Welcome to the last full day of the Obama presidency and we give him a musical farewell… HERE
Ag Secretary: Finally we have a nominee for the last unfilled spot: ex-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue (R) has been named as Trump’s Agriculture Secretary pick. Perdue should be a relatively non-controversial choice.
OMB Director: Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R) is under fire in his confirmation hearings for failing to pay $15K in taxes on a household worker.
HHS Secretary: Another nominee facing question from Democrats about his personal finances is Rep. Tom Price (R), who is under fire for allegedly trading stocks using insider congressional information. Of course the transaction in question involves a 26 share purchase of Zimmer Biomet (at a total value of $2,697.74) that was done as part of a periodic portfolio rebalancing in a Morgan Stanley discretionary account in which all investment decisions are made by the financial advisor. But why let facts get in the way of a partisan witch hunt.
Labor Secretary: There are rumors that Hardee’s CEO Andy Puzder, Trump’s pick for Labor secretary, is getting cold feet over the intensity of the confirmation process. Were Puzder to back out the Trump cabinet would lose one of its few relatively orthodox Chamber-of-Commerce type conservative members.
CO-Gov: Bold Progressive ex-State Sen. Mike Johnston (D) has become the first established Democrat into the open-seat gubernatorial race, joining little-known plastics executive Noel Ginsburg (D). The primary fields on both sides for this race are expected to be crowded.
CT-Gov: Trumbull (pop. 36K) Mayor and 2014 Treasurer nominee Tim Herbst (R) will run for Governor. Herbst, who is known as a no-holds-barred campaigner, joins State Rep. Pradad Srinivasan (R) and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton (R) in the race, but the GOP primary field may grow from there. Unpopular Gov. Dan Malloy (D) has not indicated if he will seek a third term, but Middletown Mayor Dan Drew (D) is already in the race.
ID-Gov: Developer Tommy Ahlquist (R) is considering a run for Governor. The two major candidates in the race so far are LG Brad Little (R), who represents the chamber-of-commerce Mormon-heavy faction of retiring Gov. Butch Otter (R), and ex-State Sen. and 2014 candidate Russ Fulcher (R), who is close to the more libertarian-leaning faction of Rep. Raul Labrador (R), though Fulcher’s base may be poached if Labrador himself enters as is rumored. It looks like Ahlquist would be more likely to draw votes from Little’s chamber-of-commerce lane than the Fulcher/Labrador faction if he entered the contest.
KS-Gov: 2000s-era ex-State Rep. Ed O’Malley (R) is considering a gubernatorial bid. O’Malley, a moderate, hails from Johnson County, the largest base of votes for that faction of the fractious KSGOP. This primary is likely to be crowded, but conservative LG Jeff Colyer (R) and SoS Kris Kobach (R) and the more moderate Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R), are the most talked-about major candidates.
MI-Gov: State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R) of suburban Detroit is considering a run for Governor. Colbeck, an antiestablishment fiscal conservative who has won two tough races in his light-red seat, would likely start with a significant antiestablishment base. However, he does not have high statewide name recognition and would probably be a longer-shot relative to the bigger names rumored to be exploring the race, such as AG Bill Schuette (R), LG Brian Calley (R), and ex-Rep. and Macomb County official Candice Miller (R).
MN-Gov: Mike Lindell, the “founder and inventor” (not to mention infomercial star) of the MyPillow, is aggressively denying reports that he is considering a run for Governor of Minnesota as a Republican. Lindell, a vocal Trump supporter, has been arguably the most ubiquitous TV pitchman since Billy Mays for his infomercials extolling the benefits of his chopped-foam pillows. However, his company has been under fire recently for allegedly deceptive advertising practices.
NV-Gov: Rep. Mark Amodei (R), who has locked down his purple Reno-area House seat, will not run for Governor, though he has left the door open for a run for AG instead. Separately, businessman Steve Cloobeck (D) announced he planning to run and will self-fund $5M. AG Adam Laxalt (R) and Clark County commissioner Steve Sisolak (D), both of whom also have 7-figure warchests, are both considered likely to run as well.
