Election Insights
Election Insights is a political analysis publication of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization, that is supported by several hundred of the nation’s leading businesses and trade associations.  The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of our organization.

May 25, 2018
Primaries in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas Run-offs Conclude While Key Contests for Senate and Governor Heat Up 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Texas: JMC Analytics find Sen. Ted Cruz (R) expanding lead over Democrat opponent, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, 47- 40%.
  • Vermont: Sen. Bernie Sanders to run for re-election as Democrat and Independent
  • West Virginia: both candidates claim lead in conflicting new polls in Senate contest between incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R)
  • AR-2: State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) to oppose Rep. French Hill (R) in competitive race
  • CO-5: Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) leads in new survey despite ballot and court hurdles
  • KY-6: retired Marine Corp. Lt. Col. Amy McGrath wins Democratic primary and now faces Rep. Andy Barr (R) in what should be a highly competitive race
  • VA-6: state Delegate Ben Cline (R) wins open seat party nomination to replace retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R)
  • Georgia: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp advance to GOP run-off for Governor; ex-House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams Wins Democratic nomination
  • Hawaii: recent Merriman River Group poll shows tighter Democratic Gov primary between Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Gov. David Ige with Hanabusa leading 37-31% 
  • Kansas: new Remington Research poll shows two-point GOP race between Gov. Jeff Colyer (29%) and Secretary of State Kris Kobach (27%) in eight candidate gubernatorial primary
  • Texas:  Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez wins Democratic gubernatorial nomination over businessman Andrew White, 53-47%


Texas: A JMC Analytics & Polling survey of the Texas Senate race (5/19-21; 575 TX likely voters) finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) leading US Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso), 47-40%, as the two continue their general election campaign. The results, while still close, are a slight improvement for Sen. Cruz from the April Quinnipiac University poll that found him leading Mr. O'Rourke only 47-44%. Both Sen. Cruz and Rep. O'Rourke won their respective Republican and Democratic primaries back on March 6th.

Vermont:  Months ago, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders again pledged to seek re-election to the Senate as an Independent on the Vermont ballot. Now, the Senator and potential future presidential candidate says he will also enter the Democratic primary. If he wins the party nomination, Sen. Sanders maintains his name will still reside on the Independent line. Winning the Dem nomination would ensure that he would only face a Republican in the general election and not a three-way campaign. In any scenario, however, Sen. Sanders is a lock for re-election.

West Virginia: WPA Intelligence conducted the first West Virginia post-primary survey (5/10; 400 WV likely general election voters) for the new Joe Manchin-Patrick Morrisey US Senate race. According to the results, Attorney General Morrisey (R) notches a two-point, 46-44%, spread over Sen. Manchin (D). As predicted on primary night, this general election campaign, from a place where President Trump scored 69% of the vote but has also elected Mr. Manchin twice as both Governor and Senator, will go down to the political wire. Perhaps most troubling for Sen. Manchin, however, is his poor 30:59% favorability index among those polling respondents who declared themselves as undecided regarding who they will support in November.

Sen. Manchin then countered, releasing his own poll that provides a much different perspective of the impending general election. According to the Senator's internal Global Strategy Group survey (5/13-16; 600 WV likely voters), he leads Mr. Morrisey, 50-42%. Tthe totals are a bit surprising when seeing Sen. Manchin receive support from only 70% of Democrats, but then picking up 29% of Republicans. While the Democratic support number appears low, the Republican defection figure seems high.


AR-2: State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) defeated three Democratic opponents to win the party nomination outright this Tuesday. Mr. Tucker advances to the general election where he faces two-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) in what could become a competitive general election.

CA-50: Embattled California Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) still fares well in a new Survey USA poll conducted for the San Diego Union Tribune and local Channel 10 News. According to the S-USA results (5/15-20; 567 CA-50 likely June 5th jungle primary voters), Rep. Hunter would lead the upcoming primary vote with 43% support. Placing second with just 10% support is Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. The 2016 Democratic candidate who opposed Mr. Hunter, Patrick Malloy, is next with 7%, and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells (R) follows at 6% support. In California, the top two finishers in the primary election, regardless of percentage earned or party affiliation, advance into the general election.

CO-5: Though Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) had to fight through the courts to secure a ballot position after he was disqualified because of using non-Colorado resident petition circulators, a new political poll suggests he remains in position to win a plurality primary against two strong opponents. Magellan Strategies (5/20-21; 519 CO-5 likely Republican primary voters) conducted a pre-primary survey and find Rep. Lamborn leading the field of candidates attempting to deny him re-nomination. According to Magellan, Rep. Lamborn posts 37% support as compared to El Paso County Commissioner and former US Senate nominee Darryl Glenn who records 27% preference. State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) registers 10 percent. Two other minor candidates fail to even reach the 5% plateau. The Colorado primary is June 26th.

GA-6: Gun control advocate Lucy McBath (36%) and businessman Kevin Abel (31%) both slipped past former news anchor Bobby Kaple (26%) to advance into a July 24th Democratic run-off election. The winner faces Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), who won the most expensive congressional election in history last June in a special election to replace then-Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell).

GA-7: Ex-congressional and state Senate staff member Carol Bourdeaux (27%) and chain business owner David Kim (26%) advanced to the late July Democratic run-off election. The winner will then oppose four-term Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) in the upcoming general election.

HI-1: The Honolulu-anchored 1st Congressional District is again open as Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) is once more engaged in a statewide Democratic primary challenge, this time opposite Gov. David Ige. The Merriman River Group, polling for the Honolulu Civil Beat online news and political newsletter, (5/3-5; 967 HI statewide registered voters; 321 HI-1 likely Democratic primary voters), finds state Senator and former congressional candidate Donna Mercado Kim leading the all-important Democratic primary, 26-19% over new Lt. Gov. Doug Chin. Party-switching state Rep. Beth Fukumoto (D-Mililani) is in third place with 11%. No other candidate reaches double-digits. The eventual Democratic nominee wins the seat in November. The Hawaii primary is August 11th.

KY-6: Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath defeated Lexington-Fayette Mayor Jim Gray in Tuesday's Democratic primary with a 49-41% victory margin. Ms. McGrath now challenges three-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington) in what should be a highly competitive general election.

Texas: Partisan run-off elections were won on Tuesday. Retired Naval officer Dan Crenshaw (TX-2; 70%), state Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-5; 54%), Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright (TX-6; 52%), former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy (TX-21; 53%), and businessmen Michael Cloud (TX-27; 61%), all won their respective Republican party nominations and become prohibitive favorites to win their seats in November. For the Democrats, attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (TX-7; 67%), former Obama Administration US Trade Office official Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23; 68%), retired Army officer M.J. Hegar (TX-31; 62%), and ex-NFL football player Colin Allred (TX-32; 69%), advanced into the general election where they will face respective incumbents John Culberson (R-Houston), Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), John Carter (R-Round Rock), and Pete Sessions (R-Dallas).

VA-6: Last weekend, delegates in Virginia's open 6th District met in convention to choose a Republican nominee to replace retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke). The first ballot winner is state Delegate Ben Cline (R-Amherst), who captured 52% of the vote. He defeated Republican National Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, a former Texas Board of Education member, who scored 39% delegate support. Mr. Cline will go into the general election as the prohibitive favorite since the 6th is Virginia's second-most Republican congressional district (Trump '16: 60-35%). Four Democrats are vying for the party nomination that will be decided in the June 12th primary election.


Alabama: The Tarrance Group, polling for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), projects their client to be in strong position as we enter the primary campaign's final two weeks. The poll (5/20-22; 602 AL likely Republican primary voters) finds Gov. Ivey holding a stout 58-18% lead over Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. Baptist minister Scott Dawson is next with 7%, while state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) posts only 5% support. The Alabama primary will be held June 5th.

Connecticut: Businessman Ned Lamont, the founder of Campus Televideo, a company that provides video and data services to colleges and universities, easily won the official Democratic primary endorsement at the state party convention last weekend.   Mr. Lamont's victory was so complete that his top challenger, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim did not even secure enough support to qualify for the primary ballot. He pledges to force an August 14th primary through petition, however.

Georgia: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (39%) and Secretary of State Brian Kemp (26%) advanced to a July 24th Republican run-off after placing first and second in Tuesday's primary election. State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) (18%), businessman Clay Tippins (12%), and state Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) (5%) were eliminated. For the Democrats, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams won a landslide 76-24% outright victory over ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans. Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Hawaii: An early May Merriman River Group survey was just released (5/3-5; 707 HI likely Democratic primary voters), and while this data still finds US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) leading incumbent Gov. David Ige (D) for the August 11th Democratic primary election, the margin is much closer. According to Merriman, Rep. Hanabusa's lead is 37-31%. In March, a Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategies survey found her substantially outpacing the Governor, 47-27%. Back in 2014, then-state Sen. Ige blasted Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) out of office with a 66-31% Democratic primary win. Rep. Hanabusa hopes to continue the Democratic voter streak of denying re-nomination to their incumbent Governors.

Iowa: It appears more likely than ever that businessman Fred Hubbell will capture the Democratic gubernatorial nomination on June 5th. His chief rival, state Sen. Nate Boulton (D-Des Moines) yesterday suspended his campaign in response to several sexual harassment claims. The move assuredly ends Sen. Boulton's statewide efforts, though it is too late to remove his name from the ballot. The eventual Democratic nominee would then challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who is running for her first full term after succeeding former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) upon the latter's appointment as US Ambassador to China.

