Today we’re going to have a little mini-preview look at what’s coming up elections-wise in the next year. Since we will not publish our first full set of 2018 Senate and Governor Ratings until January (and House and Row Officer ratings will wait until later in the year when we have more information available), we are adjusting the following ratings for the elections coming up shortly:
LA-Sen Safe R from Likely R || NJ-Gov Likely D from Lean D
We are also adding one intraparty rating: LA-3 Safe R/Lean Higgins.
New ratings for the 2017 races are below. Here is the Senate/Governor map:
LA-3 (OPEN) Lean Higgins
Bold denotes a seat we project to flip partisan control. Italics denotes a D-held Tossup seat. (*) denotes a formally non-partisan race.
Governors: (June 6 (NJ) and 13 (VA) primaries/November 7 general)
New Jersey Likely D. After two terms of the now extremely-unpopular Gov. Chris Christie (R), New Jersey Republicans will face an uphill battle trying to hold Drumthwacket in 2017. On the Dem side, wealthy former ambassador Phil Murphy (D) is the prohibitive favorite for the nod. Murphy seems to be taking the Corzine route, eliminating primary opposition by buying off the state’s powerful Dem machines. Murphy is likely to prevail easily over his only primary challenger of significance, State Rep. John Wisniewski (D), who has far less cash and machine backing but is hoping to catch lightning in a bottle with an antiestablishment populist-liberal campaign. On the GOP side, State Rep. Jack Ciatarelli (R) is the only candidate of significance in the race so far, but LG Kim Guandagno (R), State Sen. Tom Kean Jr. (R), and State Rep. Jon Bramnick (R) are all thought to be interested in a bid. At this point there is still no clear favorite for the nomination and much will depend on which candidates actually enter, which is still up in the air. The race could also be shaken up dramatically if Guandagno ascends to the top job following a Christie departure to the Trump administration. But thanks to Murphy’s wealth and cleared primary coupled with Christie’s unpopularity and the lean of the state, any Republican will likely face an uphill battle in the general, and Murphy looks more likely than not to be the next Governor of the Garden State.
Virginia Tossup. Owing to Virginia’s unique one-term limit, this will be an open seat in 2017. Democrats’ nominee is LG Ralph Northam (D), who is something of a generic Democrat with some moderate tendencies. Northam’s campaign skills are regarded as mediocre, but he has cleared the primary field and has the lean of the light-blue state on his sight. Republicans have a crowded primary, with four candidates already officially in the race: ex-RNC chair and 2014 Senate nominee Ed Gillespie, Rep. Rob Wittman (R), antiestablishment populist Prince William CE Corey Stewart (R), and State Sen. Frank Wagner (R). All have significant bases of support and could win the primary. Any of the major Republican candidates (save maybe the polarizing Stewart, who has some implosion potential) look likely to be competitive against Northam in the purple to light-blue state, and at this point there is absolutely no clear favorite.
Louisiana (December 10, 2016) Safe R. We will have a full preview of this race on Thursday, but suffice to say that populist Treasurer John Kennedy (R) looks likely to get the seat that eluded him as a Dem in 2004 and a Republican in 2008. Kennedy has a wide lead in polls over Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D).
Alabama (TBD but most likely Spring 2017) Safe R. The special election to replace Sen. and AG-designate Jeff Sessions will likely take place in early 2017, though there is a chance that it will be pushed back to 2018 in violation of the spirit (if not the letter) of state law. Gov. Robert Bentley (R) will appoint a replacement for Sessions; he could appoint a placeholder, but if he does not that appointee will get a leg up in the special. Six Republicans have indicated interest in the seat: AG Luther Strange (R), Reps. Mike Rogers (R), Robert Aderholt (R), and Mo Brooks (R), and State Sens. Del Marsh (R) and Tommy Orr (R). Other candidates, such as SoS John Merrill (R), Treasurer Young Boozer (R), Reps. Martha Roby (R) and Gary Palmer (R), and businessman Dean Young (R), could also be in the mix. The primary and runoff will likely be very crowded and contentious, but the general will likely be easy for the GOP nominee in this inelastic conservative state. Possible Dem candidates could include State Sen. Bill Beasley (D), ex-Surgeon General Regina Benjamin (D), and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox (D).
