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.


April 19, 2019
Surprising House Retirement in Iowa
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Sanders leading Biden 29-24% in Emerson poll    
  • CO-Sen: Sen. Cory Gardner (R) draws more opponents
  • IA-2: Rep. David Loebsack (D) to retire
  • NJ-7: Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R) to run and will likely face freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D)
  • KY-Gov: Dem poll gives Attorney General Andy Beshear big lead in primary

President

Emerson Poll:  The new Emerson College poll (4/11-14; 356 Democratic likely primary voters) is getting some media attention because it projects Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) overtaking former Vice President Joe Biden for the national lead by a 29-24% count.  Following in third place is newly announced presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, the Mayor of South Bend (IN), with 9% support.  Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) are next with 8% apiece, just ahead of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren who posts 7% preference. All others record 3% or less.

But the result analysis is overblown. Because the Democratic sample comes from a national general election poll universe, the segmented cell is much too small to accurately gauge candidate support throughout the nation.  While a sample of 356 individuals is quite adequate for a congressional district, it is barely one-third the size necessary to provide relevant national data.  Therefore, further verifying evidence of an enhanced Sanders positive trend is required before suggesting that the Senator may be pulling away from the candidate field.

Senate

Colorado:  While the Democratic field to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R) appears weak after former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) decided to run for President instead of Senate, two potentially stronger individuals declared their candidacies this week.

Former Obama Administration diplomat Dan Baer, who in 2018 began running for what appeared to be an open 7th District congressional office when incumbent Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) declared for Governor but then withdrew when the Congressman decided to seek re-election, is one of the new candidates. Immediately after the Baer announcement, former US Attorney John Walsh also joined the fray.  Until these two men entered the race, the leading candidates appeared to be former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, who has lost races for both the US House and Senate, and ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston who placed third in last year's Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Maine:  Earlier, we commented that Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/Portland) was giving no indication that she would challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year, and now we have more tangible evidence to support such a conclusion.

Complying with yesterday's campaign finance disclosure deadline, Rep. Pingree reports only raising $26,000 for the first quarter of this year and holding $232,000 in her campaign account. These are hardly numbers one would expect from a serious potential Senate candidate, especially when Sen. Collins holds $3.8 million in her campaign account.

North Carolina:   Former state Senator Eric Mansfield (D-Cape Fear), a physician, announced that he is forming a US Senate exploratory committee as a prelude to entering the 2020 campaign. Dr. Mansfield served one term in the NC Senate, risking his seat in 2012 to run for Lt. Governor. He failed to secure the statewide Democratic nomination.

Already in the Democratic primary are state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston) and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller.  The winner will challenge first-term incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis (R).  So far, North Carolina candidate recruitment has disappointed Democratic Party leaders since no statewide figure has come forward to enter the race.

House

CA-15:  Northern California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/ Hayward) has announced his presidential campaign, but he hasn't completely ruled out returning to the House if his long shot national effort comes up empty.  The Congressman left the door open to changing course before the California candidate filing deadline on December 6th of this year in order to seek re-election.

At least one political player, however, isn't waiting for Rep. Swalwell to make his decision. Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab announced her congressional campaign late last week, and there was no mention of departing the race if the four-term Representative ultimately decides to seek re-election.  Additionally, state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) confirms that he, too, is preparing to file a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.

IA-2:  Seven-term Iowa Congressman David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) announced that he will not seek re-election next year. Mr. Loebsack, a member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, originally defeated then-Rep. Jim Leach (R) in 2006. Rep. Loebsack's surprising retirement announcement has changed the southeastern Iowa political equation.  Thus, no one has immediately come forward to run for the House.

Yesterday, however, state Sen. Kevin Kinney (D-Oxford) confirmed that he is considering entering what is now an open seat race. Same for Iowa City local business owner Veronica Tessler (D) who has already filed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission.  The eventual Democratic nominee will be favored here, but we can expect crowded and competitive primaries in both parties.

NJ-7:  As promised, state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), the son of former Governor Tom Kean, Sr. and a former US House and Senate candidate, formerly announced his campaign for the 7th Congressional District.  Looking like a consensus Republican candidate, Sen. Kean will very likely face freshman Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) in the general election.  Mr. Kean in the Republicans top choice to run here, and the nature of this CD suggests we will again see a highly competitive battle next year.

NY-10:  Former Cuomo Administration economic advisor Lindsey Boylan, who said earlier in the year she is considering challenging House Judiciary chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan) in the 2020 Democratic primary, yesterday took a step closer to launching her campaign.  Ms. Boylan filed a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, which is the prelude to becoming an official candidate.

