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.

June 14, 2019
Presidential Race Tightening
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Polls: CA; IA; MA; NV; TX; US - race tightening
  • AL-Sen: Coach Tommy Tuberville releases Senate poll showing him with slight lead in GOP primary
  • NC-Sen: Rep. Mark Walker (R) won't challenge Sen. Tillis
  • MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash (R) trailing primary opponent badly in new poll
  • TX-28: Rep. Henry Cuellar draws Dem primary opponent
  • UT-Gov: Jon Huntsman (R) may return from diplomatic post as Ambassador to Russia to run for Governor again


California Poll:  The University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times conducted a survey of the California Democratic electorate (6/4-10; 2,131 CA likely Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) and found a surprisingly tight contest.  Former Vice President Joe Biden placed first with 22%, while a surging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows closely behind with 18%.  Sen. Bernie Sanders had 16%, and home state Sen. Kamala Harris was next with 13%.  California, with its 416 first ballot delegates spread at-large and over 53 congressional districts, is clearly the top prize on the nomination circuit.

Iowa Poll:  Selzer & Company released their latest Iowa poll (6/2-5; 600 IA likely Caucus attenders from a universe of 3,776 active registered voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 24-16-15-14% with California Sen. Kamala Harris dropping well behind at 7% support.  In this poll, Mr. Biden's support level has dropped below a quarter of the vote, and the combined Sanders-Warren-Buttigieg total of 45% is close to a 2:1 ratio over the top individual percentage.

Nevada Poll:  In what is becoming a familiar pattern across the country, former Vice President Joe Biden now leads the Nevada Caucus according to a new Monmouth University survey (6/6-11; 370 NV likely Democratic Caucus attenders).  Monmouth projects Mr. Biden placing first with 36% over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who has surged to 19% as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who had trouble in Nevada back in 2016, drops to 13 percent.  All other candidates are in single digits led by Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 7% and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) with 6%.  If Sen. Harris is going to become a factor before the important California primary on March 3rd, Nevada is one place where she will need to finish strongly.

Quinnipiac Poll:  The new Quinnipiac University national poll (6/6-10; 1,214 US registered voters; 503 likely Democratic primary voters) returns a poll that delivers particularly negative numbers for President Trump.  The survey shows all major Democratic candidates leading the President in isolated ballot test questions, with anywhere from 13 (Joe Biden) to five (Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker) point margins.  It also projects Independents breaking away from Mr. Trump in the Biden pairing by a whopping 58-28% margin.  These results are more extreme than any other poll recently seen, however.

Suffolk U Poll:  Boston-based Suffolk University just completed their new survey of the Massachusetts electorate (6/5-9; 370 likely MA Democratic primary voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden, somewhat surprisingly, holding a very comfortable lead over home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D).  According to Suffolk, Mr. Biden holds a 22-10% lead over Sen. Warren, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg following with 8%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dropping to 6% preference, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) holding at just 5% support.  All others are at 1% or less.  The major surprise is not that Mr. Biden is leading, but that Sen. Warren, in her own state, can muster no more than 10% support.

Texas Poll:  On the heels of Quinnipiac University's survey last week (5/29-6/4; 1,159 TX registered voters) that found former Vice President Joe Biden leading Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 30-16-15%, Change Research, from their latest Texas survey, has a different take.  Their poll (5/30-6/3; 1,218 TX likely voters) significantly contrasts the Quinnipiac findings.  According to Change, it is Mr. O'Rourke, the Texas favorite son, with the advantage: 27-24-13-12% over Mr. Biden, Sen. Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), respectively.


Alabama:  Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville made public his Moore Information survey (6/10-11; 650 AL likely Republican primary voters) and it reveals, somewhat surprisingly, that the first-time candidate is jumping out to a slight lead.   Moore Info reports that Mr. Tuberville posts 23% preference, five points ahead of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, while Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) trails at 16 percent. Secretary of State John Merrill, a potential candidate, recorded 7% support, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) was last at 2 percent.

Maine:  After a series of turndowns from Democrats who the party leadership was attempting to recruit into the 2020 Senate race to oppose Republican incumbent Susan Collins (R), two individuals appear to be surfacing.  State House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) is indicating she will announce her candidacy when the Maine legislative session ends at the end of next week.  Activist lobbyist Betsy Sweet, who finished fourth in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, is also expected to soon become a Senatorial candidate.

North Carolina:  While thanking President Trump for his encouragement, Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) announced yesterday that he will not challenge Sen. Thom Tillis in next year's Tar Heel State Republican primary, and instead announced his re-election campaign for a fourth term in the House.  Sen. Tillis still has GOP opposition, however.  Wealthy business owner Garland Tucker is an announced candidate and expected to run a competitive campaign.

West Virginia: First-term Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) now sees her first Democratic opponent come forward.  Yesterday, Paula Jean Swearengin, who bills herself as a "Coal Country environmentalist" announced that she will enter the Democratic Senatorial primary. Ms. Swearengin ran before, last year in a primary challenge to Sen. Joe Manchin.  She fared poorly, attracting only 30% of the vote and raising slightly more than $200,000.  Sen. Capito should have an easy re-election run if Ms. Swearengin becomes the Democratic nominee.


CA-15:  Recently, state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) announced that he would run for Congress directly after incumbent Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/Hayward) declared for President.  Late last week, however, Sen. Wieckowski did an about-face and pulled out of the congressional race on the heels of Rep. Swalwell making comments conceding that it is conceivable he will return to the House race before the California candidate filing deadline on December 6th.  Remaining in the Democratic primary with a possible Rep. Swalwell return is Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab, insurance agent and frequent candidate Peter Liu, and Democratic activist Sam Campbell.

GA-7:  State Rep. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), lead sponsor of the Georgia's heart beat pro-life legislation, announced that she will enter the open Republican primary in the 7th Congressional District.  Sen. Unterman is the eighth Republican to announce, but the first elected official.  She is vying to replace retiring Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville).  The 2018 race ended in only a 419-vote victory for Rep. Woodall, as he defeated former state Senate Budget Committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D).  She is running again but has already drawn four Democratic primary opponents including state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Gwinnett) and former Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves.

MI-3: The Michigan Information & Research Service published a new congressional poll from the Practical Political Consultants firm (6/5-9; 335 MI-3 likely Republican primary voters) testing Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) after his call for President Trump to be impeached.  The results find the Congressman now trailing badly, which will likely enhance calls for him to run for the Libertarian presidential nomination.  According to this latest data, state Rep. James Lower (R-Greenville), an announced congressional candidate, would lead Mr. Amash by a whopping 49-33% among the likely primary voters.

NY-10:  More activity appears to be brewing in Manhattan's 10th Congressional District.  In addition to former Andrew Cuomo economic advisor Lindsey Boylan entering the Democratic primary against Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), now we see ex-Hillary Clinton campaign digital aide Peter Daou coming forward to say he is considering a challenge to the 14-term Congressman.   

TX-28:  Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), originally elected in 2004 and who has won with super majorities ever since, was rated early in the year as the leftward Justice Democrats organization's top target.  The group claims Mr. Cuellar votes with President Trump more than any other Democrat in the House.  Now, they have a candidate. Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney and former intern to Mr. Cuellar, yesterday announced her candidacy and indicates she will run an ideological primary campaign against the eight-term congressional veteran.


Montana:  At-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) is expected to announce his candidacy for Governor at the Montana State Republican Party convention this weekend.  Mr. Gianforte lost the 2016 Governor's race to incumbent Steve Bullock (D), 50-46%, but then turned around and won the at-large special election to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) when the latter man became Interior Secretary in the Trump Administration. Attorney General Tim Fox and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton are both already in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Up until this week, no Democrat had yet announced.  Now, state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D-Great Falls) is an official candidate as is former state Rep. Reilly Neill (D-Livingston).  Incumbent Governor Steve Bullock (D), an announced presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term.

