It remains to be seen whether Colyer's departure will incentivize any other prominent Republicans to join the race, or whether Schmidt will now have an easy path to the GOP nod to face Kelly, who is the only Democratic governor up for re-election in a state that Donald Trump carried in 2020. Before Monday, though, there was just one potential entrant waiting in the wings: As recently as June, the Topeka Capital-Journal listed wealthy businessman Wink Hartman, who was the 2018 Republican nominee for lieutenant governor on Kobach's ticket, as someone who was "said to be weighing a bid." However, we've heard nothing new from Hartman since then.
● GA-Sen, GA-Gov: Former Sen. David Perdue has reportedly shown some interest in challenging Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock after dismissing the idea back in February, but David Drucker of the conservative Washington Examiner writes that Perdue's fellow Republicans think he's waiting to see how Donald Trump's chosen candidate, former NFL star Herschel Walker, fares. "Folks close to David says he's waiting for Walker to implode and then get in the Senate race," relays one operative.
Trump's super PAC, meanwhile, has been trying to entice Perdue to challenge Gov. Brian Kemp in next year's primary instead, an idea the former senator has yet to publicly address. The Republicans who spoke to Drucker doubt such a bid will come to pass, however, with one insider saying of Perdue, "When I talk to him, he was more inclined to run for Senate than to take on an incumbent Republican governor."
If Perdue does surprise everyone and challenge Kemp, though, he'd need to do it without the support of his prominent cousin: Former Gov. Sonny Perdue, who later went on to serve as Trump's secretary of agriculture, endorsed the incumbent on Saturday at a party gathering.
● OH-Sen: Insider reported Sunday that the nonprofit that venture capitalist J.D. Vance set up with great fanfare a few years ago appears to have done little to nothing during its existence.
Vance, the Hillbilly Elegy author who is now seeking the GOP nomination for Ohio's open Senate seat, announced in 2017 that he was launching Our Ohio Renewal, a charity whose stated purpose included "fighting against opiate abuse" in the state. Insider, though, reviewed the group's first year of tax filings and found that it "spent more on 'management services' provided by its executive director — who also serves as Vance's top political advisor — than it did on programs to fight opioid abuse."
Why only look at one year of filings, though? Insider explains, "The nonprofit raised so little in each of the last three years — less than $50,000 a year — that it wasn't even required by the IRS to disclose its activities and finances." Our Ohio Renewal's website no longer exists, while its Twitter account has posted just twice ever, both times in 2018. The spokesperson for the state's largest anti-opioid umbrella group, the Ohio Opioid Education Alliance, adds that she'd never even heard of Vance's organization.
● CA-Gov: The GOP firm Medium Buying says that Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom is spending $6.3 million on TV and radio ads for the final two weeks heading into the Sept. 14 recall. Newsom's campaign is also up with two new commercials: One stars Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders denouncing the recall as "a bold-faced Republican power-grab," while the other features a narrator arguing, "If you don't vote, we could have an anti-vax Republican governor of California."
● MN-Gov: An unnamed source close to state Sen. Michelle Benson tells the Minnesota Reformer that they expect her to announce this week that she'll seek the GOP nod to take on Democratic Gov. Tim Walz, naming Wednesday as a possible date.
● FL-26, FL-27: Former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, who reportedly had not ruled out a comeback bid, recently confirmed she's considering a campaign to the Miami Herald, saying she might seek a rematch with GOP Rep. Carlos Gimenez in the 26th District or take on Republican incumbent María Elvira Salazar in the neighboring 27th. Said Mucarsel-Powell, "I'm evaluating what is the best way for me to make a positive impact for people living in the state of Florida and at this point I haven't made a decision."
Redistricting, though, could result in Mucarsel-Powell winding up in a Democratic primary against fellow former Rep. Donna Shalala, who previously said she'd decide in October whether she'd run against Salazar again. With this prospect in mind, an unnamed group commissioned a late August poll from Public Policy Polling that finds Shalala leading her ex-colleague 28-20 in the current boundaries of the 27th District, where Shalala lost re-election last year. The survey also tested Miami Beach commissioner David Richardson, who takes 7%, while healthcare business owner Janelle Perez, who is currently Salazar's only announced foe, gets just 4%.
Richardson, though, sounds very unlikely to run for Congress. He told the paper that, while he'd thought about taking on Salazar, he "pretty much decided I wasn't going to run because there's so much uncertainty about redistricting." The commissioner added, "One thing I've learned in this process is never say never, but I can say I have no plans for running."
● MO-07: The Missouri Scout reports that state Sen. Mike Moon has been telling people that he'll seek the GOP nod for this safely red open seat.
● NH-01: Former Trump aide Matt Mowers announced Monday that he would seek a rematch against Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas in what has long been a swing seat in the eastern half of the state. A few other Republicans are already running, though more might take an interest in the race if a new GOP gerrymander makes this district redder.
Mowers raised a solid $1.7 million during his 2020 campaign, but he appeared to be the decided longshot heading into Election Day. While the 1st had supported Donald Trump 48-47 in 2016, polls showed Joe Biden in strong shape in New Hampshire. Even more tellingly, no outside groups on either side spent any serious money in the congressional contest, which was a strong indication that both parties believed Pappas was secure. The final result, though, was closer than almost anyone expected, with the incumbent turning back Mowers 51-46 as Biden prevailed 52-46.
