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October 19th   , 2022           Political Note #514 North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana elections

2022                          General Election

These seven states, with a total of approximately 18 million people, have 14 senators.  New York has a slightly larger population than 18 million. Of course,  it has 2 Senators.  Florida, Texas, and California, each of which is larger than New York, also have 2 senators.  That is the way we are organized.  And that organization is highly undemocratic.  We should remember that as we deal with other issues of democracy – gerrymandering, voter suppression, the electoral college, and so on.

South Dakota Just south of North Dakota (which will elect state officials in 2024)


Jamie Smith (Political Note #450) has made a small dent in the belief that he could not possibly win.  He is the House Minority Leader and leads a very small number of Democrats.  A former Spanish teacher and wrestling coach, he works in real estate now and his active in his community in the way someone without political ambition might be active.  That is, he is active in his local arts council and his church.  If he has any responsibility for making that small dent, it is by continuing to act like a normal human being.

His opponent, the Incumbent governor, Kristi Noem, is not acting like a normal human being.  She is acting like a politician who looks out for her own; like a politician from a small state with national ambitions.  She may be past her prime.  Just a little over 50, that statement could summarize a lengthy Politico feature about her.  She made herself into a national politician by opposing Covid restrictions.  She was not far right enough for the right – moderating her position on transgender girls playing sports and on the right way to teach history in schools.  She was not righteous enough for those who like integrity in politics as she intervened when her daughter was denied a real estate appraiser’s license.  The upshot of that intervention (a confrontation with a 30 year state employee and as many heavy hitters as Noem could muster) was Sherry Bren’s resignation along with a $200,000 settlement.  Noem’s daughter got her license four months later.

Help out Jamie Smith.  He is a very long shot.  Occasionally long shots come through.

  • On October 12th , 538 projected that Smith would lose 99 times in 100 (better than the frequently described for extreme long shot candidates – more than 99 times in 100)  and found that he was behind  6 – 58.5
  • Recent Polls can help
    • 538 shows no polls for this race, but an October 11 news story reports a South Dakota State University poll that shows Smith behind Noem 41-45
  • When the June 7 primary was over, Jamie Smith had $100,000; Noem had $7.7 million available for the rest of the campaign.

 Nebraska – just south of South Dakota


Carol Blood is a Democratic state senator in Nebraska’s “nonpartisan” unicameral legislature.  She was an at large Bellevue city council representative beginning in 2008 before she was elected to the Nebraska legislature in 2016.  She served as the Bellevue Chamber of Commerce Executive Director and has been a member of the board of directors of the Bellevue Public Safety Foundation, which provides resources to first responders.  She is the kind of opposition politician who gets small things done.  She introduced and passed a bill to make people ineligible for public office if they had any outstanding civil offense debts, including interest, unpaid.  Only one Senator voted against. She negotiated reduced Bar Association fees for military spouses. Her bill to require an annual staffing analysis by the state department of corrections passed with only six opposing votes. She was unable to get a bill passed to raise permit fees for handguns. Her goals are a little bigger.  She would provide property tax relief by restoring state support for a variety of local services, focus on public safety and public health, create a K-14 focus on education, and invest in infrastructure.  Her opponent, Jim Pillen, was a university regent, a veterinarian and livestock producer, and played defensive back for the University of Nebraska. He is endorsed by the outgoing governor, refused to debate his primary opponents and has refused to debate Carol Blood.

  • 538 projects that Carol Blood would win 3 times out of 100 and would lose 40.8-57.2
  • In May, before the Nebraska primary, which Pillen saw as his major contest, Carol Blood had raised $150,000 and had $50,000 still available, Pillen had raised $8.4 million and had $1.5 million for the balance of the campaign.


Kansas – just south of Kansas


Laura Kelly (Political Note #358) is the incumbent.  That is news here in the middle of the country.  Kansas does not elect Democrats all that often.  I wrote a Political Note about Laura Kelly and said news of her election resembled news of the death of a sick relative – a shock, but not a surprise.  Kansas has still not recovered from its true believer, Senator turned Governor, Sam Brownback.  He genuinely believed, as many Republicans profess to believe, that cutting taxes will make everyone prosperous.  He cut tax after tax and made Kansas —- near bankrupt and bereft of public services.  Laura Kelly was a recreation therapist who became Director of Recreational Therapy and Physical Education at National Jewish Hospital in Denver, the leading respiratory hospital in the country.  She and her husband, a physician who specializes in sleep disorders moved on and settled in Topeka.  Laura Kelly became Director of the state Recreation and Parks Association and became involved in the revolt against Brownback’s policies.  In 2018 Kansas Republicans doubled down by nominating for governor their radical, anti-immigrant Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Democrats nominated Laura Kelly who won the election 48-43.  This time she will face Attorney General Derek Schmidt – an opponent of LGBT rights and same sex marriage, any effort to decriminalize marijuana, and the public health orders issued by Laura Kelly in response to the pandemic. He opposed private prisons before he supported one for the town he lived in.  One more thing.  Remember that Kansans overwhelmingly rejected eliminating the right to abortion from their constitution.

