Finally, we provide details about which states require primary runoffs, including what percentage of the vote is needed in each state to trigger a primary runoff. For instance, in Georgia, a primary runoff is needed if no candidate takes a majority of the vote, while in North Carolina, runoffs are only conducted if no one takes more than 30%—and then only if the runner-up requests one.
The 2022 primary season officially kicks off on March 1 in Texas, which helps explain the state’s early filing deadline, and continues through September. Some dates could change, though. Last year, for instance, many states delayed their primaries because of the pandemic. While that’s much less likely next year, we could see schedules shift if states fail to complete the decennial redistricting process in a timely manner. If there are any changes, we’ll be sure to update our calendar and note them.
There’s a lot to explore, so you should check out—and bookmark—our calendar for all the details.
● CA Redistricting: California’s independent redistricting commission unanimously voted to advance new congressional and legislative maps on Wednesday, though commissioners cautioned that further changes are likely before any proposals are finalized. The maps, which are available on the commission’s site, differ from earlier plans the panel released last month. The commission must complete its work by Dec. 27.
● SD Redistricting: In a fascinating development, a group of Republicans in the South Dakota House banded together with Democrats to pass a new legislative redistricting plan over the objections of a sizable bloc of conservative GOP dissenters. All seven Democrats present (one was excused) voted in favor of the map, along with 30 Republicans, while 31 Republicans were opposed, meaning Democrats provided the winning majority. The plan, which originated in the Senate, easily passed the upper chamber 30-2, with all three Democrats likewise in favor.
The Republican objectors complained that the map would double-bunk some of their members and undermine their ability to elect far-right legislators. But at issue as well was the matter of Native representation. In particular, the new map places the northern parts of Rapid City, which are home to a large Native population, into a single legislative district, a move that Democratic state Sen. Red Dawn Foster would enhance the community’s voice.
In addition, the map preserves two districts that are split in half in order to give Native voters a better opportunity to elect their preferred candidates. Normally, South Dakota legislative districts elect two represents and one senator each (both chambers use the same map), but two House districts are divided into separate sections that elect one member each. At least one plan backed by conservatives would have done away with this approach.
The map now goes to Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, who has not yet indicated whether she will sign it into law.
● UT Redistricting: Following passage of the GOP’s new congressional map, lawmakers in Utah’s Republican-run legislature also approved new maps for the state House and Senate. They now go to Republican Gov. Spencer Cox, who has all but said he will sign the plans.
● AL-Sen: Unnamed sources close to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby tell the Washington Post‘s Michael Scherer that the incumbent plans to use $5 million in his campaign account to fund a super PAC that will aid his one-time chief of staff, former Business Council of Alabama head Katie Boyd Britt, in next year’s Republican primary to succeed him. Shelby’s office didn’t deny anything in a statement that said, “The Senator’s support for Katie is well known. He will continue to back her as the race develops in whatever ways are most appropriate, as he believes she is the best candidate to serve the people of Alabama.”
Britt ended September with a $3.3 million to $1.9 million cash-on-hand advantage over her main intra-party foe, Trump-endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks, but the congressman also has the deep-pocketed Club for Growth in his corner. The primary will take place in late May, and if no one wins a majority of the vote, a runoff would occur a month later.
● IN-Sen: The Federal Election Commission has accused Republican Sen. Mike Braun of taking $8.5 million in “apparent prohibited loans and lines of credit” to benefit his successful 2018 election campaign, according to a newly released memorandum and draft audit report. The problematic loans include $7 million from banks that were obtained without collateral, indicating that they “did not appear to be made in the ordinary course of business,” and $1.5 million from Meyer Distributing, an auto parts company that Braun founded in the 1980s. Corporations have long been prohibited from donating or loaning money to candidates.
Braun denied any wrongdoing and claims that he was able to obtain unsecured bank loans due to his personal wealth: At the time of his campaign, the financial disclosures required of all federal candidates indicated he was worth anywhere from $35 million to $96 million, making him one of the richest members of Congress. As for the funds from Meyer Distributing, Braun says the money was owed to him as compensation under his employment agreement with the firm.
But the FEC’s report disputes both claims, saying that Braun’s campaign failed to provide relevant documentation, including full copies of loan agreements from the banks. The Commission’s auditors also say that Braun’s team provided conflicting answers about the $1.5 million payment from Meyer, at one point characterizing it as a stock sale rather than as compensation, and likewise failing to produce a relevant stock purchase agreement.
