The "BIPAC Daily" Political Analysis Newsletter

The following political analysis is from Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC) Political Analyst Jim Ellis. BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization.  It is provided solely as a membership benefit to the organization’s 300-plus member companies and trade associations. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of any particular member or the organization generally.

Please click on the links below to read our recent articles.

July 12, 2017 — One In, One Out
July 11, 2017 — Big Governor News
July 10, 2017 — The Wild West
July 7, 2017 — More on Missouri
July 6, 2017 — Reviewing the Senate

One In, One Out
July 12, 2017
By: Jim Ellis
 
Two major announcements occurred during the last two days resulting in one individual becoming an official statewide candidate and another withdrawing from a campaign that had already begun.
 
WV-Senate
 
As had been expected for some time, two-term West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) announced his campaign for the United States Senate.  He will face two-term Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) in the Republican primary, with the winner drawing a difficult political match with Sen. Joe Manchin (D).
 
With average win percentages of 62% over two elections as Governor (2004, ’08) in addition to a pair of Senate campaigns (2010 special election; 2012), Sen. Manchin appears to be in strong shape as he approaches his 2018 re-election.  But, there are some cracks in his armor, hence the presence of two strong GOP opponents.
 
Though Sen. Manchin has attempted to cross the partisan line in his public relationship with President Trump and the Republican leadership on several issues, it is still a net negative for the Senator to campaign on the same political landscape that proved to be the former’s second strongest state (69%). 
 
Additionally, rumors are still floating that the Senator hasn’t fully committed to seeking re-election, and his first quarter fundraising wasn’t particularly stellar for an in-cycle Senator: $552,000 for the period ending with $2.17 million in the bank, though these are still credible financial numbers for a small state.  It will be interesting to note the Manchin fundraising activity level once the second quarter numbers are reported on or before July 15th.  Those figures will tell us a great deal about the Senator’s future political plans.
 
Finally, the Mr. Manchin’s daughter, Heather Bresch the CEO of the Mylan pharmaceutical company, was caught in the eye of controversy toward the end of 2016 over raising prices of the EpiPen prescriptions by more than 500% for those who have severe and, under certain circumstances, life-threatening allergies.  Questions about conflicts of interest surrounded the Senator over this situation, and we are sure to hear about this subject matter often during next year’s campaign.
 
Mr. Morrisey enters the Senate contest with two statewide victories under his belt, originally winning his office in 2012 by unseating the incumbent with a 51-49% victory margin.  The outcome made Mr. Morrisey the first Republican West Virginia Attorney General since the 1928 election.  He went onto win re-election last November with a 52-42% spread.

Though there was much fanfare surrounding Rep. Jenkins Senatorial announcement in early May, the Congressman’s campaign kick-off video has left him open to primary attack, and Morrisey plans to exploit the weakness.  His video message excoriated Sen. Manchin for twice supporting President Obama’s election campaigns but, in fact, Mr. Jenkins did the same as a Democratic member of the state legislature.  It was only in 2013, when preparing to run for the 3rd District Congressional seat, that he changed political parties.  Therefore, Jenkins will have more than 16 years of votes as a Democratic member that will certainly open him to criticism in a statewide Republican primary.
 
It appears that the West Virginia Senate race will attract its share of attention in both the primary and general elections, and the campaign is poised to become a top tier Republican challenge campaign despite Sen. Manchin’s overall popularity.
 
CO-Governor
 
Two days ago, speculation was rampant in Colorado that Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) was planning to withdraw from the Governor’s race and would announce such at an impending public news conference.  Yesterday, the Congressman not only officially withdrew from the statewide campaign, but also said he will not return to seek re-election to the US House.
 
It appears Mr. Perlmutter may have reached the end of his public political life, publicly lamenting in his announcement address that he “thought I could do it all. I'm telling you, in front of all of you, I can't.”  Aides indicated that the Congressman was not relishing running against his congressional colleague, Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder), and others said that Perlmutter feels he has lost the joy of campaigning.  Rather than continue a race without any heart, he decided to withdraw.  Rep. Perlmutter will serve the balance of the current congressional term, but will then retire once the session concludes at the end of next year.
 
