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Political Roundup — June 4, 2024



New Jersey: Sen. Menendez Files


Despite being bogged down with a bribery indictment and trial, Sen. Bob Menendez (D), as expected, has filed for an Independent ballot line in the 2024 New Jersey US Senate general election. After the indictment and facing very poor favorability numbers, even within his own party, the embattled incumbent announced he would not compete in the Democratic primary.


Despite filing, the Senator’s re-election prospects are still dismal. The move, however, allows him to use his still substantial remaining campaign funds to pay legal expenses because he is a qualified candidate. Thus, the decision to file as an Independent is more about his finances and legal defense rather than a serious attempt to win re-election.


The favorite in the Democratic primary and for the seat remains US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown).


KS-2: Ex-Rep. Boyda (D) Attempting Comeback


As the candidate filing deadline closed in conjunction with Kansas’ August 6 primary election, former one-term Congresswoman Nancy Boyda (D) surprisingly filed papers to run for the open Topeka anchored 2nd District.


In 2006, Boyda upset then-US Rep. Jim Ryun (R), but failed to hold the seat two years later at the hands of then-state Treasurer Lynn Jenkins (R). Now, 18 years after her original victory, Boyda is returning to the congressional wars.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the open 2nd District as R+21, and former President Trump carried the seat with a 57-41% victory margin in 2020. Retiring Rep. Jake LaTurner (R-Topeka) averaged 56.4% of the vote over his two successful congressional campaigns.


But Boyda may not even make the general election ballot. Businessman Matt Kleinmann (D), a member of the 2008 National Champion Kansas Jayhawks college basketball team, has been running for the party nomination ever since Rep. LaTurner announced he would not seek re-election.


Regardless of who becomes the Democratic standard bearer, however, he or she will be a decided underdog to former Attorney General and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Derek Schmidt, who is the clear favorite to win the GOP primary. 

Michigan: Several Candidates Bounced from Ballot 


The last step in the Wolverine State ballot qualification process ended yesterday when the Michigan Board of State Canvassers concurred with the State Elections’ Board’s decisions to disqualify several US House candidates for failing to submit the required number of petition signatures.


In the 8th District, state Education Board Member Nikki Snyder (R), who was originally running for Senate but dropped her statewide bid to enter the House race when Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint Township) announced his retirement, again failed to submit 1,000 valid petition signatures. In 2020, she was also unsuccessful for the same reason. 


In District 10, two of Rep. John James' (R-Farmington Hills) Democratic opponents, Wayne State university Board of Governors member Anil Kumar, who had more campaign resources than any other contender, and activist Rhonda Powell both were disqualified. Former judge and prosecutor Carl Marlinga, who held Rep. James to a one-point victory in 2022, is again the likely 10th District Democratic nominee.


Finally, the Board of Canvassers concurred with the previous decision to disqualify former state Senator Adam Hollier (D) in the 13th Congressional District. Hollier desired a rematch with US Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) who defeated him in 2022. 

Originally, Hollier was asking the Secretary of State to overrule the disqualification recommendation, but now the former legislator says he will suspend his campaign.


MT-2: Trump Endorses Auditor Downing 


One of the key nomination races tonight is the Republican primary in eastern Montana’s 2nd Congressional District that will decide who succeeds retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive).

Yesterday, the campaign announced that former President Donald Trump has endorsed State Auditor Troy Downing over ex-US Rep. Denny Rehberg and state Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen.

Since February, polling has projected Downing with the lead, while topping the fundraising charts. The Cygnal polling organization recently surveyed 410 likely Republican primary voters and found Downing posting a 28-12-8-5% lead over ex-Congressman Rehberg, retired DEA agent Stacy Zinn, and Arntzen, respectively.

Jim Ellis is a 35-year veteran of politics at the state and national levels. He has served ss executive director for two national political action committees, as well as a consultant to the three national Republican Party organizations in DC, the National Federation of Independent Business, and various national conservative groups.

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, he earned a B. A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1979. Jim raised his daughter, Jacqueline, alone after his wife died following a tragic car accident. He helped establish the Joan Ellis Victims Assistance Network in Rochester, NH. Jim also is a member of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, which officiates high school games throughout the region.

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