A House retirement sets off a game of musical chairs in Detroit

However, it’s far from guaranteed that Tlaib will have a clear path to victory in the August Democratic primary in the new 12th, which includes the west side of Detroit as well as Dearborn, Livonia, and other nearby communities. The Detroit News’ ​​Melissa Nann Burke mentions several local politicians as possible candidates, though none of them appear to have publicly expressed interest yet:

  • Wayne County Commissioner Sam Baydoun
  • State Rep. Kyra Harris Bolden
  • Oakland County Deputy Executive Rudy Hobbs
  • Wayne County Commissioner David Knezek
  • State Sen. Jeremy Moss
  • Dearborn City Council President Mike Sareini
  • Westland Mayor William Wild

Over in the 13th, which includes most of Detroit, state Rep. Shri Thanedar announced a bid last week and has pledged to self-fund $5 million. Thanedar ran for governor in 2018 but placed a distant third in the primary with just 18% despite heavy spending, but he bounced back two years later by moving from Ann Arbor to Detroit to win a crowded nomination battle for the state House, again with a big assist from his own wallet. 

Campaign Action

Thanedar already has opposition, though. Detroit School Board member Sherry Gay-Dagnogo, who was termed out of the state House last year, quickly announced her own campaign, while Teach for America official Michael Griffie has also filed here. State Sen. Adam Hollier and state Rep. Abraham Aiyash each did not rule anything out in turn.

Jonathan Kinloch, who serves as party chair of the current 13th District, also relayed that state Sen. Marshall Bullock and former Detroit Police Chief Ralph Godbee are considering, while he and Burke mentioned several other names as possibilities:

  • Former state Sen. Ian Conyers
  • Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones
  • Detroit city official Adrian Tonon
  • Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey

Race could also be a factor in the contests for both seats, which are each home to large Black populations, especially since, as Lawrence noted in her retirement announcement, she’s currently Michigan’s only African American member of Congress. Indeed, Kinloch and two prospective candidates in the 13th, Hollier and Aiyash, all said it was vital for the state to have a Black representative. Among the declared candidates between the two districts, however, only Gay-Dagnogo is Black: Tlaib is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants while Thanedar is originally from India.

Lawrence, for her part, is retiring after a long political career that saw her win a place in the House on her second try. She first rose to prominence in the Detroit suburb of Southfield, where she made history in 2005 when she became both the first woman and the first Black person to be elected mayor. She sought a promotion in 2008 when she attempted to unseat Oakland County Executive L. Brooks Patterson, a Republican who dominated this large community for decades, but lost 58-42. Two years later, Lawrence was the party’s nominee for lieutenant governor on a ticket headed by Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, but the pair was crushed by the Republican team of Rick Snyder and Bryan Calley amid the 2010 GOP wave.

Lawrence then set her eyes on the 14th District in 2012 after the GOP’s new gerrymander led to a primary clash between two Democratic House members, Gary Peters and Hansen Clarke, but she struggled to gain traction: Peters turned back Clarke 47-35, while Lawrence finished far back in third with just 13%. However, she got a much better opportunity in 2014 when Peters gave up this seat to mount a successful Senate campaign, and she won extensive establishment support for her second try.

Clarke also tried again, but he entered the race just before the filing deadline and never recovered from the odd behavior he’d displayed during the 2012 campaign. Nonetheless, he looked like Lawrence’s main foe for most of the race, though a third candidate, state Rep. Rudy Hobbs, displayed strong fundraising and earned prominent endorsements himself. One late pro-Hobbs poll even gave him the lead, but despite his strong finish, Lawrence prevailed 36-32 and never had trouble holding on to her seat in future years.

Redistricting

KY Redistricting: GOP leaders in Kentucky’s Republican-run state Senate unveiled a draft congressional map on Tuesday that would leave untouched the state’s lone Democratic district, the Louisville-based 3rd, rather than attempt to crack it between surrounding districts in order to make it winnable for Republicans.