Braun’s camp sought to place blame on the campaign’s former treasurer, Travis Kabrick, whom it claims “began making mistakes and failing to perform his services” and then “vanished,” leaving the campaign unable to locate him since the end of 2018. But not so, reports the Daily Beast’s Roger Sollenberger, who says he found the ex-treasurer “within minutes” and “confirmed Kabrick’s current job in a phone call with his employer, as well as his location, contact information, and three social media accounts.” Kabrick did not respond to any requests for comment, however, and disabled his social media accounts after the Daily Beast’s piece appeared.
● MO-Sen: State Sen. Dave Schatz acknowledged this week that he was still considering entering the Republican primary for this open seat, though he didn’t give a timeline for when he expected to decide. Schatz also said he could run for local office instead but added, “I’m going to say it’s more than likely going to be on the federal level as opposed to the state level.”
● NH-Sen: Republicans still don’t have an obvious backup choice to take on Democratic incumbent Maggie Hassan now that Gov. Chris Sununu has slammed the door on a Senate bid, but two notable names tell WMUR’s John DiStaso that they’re interested in running.
State Senate President Chuck Morse, who acknowledged that he had spent months getting organized for an open seat race for governor that now won’t be happening, said that he was considering. He added that he had been encouraged to take on Hassan by both former Sen. Kelly Ayotte and ex-Massachusetts Sen. Scott Brown.
Morse, who has led the upper chamber since 2013, also served as acting governor for two days in January of 2017, which technically made Morse New Hampshire’s first Republican chief executive in 12 years: His brief time in charge came about because then-Gov. Hassan resigned to join the Senate two days before her gubernatorial term ended and Sununu’s began. Morse himself got a security detail during his tenure and participated in some ceremonial events, but nothing remarkable happened during his governorship.
Attorney Phil Taub, who our sources say has never been acting governor of New Hampshire for any amount of time, also told DiStaso that he’s looking at a Senate bid. Taub has not been on the ballot before, but DiStaso describes him as “a longtime influential donor and fundraising catalyst” for the state party and GOP candidates.
DiStaso writes that Londonderry town manager Kevin Smith has been encouraged to run by his supporters, though there’s no word on his interest. Smith ran for governor in 2012 but lost the primary 68-30 to Ovide Lamontagne, whom Hassan defeated weeks later.
A few other Republicans seem unlikely to campaign for Senate, though they don’t appear to have dismissed the idea. While DiStaso says that state and national Republicans have encouraged 2020 House nominee Matt Mowers to drop his second bid for the 1st Congressional District in order to take on Hassan, he adds that Mowers remains “focused” on taking on Democratic Rep. Chris Pappas. It’s the same story with brewery owner Jeff Cozzens, who is taking on Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster in the 2nd District.
Finally, DiStaso says that Lamontagne “we understand, is not interested in running.”
● FL-Gov: Democratic Rep. Charlie Crist has earned an endorsement from the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents close to 300,000 current or retired federal workers in the state.
● IL-Gov: An unnamed source close to Chicago Cubs co-owner Todd Ricketts tells Politico that, despite recently stepping down as RNC finance chair, he’s not interested in challenging Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker.
● NE-Gov: Former state Sen. Theresa Thibodeau announced Wednesday that she’d run in the Republican primary for this open seat. Thibodeau joins a contest that includes University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen, who is close to termed-out Gov. Pete Ricketts; state Sen. Brett Lindstrom; and agribusinessman Charles Herbster, Donald Trump’s endorsed candidate and her own one-time running mate.
In Nebraska candidates for governor and lieutenant governor compete as a ticket in primaries, and Herbster revealed in April that his second-in-command would be none other than Thibodeau. The former state senator, however, declared in July she was dropping out because of undisclosed “potential opportunities that would conflict with the campaign,” adding, “At this time, I do not feel I will be able to devote the needed time to the campaign.” Thibodeau said last month, though, that this matter has been taken care of and she could run for office now that she’d sold her daycare.
Thibodeau earned her seat in the legislature in 2017 when Ricketts appointed her to fill a vacancy in an Omaha area constituency. Her tenure in the officially nonpartisan chamber proved short, though, as she lost the next year to Machaela Cavanaugh, who campaigned as a Democrat, 51-49.
