● CA-29: Democratic Rep. Tony Cardenas announced his retirement on Monday and endorsed Assemblywoman Luz Rivas, who immediately kicked off a bid to succeed the congressman.
With Cardenas' decision to leave, Democrats are now defending 18 open seats in the House—a figure on par with the record high of 37 the party set last year, according to data maintained by Daily Kos Elections. Until the last couple of weeks, Republicans had been experiencing an unusually low number of departures, but thanks to a recent spike, their total of 11 is in line with more typical cycles.
Note, though, that the number of outright retirements so far is the same for both parties at seven apiece. That’s because many more Democrats are running for higher office than Republicans: 11 versus three (one GOP-held seat in Alabama is open due to redistricting). Of those, fully nine House Democrats are looking for a promotion to the Senate while just two of their Republican counterparts are doing the same, despite the GOP’s bullish talk of retaking the upper chamber.
And while open seats are usually the hardest to defend, most tend to be on safe turf. Cardenas’ deep blue 29th District in the San Fernando Valley is one such example: When he first won the seat in 2012, he managed to do so virtually without opposition. The new district included much of then-Rep. Howard Berman's turf, but both his home and Rep. Brad Sherman's were drawn into the 30th District, setting up the famous "Berman-Sherman" matchup. (Sherman would win the all-Democratic general election 60-40.)
That created a golden opportunity for Cardenas, who at the time was a member of the Los Angeles City Council. Cardenas, whose parents were immigrants from Mexico, wound up being the only Democrat to announce for the revamped 29th, which had a large Latino majority. He crushed an unknown independent candidate by a nearly 3-to-1 margin.
Cardenas never had difficulty winning any elections back home after that, but his attempt to join the leadership ranks of House Democrats did not fare as well. In 2020, with Rep. Ben Ray Lujan about to move up to the Senate and therefore vacate his post as assistant speaker, Cardenas announced he would run for the job, the party's fourth highest-ranking position. But after DCCC chair Cheri Bustos announced she would step down following the elections that November, Cardenas switched over to that race instead.
Cardenas, however, wound up losing to Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney in a 119-107 vote among their Democratic colleagues. Maloney lost his own reelection bid last year—something Cardenas was never in any danger of, since Joe Biden carried California's 29th by a 75-23 margin.
● MI-Sen: As you might expect with any poll of Michigan a year out from the 2024 elections, EPIC-MRA's new survey of the state's open Senate race finds a close contest and a lot of undecideds. Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin holds a 39-37 edge over former GOP Rep. Mike Rogers and a similar 40-38 lead over former Detroit Police Chief James Craig. In both cases, EPIC-MRA's latest figures show little change from data the firm released over the summer, which also had Slotkin narrowly ahead of both Republican rivals. The new poll apparently did not test former GOP Rep. Peter Meijer, even though it was in the field after he entered the contest.
● NJ-Sen: The establishment support keeps pouring in for former financier Tammy Murphy, who rolled out endorsements from five members of New Jersey's congressional delegation on Monday: Mike Sherrill, Frank Pallone, Bill Pascrell, and Donald Payne, and Donald Norcross, who is the brother of longtime power-broker George Norcross. She also won the backing of LeRoy Jones, who is both the chair of the state Democratic Party and its counterpart in populous Essex County.
Previously, Rep. Josh Gottheimer endorsed Murphy in her race for the Democratic nomination against Rep. Andy Kim. That means that the only Garden State House Democrats who haven't taken sides are Bonnie Watson Coleman and Robert Menendez, whose father, Sen. Bob Menendez, hasn't announced whether he plans to seek reelection while under indictment on federal corruption charges.
● CA-47: California Democrats endorsed state Sen. Dave Min in his quest to hold the open 47th Congressional District at their convention over the weekend, a move that grants some perks but does not impact ballot access. Activist and former attorney Joanna Weiss, the other main Democrat in the race, responded by releasing an internal poll conducted by Global Strategy Group arguing that Min's arrest earlier this year for drunk driving would harm him in a one-on-one matchup with Scott Baugh, the leading Republican contender, once voters learn about it.
However, on what's known as the initial ballot test, when respondents are asked about the horserace without first being prompted with any additional information, there's little difference between the two Democrats: Weiss edges out Baugh 43-42, while Baugh narrowly leads Min, also by a 43-42 margin. Min and Weiss both raised about $300,000 in the third quarter of the year and finished September with a little more than $800,000 apiece in the bank.
● MI-08: Former Trump immigration official Paul Junge became the first Republican contender to announce his candidacy for Michigan's 8th District on Friday, following Democratic Rep. Dan Kildee's unexpected decision to retire a day earlier. However, other Republicans appear likely to join the contest, which may be a relief to the GOP given how poorly Junge's race against Kildee went last year.
The 8th is located in the Flint and Tri-Cities areas in central Michigan, and it would have voted just 50-48 for Joe Biden, meaning it should have been one of the GOP's top pickup opportunities last year. But while Junge and national Republicans spent millions trying to oust Kildee, the incumbent won by a surprisingly wide 53-43 margin, which made him one of the top Democratic overperformers in the country compared to Biden's vote share.
In that race, Democrats repeatedly hammered Junge over his weak ties to the region that he was seeking to represent, in contrast to the Kildee family's long involvement in politics in the Flint area. While Junge was born in Michigan in 1966, he moved out of state with his family in 1974 and had spent less than a decade of his adult life back in the Wolverine State until returning just before launching a congressional bid for an entirely different district in 2020.
