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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.


August 16, 2019
In or Out: Candidate Announcements Continue
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Ex-Gov. Hickenlooper (D) out
  • CO-Sen: SoS Jena Griswold (D) out; Hickenlooper close
  • NH-Sen: Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) polling numbers
  • Arizona: Retired pitcher Curt Schilling (R) may run for House
  • LA-Gov: Candidate filing closes; Oct 12 primary next
  • NC-Gov: Gov. Roy Cooper (D) polling numbers
  • ND-Gov: Ex-Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) won't run

President

John Hickenlooper: In a move that has been building for the last several weeks, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper became the second candidate to end his 2020 presidential effort.  With virtually no way to qualify for the September debate and barely registering on any poll, Mr. Hickenlooper yesterday announced that he would end his national campaign. He stopped short, however, of declaring a bid for the Colorado Senate seat, a race that would pit him against first-term Sen. Cory Gardner (R).  He does say he is considering the Senate race, however.

Change Research Polls:  The Change Research organization has previously conducted simultaneous online communication polls in several states, and they have done so again.  On Thursday, the group released its surveys for Iowa and Wisconsin.  The polls were both conducted over the August 9-11 period.  The Iowa survey queried 621 likely Democratic caucus attenders, while the Wisconsin sampling sector featured 626 likely Dem primary voters.

Sen. Warren captures the lead in both states, topping Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), former Vice President Joe Biden, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), 28-17-17-13-8%, respectively. Wisconsin breaks similarly: Warren 29%, Sanders 24%, Biden 20%, Buttigieg

9%, and Harris 5%.  Obviously, this data shows an uptick for Sens. Warren and Sanders and a possibly dangerous downturn for Mr. Biden.

New Hampshire Poll:  A new survey from the nation's first primary state, New Hampshire, was released from Gravis Marketing (8/2-6) during the week, though their likely Democratic primary voter sample is low with just 250 people interviewed.

Gravis finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who received 60% of the vote here in his 2016 primary against Hillary Clinton, topping the field with 21% support followed by Mr. Biden who only posts 15%. Sen. Warren is next at 12% while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) record 8 and 7% preference scores.  Tracking above 2% in New Hampshire for the first time are Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) with 5%, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MA), businessman Andrew Yang, and billionaire Tom Steyer who all register 4% support.

YouGov/Economist Poll:  The new survey from the international research firm YouGov, polling for The Economist magazine, finds Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) closing in on front runner Joe Biden.  According to the YouGov data (8/10-13; 592 likely Democratic primary voters), Mr. Biden has only a 21-20-16% edge over Sens. Warren and Sanders, while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) follows with 8% support, and ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg each record 5 percent.  Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) tie with 2% preference, and all others post 1% or less. 

Senate

Colorado:  A move that perhaps best indicates former Gov. John Hickenlooper will return to Colorado and enter the US Senate race occurred before he announced his presidential campaign was at an end.  After forming a Senate exploratory committee, Secretary of State Jena Griswold (D) said earlier in the week that she would not become a candidate.  This is significant because, of the 14 announced candidates or those who filed exploratory committees, Ms. Griswold is the only one who has won a statewide office, and arguably had the best chance of winning the crowded primary as the race currently stands.  Republican Sen. Cory Gardner is running for re-election in what will be a highly competitive 2020 campaign.

Minnesota:  Political rumors had been abounding for the past couple of weeks that former Rep. Jason Lewis (R) had decided to challenge Sen. Tina Smith (D), but the ex-Congressman and radio talk show host would only admit to "considering" his political options.  Apparently, the rumors are about to bear fruit.  Minnesota sources indicate that Mr. Lewis will announce his Senate candidacy at the State Fair next week.

New Hampshire:  The recently released Gravis Marketing New Hampshire survey (8/2-6; 505 NH adults) finds Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) holding a 51:37% job approval ratio, which favorably positions her against two potential Republican opponents.  Opposite former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien, Sen. Shaheen would lead 52-39%.  If retired Brigadier General Don Bolduc were her Republican general election opponent, the numbers break in similar fashion: 51-38%, in the Senator's favor.

But Gravis did not include former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski in the field of candidates. Fabrizio, Lee & Associates conducted their own New Hampshire poll (8/11-12; 400 NH likely Republican primary voters) that did include Mr. Lewandowski.  According to their results, the former Trump politico would actually lead the Republican primary with 30% support as compared to retired Army General Don Bolduc's 11%, and former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien's 10% preference.

House

Arizona:  Three-time World Series champion pitcher Curt Schilling confirms that he is considering entering an Arizona congressional race but does not yet specify the district.  Mr. Schilling won the Most Valuable Player award in the 2001 World Series when his Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the New York Yankees to win the title.

Mr. Schilling, though born in Alaska, was raised in Arizona and attended Phoenix metropolitan area elementary and secondary schools.  If he were to run for the House, the most logical district would be the 1st, the expansive eastern Arizona politically marginal seat that Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Sedona) currently holds.  A Schilling candidacy would certainly draw national attention, and President Trump is already voicing his encouragement to the former MLB player to run.

NY-27:  The TelOpinion Research firm released their independent Republican primary poll of New York's 27th District primary featuring indicted incumbent Chris Collins (R-Clarence/ Batavia).  The survey (7/31-8/1; 500 NY-27 likely Republican primary voters) finds the Congressman in relatively strong position if he were to seek re-nomination.  Currently, he is scheduled to stand trial on insider trading charges in February but promises a re-election decision prior to the beginning of legal proceedings.

According to the poll results, Rep. Collins commands 46% support as compared to state Sen. Christopher Jacobs' (R-Buffalo) 26% with attorney Beth Parlato recording 4% support.

Late this week, state Sen. Robert Ortt (R-Lockport) joined the enlarging group of GOP candidates.  Democratic nominee Nate McMurray, who fell within less than a percentage point of unseating Rep. Collins in November, also says he will return for the 2020 campaign.

UT-4:  Utah's 4th District that encompasses more than half of Salt Lake County, almost all of Juab, and parts of Sanpete and Utah Counties is one of the most Republican seats that elected a Democrat to Congress in 2018.  Therefore, the upcoming race looks to be as competitive for freshman Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City) as was his campaign last November when he unseated then-Rep. Mia Love (R) by 694 votes from just under 270,000 cast ballots.

This week, state Rep. Kim Coleman (R-West Jordan) joined the growing field of Republican candidates. She will oppose former radio talk show host and gaming application developer Jay Mcfarland, who refers to himself as "JayMac", ex-Utah Republican Party communications director Kathleen Anderson, and Iraq War veteran John Molnar in the Republican primary.  It is clear the general election contest will be a top-tier challenge race next year.

Governor

Louisiana:  The candidate filing deadline has now passed in Louisiana, and no unexpected entry came forward. Therefore, it is now clear that Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) officially faces US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone along with six minor candidates.  Now, the group advances to the October 12th jungle primary where all of the candidates will appear on the same ballot.  If one contender receives majority support in that election, the individual is elected.  If no one reaches 50%, the top two will advance to a November 16th run-off vote.

Mississippi:  State Rep. Robert Foster (R-Hernando), who finished a distant third with 18% of the vote in the August 6th gubernatorial primary, has endorsed second place finisher Bill Waller Jr., a retired state Supreme Court Judge. He faces front-runner Tate Reeves, Mississippi's Lt. Governor, in the August 27th Republican run-off. In the first vote, Mr. Reeves came within one percentage point of clinching the nomination outright.

Montana:  At-large Montana Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) just publicized an internal Moore Information Republican primary poll (methodology statistics not released) that posts him to a large lead over his Republican primary opponents, Attorney General Tim Fox and state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-Kalispell).  According to the MI results, Mr. Gianforte's margin is 56-17-5% over his two rivals, respectively. Before winning a 2017 special at-large congressional election and a full term last November, Rep. Gianforte was the 2016 Republican gubernatorial nominee losing to incumbent Steve Bullock (D), 50-46%.

North Carolina:  Harper Polling conducted a statewide North Carolina survey (8/1-4; 500 NC likely voters) for the North Carolina-based Civitas Institute, individually pairing Gov. Roy Cooper (D) with three potential Republican opponents for next year's gubernatorial election. Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R), who is an announced gubernatorial candidate and commonly viewed as the leading Republican, would trail Gov. Cooper 48-36% in the general election ballot test. State Rep. Holly Grange (R-Wilmington) fares worse against Mr. Cooper, behind 48-30%. Finally, former Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who lost his re-election bid to Mr. Cooper in 2016 and is not a candidate in 2020, would trail 47-38%.

While Gov. Cooper fails to reach 50% support under any scenario, he's close, and the consistency of his standing suggests that he is in strong position for re-election.  At this early point in the election cycle, the Governor must be considered a clear favorite to win a second term next year.

North Dakota:  Gov. Doug Burgum (R) released an internal 1892 polling firm survey from mid-July (7/15-17; 500 ND likely voters) that gives him a very strong 62-33% lead over former US Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D).  The same poll finds President Trump topping former Vice President Joe Biden, 60-34%.  Since the survey's release, Ms. Heitkamp has said she will not be a gubernatorial candidate, while Gov. Burgum indicates that he will "likely" seek re-election.