  • 538 projects that Laura Kelly would win 67 times out of 100 and would win 49.7-47
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • A media funded A-rated poll reported on September 18th that Kelly was leading 45-43
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 7th that Kelly was leading 53-41
  • Toward the end of July, Kelly had $1.3 million available for campaigning, Schmidt had $1.5 million

Oklahoma – Just south of Kansas


Joy Hofmeister (Political Note #449) may make a race of this election.  Not as thoroughgoing as Sam Brownback and probably more of an opportunist than a true believer, Governor Mary Fallin was thorough enough cutting public services in Oklahoma for the sake of reducing taxes. Her successor, Kevin Stitt, may be more motivated by taunting liberals than particular policies. His plan to build a new, castle like Governor’s residence is decreasing his popularity even more.

Joy Hofmeister, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, is term limited and cannot run again.  She certainly felt the effect of reductions in resources, but as a founder of the Kumon Math and Reading Centers in Tulsa, she is insulated from reflexive condemnations of the public schools.  She changed parties in 2021 and explained she was a centrist on issues that range from abortion to taxation to teaching about race in schools. The Democrats welcomed her and nominated her for governor.

  • 538 projects that Joy Hofmeister would win 4 times out of 100 and would lose 41.1-54.8
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • A media funded C+ rated poll reported on October 6th that Hofmeister was leading 47-43
    • A Republican funded B/C rated poll reported on September 28th that Hofmeister was behind 33-48
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 21st that Hofmeister was behind 44-47
    • An independent political consultant funded unrated poll reported on September 18th that Hofmeister was ahead 40-39
    • A media funded C+ rated poll reported on September 7th that Hofmeister was behind 43-44
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 7th that Hofmeister was behind 36-55
  • Reporting is not clear, but Stitt has a fund-raising edge of Hofmeister and that includes over $1million of his own money.

Arkansas – Just east of Oklahoma


Chris Jones (Political Note #421) is a phenomenon.  He is a Black man who describes himself as the descendent of a family that moved to Arkansas in 1819 (well, the territory that became Arkansas in 1836). He says his interest in government was sparked when, as an 8 year old, he shook Governor Bill Clinton’s hand.  He has a Master’s Degree and a PhD from MIT, having switched from the nuclear engineering to urban planning.  He liked the urban planning work.  He was Executive Director of a community organization in Boston and then became a consultant working with a firm out of Washington DC.  He also liked the idea of coming home.  In Arkansas, he has been running the Regional Innovation Hub. He even spends some time being a pastor.  His campaign promise is, he says, pb&j – Preschools and Broadband and Jobs that pay well because they are the product of economic development throughout the state.

His opponent is Sarah Huckabee Sanders.  You will remember her as a Donald Trump’s press secretary.  Or you will remember her as Mike Huckabee’s daughter. He was the governor of Arkansas and a presidential candidate. She has not been idle.  She founded a consulting firm, worked on her father’s campaign, and on the campaigns of both Arkansas Senators. At the beginning of September, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette did a story pointing out the differences in finances available for the rest of the campaign for the two candidates – Chris Jones’ $120,000 and Huckabee Sanders’ $6.8 million.

  • 538 projects that Chris Jones would win less than once out of 100 chances and would lose 38.6-59.2
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • An anonymously funded B rated poll reported on September 15th that Jones was behind 34-59
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 12th that Jones was behind 40-51
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 7th that Jones was behind 32-62
  • The funding problem Jones faces is in the text of the story.


US Senate Races

 South Dakota – US Senate

Brian Bengs  is a graduate of Iowa State, with a JD from the University of Iowa Law School.  After law school he practiced law and returned to the military (He had been in the navy before college) where he eventually served as a Chief of General Law for the Air Force and as a professor at the Air Force Academy.  He took his retirement and is writing about American values and vices, virtues and the lack of them.

He is running against a pro.  John Thune’s grandfather immigrated from Norway and, with his brother, started a hardware store. Thune was an outstanding high school athlete, small college basketball player where he got a BA and then got an MBA from the University of South Dakota.  He went to work for Senator Abnor, who had defeated George McGovern, and went on to various political appointments. He ran for Congress against the sitting Lt. Governor and (and here there is hope for a number of candidates) overcame a 69-15 poll deficit to win the primary by almost 20 points. He served three terms in Congress before being elected to the US Senate in 2002, defeating another Democrat who was a national figure –  Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle.  After rejecting the claim that Donald Trump won the 2020 election and earning Trump’s wrath, he considered retirement.  Instead, he is touted as the replacement for Mitch McConnell if he ever retires.