Kansas: While the Kansas gubernatorial primary is not until August 7th, Remington Research went into the field to provide early numbers for the Republican nomination battle. According to their poll (5/14-15; 1,441 KS likely Republican primary voters via automated message device), Gov. Jeff Colyer, who ascended to the Governorship when incumbent Sam Brownback (R) accepted a federal appointment, has only a 29-27% slight lead over Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Though eight Republicans are in the race, it already appears the GOP primary is winnowing down to the two major candidates.

Maryland: This week, state election authorities informed gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin (D) that while she can now run for Governor in the late Kevin Kamenetz's place, her name will not appear on the ballot because it is too late to reverse the printing. Therefore, Ms. Ervin will have to convince her supporters to vote for Mr. Kamenetz, who suddenly passed away on May 10th, in order for the tallies to count for her. Obviously, this procedure lessens her nomination chances. She faces Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, and state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) in the June 26th party primary. The winner opposes Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the fall.

Tennessee: US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) released the results of her new OnMessage gubernatorial survey (5/14-17; 600 TN likely GOP primary voters) that post her to a sizable 41-28-9-8% advantage over former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd (R), State House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), and businessman Bill Lee (R). The Tennessee primary is Thursday, August 2nd.   Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Texas: A day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez won the Lone Star State Democratic gubernatorial nomination over businessman Andrew White, 53-47% in Tuesday's run-off election, JMC Analytics & Polling released a general election survey taken just days before the vote (5/19-21; 575 TX likely voters). The results find Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leading Ms. Valdez by a 48-36% clip. The totals are likely understating Gov. Abbott's strength because of the pre-primary publicity the Democrats were generating. Additionally, the campaign war chest figures are grossly out of balance.   Going into the Democratic run-off election, Ms. Valdez reported having only $115,000 in her campaign account versus almost $41 million in the Governor's campaign treasury.

May 18, 2018
Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oregon & Idaho Primaries Top Weekly Campaign Developments
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Indiana:  Gravis Poll shows general election dead heat between US Senate nominees Joe Donnelly (D) and Mike Braun (R)
  • Missouri:  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) leads Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) by four points
  • Pennsylvania:  Rep. Lou Barletta wins GOP Senate primary
  • Rhode Island:  Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse would easily defeat former Gov. and US Senator Lincoln Chafee (R/I/D) in Senate Dem primary
  • West Virginia:  Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) leads Sen. Joe Manchin (D) by two points
  • AZ-2:  Ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick drops behind in Dem Primary
  • ID-1:  Ex-state Rep. Russ Fulcher wins GOP primary; will win general election
  • MI-13:  John Conyers III may not qualify for Dem primary ballot
  • NE-2:  non-profit organization executive Kara Eastman upsets former Rep. Brad Ashford in Dem primary
  • NM-1:  three-way open Dem primary a dead heat between retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, former US Attorney Damon Martinez, and ex-New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Deb Haaland
  • PA Primary:  among other results, state Rep. Rick Saccone loses to state Senator Guy Reschenthaler in open 14th CD GOP primary and tight PA-7 GOP primary race results in victory for former Olympic Gold Medalist and Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein
  • Idaho:  Lt. Gov. Brad Little wins R primary; heavy favorite in general election
  • Maryland:  former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D) will replace the late gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz 
  • Oregon: state Representative Knute Buehler (R) to face Gov. Kate Brown (D) in Governor’s race


Indiana:  Gravis Marketing released their first Indiana post-primary poll featuring US Senate nominees Joe Donnelly (D) and Mike Braun (R). According to the poll (5/10-15; 400 IN likely voters), those surveyed break 45-44% in challenger Braun's favor. But, when pushed to make a choice, the "uncertain" respondents broke toward Sen. Donnelly 19-13% with 69% remaining as undecided. We can expect to see similar tight polls such as this one in the foreseeable future.

Missouri:  A new survey from the Missouri Scout news service (5/9-10; 888 MO registered voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) clinging to a 48-44% lead over Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), which is her best showing since the last Missouri Scout poll (4/19-20) that produced exactly the same result. Other surveys from four other pollsters, found a much tighter contest. The ranges come all the way from Hawley leading by one point to McCaskill ahead by two. Expect this to be another of the hard-fought toss-up Senate races that will occur later this year.

Pennsylvania: Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) captured the Republican Senatorial nomination with a 63% victory over state Rep. Jim Christiana. Mr. Christiana performed well in the western PA counties north of Pittsburgh, but Rep. Barletta won throughout the rest of the state. He now faces Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) in the general election. At this point, the contest clearly favors Sen. Casey, but Rep. Barletta has the potential of making the general election competitive.

Rhode Island: A couple of weeks ago, former Governor and US Senator Lincoln Chafee (R/I/D) floated the idea that he might challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in this year's Democratic primary. Yesterday, Sen. Whitehouse's campaign released the results of their Anzalone Liszt Grove Research internal poll (5/7-14; 801 RI likely general election voters with an over-sample of 101 likely Democratic primary voters making the total primary sample size 329). According to the data, Sen. Whitehouse would defeat Mr. Chafee in a landslide, 72-14%. Within the polling sample, Sen. Whitehouse's favorability index is 79:10% positive to negative as opposed to Mr. Chafee's, 32:46%. Mr. Chafee has yet to announce definitively that he will run.

West Virginia:  WPA Intelligence conducted the first West Virginia post-primary survey (5/10; 400 WV likely general election voters) for the new Joe Manchin-Patrick Morrisey US Senate race. According to the results, Attorney General Morrisey (R) notches a two-point, 46-44%, spread over Sen. Manchin (D). As predicted on primary night, this general election campaign, from a place where President Trump scored 69% of the vote but has also elected Mr. Manchin twice as both Governor and Senator, will go down to the political wire. Perhaps most troubling for Sen. Manchin, however, is his poor 30:59% favorability index among those polling respondents who declared themselves as undecided about whom they will support in November.

Wisconsin: This past weekend, Republican convention delegates from across the Badger State gathered to make official party endorsements. In the US Senate primary, the delegates voted 73-27% to endorse state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) over businessman Kevin Nicholson and several other minor candidates. The endorsement doesn't preclude an August 14th primary, but does provide the favored contender with extra campaign resources and the official party candidate designation. The eventual nominee faces first-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) in what will be a competitive general election, but one in which the GOP candidate begins as a decided underdog.


AZ-2: A new FM3 Research survey (4/29-5/3; 400 AZ-2 likely Democratic primary voters) indicates that former US Representative and ex-US Senate candidate Ann Kirkpatrick (D) has dropped behind 2016 congressional nominee Matt Heinz in the battle for the open 2nd District Democratic nomination. According to the FM3 results, Mr. Heinz now posts a 27-23% advantage over the former Congresswoman. The Arizona primary is not until August 28th, so plenty of time remains for what now appears to be a volatile nomination campaign. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) is vacating the district to run for Senate. This general election contest will likely earn a toss-up rating.

CT-5: After the district Republican endorsing convention where delegates officially supported Meriden Mayor Manny Santos for the official party nomination, retired psychology professor Ruby O'Neill immediately said she would force an August 14th primary election. Now, businessman Rich DuPont, who also secured enough convention delegate votes to advance to the primary ballot announced this week that he, too, will compete in the August election. Democrats also look to have a contested primary. The seat is open because Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Cheshire) is retiring.

ID-1: In the open 1st District, as expected, former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher easily won the Republican primary against a former Lt. Governor and two state Representatives. Mr. Fulcher has virtually punched his ticket to Washington with his party nomination victory since the western Idaho congressional district is strongly Republican.

MI-13: We have seen a number of candidates fail to qualify for the ballot around the country this year and John Conyers III, seeking to replace his father, resigned Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), may be the next to fall short in the signature gathering process. According to authorities at the Wayne County Elections Division, Mr. Conyers has only 880 valid nominating petition signatures from the 1,914 submitted. All candidates must submit 1,000 valid registered voter signatures from CD 13. A final determination about Mr. Conyers' ballot status is scheduled for later today. The MI-13 special election is running concurrently with the general election cycle. The winner will serve the final two months of the current term along with the succeeding full term assuming the same individual wins both the special and regular election that will be conducted simultaneously.

NE-2: Omaha provided the state with a major political upset in Tuesday's primary election. In the 2nd District Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders-backed Kara Eastman, a non-profit organization executive, edged former US Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) to score a 51-49% upset victory for the party nomination. She will now oppose freshman Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) in November. This will be a race to watch, but Mr. Bacon begins the general election as the favorite.

NM-1: A new Lake Research Partners survey (5/13-14; 390 NM-1 registered voters by Interactive Voice Response system) finds almost a three-way tie for the open Democratic nomination.   Retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has a slight 25-23-20% lead over former US Attorney Damon Martinez and ex-New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Deb Haaland. The results mean the race is a virtual tie at this point, just three weeks from the state's June 5th primary election. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) is vacating the House seat to run for Governor. The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite to hold the seat in November.

PA-1: A competitive race is now on tap in the Bucks County 1st District, where freshman Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) will defend his seat against investment fund CEO Scott Wallace, the grandson of former US Vice President Henry Wallace. Mr. Wallace decisively won the Democratic primary on May 15th.

PA-4 & 5: Democratic state Rep. Madeleine Dean won a huge primary victory in the new Montgomery County 4th District. She captured 73% of the vote and caused former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) to finish last in the primary with just 11% support. Ms. Dean now becomes the prohibitive favorite to win in the general election. A similar situation exists in the neighboring new 5th District where former local school board member Mary Gay Scanlon also convincingly won her Democratic nomination battle. Ms. Scanlon will convert this district to the Democratic column in the fall.