Utah:  Jon Huntsman (R) served as Utah Governor from 2005-2009, leaving to become US Ambassador to China in the Obama Administration.  He then became a Republican presidential candidate in 2012.  Currently, Mr. Huntsman serves in the Trump Administration as US Ambassador to Russia, and before his election as Governor was US Ambassador to Singapore in the George W. Bush Administration.  Now, there is mounting evidence that he will soon resign his current diplomatic post and again seek the Governorship of his home state.

A Huntsman entry would drastically change the Republican primary.  In the race is Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, whom retiring Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has already endorsed, and state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) said he plans to announce his own campaign sometime during the summer.  Retiring US Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Brigham City) also confirmed this week that he is contemplating entering the open 2020 Governor's race and will decide by September.  The Utah state primary is scheduled for June 23, 2020, with a candidate filing deadline of March 19.  Therefore, much time remains for this race to develop.

June 7, 2019
Former Candidates Prepare to Run Again in 2020
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential: Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) out
  • Presidential Polls: NC; TX - Biden Doing Well
  • IA-Sen: Democrats endorse real estate executive Theresa Greenfield in primary
  • MI-Sen: 2018 Senate nominee John James (R) to run again
  • NY-12: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) attracts more primary foes
  • TX-32: A former Congressmen GOP primary battle between Pete Sessions and Alan West?
  • LA-Gov: Poll shows Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in tough race
  • MT-Gov: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) looking to announce
  • UT-Gov: Ex-Speaker Greg Hughes (R) in; Josh Romney out


Gov. Larry Hogan:  Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who didn't appear to be overtly squelching political rumors that he was considering challenging President Trump, has finally put an end to the speculation.  To the surprise of very few, Gov. Hogan confirmed that he will not be running for President in 2020.  Whether his slight foray into presidential waters is a prelude to a potential 2024 national campaign, however, remains an unanswered question.

Emerson College NC Poll:  Emerson College conducted a survey in the critical primary state of North Carolina, which will be among the entities voting in the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary.  According to the Emerson data (5/31-6/2; 397 NC likely Democratic primary voters), former Vice President Joe Biden leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 39-22%, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) improving to place third with 15%. South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) trail with 8 and 5%, respectively.  North Carolina has 110 first ballot delegates for the Democratic National Convention, making it the 9th largest delegation.

Texas Poll:  Quinnipiac University went into the field in the Lone Star State (5/29-6/4; 1,159 TX registered voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading the Democratic primary field with 30% preference.  Following are ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 16 and 15%, respectively.  Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the only other candidate who breaks into double-digits at 11 percent.  When paired with President Trump all results are close, but Mr. Biden is the only Democrat who places ahead, at 48-44%.


Iowa:  Real Estate executive Theresa Greenfield (D), who was planning to run in the 3rd Congressional District last year until her nominating petitions contained falsified signatures causing her to withdraw, announced early in the week that she will return to the political wars and run for the US Senate.  Ms. Greenfield is the first person to come forward in this race with wherewithal to raise sufficient funding to conduct a statewide campaign.  Later, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's leadership announced that they are already endorsing Ms. Greenfield over attorney Kimberly Graham and insurance broker and former congressional candidate Eddie Mauro.  The winner of next year's June 2nd primary will then face first-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in the November general election.

Massachusetts:  Business executive Steve Pemberton late this week announced his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey.  Mr. Pemberton was abandoned as a child and raised in foster families.  He then was able to graduate from college, wrote a best-selling book about his experiences that later became the subject of a movie, and succeeded in the private sector.  Sen. Markey is certainly favored for re-nomination and re-election, but Mr. Pemberton will likely make an interesting candidate.

Michigan:  The Republican leadership had been attempting to recruit 2018 US Senate nominee John James to again run for the Senate, this time against first-term incumbent Gary Peters (D).  Last November, Mr. James, a manufacturing company owner and retired US Army Ranger, held Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) to a 52-46% victory, much closer than experts had predicted.  Additionally, Mr. James raised over $12 million for his race, an impressive number since he received very little outside support. Yesterday, Mr. James announced that he will return for the 2020 Senate race, and he will likely be the Republicans' top challenger.

Tennessee:  Though Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) announced that he would not seek re-election back in December, no Republican had yet come forward to announce his or her candidacy. That has now changed. Dr. Manny Sethi, a surgeon who co-authored medical books with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), announced his candidacy yesterday.

Former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) had frozen the GOP field.  He is reported to be still contemplating running, and now says he will make a decision sometime in the next few weeks.  Originally, the ex-Governor, who left office in January after being ineligible to seek a third term, said he would decide in April.  Attorney James Mackler is the lone Democrat in the race.  Once the Republican field solidifies, the party's eventual nominee will become the favorite to hold the seat.


CA-22:  Financial advisor and failed Fresno City Council candidate Phil Arballo announced his congressional candidacy to oppose Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and moves forward with a public endorsement from Andrew Janz, the 2018 Democratic nominee who raised over $8 million for his race and held the Congressman to a 53-47% victory.  Currently, Mr. Janz appears to be the leading candidate to become Fresno's Mayor in the open seat contest later this year.  Also in the Democratic race are Healthcare executive Bobby Bliatout and accountant Dari Rezvani.

GA-6:  Former Rep. Karen Handel continues to draw Republican opposition. State Sen. Brandon Beach (R) was in the race before Handel, two Navy veterans, Ken Brown and Nicole Rodden, have previously declared, and now construction company owner Marjorie Taylor Greene said this week that she, too, will become a congressional candidate.  The eventual winner will face freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta), who unseated Ms. Handel in November.  At this point it appears that the former Congresswoman is favored for the nomination, but her competition is formidable and the outcome, at this point, could be in doubt.

MN-7:  Without any fanfare, western Minnesota Congressman and House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) filed a new FEC campaign committee for the 2020 election cycle, though he has yet to confirm that he will seek an 11th term.  The signs, however, point to him attempting to continue his long congressional tenure.  In the past few cycles, the Congressman was coy about whether he would run again all the way to the candidate filing deadline, so his actions this year are consistent with past behavior.

NJ-5:  Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali (R) declared yesterday that he will enter the Republican primary in hopes of challenging two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff).  Though the GOP field is becoming crowded, Mr. Gottheimer is one of the better prepared Democratic incumbents and a prolific fundraiser. Regardless of the district's partisan nature (Trump '16: 49-48%), Rep. Gottheimer will be favored for re-election.

NY-12:  In 2016, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) was one of several New York House members to repel what turned out to be a serious nomination challenge.  This week, attorney and MeToo organization activist Erica Vladimer (D) announced that she will challenge Rep. Maloney joining comedy show producer Lauren Ashcraft as official candidates. 2018 challenger Suraj Patel is another potential candidate. So is former White House aide Dawn Smalls.  In any event, Rep. Maloney is favored for re-nomination, but she will have to wage an active campaign.

TX-32:  Former Congressman Pete Sessions represented the Dallas area for 22 years until freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) defeated him last November.  Now, Mr. Sessions is testing the waters to run again.  But he may not be alone in the Republican primary if he does run.  Stories are surfacing that former Florida Congressman Allen West will soon announce his own candidacy for this Texas seat.  Mr. West moved to Dallas after losing his Florida seat to head the National Center for Public Analysis, which has since gone out of existence.  Thus, it is possible we could well see a Republican primary between two staunch conservative ex-Congressmen.