  • 538 projects that Brian Bengs would win less than once out of 100 chances and would lose 2-63
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • An anonymously funded unrated poll reported on October 10th that Bengs was behind 28-53
    • A Democratic funded A/B rated poll reported on September 11th that Bengs was behind 33-46
  • Open Secrets reports that at the beginning of July, Bengs had virtually no money for his campaign, Thune had $16.9 million

Kansas—US Senate

Mark Holland

Kansas has a Democratic governor who has a pretty good chance to get reelected.  Kansas has a very strong candidate for Attorney General.  Could Kansas elect a US Senator for the first time since the the Great Depression?  Could Kansas elect Mark Holland? Son of a Methodist minister and a school teacher, his BA is from Southern Methodist, he Master’s from the Iliff School of Theology, his PhD from St. Paul.  He learned a lot from serving a church in two tiny communities, spent ten years in a Church in Kansas City, Kansas, co-founded an effort to integrate LBGTQ members into the church for marriage and ordination, and then was elected mayor.  He lost his next election, but was inspired to run for the US Senate.  He insists, more than any other candidate, he will campaign in the rural communities.  He said he learned in those two small  towns : … we all want the same things… We all want meaningful work. We all want opportunities for our kids.  We all want to live in a community we’re proud of…DC could learn….that what holds us together is much greater than what pulls us apart.”  Furthermore, he says: “We have a better message on public education.  We have a better message on health care.  We have a better message on wages.  We need to get out and share our message.  And we need to spend the time listening to the real concerns of real people.”

Can any of that defeat Jerry Moran? Moran was elected seven times to the US House. If he wins the election in 2022, this will be the third time he is elected to the US Senate. In election years, he has a conservative record, according to one report, but has a moderate record during off years. Among his moderate votes were opposition to Trump’s arms deal with Saudi Arabia an his opposition to banning entry to the US from seven Muslim countries.  He is not moderate in his opposition to abortion or to LGBT rights or to creating a bipartisan body to investigate the January 6 insurrection.

  • 538 projects that Mark Holland would win less than once out of 100 chances and would lose 7-57.7
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • A media funded A-Rated poll reported on September 18th that Holland was behind 33-45
    • A ,media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 7th that Holland was behind 35-54
  • Open Secrets reports that in Mid-September, Holland had $130,000 for his campaign, Moran had $6 million


Oklahoma – has two Senate races.  One is a special election to complete the term of a retired Senator.

US Senator – Oklahoma This race is for a full six year term.

Madison Horn

Tougher minded than anyone had a right to expect, Madison Horn has grabbed onto a statement by Inc James Lankford and is using it against him like a club.  The Family Research Council is described as a Christian hate group by many.  Not by Senator Lankford.  He attended their Pray Vote Stand Summit and said God brought rain to drought-stricken Oklahoma to show approval for the state’s abortion ban.

Madison Horn wrote in response: This [law], lacking both empathy and compassion, has brought suffering to thousands of women in our state, as similar bills have across our nation.  The rain he is referring to was responsible for hundreds of farmers losing crops and income.  This was not act of god, but a poor argument from a failing Senator whose only hope is to misuse religion for his own personal gain…. The fact is, women are …suffering, Oklahoma is still in drought, and elected officials like James Lankford must be voted out this November.

Madison Horn is a graduate of Georgia Military College and Georgia State.  She has made a career of cybersecurity, most recently working for Siemens as their Global Lead for cyber and digital security.  She intends to restore trust in government through accountability and transparency, protect women’s right to decide their own family planning, to address the problem of rising costs, and to give people the tools to succeed in the 21st century.

She is facing James Lankford, who was the student ministries and evangelism specialist for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma and the director of youth programming at the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, an enormous Christian camp.  He has been conservative on non-religious cultural issues as well.  He was a strong opponent of a referendum to legalize marijuana.  He gets an A rating from the NRA despite his willingness to consider stronger background checks for possession of an AR-15.

