After a two-week hiatus, the HUPAC Round Up is back for the new year. And just as quickly as the midterm elections ended a little over two months ago, everyone is now gearing up for 2016. Aren't you excited for more political horse race coverage?! The new year started off with a bang as longtime Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer from California announced that she will not seek re-election in 2016. Senator Boxer has been serving in the Senate since 1992 when she and Senator Dianne Feinstein became the first pair of woman in history to represent a state. In what surely will become one of the most expensive primary and general elections in the Senate next year, we expect many potential Democratic candidates to start trying to stuff their coffers with cash. Due to California's 10 media markets, including four major ones, any statewide office race is an expensive endeavor.
Currently, there are no front runners on the Democratic side, but some potential candidates include Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Attorney General Kamala Harris, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and billionaire Tom Steyer. We can also expect a few of the 53 House members to toss their hats into the ring. On the Republican side, many operatives find no obvious or strong choices due to their thin bench in this very blue state. The person many establishment operatives viewed as the strongest candidate, Secretary Condelezza Rice, has already ruled out a bid. Some operatives in the state mention Neel Kashkari, who ran for governor; Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin, who ran for controller; and Pete Peterson, who ran for secretary of state. San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer and former Congressional Representative Doug Ose, who lost a comeback bid to Congress last year, are also potential candidates. Due to the GOP’s weak bench, it's entirely possible the two general election candidates will be Democrats since California has an open top-two primary system. This means that all candidates, in all parties, run on the same primary ballot and the top two finishers in the primary continue to the general, regardless of party.
Senator Boxer was not the only member of Congress to announce plans to retire from Congress this week. Some of the other retirement announcements include Representatives Chris Gibson (R-NY) and Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA). These two seats will be targeted by Democrats in 2016 as potential pick up opportunities as both are swing districts that will become more competitive without an incumbent holding the seat.
We learned another member of Congress will be leaving his seat in a more questionable fashion. Representative Michael Grimm (R-NY) announced his resignation this week after pleading guilty to a felony charge on tax evasion. Initially after pleading guilty, Grimm said he would remain in Congress but after chatting privately with Speaker Boehner he announced his resignation. Grimm is scheduled to go on trial February 2 on charges of evading taxes by hiding more than $1 million in receipts and wages at Healthalicious, a Manhattan restaurant he owned before he was elected to Congress in 2010. Grimm easily won re-election despite being under the cloud of the 20-count indictment.
So you probably thought all the 2014 midterm races were wrapped up and finalized, right? Well, you thought wrong. In flying under the radar news, Vermont didn’t pick their governor until yesterday morning! Due to an arcane part of Vermont electoral law, any statewide non-federal race, like governor, in which no candidate gets a majority (over 50%) of the vote must be decided by the state legislature. Incumbent Governor Peter Shumlin (D) received only 46.4% in the general election so the race went to the state legislature where his re-election was finalized after he earned 110 votes to his opponents 69 votes. This is the 24th time in state history where the state legislature had to decide the governor. Now we can truthfully say that the 2014 midterm election is over!
Finally, it's a new year and a new election cycle so have you considered going to the next level in your HUPAC contributions? Consider moving from the 10x12 Club to the 365 Club by raising your monthly giving by $20. If you're a 365 club member, consider raising your contributions by $12 a month to join the Congressional Level. However much you can contribute, there is a contribution level that is right for you. With a new Congress, there are new opportunities and new leaders to educate on the importance of agents and brokers. Let's make sure that HUPAC has the support from agents and brokers across the country to be the most effective voice possible in the halls of Congress. Contribute here!