WA-6:  Another Democratic House member is likely to face a political primary from his ideological left.  In the latter part of the week, Bainbridge City Councilman Matthew Tirman (D) filed an exploratory committee to determine if he can raise adequate funding to challenge Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor).  Mr. Kilmer was first elected in 2012 from the Tacoma anchored seat, replacing 18-term Congressman Norm Dicks (D), who retired. Rep. Kilmer has yet to face a serious re-election challenge and it is yet undetermined if Mr. Tirman can mount the type of effort needed to deny the Congressman re-nomination.


Indiana:  Yesterday, state Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) announced that he is forming a gubernatorial exploratory committee to test his viability against first-term incumbent Governor Eric Holcomb (R).  At this point, Sen. Melton is the first Democrat to come forward to take any official action.  Two-time nominee John Gregg is mentioned as a possible candidate as is former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, but neither of them look to be making any discernible move toward entering the race.

Louisiana:  The Remington Research Group released the findings of their Louisiana Governor's poll taken immediately after Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed the controversial heartbeat abortion bill.  The poll (6/1-2; 1,471 LA registered voters through interactive voice response system) found that the abortion issue has yet to take hold because the numbers did not precipitously change from the organization's previous poll conducted in March.  In the current survey, Gov. Edwards would lead the 2019 jungle primary, 43-34-8%, over Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), respectively.

When the two Republicans are isolated against Edwards, the Governor's numbers drop slightly against Abraham but improve when opposing Rispone.  Paired against Rep. Abraham, the two would tie at 45% apiece.  Opposite Mr. Rispone, Gov. Edwards would lead 49-38%. In March, Gov. Edwards led 47-45% over Abraham and 48-42% against Rispone.

Montana:  Possibly as early as today, at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) is expected to announce his 2020 gubernatorial candidacy.  Mr. Gianforte held Gov. Steve Bullock (D) to a 50-46% victory in 2016, and the latter man, an official presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term. Rep. Gianforte already has formidable Republican opponents.  Attorney General Tim Fox and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton are both in the race, and with two congressional victories of under 51%, Gianforte's nomination is no sure thing.  His gubernatorial declaration will make MT-AL the ninth open House seat for the coming election cycle.

Utah:  During the week, former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R) announced that he will not enter the open 2020 Utah Governor's race as many had speculated he would.  Mr. Chaffetz indicated his media and public speaking career has blossomed so he will be taking a pass on the Governor's race.  Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) then said that he will announce his gubernatorial candidacy later in the year.  Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election and has already endorsed the most prominent announced candidate, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R).   Additionally, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) commented on the upcoming Governor's race by indicating that his son, Josh Romney, would not enter the race.  The Utah state primary is scheduled for June 23, 2020.

May 31, 2019
Primary Challenges Continue to Emerge
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • AL-Sen:  Judge Roy Moore (R) may run
  • NC-Sen:  Poll shows serious primary challenge developing
  • MA-4:  Rep. Joe Kennedy III draws Dem primary challenge
  • NC-9:  Dan Bishop (R) up in special election poll
  • Redistricting: SCOTUS stays MI and OH rulings
  • MS-Gov:  Legal challenge to election system


Morning Consult National Poll:  Former Vice President Joe Biden again leads a new national Morning Consult large sample poll (5/20-26; 16,368 US registered Democratic voters) but remains well under the 50% support he will need to clinch a first ballot win at next year's national convention in Milwaukee.  The MC numbers find Mr. Biden holding a 38-20% advantage over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while all others hover in single-digits.  Topping the second tier, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) captures 9% and South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Senator Kamala Harris both record 7% support.


Alabama:  For weeks speculation has been rampant that former state Supreme Court Chief Justice and 2017 failed US Senate candidate Roy Moore is contemplating another run next year. Mr. Moore now confirms that he is considering again becoming a statewide federal candidate and says he will make a decision in the next few weeks.  Already in the race are US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, state Auditor Jim Zeigler, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Maine:  Maine US Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/ Portland) says she "doubts" that she or her daughter, former state House Speaker Hannah Pingree (D), will challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year.  In addition to Rep. Pingree's comments, neither woman appears to be constructing a statewide campaign nor raising money to support such an operation.  The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had hoped to recruit either Pingree into the 2020 race.

The DSCC leadership also made overtures to freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston).  With the Congressman declaring for re-election last week, it appears none of the party's top three choices will enter the race.  At this point, Sen. Collins appears in strong position for re-election.

North Carolina:  The Club for Growth organization is making it clear they would like to see Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) challenge North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis in next year's Republican primary.  The Club sponsored a new WPA Intelligence poll (5/19-21; 502 NC likely Republican primary voters) that finds Sen. Tillis below majority support in a GOP primary, but well over the minimum 30% threshold needed to win the party nomination.

According to WPA, Sen. Tillis would lead Rep. Walker and wealthy businessman Garland Tucker, who announced his Senate campaign earlier this month, 40-17-11%.  When push questions are added, Walker's standing greatly increases to the point where he leads the primary field.

South Carolina:  Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison, who formed a US Senate exploratory committee in February, announced late this week that he will become a full-fledged candidate against Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R).  The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee then quickly endorsed Mr. Harrison.  Any real threat to Sen. Graham, however, comes in the Republican primary, but he appears secure for re-election.

Texas:  Former one-term Houston Congressman Chris Bell (D) announced that he is forming a US Senate exploratory committee.  If he decides to run, Mr. Bell will oppose retired Army helicopter pilot and 2018 congressional candidate M.J. Hegar for the Democratic nomination. The winner opposes three-term Sen. John Cornyn (R) in the general election.


CO-3:  Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D), who challenged Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez/Western Slope) announced yesterday that she will run again next year.  While Ms. Bush lost 52-44% to Mr. Tipton, she did manage to outspend him $1.9 million to $1.7 million. Rep. Tipton is presumed to become a candidate for a sixth term in 2020.  He will be favored for re-election in a district that President Trump carried, 52-40%.

GA-6:  The idea that ex-US Rep. Karen Handel (R), a former Secretary of State and Georgia gubernatorial candidate, would get a free ride for a re-match nomination against Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) is now an official pipe dream.  After state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) declared his candidacy even before Ms. Handel decided to run, we now see a Navy and Merchant Marine veteran coming forth.  This week, Nicole Rodden, who will be a first-time candidate, made public her intention to run.

IA-2:  Things are looking positive for former state Senator and Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart to become a consensus Democratic candidate in the battle to replace retiring Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City).  Yesterday, Rep. Loebsack publicly endorsed Ms. Hart as his successor.  At this point, Ms. Hart is the only announced Democratic candidate. Republicans are expected to field several significant contenders but, so far, only Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley is an announced candidate.  The 2nd performs as a reliable Democratic district, but President Trump carried the seat 49-45% in 2016.  Therefore, as an open contest, this race could become competitive.

ME-2: Former state Sen. Eric Brakey (R), who challenged Sen. Angus King (I) last year and lost 53-35%, is expressing interest in opposing freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) in 2020.  He also plans to meet with former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R), who has not yet decided whether he will run again.   Mr. Brakey indicated that he did not envision a scenario where he and Mr. Poliquin would oppose each other for the Republican nomination.

MA-4:  Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) is drawing a primary challenge from his political left.  Former Wall Street regulator Ihssane Leckey announced at the beginning of the holiday weekend that she would run against the four-term legacy Congressman and criticized his remark that we should be striving for "moral capitalism."  Ms. Lecky is running as a Democratic Socialist. It is unlikely that she will be able to deny Rep. Kennedy re-nomination, but the contest may be worth watching.