● Special Elections: The nation's two largest states, California and Texas, are each holding a special election on Tuesday:
CA-AD-18: This Oakland-based district is hosting a runoff election after no candidate took a majority of the vote in the June 29 race to replace newly installed state Attorney General Rob Bonta.
Democrat Mia Bonta led fellow party member Janani Ramachandran 38-22 in the first round of voting, and the pair will see one another again in this runoff. Bonta, who is married to Rob Bonta, has accumulated prominent endorsements from Sen. Alex Padilla, veteran Rep. Barbara Lee (who represents the area in Congress), and the California Teachers Association. Bonta also held a strong $740,000 to $340,000 fundraising advantage over Ramachandran as of late August.
Regardless of the winner, Democrats' edge in this chamber will tick up to 60-19 (with one independent member) after this contest is decided.
TX-HD-10: This GOP-held seat just south of Dallas in the Waxahachie area became vacant after Jake Ellzey won last month's special election for Texas' 6th Congressional District. Four Republicans and one Democrat are vying for this seat that voted for Donald Trump 72-25 in 2016 and 67-31 last year. If no candidate wins a majority, a runoff between the top two vote-getters will take place on a date that has yet to be determined.
Former state Rep. John Wray, businessman Kevin Griffin, Midlothian City Councilman Clark Wickliffe, and former Trump official Brian Harrison are the Republicans, while attorney Pierina Otiniano is the lone Democrat. A fifth Republican, retired attorney Susan Hayslip, was in the race but dropped out earlier this month and endorsed Harrison. Harrison also has the backing of freshman Rep. Beth Van Duyne (who represents a nearby congressional district) and several members of the state House. Wray, who previously served three terms in this seat, has Ellzey's support.
Republicans have a 82-66 advantage in this chamber with this and one other seat vacant.
● Buffalo, NY Mayor: The Erie County Board of Elections on Friday rejected Mayor Byron Brown's attempt to appear on the November general election ballot as an independent because the deadline to submit signatures passed in May. Brown's team said he'd challenge the decision in court; for now, though, the incumbent is only a write-in candidate as he fights to keep his job against India Walton, a self-described socialist who upset him in the late June Democratic primary.
● Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Politicians in Wisconsin's largest city have already begun to prepare for a special election to succeed longtime Mayor Tom Barrett, who is Joe Biden's new nominee to become ambassador to Luxembourg, but it's anyone's guess when the race will actually take place. State law requires that a special occur "as promptly as possible" following the mayor's resignation, but the U.S. Senate has been anything but prompt when it comes to confirming Biden's ambassadorial nominees. Barrett is only the fourth person to be elected mayor since 1945, so the eventual winner could occupy the post for a very long time.
Common Council President Cavalier Johnson would take over as acting mayor upon Barrett's departure, and he quickly announced, "I will certainly run for mayor to finish out the term and then run for re-election in 2024 as well if the people of the city were gracious enough to elect me." The ascension of Johnson, who currently leads the local equivalent of the city council, would make him the second African American to serve as mayor of Milwaukee; the first was Marvin Pratt, who also took over as acting mayor back in 2004 a few months before losing to Barrett.
Another local politician, former Alderman Bob Donovan, also said he'd run in a special, though his last bid for the office went badly. Donovan challenged Barrett in 2016 and looked viable for a time after he held the incumbent to a 45-34 lead in the nonpartisan preliminary election. But Donovan had trouble gaining traction in the general election against the well-funded Barrett, especially after the mayor highlighted Donovan's past legal issues, and the incumbent won in a 70-30 landslide.
Donovan himself retired from office last year and bought a condo in the suburb of Greenfield outside of the city, though he says he still owns his old home in Milwaukee. But the former alderman's politics rather than where he rests his head may be the bigger obstacle to victory in this very blue city, as he spent the weekend at a conservative gathering that featured speeches from several potential GOP gubernatorial candidates.
Johnson and Donovan would be very unlikely to have a special election field to themselves: As one Democratic strategist told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Daniel Bice, "Why not run? It's a free shot," since office-holders likely wouldn't have to give up their current jobs to participate in a special election. Indeed, two such officials, Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and state Rep. Daniel Riemer, have each said they're thinking about getting in.
Bice also reports that Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas and Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer are both interested, though there's no direct word from either of them. State Sen. Lena Taylor, who lost last year's race to Barrett by a 63-37 margin, isn't ruling out another bid, while Bice writes that a spokesperson for fellow state Sen. Chris Larson said that he "was not available and has not discussed the issue."
Local insiders also named Alderman Michael Murphy and Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, who is currently running for the Senate, as possibilities, but there isn't any word on their interest. Finally, Bice name-drops two others: former Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, but they both seem unlikely to run for very different reasons. Bice writes that Abele, who retired last year from his countywide post, "seems to be enjoying his life away from politics," while Clarke's fanatical loyalty to Donald Trump makes him toxic in the city.
A few politicians did take their names out of contention. Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes' team says he'll remain in the Senate race, while state Rep. Evan Goyke also said he wouldn't run. Fellow state Rep. David Bowen in turn said he was focused on helping Wisconsin Democrats win in 2022, which Bice interpreted as him "appear[ing] to be taking a pass," though that's obviously not a firm "no."
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