NY-15:  New York City Councilman and self-proclaimed "conservative Democrat" Ruben Diaz, Sr. announced that he will run in the open 15th District Democratic primary for the right to succeed retiring Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx).  Mr. Diaz hopes to appeal to moderate and right of center Democratic voters, a small group in this district, which is the most Democratic in the entire nation at least based upon the 2016 presidential results.

NY-21:  Former St. Lawrence County local legislator Tedra Cobb (D), who challenged three-term Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Schuylerville/ Watertown) last year but lost by a substantial 56-42% margin, announced that she will return for a rerun contest next year.  The area now comprising the 21st District had been in Democratic hands until Ms. Stefanik succeeded retiring Congressman Bill Owens in the 2014 election.  At this early point in the cycle, Rep. Stefanik, who at the time she was elected was the youngest female ever to win a US House seat (30 years of age), begins the 2020 race as a strong favorite for re-election.

NY-24:  This week 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Dana Balter announced that she will return to run for Congress again next year.  Ms. Balter, who drew mixed reviews as a candidate despite holding Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) to a 52-46% re-election victory, will have company in the Democratic primary.  In addition to Navy veteran Roger Misso (D), who previously joined the congressional campaign, a new military veteran, Francis Conole, the grandson of former Onondaga County Sheriff Patrick Conole, yesterday announced his intention to run.

UT-4:  Freshman Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City) unseating former Rep. Mia Love (R) by 694 votes in November means he can expect a major re-election battle in what should be a safely Republican seat.  Yesterday, two Republican legislators signaled that they are beginning to take steps toward entering the congressional race.  State Sen. Dan McCay (R-Riverton) and state Rep. Kim Coleman (R-West Jordan) both say they are considering becoming candidates. This district figures to be in the top five Republican conversion targets in 2020.

VA-5:  One freshman congressional district that won't feature the same 2018 candidates is Virginia's 5th CD.  This week, Democratic nominee Leslie Cockburn, who secured 47% of the vote against businessman Denver Riggleman (R), says she will not return for another campaign. Remaining in the Democratic primary is Marine Corps veteran Roger Dean Huffstetler, who finished second in the 2018 Democratic contest.  Without another strong contender entering, Mr. Huffstetler will likely have the inside track to winning the party nomination and then facing Rep. Riggleman late next year.

Governor

Kentucky:  The May 21st Democratic gubernatorial primary is fast approaching, and former state Auditor Adam Edelen just released his campaign's Anzalone Liszt Grove Research survey (released 4/18; 500 KY likely Democratic primary voters).  According to the results, Attorney General Andy Beshear, son of former Governor Steve Beshear, leads the field with 43% of the vote.  Mr. Edelen is second with 23%, and Mr. Adkins follows closely with 22%.

It is clear that AG Beshear is the man to beat and even his opponent's data suggests that his primary lead may be too much for any of his challengers to overcome.  The winner will do battle with Gov. Matt Bevin (R) in what will be a competitive 2019 general election.

Mississippi:  What was once thought to be a walk for Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves in the Republican gubernatorial primary may turn into more of a challenge.  This week, four former Mississippi Republican Party ex-chairmen jointly endorsed Republican retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller, Jr. over Mr. Reeves. If Judge Waller can prove an adept fundraiser, this early August primary may be more of a race than originally perceived.

Montana: In 2016, businessman Greg Gianforte (R) came within four points of unseating Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who is now apparently preparing to enter the Democratic presidential campaign.  Ever since, speculation has continued that Mr. Gianforte would return to the Governor's race in 2020.  Since then, he won a special and regular election for the state's at-large House seat, and one of the promises he gave the party leaders in that original congressional race was not to quickly leave the seat to again run for Governor.

This week, a Gianforte staff member confirmed, however, that the Congressman is considering the Governor's campaign and has not yet ruled out joining the open seat race, a contest that already features Attorney General Tim Fox (R) and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R). Should Gianforte make the leap back into the Governor's race, we can also expect a major open seat battle for the congressional seat.


April 12, 2019
Eighteen Democratic Presidential Candidates...and Counting
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) announces run        
  • President: Washington moves up date
  • AL-Sen: Coach Tommy Tuberville (R) joins race
  • IL-13: close House race set for re-match
  • MI-6: Rep. Fred Upton (R) facing another tough campaign
  • WV-Gov: ex-Cabinet Secretary to file against Gov. Jim Justice (R)

President

Rep. Eric Swalwell:  After almost a year of indicating he would run for President, California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/Hayward) officially announced his intentions yesterday.  He now becomes the 18th Democratic presidential candidate.  The total does not include former Vice President Joe Biden, ex-Virginia Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, nor Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) or Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Should all enter, as expected, the total candidate list will swell to 22.

