AP-NORC poll: “About two-thirds of adults say their household expenses have risen over the last year, but only about a quarter have also seen their income increase during the same period.”
“Seventy-three percent describe the national economy as poor.”
A new Gallup poll finds just 13% of adults say they approve of the way Congress is handling its job, versus 86% who disapprove.
NEW YORK 3RD DISTRICT. Indicted Rep. George Santos remains in office after a majority of his colleagues voted against an expulsion resolution that needed the support of two-thirds of the chamber. The House voted 213-179 against expulsion on Wednesday evening, one day after the House Ethics Committee declared it would “announce its next course of action” against the Republican by Nov. 17.
A total of 31 Democrats joined 182 Republicans in voting “no,” with Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin saying afterward, “Santos has not been criminally convicted yet of the offenses cited in the Resolution nor has he been found guilty of ethics offenses in the House internal process. This would be a terrible precedent to set, expelling people who have not been convicted of a crime and without internal due process.” On the other side were 155 Democrats and 24 Republicans.
OREGON 3RD DISTRICT. Multnomah County Commissioner Susheela Jayapal on Wednesday became the first major candidate to launch a bid to succeed retiring Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer in the safely blue 3rd District around Portland. Local law required Jayapal, who is the older sister of Washington Rep. Pramila Jayapal, to resign her post to run for Congress, which she did just before entering the race.
Both Jayapal siblings were born in India and emigrated as teenagers, though the congresswoman began her political career a few years earlier by winning a state Senate seat in the Seattle area in 2014 before earning a promotion to Washington, D.C., two years later. Susheela Jayapal, by contrast, worked as general counsel to Adidas America and for nonprofits before successfully running for the county commission in 2018. That initial victory made her the first Indian American to hold an elected county post in Oregon, and she’d likewise be the first Indian American to serve the state in Congress.
The sisters sat down for a joint interview with HuffPost this week, with the now-former commissioner declaring, “I cannot imagine being on this path without Pramila and I can’t wait to work with her―and we’re gonna irritate each other along the way.” They’d be only the second set of sisters to serve together in Congress, following in the footsteps of a pair of California Democrats, Reps. Loretta and Linda Sánchez. Loretta Sánchez left the House to wage an unsuccessful 2016 Senate bid against none other than Kamala Harris, while Linda Sánchez continues to represent part of the Los Angeles area.
The Jayapals, however, would together make history as the first two sisters to serve in Congress simultaneously while representing different states. Several sets of brothers have done so in the past, most notably Massachusetts Sen. Ted Kennedy and New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, from 1965 until the latter’s assassination in 1968.
The University of Minnesota’s Eric Ostermeier also tells us that a trio of brothers served together in the House while representing three different states from 1855 to 1861: Cadwallader Washburn of Wisconsin, Israel Washburn of Maine, and Elihu Washburn of Illinois, who would become one of the most prominent Republicans in Congress during the Civil War and Reconstruction. A fourth brother, William Drew Washburn, later won a House seat in Minnesota in 1878, though none of his siblings were still in office by that point.
However, Susheela Jayapal will need to get through a competitive primary before she can join her sister in the nation’s capital. Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales announced his own campaign late Wednesday, a development we’ll be discussing in our next Digest.
State Rep. Travis Nelson also told Willamette Week, “We need more representation from the nursing profession in Congress, and to my knowledge, a male nurse has never been sent to Congress. Furthermore, we need more LGBTQ+ representation, and a Black LGBTQ+ man has never been elected to Congress outside of the state of New York.” Nelson added, “I plan to arrive at my decision this week.” Former Multnomah County Board of Commissioners Chair Deborah Kafoury additionally hasn’t ruled out getting in herself.
