Arizona’s new districts are final—and they offer a difficult landscape for Democrats

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The biggest transformation working against Arizona Democrats is in the new 2nd District, which draws about 64% of its residents from the old 1st, held by Blue Dog Rep. Tom O’Halleran. The previous version went for Biden 50-48, but the redrawn district is considerably redder, at 53-45 Trump, per Dave’s Redistricting App.

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This sprawling seat remains based in Flagstaff and still covers much of northern and eastern rural Arizona (including the Navajo Nation), but it lost some suburban turf around its edges and instead gained the retiree-heavy, dark-red town of Prescott from the old 4th District. The moderate O’Halleran, a former Republican state lawmaker who switched parties years ago, is a good fit for the area and has said he’ll seek re-election, but this seat may just be too conservative even for him to hang on to.

The new 6th District also presents a problem for Team Blue. The inheritor to the 2nd, from which it takes 69% of its population, the 6th continues to include the Anglo parts of Tucson and its suburbs, but it added some reddish towns like Casa Grande. As a result, it would have gone for Biden by just a tenth of a percentage point—49.3 to 49.2. That’s a considerable drop from the 55-44 Biden margin in the old 2nd, and with Democratic Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick retiring, this is now a difficult defense.

Another district that got redder is the new 4th, centered on the college town of Tempe in Phoenix’s southern suburbs. This is the descendant of the old 9th (responsible for 70% of the new seat’s residents), represented by Democratic Rep. Greg Stanton, except it hands off a blue slice of Phoenix to the 1st and instead picks up more of the conservative suburbs of Mesa. That transforms it from a 61-37 Biden seat to one he would have won 54-44. In a rough midterm for Democrats, it can’t be considered entirely safe.

On the flipside, Democrats will be eager to target the revamped 1st District, the successor to the old 6th, where 75% of its constituents hail from. The district is still centered around Phoenix’s affluent eastern suburbs, which have fled from Republicans in recent years. GOP Rep. David Schweikert won re-election just 52-48 in 2020 under the old lines, which saw the 6th go 51-47 for Trump. The new 1st, by contrast, would have gone 50-49 for Biden. Schweikert might survive again thanks to the usual midterm environment, but the trends in this area don’t favor him.

The remaining districts experienced far less upheaval. The 5th and 8th (in Phoenix’s southeastern and western suburbs, respectively, and held by Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Debbie Lesko) retained their numbering and their dark-red status. The 9th (formerly the 4th, held by Republican Rep. Paul Gosar), a mix of the state’s rural west and western exurbs of Phoenix, remains the state’s darkest-red district.  However, the new 9th went “only” 62-36 for Trump, compared with 68-31 under the old lines, as it gave up Prescott and instead took on a bigger slice of Phoenix’s exurbs.

Meanwhile, the 3rd and 7th, which are the state’s two Latino-majority districts, essentially swapped numbers while keeping most of their current territory and remaining dark blue. The only difference is that Phoenix-based Rep. Ruben Gallego will now run in the 3rd and Rep. Raul Grijalva will run in the Tucson-based 7th.

Redistricting

Stay on top of the map-making process in all 50 states by bookmarking our invaluable redistricting timeline tracker, updated daily.

MS Redistricting: Republican Gov. Tate Reeves has signed Mississippi’s new congressional map, which maintains the GOP’s 3-1 advantage in the state’s congressional delegation. Legislative redistricting still has yet to take place.

OH Redistricting: Republicans on Ohio’s bipartisan redistricting commission once again approved legislative maps on a party-line vote on Saturday to replace maps the state Supreme Court struck down as illegal partisan gerrymanders earlier this month. Democrats on the commission say that the GOP’s new plans still fail to adhere to a requirement in the state constitution that the number of districts that favor each party must “correspond closely” to voters’ statewide preferences—the chief reason a majority of justices found the original maps were invalid.

The court also stated in its ruling that it would “retain jurisdiction for the purpose of reviewing the new plan adopted by the commission.” Challengers have until Tuesday to file objections to these latest maps.