  • 538 projects that Madison Horn would win less than once out of 100 times and would lose 34.3-62.4
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • A media funded C+ rated poll reported on October 6th that M. Horn was behind 40-52
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 21st that M. Horn was behind 34-52
    • A libertarian funded unrated poll reported on September 18th that M. Horn was behind 27-49
  • Open Secrets reports that at the beginning of August, M. Horn had virtually no funds; at the beginning of July Lankford had $2.2 million


US Senator – Oklahoma Special Election

Kendra Horn (Political Note #193) has been elected in Oklahoma before.  The election was 2018 and she was elected to Congress.  There were quite a few Democratic surprises in 2018 – none greater than Kendra Horn’s OK 05. She had returned to Oklahoma after an early career away. Away, she got a law degree at SMU, a little experience practicing law in Dallas, experience in DC first as a congressman’s spokesperson and then work at the Space Foundation.  That last work brought her to the Foundation Headquarters in Denver.  After she left the Foundation, she opened a yoga studio and gave some thought to the role of women.  Armed with what she had learned, she returned home to work on women’s political issues.  She founded Sally’s List – an Oklahoma version of Emily’s List intended to encourage and fund women candidates. Two and a half years later, she encouraged herself, ran for congress, and won.  Two years after that, in 2020, she lost. In the House, she worked on issues particularly relevant to today – strategic and nuclear arms control, space and aeronautics.  She touts her capacity to be a leader in the Senate on the issues where she has expertise and does not mention, does not really need to mention what we might call women’s issues at all.

Her opponent is Congressman Markwayne Mullen.  Mullin is a plumber.  Not in the Nixon sense.  At 20, he took over his ill father’s plumbing and real estate business. He did a radio show on home improvements, made himself a public figure, and ran for Congress as a non-politician in what had been a Democratic district.  No longer, Oklahoma was turning Republican.  He won the primary and won the election by 20 points in 2012.  In 2018, his promise to serve no more than three terms came back to bite him – not hard enough so that he lost. Brash and hands on, he went to Afghanistan during the turmoil of the US exit against all advice.  His statements on 2020 split the difference.  He witnessed January 6 shooting of a protester and defends it as a necessity against the mob.  He also joined the Members of Congress who contested the election, insisting that Donald Trump was the actual winner.  As for women’s issues, he said that if his wife’s life was at risk, he would oppose her getting an abortion.

  • 538 projects that Kendra Horn would win less than once out of 100 times and would lose 9-60.1
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • A media funded C+ rated poll reported on October 6th that K. Horn was behind 42-51
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 21st that K. Horn was behind 39-50
    • A libertarian funded unrated poll reported on September 18th that K. Horn was behind 37-49
  • Open Secrets reports that neither candidate has much campaign money. At the beginning of July, K. Horn had $300,000; at the beginning of August Mullins had $200,000.

Arkansas – US Senate

Natalie James is from Little Rock.  Her mom taught school.  Her dad was a realtor, a pastor, and an activist.  Her extended family owned a Little Rock institution, Uncle T’s Food Mart Deli-Kitchen where you can get the $6 size or the $11 size Catfish Fillet Basket or a size inbetween.  As a child she watched a memorial being built to children who were victims of violent crime.  The memorial  did not make her feel safer.  As a student in the Little Rock schools and the University of Arkansas Little Rock, she was conscious of the disparity in education funding in Little Rock and elsewhere in the state. As a realtor in her father’s business, she made her way in the community serving on a land bank commission recovering blighted properties, as President of the local branch of the NAACP, as an advocate for holding police accountable for their behavior.  She is not an opponent of gun rights, she says, but wants to make sure that the people who own them aren’t abridging her right to send her children to school safely.  She says that taking away women’s right to choose is exacerbating distrust of the government. And she says inflation is a result of corporate greed that should be controlled.

Natalie James is running against the incumbent Senator John Boozman who defeated the incumbent Democratic Senator in 2010.  He had played football for the University of Arkansas, but did not graduate. Instead, he graduated from a college of optometry.  After a term in Congress he ran for the US Senate and is among those who described the January 6 insurrection as shocking, but also expressed doubt about whether Joe Biden was legitimately elected and opposed a bipartisan commission to study what happened on January 6.

  • 538 projects that Natalie James would win less than once out of 100 times and would lose 2-59.6
  • Recent polls are helpful
    • A media funded B/C rated poll reported on September 12th that James was behind 31-44
  • Open Secrets reports that at the beginning of July Natalie James had virtually no money for her campaign and Senator Boozman had $1.3 million.


Louisiana – US Senate

November 8 might be election day in Louisiana.  For the US Senate, it is primary day.  Saturday December 10 is reserved for election day.

The first question is whether the incumbent Senator, John N. Kennedy can be kept below 50%.  If he gets 50%+1 he will be reelected Senator.  The second question is, if he can be kept below 50%, is there any way at all that the second place finisher can compete?  As of now, John N. Kennedy has an even dozen opponents. Every person who votes for any one of them makes it a little harder for Kennedy to get over 50%.

