But can Huffines actually depose the governor? In 2014, casting himself as a tea partier, the wealthy Huffines narrowly unseated veteran state Sen. John Carona 51-49 in the GOP primary for a Dallas-area seat that he went on to win unopposed that fall. Huffines buried Carona under an avalanche of negative ads attacking him as a self-dealing pol who was too friendly toward Democrats. Three generations of the Huffines family owning car dealerships also gave the candidate a name-recognition boost.
A gubernatorial race, however, would require vastly greater sums, and the exact extent of Huffines' wealth is unclear. There's also a reason why he's a former state senator: Just four years after first winning office, shifting preferences and demographics in Dallas County led to his ouster by Democrat Nathan Johnson. Despite the fact that Hillary Clinton had carried the 16th Senate District by a 50-45 margin, Huffines aligned himself tightly with Donald Trump and lost by an even wider spread than Trump had, 54-46.
Huffines is not the only Republican harboring a beef with Abbott. State Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller recently declined to rule out a bid of his own, and even state GOP chair Allen West hasn't crossed his own name off. A crowded primary wouldn't benefit Abbott, though, since Texas requires runoffs in the event no candidate takes a majority in the first round of a primary. But Abbott does have a towering $38 million in his war chest, and far-right discontent with his handling of the pandemic could be an old issue come next year.
● FL-Sen: Former Rep. Alan Grayson tells Politico that he'll decide whether to run for the Senate again "in the next two to three weeks." Grayson got crushed in the Democratic primary in 2016 by then-Rep. Patrick Murphy, losing by a 59-18 margin.
● MI-Gov: Detroit Police Chief James Craig announced his retirement at a Tuesday press conference after eight years on the job and said he'd make a decision about whether to run for governor in the "weeks" after his departure becomes effective on June 1. According to an unnamed source who spoke with the Detroit News, Craig, who confirmed that he's a Republican at his press event, has already decided to challenge Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer next year. Craig would be the first Black person elected governor in Michigan.
● FL-13: Democratic state Rep. Ben Diamond announced on Monday that he'd run for Florida's 13th Congressional District, which is open because Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist is running for governor. With former Defense Department official Eric Lynn already in the race, Diamond's decision sets up a possible redux of his successful primary campaign in 2016, when he defeated Lynn 54-46 en route to a victory that fall for an open seat in the state House. Other Democrats may yet join, though.
● NC-13, NC-05: As he previously said he might, law student Bo Hines has dropped his challenge to veteran Rep. Virginia Foxx in the GOP primary in North Carolina's 5th District and will instead run for the state's 13th District, which is open because Rep. Ted Budd is seeking a promotion to the Senate.
● NJ-11: When the New Jersey Globe asked if he'll run against sophomore Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill, Republican Assemblyman Brian Bergen said "right now, no" and specifically praised 2020 nominee Rosemary Becchi, who is reportedly considering another bid. Bergen said he could conceivably change his mind, but only if "Rosemary's not running, the map's different and I think there's chance to win," adding he "highly doubt[s]" such a scenario might unfold.
● NM-01: Democrat Melanie Stansbury's latest ad features a retired police sergeant praising her for securing necessary resources for law enforcement through her work as a state lawmaker. The second half of the spot attacks Republican Mark Moores for opposing Joe Biden's American Rescue Plan but taking a forgivable $1.8 million loan from the federal government's Paycheck Protection Program, which was set up through an earlier COVID relief bill.
Stansbury's ad also calls out a previous Moores ad that claimed that "during the pandemic, Stansbury has done little to lower the taxes on seniors' Social Security." But as KOB 4's Chris Ramirez points out, Moores "splits hairs with a time stamp": Stansbury sponsored a bill to end the taxation of Social Security benefits in January of last year, just weeks before the pandemic hit the U.S.
● OH-15: Democratic state Sen. Tina Maharath, who'd been considering a bid in the special election for Ohio's 15th Congressional District, says she will not run.
● TX-30: Veteran Democratic operative Jane Hamilton, who was Joe Biden's state director for Texas' primary last year, has filed paperwork for the 30th Congressional District but says that if incumbent Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson runs again, she'll have "my complete support." The 85-year-old Johnson, who is the second-oldest member of the House, said two years ago that her 2020 campaign would be her last, but she hasn't confirmed her plans since securing her 15th term in November.
