Last night in Virginia, the Governor nominees weren’t surprising, but their margins were. LG Ralph Northam (D) prevailed by a surprisingly robust 12 points, while ex-RNC Chair Ed Gillespie (R) squeaked to a 1-point victory over Prince William CE and self-hating Yankee Corey Stewart. For LG, 2013 AG candidate Justin Fairfax (D) and State Sen. Jill Vogel (D) will face off. There were no particular surprises in the House of Delegates primaries, with one minor exception: Banker Mavis Taintor (D), who self-funded an insane $175K (!) for her bid in Loudon County’s LD-33, lost her primary 52-48 to a more traditionally-spending candidate. Hopefully for her Taintor self-funded most of that cash as a loan rather than a gift. In Las Vegas, Steve Seroka (D) ousted incumbent Bob Beers (R) for council district 2 while ex-State Rep. Michele Fiore (R) picked up the open district 6.
IN-Sen: State Rep. Mike Braun (R), who is in his second term representing a rural Southwestern Indiana seat, will explore a run against Sen. Joe Donnelly (D). Braun is the first candidate to definitively declare interest in this race, but is definitely well into the “C” list. Three far bigger names, Reps. Luke Messer (R) and Todd Rokita (R) and AG Curtis Hill (R), are thought to be considering the race, and it’s hard to see Braun as any kind of threat to them in the primary.
TN-Sen: Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) announced last week that she would not challenge Sen. Bob Corker (R) in 2018, though she has not shut the door on a gubernatorial bid. Corker has announced he would not run for Governor, but has not firmly declared whether he will seek a third term in the Senate. Presumably Blackburn’s Senate calculations would change if the seat were to come open.
UT-Sen: The Romney for Senate speculation machine continues to churn, as Mitt has announced he remain active in politics by forming a SuperPAC designed to help House Republicans in 2018. Biden has encouraged Romney to run for the seat of Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), and Romney did nothing to brush away that suggestion when the two appeared together last week.
AL-Gov: Medical technology executive Josh Jones (R) is the latest candidate into this increasingly crowded primary. Jones joins (deep breath) Ag Commissioner John McMillan (R), PSC Chair Twinkle Cavanaugh (R), Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R), Jefferson County commissioner David Carrington (R), and minister Scott Dawson (R) in the race. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has not indicated whether or not she will seek a full term and says she may not make an announcement until the fall.
FL-Gov: Now here’s something you don’t see every day: A prospective Democratic candidate holding a fundraiser for a prospective Republican rival. But that’s exactly what wealthy ambulance-chasing trail lawyer John Morgan (D) is doing for State House Speaker Rich Corcoran (R). Morgan, a staunch booster of medical marijuana, is holding the fundraiser as thanks to Corcoran for his work in making the state’s medical pot statute more permissive. Though neither has declared for the gubernatorial race yet, both men have said they are actively exploring bids. Morgan would join ex-Rep. Gwen Graham (D), Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), and businessman Chris King (D) on the Dem side. Corcoran would join Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) in the GOP primary, with Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) also considering.
MI-Gov: Businessman Shri Thanedar (D) is the latest candidate to officially enter this race. Thanedar has indicated he will partially self-fund; he will face ex-State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D), businessman Bill Cobbs (D), and Detroit official Abul El-Sayed (D) in the Dem primary, with Macomb CE Mark Hackel (D) the biggest name still considering a run. On the GOP side, LG Brian Calley (R), AG Bill Schuete (R), and State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R) look like the major possible contenders.
PA-Gov: Businessman Kris Hart (R), who had been exploring a run for US Senate, will instead seek the nomination to challenge Gov. Tom Wolf (D). Hart joins State Sen. Scott Wagner (R) and businessman Paul Mango (R) in the race, with State House Speaker Mike Turzai (R) and ex-LG Jim Cawley (R) considering runs as well.
RI-Gov: Republicans have their first candidate making serious moves toward challenging Gov. Gina Raimondo (D). Ex-State Rep. Joe Trillo (R), who retired in 2016, is preparing a run and seems to be staking out a position as a Trumpist, which might be a questionable strategy in the deep-blue state. Cranston Mayor and 2014 nominee Alan Fung (R) is widely thought likely to make another bid, and a couple other Republicans are considering. The fiscally moderate Raimondo may face a significant primary challenge from her left as well, though no Democrats have made concrete moves toward the race yet.
CO-2: 2014 SoS nominee and Hickenlooper admin official Joe Neguse (D) announced a bid for Congress Tuesday, and quickly secured several prominent endorsements, including from ex-State House Speaker Dickey Lee Hullinghorst (D). Two other Dems, 2000 CO-6 nominee Ken Toltz (D) and executive Shannon Watts (D), who are both also prominent gun-control activists, are also publicly considering the race.
GA-6: A SUSA poll shows the race between ex-SoS Karen Handel (R) and
Han Solo impersonator former congressional staffer Jon Ossoff (D) tied at 47, a significant improvement for Handel from their prior poll, where Ossoff led by 7 points. The closely-watched runoff for this seat is this coming Tuesday.