Kennedy was born in Centreville, MS, raised in Zachary, LA where he was the high school valedictorian.  He went to Vanderbilt and got his law degree from Virginia.  An undergraduate Phi Beta Kappa, an editor of the law review in law school, he went to Oxford, but not with one of the famous scholarships, and got a Master’s degree. He practiced law in New Orleans in a big firm and taught a little. In 1988 he was special counsel to the governor, ran unsuccessfully for attorney general, went back to private practice for a while, and then was appointed to the governor’s cabiet.  He ran for State Treasurer in 1999 and won, endorsed John Kerry for President in 2004 and unsuccessfully ran for the US Senate. He joined the Republican Party in 2007.  He ran again in 2008 and lost as a Republican to Democrat Mary Landrieu.  He finally won in 2016 – endorsed by business groups, the NRA, the Right to Life Committee, and the Conservative Union.  He has done nothing that would alienate those 2016 supporters or Donald Trump who was elected President at the same time.

Gary Chambers – US Senate

There are two Democrats capable of looking like contenders. Gary Chambers did not seem radical.  Raised by and aunt and uncle in a middle class neighborhood in Baton Rouge, he went to New Orleans during the recovery from Katrina as a manager for a reopening Home Depot.  He returned to Baton Rouge to run a car dealership.  After being ordained a minister, in 2012, he created a publication targeting the north Baton Rouge Black community, led protests after a police killing in 2016, led a successful effort to change the name of the Robert E Lee High School in 2020, and become more widely known in 2021 during an unsuccessful run for Congress.

Luke Mixon, the other potential contender, is a white man who grew up on a farm outside of Bunkie, LA.  A student athlete, he went to the Naval Academy, graduating in 2001, 3 months before 9/11. He was a navy pilot for the next 17 years deployed from an aircraft carrier for missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. He finished his service in the reserves as the commanding officer of the F/A – 18 squadron in New Orleans.  He charges Louisiana politicians with sowing division in the state rather than serving its needs; charges Senator Kennedy with voting against billions that would improve roads and protect Louisiana from natural disasters, against health insurance coverage and better jobs for the people of Louisiana.  He comments that he become aware in high school of the inadequacy of services in rural Louisiana – a problem that has not been addressed adequately since.

These candidates are individuals as well as representatives of a group or class. Support either of them or both of them.  The first goal is keeping Kennedy below 50%.  The second goal is selecting the candidate you would like to have the chance to attempt to defeat Kennedy.  The Republican tide against Democrats in the south can be reversed.  That reversal will come from actual Republican defeats and from Democrats getting closer.  To achieve either, Democratic candidates need resources.


Congress. – 50 closest

From among these seven states, only two Congressional districts make 538’s list of the 50 closest Congressional races.  Every close race is important.  My analysis (I’m just one person doing this and I rely on other people’s polls) suggests a likelihood that the Republicans will have a 220-215 majority.  Change the expectations of three seats, Democrats can have an even slimmer majority.

Kansas 03 R+3

Sharice Davids is a member of the Ho-Chunk or Winnebago people whose base is in Wisconsin.  She was born in Frankfurt German where her mother was serving in the US Army.  In 2018, the incumbent Republican, who she defeated, claimed she wasn’t really from Kansas.  Sharice Davids (Political Note #412) grew up in Kansas.  She went to high school in Kansas. She did not, however, go to college or law school in Kansas.  Pretty close for college, though.  She went to the University of Missouri, Kansas City.  Like many poor and minority kids, her progress through that urban university was slow.  She had to work a lot.  She was the assistant manager of a drive-in, drove for a wine company, was a barista, coordinated meetings for a Marriot, and she fought in her first Mixed Martial Arts bout – all before she graduated in 2007.   When she graduated, she was a star.  She went to Cornell for law school, did corporate work briefly, tried Mixed Martial Arts again, and got a two year White House Fellowship. She brought her knowledge and experience back the Midwest where she helped Native Americans create businesses.  She ran for Congress in 2018 and won by 9 points, then won by 10 points in 2020.  She was a moderate in Congress, a favorite of Cheri Bustos who was then head of the DCCC.  Sharice Davids will not win by 10 points this time. Redistricting has made the district slightly favorable to Republicans.  Her opponent, Amanda Adkins, is a former Republican legislative aide, a former director of a Republican political action committee.  She ran and lost against Sharice Davids in 2020 and had been working for a Health Information Technology company while waiting for redistricting to make the 2022 more favorable to her.

  • 538 projects that Sharice Davids would win 56 times of 100 times and would win 49-48
  • Recent polls are helpful. Unfortunately, the only available poll is from July. That poll found Davids behind by a point.
  • Open Secrets reports that in mid-July Sharice Davids had $3.5 millon while Amanda Adkins has $1.5 million


Nebraska 02 R+3

Tony Vargas

Nebraska also has a competitive Congressional race.  If Tony Vargas (Political Note #453) were to win and everything else remained the same, that would reduce the number of projected Democratic wins we would need to change to two.  (Assuming, of course, that my calculation for where things stand in the several Congressional races is accurate).