Washington:  The Washington Democrats, at their state party meeting last weekend, decided to convert their caucus nomination system into a primary.  Earlier, the legislature and Governor took action to move the nomination event date from late in the cycle to March 10, 2020. Washington moving means that 69% of the first ballot delegate votes will likely be locked into place at the close of the primaries and caucuses to be held on March 17, 2020.

Senate

Alabama:Tommy Tuberville (R), the former head football coach of Alabama's Auburn University, announced over the weekend that he will seek the Republican US Senate nomination.  Already in the race is Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile).  Others, such as Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and even possibly 2017 special election nominee Roy Moore (R), the former state Supreme Court Chief Justice, are also reportedly considering running.

The eventual Republican nominee then challenges Sen. Doug Jones (D), who is filling former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) unexpired term after winning the 2017 special election.  This race is going to be the top Republican conversion target next year, and very likely a must-win campaign for the GOP to maintain their Senate majority.

Georgia:  While still awaiting whether former gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) will announce for the Senate, ex-Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson (D) formed a US Senate exploratory committee at the end of last week.  Ms. Tomlinson maintains that she will yield to Ms. Abrams if the latter woman decides to run - Abrams indicated she will make a decision at some point this month - but appears to be readying an effort to challenge Sen. David Perdue (D) if the former statewide nominee decides to go in another political direction.

New Hampshire:  The 1st quarter financial disclosure reports are due at the beginning of next week, and already many of the office holders and candidates are releasing their numbers.  Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) did so, and her totals were surprising.  Potentially facing a tough re-election fight with Gov. Chris Sununu (R), Sen. Shaheen has finally kicked her fundraising operation into gear.  In the first quarter, the campaign obtained over $1.4 million, but her closing cash-on-hand figure was a surprisingly low $1.5 million.

New Mexico:  Freshman Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque), who flirted with the idea of running for the state's newly open US Senate seat, announced yesterday that she will seek re-election to the US House position she won last November.  At this point, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe) clearly has the inside track to the Democratic nomination and will be favored in the general election, but another Democrat, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, is a potential candidate. Republicans have yet to see a major candidate come forward. Sen. Tom Udall (D) is retiring.

West Virginia:  Little so far has been said about first-term Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's (R) re-election bid.  At this point, nary a Republican nor Democrat has indicated an interest in running.  Therefore, it was of little surprise when Sen. Capito announced that she will run for re-election.  With most of the political attention on the Governor's race, and with President Trump on the ballot in his second strongest state, Sen. Capito looks to be a lock to secure a second term.

House

AZ-1:  Late last year former Flagstaff City Councilmember Eva Putzova announced her Democratic primary challenge to two-term Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Sedona).  Though early in the cycle, her campaign appears to be experiencing a weak beginning.  Ms. Putzova's first quarter filing is reported to show only $31,000 raised with just $20,000 cash-on-hand.

CA-25:  Earlier this week, Lancaster City Councilmember Angela Underwood-Jacobs (R) indicated that she will be announcing her congressional challenge to freshman Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale).  Ms. Underwood-Jacobs will already become the fourth Republican to declare their candidacy.  She joins defense contractor Mike Garcia, non-profit organization executive Suzette Valladares, and GOP activist Charles Patron.

IL-13:  The Land of Lincoln's 13th District, a seat that includes the Capital City of Springfield and President Lincoln's home for many years, hosted one of the closest congressional campaigns in the country last year.  In November, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) outlasted challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan by just 2,058 votes, or a 50.4 - 49.6% split.  This week, Ms. Londrigan announced that she will return for a re-match.  It is likely she will have little to no competition in the Democratic primary, and the general election could again become close.  We can count on another competitive campaign here next year, though Rep. Davis may be in a stronger position in the presidential year.

MI-6:  While 2018 Democratic nominee Matt Longjohn, who held veteran Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) to a 50-46% re-election victory, continues to say he is considering seeking a re-match with the Congressman, a new Democratic contender has stepped forward.  Two-term state Rep. Joe Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) announced his candidacy for the party nomination. Therefore, we will likely see a significant August 2020 Democratic primary here before the winner has a chance to directly challenge Mr. Upton.

MT-AL:  Late this week, former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D), who held at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) to a 51-46% re-election victory, announced that she will seek a rematch next year. Ms. Williams doesn't have the Democratic primary to herself, however. State Rep. Tom Winter (D-Missoula) has already announced his candidacy.  There are political rumors that Mr. Gianforte may run for Governor - he was the GOP nominee in 2016 - but the Congressman is providing no confirmation that he will be jumping into the open statewide race.