● WY-AL: Attorney Darin Smith became the latest Republican to challenge Rep. Liz Cheney in next year's primary when he announced a bid on Friday. Smith finished a distant fourth to Cheney in the 2016 primary, when Wyoming's lone House district came open due to a retirement, but he'd reportedly been recruited by nameless elements of Trumpworld. He also actually managed to secure the URL "mrsmithgoestowashington.com," though weirdly, it redirects to another domain.
● Anchorage, AK Mayor: Alaska's largest city holds its general election Tuesday, an officially nonpartisan contest where the ideological divides are very clear. Prominent Republicans, including Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Sen. Dan Sullivan, are campaigning for Air Force veteran Dave Bronson, while labor is supporting Democratic City Assemblyman Forrest Dunbar. Bronson led Dunbar 33-31 in the first round of voting in early April.
Bronson has spent the campaign pledging to end the city's mask mandate and emergency pandemic orders, measures that Dunbar has supported. Bronson, who is the cofounder of a social conservative organization, has also labeled his Democratic rival a "radical leftist," while Dunbar has argued that Bronson has spread "dangerous misinformation" about the COVID-19 crisis.
It may be some time before we have a winner. Last month, only about 11,000 of the 73,000 votes cast were counted on election night, and Bronson didn't take the lead over Dunbar for another three days. Regular ballots postmarked by Tuesday have until May 21 to be tallied, while the deadline for overseas ballots is May 25; the City Assembly, which is the local version of a city council, is set to certify the results that day.
● Atlanta, GA Mayor: Incumbent Keisha Lance Bottoms' surprising retirement decision will likely set off a crowded race to succeed her, but two well-funded candidates were already competing in the November nonpartisan primary before the mayor made her Thursday announcement.
City Council President Felicia Moore said Friday that her campaign had raised about $500,000 and had $418,000 in the bank; attorney Sharon Gay, meanwhile, didn't reveal her own cash-on-hand totals, but she said she took in $208,000 from donors and self-funded another $210,000. Gay, who serves as managing partner of the Atlanta office of the multinational law firm Dentons, doesn't appear to have announced she was in before Bottoms retired, but she put out a statement afterwards making it clear she was indeed running.
Meanwhile, a few more local politicians are expressing interest in joining what's now an open seat race. Former state senator Vincent Fort, who took fifth place in the 2017 mayoral contest, confirmed he was thinking about another bid, while the Atlanta Journal-Constitution writes that Fulton County Commissioner Khadijah Abdur-Rahman is interested as well. Abdur-Rahman's election last year made her the first Muslim woman to win office in Georgia, and she'd again make history if she were elected mayor.
The AJC also mentions City Councilman Andre Dickens as a possible contender, while the local NBC affiliate speculates that former Rep. Kwanza Hall could get in. Hall, who was a city councilman at the time, took seventh place in the last mayoral contest, but he went on to win a 2020 all-Democratic runoff for the final month of the late Rep. John Lewis' term in the 116th Congress.
● New York City, NY Mayor: The Hotel Trades Council has announced that it will spend $2 million on ads and get-out-the-vote-efforts to support Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and other endorsed downballot candidates in the June 22 instant-runoff Democratic primary.
The union has also released a survey from Honan Strategy Group that shows Adams edging out 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang 15-14, with nonprofit head Dianne Morales and city Comptroller Scott Stringer at 12% and 10%, respectively. In a hypothetical two-person matchup, Adams leads Yang by an identical 39-38 margin.
The survey was in the field April 24 to May 3; on April 28, in the midst of this time, Stringer was accused of sexual assault. The survey also asked a number of issue questions, including whether respondents would prefer to vote for "the most progressive candidate" or "the most moderate and centrist candidate," before it got to the horserace.
● VA-AG: Republicans tallied convention votes for the race for attorney general on Sunday, and Del. Jason Miyares defeated three opponents to claim the GOP nomination. Miyares will take on the winner of the June 8 Democratic primary between incumbent Mark Herring and Del. Jay Jones in November.
Miyares led 2017 candidate Chuck Smith 37-34 in the first round of this instant-runoff contest, and he prevailed 52-48 in the third and final round of tabulations. Miyares, who would be the first Latino elected to statewide office, had the support of former Gov. Bob McDonnell and ex-Sen. George Allen, while Smith had far-right state Sen. Amanda Chase, who is also running for governor, in his corner.