PA-6: Businesswoman and retired Air Force officer Chrissy Houlahan (D) is favored to capture the 6th District against attorney Greg McCauley (R) after Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester) decided to withdraw from the primary after the filing deadline. Both Ms. Houlahan and Mr. McCauley ran unopposed in their respective primaries.

PA-7: The very tight outcome in the Allentown-Bethlehem Republican primary has been resolved. Former Olympic Gold Medalist (cycling) and Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein has won the Republican nomination and advances to the general election against new Democratic nominee Susan Wild. Mr. Nothstein's 308-vote margin from more than 31,000 ballots cast has been confirmed. Former County Commissioner Dean Browning conceded the race and endorsed Mr. Nothstein. The winner of what is likely to be a toss-up general election contest will succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown).

PA-8: Businessman John Chrin won the Republican primary and now will become a competitive opponent to Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in the new 8th District. The 8th is the one incumbent Democratic district that the court-ordered redistricting made weaker for the incumbent Congressman.

PA-9 & 13: Outside the Philadelphia area, former Revenue Commissioner Joe Meuser won the new 9th District Republican primary, and Altoona dermatologist John Joyce topped a large field in the new 13th CD GOP vote. Both men will head to Washington in the fall.

PA-14: In western PA, state Rep. Rick Saccone, who lost the March 13th special election to Democrat Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), again went down to defeat. This time, he lost the new open 14th CD, a district containing 57% of the territory where he previously ran. State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Township) easily defeated Saccone, 55-45%, and will win the seat in November.


Connecticut: This weekend, the Connecticut Democrats will meet in convention to officially endorse party candidates. In response to developments earlier in the week, the delegates will have more to consider. Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced that she was dropping out of the Governor's race and will instead form a ticket with fellow candidate Ned Lamont who, in 2006, denied Sen. Joe Lieberman re-nomination in the Connecticut Democratic primary. Under the state's election law, Mr. Lieberman was still able to qualify as an Independent candidate despite losing in a partisan primary election. Sen. Lieberman went on to win the general election in that year despite not being a major party nominee. The seat is open because Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is not seeking re-election.

Idaho: The two races of note were the primary campaigns to nominate candidates who will eventually succeed retiring three-term Gov. Butch Otter (R). For the favored Republicans, Lt. Gov. Brad Little scored a 37-32-27% primary victory over US Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/ Boise) and physician Tommy Ahlquist. Mr. Little now becomes the favorite against state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Moscow) who registered a big victory over 2014 gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff.

Maryland: Last week it was widely reported that Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County Executive, suddenly passed away. Before his untimely death, Mr. Kamenetz had formed a ticket with former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, who was his choice for Lt. Governor. Under Maryland election law, Ms. Ervin is empowered to make a decision regarding continuing the campaign. She could automatically assume the top position on the ticket, withdraw the ticket from the race, or appoint a new candidate to replace the late Mr. Kamenetz. Yesterday, Ms. Ervin announced she would continue the Kamenetz campaign and run for Governor. She then named former Baltimore School Board member Marisol Johnson as her own running mate. The Maryland primary is June 26th.

Oregon: With little competition in the US House races and no Senate race for 2018, all attention was focused on the Republican gubernatorial primary. There, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) defeated former statewide candidate Sam Carpenter and Blue Angels former commander Greg Wooldridge by a 47-29-19% count. Mr. Buehler now challenges Gov. Kate Brown (D) who stands for her first full term after winning a 2016 special election. Gov. Brown is favored for re-election.

May 11, 2018
Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio & West Virginia Primaries Headline Eventful Election Week
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida: Gov. Rick Scott (R) leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in new poll
  • Mississippi: poll finds Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) leading; Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton (D) out of Senate race
  • Indiana: businessman Mike Braun wins Senate Republican primary
  • Ohio: Rep. Jim Renacci (R) advances to face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)
  • West Virginia: Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wins Republican  primary
  • IN Congress: St. Rep. Jim Baird (R), Greg Pence (R) headed to Congress
  • NC-3: Rep. Walter Jones (R) wins primary with plurality
  • NC-9: Rep. Bob Pittenger (R) defeated for re-nomination
  • OH-12: St. Sen. Troy Balderson (R) wins special primary; general election set for August 7
  • OH-6: Ex-NFL player Anthony Gonzalez wins open GOP primary
  • SC-4: poll shows run-off coming to replace Rep. Trey Gowdy (R)
  • WA-8: poll shows Dino Rossi (R) has commanding lead in open seat
  • WV-3: Del. Carol Miller, Sen. Richard Ojeda advance to general
  • Alaska: Gov. Bill Walker (I) enters Dem primary
  • Florida: close polling in both gubernatorial primaries; state House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) leaves primary race and endorses former US Rep. Adam Putnam (R)
  • Iowa: new Dem poll gives businessman Fred Hubbell large lead for Governor
  • Kansas: Minority Leader Jim Ward (D) drops out of Governor's race
  • Ohio: Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) to face ex-Federal Consumer Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray (D) in race for Governor


Florida: A new Florida Atlantic University survey (5/4-7; 1,000 Florida registered voters via online sampling) finds Gov. Rick Scott (R), who has been advertising heavily since announcing for the Senate in early April, leads incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D), 44-40% according to the poll results. Among likely voters within the large polling segment, however, the two men are tied at 45% apiece. We can expect this race to carry a toss-up rating all the way to Election Day.

Mississippi: The US Chamber of Commerce commissioned a Global Strategy Group survey (5/1-3; 500 MS likely voters) and found new Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) holding a 30-22-17-4% lead over former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D), state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton (D), respectively. The polling confirms Republican concerns that McDaniel's candidacy will force Hyde-Smith into a post-election run-off.

Meanwhile, Mayor Shelton announced that he will not continue his campaign, thus allowing Mr. Espy to better coalesce Democrats around his statewide effort. All candidates will appear on the November 6th ballot in a jungle primary format. A likely run-off will ensue on November 27th because it is improbable, at least as this early-going forecast suggests, that any candidate can command an outright majority.

Indiana: Former state Representative and national distribution company owner Mike Braun (R-Jasper) defeated US Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), 41-30-29% for the Republican US Senate nomination on May 8th. Mr. Braun now challenges Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in the general election in a campaign that should earn a toss-up rating all the way to Election Day.

Ohio: The Senate general election campaign is now set. In the May 8th primary, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) won the Republican nomination with a 47-32% victory over Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons. Rep. Renacci will now challenge two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the fall. Sen. Brown was unopposed for re-nomination in the Democratic primary. The Senator begins the general election cycle in the clear favorite's position. 

West Virginia: Attorney General Patrick Morrisey defeated US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) and former energy company CEO and convicted felon Don Blankenship to win the Republican Senate primary this Tuesday. Mr. Morrisey scored a 35-29-20% win over Messrs. Jenkins and Blankenship, respectively. The two-term Attorney General now faces Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the general election in what should be another hard-fought toss-up election all the way to November.


Indiana: Since Congressional Districts 4 and 6 are both safely Republican, new GOP nominees Jim Baird, a state Representative, and Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Mike Pence, have virtually punched their tickets to Congress. Both won the respective primaries in the 4th and 6th, and the two men will individually replace Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), each of whom risked their seats to run unsuccessfully in Tuesday's Senate primary.

NC-3: North Carolina veteran Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) survived two primary challengers earlier this week, but only garnered 43% of the vote. Because North Carolina election law only requires a run-off if a candidate falls below 30%, however, Rep. Jones won re-nomination and clinched another term on Tuesday night. Because the Democrats did not file a candidate in the 3rd District race, Rep. Jones is guaranteed to win re-election in November. He was first elected in 1994 and says the upcoming term will be his last.

NC-9: The first incumbent electoral casualty of the 2018 election season occurred this week in southern North Carolina. Two years ago, after a mid-decade court-ordered redistricting radically changed the 9th Congressional District, making 60% of the territory new to Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) soon before the 2016 primary, he and former Charlotte area pastor Mark Harris fought to a virtual draw in the GOP primary. In that year, Rep. Pittenger survived by only a 134-vote margin. On Tuesday, the tables turned. Mr. Harris denied Rep. Pittenger re-nomination with a 48.5 - 46.2% percentage spread, a margin of 814 votes.

Mr. Harris will now face Democratic businessman Dan McCready, who has already raised almost $2 million for his campaign. The 9th District, which now stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border, looks to be competitive in the fall. But, President Trump carried the seat by nine percentage points in 2016, and Rep. Pittenger won the general election with 58% of the vote, so the voting trends still clearly favor the new Republican nominee.

OH-12: On Tuesday, state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) nipped local township trustee Melanie Leneghan by one percentage point to win the Republican special election nomination. Sen. Balderson now advances to the special general scheduled in a stand-alone election on August 7th. The winner replaces former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) who resigned from the House to return to the private sector. In that election, Sen. Balderson faces Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor who won the Democratic nomination with 41% of the vote in a field of six candidates. The Republican primary out-drew the Democratic side by over 23,000 voters. Sen. Balderson is the clear favorite to win the special general. He simultaneously won the Republican nomination for the full term in the regular cycle, also by a one-percentage point margin.

OH-16: Also on Tuesday, Anthony Gonzalez, a former professional football player with the Indianapolis Colts after starring at Ohio State University, won the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) who became the Senate Republican nominee on the same night. Mr. Gonzalez defeated state Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro Township), 53-41%. He now will oppose healthcare company executive Susan Moran Palmer (D) in the general election. The 56-39% Trump district should easily yield a Gonzalez victory on November 6th.