Susheela Jayapal will also be seeking office under a different election system than her sister did in 2016, when she ran to succeed another longtime Democratic member, Jim McDermott, in a dark blue seat. Pramila Jayapal, who is the younger sibling by three years, faced off against eight other candidates in that year’s top-two primary, taking 42% to 21% for state Rep. Brady Walkinshaw, a fellow Democrat. She went on to defeat Walkinshaw 56-44 in the general election a few months later. In Oregon, however, only a simple plurality is needed to win a party’s nomination, and whoever secures the nod in May’s primary will have no trouble in the general election for a seat that favored Joe Biden 73-25.
Willamette Week’s Nigel Jaquiss also names Gresham City Councilor Eddy Morales as one of the people who is “either being recruited or actively seeking support.”
Blumenauer, who told Edge, “There are literally a dozen people salivating at the prospect of getting in this race,” himself is concluding an electoral career that began in 1972 when he won a seat in the state House at the age of 23. Blumenauer, who would go on to serve on both the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners and Portland City Commission, ran for mayor in 1992, but that race didn’t end well: State Rep. Vera Katz instead triumphed 57-43 after what Oregon Public Broadcasting would remember as a “bare-knuckles campaign” between two former allies.
However, Blumenauer had an easier time winning a promotion when he campaigned in the 1996 special election to replace Ron Wyden, who had just won his own special election to the Senate, in a previous version of the 3rd District. Blumenauer outpaced state Sen. Shirley Gold 72-24 in the primary, and he had no trouble in the general for what was already a safely Democratic seat.
Blumenauer, who never struggled to win reelection, considered a few campaigns for higher office in the 2000s. The congressman mulled a 2004 run for mayor to succeed the retiring Katz, and there was talk he could challenge GOP Sen. Gordon Smith in 2008 after former Gov. John Kitzhaber and fellow Rep. Peter DeFazio passed. Blumenauer, however, opted to remain in the lower chamber, where the Congressional Bike Caucus founder stood out as an outspoken liberal.
Blumenauer, who introduced a bill this year to enlarge the House to 585 members after the next census in 2030, acknowledged to Jaquiss that he’d promoted legislation that had little chance to become law anytime in the foreseeable future. “I’d rather be right than effective,” he argued before adding, “I think I’ve been right and I’ve not been as effective as I’d like to have been.”
Still, the congressman highlighted his accomplishments in office, declaring, “I was author of the last major flood insurance reform.” He added “These are not sexy things. None of your Willamette Week readers or advertisers care about that. But it’s really important, and we’re reaching a point now where the flood insurance program is bankrupt.”
The Colorado Republican told MSNBC that his decision stemmed from his disappointment “that the Republican Party continues to rely on this lie that the 2020 election was stolen and rely on the Jan. 6 narrative and political prisoners from Jan. 6 and other things.” Buck nonetheless voted to make election denier Mike Johnson House speaker last week, explaining his choice by saying, “I think people make mistakes and still could be really good speakers.”
Buck, who remains a member of the Freedom Caucus, was a hard-right ally during most of his time in national politics, and hardcore conservatives are in a strong position to retain his seat. The 4th District, which includes dark-red eastern Colorado and GOP-leaning suburbs of Denver in Douglas County, supported Donald Trump 58-39.
State Rep. Richard Holtorf, who embodies the type of combative far-right politics that Buck was once known for, already had the congressman in his sights: He formed an exploratory committee in September after Buck spoke out against his party’s drive to impeach Joe Biden. Other names, however, will likely surface for the June GOP primary now that Buck, who previously showed interest in leaving office to take an on-air cable news job, has announced he won’t be on the ballot.
Buck was elected Weld County district attorney in 2004 and emerged on the national scene when he challenged Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet in 2010, following Bennet’s appointment by then-Gov. Bill Ritter. But Buck first had to get through a tough primary against former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton, another extremely conservative politician. Both sides tried to argue that they were the true candidate of the burgeoning tea party movement, but it was the district attorney who proved more adept at consolidating support from anti-establishment figures.