August 9, 2019
Another Retirement in Texas
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • CO-Sen: Ex-Gov. Hickenlooper (D) not scaring Senate field
  • IN-5; ME-2: Key Republicans won't run
  • MA-6: Rep. Seth Moulton (D) re-election after exiting presidential campaign
  • TX-24: Rep. Kenny Marchant (R) to retire
  • MS-Gov: Democrats nominate; Republicans head to run-off
  • UT-Gov: Ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) to again seek governorship

President

Iowa Poll:  Monmouth University released their latest Iowa presidential caucus poll this week (8/1-4; 401 likely Democratic caucus participants from a pool of 681 Iowa sampled registered voters) that projects former Vice President Joe Biden leading his opponents with 28% support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is second, as she is now in most polls, with 19%, while Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg trail with 11, 9, and 8%, respectively.

Pennsylvania Poll:  Franklin & Marshall College released their new Keystone State survey (7/29-8/4; 295 likely PA Democratic primary voters from a pool of 627 PA registered voters) for the Democratic presidential primary and finds former Vice President Joe Biden's advantage being a bit less than expected.  Mr. Biden scores 28% support here and is closely followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) 21% preference.  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the only other candidate who posts double-digits, at 12%.  California Sen. Kamala Harris registers only 8%, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg records a first-choice tabulation of just 6 percent.  The poll's sample size, however, is very small.  Just 295 likely Democratic primary voters are surveyed, making the poll's error factor very high.

Quinnipiac Poll:  Quinnipiac University went into the field right after the July 31st Democratic presidential debate (8/1-5; 807 Democratic and Democratic leaning Independent voters) and found former Vice President Joe Biden continuing to lead, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) establishing a strong foothold in second place.  The results yield Mr. Biden recording 32% followed by Sen. Warren with 21%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sitting at 14%, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dropping all the way to 7%, just ahead of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who continues to poll only in mid-single digits at 5 percent.

Texas Poll:  Emerson College released their small-sample Texas Democratic poll conducted for the Dallas Morning News (8/1-3; 400 TX Democratic primary voters), which finds former Vice President Joe Biden topping his opponents with 28% support.  Ex-Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke is second with 19%, followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 16 and 14%, respectively.  Under Democratic delegate apportionment rules, this poll would suggest that the four top finishers would all qualify to receive a share of the state's 228 first ballot delegates, the second largest delegation at the Democratic National Convention.

Senate

Colorado:  The talk about former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) potentially leaving the presidential race and returning to run for the Senate doesn't appear to be dissuading any of the 13 Democratic candidates already in the race.  In fact, another just announced her candidacy.  Late this week, Open Door Ministries founder and National Immigration Forum organization consultant Michelle Ferrigno Warren announced that she, too, will join the Democratic nomination battle.  The winner faces first-term Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in the general election for what promises to be one of the most competitive races in the nation.

Texas:  The recent Emerson College/Dallas Morning News poll (8/1-3; 400 TX Democratic primary voters) sees no clear leader for the Democratic Senatorial nomination.  Retired Army helicopter pilot and 2018 congressional nominee M.J. Hegar leads with just 10% support, followed by state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), ex-US Rep. Chris Bell, and Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, who post a close 8, 7, and 5%, respectively.  The eventual Democratic nominee faces three-term Sen. John Cornyn (R) in the 2020 general election.

House

CA-50:  Indicted California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) doesn't go on trial until September for campaign finance violations, but now five Republicans have already declared their candidacies to replace him.  The latest is former San Diego City Councilman and radio talk show host Carl DeMaio (R), who officially announced this week.  Mr. DeMaio is no stranger to running for Congress.  After coming close in a San Diego Mayoral special election, Mr. DeMaio then ran for the 52nd District in 2014 but lost to incumbent Scott Peters (D-San Diego), 52-48%, after his once promising campaign imploded.

IN-5:  Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard (R) said he will not enter the open 5th Congressional District race from which Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring.  Many believed that Mr. Ballard would be the Republicans' strongest candidate, but the party will still be favored to hold the seat with a different nominee.

IA-4:  J.D. Scholten, last November's Democratic nominee who held embattled Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron/Sioux City) to a 50-46% re-election victory, said this week that he will run again next year.  Mr. Scholten was also considering entering the US Senate race. Republican state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) is already putting together a strong primary challenge to Rep. King, however, so Scholten may not get the chance to again face the controversial Congressman who is stripped of his committee assignments because of racial comments.

ME-2:  Former Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R), who lost in November after the state's Ranked Choice Voting system changed his close victory into a close loss against current Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), says he will not seek a re-match next year but claims he is "itching" to run again.  Mr. Poliquin cited needing to care for his elderly parents as his reasoning for not running in 2020 but would consider a 2022 campaign either for the 2nd District or Governor.

In the current congressional race for the GOP is 2018 US Senate nominee Eric Brakey, a former state Senator. Mr. Brakey fared poorly in the statewide campaign, losing to incumbent Sen. Angus King (I-ME), 53-35%.  President Trump carried this district 51-41% in 2016 and will need to win it again next year.  Maine is one of two states that awards electoral votes based upon congressional districts won.

MA-6:  It's clear that Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton's (D-Salem) presidential campaign has yet to generate any excitement.  He failed to qualify for the first two debates and has no chance of making the September 13th forum in Houston.  Therefore, he made a statement yesterday indicating that he will run for re-election to the House should his campaign continue to languish.  When returning to the congressional campaign, however, he will find at least three Democratic challengers awaiting him, including Salem City Councilwoman Lisa Peterson.  So, Mr. Moulton's return to the House may be more difficult than he may have originally perceived.

NY-3:  Earlier this month when Democratic National Committee member Bob Zimmerman said he would not launch a primary challenge against Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), it appeared the Congressman was home free for re-election.  Yesterday, however, the situation changed. Wellness professional Melanie D'Arrigo announced that she will now challenge the Congressman for the Democratic nomination.  Ms. D'Arrigo will campaign to Mr. Suozzi's left and begins with an attack over his membership in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus.  She was quoted as saying, "he trades a dollar for a quarter every time. It only benefits Republicans.  It does not benefit Democrats."  Rep. Suozzi remains the obvious favorite for re-nomination.

Texas:  The recent spate of Texas US House retirements has caused further speculation that the number of GOP Lone Star State vacancies would soon grow beyond the four members who have already announced their plans.  But, two of those rumored to be retirement possibilities, Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) and John Carter (R-Germantown), both said they are already hard at work assembling respective new campaign organizations and are intent on seeking re-election.

TX-4:  Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall), who withdrew his nomination as National Intelligence Director under pressure from the media and key Senators, will seek re-election to the House.  Therefore, the 4th District is no longer open since the incumbent is again running. Despite the short-term negative publicity, Rep. Ratcliffe should have little trouble winning re-nomination and re-election.

TX-23:  Naval officer Tony Gonzales, who retired from the service at the end of July, announced that he will run in the open 23rd District Republican primary.  He originally said he would challenge Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) in the heavily Democratic 35th CD.  The Republican field to succeed retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) is likely to be large, but Mr. Gonzales is beginning with public support from former 23rd District GOP Representatives Henry Bonilla and Quico Canseco, who issued endorsement statements in conjunction with the Gonzales announcement.  The Democrats' 2018 nominee, Gina Ortiz Jones who came within 927 votes of unseating Mr. Hurd, announced weeks ago that she will return for another run in 2020.

TX-24:  Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/DFW area) joined the growing group of retiring US House members, especially from Texas. Mr. Marchant yesterday announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex district that is becoming more competitive.  The House open seat count grows to 16, four of which come from Texas.

Six Democrats had already announced their candidacies including 2018 nominee Jan McDowell, who held Mr. Marchant to a 51-48% re-election victory, and Kim Olson, the party's 2018 statewide nominee for Agriculture Commissioner.   In an open seat situation, we can expect the candidate field to grow even further. President Trump carried the seat 51-44%, down from Mitt Romney's 60-38% margin in 2012.

VA-5:  Dr. Cameron Webb (D), a University of Virginia physician and former White House Fellow, says he will mount a campaign against freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas).  Despite the Democratic trend in the Virginia 2018 elections, Mr. Riggleman was able to score a 53-47% open seat victory over former national news programming director Leslie Cockburn (D) and keep the seat in the Republican column.  It is likely that Mr. Riggleman will be even stronger here in 2020.   President Trump, for example, scored a 53-42% win here over Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite him losing the statewide vote, 44-50%.

WA-6:  Saying he has no clear path to deny Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) re-nomination, Bainbridge Island City Councilman Matt Tirman has already ended his Democratic primary challenge to the four-term Congressman.  Mr. Tirman's political move made little sense from its inception, and now Rep. Kilmer should easily sail to re-nomination and re-election.

Governor

Mississippi:  Mississippi voters went to the polls on Tuesday to choose nominees to replace term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant (R) in the November general election.   Attorney General Jim Hood, as expected, easily defeated seven minor candidates with 69% of the vote to claim the Democratic nomination.  Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves recorded 49% support in the Republican primary against two opponents, falling just one point short of winning the nomination outright. He now advances to an August 27th run-off election against former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller, Jr.  The latter man attracted 33% of the vote in finishing second.

Republican turnout ran well ahead of the last open seat nomination period, back in 2011, while Democratic participation fell way short.  It is likely that Lt. Gov. Reeves will easily win the GOP run-off, and then be rated as a favorite against Mr. Hood in the November 5th general election.

Utah:  US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman (R), a former twice-elected Utah Governor and ex-Ambassador to China, resigned his position yesterday and plans to return to his home state.  It is widely believed that the former Governor, who was elected in 2004 and 2008, will again run for the state's top position.  He will face Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox in the Republican primary with the winner becoming the heavy favorite to the retain the Governorship for the party in November.  Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is retiring after winning three terms in office.