SC-4: A total of 13 Republican candidates are running to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg) in the upcoming June 12th primary election. If no candidate secures majority support, a run-off will occur just two weeks later on June 26th. According to a National Research survey (4/23-25; 400 SC-4 likely Republican primary voters) for the GOPAC Election Fund, former state Sen. Lee Bright (R-Roebuck) pulls 13%, followed by a group of candidates between 5 and 7%. Former Spartanburg County Republican chairman Josh Kimbrell, state Sen. William Timmons (R-Greenville), and state Rep. Dan Hamilton (R-Greenville) are all within the margin of polling error for the second run-off position. No other candidate exceeded 2% support. In all, only 37% of the respondents could name a preferred candidate.

WA-8: Controversy has been reigning in the Washington state media about a Global Strategy Group poll (released in part on 4/12; 400 WA-8 likely jungle primary voters) that has been selectively released. The flap surrounds whether pediatrician Kim Schrier or attorney Jason Rittereiser is in second place. Under the Washington primary process, the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of vote percentage or party affiliation. But, regardless of who is doing better among Democrats, the more important fact is that Republican former state Senator and gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi begins the race with a commanding lead. According to the latest release from the GSG, the "uniformed", or first ballot test question asked, finds Rossi garnering 48% support. Dr. Schrier is second with 14%, Mr. Rittereiser third at 6%, and a second physician, Shannon Hader (D), is third with 5 percent. The 8th District is a marginal Republican seat that Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is vacating after seven terms.

WV-3: With Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) leaving the House for his unsuccessful Senate run, the voters in the open 3rd District chose nominees on Tuesday. The Republicans fielded seven candidates, and state House Majority Whip Carol Miller (R-Cabell County) won the nomination with just 25% of the vote. She will face state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) who grabbed 52% support in the Democratic primary over three others. Ms. Miller will begin the race as the favorite, but Sen. Ojeda could make this a competitive general election.


Alaska: Under a new state election law that allows Independent candidates to enter partisan primaries, Gov. Bill Walker, the nation's lone Independent Governor, said yesterday that he will compete for the Democratic nomination in the state's August 21st primary. He could continue on the Independent line in the general election irrespective of the primary outcome. Over the weekend, former US Sen. Mark Begich (D) again refused to rule out his own bid for Governor. Should he enter the race, Mr. Begich would be viewed as the favorite for the Democratic nomination, yielding a likely three-way free-for-all in the general election where anything could happen.

Florida: The aforementioned Florida Atlantic University poll (see Florida Senate above) finds both the open Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries to be virtual ties with all candidates securing less than 20% support. For the Democrats, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine leads the field with just 16% respondent preference, followed by former US Rep. Gwen Graham at 15%, businessman Chris King taking 10%, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum following with just 6% support. On the Republican side, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) has an identical 16-15% edge over Agriculture Commissioner and former US Rep. Adam Putnam.

The third presumed significant candidate, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O' Lakes), was expected to begin a major push forward but has now changed course. Consistently failing to even reach high single-digits in polling, Mr. Corcoran has decided not to run, and this week instead endorsed Mr. Putnam.

Iowa: According to a new Remington Research survey (5/5-6; 2,315 IA likely Democratic primary voters; automated), businessman Fred Hubbell (D), who has been advertising heavily as the nomination campaign moves into its final month before the June 5th primary election, has developed a large lead. The results find Mr. Hubbell capturing 46% of the polled Democratic respondent group. State Sen. Nate Boulton (D-Des Moines) is far back with 20%, followed by four other candidates all registering below 8% preference. The winner will challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) in November. Ms. Reynolds, the state's Lt. Governor until incumbent Terry Branstad (R) was appointed US Ambassador to China, is running for her first full term.

Kansas: State House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita) has ended his gubernatorial campaign. With state Rep. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) capturing the party's liberal faction and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer (D) squeezing him from a geographic perspective, Mr. Ward had a very narrow path to victory. Instead, he announced that he will seek another term in the state House.

Maryland: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who was one of the leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates, suffered a heart attack early yesterday morning and suddenly passed away at the age of 60. His passing leaves not only a void in statewide Democratic politics but also in Baltimore local government. Since Mr. Kamenetz chose an official running mate, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D), she has until next Thursday to make a decision about her ticket's status. Under state law, Ms. Ervin can elevate herself to the gubernatorial position, invite another person to take Mr. Kamenetz's place, or withdraw the ticket from the ballot. The latest available campaign finance report showed the Kamenetz campaign had raised over $1 million, a war chest that Ms. Ervin will inherit if she decides to become the gubernatorial candidate.

Missouri: State legislative leaders announced they have met the requirements to call a special session of the state House and Senate to consider the special committee report about Gov. Eric Greitens (R) pre-election affair with a married woman and subsequent felony indictment for invasion of privacy. The special session will begin May 18th and could result in an impeachment vote.   In the House, 15 Representatives beyond than the required minimum amount signed the legislative petition to request a special session. In the Senate, 26 were needed to agree, and 29 Senators made the official request. Such numbers do not bode well for Gov. Greitens. If he were removed from office, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson (R) would become Governor. 

Ohio: In the lone Governor's race on the ballot in the multi-state May 8th primary, Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine easily defeated Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, 60-40%. For the Democrats, as expected, former Attorney General and ex-Federal Consumer Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray topped former Rep. Dennis Kucinich and others with 62% of the party vote. The DeWine-Cordray general election now sets up a re-match between the two former opponents. In 2010, Mr. DeWine, who lost his US Senate seat in 2006, unseated then-Attorney General Cordray, 47-46%, in that year's general election. The Ohio Governor's race is open because incumbent John Kasich (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

May 4, 2018
Latest Polling Results as May Primary Contests Get Underway
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Missouri Senate:  new polls show Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) tied at 45% 
  • Ohio:  pre-election polling data for the Senate Republican primary shows US Rep. Jim Renacci leading investment banker Mike Gibbons; US Senator Mike DeWine (R) and former Attorney General Richard Cordray (D) poised for respective primary wins in race for Governor
  • CO-5:  Rep. Doug Lamborn reinstated on Republican primary ballot
  • FL-9:  Former Rep. Alan Grayson (D) to challenge state Rep. Darren Soto (D) in seat he previously represented for two terms
  • IL-6:  Hart Research Poll shows Rep. Peter Roskam (R) clinging to a 45-44% lead over Sean Casten (D)
  • NY 25:  still no special election scheduled to replace the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D)
  • PA 7; 15:  special elections to run concurrently with regular election cycle on November 6
  • NY Governor:  Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) tenuous primary polling numbers in his race against actress Cynthia Nixon will be one to watch


Missouri: Two more early polls were released for the Missouri Senate race and both again show a virtual dead heat. The Emerson College survey (4/26-29; 600 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) tied at 45% apiece. The Hawley Campaign also released their own internal survey (OnMessage; 4/16-18; 600 MO likely voters) projecting the first-term Attorney General to be holding the slightest of leads, 47-46%. Other released data found Sen. McCaskill with a similarly tight edge.

OhioBaldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH released their pre-primary polling results (4/24-5/2; 811 OH registered voters; 333 OH likely Democratic primary voters; 323 OH likely Republican primary voters) as the candidates and electorate prepare to go to the polls next Tuesday. In the Senate Republican primary, US Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) leads Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons, 24-10%. This result is consistent with other published polls but tells us anything can happen on Election Day. Seeing such a high undecided mark heading into the final weekend before any election is quite unusual.


CO-5: Previously, the Colorado state Supreme Court had disqualified Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) from the ballot because the Congressman's consulting team hired petition circulators who are not state residents, a violation of Colorado election law. Late this week, a federal judge declared that law to be unconstitutional, a ruling upheld at the Appellate Court level. The decision, which is consistent with previous federal rulings from around the country, reinstates Rep. Lamborn to the 2018 Republican primary ballot. The Congressman faces state Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn in the June 26th Republican primary.

CT-5: Both parties were attempting to recruit high profile crime victims to run for the competitive western Connecticut congressional seat, but to no avail. Republicans attempted to convince state Rep. William Petit (R-Cheshire), the victim of a highly publicized and horrific home invasion crime that resulted in his wife and other family members perishing, said he will not run for Congress. Likewise for Sandy Hook Promise founders Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley, two potential Democratic candidates who lost sons in the 2012 school shooting that rocked the nation. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Cheshire) is not seeking re-election due to a sexual harassment situation involving her former chief of staff.

FL-9: Former Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) reversed his plans to run in one of two central Florida Republican districts and announced that he will file a Democratic primary challenge to 9th District Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) in the seat that he previously represented for two terms. Mr. Grayson says he's not so much running against Soto, but is doing so to re-claim his old seat. We can expect a raucous primary campaign to conclude on August 28th. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) immediately announced their support for Rep. Soto.

FL-27: Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is a member of the Miami Beach City Commission. When the legislature and Governor enacted legislation that forced current officeholders to resign their positions to seek another office, Ms. Gonzalez was one of many to file a lawsuit to overturn the law. Now that the legal efforts have been rebuffed, Councilor Gonzalez announced that she will resign her position to continue with her congressional campaign. Two other candidates, state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami) and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Ken Russell, chose the opposite course. Both of them abandoned their respective congressional campaign to keep their current positions. The Democratic leader appears to be former Health & Human Services Secretary and ex-University of Miami president Donna Shalala, while the Republican favorite appears to be former news anchor Maria Elvira Salazar.