NC-9:  The new data coming from JMC Analytics (5/21-24; 350 NC-9 registered voters) reminds us that the south-central North Carolina congressional district is still Republican in nature.  Despite Democrat Dan McCready raising huge sums of money (over $2 million cumulative within the pre-primary disclosure report filing period), new Republican nominee Dan Bishop, a Charlotte state Senator, has taken an early 46-42% lead in the first published poll for the September 10th special general election.

The 9th District has been vacant all year.  The 2018 results were held in suspension due to vote fraud irregularities.  Therefore, the individual placing first in that election, Republican Mark Harris who is not running again, was not certified as the official winner thus forcing a new election cycle.  Expect this race to become a major battle as the summer progresses.

TX-24:  Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/Carrollton) now has three opponents.  Yesterday, 2018 Democratic nominee Jan McDowell, who didn't even spend $100,000 on her campaign, confirmed that she will run again.  So will 2018 Agriculture Commissioner candidate Kim Olson, a retired Air Force Colonel who ran well statewide, 51-45%, in a losing effort.  Also in the Democratic primary is Carrollton-Farmers Branch School Board Trustee Candace Valenzuela.  Therefore, in what has traditionally been a quiet political district, we can expect to see serious competition in both the Democratic primary and general election next year.  In 2018, Rep. Marchant's victory margin dropped to 51-48%.

Redistricting:  At the end of last week, the US Supreme Court, in a rare 9-0 vote, granted the Republicans' motion to stay redistricting orders in Michigan and Ohio that would have forced the legislature to re-draw the respective states' congressional maps before the 2020 election. The move could be a prelude to three important high court rulings scheduled for release at some point in June: those on the Maryland and North Carolina redistricting cases, and the constitutionality of including a citizenship question on the upcoming census questionnaire.


Mississippi:  Yesterday, four African American voters, with the backing of former US Attorney General Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee, filed suit to challenge the long-held Mississippi electoral practice of requiring statewide candidates not only to win a majority of votes, but also carry a majority of state House districts. If the top vote-getter fails to win a majority of votes or House districts, the election is deferred to the state House to resolve the outcome.

The Mississippi statewide election system has been in effect since 1890.  No first-place candidate in the statewide vote has ever been denied their office when the final vote was sent to the state House.  The Mississippi statewide elections will be held later this year.

Montana:  Reports from a local Montana news service are indicating that Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) will soon announce his gubernatorial candidacy.  Mr. Gianforte was the Republican nominee for Governor in 2016, losing to incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock (D), 50-46%.  He since won a special US House election in 2017, and re-election to a full term in 2018. Already in the open race are Attorney General Tim Fox (R) and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R).

Rep. Gianforte's House election percentages were both rather tepid: 50-44% in the special election, and 51-46% in the 2018 regular election, which may not bode well for him in a contested Republican primary. By contrast, President Trump racked up a 56-36% victory here in 2016, and Sen. Steve Daines (R) won his first term in 2014 with a 58-40% margin. Gov. Bullock, now an official presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term.

New York:  Three-term New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is wasting no time declaring his next political move.  This week, the Governor said he will run for a fourth term in 2022.  If successful, Mr. Cuomo will achieve a political mark that alluded his father.  Republican George Pataki defeated then-Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) when the latter man ran for his fourth term in 1994.

May 24, 2019
Republican Fred Keller Wins PA-12 Special Election
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • KY, MA, MS-Sen: Incumbents draw primary challenges
  • MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash (R) in nomination trouble
  • NY-19: Ex-Rep. John Faso (R) won't seek re-match
  • PA-12: Fred Keller (R) wins special election
  • KY-Gov: Gov. Matt Bevin (R); AG Andy Beshear (D) nominated


Two Polls, Same Result:  Both Monmouth University and Harris X (polling for the Hill Newspaper) conducted national Democratic presidential primary polls during the same period and arrived at virtually identical results.  Monmouth's small sample poll (5/16-20; 334 US registered voters likely to vote in their respective Democratic primary) found former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) by a 33-15% margin with Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) following with 11, 10, 6, 4, and 3%, respectively.

Harris X (5/17-18; 448 US registered voters likely to vote in their respective Democratic primary) finds Biden's advantage over Sanders to be an almost identical 33-14%. They see a different second tier, however.  Harris finds their order as Warren, Buttigieg, Harris, and O'Rourke at 8, 6, 6, and 5%.

Florida Poll:  Florida Atlantic University polled the Sunshine State Democratic electorate (5/16-19; 1,007 FL registered voters; 403 likely FL Democratic primary voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden again establishing a solid advantage over the rest of the candidate field.  Here, he leads Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), 39-12-12%, with South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Sen. Kamala Harris trailing with 9 and 7%, respectively.  Florida, with 219 first ballot votes, is the fourth largest voting entity in the Democratic nomination process.  The state's electorate, along with those in Arizona and Illinois, will vote on March 17th.

Iowa Poll:  A new Change Research poll (5/15-19; 615 Democratic likely IA Caucus attenders) for the Iowa Starting Line political blog finds that former Vice President Joe Biden's post-announcement bump may be dissipating.  According to the results, Mr. Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are again tied for the lead at 24%.  South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg is third with 14%, followed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) posting 12 and 10%, respectively.


Kentucky:  Former state Rep. C. Wesley Morgan, who won a central Kentucky state House seat in 2016 but then lost re-nomination in 2018, announced his Republican primary challenge to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  After his defeat, Mr. Morgan said he was leaving the Republican Party and endorsed the Democratic nominee for the general election, a candidate who lost by just 23 votes.  Now, it appears, Mr. Morgan is returning to the GOP to launch a political effort against Sen. McConnell who was first elected in 1984 and has risen to the Senate's top position.  No major Democrat has yet filed to oppose the Majority Leader, but we can expect to see some action after the Kentucky Governor's race comes to a close in November.

Maine:  To the surprise of very few, freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) has officially eschewed overtures that he challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R), and announced he will run for re-election to his 2nd District House seat.  At this point, Sen. Collins has drawn only minor Democratic and Republican primary opposition.

Massachusetts:  Though Sen. Ed Markey (D) is not drawing a primary challenge from either upstart House member Seth Moulton (D-Salem) or Ayanna Presley (D-Boston) as originally speculated, he will have intra-party opposition, nonetheless.  Labor lawyer Shannon Liss-Riordan this week announced her intention to challenge the 43-year congressional veteran, attempting to deny him re-nomination.  Ms. Liss-Riordan specializes in defending under-paid workers and has won lawsuits against American Airlines, FedEx, Harvard University, and Starbucks, among others.  This will be her first run for public office, so Sen. Markey certainly begins as an overwhelming favorite to win the party nod and general election.

Mississippi:  Wealthy businessman and Vice Chairman of the Mississippi Lottery Board Gerard Gilbert said late this week that he is considering challenging Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith in next year's Republican primary.  So far, this race has been quiet after the Senator, appointed to serve the remainder of Sen. Thad Cochran's (R) final term in office after his resignation for health reasons, defeated former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D) in a 54-46% special election victory last November.

Wyoming:  Mega GOP donor Foster Friess, who finished second in the 2018 open Wyoming Governor's primary losing 33-26% to now-Gov. Mark Gordon (R), is quoted as saying he is considering entering the open US Senate race now that incumbent Sen. Mike Enzi (R) is retiring.  All political eyes, however, are still on at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/ Jackson) to see if she will announce for the Senate.


CA-10:  San Joaquin County Supervisor Bob Elliott (R-Tracy), a retired Army Colonel, was already an announced candidate for state Senate.  Early this week, however, he switched gears and instead will file to oppose freshman US Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock).  Also, in the GOP congressional race is Turlock former City Councilman Ted Howze (R), but he ran in 2018 and received only 15% in the jungle primary.  Two other minor candidates have declared, but it appears that Mr. Elliott would be the strongest opponent for Rep. Harder in the general election at this point in time.