4Q fundraising

  • IN-Sen: Todd Young (R-inc): $1.5 million raised, $6 million cash-on-hand
  • MN-Gov: Scott Jensen (R): $1.23 million raised (since March), $800,000 cash-on-hand
  • PA-Gov: Josh Shapiro (D): $6.3 million raised, $13.5 million cash-on-hand
  • CA-45: Michelle Steel (R-inc): $810,000 raised, $1.7 million cash-on-hand
  • NJ-11: Mikie Sherrill (D-inc): $776,000 raised, $5.1 million cash-on-hand
  • NV-03: Susie Lee (D-inc): $620,000 raised, $1.79 million cash-on-hand
  • OR-05: Kurt Schrader (D-inc): $427,000 raised, $3.56 million cash-on-hand

Senate

NC-Sen, NC-07: While former GOP Rep. Mark Walker had a Monday press conference scheduled to announce his final 2022 plans, he’ll now be making that declaration at a Thursday night rally in Greensboro. (Though as McClatchy’s Danielle Battaglia put it, “I’m pretty sure this will be his third or fourth announcement about what he will do since November.”)

Governors

AK-Gov: Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce on Friday announced that he’ll challenge his fellow Republican, Gov. Mike Dunleavy, in the August top-four primary. He joins a field that already includes GOP state Rep. Christopher Kurkal; former Democratic state Rep. Les Gara; and Dunleavy’s immediate predecessor, independent Bill Walker.

Pierce, whose community is home to about 8% of the state’s population, has spent the pandemic loudly questioning the value of masking and vaccines while extolling ivermectin, the horse dewormer the FDA has warned should never be used to treat or prevent COVID-19. The borough mayor didn’t fault Dunleavy’s handling of the pandemic on Friday, though he still called for the state to make it easier for ivermectin to be prescribed. Instead, Pierce argued that neither Dunleavy nor Walker had achieved many positive results while in office, saying, “I think if we go with either one of them, we will have another four years of the same results.”

AL-Gov: State Auditor Jim Zeigler, citing weak fundraising for his exploratory committee, has announced that he won’t challenge Gov. Kay Ivey in the Republican primary after all. At least this time he didn’t self-publish a novel about a gubernatorial campaign he didn’t end up competing in.  

IL-Gov: The Republican firm Victory Research, which says it has no client here, finds Democratic incumbent J.B. Pritzker far ahead in the first poll we’ve seen testing him against any of his declared GOP foes. Pritzker defeats businessman Gary Rabine by a wide 52-28, while each of the other four Republicans fare even worse.

MI-Gov: EPIC-MRA’s new poll for several Michigan media outlets has Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer defeating one of her Republican opponents, former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, 46-41, which is an improvement from her 45-44 edge in the firm’s August survey. We’ve seen two other polls so far this year: An independent survey from the Glengariff Group found Whitmer beating James 49-39 and doing even better against other Republicans, while a James internal from ARW Strategies showed them deadlocked 46-46.

NY-Gov: Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul has picked up an endorsement from New York State United Teachers.

OH-Gov: Former Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley has released a Clarity Campaign Labs survey giving her a 33-20 lead over former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley in the May Democratic primary, with a 48% plurality undecided. This is the first poll we’ve seen of the match between Whaley and Cranley, whose terms as mayor each expired near the start of the month, for the right to take on Republican Gov. Mike DeWine.

Meanwhile, a pro-DeWine dark money group called Free Ohio PAC is spending $220,000 on TV ads that will air on Fox and radio spots promoting the incumbent as a conservative.

WI-Gov: Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch has earned an endorsement from the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which is the equivalent of the state chamber of commerce, for the August Republican primary. Meanwhile, conservative megadonor Dick Uihlein put out a public statement Monday calling for businessman Kevin Nicholson to run for governor and promising that he’d “have my full support and commitment to win the primary and general elections.” Uihlein notably spent a massive $11 million to support Nicholson in his unsuccessful 2018 campaign for the GOP Senate nod.

House

CA-03: Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican who lost a tight 2016 campaign against Democratic Rep. Ami Bera in the old 7th Congressional District, announced Monday that he’d compete for the new open 3rd District. Jones joins GOP Assemblyman Kevin Kiley and Democrat Kermit Jones, a physician and Navy veteran, in the June top-two primary for a seat in the eastern suburbs of Sacramento that would have supported Donald Trump by a small 50-48 margin.

Scott Jones was an all-star GOP recruit in 2016 when he took on Bera, a Democrat who had only narrowly won re-election during the previous cycle’s GOP wave. The congressman had gone on to alienate plenty of labor groups by supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Republicans relentlessly attacked him after his father was sentenced to prison for trying to illegally funnel money to Bera’s campaign (the congressman himself was never accused of any wrongdoing).