In addition to Rep. Polis, former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston, manufacturing company CEO Noel Ginsburg, and agri-businessman Adam Garrity are the announced Democratic gubernatorial candidates of note.  Regional District Attorney George Brauchler is the most notable Republican.  Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.  Mr. Perlmutter’s open 7th Congressional District is expected to remain in Democratic hands.
 
Big Governor News
July 11, 2017
By: Jim Ellis
 
A major announcement was made in a western state Governor’s race yesterday, with an additional one from an adjacent domain coming later today.  Both affect corresponding US House seats.
 
NM-Gov; NM-2
 
Yesterday, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) announced that he will enter the open New Mexico Governor’s race next year, saying to the Albuquerque Journal that he’s “concerned about an exodus of young people leaving New Mexico,” going to other places for a more favorable job market.  Pearce said his campaign will emphasize improving education, spurring economic growth, and reducing crime and poverty.
 
This will be the second time Mr. Pearce has left his House seat to pursue a statewide contest.  In 2008, when serving his third term in Congress, he decided to challenge then-Rep. Heather Wilson (R-Albuquerque) for the US Senate nomination, and successfully upset her in the Republican primary.  He would then go onto lose the general election to then-Rep. Tom Udall (D-Santa Fe), 61-39%, in the Obama landslide year. 
 
In the 2nd Congressional District, a seat that has encompassed the entire southern half of New Mexico through several redistricting periods, Democratic candidate Harry Teague ran a successful conversion campaign and won the 2008 open seat election with a 56% vote share. 
 
After his statewide defeat, however, Mr. Pearce returned to the 2nd District two years later and rather easily unseated Mr. Teague (55-45%) in the latter’s first re-election effort.  Despite a 54% Hispanic population, Rep. Pearce has won re-election victories between 59 and 64% since returning to the House.  President Trump carried NM-2 by ten percentage points last November even while losing the state, 40-48%.
 
The Pearce move is not particularly surprising.  Rumors had abounded for some time that the 69-year old Congressman would hop into the statewide campaign especially since neither Lt. Gov. John Sanchez nor Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry has so far done so, though both still say they are considering the race. 

Democrats recently saw a spate of activity here, with five candidates announcing for the congressional seat, most doing so because they believed the seat would open.  None of the five are elected officials, so we should see several more Democrats enter the race now that the district will officially be incumbent-less for the coming campaign.
 
We can also expect obvious movement on the Republican side, and are virtually assured of seeing several state legislators and/or local officials throughout the district now stepping up to run for Congress. 
 
Though Mr. Pearce made this seat safe for himself, Harry Teague’s election the last time District 2 was open means we can expect an ensuing highly competitive battle.  This new open seat will become a major target for both parties.
 
CO-Gov; CO-7
 
It is being widely reported that Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden), who declared his gubernatorial candidacy three months ago, will withdraw from the race at an announcement news conference in his hometown of Golden later this morning.  The campaign source is also saying that the Congressman will continue with his plan to retire from the House despite leaving the statewide campaign.
 
Speculation explaining his action centers around Mr. Perlmutter finding the competition for scare primary campaign dollars much too difficult in a state with more stringent campaign finance laws than even the federal government.  With fellow Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) now a gubernatorial candidate and having the ability to spend millions of his personal funds on his campaign, having adequate resources to compete may well be the main political reason that Perlmutter has decided to drop his statewide bid. 
 
Since the Representative is apparently staying the course to leave Congress, the 7th District open campaign will go largely unchanged.  All of the key action will be on the Democratic side since this seat has become safe for the current incumbent’s party.  President Trump lost here, 39-51%, for example, and Rep. Perlmutter hasn’t had a serious challenge since 2012.  Three Democratic state legislators, two Senators and one Representative, have been campaigning during the period since Rep. Perlmutter announced his gubernatorial campaign and each will continue to move forward with their federal political efforts.
 
The Wild West
July 10, 2017
By: Jim Ellis
 
Surprising political rumblings are being felt in two key western swing states, one highlighting what will be a major Republican primary battle, with a toss-up open seat and a potentially competitive challenger campaign in the other.
 
The former will feature a serious Colorado GOP primary between two of the most conservative candidates in that state, while two Nevada seats could see a pair of candidates swapping districts.
 