Tony Vargas, who grew up on Long Island, the son of parents who immigrated from Peru, is now a Nebraska Senator.  He had graduated from the University of Rochester, got Master’s back in New York at Pace where he met his wife, a community service worker from California with a degree from Baylor in Texas.  They both went to work for Teach for America, which sent him to Nebraska.  They both went to Nebraska where they have become fixtures in progressive politics.  Before he was elected to Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, he was Executive Director of the state Association of Service Providers.  In the legislature, he represented his Omaha district and, informally, the Hispanic communities of Nebraska.  He is trying to oust the incumbent Don Bacon. For good or for ill, news stations have found him and he has been a frequent commentator on behalf of Republican Members of Congress.  Even redistricted, NE 02 is a swing district.  We will see who this prominence helps.

  • 538 projects that Tony Vargas would win 13 times of 100 times and would lose 48.3-53.7
  • Recent polls are helpful.
    • A Democratic funded B/C rated poll reported on August 7th (the most recent poll) that Tony Vargas was behind 46-47
  • Open Secrets reports that Tony Vargas had $500,000 while Ken Bacon had $1.1 million available

 Down Ballot Races

Attorney General and Secretary of State candidates.  The relative importance of attempting to defeat a Republican Secretary of State or Attorney General candidate, for me, is based on whether or not a candidate believes Donald Trump’s big lie.  A candidate who believes Donald Trump won the 2020 election should not be in an office that oversees elections or the implementation of state law because that person simply does not understand what a fraudulent election is and may be willing to commit some kind of defensive fraud.

North Dakota

Attorney General – North Dakota

Tim Lamb

KXNET interviewed Tim Lamb, the Democratic candidate opposing recently appointed Republican Attorney General Drew Wrigley (appointed in February 2022 by the governor after the death of AG Wayne Stenehjem).  The interviewer noted that Tim Lamb had been in the military for 20 years, a company commander for two tours of duty in Germany, and had been practicing law now for 10 years in North Dakota and concluded after the interview that Tim Lamb disagreed with the incumbent on almost every aspect of the job.

Asked why he was running for office, Tim Lamb explained important issues had arisen.  Wrisley or someone else in the AG office had deleted all of the emails of the former Attorney General which was, to Tim Lamb so troubling he has called for a special prosecutor to investigate the deletions.  Wrisley ignoring the purchase of farm land by Bill Gates’ foundation despite North Dakota’s anti-corporate farming act was another troubling act. Tim Lamb saw Wrisley’s release of statistics showing a 10% increase in crime as a prelude to a proposal for increasing the length of prison sentences — a failed and expensive solution to crimeThe Democrat proposed community by community work addressing the bad state of mind that has been created by Covid.  Asked about a possible proposal to decriminalize marijuana, Tim Lamb explained that there are a lot of people who use marijuana now.  Decriminalization would eliminate about 3,500 criminal cases per year at a savings of $5,000 per case.  That is a lot of savings. In this interview, Tim Lamb was not asked about recent revelations that he has carried on a correspondence with a “bikini model” on Facebook.

Wrisley is a former US Attorney and North Dakota Lt. Governor.  Whatever his views about the office of Attorney General, he does not address them on his campaign website.  He does have a slogan: Conservative, Accountable, Law and Order Leadership for North Dakota.


Secretary of State – North Dakota

Jeffrey Powell

North Dakota is a Republican state.  The Democratic candidate for Secretary of State, Jeffrey Powell, is an administrator at Mayville State University.  He is running because Republicans have chipped away at American’s right to vote.  Suppressing the vote even happens in North Dakota.

Does that apply to the Republican candidate Michael Howe?  Howe says his first commitment is to election integrity, to consistency in the way elections are administered throughout the state. He uses the Republican mantra that has been the rallying cry for suppression : “…make it easier to vote and harder to cheat.” And he says that “There’s too many questions regarding the 2020 election…” He cites one instance where a voter has a street address in one county and a post office box in another.  This is such a non-starter as a problem that it is hard to tell whether Howe is simply nodding to constituents who are Trump believers or is serious.

South Dakota

Attorney General – South Dakota

There is no Democratic Candidate for Attorney General.  The legislature having impeached and convicted and barred from office AG Jason Ravnsborg after a  hit and run fatal accident, the Republicans nominated Marty Jackley, who had been AG from 2009-2019.