NJ-Gov: Clinton administration official Jim Johnson (D) has announced he has qualified for state matching funds. Johnson, who until now has been considered a footnote in this race, could now have the resources to be at least a somewhat credible contender. However, ambassador and Goldman Sachs exec
Jon Corzine Jr. Phil Murphy (D) has already bought the state’s powerful machines and looks like an overwhelming front-runner. Johnson will most likely actually help him, as he will likely serve to divide the anti-Murphy vote even further between himself, State Sen. Ray Lesniak (D), and State Rep. John Wisniewski (D), all of whom are running to Murphy’s left.
NY-Gov: State Senate President John Flanagan (R) of Long Island is apparently eyeing a run for Governor against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), but there are strong reasons to think this is all for show. Flanagan is already one of NYS’s legendary “Three Men in a Room”, meaning he has basically as much power as the Governor already when it comes to legislation. Wanting to give that seat up for an uphill run against Cuomo would seem a dumb move. More likely this is a manifestation of the bromance between Cuomo and Flanagan publicly breaking down as Cuomo has tacked to the left in recent months to insure himself against a likely left-wing primary challenger, which has led to new friction between the previously-friendly Cuomo/Senate GOP axis. My personal guess is that this is all for show as both sides now have incentive to seem more adversarial: Cuomo playing to the Dem base and the Senate GOP playing to their base voters. I would imagine things snap back to normal come 2019 if all parties are re-elected to their current positions.
More NY-Gov: In news involving more realistic prospective candidates for this race, investor and 2010 Comptroller nominee Harry Wilson (R) has announced he is considering the race. Wilson is a wealthy moderate with ties to both Upstate and the suburbs who came close to winning the Comptroller’s office; thus, he could be a strong candidate. Wilson joins Flanagan, moderate Upstate ex-Rep. Richard Hanna (R), and 2014 nominee and Westchester CE Rob Astorino (R) as prospective GOP candidates against Cuomo.
TN-Gov: Businessman and Gov. Haslam administration official Randy Boyd (R) is considering a run for Governor and says he will make a decision within the next month. Antiestablishment-leaning State Sen. Mark Green (R) is the only candidate in the race so far, but multiple other Republicans, including Reps. Diane Black (R) and Marsha Blackburn (R) and State House Speaker Beth Harwell (R), have been rumored to be interested.
FL-7: State Sen. David Simmons (R) is considering a run against freshman Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D), who surprisingly picked up this purple seat last year. Simmons, who represents the bulk of the area, is also considering a run for Attorney General in 2018. Clinton won this seat, which was drawn as a Democratic gerrymander by the idiots in the legislature who feared court interference. Thus, scoring a top recruit like Simmons should be a high priority for the NRCC to ensure this seat is in play before Murphy can become entrenched.
GA-6: Attorney Josh McLaurin (D) is dropping out of this race and backing filmmaker Jon Osoff (D), who has consolidated some establishment Dem support in this race to replace HHS Secretary-designate Tom Price (R). The race for this historically-R north-suburban Atlanta seat is in a Louisiana-Rules Top Two format, meaning that Dems could be boxed out of the likely runoff if their votes are splintered. In addition to Osoff, ex-State Rep. Sally Harrell (D) and ex-State Sen. Ron Slotin (D) are in the race. State Sen. Judson Hill (R) is the only Republican in the race so far, but two others, ex-State Sen. Dan Moody (R) and ex-SoS Karen Handel (R), are seen as near certain to run.
SC-5: Remington Research Group tests a hypothetical GOP primary for Mulvaney’s seat, assuming he’s confirmed, and finds the race up-in-the-air with most candidates unknown. The front-runner with 25% is State Rep. Tommy Pope (R), who is bolstered by higher-than-zero name recognition from his recent exploration of a Governor run (which will likely be aborted now that LG Henry McMaster (R) is able to run as an incumbent). State Rep. Ralph Norman (R), the only candidate to enter the race so far, trails with 9%, and two others are also in single-digits. State Sen. and 2010/14 Gov nominee Vincent Sheheen (D) is considering a run; Sheheen would likely be the only candidate who could put the conservative north-central SC seat even marginally in play for Dems.
FL-Ag. Comm: State Sen. Denise Grimsley (R) is considering a run for Agriculture Commissioner. If Grimsley enters she would join self-funding businessman and former Orlando Mayoral candidate Paul Paulson (R) in the primary. The article also has several other names, all GOP legislators, who are also thought ot be interested in the post. Termed-out incumbent Adam Putnam (R) is likely to run for Governor.