● David Gambrell, former Democratic Senator from Georgia: Gambrell, a Democrat who was appointed by Gov. Jimmy Carter in 1971 to succeed the late segregationist leader Richard Russell, died Thursday at 91. Gambrell would lose the next year's primary to Sam Nunn, who would go on serve for 24 years.
Gambrell had been a longtime Carter ally who had served as his campaign treasurer the previous year and had just been named state party chair, but it was still a huge surprise when the new governor picked him for what would be Gambrell's first elected office. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Jim Galloway recounted last year, Gambrell had to defend himself the next year in the Democratic primary from 14 opponents: Galloway noted that, because Georgia governors at the time were unable to run for more than one consecutive term, there were clear limits on how much Carter was able to punish anyone trying to unseat his appointee.
The most prominent candidate at the beginning seemed to be former Gov. Ernest Vandiver, whom Galloway says "thought the U.S. Senate job had been promised to him," while state Rep. Sam Nunn initially had little name recognition. Gambrell, though, would later say that he recognized Nunn, who had been close to Carter, would be his toughest foe "[b]ecause he's supposed to be our friend." Gambrell ended up leading the primary with 34%, which was well short of the majority he needed to avoid a runoff, while Nunn beat out Vandiver 23-20 for the other spot.
Nunn attracted a politically diverse array of support in the second round with endorsements from both former Gov. Lester Maddox, the notorious segregationist who was serving as lieutenant governor at the time, and state Rep. Julian Bond, a prominent civil rights leader. Gambrell, who would later also say that his opponent was better organized due to his legislative ties, added that Nunn "had most of the enemies of Carter. He had a bunch of my friends who were his friends, that preferred him over me." Nunn also ran an ad that implied Gambrell had bought his seat, though it aired just once after the state representative's mother complained.
Nunn ultimately won the nomination 54-46, and he prevailed in the fall 54-46 even as Richard Nixon was carrying every single one of Georgia's 159 counties. Gambrell himself would campaign to succeed Carter as governor two years later, but he took a distant fourth in the primary with just 8% of the vote.
● Pete Du Pont, former GOP congressman and governor of Delaware: Du Pont, who was elected to the House and won the first of his two terms as governor in 1976, and whose family founded the eponymous chemical giant, died Saturday at the age of 86. Du Pont is remembered for bringing the credit card industry to the First State and for his unsuccessful 1988 presidential bid, but his biggest impact may be in the race he didn't run in: the 1972 Senate race that launched Joe Biden's national political career.
Republican Sen. Caleb Boggs was up for re-election that year, but it initially looked like he'd retire; his aide, William Hildenbrand, later said that Boggs had even decided years before that he wouldn't be running again. President Richard Nixon, though, very much wanted to avoid what could have been a vicious open Senate primary between du Pont, who was a freshman congressman at the time, and Wilmington Mayor Harry Haskell, who led the state’s largest city. Republicans also believed that another Boggs campaign would boost their prospects in the gubernatorial race.
In 1971, Nixon convened a meeting at the Delaware home of party financier John Rollins, who had served as lieutenant governor when Boggs led the state in the 1950s, that included Boggs, fellow Sen. Bill Roth, du Pont, and Kansas Sen. Bob Dole. Nixon ultimately managed to convince the reluctant Boggs to run again the next year, a move that seemed to secure the GOP's hold on the Senate seat.
Of course, that's very much not how things went. Biden, a 29-year-old New Castle County councilman whom du Pont had castigated two years ago as "somebody here running for county council who really doesn't know what he's talking about," ran an unexpectedly strong campaign against Boggs, an incumbent who was more than twice the Democrat's age.
Hildenbrand would later say of the senator, "His heart wasn't in it. In July of the election year, he did not have one billboard up in that state." Biden ultimately upset Boggs in a squeaker even as Nixon and du Pont were romping to victory in the state, while Democrat Sherman Tribbitt also flipped the governorship.
Du Pont left the House in 1976 to take on Tribbitt, and the Republican prevailed 57-42. Du Pont won his second term in a landslide four years later, and politicos widely anticipated a 1984 Senate matchup between the termed-out governor and Biden. Du Pont's wife, Elise du Pont, was on the ballot that year when she badly lost her House campaign to Democratic incumbent Tom Carper, but Pete du Pont himself passed on the Senate. Both Du Pont and Biden would fall far short when they sought their party's presidential nominations for 1988, but while Biden's political career would recover, du Pont never sought office again.
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