Monday brought us our first filing deadline of the 2022 election cycle, as candidates in Texas were required to submit their names to appear on the March 1 primary ballot; runoffs will be held on May 24 for contests where no one takes a majority of the vote. We've put together a calendar of every state's filing deadlines, primaries, and (where applicable) runoffs, which you'll want to bookmark and keep handy. Very helpfully, the Texas Tribune's Patrick Svitek has compiled a list of candidates who've filed to run at every level of the ballot in Texas.
At Daily Kos Elections, we spend a good deal of time writing about who might or might not run for office, so filing deadlines give us a chance to take stock of where each important race stands now that their fields are set. As the deadline passes in each state, we'll review every notable Senate, gubernatorial, and House contest and give our take on the lay of the land.
However, there are a few caveats to take into account. Most importantly, a race isn't necessarily set in stone after the deadline. Some states require candidates to collect a certain number of signatures from voters to qualify for the ballot, and they can and do get thrown off if they don't file enough valid petitions (often, these petitions are challenged by opponents).
We regularly see this sort of thing happen in Colorado, Illinois, New York, Michigan, and Pennsylvania, among other states. But most other states, including Texas, don't require signatures to get on the ballot—it's just a simple matter of filing paperwork and paying a fee.
That doesn't mean the filing process is free from issues, though. In some states, the names of candidates who file won't appear on official lists provided by election administrators for days or even weeks after the deadline.
That's a perennial issue in none other than Texas, where the secretary of state won't have a final list for another week and where the state's unofficial list is currently incomplete. In the 12th Congressional District, for instance, the state listed only one little-known Republican, Ryan Catala, as of Tuesday afternoon even though incumbent Kay Granger submitted the necessary paperwork to run for re-election.
It's therefore important to recognize that bureaucratic slowness might explain the absence of a particular candidate's name on a particular state's list, rather than a shock last-minute retirement. Two of the other most problematic states in this regard have been New Jersey and West Virginia in the past, but this issue can crop up anywhere.
And even after a deadline passes, the field can often change. Candidates can drop out, or be removed from the ballot for other reasons, such as a failure to meet residency requirements. Sometimes, a new candidate can even get swapped in after a deadline, if a nominee quits and state law provides a mechanism for substituting a replacement. We'll continue to provide updates on all such fluctuations.
At this point in the cycle, we usually have a good sense for which candidates are serious and which aren't. However, there are always a few contenders who seemingly come out of nowhere to win their party's nomination, or emerge from a primary unheralded but go on to wage an unexpectedly competitive general election campaign.
One example for the ages came in the 2018 Democratic primary for New York's 14th Congressional District, where longtime Rep. Joe Crowley faced a challenge from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Crowley appeared to have little to fear from AOC, a political unknown who at that point had raised very little cash.
To our later chagrin, we didn't even mention the race in our newsletter until after filing closed that April. But as the insurgent's threat to the congressman grew, we took notice when the seemingly safe Crowley dropped $1 million ahead of his primary. It was nonetheless a massive shock when Ocasio-Cortez pulled off a stunning 57-43 upset that June.
Redistricting adds a major additional complication to the calculus. Redrawn maps can weaken an incumbent in unexpected ways, giving a surprise opening to a previously unrecognized intra-party opponent. Likewise, a Republican who started out the cycle running for a hopelessly Democratic district (or vice versa) may get a second look if redistricting makes their new seat far more competitive.
Texas again presents a good example of the uncertainties of redistricting. The GOP passed new gerrymandered maps in October, prompting some contenders to drop out and others to launch new campaigns. With the next quarterly fundraising report for federal candidates not due until Jan. 31, it'll be some time before we know if these newcomers are amassing the type of war chests they'll need in order to run a serious race.
All that said, however, while everyone wants to be the next AOC, few will be. There's a reason, after all, why we're still holding her up as such an exceptional example. Still, we're always on the lookout for competitive candidates and races after filing closes.