CO-5
 
Republican former US Senate nominee Darryl Glenn says that, in the next several weeks, he will announce a formal GOP primary challenge to veteran Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs).  Mr. Glenn received no national party support in his 2016 race against Sen. Michael Bennet (D) but still came within six points of him on election night, holding the incumbent below majority support. Just recently, state Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) announced his own primary challenge to Rep. Lamborn.  Therefore, we are on the precipice of witnessing a major three-way intra-party confrontation before a Republican electorate very familiar with tough primary battles.
 
Rep. Lamborn was originally elected in 2006, coming through a difficult primary battle in that year. The same scenario occurred in his first re-election, and he has repelled several primary challenges in subsequent campaigns. But, in each of those situations he was the most conservative candidate. The difference here, at least when reflecting upon a Darryl Glenn candidacy, is that Rep. Lamborn may not be considered as such. This will be the first challenge where the Congressman will actually have to defend himself from the right. 
 
It will be difficult to see how Mr. Glenn, an El Paso County (Colorado Springs) Commissioner first elected in 2010, makes a successful argument against Rep. Lamborn that convinces the engaged Republican primary voter to oust the Congressman since he has one of the most conservative voting records in the entire House. Commissioner Glenn, a retired Air Force Lt. Colonel, has the ability to rally the conservative base, something the more demure Lamborn fails to do with the same degree of passion. Therefore, this congressional primary could become quite a race.
 
Colorado’s 5th District is the most conservative seat in the state. It includes all of El Paso County, three other central Colorado counties, and half of lesser- populated Park County.
 
 
NV-3; NV-4
 
Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) announcing her candidacy last week against Nevada Sen. Dean Heller (R) has created a US House political situation that is already yielding some interesting twists and turns.
 
As we reported when Rep. Rosen was officially announcing her statewide campaign, Republican state Sen. Scott Hammond registered an official campaign committee to run for her open 3rd District. Before the Congresswoman decided to vacate, Sen. Hammond was looking to challenge freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) in the more rural 4th District, a seat that contains much more of his current state Senate district than does CD 3.
 
A recent development suggests that Hammond may be returning to his original plan, however. Former one-term Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) won the 4th District seat in 2014, defeating one-term incumbent Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) as part of the Republican wave of that year. Last November, Rep. Hardy lost his seat to Mr. Kihuen as the latter adeptly took advantage of a greatly increased Democratic turnout. Though he was not making any discernible moves to establish a campaign for a re-match with Kihuen, Mr. Hardy also had not ruled out such a move.
 
Now, reports are coming from the state that the former Congressman is seriously considering running again, but in the newly open 3rd District. This is a seat of which he previously represented not one constituent, but is a more favorable Republican domain. If Hardy can win the party nomination he would begin with a 50/50 chance of securing victory in the general election, much better odds than unseating Rep. Kihuen in his former district. 
 
The addition of ex-Rep. Hardy into the picture may solve an impending major problem for Republican Party leaders. Once again, perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian, who lost the 2016 Third District general election to Ms. Rosen by a percentage point even as President Trump was carrying the seat in a similar margin, is talking about launching a new campaign. While Mr. Tarkanian has proven the ability to win Republican primaries, he’s lost four consecutive general elections and the GOP leadership certainly desires to have a different nominee in this toss-up CD.
 
Former Rep. Hardy may well solve that situation for them. Therefore, the idea of Hardy and Hammond switching Las Vegas area districts would give the party a pair of competitive candidates, both who would have chances to win or, at least in the 4th District, pin the Democrats down where they would be forced to heavily expend resources.
 
It appears we’re already headed for an interesting election year in the desert.
 
More on Missouri
July 7, 2017
By: Jim Ellis
 
The Missouri Senate race transformed itself earlier this week when Rep. Ann Wagner (R-St. Louis County) announced that she would not challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill (D), and there is an update as to what may happen next. 
 
The Congresswoman had been expected to make a July campaign announcement, but her statement contained a twist that none had anticipated.  With a political fire drill now underway to respond to a new campaign sans Wagner, the early spotlight focuses on at least two viable GOP options.
 
Attorney General Josh Hawley is the most talked about potential candidate.  Several prominent Show Me State Republicans initiated a move, which former US Sen. John Danforth, ex-Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, and major campaign donor and former US Ambassador Sam Fox led, that openly encouraged Hawley to run even when it was thought that Ms. Wagner would become a candidate.
 