IL-6: Congressional candidate Sean Casten, who won the Democratic nomination in March, released a Hart Research poll (4/21-23; 400 IL-6 likely general election voters) that finds Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) clinging to only a 45-44% lead. The 6th District race is expected to be highly competitive despite Rep. Roskam winning many tough races in the past. Back in 2006, the Congressman defeated now-Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) and he scored 58% and 59% in 2008 and 2012, respectively, the two years Illinois favorite son Barack Obama was scoring huge presidential percentages in his home state.

NY-25: Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) not yet scheduling the special election to replace the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester), one candidate's internal survey was released late last week. Former news reporter Rachel Barnhart (D) publicized her Democratic primary poll (Gravis Marketing; released 4/26; 599 NY-25 Democratic registered voters; 410 likely voters) that projects state Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) to be leading the field with 36% followed by Ms. Barnhart at 21 percent. Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden and Brighton Town Board Member Robin Witt follow with 10 and 7%, respectively. The Republicans are coalescing behind surgeon James Maxwell. The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite to succeed Rep. Slaughter when the election is ultimately scheduled.

PA-7; 15 (previous districts): Keystone State Gov. Tom Wolf (D) late this week set the special election schedule for the state's two impending vacant seats. Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) resigned from Congress last Friday, ending his congressional career that began in January of 2011. In the next few days, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) will follow suit and depart for the private sector. Gov. Wolf had ten days from the vacancy becoming official to call a replacement election(s) for purposes of choosing a successor(s) for the balance of the current term.

As we know, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court re-drew the boundaries earlier this year for the regular 2018 election cycle, but these special elections will be held in the previous districts. The state political parties will convene to choose nominees, presumably after the May 15th primary. Mr. Wolf announced that the special elections, as expected, will run concurrently with the regular election cycle, meaning November 6th. The winners will begin their congressional service upon election and could be the individuals who will be chosen in the corresponding districts for the new 116th Congress.

TX-6: As the candidates head toward the Texas run-off elections scheduled for May 22nd, WPA Intelligence released their survey (4/26-28; 400 TX-6 likely run-off voters) of the open 6th District Republican run-off between Tarrant County Assessor Ron Wright and airline pilot and Iraq War veteran Jake Ellzey. According to the results, Mr. Wright is staked to a 47-24% lead as the run-off campaign turns toward its final two weeks. In the March 6th primary, Mr. Wright placed first with 45% as compared to Mr. Ellzey's 22 percent. Because first-place finisher Wright did not garner majority support the secondary election is required. Also on May 22nd, the contest between journalist Jana Lynne Sanchez (D) and pastor Ruby Faye Woolridge (D) will be decided. In the primary, Ms. Woolridge topped Ms. Sanchez by just 15 votes, but neither were anywhere close to obtaining majority support.


Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is standing for her first election after ascending to the position from the Lt. Governor's perch when Gov. Robert Bentley (R) resigned last year. In the June 5th primary, the new Governor faces Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Birmingham pastor Scott Dawson, and state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile). According to Leverage Public Strategies, polling for the Alabama Daily News (4/23-30; 600 AL Republican likely primary voters) Gov. Ivey posts a 47-11-9-4% lead over Mayor Battle, Mr. Dawson, and Sen. Hightower, respectively. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election on July 17th. These numbers suggest, however, that Gov. Ivey has a strong chance of winning the nomination outright in early June. She would immediately become a heavy favorite to win the general election.

Georgia: The University of Georgia's School of Public and International Affairs ran a survey (4/19-26; 507 likely GA Republican primary voters) that finds Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle opening up a large lead over Secretary of State Brian Kemp and former state Sen. Hunter Hill, 41-10-9%, respectively, for the open May 22nd Republican primary. Earlier in the month, a similar poll was released on the Democratic side that found former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams topping ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans, 33-15%. Two-term Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek re-election.

Minnesota: This week, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) confirmed that he will force a primary campaign if he fails to win the party endorsement in the upcoming state convention. State Auditor Rebecca Otto (D) and state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul) previously said they would abide by the party delegates' vote. Mr. Walz is viewed as at least a slight favorite to win the nomination, but he obviously feels he could be upset at the convention. The primary announcement will likely reduce his strength among delegates even further, so the chances of now going to an August 14th Democratic primary are high. Prospects also exist for a Republican primary because former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is getting into the race too late to commit large numbers of county convention delegates already pledged to former gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner. All of these aforementioned developments suggest we could see an unusually active primary season in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

New York: Quinnipiac University (4/26-5/1; 1,076 NY registered voters; 473 Democratic likely primary voters) tested the formulating Democratic gubernatorial primary race between two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo and actress Cynthia Nixon. For the third time, a poll finds Gov. Cuomo comfortably leading the intra-party contest, but not overwhelmingly so. According to the Q-Poll, the Governor's re-nomination margin is 50-28%, which is actually more competitive than found in the two earlier polls. The survey results are providing signs that this developing campaign will be one to watch. The New York state office primary is scheduled for September 13th. The NY federal primary, which will determine US Senate and House nominees, occurs on June 26th.

Perhaps more disconcerting to the Governor are the general election results. Because Ms. Nixon already has the Working Families Party endorsement, she will be on the general election ballot. Tested with Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive, and Ms. Nixon, Gov. Cuomo's lead is only 40-23-20%, respectively.

Ohio: The aforementioned Baldwin Wallace University (see Ohio Senate above) also tested both party primaries in the open Governor's race. For the Democrats, former Attorney General Richard Cordray posts a 31-15% lead over former US Representative and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Following with less than double-digit support are state Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Mahoning Valley) at 7%, and retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill O'Neill who has 6% support. For the Republicans, as expected, Attorney General and former US Senator Mike DeWine holds a 52-25% commanding lead over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. The Ohio primary is Tuesday.

April 27, 2018
Key Primary Races Further Shape Emerging Candidate Field
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • California:  two new polls suggest Senate primary race tightening between Senator Diane Feinstein (D) and state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D)
  • Nevada:  new poll puts Sen. Dean Heller (R) up by 1 point in race with freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D)
  • Rhode Island:  former Independent Governor and former Republican US Senator Lincoln Chafee to challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) in Democratic primary for US Senate
  • Tennessee:  Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) holds slight lead over Rep. Marsha Blackburn, 46-43%
  • Utah:  Mitt Romney (R) failed to get necessary delegate support at recent Utah GOP nominating convention and now headed to a June 26 Republican primary with physician and state Rep. Mike Kennedy
  • AZ-8:  former State Senate President Debbie Lesko (R) won the special election 53-47% over physician Hiral Tipirneni (D)
  • CO-5:  Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) disqualified from 2018 ballot because ballot circulators not state residents as required by Colorado election law, and fell below the required 1,000 signatures; Rep. Lamborn is seeking to overturn this decision in federal court
  • TX-27:  special election to replace resigned Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) now set for June 30, 2018


California: Little known Probolsky Research (data released 4/23; 900 CA registered voters) finds Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) falling into a closer June 5th jungle primary vote with former state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles). The survey shows Sen. Feinstein commanding only a 38-27% lead over de Leon within the multi-candidate field.

The Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley (4/16-22; 1,738 CA likely voters responding to an online survey) also tested the California electorate and found a surprising result. While Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) only captured 28% support when all 32 qualified candidates were listed on the survey questionnaire, as they will be on the official ballot, movement occurred from at least one down ballot candidate. The second-place finisher was former state Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) as expected, but at only 11%. The individual in third place, however, coming from the lower tier of candidates and trailing de Leon by just one percentage point, is Republican James Bradley who is running on an "America First" platform and against the sanctuary cities concept.

Michigan: The Strategic National survey research organization (4/21; 350 MI likely GOP primary voters) tested the Senate Republican primary and found venture capitalist Sandy Pensler leading manufacturing business owner John James, 26-13%. With just over three months to go before this August 7th primary culminates, the race for the GOP nomination appears wide open. The winner will face Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D), who is running for a fourth term.

Nevada: The Mellman Group, a national Democratic polling firm, tested the upcoming all-but-certain Senate general election campaign (4/12-19; 600 NV likely voters) between first-term Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) and freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson). According to the ballot test results, Sen. Heller is clinging to a 40-39% edge. In 2012, Mr. Heller scored a similarly close one-point victory over then-US Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Las Vegas).

Rhode Island: Former Governor and US Senator Lincoln Chafee, who served in Washington as a Republican, was elected Governor as an Independent, and then switched to the Democrats, says he is "90% sure" he will return to active campaigning this year. Mr. Chafee said yesterday he plans to challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) in the Democratic primary and will run as the Bernie Sanders candidate. Sen. Whitehouse unseated then-Sen. Chafee in the 2006 general election. After losing, he returned to run for Governor in 2010, but as an Independent, and was able to win a three-way general election with just 36% of the vote. Faced with poor approval ratings and staring at defeat both in the 2014 Democratic primary and in the general election as an Independent, Gov. Chafee chose not to seek a second term in office.

Tennessee: Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies (4/17-19; 625 TN registered voters) tested the all-but-certain general election contest between former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). Like other recent polls, the M-D numbers project the former two-term Governor to be holding a slight lead. According to the results, Mr. Bredesen has a 46-43% edge. All the traditional coalition groups are lining up as expected for their respective candidates. Ms. Blackburn's biggest problem is trailing among Independents, 49-35%.