Late in his battle with Norton, Buck made news when he remarked, “I don’t wear high heels … I have cowboy boots, they have real bullshit on them,” a line Norton argued was sexist.
“My opponent has said a number of times on the campaign trail that people should vote for her because she wears high heels, because she wears a skirt, because she’s a woman,” Buck said in his defense. “She ran a commercial that said Ken Buck should be man enough to do X, Y, and Z. … I made a statement, it was a lighthearted statement that I’m man enough, I don’t wear high heels and I have cowboy boots on.” Buck won 52-48 four days after the NRSC quietly donated $42,000 to Norton.
Bennet, who had just triumphed in his own competitive primary against former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, wasted no time portraying the Republican nominee as too far to the right for what was then still a swing state.
Buck made the senator’s task easier on a “Meet the Press” appearance late in the campaign when he said he stood by his 2005 declaration that he had refused to prosecute an alleged rape because “a jury could very well conclude that this is a case of buyer’s remorse.” He also argued that being gay was a choice. “I think birth has an influence over it,” he said, “like alcoholism and some other things, but I think that basically you have a choice.”
Bennet prevailed 48-46 during an otherwise horrible year for his party. His fellow Republicans quickly cited him, along with Delaware’s Christine O’Donnell and Nevada’s Sharron Angle, as a cautionary example of what happens when the party chooses extremist nominees in tossup Senate races. (It’s unclear, though, whether Norton, who had for instance blasted Social Security as a “Ponzi scheme,” would have actually been a better choice.)
But unlike those fellow travelers, Buck remained in office, even winning another term as district attorney in 2012 before planning a 2014 campaign for Colorado’s other Senate seat. Yet even though polls showed Democratic Sen. Mark Udall was vulnerable, Buck and the entire field struggled to raise money and gain traction. But an otherwise stagnant race was completely transformed in February of 2014 when the Denver Post broke the news that Rep. Cory Gardner would make a late bid.
Buck quickly announced that he’d switch course and seek instead to replace Gardner, who ended up endorsing the district attorney as his successor. The two denied that there was any pre-planned switcheroo, but Buck handily dispatched state Sen. Scott Renfroe 44-24 in the primary, and he went on to prevail easily in November. Gardner, meanwhile, accomplished what Buck could not four years earlier and managed to narrowly unseat Udall amid the GOP’s second midterm wave election in a row.
Yet while Buck had indeed made it to Congress, he soon signaled he was unhappy in the House long before he ended up retiring. In the summer of 2017, he expressed interest in campaigning to succeed Attorney General Cynthia Coffman in the event that she were to run for governor, though he stayed put even after she launched what turned out to be a disastrous campaign. Buck was elected state party chair two years later, and while he said he’d remain in the House, Inside Elections’ Nathan Gonzales reported that he’d told people he was considering retiring that cycle.
The congressman again sought reelection even as some party members groused about him trying to do both his jobs at once. Buck’s tenure as party chair was defined by infighting amid Colorado’s transformation into a reliably blue state. That shift culminated with Biden’s double-digit win in 2020 as well as Gardner’s decisive loss to former Gov. John Hickenlooper that same year.
Buck, who was the rare Freedom Caucus member to recognize Biden’s win, initially showed some interest in another campaign against Bennet in 2022, but he ended up running for what would be his final term in the House.
TEXAS 12TH DISTRICT. Republican Rep. Kay Granger, who chairs the influential House Appropriations Committee, confirmed Wednesday that she would not seek a 15th term in Congress, following reporting late Tuesday night from the Fort Worth Report that she would retire.
Texas’ 12th Congressional District, which is based in the Fort Worth area, favored Donald Trump 58-40 in 2020, so whoever wins the GOP nod should have little trouble in the fall. The primary is set for March 5, though a May 28 runoff would take place if no one wins a majority of the vote in the first round.