Jones, however, earned his own share of bad headlines after the public learned that a former subordinate had accused him of making unwanted sexual advances over a period of two years, from 2003 to 2005. Jones denied the accusations in a sworn statement, though in an odd aside in the Sacramento Bee‘s write-up of the story, he apparently said he “never had any physical contact” with her “of an intimate nature” … “except once.” (The first two quoted remarks were from Jones’ statement; the latter was the paper’s wording.) The GOP nominee also had to grapple with Trump’s toxicity in suburban areas like the 7th.

Outside groups from both parties spent huge amounts here, though Bera himself enjoyed a massive financial edge over Jones. The 7th ended up backing Hillary Clinton 52-41 four years after it supported Barack Obama 51-47, and while Jones ran far ahead of the ticket, Bera ultimately held on 51-49 in a race that took weeks to call. That bloody campaign, though, didn’t end Jones’ political career in Sacramento County, which has long been a Democratic bastion in federal elections: The sheriff took 51% of the vote in the four-way June 2018 nonpartisan primary, which was just enough for him to win outright.

While Jones will be seeking a GOP-leaning constituency this time, however, his Sacramento County base makes up just 16% of the population of the new 3rd, though all of these residents also live within the boundaries of the old 7th. Kiley, by contrast, represents 58% of the new 3rd in the legislature.

CO-05: The nonpartisan Office of Congressional Ethics released a report on Monday concluding that there is “substantial reason to believe” that Republican Rep. Doug Lamborn misused official resources by having congressional staff perform personal and campaign-related tasks for him and his wife, Jeanie. Those alleged tasks included running errands, moving furniture at the couple’s home, throwing a party for their daughter-in-law, and helping their son apply for jobs—even “assisting with mock interview questions.”

The report also said that Lamborn may have compelled his staff to give him and his wife gifts for their birthdays and on Christmas, something that violates House ethics rules and federal law. Lamborn claimed the gift-giving was mutual, but the OCE says it “did not find any evidence that staffers received the same type of gifts Rep. Lamborn and Mrs. Lamborn received during special occasions.”

These allegations were previously aired by a former aide named Brandon Pope, who last year filed a lawsuit accusing Lamborn of firing him in retaliation for raising concerns about the congressman’s “reckless” approach to COVID safety in his congressional office. Pope also claimed that Lamborn had allowed his son “to live in a storage area in the basement of the U.S. Capitol for a period of weeks,” though the OCE did not address that charge.

The office recommended that the House Ethics Committee continue to investigate the matter, which the committee said it would do.

CO-07: State Rep. Brianna Titone has announced that she’ll support state Sen. Brittany Pettersen in the June Democratic primary for this open seat rather than run herself.

GA-06: Republican Rich McCormick unsurprisingly earned an endorsement from the Club for Growth, which backed him to the hilt in his unsuccessful 2020 campaign for the old 7th District, in his bid for the new and solidly red 6th.

IL-06: The Office of Congressional Ethics released a report on Monday concluding that there was “substantial reason to believe” that Rep. Marie Newman “may have promised federal employment to a primary opponent for the purpose of procuring political support” during her successful 2020 campaign to unseat conservative Rep. Dan Lipinski in the Democratic primary, an action that would violate both government ethics rules and federal law.

The report also revealed that the OCE, which is an independent body, voted unanimously in October to forward its findings to the House Ethics Committee, with a recommendation that the committee “further review” the allegations.

At issue is a contract Newman signed with a history professor named Iymen Chehade at the end of 2018—following her first bid against Lipinski, which she lost 51-49—promising to hire him as a foreign policy advisor should she be elected to Congress. Newman beat Lipinski 47-45 in their rematch, then comfortably won the general election, but she did not honor the employment agreement. That prompted Chehade to file a lawsuit, which was settled last year.

However, when filing his suit, Chehade also alleged that Newman had struck a deal with him for another reason: to ensure he wouldn’t run against her in the primary. The OCE agreed, saying Newman “likely was motivated” by this aim, citing an email from Chehade to Newman in which he summarized their proposed arrangement. “Chehade agrees not to announce or submit his candidacy for election to Congressional Representative of the 3rd District of Illinois,” he wrote. “In exchange, Newman will hire Chehade as her Chief Foreign Policy Advisor.”