● NH-Gov: While two state Democrats said early Thursday that they’d heard former Gov. John Lynch was interested in running for his old job, Lynch himself declared that evening, “Running for governor is not something I’m even considering.” Lynch added that “at this point, it’s not something I’m not even considering” (emphasis ours), which may not be quite a definitive no but is still pretty close.
Meanwhile, WMUR reports that Cinde Warmington, who is the only Democratic member of the five-member Executive Council, “appears to be strongly considering” a bid against Republican incumbent Chris Sununu. Warmington did not rule anything out when she was asked about a statewide campaign in August.
● PA-Gov: While state Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman postponed his planned “special announcement” this week after testing positive for COVID, an unnamed advisor tells the Associated Press he’ll be kicking off a bid for the Republican nomination sometime in the future.
Corman’s eventual candidacy could also entice one of his colleagues to drop out of the primary. State Sen. Dan Laughlin tells the Erie Times-News that, if Corman decides to step down from his role as the chamber’s leader in order to concentrate on a gubernatorial bid, “I would certainly consider running for pro tem instead.” Laughlin adds that he would only quit the governor’s race if he won the leadership race.
● CA-10: While redistricting is far from finished in California, Politico writes that former Trump administration official Ricky Gill “isn’t waiting for those new maps to challenge Democratic Rep. Josh Harder.” Gill, who was the GOP nominee in 2012 for the current 9th District against Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney, has not yet said anything publicly about another run for the House.
● FL-01: Air Force veteran Bryan Jones announced Thursday that he was launching a primary challenge against Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Republican who reportedly remains under federal investigation for sex trafficking of a minor and other alleged offenses. While Gaetz has not yet been charged, the New York Times wrote last month that the Justice Department added two top prosecutors to its probe during the summer.
● NC-04: Democratic state Sen. Ben Clark has filed FEC paperwork for a potential bid for the new 4th District, though he said this week that he’s still making up his mind about running for a Fayetteville-area seat that supported Donald Trump 53-46. Clark promised a decision before candidate filing opens on Dec. 6; the deadline for candidates to make up their minds is Dec. 17.
● NC-13, NC-14: Republican Rep. Madison Cawthorn announced Thursday evening that he would run for the new 13th District, which includes part of the Charlotte area and counties to the west, instead of the 14th District, which occupies the state’s western reaches and is home both to the far-right congressman and the vast majority of his current constituents. Around that same time, the News & Observer reported that state House Speaker Tim Moore would campaign to keep his current post rather than launch his own anticipated run for the 13th District, news he quickly confirmed.
Until just one day before, there didn’t seem to be much of a question that Cawthorn, who represents the current 11th District, would run for the new 14th. According to calculations from Daily Kos Elections, 93% of the population in the 14th is already represented by Cawthorn, and at 53-45 Trump, it’s likely to easily remain in GOP hands outside of an unusually strong Democratic year. Political observers, meanwhile, have long bet that Moore would run in the 13th District, a 60-39 Trump constituency that Cawthorn represents just 12% of.
All of that conventional wisdom, though, went out the window after a Cawthorn call this week with local party officials, where he told them he was thinking about making his switch. Multiple GOP leaders including Michele Woodhouse, who chairs the party in the current 11th District, said Wednesday evening they were surprised, with her declaring that “there hadn’t really been any kind of Republican buzz or gossip about it at all.”
If Woodhouse was surprised by the development, however, she began thinking ahead even before Cawthorn made his plans clear. On Thursday afternoon, when WLOS reporter Caitlyn Penter asked her if she was considering running for an open 14th District, she notably avoided answering the question even after Penter called her on her dodge.
Cawthorn put out a video hours later where he declared that “the new lines have split my constituents,” though he didn’t note which side of the split most of them fell under. “I have every confidence in the world that, regardless where I run, the 14th Congressional District will send a patriotic fighter to [Washington,] D.C,” he continued, “But knowing the political realities of the 13th District, I’m afraid that another establishment, go-along-to-get-along Republican will prevail there. I will not let that happen.” Cawthorn did not mention Moore or anyone else by name, but his declaration seems to have had its intended effect.
It’s always possible that Cawthorn actually upended everyone’s plans because he simply wanted to run for a constituency that will almost certainly remain safely red no matter what, rather than risk getting washed away in a future blue wave. However, the National Journal’s Matt Holt may have had it right when he tweeted Thursday morning, “Cawthorn has a safe seat but wants to run in a competitive primary because it seems to him that politics is a bloodsport, not about public service.”