Granger’s announcement came only a little more than a month before the Dec. 11 filing deadline, though one person was already running against the congresswoman. Businessman John O’Shea attracted little attention when he launched his campaign in April, however, and he finished September with a mere $20,000 in the bank. O’Shea, though, has the backing of Attorney General Ken Paxton, a far-right favorite who has survived numerous scandals and a high-profile impeachment.
State House Majority Leader Craig Goldman, meanwhile, has been talked about as a possible Granger successor for a while, and the Texas Tribune notes that an unknown party reserved several domain names relevant to Goldman in the days before Granger announced her departure. Goldman said Wednesday, “As far as my political plans go, I’m honored and humbled by all who have reached out and will have a decision made very soon.”
Wealthy businessman Chris Putnam, who lost to Granger 58-42 in the 2020 primary, also tells the Fort Worth Report and KERA News he’s mulling another run, while Tarrant County Commissioner Manny Ramirez said he’d make his own decision “soon.”
State Rep. Nate Schatzline, meanwhile, said, “Anything is possible in the future.” Fellow state Rep. Brian Byrd played down his own interests but doesn’t appear to have said no either; the Fort Worth Star-Telegram writes he “said he isn’t looking at a bid for the congressional seat at this point.” However, Tarrant County Judge Tim O’Hare, who is the county’s top executive official, and Fort Worth Mayor Mattie Parker were both quick noes.
Granger, who founded an insurance agency, got her start in public life in the early 1980s when she joined the Fort Worth Zoning Commission. She first assumed elected office in 1989 when she won a seat on the City Council, a body whose nonpartisan nature kept her from having to publicly identify with a party. (Texas Democrats were still a force at the time, though not for much longer.)
That state of affairs continued two years later when she won a promotion to mayor, a similarly nonpartisan post. Longtime political observer Bud Kennedy would recount to the Daily Beast in 2013, “She was carefully centrist in the way she led the city.”
That led both Democrats and Republicans to see Granger as a prize recruit in 1996, when Democratic Rep. Charlie Geren, a conservative who had been elected to succeed none other than former Democratic Speaker Jim Wright, decided to retire from a previous version of the 12th. Granger settled on the GOP, though, and she beat her nearest opponent 69-20 in her first-ever Republican primary.
In a sign of just how different things were three decades ago, Granger campaigned as a supporter of abortion rights. She had little trouble in the general election against Democrat Hugh Parmer, a former Fort Worth mayor who had badly lost a 1990 race to unseat Republican Sen. Phil Graham. Granger beat Parmer 58-41 even as, according to analyst Kiernan Park-Egan, Bill Clinton narrowly beat Republican Bob Dole by 46.3-45.5 in the 12th. (Independent Ross Perot, who hailed from neighboring Dallas, took 8%.)
Granger’s win made her the second Republican woman to represent Texas in Congress after Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison and the first to serve in the House; there would not be another until Beth Van Duyne won the neighboring 24th District in 2020. Granger, who is tied with Maine Sen. Susan Collins as the longest-serving Republican woman in congressional history, owed her longevity in part to the fact that she only faced one serious reelection challenge during her long career.
That expensive primary battle took place in 2020, when Putnam tried to portray Granger as insufficiently pro-Trump even though she had Trump’s endorsement. Putnam, who had the Club for Growth on his side, also tried to tie the incumbent to long-running problems at an expensive local development project called Panther Island that used to be led by the congresswoman’s son.
But Granger and her backers at the Congressional Leadership Fund fought back by reminding voters that she was Trump’s candidate, and she defeated her opponent by 16 points ahead of another easy general election. While Putnam initially announced he’d seek a rematch the following cycle, his decision not to file left her Granger on a glide path to yet another term.
Granger became chair of the Appropriations Committee after her party retook the House in 2022. From that powerful perch, she was one of the most prominent Republicans to vote against making Jim Jordan speaker. She described that stance as “a vote of conscience,” adding, “Intimidation and threats will not change my position.” But the chairwoman, like the rest of her caucus, embraced far-right Rep. Mike Johnson a short time later, saying she’d work with him “to advance our conservative agenda.”