IL-14:   In contrast to several other defeated Republican former Congressmen, ex-Rep. Randy Hultgren says it is "unlikely" that he will run again in 2020 in order to re-claim his former northern Illinois district.  In November, Mr. Hultgren lost his bid for a fifth term to current freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville), 52-48%.

At this point, state Senator and frequent federal candidate Jim Oberweis (R-North Aurora) has announced his congressional candidacy along with three minor candidates. In the background, however, is state Sen. Sue Rezin (R-Morris), who appears to be taking steps toward constructing a congressional campaign apparatus.  In what is usually a reliable seat for the GOP, we can again expect a highly competitive campaign to ensue.

IA-2:  Despite Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) retiring after this term, 2016 and '18 Republican nominee Christopher Peters announced that he will not seek the open seat next year.  On the heels of Mr. Peters declining to run, another Republican took himself out of the political picture.  State Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R-Wilton) confirmed that he will not run for Congress next year.  At this point, only Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley is in the Republican field.

Former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart (D) is fast becoming a consensus 2nd District Democratic candidate.  Late this week, state Sen. Zach Wahls (D-Coralville), who was himself considering the congressional race, publicly endorsed Ms. Hart, as did state Rep. Wes Breckinridge (D-Newton).  The latter man was also said to be contemplating becoming a congressional candidate.  Since President Trump carried this usually reliable Democratic congressional district 49-45% in 2016, this open seat could become competitive particularly in a year with Mr. Trump returning to the ballot.

MI-3:  President Trump brandishing Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) a "loser" after the latter man became the first Republican to call for the former's impeachment upon reading the Mueller Report, is going to be a factor in a new primary challenge campaign. State Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) declared his candidacy this week and released a survey that gives numerical support to the claim that Rep. Amash will be highly vulnerable in a Republican primary.

Mr. Amash, who repeatedly has bucked House Republican leadership during his nine years of congressional service, faced serious opposition in 2014 but the Congressman defeated challenger Brian Ellis, 57-43%.  He was re-elected 54-43% in the 2018 general election against activist Cathy Albro (D) who spent less than $160,000 on her campaign.

NY-19:   Former US Representative, ex-state Assembly Minority Leader, and 2006 gubernatorial nominee John Faso (R) said this week that he will not seek a re-match with the Democrat who unseated him in November, freshman Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck). The 19th District is likely to be a battleground region next year despite New York not being a competitive state at the presidential level. With Mr. Delgado winning with just over 50% (50.3) in 2018, we can expect another hard-fought political contest to develop in this eastern upstate CD again next year.

NY-27:  Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) has drawn a serious Republican primary challenge.  Mr. Collins, who won a close re-election last November despite being indicted for insider trading even as three other New York Republicans went down in defeat, is scheduled for trial before the next election.  State Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Erie County) has announced that he will challenge Rep. Collins in next year's Republican primary.

PA-12:   Pennsylvania state Rep. Fred Keller (R-Mifflinburg) easily defeated Democrat Marc Friedenberg last Tuesday in the battle to succeed resigned-Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport). Mr. Keller's victory margin was 68-32%, a stronger performance than both President Trump and Rep. Marino enjoyed in their most recent elections in the district.  More than 130,000 people voted in the special election, which was a strong number considering the outcome never seemed in doubt.  Mr. Keller holding this seat for the GOP means the House party division is now 235 Democrats; 198 Republicans; and 2 vacancies that will both be filled on September 10th (NC-3; NC-9).

TX-10:  Until last year's tight 51-47% re-election victory for eight-term Congressman Michael McCaul (R-Austin), Democrats had not aggressively challenged for the seat.  Earlier this week, attorney Susan Hutcheson announced that she would join the burgeoning field of Democratic candidates.  Already, 2018 nominee Mike Siegel and Dell Medical School assistant professor Pritesh Gandhi are in the race.  Despite the closeness of the last contest, Rep. McCaul begins as a definitive favorite for re-election.


Kentucky:  Attorney General Andy Beshear won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination Tuesday night on the strength of his performance in the Louisville area and western Kentucky, which off-set his being blown out in the eastern part of the state.  Mr. Beshear defeated state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook), and former state Auditor Adam Edelen, 38-32-28%.

Gov. Matt Bevin (R), who has been suffering from poor job approval ratings, won re-nomination with just over 52% of the vote, a very weak performance within his own party base.  Like AG Beshear, Gov. Bevin was anemic in the eastern part of the state.  Therefore, the region east of Frankfort and Lexington should be an interesting one since neither general election nominee performed well there.

May 17, 2019
NC-9 Special Election Set for September Showdown
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Gov. Steve Bullock, NYC Mayor de Blasio - In
  • AZ-Sen: New Poll - Dead Heat
  • NH-Sen: Gov. Chris Sununu (R) - No to Senate
  • FL-26: Ex-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) may return
  • IA-1, 2, & 3: Heavy Hawkeye state action
  • NC-9: Dan McCready (D), Dan Bishop (R) win primaries
  • MS-Gov: AG Jim Hood (D) takes lead in new poll


Gov. Steve Bullock:  As has been expected for some time, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) officially announced his presidential effort this week, becoming the 23rd Democratic candidate.  Mr. Bullock made the argument that he will be an effective national candidate because he's won two elections in a conservative state and has been able to earn legislative achievements, like Medicaid expansion, in negotiating with Republican leaders.

Mayor Bill de Blasio:  Following Gov. Bullock, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released an announcement video at the end of the week making him the 24th Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election cycle.  His declaration centered around being the candidate for "working families," and cited the $15 minimum wage, a free pre-K school program, a comprehensive healthcare program that especially covers mental health, and paid sick leave. 

Florida:  Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to see strong polling numbers, with the latest data coming from Florida.  The Tel Opinion Research organization is reporting its latest results (released 5/8; 800 FL likely Democratic primary voters) that show Mr. Biden pulling away from his Democratic opponents on an open-ended ballot test poll.  An open-ended ballot test is one where the respondent is not given the candidates' names.  That approach tests for committed strength.

According to Tel Opinion, Mr. Biden leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 39-16%, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) each pulling 5% support.  South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg follows at 3% preference.  All the candidates scored well on the favorability index scale.  Mr. Biden is viewed positively in an 81:13% ratio, where Sen. Sanders' score is 68:23%. 


Arizona:Phoenix-based pollster OH Predictive Insights released the latest data from their May 1-2 poll (600 AZ likely voters) where they queried the respondent universe about the impending Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D). Though we are more than a year before Arizona's 2020 late August primary, the chances are strong that the aforementioned will be their respective party standard bearers.

According to the OH poll results, the early race again earns toss-up status. The sample breaks 45-44% in Sen. McSally's favor, which is virtually identical with the firm's late February poll giving the incumbent a 46-44% edge.

Iowa:After both former Governor and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) and Rep. Cindy Axne (D-West Des Moines) declined to challenge Sen. Joni Ernst (R), the Democrats were left with no announced Senatorial candidate. That changed during the week when attorney Kimberly Graham announced that she would seek the Democratic nomination. We can expect others to join, but no current elected official is, to date, coming forward to oppose the first term Senator.

Montana:Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins (D) announced his intention to seek the Montana Democratic Senatorial nomination next year, with the hope of eventually challenging first-term Sen. Steve Daines (R). Mr. Collins, a native of Liberia, is the first African American to be elected as Helena's chief executive.