Utah: The Utah Republican Party nominating convention was held during the past weekend, and former presidential nominee Mitt Romney (R), who is viewed to be a lock to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) in November, failed to place first among delegates and is now headed to a June 26th Republican primary election with state Rep. Mike Kennedy, a Lindon physician. The vote was 51-49% in Dr. Kennedy's favor after multiple rounds of voting eliminated ten others, but a candidate must obtain 60% delegate support to win the nomination outright. Despite his convention performance, which actually was expected, Mr. Romney remains the heavy favorite to win the party primary, and the general election. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R), who was honored at the state convention, is retiring after 42 years of service.

Wyoming: It had been rumored for months that GOP mega-donor Foster Friess, founder of the Delaware-based Brandywine mutual fund family, would initiate a Republican primary challenge to Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso. While Mr. Friess never denied considering running for the Senate, even while referring to Sen. Barrasso as one of his "heroes", it didn't appear that he was making any discernible moves to launch a campaign. Late last week, however, Mr. Friess announced that he will challenge the Senator in the August 21st Republican primary. Mr. Friess, now a long-time resident of Wyoming, will have little trouble amassing campaign resources as he can easily self-fund a major campaign. It is doubtful that he can deny Sen. Barrasso re-nomination, but Mr. Friess can certainly make the primary campaign an expensive one.


AZ-8: Former state Senate President Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) successfully held the vacant northwestern Maricopa County district for the Republicans last night, scoring a 53-47% victory over physician Hiral Tipirneni (D). The turnout of 173,708 voters represented a larger participation rate than was found in the last midterm election (2014), becoming the fourth US House special election in this current election cycle to post such a ratio. With the addition of Ms. Lesko to the Republican Conference, the House party division is now 238 Republicans and 193 Democrats with four vacancies. Just a day after losing the special congressional election, Dr. Tiperneni announced that she will become a candidate for the regular term. Arizona candidate filing closes on May 30th with the regular state primary scheduled for August 28th. With a more regular voting pattern likely to occur for the general election, Rep-Elect Lesko's support preference should increase at least into the high 50s.

CO-5: In a continuing story, the Colorado state Supreme Court late yesterday ruled that six-term Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) has been disqualified from the 2018 election ballot. Apparently the consulting firm Mr. Lamborn contracted with, Kennedy Enterprises, employed non-Colorado residents as circulators. Under Colorado election law, such circulators must be state residents. If not, all signatures gathered by individual non-resident circulators are void. Since the high court rejected all such ineligible petitions, Rep. Lamborn fell below the 1,000 minimum valid signature threshold to qualify for the ballot. Mr. Lamborn quickly responded by filing a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn the state Supreme Court's decision. Other similar cases have been successful in federal court.

MN-1: First District Republican delegates gathered in convention during the past weekend in Mankato to endorse a congressional nominee. In Minnesota, though the conventions don't have the power to directly nominate candidates, contenders usually abide by the delegate vote and don't force primaries. In this instance, the delegates again chose businessman Jim Hagedorn as the endorsed candidate. Mr. Hagedorn barely lost the 2016 general election to Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) by just half a percentage point. Mr. Walz is now running for Governor, so the open 1st District will feature a hot general election campaign. State Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), who lost the convention endorsement to Hagedorn, says she will force an August 14th primary election.

The Democrats simultaneously met in convention and did so in Le Sueur; a small town located 25 miles north of Mankato on the way to the Twin Cities. There, the party delegates turned to former US Defense Department official Dan Feehan. It appears no primary will be forced in this race, so it becomes apparent that Mr. Feehan will become the party nominee attempting to succeed Mr. Walz in what will become a toss-up campaign.

TX-27: In an unusual move, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) scheduled the special election to replace resigned Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) for a period just over a month after the May 22nd run-off election. Arguing that the area needs representation in the final stages of the current congressional session because of issues involving the Hurricane Harvey clean up funding, Gov. Abbott received legal support from Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) to invoke an emergency election timetable to fill the vacancy. This means the normal deadlines governing the candidate filing period and election structure are superseded.

In this new contest, now scheduled for June 30th with the candidate filing deadline already upon us by close of business today, contenders will appear on one ballot with the top two candidates advancing to a run-off election to be scheduled at a later date. The Governor's staff confirms that the secondary vote will occur sometime in early September. Both Republicans competing in the run-off election and Roy Barrera, one of two Democrats qualifying for that party's run-off, say they will file for the special election.

UT-3: Also at the Utah Republican Party nominating convention, freshman Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo), who won the 2017 special election to succeed resigned Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), failed to win re-nomination outright. Needing 60% to avoid a primary, Mr. Curtis received 59% of the delegate vote. In the special election, Rep. Curtis, then the Mayor of Provo, bypassed the party district nominating convention and qualified for the ballot via petition. The Congressman is again favored to win the succeeding primary, which is tantamount to re-election in the fall.


Maryland: The just-released Goucher Poll (4/14-19; 617 MD adults) finds Gov. Larry Hogan (R) remaining in strong shape as he prepares for his re-election campaign. According to the survey, a whopping 69% of the respondents approve of the job he is doing as Governor versus just 21% who disapprove. Fifty-three percent believe Maryland is headed in the right direction, while 28% say the state has gone "off on the wrong track."

Gov. Hogan fares well against his potential Democratic opponent as the state primary approaches on June 26th.   Against Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker (D), the Governor's margin is 44-31%. If Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz were to win the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Mr. Hogan's advantage would be 45-28%. Former NAACP president Ben Jealous falls in similar territory. He would also trail the Governor 44-31% if he were the Democratic nominee.

Michigan: The Glengariff Group, polling for the Greater Detroit Regional Chamber PAC (4/20-22; 400 MI likely Democratic primary voters; 4/19-21; 400 MI likely Republican primary voters) produced a surprising result. Though former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer has gained the Democratic establishment's support, businessman Shri Thanedar has grabbed the lead in the primary race according to the GG results. They find Mr. Thanedar's margin to be 30-26%, the result of an early advertising campaign that has boosted his name identification to 75%. Thanedar is racking up large margins in the city of Detroit and Wayne County, which accounts for his early success. On the Republican side, the results were more in line with conventional thought. There, Attorney General Bill Schuette leads Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, 36-23%.

Nevada:The aforementioned Mellman Group poll (see NV-Senate above) also tested the open Nevada Governor's race. The poll paired Attorney General Adam Laxalt, the likely Republican nominee, and Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak (D), and then fellow Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani (D). Against Commissioner Sisolak, Mr. Laxalt jumps out to a 43-37% edge. If Ms. Giunchigliani becomes the Democratic nominee, the Laxalt lead would diminish to 40-38%.

Rhode Island: In addition to former Senator Lincoln Chafee potentially challenging Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in the Democratic primary, Gov. Gina Raimondo, suffering from poor approval ratings, is also drawing a Democratic primary challenge it was learned yesterday.

Former Secretary of State Matt Brown, who was indicating he would enter the Governor's race as an Independent, changed course and announced Thursday that he will challenge the first term Governor in the Democratic primary. Therefore, with challenges to both Whitehouse and Raimondo on the political horizon, the September 12th Democratic primary is unfolding as a major electoral contest.

April 20, 2018
Another House Resignation and Conflicting Polling Results in Key Races Highlight Active Campaign Week
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Texas Senate:  Senator Ted Cruz (R) only slightly leading challenger Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D)
  • PA-15 (7):  after announcing his retirement earlier this election cycle, Rep. Charlie Dent (R) decides to resign in May
  • AZ-8:  conflicting polling for Tuesday's special election on April 24 but former state Senate President Pro Tempore Debbie Lesko (R) anticipated to defeat physician Hiral Tipirneni (D)
  • California Governor:  a recent poll finds former LA Mayor Antonio Villariagosa (D) falling behind Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and Republican businessman John Cox in June 5th jungle primary
  • Minnesota Senate:  newly appointed Senator Tina Smith (D) jumps out to a strong fundraising start


Arizona: A day after Magellan Strategies released a survey (4/11-12 and 15; 755 AZ likely Republican primary voters) that showed Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) expanding her previous lead in the Republican Senate primary to 36-26-25%, OH Predictive Insights for ABC15 in Phoenix finds a completely different take. Their poll (4/10-11; 600 AZ likely voters; 302 AZ likely Republican primary voters) projected ex-state Sen. Kelli Ward, who was in last place in the Magellan survey and all others previously commissioned, to be leading Rep. McSally and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, 36-27-22%. Looking at the sample size of just 302 Republican voters from the entire state suggests the error factor is extremely high for this study, and even more questionable when seeing that no other survey result projects Ms. Ward with the overall lead.

Minnesota: The first quarter Federal Election Commission financial disclosure reports were published this week, and appointed Minnesota Sen. Tina Smith (D) has jumped out to a strong fundraising start. According to her fledgling campaign, Sen. Smith has raised a whopping $1.84 million since she assumed office in early January to replace resigned Sen. Al Franken (D). Her most significant Republican opponent, state Sen. Karin Housley (R-Stillwater), is reporting receipts of $514,000 with $501,000 in her campaign account.

Pennsylvania: Monmouth University released their latest Pennsylvania statewide poll (4/4-12; 414 PA registered and likely voters) and finds Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) holding a substantial 48-32% lead over Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton). The margin yields no doubt that Sen. Casey enjoys a sizable advantage in this fledgling campaign, but this poll has serious flaws. First, the sample size of 414 voters for a state the size of Pennsylvania is small, and the eight-day sampling period is long. Keeping in mind that Monmouth missed the Pennsylvania presidential campaign result about a week before the election because President Trump's vote was understated by a minimum of four percentage points, it would be fair to speculate that the current margin is likely a bit tighter than Monmouth projects.