ARIZONA 8TH DISTRICT. State Sen. Anthony Kern, who was part of a slate of fake Trump electors, declared Monday evening that he was joining the primary to succeed his fellow Republican, retiring Rep. Debbie Lesko. But even some of Kern’s allies may have missed his kickoff because, as Axios’ Jeremy Duda notes, he launched during the middle of game three of the Diamondbacks-Rangers World Series.
State House Speaker Ben Toma, meanwhile, filed a statement of interest with the state this week, a document that Arizona election authorities require candidates to submit before they can start collecting signatures to make the ballot. Toma, who has Lesko’s support, and Kern represent the same district in the legislature. (Each of the 30 districts elects two representatives and one senator.)
Former Republican Rep. Trent Franks stunned the Arizona political world Wednesday when he announced he’d run to regain the seat he resigned in 2017 following a shocking sexual harassment scandal in which he pushed a pair of aides to serve as surrogate mothers. Franks is campaigning to replace retiring Rep. Debbie Lesko, a fellow Republican who was elected to succeed him in a 2018 special election.
Franks first won a previous version of this conservative seat (then as now based in the western suburbs of Phoenix) in 2002, and he stood out as an ardent rightwinger even before he called President Barack Obama an “enemy of humanity” in 2009. He made his opposition to abortion rights one of his central causes: Franks would claim in 2010, “Half of all Black children are aborted,” and insisted in 2013 that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy are very low.”
Early in the 2012 cycle, however, something mysteriously went awry. Franks had planned to seek a promotion to the Senate after fellow Republican Jon Kyl decided to retire, and his own consultant confirmed to reporter Dave Catanese the date and time of his April 2011 kickoff. But Franks shockingly pulled the plug without explanation just the day before that event, and we spent more than six years wondering why.
We unexpectedly got our answer in 2017, shortly after he said he’d resign. According to Arizona Republic columnist Laurie Roberts, Franks’ “after-hours activities caught up to him,” with one unnamed operative claiming there was a “file” on Franks that was shared with him to deter him from running. Another said that Franks “wrote creepy text messages a decade ago” to another politico.
The congressman’s sins soon became public as the emerging #MeTooMovement unearthed ugly stories about countless powerful men. Franks, the Associated Press reported, had pushed one aide to carry his child and had offered her $5 million to do so. A separate story from Politico said that the women in Franks’ office thought their boss “was asking to have sexual relations with them” because they were unsure whether he was “asking about impregnating [them] through sexual intercourse or in vitro fertilization.”
One staffer said that Franks “tried to persuade a female aide that they were in love by having her read an article that described how a person knows they’re in love with someone.” Another said that her access to the congressman was cut off after she rebuffed his advances.
But Franks, who now claims he left Congress “to spare those I love from heavily sensationalized attacks in that unique and difficult time,” apparently sees a chance for redemption with Lesko’s departure. “Now that my family has matured and circumstances have developed as they have, I hope I can move forward,” he said in a statement announcing his bid.
Franks joins an August GOP primary that already featured a trio of extremists. One of them is Blake Masters, who ran arguably the worst Senate campaign of 2022 in a cycle chock-full of terrible Republican candidates. Another rival is Abe Hamadeh, who has refused to accept his narrow loss last year in the race for attorney general.
Also in the running is state Sen. Anthony Kern, who was part of a slate of fake Trump electors in 2020; Attorney General Kris Mayes, who beat Hamadeh, is currently investigating that scheme. Lesko’s choice, state House Speaker Ben Toma, has not yet announced, though he recently filed paperwork with the state. He may stand out in this crowded field, as Roberts last week described him as a conservative who nonetheless is “not a creature of the MAGA movement.”