Instead, however, the map would extend a long tongue from the rural 1st District, which starts at the Kentucky Bend in the far western reaches of the state, to slurp up the state capital of Frankfort—an appendage that is even more vividly seen than described. This contortion would shore up Republican Rep. Andy Barr, whose 6th District was the site of a competitive election in 2018 that he won by a narrow 51-48 margin. Franklin County, where Frankfort is situated, is perpetually swingy turf that went for Donald Trump by just 1 point in 2020 and is currently part of the 6th.

Lawmakers, who put out a state House map late last month, also released a map for the state Senate and are expected to vote on all three on Saturday. Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear could veto any GOP bills, but his vetoes can be overriden with just a simple majority, and Republicans have wide supermajorities in both chambers.

4q fundraising

  • CA-Sen: Alex Padilla (D-inc): $1.4 million raised
  • CO-Sen: Joe O’Dea (R): $512,000 raised, additional $500,000 self-funded, $800,000 cash-on-hand
  • PA-Sen: John Fetterman (D): $2.7 million raised, $5.3 million cash-on-hand
  • CO-08: Jan Kulmann (R): $130,000 raised (in 24 days), additional $25,000 self-funded
  • FL-13: Ben Diamond (D): $280,000 raised
  • MI-10: Eric Esshaki (R): $423,000 raised, $412,000 cash-on-hand
  • MI-11: Haley Stevens (D-inc): $610,000 raised
  • TX-35: Greg Casar (D): $464,000 raised (in two months)
  • WV-02: David McKinley (R-inc): $586,000 raised, additional $500,000 self-funded, $1.6 million cash-on-hand

Senate

● IL-Sen, IL-Gov: A spokesperson for retiring Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger confirmed on Wednesday that the congressman would not run for Senate or governor next year. Kinzinger announced last year that he would not seek re-election to the House after Democrats redrew Illinois’ congressional map and left him without a plausible district to run in.

MO-Sen: While Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas had expressed interest last year in seeking the Democratic nomination for Senate, he said this week that he plans to instead run for re-election in 2023.

Governors

AL-Gov: Nonprofit director Lew Burdette, a former executive at Books-a-Million, announced this week that he’s joining Alabama’s Republican primary for governor. Burdette joins several other hopefuls seeking to wrest the nomination from incumbent Kay Ivey, who is seeking a second full term.

FL-Gov: State Sen. Annette Taddeo has earned an endorsement from Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, who leads the most populous county in the state, in the August Democratic primary for governor.

IA-Gov: Democratic state Rep. Ras Smith announced on Wednesday that he would end his campaign for governor, citing difficulties in fundraising, and said he was still considering whether to seek re-election. Smith’s departure leaves businesswoman Deidre DeJear, the Democrats’ 2018 nominee for secretary of state, as the party’s most prominent challenger to Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds.

MN-Gov: The local tipsheet Morning Take reports that healthcare executive Kendall Qualls is “expected to announce” his entry into the GOP primary in a matter of “days.”

House

CA-05, CA-03GV Wire reported Wednesday evening that Republican Rep. Tom McClintock, who represents California’s old 4th District, has decided to run for the new and safely red 5th District rather than the more competitive 3rd.

CA-22 (special): One prominent candidate from each party has confirmed that they’ll run in the upcoming special election to succeed now-former Republican Rep. Devin Nunes even though, as we’ll explain, the winner would need to campaign for a completely different district if they want to stay in Congress.

On the Republican side, Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig tells GV Wire he’s “full speed ahead” when it comes to the special, but he hasn’t made up his mind about whether—or where—he’d run for a full term. But Fresno City Councilman Garry Bredefeld, who acknowledged he was considering running to succeed Nunes a month ago before the new congressional lines were finalized, says he still has no update to provide. For the Democrats, 2020 nominee Phil Arballo confirmed he’s going forward with his campaign for the as-yet unscheduled special election but added that he’s “still weighing” his choices for November.

Nunes himself hit the eject button weeks before the state’s independent redistricting commission approved its final congressional map, which scattered his existing 22nd District among four new constituencies. According to new calculations from Daily Kos Elections, a 41% plurality of Nunes’ now-former constituents wound up in the new 21st District, where longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Costa is seeking re-election. That seat, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, would have favored Joe Biden by a wide 59-39 spread, though Costa notably struggled to hold similarly blue turf in both 2010 and 2014.  