New Hampshire:After previously confirming that he was considering challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) next year, Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced that he will instead seek a third two-year term as Governor in the 2020 election. Mr. Sununu was the strongest Republican the party could have fielded against the two-term Senator and former Governor. Preliminary polling showed a proposed Shaheen-Sununu race as being a virtual dead heat.


AL-5:Retired Navy Commander Chris Lewis yesterday announced that he will challenge Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) in next year's Republican congressional primary. Last week, Rep. Brooks made it clear he would not again run for the Senate, and in response to the Lewis challenge, made public his Senate endorsement for state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) who quarterbacked his 2017 statewide campaign. The Alabama state primary will run concurrently with the presidential race, meaning the nominating election will be March 3rd.

CA-15:State Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) announced late this week that he will run for Congress next year but would retreat to the legislature if Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin), now a presidential candidate, returns to run for the House in the California primary. Another Democrat, Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab, is also in the race but has been less definitive about leaving the race if Rep. Swalwell were to come back.

CA-45:Late last week, a sixth Republican candidate came forward to enter the Orange County based 45th Congressional District race, still a year before the California primary election. In November, freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) defeated two-term Congresswoman Mimi Walters (R), 52-48%.

Orange County Board of Education member Lisa Sparks joined the crowded field that now includes a half-dozen Republicans beginning with Orange County Deputy District Attorney Ray Gennaway, and featuring Yorba Linda City Councilwoman Peggy Huang, Mission Viejo City Councilman Greg Raths, Laguna Hills Councilman Don Sedgwick, businessman Brenton Woolworth, and now Ms. Sparks.

FL-26:South Florida ex-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami), who lost his seat 51-49% to current freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Miami) last November indicated yesterday during a trip to DC that he has not ruled out attempting to re-capture his former position. It had been a widely held belief that Mr. Curbelo was planning to enter the Miami-Dade Mayor's race, but apparently his plans are not yet solidified.

IA-1:State Representative and former local television anchor Ashley Hinson (R-Marion) announced that she will challenge freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) in Iowa's northeastern quadrant. In November, Ms. Finkenauer, herself then a sitting state Representative, unseated two-term Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque), 50-45%. For his part, Mr. Blum has indicated he is considering running again but has made no firm decision.

IA-2:Republican Bobby Schilling served one term in Congress from western Illinois' 17th District, losing his re-election bid in 2012. Re-locating across the Mississippi River to Iowa in 2017, former Congressman Schilling looks to make a political comeback. It is expected that he will soon announce his candidacy for Iowa's open 2nd Congressional District.

In April, Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) made public his decision not to seek an eighth term. Former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart (D) announced that she will run in the 2nd Congressional District next year, attempting to succeed Mr. Loebsack. Ms. Hart is the first Democrat to come forward for the competitive open seat that should lean to her party. Previously, Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley announced for the Republican nomination.

IA-3:Former Rep. David Young (R) lost his seat to freshman Cindy Axne (D-West Des Moines) last year, and he announced last week that he will return for a re-match. But it appears he will have to fight for the party nomination. This week, retired Army Colonel Bill Schafer (R) said that he will run for the position and state Sen. Zach Wahls (R-Coralville) has embarked on a "listening tour" of the congressional district and expects to make a decision about becoming a candidate in July.

NJ-11:Financier Reinier Prijten (R) announced yesterday that he is ending his month-old congressional bid. Mr. Prijten was looking to challenge freshman Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair/Morristown) in next year's general election. Mr. Prijten's chief reason for discontinuing his political effort: he does not live in New Jersey, now or ever before.

NC-9:The special primary to begin the process of filling the vacant 9th Congressional District was held on Tuesday and Democrat Dan McCready, who was unopposed in his primary, and Republican Dan Bishop, a Charlotte state Senator, advanced into the September 10th special general election.

Sen. Bishop took 48% of the vote, well exceeding the 30% threshold needed for nomination against nine other Republicans. The seat was vacant because the November race leader, Mark Harris (R), was denied a certificate of election due to voter fraud allegations in one county.

This will be a competitive special general, but with Mr. McCready already raising over $2 million for the effort, he will be cast as an early favorite despite the voter history here favoring the Republicans.

TX-23:Ex-US Trade official and military veteran Gina Ortiz Jones (D) late this week made official her intention to seek a re-match with Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio). Ms. Jones came within 926 votes of unseating the three-term Congressman last November and will return to again become a congressional candidate. Obviously, this race will be a major Democratic conversion target, and enters the election cycle with a toss-up rating.


Mississippi:The Hickman Analytics research organization, polling for the Jim Hood (D) for Governor campaign, tested the Mississippi electorate in preparation for the 2019 state chief executive race, which will be held in November of this year. The position is open because Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

According to the Hickman results (5/5-9; 604 MS likely 2019 gubernatorial election voters), Attorney General Hood would lead Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R), 45-40%, if the election were in the present. Both have August primary opposition, but each is expected to easily win their respective party nominations.

May 10, 2019
Sen. Enzi Retirement Becomes Fourth Open Senate Seat of 2020 Election Cycle
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: NYC Mayor de Blasio (D)...not yet
  • AL-Sen: Ex-Sen. Jeff Sessions coming back?
  • WY-Sen: Sen. Mike Enzi (R) will retire
  • CA-10: Ex-Rep. Jeff Denham (R) won't run in 2020
  • IA-3: Ex-Rep. David Young (R) will seek re-match
  • NC-9: Special Election polling data


Mayor Bill de Blasio:  Rumors were circulating early this week that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was going to announce his presidential campaign.  But that did not happen.  Mr. de Blasio was quoted as saying, "you can't have an announcement before there's a decision."

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:  The first cross-party endorsement has already been made for the 2020 election, and it goes to Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Former presidential candidate and veteran Republican Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has publicly endorsed Ms. Gabbard saying she is "by far the very, very best...".    It is unclear how much this endorsement will help her in Democratic primaries, but it certainly demonstrates an attempt to project a wide appeal.

Indiana:  A small sample We Ask America poll was conducted among selected likely Indiana Democratic primary voters (4/29-5/5; 280 likely Dem primary voters) and the results found former Vice President Joe Biden leading, but the margin was closer than in most other polled states.  The WAA data finds the ex-VP with 33% support compared to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) 23%, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who posted 20%.

Maryland:   As rumors continue that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan may launch a Republican primary challenge to President Trump, Gonzales Research, Marketing & Strategy, a Maryland-based company, polled the GOP electorate (4/29-4/4; 203 MD likely primary voters).  Though the sample size is very small, the President's margin is very large.  The results find Mr. Trump holding a 68-24% advantage over Gov. Hogan in the latter man's home state.

Massachusetts:  In an effort to deny former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld some home state delegates, the MA Republican Party adopted a new rule that changes Massachusetts into a winner-take-all state.  The Trump campaign wants a unanimous vote at the convention, and Massachusetts making the move to winner-take-all status makes such a goal more achievable.

New Hampshire:  In early May, we've seen two pollsters survey the New Hampshire Democratic electorate and arrive at very diverse results.  As we've previously reported, the Fireside Strategies/Optima poll (551 respondents) found former Vice President Joe Biden opening up a strong 34-16-10% lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  But, Change Research (864 respondents) countered with data finding Sen. Sanders holding a 30-26-12% margin over Biden and Buttigieg, respectively. Now, Monmouth University reports its findings of their May 2-7 poll with 376 likely Democratic primary voters. They side with Fireside, as the numbers project Mr. Biden to be holding a 36-18-9% advantage over Sanders and Buttigieg, respectively.


