in June, has launched his first two TV spots, which the New Jersey Globe says will run on cable. One ad features Ciattarelli talking about his upbringing in the state, while he uses the other to attack Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s handling of the pandemic.

MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR — Political scientist Danielle Allen on Wednesday told The Horse Race podcast that she expected to decide in June if she’d seek the Democratic nomination to take on Republican Gov. Charlie Baker. Allen, who would be the first Black woman elected to lead any state, formed an exploratory committee back in December.

ILLINOIS GOVERNOR — On Monday, Republican Rep. Rodney Davis didn’t rule out challenging Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker, saying merely, “You never say never.” The upcoming round of redistricting could leave Davis with an unfavorable seat, which could make a statewide run more appealing.

“Who you nominate matters. It’s less of an issue of, how did you vote on this bill, or are you too conservative. Are you someone who goes out there and proactively scares voters away from you who otherwise might have supported you?” — GOP operative Doug Heye, quoted by McClatchy, on the lesson he learned from the Tea Party candidates who were nominated that cycle.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

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