Tennessee: Since it is now clear that Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) will be their respective party nominees in the open Tennessee US Senate race, both are already raising copious amounts of money. According to their campaigns, Mr. Bredesen raised over $1.8 million during the quarter that just ended, and Ms. Blackburn slightly more at approximately $2 million. Mr. Bredesen added to his campaign account with a $1.4 million self-contribution. The Blackburn Campaign will report more than $6 million cash-on-hand. The Bredesen operation did not release their available resource number, but it appears the related figure will fall between $3.5 and $4 million.

Texas: A new Quinnipiac University poll (4/12-17; 1,029 TX registered voters) finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) leading Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) only 47-44% in a prelude to the general election. But, many inconsistencies are present in the poll, particularly when observing that Sen. Cruz is viewed as handling every issue better than O'Rourke. The sampling discrepancy appears in the Independent category, which breaks hard for O'Rourke and is grouped at a higher rate than both Republicans and Democrats. Thus, the results suggest the data may be skewed. While clear that Rep. O'Rourke will have the resources to compete with Sen. Cruz, it is still highly doubtful that he can overcome Cruz's inherent Republican advantages once the campaign fully plays out for November.   Both Sen. Cruz and Rep. O'Rourke won their respective party nominations outright in the March 6th Texas primary election.


AZ-8: Voters in the northern Phoenix suburbs will go to the polls on April 24th to choose a replacement for resigned Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria). In late February, Republicans nominated former state Senate President Pro Tempore Debbie Lesko, while Democrats chose physician Hiral Tipirneni. OH Predictive Insights, a Phoenix-based survey research company, tested the special election on April 11th (500 likely AZ-8 special election voters) and found Ms. Lesko leading Dr. Tipirneni, 53-43%. The overwhelming number of Republican voters in this district allowed Ms. Lesko to develop the double-digit lead. But Emerson College (4/12-15; 400 AZ-8 likely special election voters) finds a radically different result. They see Dr. Tipirneni actually taking a one point lead, 46-45%. Ms. Lesko should win easily in this solid Republican district; hence, a Democratic upset would be earth-shattering news.

CO-5: Six-term Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) may not yet be officially qualified for the Colorado primary ballot. Skipping the district nominating convention because he fared poorly there in 2016, Mr. Lamborn instead went the petition signature route to qualify for the ballot. Using this option, candidates need 1,000 valid signatures from registered Republican (or Democratic, as the case may be) voters in the particular voting district.

This week a lower court judge disqualified 58 names from his petitions, but 1,211 remain as valid still giving him a cushion of more than 200 signatures. Now, however, the state Supreme Court is considering a suit charging that some of Lamborn's petition circulators aren't Colorado residents. If proven true, then all petitions the ineligible circulators gathered would be disqualified. The court heard arguments from both sides late this week and will render a decision shortly. State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, the 2016 US Senate nominee, are challenging Rep. Lamborn in the June 26th Republican congressional primary.

Minnesota: Minnesota Congressional District Democratic delegates met around the state over the weekend and attenders from certain local CD conventions endorsed candidates. No endorsement was reached in the open 8th District to replace the retiring Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth), meaning a multi-candidate primary contest will ensue as a result. The Minnesota primary is scheduled for August 14th.

In the southeastern 2nd District, a race that was decided in 2016 by only two percentage points between now Representative Jason Lewis (R-Woodbury) and retired healthcare company executive Angie Craig (D), Democratic delegates reaffirmed their support for Ms. Craig and we can expect to see a re-match of the close campaign come this November.

In the 3rd District, where incumbent Rep. Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) scored a 57% victory despite President Trump losing the suburban district by ten points, Democratic delegates are going in a different direction. While then-state Sen. Terri Bonoff (D) spent up to $2 million not counting outside expenditures on her behalf, the delegates turned to a candidate who has the ability to self-fund, Phillips Distilling Company heir Dean Phillips. Ms. Bonoff did not seek a re-match.

MT-AL: Yesterday, former state Sen. Lynda Moss (D) announced she is ending her campaign for the state's at-large congressional district. Ms. Moss had raised only $32,000 for the campaign with a paltry $38,000 cash-on-hand. She admitted that poor fundraising was the main reason behind her departure. Remaining in the Democratic primary are non-profit environmental organization executive Grant Kier, attorney John Heenan, and former state Rep. Kathleen Williams. Incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman), who was elected in a special election last May, is favored for re-election.

PA-15 (7): Lehigh Valley Congressman Charlie Dent (R-Allentown), who had long ago announced that he would not seek re-election, this week made public his plans to resign from the House sometime in May. His decision to leave Congress early begins an interesting political situation. Under Pennsylvania election law, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will have ten days from the official vacancy date to set the special replacement election. He must schedule the vote for no less than 60 days from the vacancy date but, after that requirement is met, he has great leeway over when to add the replacement contest to the election calendar. Gov. Wolf likely short-circuits the situation by simply scheduling the replacement special concurrently with the regular, November 6th general election.


California: J. Wallin Opinion Research and Tulchin Research teamed up to conduct a new survey of the California electorate (3/30-4/4; 800 CA likely voters), which again finds Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) leading the pack of candidates just as he consistently has over the course of the last year. The most significant new finding is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa who has fallen to only 7% support. Republican businessman John Cox, a former presidential and Illinois US Senate candidate, is second with 16% and has a chance of advancing through the June 5th jungle primary. State Treasurer John Chiang (D) and state Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) record 9%, apiece. The top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation and percentage attained, will advance to the November 6th general election.

New York: Actress Cynthia Nixon drew a great deal of media attention in mid-March when she announced her Democratic primary challenge to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and a new Siena College New York survey (4/8-12; 692 NY registered voters) finds Gov. Cuomo leading Ms. Nixon by a 58-27% count. In the Upstate areas outside of New York City, the spread is an even smaller 48-37%, which is offset by the poll's reported 3:1 advantage the Governor has in the City. While this obviously is a big lead, the margin is somewhat less than other early polls project.

Ms. Nixon also received the Working Families Party endorsement. The WFP is heavily backed by organized labor and, in fact, two pro-Cuomo unions left the WFP after the delegates' weekend action. Though this is a minor party endorsement and in most states would not be much of a factor, New York is different. Here, parties can cross-endorse candidates meaning the same contender will appear multiple times on the same ballot representing different political parties.

While Ms. Nixon has little chance of upending Gov. Cuomo, her Working Families Party endorsement means that she will appear on the general election ballot even after losing the Democratic primary. There is little for Gov. Cuomo to worry about from an electoral standpoint, but Ms. Nixon's presence in the race all the way to November could make what should be a dull campaign much more interesting.

Pennsylvania: The aforementioned Monmouth University poll (see Pennsylvania Senate above) also tested the state's Governor's race. Paired opposite state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), Gov. Tom Wolf (D) opens up a large 47-31% lead. As with Sen. Casey, there is no doubt that the Governor has a clear edge at this point in the race but taking into account the methodological flaws and Monmouth's track record in the state, it is probable that the margin between the two candidates is a bit less than stated.

Texas: The aforementioned Quinnipiac University poll (see Texas Senate above) also tested Gov. Greg Abbott's (R) re-election standing and produced even more questionable results. According to the data, the Governor would lead Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D) 49-40%, and businessman Andrew White (D) 48-41%. The latter two are facing each other in a May 22nd Democratic run-off for the party nomination. Again, because of over-sampling Independents who seem to skew Democratic in unusually high percentages in this particular poll, Gov. Abbott's standing is clearly under-stated. All other data shows him with very comfortable re-election leads and a mammoth advantage in campaign resources.

Wisconsin: There are already 16 announced Democratic gubernatorial candidates vying for the opportunity to challenge incumbent Scott Walker (R) in November, but at least one more major entry could come before the June 1st candidate filing deadline. Four-term Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D), who also served ten years in Congress before entering city government, may again run for Governor. He has already lost twice to Mr. Walker, after failing to capture the party nomination in 2002. The current leader appears to be two-term Wisconsin State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, but that could change with Mayor Barrett entering such a crowded field. Early special and odd-numbered election returns suggest that Democrats could fare well in the state next year, making Gov. Walker more vulnerable and the Democratic nomination worth having.

April 13, 2018
More Retirements, Announcements and Party Nominee Decisions Shape Active Election Week
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Wisconsin 1:  Speaker Paul Ryan (R) to retire
  • Florida Senate:  Gov. Rick Scott makes if official and announces run for Senate, facing incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in highly competitive race
  • Mississippi Senate:  appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) sworn into the Senate and the special election campaign to finish the remainder of resigned Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) term already underway
  • North Dakota Senate:  with unanimous delegate support, ND Republicans choose Rep. Kevin Cramer as their U.S. Senate nominee at state endorsing convention
  • Florida 15:  Rep. Dennis Ross (R) announces retirement becoming the 61st House member to retire, resign or seek a different office


Florida: In the week that Gov. Rick Scott (R) made his long-awaited Senate announcement, Public Policy Polling (4/10-11; 611 FL registered voters), surveying for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine, finds Sen. Bill Nelson (D) leading the Governor by a 50-44% margin. Sen. Nelson scores a 47:37% positive favorability score, while Gov. Scott drops to 47:46%. To counter the PPP data, the New Republican PAC, an outside entity supporting Gov. Scott, claims that its internal McLaughlin & Associates poll (dates and sample size not available) finds the Governor clinging to a one point, 47-46% edge. We can expect this race to seesaw all the way to Election Day.