LA-3 & LA-4 (December 10, 2016) Safe R (LA-3 Safe R/Lean Higgins). We will have full previews of these races on Thursday. LA-3, stretching from Lafayette to Lake Charles, is an R-on-R runoff between Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle (R) and police spokesman and viral video star Clay Higgins (R), while LA-4, based around Shreveport, is between State Rep. Mike Johnson (R) and a Democratic Some Dude.
CA-34 (TBD, but most likely March 7) Safe D. The special to replace California AG Xavier Becerra (D) will likely draw a crowded field for this Hispanic-Majority downtown LA Seat. Ex-State House Speaker John Perez (D) is already in and likely to be the clear front-runner, but multiple other legislators and local officials could be interested. The race will be conducted in Louisiana Rules Top Two format.
GA-6 (TBD Spring 2017) Likely R. The special election to replace HHS Secretary-Designate Tom Price (R) will take place in this formerly heavily Republican but anti-Trump wealthy suburban Atlanta seat. The race will be in Louisiana-Rules Top Two format. State Sen. Judson Hill (R) has already announced a bid. Possible contenders could include Tom’s wife, State Rep. Betty (R), ex-SoS Karen Handel (R), and multiple state legislators on the GOP side, while State Reps. Taylor Bennett (D) and Scott Holcomb (D) have been mentioned as possible Dem contenders.
KS-4 (TBD Spring 2017) Safe R. The special election to replace CIA Director-Designate Mike Pompeo (R) will take place in spring 2017 to fill this Wichita-area deep-red seat. The GOP nominee for the seat will be decided by a convention. Possible candidates include ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), Treasurer Ron Estes (R), Trump campaign official Alan Cobb (R), Wichita councilman Pete Meitzner (R), ex-State Sen. Michael O’Donnell (R), ex-State Rep. Mark Kahrs (R) and Mark Hutton (R), and State Sens. Susan Wagle (R) and Ty Masterson (R) have been mentioned.
Row Officers: Three row officers will have regular elections in 2017, while a fourth will almost certainly see a special election.
VA-LG (June 13 primary/November 7 general) Tossup. This open seat is likely to be a very competitive race. Democrats have a primary favorite in former prosecutor and 2013 AG candidate Justin Fairfax (D), though another former prosecutor, Gene Rossi (D), is also running. Republicans will have a crowded primary between State Sens. Bryce Reeves (R) and Jill Vogel (R) and State Rep. Glenn Davis (R); Reeves looks like a very slight favorite as he has most establishment support outside of NoVa (which is largely in Vogel’s camp), but any of the three could win. The fields could even grow from there as well. Regardless of nominees, the general election will be highly competitive in the purple state.
VA-AG (June 13 primary/November 7 general) Likely D. Incumbent Mark Herring (D) is likely to win a second term; Virginia has not defeated a row officer for re-election since the current 3-officer system (in which Gov, LG, and AG are the only statewide elected officials) was implemented in the 1920s. Herring will likely face former prosecutor John Adams (R), who has fundraised well but has little name recognition. One other candidate, State Sen. Bill Stanley (R), is still considering the race and might be the favorite in the primary were he to enter. However, barring something unexpected this race seems ot be a lower priority fr the VA GOP relative to the Governor and LG contests.
WI-Supt (February 21 primary/April 4 general) Lean D. This race is technically non-partisan, but incumbent Tony Evers (D) is known to be a Dem and has broad support with left-of-center groups. Three serious right-of-center candidates are vying to take him on in the California-Rules Top Two race. Ex-Beloit superintendent Lowell Holtz (R), Germantown superintendent Jeff Holmes (R), and school administrator John Humphries (R). Holtz looks like a slight favorite over the other two Republicans. Evers has proven a tough opponent in his two terms and looks like a slight favorite for a third against any of his Republican opponents.
LA-Treas (possible special, likely March 25 or October 14) Should Treasurer John Kennedy (R) win the Senate election as expected, his seat will be filled by his top deputy for a year until a special election. If Kennedy resigns immediately, the special will be held on March, while if he waits until January to resign it will likely be held in the fall of 2017. In any case, one candidate, State Rep. John Schroder (R), has already said he will run. Ex-State House Speaker Chuck Kleckley (R) is also considered a possible candidate, as he was considered all but certain to seek the seat in 2015 if Kennedy had not run again. State Sens. Norby Chabert (R), Neil Riser (R), and Mike Walsworth (R), and State Reps. Paul Hollis (R) and Julie Stokes (R) have also got Great Mentioner treatment. Former Senate candidate Rob Maness (R) and ex-Jefferson CE John Young (R) could also be worth watching. No Dems have as yet expressed interest in this seat; outgoing New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (D) is probably the only one who would stand a good chance of making it competitive. With the election being a free ride for all comers the field is likely to be crowded.