NC-9: Megachurch pastor and 2016 candidate Mark Harris (R) is resigning to consider another congressional run. Harris fell just short by 135 votes in a three-way race against Rep. Robert Pittenger (R). Pittenger has had multiple controversies related to questionable business dealings and making racist remarks on national TV, so there is a strong possibility he could be vulnerable to a primary in 2018; he is also high on retirement watchlists.
NH-1: State Sen. Andy Sanborn (R) announced Tuesday that he would run against on-again/off-again Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) in this purple seat. Sanborn, known as a staunch conservative with libertarian tendencies, joins former local police chief Eddie Edwards (R) in the GOP primary.
NY-22: State Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D) is considering a run against Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) in 2018. Brindisi considered a run for the open seat, and was heavily recruited by national Dems, in 2016 before deciding not to run. This formerly light-red seat moved strongly right in 2016, but the conservative Tenney fell short of a majority, winning 47-40 in a 3-way race.
OH-2: Jerry Springer (D) has been floated for multiple offices by Ohio Democrats in recent years, including for this cycle’s Governor race. But it seems he may have a different seat in mind, as someone has apparently been polling Springer against Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R). This deep-red Cincinnati-area seat would likely be a tough hill to climb for Springer or any other Democrat.
TN-6: Prominent pro-Trump talking head Scottie Nell Hughes (R), who also runs a pro-Trump press group, will consider a run for this deep-red central Tennessee seat if Rep. Diane Black (R) gives it up to run for Governor. Hughes, the first candidate to publicly declare interest in the seat, has said that she would not challenge Black in the primary.
WI-6: Nonprofit exec Dan Kohl (D), nephew of ex-Sen. Herb (D), will challenge Rep. Glenn Grothman (R) for this medium-red seat stretching from the northern Milwaukee suburbs to Oshkosh.
State & Local:
AL-AG: Former US Attorney Alice Martin (R), who also served as chief deputy to now-Sen. Luther Strange (R) when he was AG, will run for the AG slot in 2018. Martin will face appointed incumbent Steve Marshall (R), whose appointment by disgraced then-Gov. Robert Bentley (R) may be problematic for his chances of keeping the seat. However, Martin may find hitting Marshall on his Bentley ties problematic herself, as she interviewed for the appointment as well.
CA-LG: Ex-Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin (G), who for her eight years from 2006-2014 made Richmond by far the largest city with a Green Party Mayor, will run for LG in 2018. McLaughlin’s odds are probably long with several prominent Dems in the race, but she has a chance to stake out a position as the farthest-left candidate in an already-left-wing field. McLaughlin will face State Sen. Ed Hernandez (D), former Ambassadors Eleni Kounalakis (D) and Jeff Bleich (D), and physician Asif Mahmood (D), and likely others, in this race.
FL-Ag Comm: Ex-State Rep. Baxter Troutman (R) is running for Ag Commissioner, becoming the fourth Republican into this primary. Troutman joins State Sen. Denise Grimsley (R), State Rep. Matt Caldwell (R), and 2015 Orlando Mayoral candidate Paul Paulson (R) in the race.
FL-CFO: CFO Jeff Atwater (R) will resign on June 30th to take an academic position. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is tasked with appointing his replacement. One possible appointee took his name out of the running this week though, as State Sen. Jack Latvala (R) announced he was not interested in being appointed. The move probably means Latvala is considering his 2018 options as running for Governor and bowing out of politics entirely.
KS-SoS: Sedgwick County Clerk and KSGOP chair Kelly Arnold (R) is the first person to consider a run for the open seat of SoS Kris Kobach (R), who is running for Governor. With his base in the Wichita area and institutional ties, Arnold would likely be a formidable candidate for the seat.
NM-LG: Ex-State Rep. Rick Miera (D), the former House Majority leader until his 2014 retirement, will explore a run for LG in this shotgun-wedding primary. Miera joins two little-known candidates, civil servant David McTeigue (D) and teacher Jeff Carr (D), in the Dem primary race, and thus would seem to be the front-runner. The primary winner will be combined on a ticket with the winner of the (entirely separate) Gov primary.
Mobile-Mayor: Ex-Mayor Sam Jones (D) will kick off a run to get his old job back this Saturday. Jones served two terms as Mayor before losing his 2013 to re-election race to now-incumbent Sandy Stimpson (R). Jones will likely face a rematch with Stimpson in this year’s race, in late August.
CA-SD-29: Legislative Democrats are pushing bills to delay the state’s recall process in order to help State Sen. Josh Newman (D). Newman won a formerly-red Orange County seat in 2016 in a considerable upset and is now the target of a recall campaign by Republicans upset with his vote for a recent tax hike. The bills under consideration would slow down the recall process so that a successful Newman recall effort would be unlikely to trigger an election before the 2018 general election.