Trump carried the 8th District 56-43, and it would be difficult for Democrats to beat even one of these unsavory characters. Still, as we’ve noted before, Lesko only won her initial 2018 special 52-48, and she didn’t have anything like the baggage that at least Franks, Hamadeh, Kern, and Masters are all lugging.
MISSOURI 1ST DISTRICT and U.S. SENATOR. St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell announced Monday that he would challenge Rep. Cori Bush in the Democratic primary rather than continue his longshot campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Josh Hawley. Missouri’s 1st District, which includes St. Louis and its northern suburbs, supported Joe Biden 78-20, so whoever wins the Democratic nod next August should have no trouble in the general election.
Bush won a major upset in 2020 when she defeated 20-year incumbent Lacy Clay in the Democratic primary and swiftly became one of the House’s most visible progressives. Now, however, her outspoken views on police funding and Israel are helping to fuel Bell’s bid.
The congresswoman has spent her two terms in office as an ardent critic of Israel’s government. Following Hamas’ deadly invasion of Israel on Oct. 7, Bush released a statement that sparked criticism from both fellow members of Congress and Jewish organizations.
“As part of achieving a just and lasting peace,” she said the day of the attack, “we must do our part to stop this violence and trauma by ending U.S. government support for Israeli military occupation and apartheid.”
Bell joined Bush’s critics in his Monday kickoff. “We can’t give aid and comfort to terrorists, and Hamas is a terrorist organization,” he said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Bell also highlighted Bush’s calls for defunding the police, arguing the cause was both wrong and helped the Republicans flip the House last year.
Bush’s team, meanwhile, responded to Bell’s entry with a statement emphasizing her progressive views and questioning her opponent’s decision. “It is disheartening that Prosecuting Attorney Bell has decided to abandon his US Senate campaign to become Missouri’s first Black Senator after less than five months, and has instead decided to target Missouri’s first Black Congresswoman,” she said in a statement.
While both candidates hold prominent positions in local politics, both of them will be starting this matchup with little money. Bush finished September with just $20,000 in the bank, a smaller war chest than any House incumbent seeking reelection.
State Sen. Brian Williams responded to speculation that he could challenge Rep. Cori Bush in the Democratic primary by telling KCUR, “Others will make their decisions, but I’ve made mine.” Williams made his comments shortly after St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell launched his own campaign to deny renomination to Bush.
NEW YORK 17TH DISTRICT. Former Rep. Mondaire Jones on Tuesday publicized an endorsement from Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi for next year’s Democratic primary to take on GOP Rep. Mike Lawler.
Jones’ only serious intraparty foe is local school board trustee Liz Whitmer Gereghty, but the fundraising battle between them has been lopsided: Jones outpaced Gereghty $1.1 million to $170,000 during his opening quarter, and he finished September with a $850,000 to $310,000 cash on hand advantage. Lawler took in $810,000 during this time and ended the third quarter with $2.1 million banked.
ILLINOIS 17TH DISTRICT. Farmer Scott Crowl, who previously led an affiliate of the labor group AFSCME, declared last week that he would seek the GOP nod to take on freshman Democratic Rep. Eric Sorensen. Crowl entered the contest weeks after retired local judge Joe McGraw launched his own campaign for a north-central Illinois constituency that favored Joe Biden 53-45.
The Pentagraph previously wrote that McGraw has the NRCC’s support, while Crowl says he’s campaigning “against the establishment.” He told the Quad Cities Times, “If the establishment was so good at picking candidates I wouldn’t be running today.”
NEW YORK 16TH DISTRICT. Pastor Michael Gerald said Tuesday that he’d “pause” his Democratic primary campaign against Rep. Jamaal Bowman until Westchester County Executive George Latimer decides whether to run himself. Gerald argued that the executive would be “an outstanding candidate,” and that the pause was necessary “to allow Latimer to make an informed choice for the betterment of the district.” Latimer this week reaffirmed to the New York Times he’d make up his mind in mid-November.