Another 38% of Nunes’ old seat, meanwhile, is going to the new 20th, a 61-36 Trump district where House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy should have no trouble winning re-election. An additional 15% of Nunes’ former district will be in the new 5th, another safely red seat where Rep. Tom McClintock reportedly will be running. (See our CA-05, CA-03 item above.) Finally, the remaining 10% will be in the new 22nd District, a 55-42 Biden seat that Republican Rep. David Valadao will almost certainly be running in.

CA-31: While Democratic Rep. Grace Napolitano, who will be 86 when the new Congress is sworn in, has long been the subject of retirement speculation, she seems to be preparing to run for a 13th term this year in the redrawn—but still safely blue—31st District. The incumbent, who represents the old 32nd District, hasn’t announced anything yet, but the California Target Book’s Rob Pyers notes that she’s filed candidacy paperwork with Los Angeles County.

CA-42: Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell, a Democrat who was mentioned as a candidate for this open seat, has instead announced that he won’t be running for any office this year.

CA-48: Former Marine prosecutor Joseph Rocha, a Democrat who spent months running against Republican Rep. Darrell Issa in the old 50th District, announced Tuesday that he would instead campaign for a state Senate seat. The redrawn 48th District in San Diego County would have backed Donald Trump 55-43, a margin which is a bit larger than his 53-45 performance under the old lines.

CO-08: Republican state Sen. John Cooke announced this week that he would back Thornton Mayor Jan Kulmann rather than run for this swingy new seat himself.

IA-03: Former state Rep. Mary Ann Hanusa said this week that she was exiting the Republican primary to take on Democratic Rep. Cindy Axne and would instead challenge Democratic state Auditor Rob Sand.

● IL-01: Chicago Alderman Pat Dowell said Wednesday that she would seek this safely blue seat, which makes her the first major Democrat to enter the race since longtime incumbent Bobby Rush announced his retirement on Monday. Dowell, who dropped her campaign for secretary of state in order to campaign for Congress, will likely have company before long, though, as the Chicago Sun-Times reports that CEO Karin Norington-Reaves will launch her own bid on Saturday. Activist Ja’Mal Green also has expressed interest in running.

NV-04: Freshman Assemblywoman Annie Black, who attended the Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded the attack on the Capitol, declared this week that she was seeking the Republican nod to take on Democratic Rep. Steven Horsford. Black used her announcement to highlight the fact that fellow lawmakers censured her in a May party-line vote for refusing to comply with the chamber’s pandemic rules. Members at the time were allowed to take to the floor unmasked so long as they were vaccinated, but Black refused to disclose her vaccination status or wear a mask.

Black joins a June primary field that includes 2020 candidate Sam Peters and professional boxer Jessie Vargas. Chance Bonaventura, who works as an aide to Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore (who is herself waging a longshot bid for governor), has also filed to run, though he doesn’t appear to have made an announcement yet. The new Democratic-drawn map boosted Joe Biden’s margin of victory in this district, which includes the northern Las Vegas area and rural areas to the north, from 51-47 to 53-45.

OH-01: Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman, who’d reportedly been recruited by both local and national Democrats, announced on Wednesday that he’d challenge Republican Rep. Steve Chabot in Ohio’s redrawn 1st Congressional District. Republicans egregiously gerrymandered the district by conjoining Cincinnati to conservative Warren County via a skeletal isthmus just one mile wide; at the same time, they selectively portioned off suburban chunks of blue-leaning Hamilton County (where Cincy is based) to two other deep red districts, instead of consolidating them with the city to form a single, compact district.

Under Ohio’s previous map, Cincinnati was split between two districts, but an amendment to the state constitution that voters passed in 2018 now requires that cities be kept whole—which is why Republicans carved up the surrounding county instead. The new rules did result in the 1st becoming slightly bluer despite the GOP’s best efforts: The revamped district would have voted for Joe Biden by a narrow 50-48 margin, according to Dave’s Redistricting App, compared to Donald Trump’s 51-48 score under the old lines.