Newman claimed she reacted to Chehade’s summary with “outrage” in a phone call, but the OCE responded that this assertion was “not supported by the documentary evidence.” Instead, Newman wrote back several days later to say, “Most of it looks good. Couple of concerns -mostly phraseology.” The OCE concluded that Newman “had knowledge of Mr. Chehade’s intent to run” for office when she signed the contract “promising him future employment in her official office if he did not submit or announce his candidacy for the same congressional seat.”

Federal law prohibits a candidate for office from promising to use their position to grant a political appointment “for the purpose of procuring support in [their] candidacy.” Willful violations of the statute can carry a punishment of two years in prison.

Chehade did not cooperate with OCE investigators, claiming that to do so might violate the nondisclosure agreement he signed as part of his settlement with Newman. However, the OCE recommended that the Ethics Committee use its subpoena power to secure testimony from Chehade. The committee said it would “review the matter” in a statement on Monday.

Newman is seeking re-election, but thanks to redistricting, she’s facing a June primary battle in the new 6th District with a fellow incumbent, Rep. Sean Casten. Running in the new and open 3rd, meanwhile, is Chehade.

IL-13: Former federal prosecutor Jesse Reising has kicked off a campaign for the Republican nod in the revamped 13th District, which stretches from East St. Louis northeast through Springfield to the college towns of Champaign and Urbana. It will be very difficult for any Republican to prevail here: The Democratic legislature utterly transformed this seat from a 51-47 Trump constituency to a district that would have backed Joe Biden 54-43, and even Republican Rep. Rodney Davis opted to take his chances in a primary for the safely red 15th rather than try to defend it.

IN-09: Army veteran Stu Barnes-Israel, who earned a Bronze Star in Afghanistan, announced Friday that he would compete in the May Republican primary to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth in this safely red seat in southeastern Indiana. The only other notable Republican candidate so far is state Sen. Erin Houchin, who lost the 2016 primary to Hollingsworth, and the Feb. 4 filing deadline isn’t far off.  

MI-12: A Target Insyght Democratic primary poll for the Michigan Democratic Party Black Caucus, which was obtained by Jewish Insider, shows Rep. Rashida Tlaib beating Westland Mayor William Wild 62-13 in a hypothetical August contest. Wild hasn’t announced anything yet, but the two former state representatives who have entered the race do even worse: Phil Cavanagh, who launched on Jan. 17, is in fifth with just 3%, while Shanelle Jackson’s support rounds down to 0%.

MI-13: State Sen. Adam Hollier on Monday that he would seek the Democratic nod for this open and safely blue Detroit-based seat. Hollier made his declaration the same day that Jewish Insider reported on a Target Insyght poll for the Michigan Democratic Black Caucus that showed two people who don’t appear to have even publicly expressed interest, former Detroit General Counsel Sharon McPhail and ex-Rep. Hansen Clarke, leading in a hypothetical August primary field, while the state senator himself has yet to gain traction among respondents.

McPhail and Clarke take 25% and 23%, respectively, with Detroit School Board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, who is running, in third with 11%. Another declared candidate, wealthy state Rep. Shri Thanedar, ties Michigan Civil Rights Commissioner Portia Roberson, who also isn’t currently running, for fourth with 7% each, while Hollier is just behind with 5%. Teach for America official Michael Griffie, who is running, has 4%, while just 1% goes to his rival, former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee. Michigan’s filing deadline isn’t until mid-April, so it may be a while before the field firms up.

NJ-11: Morris County Surrogate Heather Darling said over the weekend that she was interested in seeking the Republican nod to take on Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill.

NY-24: Syracuse Common Councilor Chol Majok, who serves on the local equivalent of a city council, announced Friday that he would compete for the Democratic nomination to succeed Rep. John Katko, a Republican who announced his retirement the week before. Majok as a child arrived in the United States as a refugee from what is now South Sudan, and he won his current post by unseating an incumbent in the 2019 primary.

RI-02, RI-Gov: Nonprofit head Omar Bah and former state party chair Ed Pacheco are the first two notable Democrats to announce bids to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Jim Langevin, while state Sen. Jessica de la Cruz is seeking the Republican nod. Bah, who survived torture in The Gambia before immigrating to the United States, heads a group that aids in refugee resettlement and he would be Rhode Island’s first Black member of Congress, while Pacheco is a former state representative. De la Cruz, meanwhile, serves as minority whip in the state Senate, where her party holds just five of the 38 seats.