Legislatures: There are 3 legislative chambers up in 2017, two more special elections that will determine chamber control, and the potential for multiple special elections in NC.
NJ State Senate: Democrats hold a 24-16 majority in the Senate, and thanks to an exceptionally strong gerrymander, that is unlikely to change by more than a seat or two. Dems look more likely than not to gain seats, particularly SD-7, a deep-blue seat where the popular GOP incumbent is likely to retire, and two swingy GOP-held seats in SD-11 and SD-16. Republicans have reasonable targets in South Jersey seats of SD-1, which is competitive but has a strong Dem incumbent, and SD-2, where the Dem incumbent is likely to retire and both House members (one of each party) are likely to run.
NJ State House: Democrats hold a 52-28 majority in the House, which uses the same gerrymandered maps as the Senate. Republicans have targets in LD-1 and LD-11, while the split-party districts of LD-2 and LD-16 are also likely to be competitive.
VA State House: Republicans hold a 66-34 majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, which is unlikely to change very much as the maps are a strong GOP gerrymander. Each side has about 5 reasonable seats to target.
Chamber-Deciding Legislative Specials: There are two key special elections in 2017 that will determine the control of their respective chambers. WA-SD-45 is a special election for a medium-blue GOP held suburban seat around Kirkland. This area is historically-Republican but now D-leaning and trending even harder left with Trump, so the special will likely be hard-fought. It will be filled by a GOP appointee in November, giving Republicans a 25-24 advantage in the Senate for 2017. If Democrats win they will flip that margin. DE-SD-10, a medium-blue seat south of Newark, will see a special election next spring. The race for the previously D-held seat will determine who takes control by an 11-10 margin in the Delaware Senate.
NC Re-Redistricting: There is also a decent chance a number of NC districts will need to be redrawn ahead of special elections next year. I will post my proposed redraw shortly, but it generally looks like about half the legislature will get new districts, including almost all the Democrats in the legislature and around a quarter of each chamber’s Republicans. However, there is the possibility that the call for new elections will be rejected on appeal and the redraw will not take place until 2018.
There are too many here to preview, but I will flag the major cities and counties that have elections next year along with their dates.
County Executives: Five big counties have County Executives up. Dane, WI – February 21 || King, WA – August 1 || Nassau, NY – September 12 || Westchester, NY – September 12 || Rockland, NY – September 12
Mayors: Over 40 major cities will have mayoral elections next year. The dates are for the first round of each election. We will have full previews of these elections as they get closer. The most immediate mayoral race is next week in Baton Rouge. (December 10, 2016.) We will have a full preview of this race on Thursday. The runoff is between ex-State Sen. Sharon Weston-Broome (D) and State Sen. Bodi White (R).
(Spring Season) – Aurora, IL – February 28 || Los Angeles – March 7 || St. Louis – March 7 || Omaha – April 4 || Henderson, NV – April 4 || North Las Vegas – April 4 || San Antonio – May 6 || Fort Worth – May 6 || El Paso – May 6 || Plano – May 6 || Garland, TX – May 6 || Irving, TX – May 6 || Pittsburgh – May 16
(Fall Season) – Seattle – August 1 || Tacoma – August 1 || Detroit – August 8 || Birmingham – August 22 || Mobile – August 22 || St. Petersburg – August 29 || New York – September 12 || Charlotte – September 12 || Cleveland – May 2 || Cincinnati – May 2 || Toledo – May 2 || Buffalo – September 12 || Rochester, NY – September 12 || Boston – September 26 || Albuquerque – October 3 || Raleigh – October 10 || Greensboro – October 10 || Durham – October 10 || Fayetteville, NC – October 10 || New Orleans – October 14 || Atlanta – November 7 || Miami – November 7 || Minneapolis – November 7 || St. Paul – November 7 || Jersey City – November 7 || Hialeah – November 7 || San Bernardino – November 7