Mr. Hawley burst upon the political scene with his run for Attorney General last year.  Then at 36 years of age, he had never run for office prior to his statewide bid, but had previously founded and directed the Missouri Liberty Project, is a former clerk to US Supreme Court Justice John Roberts, and, as an attorney, participated in several key Supreme Court cases including the landmark Hobby Lobby case that allows closely held corporations to object to certain government regulations on religious grounds.
 
Josh Hawley won the 2016 Republican primary with an impressive 64-36% victory margin over state Senator Kurt Schaefer, and then trounced Democratic former prosecutor Teresa Hensley, 61-39%, to succeed Chris Koster (D) who had vacated the position to run unsuccessfully for Governor.  Hawley’s quick rise to political prominence and his demonstrated vote-getting ability are the primary reasons he is attractive to many GOP leaders.
 
But, he would have some obstacles to overcome.  Part of his 2016 campaign approach included attacking the “professional politicians” who jump from one office to another.  So quickly running for Senate after being elected AG would open himself up to severe criticism from Sen. McCaskill and her well-funded political allies…with an argument that may well strike a chord with voters.
 
For his part, Mr. Hawley has been cagey.  He still maintains he wants to do the job for which the people just elected him, but simultaneously never closes the door upon entering the Senate campaign.  Though the timing may not be to his liking, the political set-up may never get better.  Sen. McCaskill, who is a reliable liberal vote, is vulnerable before a state electorate that is turning ever more conservative, and, fresh from a landslide electoral victory, his political position may well be at its apex.  If Hawley perceives he has a united Republican/right-of-center base from which to move forward into a tough race against the two-term Senator, it may be difficult to find a time and situation that would better suit him for such a run.
 
Four-term Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) says that she, too, is considering jumping into the Senate campaign now that Rep. Wagner is no longer a presumed statewide candidate.  Ms. Hartzler came to the House in the Republican wave year of 2010, defeating 34-year incumbent and former House Armed Services Committee chairman Ike Skelton (D), 50-45%, despite being outspent 2:1.  Previously, she had served three terms in the Missouri House of Representatives. 
 
Sen. McCaskill came to national campaign notoriety during her 2012 re-election run when she and political allies ran an estimated $1.7 million in ads designed to help Republican primary candidate Todd Akin; casting the St. Louis suburban congressman as the most conservative candidate in the race – a winning strategy for a multi-candidate Midwest Republican primary.  McCaskill knew that Rep. Akin would be her easiest opponent and wanted him in the general election.  Despite never leading in any poll, Akin, largely on the backs of the McCaskill and aligned PAC ads since he had little funding of his own, scored a six point win over two prominent GOP opponents.
 
When the Congressman subsequently made ridiculous statements in post-primary interviews, her unique-at-the-time involvement in the opposite party’s primary proved prescient.  The final general election result saw Sen. McCaskill scoring a commanding 55-39% victory margin.
 
Ms. McCaskill may again want to take a page from her own playbook in the coming Republican primary, but she will have to be even more clever this time.  Since such involvement is no longer a new tactic, and neither Hawley nor Hartzler will be so easily prone to fall into her trap, next year’s contest will strike a very different tone.
 
We can expect much more during the coming weeks to unfold about this race, likely one of the most competitive wire-to-wire contests that we will see in 2018.
 
Reviewing the Senate
July 6, 2017
By: Jim Ellis
 
Considering Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-MO) surprise decision not to challenge Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and last week’s Arizona maneuverings among Democrats vis-à-vis a challenge to Sen. Jeff Flake (R), it becomes a good time to examine the various competitive US Senate situations in order to review the campaigns most likely to be competitive. 
 
The status listed below reflects the candidates and potential candidates who appear to be credible contenders at this time:
 
Alabama:  Appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R)
 
Special election schedule: 8/15 primary; 9/26 run-off; 12/12 general
 
Sen. Strange (R) - Announced
Rep. Mo Brooks (R) – Announced
Former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) – Announced
Dr. Randy Brinson (R) – Announced
Ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) – Announced
 
Arizona:  Sen. Jeff Flake (R)
 
Sen. Flake (R) – Confirmed
Fmr. State Sen. Kelli Ward (R) – Announced
State Treasurer Jeff DeWit (R) – Possible
State Rep. Randy Friese, MD (D) – Possible
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) - Possible
Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) – Possible
 
Florida:  Sen. Bill Nelson (D)
 