Cawthorn may indeed relish the opportunity to establish his dominance in state GOP politics now that he’s thwarted Moore’s expected campaign. The N&O’s Brian Murphy, who described the proposed district switch as “a huge power play by Cawthorn,” noted that he could also use the opportunity to “try to be a kingmaker in his old district, too.”
Murphy also speculated that the congressman might also want to run in a different part of the state in order to build up his name recognition for a future campaign, though he pointed out that Cawthorn is already pretty well-known. Quite so: Cawthorn made national headlines last year when he decisively won the GOP nomination in the old 11th District by defeating a Trump-backed candidate, and he’s only gained more attention since then for his eagerness to court violent groups in spreading the Big Lie.
● NH-02: Republican state Sen. Harold French told WMUR Wednesday that he “intend[s] to announce” a campaign against Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster in early December even though the proposed GOP gerrymander would move his hometown to the more competitive 1st District.
● VA-07: Republican Del. John McGuire filed paperwork last week for a potential second run for Congress, a move that came days after he won re-election to the lower chamber. McGuire campaigned against Democratic Rep. Abigail Spanberger last year but lost the GOP’s nominating convention 56-44 to fellow Del. Nick Freitas, who went on to fall to Spanberger 51-49. McGuire later attended the infamous Jan. 6 Trump rally that preceded that day’s attack on the Capitol.
● Special Elections: A trio of all-party primaries will take place Saturday for open seats in the Louisiana legislature. Runoffs will occur Dec. 11 for any races where no candidate takes a majority of the vote:
LA SD-27: Two Republicans and one Democrat are competing to succeed Republican Ronnie Johns, who resigned in July after Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards appointed him chairman of the Louisiana State Gaming Control Board. This seat, which is located in the Lake Charles area, backed Donald Trump 55-41 in 2016.
The Republican contenders are Jeremy Stine, a former legislative aide who KPLC says “has a well-known family and family business,” and teacher Jake Shaheen, while Democrats are fielding certified financial planner Dustin Granger. The GOP enjoys a 26-12 supermajority in the Senate, with only this seat vacant.
LA HD-16: We have an all-Democratic three-way race to succeed Frederick Jones, a Democrat who stepped down after winning a judicial election. The contest consists of two candidates who lost to Jones in 2019: teacher Alicia Calvin, who earned third place with 15%, and Charles Bradford, a pastor who unsuccessfully ran for mayor of Bastrop in 2017 and later took fourth to Jones with 12%. The final candidate is businessman Adrian Fisher. This constituency in the Monroe area went for Hillary Clinton 65-33.
LA HD-102: Two Democrats are running for an 80-17 Clinton district that’s located in the New Orleans neighborhood of Algiers, which is the only part of the city that’s located on the West Bank of the Mississippi River. (Because of the numerous twists and turns in the river, many parts of the West Bank, including Algiers, are actually located to the east of the neighboring East Bank.)
The contest is a duel between real estate broker Delisha Boyd, a local and state party official who has Gov. John Bel Edwards, Rep. Troy Carter, and state Sen. Gary Carter in her corner; and Jordan Bridges, an activist who is campaigning as a political outsider. Republicans hold a 68-32 majority in a chamber that also includes three independents, with only this and the aforementioned HD-16 vacant.
The race for HD-102 will conclude the game of electoral musical chairs that began nearly a year ago when President Joe Biden appointed Rep. Cedric Richmond to a senior White House post. Then-state Sen. Troy Carter in April prevailed in a competitive race to succeed Richmond in Congress, and his nephew, state Rep. Gary Carter, won a promotion to replace him in the upper chamber of the legislature two months later. The winner of Saturday’s race will subsequently fill Gary Carter’s seat in the state House.
● Oakland, CA Mayor: City Council Member Sheng Thao declared Wednesday that she was entering next November’s instant runoff contest to succeed termed-out Mayor Libby Schaaf. Thao, whose 2018 win made her the first Hmong woman to win a city council seat anywhere in California, joins colleague Loren Taylor in the race to lead this very blue city.
The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Sarah Ravani writes that Thao, who launched her campaign by touting “the effective record I have for progressive change,” is more liberal than Taylor. Thao also kicked off her bid with an endorsement from state Attorney General Rob Bonta as well as what Ravani characterized as “some of the city’s biggest unions representing firefighters and workers.”