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Political Roundup — May 31, 2024


New Jersey: Menendez to Submit Independent Signatures 

Reports are indicating that indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D), who will not be on the Democratic primary ballot on Tuesday, apparently will file as an Independent candidate. 

A person needs only 800 valid signatures from registered New Jersey voters to qualify as a candidate; the senator's intent to file suggests that he has accomplished the task and will qualify for the general election.

As mentioned previously, unless he is acquitted of the charges for which he is in trial, Menendez has little chance of winning the Senate seat from the Independent ballot line.  As an official candidate, however, he can now use the $3.6 million last reported in his campaign account to pay legal expenses. 

Generic Polls: MI and NV Incumbent vs. No-Name Surveys 

The Cook Political report released a series of US Senate surveys conducted by two Democratic polling firms, BSG and the Global Strategy Groups. Their head-to-head results for Arizona, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are consistent with other polling — i.e., the Democratic consensus candidate or incumbent has a significant lead, but the two where no Republican was named proved interesting.

In Michigan, the numbers testing consensus candidate Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) against an unnamed Republican, yield a 44-42% edge for the Democratic contender. This result is similar to data we have seen from other pollsters when a Republican candidate, usually former US Rep. Mike Rogers, is tested. Therefore, Republican chances here are legitimate.

In Nevada, however, the generic Republican does better than the identified Republican, usually Afghan War veteran Sam Brown. In the Cook Report's survey, Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) leads a generic Republican 48-41%. This is a closer showing for the GOP than the most recent Rosen-Brown results.

A May 22-25 poll from the Tyson Group shows Sen. Rosen with a 47-33% advantage. Meanwhile, a May 19-24 Mainstreet Research study for Florida Atlantic University sees Rosen recording a 48-37% split. Therefore, the fact that the generic Republican numbers are better than those for Brown indicates a greater need for increasing his familiarity among the voters.


LA-5: Close Race Brewing 

Barring yet another change in the Louisiana congressional redistricting — we've already seen three different court rulings this year — it appears that Reps. Julia Letlow (R-Start/Monroe) and Garret Graves (R-Baton Rouge) will be paired in a new 5th District. A new Victory Insights survey finds Rep. Letlow leading Rep. Graves by only a 38-35% count.

The survey shows strength for Letlow among Republicans, but Graves leads with Independents and Democrats. A lot will depend upon who else files in this race and whether the Democrats will field a credible candidate in the jungle primary election, which is held concurrently with the general election. 

The new 5th Congressional District is a combination of Rep. Letlow's current 5th District and Rep. Graves' current 6th District. Within the new configuration, 57% of the voters are from Letlow's current district, while 43% reside in the territory that Graves currently represents.


West Virginia: Sen. Manchin Won't Run 

Last week, news stories surfaced that a group of Republican donors were trying to convince Sen. Joe Manchin (D) to enter the governor's race, as they reportedly believe that Attorney General and 2024 Republican gubernatorial nominee Patrick Morrisey is too conservative, and that Democratic nominee Steve Williams, the mayor of Huntington, is too weak a candidate to win statewide.

But yesterday, Sen. Manchin said he will not run for governor and reiterated his support for Mayor Williams.

The idea to run Sen. Manchin was never realistic. Since Williams is the officially-elected Democratic nominee, he would have had to resign from the ticket in order for the state party to replace him with Manchin. 

If Sen. Manchin wanted to return to the governor's office, he would have entered the race; he would have easily won the Democratic primary, and would have had a fighting chance in the general election. Now, however, it is simply too late to make such a move.  Therefore, the Morrisey-Williams general election will be what we see on the ballot in November.

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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