August 2, 2019
House Republican Retirements Keep Coming
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Debates & Polls: September debate qualifiers; NV poll
  • KS-Sen: US Sec of State Mike Pompeo more definitive
  • TN-Sen: Republicans coalescing around Amb. Bill Hagerty
  • House: More GOP Retirements - AL-2 (Roby), TX-11 (Conaway), TX-22 (Olson), TX-23 (Hurd); TX-4 (Ratcliffe - possible vacancy if confirmed as National Intelligence Director)
  • MS-Gov: Republican primary poll suggests run-off

President

September Debates:  With the second debate just completed, some qualifiers for the third debate, from Houston over September 13-14, were announced.  The top candidates of course qualify: Ex-VP Joe Biden, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Kamala Harris (D-CA), along with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  Also present are a pair from the lower tier, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX).  Close to making the next stage are Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and businessman Andrew Yang.  The requirements mandate the candidates at least have 130,000 individual campaign donors and receive 2% support in a series of polls that the Democratic National Committee recognizes.  The qualifying deadline is August 28th.

California Law:  Rocky de la Fuente is a habitual candidate for President who has, like President Trump, not released his tax returns.  In responding to the new California law that requires presidential candidates to disclose five years of their tax returns as a condition of accessing the California primary ballot, Mr. de la Fuente has filed a lawsuit claiming that the imposed new requirement is unconstitutional.  He argues that the new qualification supersedes the candidate requirements defined in the US Constitution.

Nevada Poll:  The Nevada Caucus, which is the third nomination event on the 2020 calendar and scheduled for Saturday, February 22nd, should become more prominent in this year's campaign.  The Morning Consult firm just released their latest polling numbers for the Nevada Caucus, which came from their rolling national sample conducted during the first three weeks of July.  The 749 Nevada Democratic respondents give former Vice President Joe Biden a 29-23% lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) following with 12 and 11%, respectively. All other candidates landed in single digits.

Senate

Kansas:  Though US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has previously said that he is not planning to return to Kansas to run for the state's open Senate seat, he was more definitive in comments made earlier this week, saying such a move "is off the table."  Apparently, more people are taking Mr. Pompeo's comments seriously.  According to western Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall's (R-Great Bend) staff, contributions of more than $100,000 immediately flowed into Mr. Marshall's campaign account after the Pompeo comments were published.  It is widely believed that the Congressman will run for the Senate should Mr. Pompeo remain in his current position.

New Hampshire:  Reports emanating from WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH suggest that former Trump for President campaign manager-turned political pundit Corey Lewandowski (R) is considering launching a challenge against Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).  While former House Speaker Bill O'Brien and retired Army General Dan Bolduc are already announced candidates, a Lewandowski candidacy would certainly upset the Republican primary apple cart.  It is doubtful that any could mount a winning challenge against Sen. Shaheen, however.

North Carolina:  Businessman Garland Tucker, who is challenging Sen. Thom Tillis in the North Carolina Republican primary, released an internal campaign poll that shows a closing race.  According to a Diversified Research survey taken earlier this month and now publicly released (7/8-9; 500 NC likely Republican primary voters), Sen. Tillis would maintain only a 40-30% lead over Mr. Tucker.

Tennessee:  It appears that Tennessee Republicans are beginning to seriously coalesce behind Ambassador Bill Hagerty to succeed retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R).  Earlier this week, two-term Rep. David Kustoff (R-Germantown) said he would not enter the statewide race and will presumably seek re-election to the House.  The only serious Republican candidate other than Mr. Hagerty, who has yet to formally announce, is Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi.  For the Democrats, attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler has the early field all to himself.  The candidate filing deadline is April 2nd with an August 6th partisan primary date.

House

AL-1:  The WPA Intelligence organization tested the open Alabama 1st District Republican primary that will be decided on March 3rd, concurrent with the state's presidential primary. According to the poll (7/23-24; 400 AL-1 likely Republican primary voters) former state Sen. Bill Hightower scores 34% followed by state Rep. Curt Pringle (R-Mobile) with 16%, and Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl posting 12% preference.  The data suggests that the primary race will end in the top two finishers advancing into an April 14th run-off election.  The eventual Republican nominee will become a prohibitive favorite for the general election.  The seat is open because Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) is running for the Senate.

AL-2:  Five-term Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) announced over last weekend that she will not seek a sixth term next year, releasing a statement that thanked her family and the people of the 2nd District for supporting her throughout the decade.  Ms. Roby is one of six GOP House members during the week to announce that their current congressional term will be their last.  Alabama's 2nd District is safely Republican (Trump '16: 65-33%; Romney '12: 63-36%) so there is little chance of this becoming a competitive general election seat.

FL-27: Donna Shalala, the former Health & Human Services Secretary and president to both the University of Wisconsin and Miami University, won a south Florida congressional seat in the last election.  She defeated former Spanish-language channel news anchorwoman Maria Elvira Salazar, 52-46% in the 2018 general election.  Yesterday, in an expected move, Ms. Salazar announced that she will return for a re-match next year.

KS-3:  Sara Weir, the former president of the National Down Syndrome Society, announced her congressional candidacy this week.  She has a strong chance of coalescing Republicans around her political bid before the August 2020 primary, which will help her build a strong campaign organization against freshman Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kansas City).  Ms. Davids unseated four-term Rep. Kevin Yoder (R) in November, and the 3rd District electorate has typically voted in swing fashion.  This could be a race to watch.

KY-6: In 2018, retired Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath (D) raised and spent over $8 million to challenge GOP Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington), and came within three percentage points of beating him.  Now in the Senate race against Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), the Democrats were actively attempting to recruit a new challenger for Mr. Barr.  Yesterday, it was announced that another Marine Corps veteran, Josh Hicks (D), has stepped forward to run for Congress.  It remains to be seen if he can raise as much in the way of resources as Ms. McGrath did but, considering Rep. Barr's strong performance in 2018, it will be much more difficult to dislodge him in 2020 and especially so with President Trump running strongly in the state.

NJ-5:  With almost 30 viable primary challenges to Democratic House members already underway, two-term New Jersey Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wycoff) has now attracted an opponent.  Glen Rock City Councilwoman and neuroscientist Arati Kreibich announced her candidacy yesterday, saying that "incremental change isn't cutting it." Mr. Gottheimer has already raised $1.74 million for his 2020 campaign and has more than $5.6 million in his campaign account.

NY-3:  While many Democratic incumbents are attracting credible primary challengers, one who appears to have avoided one is two-term Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove). Former Democratic National Committee member Bob Zimmerman, who had been publicly considering running and was actively exploring his chances, this week said he would not challenge Rep. Suozzi.  The Congressman is, at least for the time being, left with only minor opponents.

TX-4:  President Trump announced that he will nominate three-term Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall) to replace outgoing National Intelligence Director Dan Coats, thus opening a second Texas seat.  The development means that 14 districts will feature incumbent-less campaigns.  Post-confirmation, it is likely a special election will be held to fill the balance of the current term.  We can expect a hard fought Republican special and regular election primary to occur in this district that gave President Trump 75% of its votes. Mr. Ratcliffe was re-elected in November with 76 percent.

TX-6:  Texas freshman Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) disclosed that he has been diagnosed with lung cancer.  But Mr. Wright says he is responding strongly to treatment and will seek re-election.  The Congressman is a strong favorite to win again in 2020 after scoring an original 53-45% victory last November.  The 6th District has been in Republican hands since former Representative and US Senator Phil Gramm switched parties and won a special congressional election in 1983.

TX-11:  Eight-term Texas Rep. Mike Conaway (R-Midland) announced that he has decided not to seek re-election in 2020.  Texas' 11th District is one of the safest Republican seats in the country.  At 79% support, it is President Trump's third best district in the country.  Therefore, the successor to Rep. Conaway will be determined in a hard-fought Republican nomination cycle.

TX-22:  Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) is another of the Republican retirements.  He will depart after completing four terms in office.  Former Congressman Nick Lampson (D) represented the Beaumont district from 1997-2005 until he was unseated in the 2004 election. He returned to win the 22nd District in 2006 but lost it in 2008.  On Monday, Mr. Lampson, now 74 years old, says he is considering attempting a comeback now that the 22nd is open again. Democrats already have three candidates, including 2018 nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni who posted 45% of the vote against retiring Congressman Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land).  A crowded Republican primary is expected, and this field will yield a highly competitive general election contest.

TX-23:  Continuing the retirement parade, three-term Texas Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), who represents the most evenly divided voting district in the country and one that stretches all the way from San Antonio to El Paso, says he will not seek re-election next year.  Mr. Hurd, a former CIA officer, says he wants to leave the House "to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security."  

Already in the race is 2018 Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones, a former US Trade Office staff member and Iraq War veteran.  She held Mr. Hurd to a 926-vote win last November.

UT-4:  In the last election, then-Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) unseated Rep. Mia Love (R) by just 694 votes, the second closest raw vote margin of any US House race in the country.  Now, Mr. McAdams will stand for re-election in what is typically a safe Republican district.  Yesterday, Republicans saw a new candidate step forward. Jay McFarland is a local radio talk show host and gaming app developer.  He has created over 100 successful gaming apps and his talk program is widely listened to in Utah.

Governor

Mississippi:  Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy (7/24-27; 500 MS likely Republican primary voters) released a new pre-primary poll just days before the August 6th Mississippi nomination election.  While the Democrats are poised to nominate Attorney General Jim Hood, Republicans are likely headed to an August 27th run-off election.  According to the M-D data, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has only a 41-31-13% lead over retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller and state Rep. Robert Foster (R-Hernando).  To win nomination, a candidate must receive 50% support.