Secretary of State – South Dakota

Tom Cool

The Democratic candidate for Secretary of State is Tom Cool who had  recently retired Executive Director of the Council of College Admissions for South Dakota.  He has been involved in counseling students for well over 30 years and is part of a family that has been in South Dakota for generations.

If elections were competitive in South Dakota and the actions of the Secretary of State determinative, the former staffer of the Secretary of State’s office Monae Johnson would be dangerous. She won the nomination in the Republican primary from current Secretary of State Steve Barnett arguing that South Dakota lacks “election integrity.” Having worked in various roles in the Secretary of State’s office for eight years, she is currently a receptionist in the law offices of Marty Jackley (see above). Her website states: “I am against voter fraud, online voting and online voter registration.” She adds: “I have been a life member of the NRA since I was 18 years old and in 2007 I became an Endowment member of the NRA.”  She is also the South Dakota President of Aglow International. Founded in 1967, Aglow’s national president wrote in 2005: “Feminism is a devil’s trick to undermine the “greatness” of manhood. From this deceit, Aglow must awaken and restore women”.


Attorney General — Nebraska

There is no Democratic candidate for Attorney General.  The Republican nominee is Mike Hilger, who is now the Speaker of Nebraska’s unicameral legislature.  Except that Attorney General is elected state wide, the change in role may actually be a step down in political power.  His priorities have been highway construction, broadband expansion, and health care.  He has also grown his law firm rapidly.  There is a candidate for Attorney General from the Legalize Marijuana Now Party.

Secretary of state — Nebraska

There is no Democratic candidate for Secretary of State.  Republican incumbent Bob Evnen is the only candidate.  Partner in a law firm, appointed to the State Board of Education, general counsel to the state Republican party, treasurer for the campaign of US Senator Deb Fischer, he is enmeshed in the Republican Party.  He worked on a smooth transition with the outgoing Secretary of State and says he will spend a year looking at election laws around the country before making recommendations.  He rejects contentions of election fraud and irregularities during the 2020 election


Attorney General — Kansas

Chris Mann

Consider this a titanic battle; a small titanic battle, but still…. The Democratic candidate is Chris Mann (Political Note #425).  A graduate of the University of Kansas, initially the extent of his ambition was to become a cop like his dad.  At a traffic stop, a drunken driver rammed his patrol car which rammed into him.  HIs recovery took two years and was not sufficient to return to the physical activity required in police work.  Chris Mann retired, tried real estate, tried being a private investigator, and then went to law school.  Out of law school, he was hired as a prosecutor, became involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving, became a member of Kansas’s Sentencing Commission, and developed a private practice focused on the legally underserved and on victims of drunk driving.  His law practice became national as did his connection with Mothers Against Drunk Driving on whose National Board he sits.  His opponent, Kris Kobach is a national figure of a different sort.  Before he became Kansas’ Secretary of State, he touted, around the country, anti-immigrant municipal ordinances – punishing landlords for renting to the undocumented and employers for hiring them. Mostly, these ordinances did not stand up.  Cities lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in law suits.  But Kris Kobach continued his crusade. He did not limit himself to hatred for and actions against immigrants.  He also falsely complained the Obama administration is on its way toward ending prosecution of any African Americans.  Kobach was reelected in 2014, won the Republican primary for governor in 2018 by 343 votes, but lost the election to Democrat Laura Kelly.   Help Chris Mann defeat Kobach in 2022.

Secretary of State – Kansas

Jeanna Repass 

Still reeling from the economic chaos created by former governor Sam Brownbach and the social and electoral crises created by Kris Kobach, Kansas is edging toward becoming a purple state.   The Democrats’ candidate for Secretary of State is Jeanna Repass, a corporate success story.  She began as a local broadcast marketing and account manager, had a 5 year stint a General Sales and Marketing Manager for NRG Media, and 2 more years serving ultimately as General Sales Manager for Cumulus Media Partners.  For the past five years, she has been doing a different kind of marketing – serving as the Director of Urban Mission Outreach for the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection.  None of this is specific preparation to become Secretary of State, but she is stepping in to oppose the incumbent Scott Schwab whose behavior, she says, resembles Kris Kobach’s behavior.

Jeanna Repass is not wrong in her assessment of Scott Schwab.  He is a former Chair of the Kansas House’s Elections Committee which supported Kobach’s schemes to remove thousands of voters from the rolls. Running for Secretary of State, he said that he did not intend to roll back Kris Kobach’s voting standards. He was visible on a variety of pubic issues – opposition to same sex marriage, insistence that being gay is a lifestyle choice, opposition to medical marijuana, opposition to abortion.  Sadly and gruesomely, one of his four children was killed in a waterslide accident.  The one area in which he has supported government involvement is regulation and inspection of water parks.  Outspoken as he is on these controversial issues, he has not said whether he believes the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.  Support Jeanna Repass in this election.