That district was also numbered the 8th before the most recent round of redistricting, but it had zero overlap with the current 8th and was instead located in the Lansing area and part of the Detroit suburbs. Junge lost that race 51-47 to Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin even though Donald Trump carried the district by 50-49. The next cycle, Junge moved to the new 8th, where he had never lived before, to unsuccessfully challenge Kildee.
As for possible additional GOP candidates, former state Sen. Dave Robertson has said he's considering running, while state Rep. Bill G. Schuette hasn't ruled out a bid. Schuette is the son of former state Attorney General Bill Schuette, who lost the 2018 governor's race 53-44 to Democrat Gretchen Whitmer; the elder Schutte previously represented part of this area from 1985 to 1991 when it was in the 10th District.
Inside Elections' Erin Covey reports that both father and son are considering, but there are no direct quotes from either. Former state House Speaker Tom Leonard, who lost a tight 2018 race to succeed the older Schutte for attorney general, is also reportedly eyeing the contest.
However, state Rep. David Martin sounded highly unlikely to run by responding, "You've got to be kidding me," when asked by Gongwer Michigan. Former state Sen. Ken Horn went even further by saying he was "a hard no." The lone Republican who was already running before Kildee called it quits is Army veteran Martin Blank, a trauma surgeon and Saginaw police officer who unsuccessfully ran in a GOP primary for state Senate last year.
On the Democratic side, both Genessee County Sheriff Chris Swanson and former state Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich say they're considering and could decide this week, though Ananich adds that he's "pretty happy" with his current position as CEO of the Greater Flint Health Coalition. Flint Mayor Sheldon Neeley says he plans to form an exploratory committee while he decides, but he gave no timeframe.
State Board of Education President Pamela Pugh, meanwhile, says she's been urged to run and didn't say no to dropping her longshot Senate bid to campaign for this seat. State Sen. John Cherry also wouldn't rule out running but says that he hadn't had time to think about it yet.
The Detroit News' Craig Mauger mentions two more potential candidates, state Sen. Kristen McDonald Rivet and Saginaw County Clerk Vanessa Guerrs, though there's no word from either yet. Another name that's come up is American Medical Association Board of Trustees member Bobby Mukkamala, who is a surgeon in Flint. However, Mukkamala instead says he'll continue his effort to become the AMA's next president and would only reconsider running for Congress in the future.
● NY-26: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown says he's "strongly considering" a bid for New York's soon-to-be-vacant 26th Congressional District, calling himself a "centrist" and complaining that "the extreme left, the extreme right that are literally pulling our country apart," according to Spectrum News' Seamus Lyman.
Normally, these sorts of remarks would be damaging if not disqualifying for a Democrat in today's politics, but since the state doesn't hold primaries for special elections, only local Democratic leaders will get a say in who earns the party's nomination. In 2021, Brown lost the Democratic primary to nurse India Walton by a 52-45 margin, but he nonetheless managed to secure a fifth term by defeating Walton 59-40 in the general election thanks to a write-in campaign.
● TX-26: Brandon Gill, the founder of a far-right website and the son-in-law of MAGA toady Dinesh D'Souza, announced a bid for Texas' open 26th Congressional District on Monday. Gill immediately secured the endorsement of Rep. Troy Nehls, who represents a district on the other side of the state but promised that the new candidate "will be a vote for the Freedom Caucus."
● VA-07: Del. Briana Sewell, who just won reelection two weeks ago by a 62-38 margin, became the second Democrat to join the race to succeed Rep. Abigail Spanberger in Virginia's swingy 7th Congressional District on Monday. Sewell, a cousin of Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell, first won her seat in the legislature in 2021. She previously worked for Rep. Gerry Connolly, who represents the neighboring 11th District.
Meanwhile, another Democrat, Prince William County Supervisor Margaret Franklin, has filed paperwork with the FEC ahead of a possible bid. Already running for the nod is former National Security Council adviser Eugene Vindman, though several other local politicians have also been named as possible candidates.
● PA-AG: Former Delaware County District Attorney Kat Copeland entered Pennsylvania's open race for attorney general on Monday, ensuring Republicans will have a contested primary. She joins York County District Attorney Dave Sunday, who recently won the endorsement of the Republican Attorneys General Association and has been running for nearly a year. A third candidate, state Rep. Craig Williams, might also get in (RAGA despises him, though).
Copeland was appointed to fill the vacant DA's post in Delaware County in the Philadelphia suburbs in 2018, but she lost her bid for a full term the following year to Democrat Jack Stollsteimer in a close 52-48 race. Stollsteimer himself is "expected to run" as well, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Aliya Schneider, while another Inquirer reporter, Chris Brennan, described Stollsteimer's entry as "imminent" late last week. Four other Democrats are already running in the April 23 primary.
In that same piece, Brennan also reported that another Republican, former U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain, would not enter the race. McSwain ran a disastrous campaign for governor last year, finishing third in the GOP with just 16% of the vote after the man who'd appointed him to his post—Donald Trump—savaged him for failing to do enough to advance the Big Lie.
● OH Ballot: Once more unto the breach: Ohio officials have once again allowed supporters of an amendment to institute an independent redistricting commission to start gathering signatures to place their measure on the ballot after their previous effort was withdrawn due to a typo. To put their proposal before voters in November of next year, organizers will need to collect 413,000 signatures from half of Ohio's 88 counties.
● Houston, TX Mayor: Former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, who ran Texas' largest city from 2010 to 2016, has endorsed state Sen. John Whitmire in the Dec. 9 runoff for her old job. Parker's successor, term-limited incumbent Sylvester Turner, previously announced his support for Whitmire's opponent, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Whitmire led Jackson Lee 43-36 in the first round of voting on Nov. 7, but there have been no public polls of the race since then.