July 26, 2019
Two House Retirements Announced
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • MA-Sen: Sen. Ed Markey (D) draws strong primary challenger
  • TX-Sen: Field expands against Sen. John Cornyn (R)
  • FL-26: Ex-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R) won't seek re-match
  • MI-10: Rep. Paul Mitchell (R) to retire
  • TX-22: Rep. Pete Olson (R) to retire
  • Primary Challenges: NY-9, NY-27, TN-9

President

California Poll:  International online polling firm YouGov, surveying for CBS News, is projecting a very tight California race in their latest poll (7/9-18; 1,514 CA likely Democratic primary voters from a pool of 8,760 CA registered voters).  The YouGov/CBS results find former Vice President Joe Biden holding just a one-point lead over home state Sen. Kamala Harris, 24-23%, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 19 and 16%, respectively.  If this were the final result, all four candidates would qualify to split the state's treasure trove of 416 first ballot delegate votes.

Colorado Poll:  Public Policy Polling conducted a survey (7/12-14; 561 CO likely Democratic primary voters) of the Centennial State Democratic electorate and finds three of the five top presidential candidates securely in double-digits.  The results show ex-Vice President Joe Biden topping the field with 22%, just three points ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) records 15% support.  Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) posts 9%, followed by both South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper each with 7 percent.  Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet secures only 5% preference from his home state electorate.

Morning Consult Poll:  The new Morning Consult large-sample national poll (7/15-21; 17,285 US registered voters; online methodology from pools of 5,000 qualified voters per day) finds former Vice President Joe Biden returning to his pre-debate support level.  The MC survey finds Mr. Biden leading with 33% as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) all trail but record double-digit support, 18-14-13%, respectively.

Ohio Poll:  Quinnipiac University released what may be the first poll of the Ohio electorate (7/17-22; 556 OH Democratic registered voters) in anticipation of this state's March 10th primary and sees former Vice President Joe Biden enjoying a healthy lead.  Here, the former VP registers 31% support followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who record 14, 14, 13, and 6% preference, respectively.

South Carolina Poll:  Monmouth University (7/18-22; 405 SC likely Democratic primary voters) released a new state poll from the Palmetto State in testing the South Carolina electorate, site of the fourth nomination event scheduled for February 29th.  Here, as we're seeing in many of the tested southern states, former Vice President Joe Biden posts a substantial advantage, leading 39-12-10-9-5% over Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

YouGov Poll:  Echoing the latest Morning Consult large-sample national poll (7/15-21; 17,285 US registered voters; online methodology from pools of 5,000 qualified voters per day) that posted former Vice President Joe Biden to a 33-18-14-13% advantage over Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA), the new YouGov/The Economist survey (7/21-23; 600 likely Democratic primary voters) also finds the ex-VP leading in similar proportion.  The YouGov results project Mr. Biden to a 25-18-13-9% margin over his opponents who finish in a different order from what Morning Consult detected.  In this survey, Sen. Warren is second with Sanders and Harris following. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg finishes in mid-single digits in both polls.

Senate

Kansas:  As expected, Kansas state Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) officially joined the growing open Senate Republican candidate field late this week.  Ms. Wagle, who first entered the state legislature in 1991 and served as Senate President since 2013, had been indicating she would become a statewide candidate when the legislature recessed.  She joins recent candidates Kris Kobach, the former Secretary of State and gubernatorial nominee, and Kansas Turnpike Authority chairman and former Kansas City Chiefs football player Dave Lindstrom.  State Treasurer Jake LaTurner announced his candidacy soon after Sen. Pat Roberts (R) made public his intention to retire.  Former US Attorney Barry Grissom and ex-Rep. Nancy Boyda are the leading Democratic candidates.

Massachusetts:  Author and CEO Steve Pemberton, whose story of his foster care upbringing after being abandoned as a child became a best-selling book and movie, yesterday joined the Democratic Senate primary against incumbent Ed Markey.  Already in the race was attorney and liberal activist Sharon Liss-Riordan.  Mr. Pemberton appears to be a legitimate candidate, but the more crowded the primary field becomes, the easier it will be for Sen. Markey to win when the anti-incumbent vote is divided.  The state primary is not until September 15, 2020, after a May 5th filing deadline.

New Hampshire:  Former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien (R), who had been indicating that he would challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) since early in the year, formally announced his candidacy this week.  Mr. O'Brien served as Speaker during the 2011-12 legislative session. He is currently a software company president.  Also in the Republican primary is retired Army Brigadier General Don Bolduc.

Texas:  Last week, we reported that Sen. John Cornyn (R) saw another prospective Democratic opponent, Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, come forward to announce her Senate candidacy.  This week, a veteran state legislator joined the field. Royce West (D) has represented Dallas in the state Senate since his first election in 1992.  In addition to Royce and Edwards, retired Army helicopter pilot and defeated congressional candidate M.J. Hegar (D) with former Houston Congressman and ex-gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell (D) comprise the remainder of the Democratic field.  The winner of the March 3rd primary will attempt to deny Sen. Cornyn a fourth term.

House

FL-15:  Freshman Rep. Ross Spano (R-Dover/Lakeland) has drawn one opponent while another exits for a different race.  Freshman state Rep. Adam Hattersley (D-Hillsborough County) formally announced his congressional campaign yesterday, prompting candidate Andrew Learned to leave the congressional campaign to instead compete for Hattersley's open state House seat.  Two minor candidates remain, but it is now likely that Messrs. Spano and Hattersley will battle for the congressional seat in the fall of 2020.

FL-16:  Freshman state Rep. Margaret Good (D-Sarasota) defeated state Rep. James Buchanan (R-Sarasota) in the 2018 election to win her seat in the state House.  Mr. Buchanan is the son of US Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota), and now Ms. Good has announced that she will challenge the elder Buchanan next year.  The 16th District has performed as a reliable Republican district in its basic form since the 1992 election.  Rep. Buchanan turned back a strong challenge from Democratic candidate David Shapiro in the 2018 election with a 55-45% victory.  Mr. Shapiro spent over $2.5 million on the campaign.

FL-26:  Former Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami), who lost his seat in November after serving two terms, clarified yesterday that he will not return for a 2020 re-match with freshman Rep. Debbie Murcasel-Powell (D-Miami).  Instead, Mr. Curbelo confirmed that he is considering becoming a candidate in the Miami-Dade County Mayor's race.  Without Curbelo in the congressional field, Ms. Mucarsel-Powell is in much stronger position to win her first re-election campaign.

MI-10:  Two-term Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) announced that he will not seek a third term next year saying that family concerns and a frustration with Congress led him to a retirement decision.  Mr. Mitchell originally ran for the 4th District but after losing the Republican primary moved to the 10th where he proved successful.  He spent over $7 million of his own money during his three congressional campaigns.  We can expect a major Republican primary battle as the electorate will choose a successor in August 2020 for the district that performs as the party's strongest Michigan seat.

NV-4:  The central Nevada 4th District, created in the 2011 redistricting plan to cover the northern Las Vegas area and stretch to through the central part of the state, will again be very active in the 2020 election cycle.  Toward the end of the week, Nye County Commissioner Lee Blundo (R) joined the growing field of Republican candidates who will compete for the party nomination to challenge Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) next year.  Five other Republicans, including former state Assemblyman Jim Marchant and 2014 Miss Nevada USA Lisa Song Sutton, are already in the race.

NY-9:  One of the surprises from the 2018 primary season was New York Democratic challenger Adem Bunkeddeko's performance against then-six-term congressional veteran Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn).   Rep. Clarke defeated Mr. Bunkeddeko, a Brooklyn Community Board Member, 53-47% after trailing for most of primary election night.  This week, Mr. Bunkeddeko announced he will return for a re-match.  But he is not alone.  With two minor candidates likely on the ballot, and Rep. Clarke not being caught by surprise this time, a 2020 primary challenge against her becomes considerably more difficult.

NY-27:  Attorney and Fox News contributor Beth Parlato announced that she will join the Republican primary campaign against indicted Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia).  State Sen. Chris Jacobs (R-Hamburg) is already an announced candidate.  Rep. Collins, who is scheduled to face his insider trading trial in February, says he will announce whether he will run for re-election before the end of this year.

SC-1:  Katie Arrington, who lost what should be a safe Republican seat to freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) after surviving a life-threatening car accident soon after winning nomination, will not return for a 2020 re-match.  On Thursday, it was announced that Ms. Arrington has been appointed as the Pentagon's Chief Information Security Officer, a position that re-locates her to the Washington, DC area.  The major candidates in the congressional race, a contest that will certainly be a top national GOP challenger race, are state Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) and Beaufort County Councilman and entrepreneur Mike Covert.

TX-22:  Texas Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) announced late this week that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term next year thus yielding what will likely be a major open seat campaign.  Though the district, covering parts of Ft. Bend, Brazoria, and Harris Counties and located south of Houston, has a Republican history, the region's changing demographics make the area much more politically competitive.  Democrat Sri Preston Kulkarni, who held Rep. Olson to a 51-46% victory in 2018 after spending more than $1.5 million, announced months ago that he would run again.  He has two minor Democratic opponents.  We can now expect a large Republican field to form as the potential participants decide to make their moves in response to Mr. Olson's surprise announcement.

TN-9: Former Shelby County Democratic Party chairman and US Navy Reserve officer Corey Strong says he will challenge Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis).  The Congressman has been an anomaly in this district.  A 61% African American district, Mr. Cohen, who is white, won the seat in 2006 when the African Americans split their votes among too many candidates.  That pattern continued in subsequent elections until Mr. Cohen solidified his support.  Now, however, he has drawn an African American opponent, and if the challenger can solidify the black vote behind him, this could become a serious campaign.  The Tennessee primary isn't until August 6th, so this contest has much time to develop.