Alabama:  US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who ran for the Senate in the 2017 special election and placed third in the field of candidates, has now made clear his plans regarding the 2020 Senate campaign.  In a radio interview, Rep. Brooks definitively declared that he will not be a 2020 statewide candidate.  This means Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), state Auditor Jim Zeigler, state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs Valley), former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, and possibly Secretary of State John Merrill (R) are the major candidates vying to challenge first-term incumbent Doug Jones (D).

Additionally, former US Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) is re-emerging. Originally stating that he wanted to get away to the Alabama woods for a while when asked if he would consider entering the 2020 Senate primary, Mr. Sessions may now be issuing different signals.  This week, he responded that he is "interested in the issues" when asked about the Senate race, prompting some to surmise that Mr. Sessions has not necessarily ruled out becoming a candidate.

Colorado:  Former state House Majority Leader Alice Madden (D) announced that she will enter the crowded Democratic US Senate primary. Her move means there are now 12 announced candidates vying for the opportunity of challenging first-term Republican Senator Cory Gardner in the general election.  Among the dozen, however, no one has ever won a statewide race.  The most well-known of the group are former state House Speaker and defeated US House and Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, ex-US Ambassador Dan Baer who briefly entered a 2018 House campaign, former appointed US Attorney John Walsh, and ex-state Senator and defeated gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston.

Georgia:  We remember Democrat Jon Ossoff who raised a record amount of money for his 2017 special election in Georgia's 6th District, a race he lost to Republican Karen Handel. Though winning the special election and overcoming his $31.6 million treasury, Ms. Handel could not hold the seat in the regular election, losing a one-percentage point result to current Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta).  Now Mr. Ossoff is toying with another candidacy, but this time it's for the US Senate.  Ossoff confirmed he is considering challenging Sen. David Perdue (R) now that 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) has decided not to run for the Senate.  Already in the Democratic primary is Columbus former Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and several minor candidates.

North Carolina:  Former CEO and conservative activist Garland Tucker announced that he will enter the Republican Senate primary against first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R).  Rumors of a primary challenge became rampant when Sen. Tillis publicly began to oppose President Trump's state of emergency action regarding the country's southern border.  Sen. Tillis later supported the idea, but he obviously caused himself long-lasting damage with the base Trump supporters in the NC GOP.

Wyoming:  Four-term Senator Mike Enzi (R) announced on Saturday that he will not seek re-election next year.  This becomes the fourth open Senate seat of the 2020 election cycle, three of which are Republican held.  Most of the action will come in the Republican primary from one of the GOP's best states.  At-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson) is the name most often mentioned as a possible candidate.  Former Gov. Matt Mead (R) is also a possibility, as well as several statewide office holders.  At the end of the week, it emerged that former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) is also reported to be considering entering the Senate campaign.


CA-10:  Ex-Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), who served four terms in the House, just accepted a position in Washington and said this week that he is ruling out any re-match campaign for the US House.  Last November, Mr. Denham lost to now-freshman Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock/ Modesto) on a 52-48% count.  Three Republicans have already announced their candidacies to oppose Rep. Harder, including former Turlock City Councilman Ted Howze who entered the race against Mr. Denham last year and received 15% of the jungle primary vote in an eight-person candidate field.

FL-7:  Though sophomore Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) has already shown electoral strength, she is drawing a crowd of opponents for her next re-election.  This week, attorney and former congressional candidate Vennia Francois announced her candidacy, joining businessman and National Guardsman Thomas Delia, anti-human trafficking advocate Jan Edwards, and college student Armani Salado.  It is unclear if any of these can mount a credible challenge, but the level of early activity here is significant.

GA-13:   Former Cobb County Democratic Party chairman Michael Owens announced that he will again challenge Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) for re-nomination next year.  Accusing Mr. Scott of straying from the party on too many key issues and supporting Republican candidates for certain races, Mr. Owens said he is again ready to forge a challenge to the nine-term Congressman.  The first time the two faced each other occurred in a 2014 primary election. Then, Rep. Scott thrashed Owens 82-18%, so the Congressman obviously begins this new campaign as a prohibitive favorite.

IA-2:  Rep. David Loebsack's (D-Iowa City) early retirement announcement obviously caught a great many southeastern Iowa politicos by surprise because almost a month after his creating an open competitive seat in the 2020 election, no one in either party had come forward to declare a candidacy.  That has now changed. Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley (R) officially entered the Republican congressional primary this week, and we assume many more candidates in both parties will be coming forward to run.

IA-3:   Former Rep. David Young (R), who lost his congressional seat to Democrat Cindy Axne (D-West Des Moines) in November, said yesterday that he will return for a re-match.  Other defeated Republican members are considering comebacks, but Mr. Young is the first to make his candidacy official.  The two battled to a two-point decision, with Ms. Axne unseating Mr. Young, 49-47%, a difference of 7,709 votes of more than 360,000 cast.

NC-9:  Public Policy Polling went into the field to test the Republican special election candidates two weeks before the May 14th primary vote.  The survey (4/29-30; 592 NC-9 likely GOP primary voters) finds state Senator Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) positioned with a chance not only to finish first in the field of ten candidates but potentially exceeding the 30% threshold to win the party nomination outright.  The poll totals show Sen. Bishop attracting 31% support with his next closest rival, Union County Supervisor Stony Rushing, garnering 17%. Realtor Leigh Brown could be the wild card.  Sitting at 6%, outside resources being spent to support her campaign could be enough to push her into second place while denying Sen. Bishop the plurality victory.

If a run-off is necessitated, the vote will be scheduled for September 10th.  If the Republicans nominate a candidate on May 14th, the special general then occupies the 9/10 date. Otherwise, the general will be held November 5th. Democrat Dan McCready is unopposed for the party nomination, so he will automatically advance into the special general.  The seat is vacant because voter fraud allegations kept the 2018 election result from being certified.

Ohio Redistricting:   A federal three-judge panel struck down the Ohio congressional district boundaries, ruling that the map is a political gerrymander.  The Buckeye State now joins a long list of places dealing with similar decisions that have already been rendered in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, and Wisconsin.  The real action, however, is before the US Supreme Court, where potentially definitive binding rulings on the North Carolina and Maryland cases could remand all of the pending cases with clearer direction as to what constitutes gerrymandering.  The high court decisions are expected before June ends.


Louisiana:  JMC Analytics, a regular pollster of the Louisiana electorate, just reported the results of their new survey (4/25-27 & 29; 650 LA registered voters) for the upcoming Governor's election.  According to the JMC data, the October 12th jungle primary finds Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) leading US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/ Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), 38-23-7%.  In tested general election run-offs, Gov. Edwards would top Rep. Abraham by a slight 40-36% count, while his advantage against Rispone would balloon to 41-28%.

May 3, 2019
Decision Time for Top Candidate Recruits
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) joins race
  • AL-Sen: Sec of State John Merrill (R) considers Senate campaign
  • GA-Sen: Former gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams says no
  • IA-Sen: No Dems yet oppose Sen. Joni Ernst (R)
  • TX-Sen: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) says no to Senate challenge
  • NC-3: GOP in run-off; ex-Mayor Allen Thomas win D nomination


Sen. Michael Bennet:  Somewhat surprisingly, Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet joined the Democratic presidential parade at the end of the week.  Last month, Mr. Bennet confirmed his interest in becoming a national candidate but announced that he had prostate cancer.  Now, after having the necessary surgery and claiming he has a clean bill of health, Sen. Bennet has joined the burgeoning field of candidates that is approaching the two-dozen mark in number.

CNN/Q-Poll:  CNN (conducted by the SRSS research firm; 4/25-28; 1,007 US adults; 411 likely Democratic primary voters) and Quinnipiac University (4/26-29; 1,044 US registered voters; 419 self-identified Democrats and lean Democratic voters) released new national polls that find former Vice President Joe Biden receiving a major bump from his national candidacy announcement.  According to the pair of surveys, Mr. Biden has again surged to a clear lead for the Democratic nomination.  But, the small 411-respondent CNN sample and Q-Poll's 419-person segment leaves a lot of room for polling error.