However, much of the chatter in recent days has been about people who aren’t currently running. The Boston Globe reported over the weekend that unnamed Democratic “[p]owerbrokers” fear that a packed September nomination fight could give two-time Republican gubernatorial nominee and possible congressional candidate Allan Fung an opening in what’s currently a 56-43 Biden seat, and that they’re hoping to clear the field by convincing one of Gov. Dan McKee’s three serious primary foes to run here instead.

Two of them, Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea and former CVS executive Helena Foulkes, quickly made it clear they were staying in the gubernatorial primary, but the third sent some very different signals. State Treasurer Seth Magaziner, reports Rhode Island Public Radio’s Ian Donnis, “called supporters Sunday morning to say he was switching” to the congressional race, but he’d “put the brakes, at least for now” on that plan by the end of the day. Magaziner himself put out a statement that very much didn’t rule anything out, saying, “While I feel I owe it to those who have reached out to consider that possibility, I also believe strongly in our campaign to bring strong economic leadership to the governor’s office and remain in the race for governor at this time.”

Several more Democrats, meanwhile, are talking about joining Bah and Pacheco in the contest to succeed Langevin. Perhaps the most high-profile new name is outgoing Rhode Island Department of Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott, who had already announced her departure prior to Langevin’s retirement declaration last week. Alexander-Scott, like Bah, would be the state’s first Black member; the health director would also be the second ever-woman elected to represent Rhode Island in D.C., a distinction that would be shared by de la Cruz as well as several potential candidates. (Republican Claudine Schneider was elected to a previous version of the 2nd in 1980, and she gave it up a decade later to wage an unsuccessful Senate campaign.)

More Democrats also have also said they’re interested in running: Joy Fox, who is a former Langevin staffer; former state Rep. Stephen Ucci; and National Education Association of Rhode Island executive director Robert Walsh. The Globe, additionally, reports that state Rep. Joseph Solomon is considering. State Rep. Carol McEntee also said Saturday she would “be saying more this coming week,” while state Sen. Joshua Miller has promised a decision in “the coming days.”

State Rep. Teresa Tanzi, meanwhile, said she wouldn’t run if Alexander-Scott got in. We also got definitive noes from a few Democrats: former Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Brendan Doherty; Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza; state Senate Majority Leader Michael McCaffrey; and state Rep. Thomas Noret.

TX-28: Henry Cuellar is forging ahead like his home and campaign HQ were not both raided by the FBI last week: The conservative Democrat is airing a new TV ad in both English and Spanish touting his roots and promising to “never stop fighting for South Texas.” There’s no word on the size of the buy, though Cuellar’s campaign previously said it ended 2020 with $2.3 million in the bank.

Speaking of the raid, though, ABC’s Mike Levin reports that Cuellar, his wife, and “at least one of his campaign staffers” have also been hit with subpoenas as part of a still-unclear federal probe that apparently concerns the western Asia nation of Azerbaijan. Levine’s piece sheds some light, though, on Cuellar’s connections to the oil-rich former Soviet republic, as does another recent article from the Daily Beast.

Legislatures

Special Elections: We have one race on Tuesday in Connecticut:

CT HD-144: Democrat Caroline Simmons resigned last year after being elected mayor of Stamford, and two candidates are competing to succeed her in a seat that backed Hillary Clinton 58-38. The Democrats are fielding Army reservist Hubert Delany, while the GOP has nominated Danny Melchionne, a registered respiratory therapist. Democrats control the chamber 95-53, with one other Democratic-held seat and one GOP constituency also vacant.

Mayors

Milwaukee, WI Mayor: Milwaukee Works, which urbanmilwaukee.com calls a “501(c)(4) that periodically polls on local policy issues and candidates,” has released a survey from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling that finds a competitive Feb. 15 nonpartisan primary. Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson leads with 25%, while former Alderman Bob Donovan, who is the rare conservative politician in this heavily Democratic city, leads state Sen. Lena Taylor 18-13 for the second spot in the April 5 general election. A recent Johnson internal from Global Strategy Group also put his support at 25%, but that poll had Taylor beating out Donovan 18-14.





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