July 19, 2019
Candidate Announcement Decisions Continue to Emerge
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Polls:  Kamala Harris up in CA; Joe Biden leads in MO; conflicting results in NH
  • Pete Buttigieg:  leads Dem opponents in money race          
  • IL-Sen:  Sen. Dick Durbin (D) primary challenger out
  • TN-Sen:  Amb. Bill Hagerty (R) to enter open race
  • CA-21: Ex-Rep. David Valadao (R) looking for re-match
  • NY-22:  Ex-Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) may return
  • TX-21:  Ex-Gov nominee Wendy Davis (D) to soon run for House
  • IN-Gov: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) to seek re-election
  • VT-Gov: Gov. Phil Scott (R) draws Dem challenge

President

Pete Buttigieg:  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is topping his opponents in one category: money.  Mr. Buttigieg raised over $24 million in the 2nd quarter, more than any other candidate including former Vice President Joe Biden who raked in $22 million.  Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) reported $19 million, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posted $18 million, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) raised $12 million.  Sen. Sanders, however, retains the most cash in his account, $27 million, with Mayor Buttigieg close behind at $23 million.  Sens. Warren and Harris have more in the bank than they raised in Q2, $20 and $13 million, respectively.  Here, it is Mr. Biden posting the most disappointing cash-on-hand figure at $11 million.

California Poll:  Quinnipiac University went to the Golden State, site of the March 3rd primary that will yield the largest first ballot delegate count in the country (416), in order to test Democratic preference (7/10-15; 1,125 CA registered voters; 519 likely Democratic primary voters).  The results post home state Sen. Kamala Harris to a small, but significant, 23-21% edge over former Vice President Joe Biden with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) posting 18 and 16%, respectively.  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg falls back here with only 3% support.

Fox Poll:  The latest Fox News survey (7/7-10; 701 US likely Democratic primary voters) finds former VP Joe Biden commanding 35% support, back to his pre-June debate level, with Sens. Sanders and Harris posting the only other double-digit figures (14 and 12%, respectively). Here, Sen. Warren manages only 5% preference, just ahead of Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Mayor Buttigieg who record 3 and 2%, respectively.

MO Poll:  Bucking the latest trends that portray former Vice President Joe Biden's lead to be narrowing, Remington Research released what could be the first poll of Missouri Democratic voters (7/10-11; 1,122 MO likely Democratic voters through an interactive voice response system).  Here, Mr. Biden continues to enjoy a strong lead, walloping Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) 43-15-13%, and then destroying Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who record just 5 and 4%, respectively.

NH Polls:  Last week, Change Research released polls from the early voting states including New Hampshire, which hosts the nation's first primary vote.  Their original poll (6/29-7/4; 420 NH likely Democratic primary voters) found Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, ex-Vice President Joe Biden, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), 26-24-14-13-13%.  But Change went back into the field over the July 6-9 period with a much larger polling sample (1,084 NH likely Democratic primary voters) and found the Granite State race flip-flopping to Sen. Warren.  In this study, it is Warren leading 22-20-19-15-13% over Sanders, Biden, Harris, and Buttigieg, respectively.

New Hampshire's St. Anselm College then released their new small-sample survey (7/10-12; 351 NH likely Democratic primary voters) and publishes a much different result. Anselm finds Mr. Biden topping the field at 21%, followed by Harris, Warren, Buttigieg and Sanders at 18-17-12-10%, respectively.  It appears clear that we have a budding five-way race in this important early trend-setting state.

CNN then teamed up with the University of New Hampshire, sponsors of the sometimes-unreliable Granite State Poll (7/8-15; 386 NH likely Democratic primary voters), to release yet another survey of the New Hampshire Democratic electorate. According to CNN/UNH, former Vice President Joe Biden holds a 24-19-19-10-9% edge over Sens. Sanders and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who are tied, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) following. No other candidate even reaches the 3% support plateau.

Senate

Illinois:  State Rep. Anne Stava-Murray (D-Downers Grove) has closed her US Senate fundraising committee, thus already ending her Democratic primary challenge to Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin virtually even before it began.  Ms. Stava-Murray, in rather bizarre fashion, announced her challenge to Sen. Durbin right after she won her State Representative seat and before she was sworn into office.  Thus, it is with little surprise that her Senate campaign gained no political legs.

Tennessee:  Now that former two-term Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and freshman Rep. Mark Green (R-Clarksville) will not pursue US Senate campaigns, speculation is building as to who might.  Now expected to join the Republican Senate field is US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty.  The strongest GOP candidate in the race so far appears to be surgeon Manny Sethi. The top Democrat is attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) is retiring after three terms.

House

CA-16:  Last week, it was reported that Fresno City Councilwoman Esmeralda Soria was publicly considering launching a primary challenge to veteran Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno). Then, Ms. Soria followed through and announced that she will run for Congress.  Rep. Costa, first elected to the House in 2004, has had two close general election campaigns, one in 2014 (50.7 - 49.3%) and another in 2010 in the former 20th District (51.7 - 48.3%), and only posted a 53-47% jungle primary result against GOP candidate Elizabeth Heng in 2018.

CA-21:  In 2018, after leading the vote counting until the very end when the outcome turned, former Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) lost his seat to newcomer agri-businessman T.J. Cox (D).  The total vote count of just 862 ballots separated the two candidates in what ended as the lowest turnout seat among California's 53 CDs (113,616 voters).

Late this week, Mr. Valadao, who has been quiet since the election, filed a 2020 candidate committee with the Federal Election Commission.  While this does not constitute a statement of candidacy, it is a necessary first step. Reported sources close to the ex-Congressman indicate that Mr. Valadao will run and plans to formally announce in August.  For his part, Rep. Cox just reported raising $708,501 through the second quarter with a cash-on-hand figure of $483,837.

CA-50: Indicted San Diego/Orange County US Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) has not yet gone to trial, but already five Republicans have announced their candidacies to replace him, all obviously anticipating there will be a special election early next year.  The latest to join the field is investment consultant David Edick.  The investor joins Mayors Matt Rahm and Bill Wells of Temecula and El Cajon, along with former Escondido Mayor Sam Abed. Retired Navy SEAL and ex-congressional candidate Larry Wilske is also in the race.  Waiting in the wings are former 49th District US Rep. Darrell Issa and state Assembly Minority Leader Marie Waldron (R-Escondido) who are possible candidates.

FL-23:  Yet another Democratic incumbent is being challenged for the party nomination.  At the end of last week, attorney Jennifer Perelman announced that she will oppose Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston) in the 2020 Democratic primary.  In 2016, law professor Tim Canova challenged Rep. Wasserman Schultz and, armed with presidential candidate Bernie Sanders' support, he raised just under $4 million for his campaign effort.  Yet, even with his strong resources, Mr. Canova could do no better than hold Rep. Wasserman Schultz to a 57-43% Democratic primary victory.

MA-1:  Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse confirms that he is considering challenging House Ways & Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Springfield) and will do so from the left.  The Massachusetts state primary is not until September 15th after a May 5th candidate filing deadline, so Mayor Morse has plenty of time to make a decision.  Holyoke is a city of only 40,000 people but lies as part of the Springfield/Chicopee population anchor region.

NV-4:  Entrepreneur Lisa Song Sutton, who was Miss Nevada USA in 2014, announced that she will seek the Republican nomination to eventually challenge Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas).  Though the district leans Democratic, the campaign could become competitive.

NY-22:  Another of the nation's 2018 closest campaigns occurred in an upstate New York congressional district.   In the state's 22nd CD, freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) failed to win re-election by a scant 50.1 - 48.3% margin opposite then-state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D).  Now, it appears that she, too, will join those 2018 losing candidates who will return for another try.  The 22nd District is the second strongest Trump CD (55-39%) in the US that a Democrat represents.  With the President again expected to run well here in 2020, this promises to be a race to watch regardless if Ms. Tenney decides to run.

TX-21:  The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, House leadership, and most of the Democratic members of the Texas delegation are all lining up to sponsor an event next week to convince former gubernatorial nominee and ex-Ft. Worth state Senator Wendy Davis (D) to challenge freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin/San Antonio).  It appears obvious that the die is cast for her to accept the support so expect Ms. Davis to declare her candidacy in conjunction with the event.  Assuming she runs, the liberal Davis and conservative Roy would butt heads in a stark ideological contrast campaign.

WI-8:  Two-term Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Green Bay), who has romped to 63 and 64% victories in 2016 and 2018, respectively, has drawn a significant Democratic challenger.  State Assemblywoman Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton) announced that she will oppose the Congressman next year, but his strong performance in the northeastern Wisconsin CD suggests that she will have an uphill climb in making this contest competitive.  President Trump carried WI-8 in the 2016 national campaign, 56-39%.

Governor

Indiana:  First term Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) made official this week what virtually everyone in Indiana expected: he will run for a second term next year. The Governor looks to have clear sailing in the Republican primary.  At this point, former state Health Commissioner Woody Myers and state Sen. Eric Melton (D-Gary) are announced candidates.  Former 2012 and 2016 gubernatorial nominee John Gregg is again a potential candidate. Gov. Holcomb looks to be in strong position for re-election.

Vermont:  Former Vermont Education Department Secretary Rebecca Holcombe (D) announced this week that she will challenge Gov. Phil Scott (R) next year.  She becomes the first significant Democratic candidate to come forward.  It is presumed Gov. Scott will seek a third term.  Vermont, like neighboring New Hampshire, limits its Governors to two-year terms. Therefore, even though Gov. Scott will look to run for a third time, he will have only served four years once his current term ends.