ID-Treas: Investor Kevin Jones (R) has wasted no time in becoming the first to declare his candidacy for the open Treasurer’s seat, after incumbent Ron Crane (R) announced earlier this month that he will not be seeking a fifth term.
NM-LG: Elected State School Board member Jeff Carr (D) is running for LG. New Mexico uses a “shotgun wedding” format in which there are separate primaries for LG and Governor, but the two run together in the general election. With a crowded gubernatorial primary likely but Dems standing a good chance to pick up the gubernatorial seat, launching a standalone LG campaign is probably not a terrible move for Carr.
OH-AG: Ex-US Attorney Steve Dettelbach (D), who was recruited to run for OH-14 last cycle but demurred, is instead raising money for an AG run. If he pulls the trigger, Dettelbach will likely face State Auditor Dave Yost (R) in a competitive general election. Termed-out incumbent Mike DeWine (R) is running for Governor.
TX-AG: AG Ken Paxton (R) is under indictment for securities fraud and has a trial coming up, but that hasn’t slowed down his fundraising. After a drop following the indictment in 2015, he has rebuilt his warchest and is sitting on $4.6M CoH. Paxton’s fundraising is likely helped by his high profile in conservative media, which could help him remain a viable candidate in 2018 if he survives the criminal charges. But of course it will be all for nought if he is convicted. If Paxton is removed from office, State Supreme Court Justice Don Willett (R) is seen as his most likely successor.
NYC-Mayor: A new Quinnipiac poll shows Hillary Clinton (D) would start with a 20 point lead over New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) for NYC mayor, then blow it in the last 3 weeks*. Hillary would lead Mayor deBlasio in a hypothetical Dem primary 61% to 29%. deBlasio does better against his less well known New York City rivals but still only gets 35% (below the 40% threshold to avoid a runoff) in a hypothetical 5 way Democratic primary with Christine Quinn, Scott Stringer,Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, Ruben Diaz and State Sen. Tony Avella.
More NYC-Mayor: Across the aisle, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) has sent out a fundraising email for city councilman Eric Ulrich (R), who is considering a mayoral run. Ulrich has won two terms in a deep-blue Ozone Park, Queens based council district and is known as a strong campaigner, but has little citywide name recognition or personal cash, the two biggest assets a Republican needs in huge and deep-blue NYC. Developer Paul Massey (R), who has already amassed a 7-figure warchest, is the other serious Republican considering a run here.
El Paso-Mayor: This week is filing time for the May 6 El Paso mayoral election. Incumbent Oscar Leeser (D) has announced he will not seek a second term, and it looks like there are three serious candidates to succeed him: city councilwoman Emma Acosta (D), ex-State Rep. Dee Margo (R), who won a State House seat in 2010 before losing it in 2012, and businessman David Saucedo (R), who also served on the state nursing board. The city is heavily Democratic, so I would guess Acosta starts out as the front-runner.
Corpus Christi-Mayor: Here’s a weird one: after just over a month in office, mayor Dan McQueen (R) has resigned, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear. It seems like he couldn’t quite take the heat of the spotlight in office, but there may be something more at play here. To make things even more interesting, city law also seems to be unclear as to the plan of succession. There seems to be a special election required, but it’s unclear on when it will be held. One candidate isn’t letting that stop him though, as ex-city councilman Mark Scott (R) has already announced his intention to run.
Rochester, NY-Mayor: Monroe County commissioner James Sheppard (D), a former police chief, is running for Rochester Mayor. Sheppard will likely run to the right of his two rivals: incumbent Lovely Warren (D), who upset the prior mayor while running on a left-wing platform in 2013, and TV newscaster and former state legislative candidate Rachel Barnhart (D), who has some bold progressive backing.
Albany, NY-Mayor: City council president Carolyn McLaughlin (D) will challenge incumbent Kathy Sheehan (D). This is the latest in a series of battles between the relatively moderate Albany County Machine (of which Sheehan is a member in good standing) and a more liberal faction with a base in the city’s minority communities; the machine faction has generally won most of the battles.
Montgomery, MD-CE: David Trone (D), the liquor store chain owner who spent $9M to earn a place in history – by running the most expensive congressional campaign ever to get 27% and second place in the MD-8 primary last year – is looking at a run for Montgomery County Executive in 2018. Like the MD-8 field last time, this primary is also likely to be very crowded.