OR-04: Democratic state Rep. Marty Wilde, who had been considering a bid for Oregon’s open 4th Congressional District, said this week that he would not join the race.

PA-18, PA-LG: Democratic state Rep. Austin Davis, who’d been mentioned as a possible candidate for Pennsylvania’s open 18th Congressional District, instead announced a bid for lieutenant governor on Tuesday. Unusually, Davis kicked off his campaign with the support of state Attorney General Josh Shapiro, who is the presumptive Democratic nominee for governor; the Philadelphia Inquirer‘s Julia Terruso writes that gubernatorial candidates have traditionally avoided taking sides in the primary for lieutenant governor.

Animating Shapiro’s intervention is the fact that Pennsylvania is one of just eight states where candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run in separate primaries but together as a single ticket in the general election—a system sometimes described as a “shotgun wedding,” and one that’s often led to conflict between newlywed political spouses. By taking sides, Shapiro is hoping to avoid such problems while also adding proverbial “balance” to his team: Davis is Black and represents a district just outside of Pittsburgh, while Shapiro is Jewish and hails from the Philly suburbs.

Of course, Shapiro might not get his way, since Davis faces fellow state Rep. Brian Sims from Philadelphia for the nomination. Sims responded to Davis’ entry with an equanimous statement praising the field’s diversity (Davis would be the state’s first Black lieutenant governor, while Sims would be the first gay person to hold the post), but should he prevail, there will be some awkwardness to smooth over with Shapiro.

CLF: Congressional Leadership Fund, the well-funded super PAC aligned with the Republican House leadership, has endorsed 11 candidates, which makes this the first time the group has taken sides in any GOP primaries. The full roster includes:

  • AZ-06: Juan Ciscomani
  • IL-17: Esther Joy King
  • KS-03: Amanda Adkins
  • ME-02: Bruce Poliquin  
  • MT-01: Ryan Zinke  
  • NJ-07: Tom Kean Jr.
  • TX-08: Morgan Luttrell
  • TX-15: Monica De La Cruz
  • TX-38: Wesley Hunt
  • VA-02: Jen Kiggans
  • WI-03: Derrick Van Orden

Most of these contenders were already backed by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy or otherwise faced little intra-party opposition, but a few are worth highlighting. Ciscomani, who is a former senior advisor to Gov. Doug Ducey, is the only major candidate running for the open 6th District in southern Arizona, and CLF seems to be trying to deter anyone else from getting in now that the new congressional map has made this constituency far more competitive: The new district would have backed Joe Biden by a super-skinny 49.3-49.2 spread, while he won the old 2nd District (the 6th’s predecessor) by a 55-44 margin.

Likewise, Kansas Republicans have the numbers needed to override Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly’s veto and turn the 3rd District red (it went for Biden 54-44 under the current lines). That could entice more Republicans to run against Democratic Rep. Sharice Davids, but McCarthy’s allies seem very happy having Adkins, who was their 2020 nominee, as their standard-bearer again.

One last surprising move is CLF’s intervention in Texas’ 8th District, which remains a safely red seat, though there might be a persuasive reason behind it. Luttrell’s main intra-party adversary appears to be Christian Collins, a political operative backed by Sen. Ted Cruz, and House leaders may believe that Luttrell would be the more loyal member. (Luttrell’s twin brother, fellow former Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell, earned attention as the author of Lone Survivor, a memoir of his time in Afghanistan that was turned into a 2007 film starring Mark Wahlberg.)

Grab Bag

Where Are They Now?: Albany County District Attorney David Soares announced on Tuesday that he would not prosecute former Gov. Andrew Cuomo for allegedly sexually assaulting a former aide, Brittany Commisso, at the governor’s residence in 2019 and 2020. It’s the latest in a long string of decisions by law enforcement authorities closing down investigations and declining to prosecute Cuomo for a wide series of alleged misdeeds, as documented by City & State’s Sara Dorn.