CNN's results find Mr. Biden claiming 39% of the Democratic vote, his largest vote share to date. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who was neck-and-neck with Biden before the announcement, drops back to 15% in this poll.  No other candidate reaches 10%, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in third place at 8%, South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg following closely with 7%, ex-Congressman Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) posting 6%, and California Sen. Kamala Harris recording 5% preference.  All the others fail to break 2%. The Q-Poll finds Mr. Biden polling a similar 38% and Sen. Warren moving to second at 12%.  Sen. Sanders drops to third with 11% preference, while Mayor Buttigieg is the only other contender reaching double-digits posting 10% support.

NH Poll:  Though Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is from a neighboring state and has done well in the most recent New Hampshire primary, a new Suffolk University poll (4/25-28; 429 NH likely Democratic primary voters) finds former Vice President Joe Biden lurching out to a substantial 20-12-12% lead over Sanders and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in the first-in-the-nation-primary state.  In fourth position is Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who posts 8%, with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) following at 6% support.  Ex-Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) are tied with 3% apiece.


Alabama:  So far, most of the attention paid to who will oppose Sen. Doug Jones (D) has centered around former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and members of the congressional delegation, naturally including announced candidate Bradley Byrne, the Mobile area Congressman.  On Friday, Secretary of State John Merrill (R) came forward to declare his interest in becoming a candidate.

Mr. Merrill would be the second statewide contender.  Just before the first of the year, state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) declared that he was exploring the Senate race but has not shown much in the way of activity, since.

Georgia:  While still not ruling out that she will join the 2020 presidential field, former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) said she will not run for the US Senate next year. She had been publicly considering a challenge race against first-term Sen. David Perdue (R) and promised a decision by the end of April.  Now attention turns to former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson (D), who said she would run for the Senate if Ms. Abrams did not.

Iowa:  The Democratic leadership's second choice to oppose Sen. Joni Ernst (R) has also said no. Earlier, former Governor and ex-US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) said he would not return to Iowa to launch a US Senate challenge.  Once Mr. Vilsack made the decision not to run, the party leadership began attempting to convince freshman Rep. Cindy Axne (D-West Des Moines) to oppose Sen. Ernst.  This week, Rep. Axne announced that she will seek re-election to the House.  Currently there are no officially announced Democrats in the Iowa Senate race.

New Jersey:  2018 candidate Hirsh Singh, who originally was in the 2nd Congressional District but lost the Republican primary, announced his intention to oppose Sen. Cory Booker (D) next year.  The Senate campaign will be a political suicide run for Singh, since Sen. Booker will be re-elected regardless of how his presidential campaign unfolds.  But, in a way, his move to the Senate likely helps the Republicans clear the way in order to recruit a more credible consensus opponent to freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May).  Additionally, healthcare business consultant Tricia Flanagan has also declared her intention to seek the Republican Senatorial nomination.

New Mexico:  GBAO Strategy & Research conducted the first poll of the open seat Democratic primary (4/15-18; 600 NM likely Democratic primary voters) and finds Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/ Santa Fe) jumping out to a huge 64-25% lead over just-announced Senate candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the New Mexico Secretary of State.

Texas:  This week, as expected, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) announced that he will not enter the statewide Democratic primary to ultimately challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R) next year.  That Mr. Castro arrived at this decision some time ago became evident by not attempting to build a statewide organization and his lack of raising sufficient funds to compete. The Castro decision means that 2018 congressional candidate and retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar (D), who lost to Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock), 51-48% in November, becomes the clear early Democratic alternative to Sen. Cornyn.


CA-22:  In March 2018 congressional nominee Andrew Janz (D), who raised over $8 million for his losing congressional race against Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare), indicated he was looking toward the Fresno Mayor's race instead of seeking a congressional re-match. Yesterday, Mr. Janz formally made the decision and announced his candidacy to oppose Mayor Lee Brand in this year's non-partisan campaign.

CA-39:  Former state Assemblywoman Young Kim (R), like several other 2018 California Republican congressional candidates, was leading after the votes were counted on last November's election night.  Yet, as the weeks of counting post-election ballots continued, the final result turned against her.   Late this week, Ms. Kim announced that she will return next year for a re-match with freshman Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda).  Rep. Cisneros won the November election, 51.6 - 48.4% with a turnout of just over 244,000 voters.  Hillary Clinton carried the 39th in 2016 by a 51-43% count.

GA-7:  State Rep. Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross), who originally indicated she wouldn't run for Congress, has changed her mind and announced her candidacy.  She becomes the sixth Democrat to enter the open seat race.  The field includes 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux who lost the general election by a scant 419 votes, the closest raw vote election in the country.

MA-6:  Now that Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) has announced for the presidency, and even though he says he may return to the congressional primary, several politicos are already beginning to make moves.  Last week, we covered that Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Swampscott) announced her candidacy and will remain in the race even if Moulton returns.  Now, it's being reported that former Rep. John Tierney (D), the man Mr. Moulton defeated in the 2014 Democratic primary, might also have interest in launching a new congressional campaign. Others, including former state Sen. Barbara L'Italien (D), are also publicly confirming that they are considering forming candidacies.

MI-3:  Five-term Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) will have a Republican primary challenger, possibly his first of any substance since his 2014 campaign.  Iraq War veteran Tom Norton announced that he will oppose Rep. Amash for the GOP nomination. Assuming Norton can raise some early money to become credible, mounting a primary challenge here could catch some fire since the Congressman has alienated many in his own party.

MN-1:  Another re-do campaign looks to be on tap in southern Minnesota.  In one of three Democratic seats that flipped to the Republicans, and one of those was due solely to Pennsylvania redistricting, freshman Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) nipped Democrat Dan Feehan by just 1,315 votes last November, a 50.1 - 49.7% victory margin. Yesterday, Mr. Feehan announced that he will return for a re-match next year.

NY-5:  Marine Corps veteran Shaniyat Chowdhury (D), a strong supporter of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) and her wing of the Democratic Party, announced that he will challenge 12-term Rep. Greg Meeks (D-Queens) in next year's June party primary election. The 5th District, 90% of which lies in Queens Borough with the remaining territory in Nassau County and centered around JFK International Airport, is solidly Democratic.  Hillary Clinton attracted 86% of the vote here in 2016, for example.

NC-3:  Early this week in eastern and coastal North Carolina, almost 69,000 voters cast ballots in the special congressional primary election.  The eventual winner replaces the late Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville), who passed away in February.

In the field of 17 Republicans, state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), taking advantage of a very strong performance in his home region, placed first with 22.5% of the vote.  Because Rep. Murphy did not exceed the 30% threshold, he and physician Joan Perry advance to a July 9th run-off election.

For the Democrats, former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas easily won the Democratic primary over five opponents.  He drew just over 50% of the vote, topping retired Marine Corps Colonel Richard Bew and New Bern Mayor Dana Outlaw by better than 2:1 respective margin.   Mr. Thomas directly advances to the special general election on September 10th.

NC-11:  Becoming the first candidate of the cycle to challenge four-term Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Hendersonville), retired US Air Force officer Steve Woodsmall (D) announced that he will oppose the Freedom Caucus chairman next year.  Rep. Meadows should be secure in his safely Republican western North Carolina district (Trump '16: 63-34%; Romney '12: 60-39%), so Mr. Woodsmall faces a difficult task in making major inroads.  Quite possibly, a primary challenge in this district would be more competitive than a general election effort.