Wisconsin:  Former Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R), who was defeated in seeking a third term last year, announced that he will become the President of the conservative Young America's Foundation in early 2021.  This suggests the Governor will be active politically in the 2020 cycle but not return to Wisconsin for the 2022 election and likely beyond.  His new operation is headquartered in Virginia.


July 12, 2019
Senate Races Heat Up
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • National Presidential Polling:  Biden up; close contest
  • Presidential Candidates:  Tom Steyer in; Mike Gravel, Rep. Eric Swalwell out              
  • KS-Sen:  Ex-Sec of State Kris Kobach (R) announces
  • KY-Sen:  Amy McGrath (D) to challenge Majority Leader Mitch McConnell
  • TN-Sen: Ex-Gov Bill Haslam (R), Rep. Mark Green (R) out
  • MA-6:  Dem challenges to Rep. Seth Moulton grow
  • NC-3:  St. Rep. Greg Murphy wins R special run-off

President

Emerson Poll: The new Emerson College small-sample national poll of registered Democratic voters (7/6-8; 481 US Democratic voters) projects that former Vice President Joe Biden has again established a sizable lead over the rest of the Democratic presidential field.  According to Emerson, Mr. Biden captures 30% support with Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) all tied for second place with 15% preference.  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg drops to 5% with all others registering 4% and below.

National Polls:  Two more national Democratic primary surveys are confirming that former Vice President Joe Biden is coming back to the pack and yielding what appears to be a budding four-way race.  YouGov (6/30-7/2; 631 US likely voters) and Ipsos-Reuters (6/28-7/2; 1,172 US registered voters) both find Mr. Biden dropping to the low or mid-twenties, with some combination of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) closely trailing.

Ex-Sen. Mike Gravel:  Without having any influence on the national campaign since joining, 89-year-old ex-Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel withdrew from the Democratic presidential contest. Originally, Mr. Gravel said he was only running to expose "American imperialism," but when he failed to qualify for the debate stage his quest appeared hopeless.  The field now reduces to 24 candidates, but it's unlikely that Miramar (FL) Mayor Wayne Messam and ex-Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) will see any greater success than Mr. Gravel.

NBC/Wall St. Journal Poll:  The brand new NBC/Wall St. Journal poll is out (7/7-9; 800 US voters; 400 US likely Democratic primary voters), and former Vice President Joe Biden is maintaining his lead over the rest of the field with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) now relatively close behind.  According to the results, Mr. Biden leads 26-19-13-13-7-2% over Warren, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT), South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and businessman Andrew Yang.

Businessman Tom Steyer:  Billionaire Tom Steyer, who was thought to be preparing his own presidential run but announced he would not enter the race at the beginning of the year, changed his mind and is now in the race.  With virtually unlimited personal resources, Steyer could become competitive, but he may be too late to earn a podium in the presidential debates for at least two more sessions.

Rep. Eric Swalwell:  California Congressman Eric Swalwell, when seeing other Democrats beginning to line up for his congressional seat and realizing he would not be qualifying for future debates, ended his presidential campaign yesterday.  He was a minor factor and his exit will not fundamentally change the race.  Mr. Swalwell will now double-back in an attempt to save his House seat in a March 3rd Democratic primary that will likely be contested.

Senate

Georgia:  Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, who appears to be the leading Democratic candidate to face first-term Sen. David Perdue (R), has drawn opposition from her ideological left.  Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry (D), who campaigns as an unabashed liberal, announced that he, too, will run for the Senate next year.  Clarkston is a city of only 7,900 people and lies just outside the eastern 285 loop that stretches around Atlanta.

Kansas: Former Kansas Secretary of State and 2018 failed Republican gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach announced that he will run for the open Kansas Senate seat next year. The move will intensify efforts to convince US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to return to his home state to run.

Also in the GOP race are Kansas Turnpike Authority chairman David Lindstrom, a former professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, and state Treasurer Jake LaTurner.

Two Democrats also took action toward becoming US Senate candidates.  Former US Attorney Barry Grissom announced his candidacy, while former US Rep. Nancy Boyda (D) filed a committee with the FEC but says she has not yet made a final decision to run.  Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is retiring.

Kentucky:  Retired Marine Corps fighter pilot Amy McGrath (D), who raised and spent over $8 million in a losing 48-51% effort against 6th District US Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington) last November, announced yesterday that she will now challenge Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).  Ms. McGrath ran as a strong liberal in the congressional race and proved she was an able fundraiser.  But, the whole of Kentucky is more conservative than the 6th District meaning she will likely have a more difficult time in this election especially with President Trump setting the tone at the top of the state ballot.  Still, this will become a competitive race, but the veteran Senator must again be favored for re-election.

North Carolina:  Former state Sen. Cal Cunningham's status as Sen. Thom Tillis' (R) top Democratic challenger was further strengthened yesterday.  Ex-state Sen. Eric Mansfield (D) formally ended his Senatorial campaign and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller (D) reported only having $1,000 cash-on-hand in his campaign account.

Tennessee:  After months of stringing Tennessee politicos along, former two-term Gov. Bill Haslam yesterday announced that he would not run for the state's open Senate seat next year. Perhaps more surprisingly, the man thought to be entering the race if Haslam did not, freshman Rep. Mark Green (R-Clarksville), also said that he will not run for the Senate, choosing to seek re-election in his safe Republican western Tennessee House district.

Virginia:  Former Virginia Congressman Scott Taylor (R), who lost his Virginia Beach anchored congressional district after one term, announced yesterday that he will challenge Sen. Mark Warner (D) next year.  Acknowledging that he will be an underdog in the race against Sen. Warner, Mr. Taylor is nonetheless moving forward with his campaign.  As Virginia continues to move left, Sen. Warner is viewed as a solid favorite for re-election even though he barely escaped (49.1 - 48.3%) a surprise finish opposite Republican Ed Gillespie in 2014.

Wyoming:  The Tarrance Group released their late June poll of the budding Wyoming open Senate race (6/22-24; 502 WY likely Republican primary voters).  In a hypothetical Republican primary contest between Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson Hole) and ex-US Rep. Cynthia Lummis, the current at-large Congresswoman would lead the former at-large Congresswoman and state Treasurer, 56-34%.  While Ms. Cheney has not yet indicated that she will run for the Senate, Ms. Lummis officially announced her campaign effort late this week.

House

CA-16:  Fresno City Councilmember Esmeralda Soria (D) confirmed yesterday that she is considering launching a Democratic primary challenge against veteran Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno).  Though Mr. Costa has been in the House since 2005 and represented the Fresno area in the state legislature since 1978, he has had a few close calls in general elections.  Rep. Costa is clearly to the right of Ms. Soria, so a proposed race between the two should be interesting.  The California primary is scheduled for March 3rd.

CA-50:  Retired former US Rep. Darrell Issa (R) confirms rampant speculation that he is considering again becoming a congressional candidate, this time in indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Alpine) district.  The inland 50th CD is adjacent to the coastal 49th District that Mr. Issa represented for nine terms before not seeking re-election in 2018.  Several Republicans and '18 Democratic nominee Ammar Campa-Najjar are making moves in anticipation that a special election will occur early next year once Rep. Hunter's legal situation is resolved in September.

FL-7:  Republican businesswoman and human trafficking activist Jan Edwards has already ended her challenge to sophomore Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park).  The 7th District is marginal but became more Democratic once the state Supreme Court implemented a mid-decade redistricting procedure.  Four candidates remain in the Republican field, but none appear to be major candidates.  At this point, Rep. Murphy is a clear favorite for re-election.

IN-5:  In a signal that the Democrats are going to make a play for Indiana's open 5th Congressional District now that Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) has announced that she won't seek re-election, the party leaders have successfully recruited a candidate.  Late this week, former state Representative and Lt. Governor nominee Christina Hale confirmed that she will run for the open metro Indianapolis US House seat.  She will have opposition in the Democratic primary, but Ms. Hale should be able to command sufficient resources to conduct a credible campaign even though she will be a general election underdog.

MA-6:  Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) is running for President, but there is a budding congressional primary awaiting him should he return to enter the September Massachusetts Democratic primary.  Salem City Councilmember Lisa Peterson announced that she is entering the primary, becoming the third Democrat to do so. Already in the race are Salem State University Trustee Jamie Belsito and businessman Nathaniel Mulcahy.

MD-4:  Attorney and Bronze Star winner Sheila Bryant, a Marine Corps veteran, announced that she will oppose Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Bowie) in next year's April 28th Democratic primary.  Ms. Bryant begins by attacking Rep. Brown for what she claims is his weak opposition to President Trump and wanting to use the House district as a stepping stone for a 2022 gubernatorial run.  In 2014, Mr. Brown lost to current Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the statewide race.  He then was elected to the House two years later.  The Congressman is favored for re-nomination, but, in today's politics, all primary challenges must be taken seriously at least in the early phase.

NC-3:  Greenville area state Representative Greg Murphy scored a 60-40% victory over physician Joan Perry Tuesday night in North Carolina's 3rd District Republican run-off election. Mr. Murphy now advances to the September 10th special general election where he will face Democratic former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas.  Mr. Thomas won his party's nomination outright in the April 30th primary.  The 3rd District is vacant due to the February passing of veteran US Rep. Walter Jones, Jr. (R-Farmville).