Sen. Nelson (D) – Announced
Gov. Rick Scott (R) – Probable
 
Indiana:  Sen. Joe Donnelly (D)
 
Sen. Donnelly (D) – Confirmed
Rep. Luke Messer (R) – Probable
Rep. Todd Rokita (R) – Probable
State Sen. Mike Delph (R) – Possible
 
Michigan:  Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D)
 
Sen. Stabenow (D) – Likely to Run
Retired MI State Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Young (R) – Announced
Trump MI Co-Chair Lena Epstein (R) – Announced
Rep. Fred Upton (R) – Possible
 
Missouri:  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D)
 
Sen. McCaskill (D) – Announced
Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) – Possible
Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R) – Possible
State Treasurer Eric Schmitt (R) – Possible
Retired NASCAR Driver Carl Edwards (R) – Possible
 
Montana:  Sen. Jon Tester (D)
 
Sen. Tester (D) – Confirmed
Businessman Troy Downing (R) – Announced
State Sen. Al Olszewski (R) – Announced
District Judge Russell Fagg (R) – Possible
State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R) – Possible
Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R) – Possible
 
Nevada:  Sen. Dean Heller (R)
 
Sen. Heller (R) – Announced
Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) – Confirmed
 
North Dakota:  Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D)
 
Sen. Heitkamp (D) – Likely to Run
Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) – Possible
Ex-Congressman Rick Berg (R) – Possible
State Sen. Tom Campbell (R) - Possible
State Rep. Rich Becker (R) – Possible
 
Ohio:  Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)
 
Sen. Brown (D) – Announced
State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) – Announced
Investment Banker Michael Gibbons (R) – Announced
 
Pennsylvania:  Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D)
 
Sen. Casey (D) – Announced
State Rep. Jim Christiana (R) – Announced
State Rep. Rick Saccone (R) – Announced
Businessman Jeff Bartos (R) – Announced
Businessman Paul Addis (R) – Announced
 
Texas:  Sen. Ted Cruz (R)
 
Sen. Cruz (R) – Announced
Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) – Announced
 
Virginia:  Sen. Tim Kaine (D)
 
Sen. Kaine (D) – Confirmed
Businesswoman/former Presidential Candidate Carly Fiorina – Possible
Radio Host Laura Ingraham (R) – Possible
Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart (R) – Possible
Fmr. Governor Jim Gilmore (R) – Possible
 
West Virginia:  Sen. Joe Manchin (D)
 
Sen. Manchin (D) – Likely to Run
Environmental Activist Paula Jean Swearengin (D) – Announced
Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) – Announced
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) – Probable
 
Wisconsin:   Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D)
 
Sen. Baldwin (D) – Confirmed
State Senate President Scott Fitzgerald (R) – Possible
Businessman Eric Hovde (R) – Possible
State Rep. Dale Kooyenga (R) – Possible
 
 
The following states host 2018 Senate races but are not viewed as competitive at this time:
 
Connecticut (Sen. Chris Murphy-D), Delaware (Sen. Tom Carper-D), Hawaii (Sen. Mazie Hirono-D), Maine (Sen. Angus King-I), Maryland (Sen. Ben Cardin-D), Minnesota (Sen. Amy Klobuchar-D), Mississippi (Sen. Roger Wicker-R), Nebraska (Sen. Deb Fischer-R), New Mexico (Sen. Martin Heinrich-D), New York (Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand-D), Rhode Island (Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse-D), Utah (Sen. Orrin Hatch-D), Vermont (Sen. Bernie Sanders-I), Washington (Sen. Maria Cantwell-D), and Wyoming (Sen. John Barrasso-R).
 
Special Mention:
 
California:  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) is a retirement possibility
 
Massachusetts:  While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) is a heavy favorite for re-election, an impending 2020 presidential campaign could put her in a precarious position.  She has already drawn a credible Republican opponent in the person of four-term state Rep. Geoff Diehl who will have a national fundraising base that allows him to wage a strong campaign.  Therefore, this race could become a very interesting political sideshow.
 
New Jersey:  Sen. Bob Menendez (D) faces a federal corruption trial in September.  If he’s convicted, the New Jersey Senate race will likely be thrown into chaos.
 
Tennessee:  Though Sen. Bob Corker (R) is expected to seek re-election, the two-term incumbent still maintains he has not yet finalized the decision to run again.

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