● CO-Sen: CNN's Catie Edmondson reported Tuesday evening that Republican Rep. Ken Buck was considering a bid against Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet after receiving a call from NRSC chair Rick Scott, though there's no word yet from Buck's camp about his interest.
Buck said last month that he wasn't thinking about another campaign against Bennet, who defeated him in 2010. We were skeptical that Buck was really taking himself out of contention, though, both given his recent departure as state party chair and his frequent ambitions for higher office, and it seems we were right to be.
● OH-Sen, OH-Gov, OH-10: Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley announced Wednesday that she wouldn't seek re-election this year, a move that only intensified speculation that the Democrat will run for higher office in 2022.
Last year, Whaley didn't rule out a bid for Senate and for governor, and the Dayton Daily News' Laura Bischoff notes that she hasn't said no to a potential campaign against Republican Rep. Mike Turner either. When asked about her future plans on Wednesday, Whaley responded, "I don't know. Hopefully we can make these decisions quickly in the coming months."
● KS-03: Republican Amanda Adkins lost last year to Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids by a 54-44 margin, but we may not have heard the last from her. The Kansas City Star's Kevin Hardy notes that Adkins has continued to raise money following her defeat and has refused to discuss her future political goals. This suburban Kansas City seat has moved hard to the left during the Trump era, but Davids could be in danger if the Republican legislature uses its supermajority to gerrymander the new congressional map.
● Special Elections: Georgia's runoff action was Tuesday's main attraction, but the 2021 legislative special election docket also kicked off with two races in Virginia. We recap those races below.
VA-HD-02: Democrat Candi King defeated Republican Heather Mitchell 52-48 to replace former Democratic Rep. Jennifer Carroll Foy, who is running for governor in 2021. While Democrats avoided losing a seat they previously held, King ran behind Hillary Clinton's 58-37 win here in 2016. Foy herself had little trouble turning back Mitchell by a 61-39 spread in her 2019 re-election bid.
VA-HD-90: Democrat Angelia Williams Graves defeated Republican Sylvia Bryant 64-36 to hold this seat for her party. This seat, located outside of Norfolk, became vacant when former Rep. Joseph Lindsey became a judge on Norfolk's General District Court. Graves' performance was mostly in line with Clinton's 64-31 win here in 2016.
As a result of these two races, this chamber returns to its 55-45 Democratic majority with no other seats vacant.
● St. Louis, MO Mayor: Candidate filing closed this week for the contest to succeed retiring Democratic Mayor Lyda Krewson, which will be the city's first election using the "approval voting" system.
The field consists of three Democrats: City Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, who both unsuccessfully ran here in 2017, and Alderman Cara Spencer. Utility executive Andrew Jones, who was the 2017 Republican nominee, is also in, but as his 68-17 loss to Krewson underscores, he'll have a very difficult time in this very blue city. Spencer is white, while any of her three opponents would be the city's first African American leader since 2001.
Krewson edged out Jones 32-30 in the Democratic primary four years ago, while Reed took third with 18%. However, the rules for this year's municipal contests will be very different following the passage of Proposition D back in November. All the contenders will face off on one nonpartisan ballot on March 2, and voters may cast as many votes as there are candidates, with up to one vote per candidate. The top-two vote-getters will then advance to an April 6 general election.
The goal of this approval voting method is to eliminate the "spoiler" problem, where a candidate wins without majority support only because their opposition was divided. The approval approach attempts to ensure that the most broadly acceptable candidate prevails. Fargo, North Dakota is the only other American city that uses approval voting, though unlike the St. Louis system, there is no runoff there.
● St. Petersburg, FL Mayor: Former state Rep. Wengay Newton announced in December that he would run in the August nonpartisan primary to succeed Mayor Rick Kriseman, a fellow Democrat who is termed out.
Newton, who would be the city's first Black leader, has been willing to work with Republicans on some issues, and he supported former GOP Mayor Rick Baker's unsuccessful 2017 campaign against Kriseman. Newton himself has struggled with the Democratic base, though, and he badly lost an August primary for the Pinellas County Commission 52-33 two years after he won renomination to the legislature with just 49% of the vote. Newton, however, argued last month that he'd do better in a race where Republicans and independents could vote.
A number of other candidates from both parties have been eyeing this race, and Florida Politics' Janelle Irwin Taylor mentions City Councilman Ed Montanari as a possibility for Team Red. Taylor writes that Montanari is "widely believed to potentially be the GOP's best shot at the Mayor's office," but that he's been quiet about his plans.
● GA Public Service Commission: The Associated Press also called the runoff for Georgia's Public Service Commission for Republican incumbent Bubba McDonald, who narrowly defeated Democrat Daniel Blackman 50.6 to 49.4 statewide. As a result, the five-member commission, which regulates public utilities, will remain entirely in Republican hands, though Democrats will have a chance to win a seat in 2022.