Governor

North Carolina:  As has been expected for weeks, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest announced that he will challenge Gov. Roy Cooper (D) next year.  With no major announced opponent to Forest for the nomination, it is possible that next year's general election pairing is all but set. North Carolina will again be a hotbed of political activity.  It will be a tight battleground state in the presidential contest, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) will be in a close battle for re-election, and early polling suggests that the Governor's race between the two aforementioned candidates will also become highly competitive.


July 5, 2019
Campaign Announcement Fireworks
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Polls: Ex-VP Biden slipping
  • MA-Sen: Sen. Ed Markey (D) showing some weakness                          
  • MN-Sen: 2018 nominee Karin Housley (R) won't seek re-match
  • AK-AL: Rep. Don Young (R) to run for 24th full term
  • Redistricting/Census: SCOTUS decides
  • MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash leaves GOP
  • MO-Gov: State Auditor Nicole Galloway (D) to run

President

Nomination Polls:  The Biden slide continues. YouGov (6/27-7/2; 1,522 likely US Democratic primary voters) now sees just a one-point race, as former Vice President Joe Biden nips Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 23-22%, with Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 17%, and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 15%, while all others fall to single digits.  The Quinnipiac University small-sample survey (6/28-7/1; 554 US registered Democratic voters) sees a similar 22-20-14-13% split for Biden, Harris, Warren, and Sanders, respectively.

CNN just released their latest nationwide Democratic primary survey (conducted by the SSRS organization; 6/28-30; 656 Democratic voters) that similarly projects Mr. Biden to be holding only 22% support, with Sen. Harris now five points behind at 17%.  Sen. Warren is next with 15%, while Sen. Sanders drops to 14% support.  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg may be performing well on the fundraising circuit, but all of the aforementioned polls find his support declining to single digits.

The HarrisX firm, however, sees things differently for the top four.  Conducting their poll during the same period 6/29-7/1; 882 US Democratic voters), HarrisX finds Mr. Biden still perched on top at 28% with Sen. Sanders holding second at 14%. Sens. Harris and Warren claim 12 and 9%, respectively.

Senate

Iowa:  Despite the national Democratic Party establishment lining up behind Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield to be their eventual US Senate nominee, retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken said at the end of last week that he may still join the race.  Conceding that Greenfield has a "head start" over him in the Democratic primary, Admiral Franken believes he would be a stronger general election opponent for Sen. Joni Ernst (R).

Kansas:  Though rumors of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo changing his mind and entering the Senate race continue at a brisk pace, one Kansas official refuses to remain on the sidelines.  Late last week, Kansas Turnpike Authority chairman David Lindstrom, a former professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, announced that he will enter the Republican Senate primary.  Mr. Lindstrom has also been elected to the Johnson County Commission and was the GOP Lt. Governor nominee in the 2002 election.

Two Democrats also took action toward becoming US Senate candidates.  Former US Attorney Barry Grissom announced his candidacy, while former US Rep. Nancy Boyda (D) filed a committee with the FEC but says she has not yet made a final decision to run.  Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is retiring.

Massachusetts:  The Politico news site ran a story this week quoting a key consultant as saying that Sen. Ed Markey's (D-MA) seat is "there for the taking." References were made to Rep. Ayanna Pressley's (D-Boston) upset victory over then-Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville) in the 2018 election with the idea that the Massachusetts extreme activists would now turn on Sen. Markey.

They cite an early June Suffolk University/Boston Globe survey as a source showing that Sen. Markey could be vulnerable.  His name ID and approval are actually a bit low for an incumbent who has been in elective office consecutively since 1973 when adding his time in the state legislature and both houses of Congress.  And, he polls only 44% on the original ballot test. But, his two opponents post support figures of just 5% apiece.  While there may be some cracks in Sen. Markey's political armor, it is quite a stretch to declare that he is in danger of losing next year's statewide Democratic primary.

Minnesota:  2018 US special election nominee and state legislator Karin Housley (R), who lost to Sen. Tina Smith (D) 53-42%, announced just before the holiday break that she will not seek a re-match next year for the full six-year term.  Instead, Ms. Housley declared her candidacy for re-election to the state Senate.

House

AK-AL:  At-large US Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the Dean of the House of Representatives with 46 years of service after winning a special election in 1973, announced that he will run for a 24th full term next year.  It looks like we may see a re-match of the 53-47% campaign ran in 2018.  Also looking to declare her candidacy is the 2018 Democratic nominee, Alyse Galvin.

CA-50:  While indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Alpine) campaign finance legal situation continues to weaken as the two sides make moves before a September trial, another Republican just announced his congressional candidacy.  Former Escondido Mayor Sam Abed will become a candidate in what is presumed to be an early 2020 special election in a district that continues to elect Republicans even in liberal California.  

Already in the presumed race are two other Republican Mayors, Bill Wells of El Cajon and Matt Rahn from Temecula. Retired Navy SEAL and former congressional candidate Larry Wilske is also an announced candidate. Rumors persist that retired Rep. Darrell Issa could also join the Republican primary once a special election is established. The 2018 Democratic nominee who lost 52-48% to an indicted Mr. Hunter, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has already said that he, too, will run again.

CT-5:  Freshman Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Wolcott) drew her first significant 2020 challenge yesterday.  David X. Sullivan (R), who just retired as an Assistant US Attorney after 30 years of service, immediately announced his congressional candidacy.  Though the 5th District plays as being somewhat competitive (Trump '16: 46-50%), it is unlikely that Rep. Hayes would be in danger of losing her seat in a presidential year from a non-battleground state.

FL-20:  Despite his diagnosis as having Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, 14-term Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) announced just before the 4th of July that he will seek re-election next year. Many believed his serious health situation would force him to retire, but the Congressman will continue to move forward. He will be a prohibitive favorite for re-election in 2020.

MI-3:  Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township), who said yesterday that "...politics is in a partisan death spiral," officially left the Republican Party and will now serve in Congress as an Independent.  Speculation will grow that Mr. Amash will eschew re-election and run for President under the Libertarian Party banner.  Should the Congressman decide to seek re-election as an Independent, however, we can expect a major three-way campaign. With Amash and a new Republican nominee taking general election right of center votes, Democrats will move this race up on their target list, believing they can win a base election with only a small plurality.

MN-7:  Though House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) continues to remain coy about his re-election plans as always, it is presumed he will seek re-election for a 16th term next year.  Officially, Rep. Peterson says he will make a final decision in January or February.  He has already filed a 2020 campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, however, and is actively raising money.

WA-3: It also looks like we will see a rerun of another 53-47% campaign, that in the state of Washington.  In 2018, Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver) and college professor Carolyn Long (D) battled to a six-point finish.  Ms. Long began a multi-city announcement tour during the week, informing voters that she will return to the campaign trail to oppose the five-term GOP incumbent.

Redistricting/Census:  As we covered last week, the US Supreme Court released their rulings on the Maryland and North Carolina partisan gerrymandering cases and whether asking about a person's citizenship status can be placed on the 2020 census questionnaire.

On the redistricting question, the high court definitively ruled that the partisan gerrymandering question will not be adjudicated by the federal court system.  Looking practically at the live cases the SCOTUS' action affects, the redistricting battles in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are essentially dead and their current congressional district boundaries will remain in place through the last election of this decade, in 2020.  With Democrats controlling the North Carolina state Supreme Court, it may be possible that the Tarheel State lines are redrawn because of partisan gerrymandering but whether a new case can get to them in time to affect 2020 remains questionable.  Unlike the US Supreme Court, the North Carolina high panel does not have the authority to bring a case up before the lower courts rule.

The Trump Administration has ordered the Commerce Department to move ahead with printing the 2020 census questionnaires, signaling that they will not make another attempt to add the citizenship query to the official questionnaire.  Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that the government has the right to ask the question but returned this particular case to the Commerce Department to conduct a further inquiry into the motivation behind such inclusion.  While the Administration will no longer fight to add the question administratively, reports suggest the President may be considering doing so through Executive Order.

Governor

Missouri:  Frustrated with Missouri's new restrictive abortion law, state Auditor Nicole Galloway says she will enter the Democratic gubernatorial primary with the goal of challenging Gov. Mike Parson (R) who will be running for his first term.  Gov. Parson was elected Lt. Governor in 2016 after serving twelve years in the Missouri legislature and another dozen years as the Polk County Sheriff.   Mr. Parson ascended to the Governorship when elected Gov. Eric Greitens was forced to resign over a sexual scandal.  The Governor will be favored for election, but Ms. Galloway will be capable of running a competitive race.

Montana: As has been expected for some time, Montana Lt. Governor Mike Cooney (D), who was appointed in January of 2016 to replace his resigned predecessor and will serve the entire second term under Governor and now Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock, announced that he will run to attempt to succeed his boss.  Also entering the Democratic primary are state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D-Great Falls) and former state Rep. Reilly Neill.  Republicans are featuring a major primary battle between Attorney General Tim Fox and at-large US Representative and 2016 gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman).

New Hampshire:  Executive Councilor Andru Volinksy (D), as hinted about earlier in the year, this week formed an exploratory committee to test his viability against Republican Gov. Chris Sununu.   It is likely that Mr. Volinsky will face a primary campaign, however.  Both state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Molly Kelly are expected to enter the race.  In 2018, Gov. Sununu defeated Ms. Kelly, 53-46%.