MARYLAND 6TH DISTRICT. Former Del. Dan Cox declared Monday that he was joining the GOP primary to succeed Democratic Senate candidate David Trone, an announcement that came almost a year after the election conspiracy theorist suffered a massive statewide defeat in the race for governor. Democrat Wes Moore beat Cox 65-32 statewide, and, according to Bloomberg’s Greg Giroux, the Republican also lost the 6th 53-44; Joe Biden took the district by a similar margin in 2020.
MARYLAND 3RD DISTRICT. Democratic state Sen. Clarence Lam tells the Baltimore Sun that he’s considering a bid for Maryland’s 3rd Congressional District, which recently became open after Rep. John Sarbanes announced his retirement. Lam’s legislative seat is located entirely within the House district he’s eyeing, making up about 17% of it, according to calculations from Daily Kos Elections.
NORTH CAROLINA 13TH and 1ST DISTRICTS. Businessman Fred Von Canon has announced that, following the passage of the new GOP gerrymander, he’ll seek the Republican nod for the 13th District rather than continue to challenge Democratic Rep. Don Davis in the 1st. Von Canon, who has self-funded most of his effort, finished September with $340,000 in the bank. Democratic Rep. Wiley Nickel has not said if he’ll try to defend the 13th now that Republican legislators have turned it into a 58-41 Trump seat, though he’s said he’ll “sue the bastards” in court.
TEXAS 32ND DISTRICT. State Rep. Rhetta Bowers announced Monday that she was exiting the Democratic primary and would instead seek reelection to the legislature after all. Bowers launched a campaign in mid-September to replace Democratic Senate candidate Colin Allred months after she said she’d run for reelection rather than seek a promotion, but she raised a mere $25,000 during what remained of the quarter.
MONTANA 2ND DISTRICT. State Auditor Troy Downing has kicked off his campaign for the GOP nomination in this safely red district in eastern Montana, though it’s still unclear whether GOP Rep. Matt Rosendale will join the Senate race that he’s been flirting with for months or if he’ll run for a third House term here. Downing was first elected auditor in 2020 after taking third place for the GOP nomination for Senate in 2018, a primary that Rosendale won before he narrowly lost to Democratic Sen. Jon Tester that fall.
Downing said back in August when he set up an exploratory committee that he wouldn’t challenge Rosendale if the incumbent runs again, but Rosendale keeps pushing back his timeline for announcing his decision on a Senate bid and recently said he may not decide until the March 11 filing deadline. Consequently, Downing and any other prospective GOP candidates might not have any idea whether they’ll be running against the incumbent until it’s too late to switch to another race if Rosendale seeks reelection.
ALABAMA 2ND DISTRICT. State Sen. Kirk Hatcher and state Rep. Napoleon Bracy on Monday became the first notable Democrats to announce that they would run for the redrawn 2nd District, which will be open because GOP Rep. Barry Moore is campaigning for the 1st. (See our AL-01, AL-02 item above.) Hatcher also told AL.com that he anticipated that Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed would support him rather than run himself, something that the Alabama Reporter’s Josh Moon also reported would happen earlier Monday.
Hatcher hails from Montgomery, while Bracy represents the Mobile suburb of Prichard. Hatcher argued to Moon, “It’s been 40 or 41 years since the whole of Montgomery has been represented in Congress by someone who lives in Montgomery.” He also criticized several prospective candidates who hail from north of the 2nd, declaring, “I know them and I think they’re fine people. But we would not go into Birmingham or to Huntsville. We have people who can represent this area.”
Bracy, whose community is in the new 2nd, didn’t emphasize geography in his declaration, though he told AL.com, “This district is made up of so many cities, communities, and neighborhoods just like the one I grew up in—places hurting with high poverty and crime rates, unemployment that just don’t have a lot of opportunities, some of it is because they’ve been overlooked.”