Mississippi:  Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) was officially appointed and sworn into the Senate this week to replace retired Sen. Thad Cochran (R), filling the body's lone vacancy. But, the special election campaign for the winner to finish the balance of the current term is already underway. With a jungle primary scheduled concurrently with the November 6th regular election, Sen. Hyde-Smith is facing Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel who switched from challenging GOP incumbent Roger Wicker to join the new election. Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton are the first announced Democratic candidates. If no contender receives a majority vote on November 6th, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election on November 27th.

New Jersey:  Sen. Bob Menendez (D), previously on trial for bribery until the Government's case fell apart forcing them to end proceedings, appears in relatively strong pre-election position according to a new Monmouth University survey (4/6-10; 703 NJ adults; 632 NJ registered voters; weighted). According to the results, Sen. Menendez would lead former pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin (R), 53-32% including leaners to both candidates. The Senator's job approval index is only 37:38% positive to negative among registered voters, however, and his personal favorability is an upside down 28:35%.

North Dakota: The North Dakota Republican endorsing convention was held last weekend, and at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) has for all intents and purposes clinched the party's US Senate nomination. Coming from the convention with unanimous delegate support and the official party endorsement, it is now probable that he will be unopposed in the June 12th Republican primary. This virtually guarantees that a Cramer-Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) general election pairing is a certainty. This campaign will be highly competitive.

Tennessee:Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) has virtually clinched the Volunteer State Republican Senate nomination, according to development this week. The Tennessee Republican Party, as political parties have the right to do under state election law, disqualified self-funder Darrell Lynn for "failing to meet the bona fide [Republican] standards" as set in the party bylaws. Along with Mr. Lynn, who was clearly the strongest of the possible Blackburn challengers, six other minor GOP Senate candidates were also disqualified. One gubernatorial candidate was also stricken from the official candidates' list. Since former Gov. Phil Bredesen is in similar position in the Democratic primary, the general election is already unofficially underway.

Wisconsin:A new poll (WPA Intelligence; 4/2-4; 1,028 WI likely Republican primary voters) finds Republican US Senate candidate Kevin Nicholson, a former Democrat who changed parties, leading his top GOP primary opponent, state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), 45-27%. The Wisconsin primary isn't scheduled until August 14th, so this race still has plenty of time to crystallize. Businessman Eric Hovde (R), who lost the 2012 Republican Senate primary to former four-term Gov. Tommy Thompson, also announced that he will not enter the 2018 contest. The primary, now very likely between Mr. Nicholson and state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), though filing doesn't close until June 1st, is scheduled for August 14th.


CA-44: Early last week, Republican actress Stacy Dash dropped her long shot bid to unseat freshman Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-San Pedro), and now a major opponent has followed suit. Compton Mayor Aja Brown (D), who had also announced her candidacy and appeared as a serious competitor, also withdrew from the race on Friday. Ms. Brown stated that she has just become pregnant, and therefore will not be continuing her race for the House. Though both Dash and Brown will remain on the June 5th primary ballot, and one will likely advance to the general election under California's jungle primary system, we can count on Rep. Barragan to easily defend her seat.

FL-15: Four-term Florida Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) made public his plans to retire from elective politics. He becomes the 61st sitting House member to retire, resign, or seek a different office. The 15th plays as a reliably Republican district. President Trump carried the seat by 10 points in his presidential election, 53-43%. Both Mitt Romney and John McCain registered 52-47% spreads. Rep. Ross' surprise retirement means it will be a few days before we see potential candidates coming forward.

FL-27: Florida's new election law that requires most office holders to resign their current post in order to seek another just changed South Florida politics. Two very significant Miami area Democratic open seat congressional candidates decided to drop their congressional bids. State Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami), who at least for a time was viewed as the front-runner, says he will remain in the state Senate because his party has an opportunity of capturing the majority. Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell also decided to discontinue his congressional effort in favor of retaining his current position. With candidate filing coming early next month (May 4th) in preparation for the August 28th primary, seven active Democrats remain in the field including former Health & Human Services Secretary and University of Miami president Donna Shalala (D). Republican leaders, who currently see eleven individuals expressing interest in running, appear to be looking toward television news anchor Maria Elvira Salazar. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) is retiring after serving all or part of 15 terms.

NC-9:In 2016, under the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting plan, Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) won re-nomination by just 134 votes of more than 26,600 ballots cast. The second-place finisher, Charlotte pastor and former US Senate candidate Mark Harris, is running again.

Three polls all find Rep. Pittenger holding a healthy lead during the last month of the primary campaign. Survey USA (3/9-13; 1,000 NC-9 registered voters; 375 likely Republican primary voters) found the Congressman leading Mr. Harris, 52-20%. More recently, Public Opinion Strategies, polling for the Pittenger Campaign (4/4-7; 400 NC-9 likely primary voters), posted the incumbent to a 59-26% advantage. The Red Dome Group, polling for the Harris Campaign (4/4-5; 500 NC-9 likely Republican primary voters) finds a much closer race, but also with Rep. Pittenger leading. Their numbers produce a 38-30% Pittenger edge. The North Carolina primary is fast approaching on May 8th.

ND-AL:Last weekend, state Senator and former ND Republican Party chairman Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson) won the official GOP endorsement at the state party convention. Sen. Armstrong defeated state Sen. Tom Campbell (R-Grafton) who had been actively campaigning for the Senate prior to US Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) doing an about face and stepping forward to challenge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D). Mr. Campbell quickly pivoted into the House race upon Rep. Cramer's Senate announcement. After losing the convention endorsement vote, Campbell promised to take the nomination fight to a primary, but now has changed his mind and ended his campaign, endorsing Sen. Armstrong. Now only minor candidates remain in a possible Republican primary. Therefore, it appears certain that Sen. Armstrong and former state Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) will be the respective party nominees for the general election campaign in the open at-large House seat.

PA-4:The new open 4th District will likely go Democratic in the fall, and the party primary battle lines became a bit clearer this week. Despite candidate filing closing on March 6th, State Rep. Mary Jo Daley (D-Narberth) ended her congressional campaign and endorsed her state legislative colleague, state Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Abingdon Township). Former Gov. Ed Rendell (D) and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter (D) also publicly support Ms. Dean. The main contender appears to be former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D-Montgomery County). Now, he is in a three-way race with Rep. Dean and gun control activist Shira Goodman. Ms. Daley's departure makes this primary more interesting and creates doubt about the eventual outcome.

TN-7: Filing closed in Tennessee on Friday, and it appears that we already have a new Congressman. State Senator Mark Green (R-Clarksville) will succeed Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) in the safely Republican 7th Congressional District. With Blackburn vacating to run for the Senate, a Republican primary was expected to form in order for voters to choose her successor. When the dust cleared last Friday, however, only Sen. Green filed on the Republican side meaning that he will advance to, and win, an easy general election against a minor Democrat in a seat that won't become a national target.

WI-1:As has been widely reported, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) announced that he will not seek re-election this year. Republicans will soon come forward to jockey for position in what will be a competitive August 14th Republican primary. Democratic labor union activist Randy Bryce, who already possesses more than $2.3 million in his campaign account because of strong national fundraising when he was opposing the Speaker, will have the early advantage. But, this district leans Republican despite the region's lengthy bipartisan voting history, so the GOP begins as at least a slight favorite to hold the seat.


Florida:Since gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine (D) commissioned the aforementioned Public Policy Polling survey (see FL-Senate above), it naturally concentrated on the open Florida Governor's race. According to the Democratic primary data, Mr. Levine has expanded his lead over former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) to 29-21% with Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum and businessman Chris King trailing with only single-digit support. In general election match-ups, pairings featuring Levine and Graham top Republicans Adam Putnam, the state Agriculture Commissioner and former Congressman, and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm City/Daytona Beach) in all scenarios by one to five points.

Oklahoma:The Sooner Poll/News on 6 [Tulsa]; News 9 [Oklahoma City] (3/14-22; 557 OK likely voters; 291 OK likely Republican primary voters; 224 OK likely Democratic primary voters via Interactive Voice Response device) conducted a statewide survey about the present teacher strike and also asked questions pertaining to the impending open Governor's race. The sample sizes for both the Republican and Democratic fields are too small to be given high reliability ratings, but the results are interesting, nonetheless.

On the Republican side, Oklahoma City Mayor and former congressional candidate Mick Cornett has the slightest of leads over Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, 22-21%, with the other four candidates all posting support numbers below 10%. For the Democrats, Attorney General and frequent statewide candidate Drew Edmondson has a 34-13% advantage over former state Sen. Connie Johnson (D-Oklahoma City). The eventual Republican nominee will be favored in the general election, but education funding, in particular, has become a major issue that could cut against the GOP candidate.

Pennsylvania:A new McLaughlin & Associates survey (4/2-3; 500 PA likely Republican primary voters) finds state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) opening up a large 50-24% lead over businessman Paul Mango for the May 15th Republican primary, despite the fact that the latter man has been running stinging negative ads against the York area state legislator. The eventual Republican nominee faces incumbent Tom Wolf (D), whose favorability index has risen considerably in the past several weeks.

South Carolina:Target Insyght ran a South Carolina gubernatorial poll (4/3-5; 800 SC likely primary voters; 400 likely Republican primary voters; 400 likely Democratic primary voters) and finds Gov. Henry McMaster (R) in strong shape for his first election in his own right, but whether he can avoid a run-off is still open to question. According to the results, Gov. McMaster has 46% preference in the Republican primary opposite 22% for former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton. Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant trails with 6%, while former Democratic Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, who has switched parties, registers only 4 percent. If no candidate receives a majority vote in the June 12th primary, the top two will run-off two weeks later.