June 28, 2019
U.S. Supreme Court Issues Decisions on Redistricting and Census Cases
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Candidates: Ex-Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA) announces
  • AL-Sen:  Secretary of State John Merrill in                          
  • AZ/NC-Sen:  Trump endorses
  • ME-Sen:  Dems field opponent for Sen. Susan Collins (R)
  • Redistricting/Census:  SCOTUS decides
  • MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash (R) draws another primary opponent
  • OH-1:  Two Democrats announce against Rep. Steve Chabot (R)

President

Ex-Rep. Joe Sestak:  Former Philadelphia suburban Congressman Joe Sestak, who lost the US Senate race to current incumbent Pat Toomey in 2010, came out of nowhere this week to announce his presidential candidacy.  Mr. Sestak, who served as an Admiral in the US Navy and on President Clinton's National Security Council before being elected to Congress, is billing himself as Admiral Joe for the presidential campaign.  His late start, he says, is due to his daughter's illness and her overcoming brain cancer for a second time.  At this point, with little possibility of qualifying for the debates, he is the longest of shots to become a credible candidate.

Florida Poll:  Change Research conducted a Florida poll (6/16-17; 1,130 FL likely Democratic primary voters via automated voice response system) and again found former Vice President Joe Biden leading in the 30- percentile range.  But, the mover in this survey is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who bounces back into double-digits and creates a three-way race for second place.  The ballot test finds Mr. Biden holding 33% support with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) following at 20%, while Buttigieg and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) tie for third place at 15% apiece.

Mississippi Poll:  A new Chism Strategies survey of Mississippi Democrats for Millsaps College (6/20-21; 523 MS likely voters) finds former Vice President Joe Biden with a better than 7-fold lead over his next closest competitor.  According to the Chism results, Mr. Biden has 50% support among the Democratic sample as compared to 7% for both Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.  Following is Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 5% and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg with only 2% support.  All others tally 1% or less.

Virginia Poll:  Hampton University gives us our first major look at the Old Dominion Democratic presidential primary (taken 5/29-6/6; released 6/20; 1,126 VA registered voters likely to vote in the Democratic presidential primary) and, like the recent Florida poll (see above), former Vice President Joe Biden claims a 30+% lead with Mayor Pete Buttigieg gaining momentum.  Here, the numbers break 36-17-13-11-7% for Mr. Biden, Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), respectively. Virginia has 99 first ballot delegates, ranking it 12th highest of the 57 delegate voting entities.

Senate

Alabama:  As expected for the past several weeks, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill joined the Republican field of US Senate candidates hoping to win the party nomination to oppose Sen. Doug Jones (D).  Mr. Merrill, the only current statewide elected official of the challenging group, will face US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice and 2017 Senate nominee Roy Moore, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County).

Two weeks ago, former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville conducted an internal Moore Information poll that projected him as the Republican primary leader.  Now, we see independent Cygnal polling confirming that result. In their new survey (6/22-23; 612 AL likely Republican primary voters) Mr. Tuberville leads Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), 29-21%. Following is former state Supreme Court Chief Justice and 2017 US Senate nominee Roy Moore with 13%, with newly announced candidate Merrill posting 12% support.  The eventual winner faces Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the general election.  

Arizona:  President Trump has involved himself early in the Arizona Senate race with a public endorsement of appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R).  Many Republicans believe a divisive primary that McSally came through in 2018 put her in a difficult position for the general election, and in large part is the reason she fell to now-Senator Kyrsten Sinema (D).  Mr. Trump's involvement in the race is designed to help unite the Republicans around McSally so that another counterproductive primary is avoided.

Maine:  On their fourth try in attempting to recruit a strong challenger against Sen. Susan Collins (R), the Democratic leadership convinced state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) to join the campaign.  Though Ms. Gideon should be a credible opponent for Sen. Collins, the party heads unsuccessfully tried to convince three others to enter the race before turning to their present recruit.  Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/Portland), Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), and ex-state House Speaker Hannah Pingree, Rep. Pingree's daughter, all declined to run.  At this point, Sen. Collins is favored to win a fifth term.  A day after Ms. Gideon announced her Senate candidacy, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership officially endorsed her effort.

New Hampshire:  Retired Army General Don Bolduc (R) announced his US Senate candidacy this week, the first credible candidate to come forward since Gov. Chris Sununu (R) ruled himself out as a candidate early last month.  Gen. Bolduc could become credible in the general election, but Sen. Shaheen remains a clear favorite for re-election.

North Carolina: It's no surprise that the Public Policy Polling data released late last week confirms other surveys that depict North Carolina as hosting a close 2020 Senate race.  The results are perfectly consistent with the state's voting history.  The poll (6/17-18; 610 NC registered voters) finds Sen. Thom Tillis (R) trailing newly announced Democratic candidate Cal Cunningham, a former state Senator and statewide candidate, 40-41%.  But, as we pointed out last week in covering the release about the Governor's data, there appears to be a slight Democratic skew contained within the polling sample.

For the second time in two days, President Trump issued an early primary endorsement, and this time for Sen. Tillis.  The first-term Senator has primary opposition from wealthy venture capitalist Garland Tucker who has been attacking Tillis as not being strongly pro-Trump. Therefore, the President's public support should go a long way toward helping Sen. Tillis win re-nomination before he faces what should be a competitive general election.

Oklahoma:  Veteran Sen. Jim Inhofe (R), who will turn 86 years of age before he would be sworn in for a fifth full term, filed a new committee with the Federal Election Commission to signal he will indeed seek re-election.  Though the move does not constitute an official announcement of candidacy, it is clear that the Senator plans to be on the ballot once again in 2020.  His re-election chances are strong.

Texas:  Veteran Dallas state Senator Royce West (D), who has a strong political base within Texas' second largest city, confirmed rumors early this week that he is considering joining the Democratic primary in hopes of opposing Sen. John Cornyn (R) next year.  The party appeared to be coalescing around retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar, but Sen. West entering the campaign could initiate a focus change.  Sen. Cornyn, who raised over $7.8 million in the first quarter, more than any other candidate in the entire country, will be favored to win a fourth term.

House

Redistricting/Census:  The Supreme Court issued the rulings on the Maryland and North Carolina redistricting cases, which dictates that partisan gerrymandering is not an issue for the federal courts.  The high court ruling stated that the legislatures and Governors, for the most part, have sole authority to draw the district boundaries.

In a blow to the Administration, and most likely the Republicans, the court also returned to the federal district court the census citizenship case.  The majority opted to send the case for further investigation to determine the motive behind the Commerce Department decision to include the citizenship question on the 2020 census questionnaire.  The court did affirm the government's authority to add such a question to the census main document but will allow the lower court to determine if the reason to do so was tainted.

IA-2:  Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley was the only announced Republican in the open 2nd District congressional race, but now the GOP must look for another candidate.  Already, Mayor Kedley has withdrawn from the race, saying he can make a better impact at the local level. Other Republicans, including former GOP Rep. Bobby Schilling (R-IL), have been mentioned as possible candidates, but so far none have come forward. Democrats are coalescing behind former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Gov. nominee Rita Hart. Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) is retiring after seven terms.

MI-3:  State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids) announced yesterday that she is joining the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township), who is the only member of the GOP conference to call for President Trump's impeachment.  Also in the race is state Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) and ex-Sand Lake Village President Tom Norton. Without a run-off under Michigan election law, the more candidates opposing Amash, the easier it will be for the incumbent to win with just a base plurality vote.

OH-1:  While it appears a certainty that Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval (D), who lost to Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati), 51-47%, will not return for a re-match, two Democrats came forward to announce their candidacies. Kate Schroder, a Vice President for the Clinton Health Access Initiative, which is affiliated with the Clinton Foundation, sent communications to associates saying she is resigning her position to run for Congress.  Also, yesterday, engineer and Air Force Iraq War veteran Nikki Foster said she will be entering the Democratic congressional primary.

PA-10:  Speculation coming from central Pennsylvania suggests that state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale will announce his congressional candidacy within or around the July 4th holiday break.  Mr. DePasquale is ineligible to seek re-election to his statewide position and will be a formidable opponent for Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg).  The court-mandated 2018 redistricting plan drastically changed this York-Harrisburg anchored seat from a safe Republican CD to a politically marginal district.  Mr. Perry was re-elected last November against first-time candidate George Scott (D) with a 51-49% majority, and another close finish against Mr. DePasquale will be projected.

Governor

Louisiana:  As reported in the Baton Rouge Advocate news publication, Market Research Insight conducted a poll of Louisiana voters (released 6/20; 600 LA registered voters) and finds incumbent John Bel Edwards (D) regaining a substantial lead in the upcoming 2019 Governor's race.  Mr. Edwards, according to MRI, leads US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), 46-17-5%, a far better margin than detected in recent surveys.  In isolated run-off pairings, Gov. Edwards would out pace Rep. Abraham 45-28%, and Mr. Rispone, 47-23%.

Mississippi:  The first Mississippi gubernatorial general election poll was just released.  The Impact Management Group, polling for the Y'All Politics blog (6/10-14; 610 MS likely voters), finds Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves holding a 48-36% advantage over Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.  This survey suggests that Mr. Reeves is in stronger position for the 2019 statewide election than many believe.  Mr. Hood has been tabbed as the "most successful Democratic politician in the South," because he has won four consecutive statewide races in Mississippi.  But this poll suggests that he has a long way to go to overcome Mr. Reeves' inherent advantage.


 
 
 

ELECTION COUNTDOWN
Election Insights Voter Information
Employee Voter Registration Week 2017

September 25-29, 2017

Employee Voter Registration Week is an effort to make a dent in the number of unregistered citizens across the country. During this week, companies and associations will join together in an effort to encourage voter registration among private sector employees. The initiative will not tell employees how to vote or who to vote for, but instead aims to serve as a resource to help employers educate their employees about the issues that are important to their industries and provide key deadlines, voter registration, and polling location information.

For more information on Employee Voter Registration Week, visit www.EmployeesVote.com