Attorney General

There is no Democratic candidate for Attorney General.

 Secretary of State

There is no Secretary of State position in Oklahoma.  An election board appointed by the governor has that job.


Attorney General – Arkansas

Jesse Gibson

The son of two school teachers, Jesse Gibson grew up at the end of a dirt road, just behind a pond.  His high school graduation class had 26 kids and most of them had begun in kindergarten with him.  You could write a book about life like that.  When he was chosen to attend the Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership event, he might have been the most exotic attendee, even though what he remembers is meeting extraordinary, mind expanding people.  He went to the University of Arkansas and got his law degree at Arkansas, Little Rock.  The law firm that hired him was the wrong kind of place.  He opened his own office representing “the little guy” who had been somehow harmed by the bigs.  No candidate for Attorney General has a clearer, simpler, yet more detailed description of what he wants to achieve in the job.  Safety – with the police, tough on crime and invested in education programs, gun safety, human trafficking.  Security – Women’s health, the environment, education.  Strength – the economy, price gouging, social media and data.  Take a look at his website.  See what he has to say about these issues.  He is running against Tim Griffin.  Formerly a US Attorney, a US congressman, and Lt. Governor, he thought about running for governor, but decided on Attorney General as the current Attorney General was deciding on a run for Governor.  What kind of Attorney General would he be?  Politico describes his scheme for the 2022 election.  Politico describes Tim Griffin’s plan – to use rules intended to provide political balance among poll workers to train and install volunteers who would challenge voters in Democratic-majority polling places, to develop a website to connect those workers ot local lawyers and district attorneys to block the vote counts at Democratic-leaning precincts.  Politico obtained tapes of Griffin meeting with Republican activists around the country identifying helpful district attorneys and ways to build a legal “trap.” He reminded them that the local district attorney is more powerful than a congressman – “They’re the ones that can seat a grand jury.  They’re the ones that can start an investigation, issue subpoenas, make sure that records are retained, etc.”  This is the man who destroyed Henry Cisneros’ career, who was mentored by Karl Rove. Support Jesse Gibson.

Secretary of State – Arkansas

Anna Beth Gorman

Democratic nominee for Secretary of State, Anna Beth Gorman, is no radical. She is a member of the Junior League.  In 2016, she moved on from being the Chief Membership Officer for the Girl Scouts of Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas to become the Executive Director of the Women’s Foundation of Arkansas. She is an activist intending to be helpful to women.  Her goal and the Foundation’s goal is to encourage women into STEM career paths and to strengthen the economic well-being of women.  If she has an opinion about women’s right to have an abortion, she has kept it hidden.  In her candidacy for Secretary of State, she emphasizes the role of the office in assisting business.  Regarding voting, she says she will use the power of that office “to stand against any effort that serves to minimize the voice of Arkansas voters or restrict their constitutional right to participate in free and fair elections.”

The incumbent argues that, under his leadership, Arkansas has a healthy voting environment.  Now running for his second term, John Thurston points to the increase in votes between 2016 and 2020 and adds that “In the past two decades, only a handful of voter fraud cases were discovered in Arkansas and none during [his] first term.  Thurston is not joining the chorus claiming that the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump.

He does have one standard worth thinking about.  In Arkansas, proposed district lines are recommended by a three person committee composed of the Governor, the Attorney General, and the Secretary of State.  Before redistricting Thurston said he hoped “to play a role in drawing lines that are fair and logical for the voters. I think gerrymandering is insulting to the public.”  Were Arkansas’ Congressional districts gerrymandered?  The state’s four districts are more Republican than before the new lines were drawn.  That did not have to be the case, though.  Little Rock was “cracked” into three districts.  If that had not been the case, Arkansas might have had one competitive district.

I have suggestions, as I usually do, about how you might spend $500 on candidates from this region – if you have $500 for that purpose.  I wish I could recommend Democrats trying to flip a Republican Governor seat or a Senate seat.  The closest to a winning candidate in that category is Joy Hofmeister running for governor of Oklahoma who 538 says has a 4 in 100 chance of winning.  Here are my suggestions


Congressional candidates:

Inc Sharice Davids            Kansas 3rd District                         $100

Tony Vargas                        Nebraska’s 2nd District                 $100

Governor candidates:

Inc Laura Kelly                   Kansas                                              $ 50

Joy Hofmeister                   Oklahoma                                        $ 50

Attorney General candidate

Chris Mann                          Kansas                                              $ 50

Jesse Gibson                      Arkansas                                           $ 50

Secretary of State  candidate

Tom Cool                              South Dakota                                  $ 50

Jeanna Reposa                   Kansas                                               $ 50


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