NJ-2:  New Jersey's coastal 2nd District, anchored in the Atlantic City region, had been in Republican hands for 24 years in the person of Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor) until last year.  The Congressman's retirement led to Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew having a relatively easy run to replace Mr. LoBiondo, though his victory margin against weak Republican nominee Seth Grossman was lower than expected: 53-45%.

This year, the competition already appears stronger. Venture capitalist David Richter (R) announced his congressional candidacy late this week in a seat that President Trump carried, 51-46%.  With Mr. Trump again on the 2020 ballot, this race could become much more competitive than last year.

NJ-7:  State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), whose father served two terms as Governor in the 1980s, will reportedly announce his congressional challenge to freshman US Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill/Short Hills) on April 16th.  Mr. Kean, who has lost past races for both the US Senate and House, has been in the state Senate since 2003, and in leadership beginning in 2008.

NM-2:  Chris Mathys, who lost the GOP nomination for a district position on the New Mexico Regulation Commission by a mere 25 votes last June, is returning to run for a higher office. This week, Mr. Mathys announced that he will compete for the GOP nomination to face freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) in a general election campaign that will be competitive.  But first, Mr. Mathys will have to deny former state Rep. Yvette Harrell (R) re-nomination.  In November, she held then-candidate Torres Small to a tight 51-49% victory margin.

NY-1:  On Friday, 2018 Democratic nominee Perry Gershon, who lost to three-term Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) 51-47%, said he will wage another campaign effort next year.  At this point, Mr. Gershon has the Democratic field to himself, but such can certainly change.  The 1st District is fully contained within Suffolk County on Long Island and houses all of the easternmost territory including the Hamptons to the Atlantic shore.

NY-18:  Chele Farley was the Republican Senatorial nominee against incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand (D) last fall, losing by a landslide 65-32%.  Now, Ms. Farley has announced that she is returning to launch another political campaign, but this time for the US House.  Farley only raised $1.4 million for her race against Sen. Gillibrand, but that amount would be a very credible financial starting point against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/Peekskill). Though Ms. Farley was blown out, as most Republicans are at the statewide level, she could become a viable congressional candidate.

OR-5: Milwaukie (OR) Mayor and National Geographic magazine photographer Mark Gamba filed a Federal Election Commission committee this week, the first official step toward launching a Democratic primary challenge campaign to six-term veteran Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby/Salem).  If Mr. Gamba can raise substantial resources, the race could become viable.  Rep. Schrader tends to be more moderate than his electorate, which could open the door to stiff competition especially in context with the concurrent presidential campaign atmospherics.

TX-7: Earlier this week, Cathy Siegel (R), who serves on the Metro Transit Authority of Houston, filed Federal Election Commission papers to open a congressional committee for Harris County's 7th District.  When freshman Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-Houston) upset nine-term incumbent Rep. John Culberson (R) in November, she became the first Democrat to represent the seat since 1968 when George Herbert Walker Bush first converted it to the Republican column.

Last week, at the reported behest of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Iraq War veteran Wesley Hunt (R) entered the race so it appears this Houston area district will host an early March Republican primary.  Expect this district to be a major Republican conversion target next year.

Governor

West Virginia:  When Gov. Jim Justice (R) appointed businessman Woody Thrasher to be his Commerce Department Secretary, he didn't figure that a member of his Cabinet would return to oppose him in the 2020 election.  But this is about to happen.  Next week, Mr. Thrasher is expected to announce his Republican primary gubernatorial challenge to Gov. Justice.

In 2016, Mr. Justice was elected as a Democrat, but then changed parties less than a year into his Governorship.  Therefore, as he seeks re-election, this will be the first time he appears before an exclusively non-Democratic electorate.  Mr. Thrasher's entry in the race will make this primary, a contest that also features former state Delegate Mike Folk (R), a campaign to watch.  The Governor's race is expected to dominate West Virginia politics in next year's election.


April 5, 2019
New House Members Facing Early Challengers
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Sen. Michael Bennet: cancer treatment may prevent run for President
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D): running for President
  • NM-Sen: Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D) announces Senate campaign
  • House: several new House incumbents draw early opposition
  • NH-Gov: Dem nominee Molly Kelly likely to return
  • UT-Gov: Ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman (R) may re-enter Gov Race

President

Sen. Michael Bennet:  Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) did make an announcement regarding his impending presidential campaign late this week, but the message was surprising. Though the Senator is not yet ruling himself out of entering the national campaign, he explained that he is battling prostate cancer and will soon undergo treatment.  At the end of the medical process, Sen. Bennet says he may still be able to enter the presidential contest if the long-term prognosis remains strong.

Rep. Tim Ryan:  Youngstown, Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan announced his presidential effort yesterday as predicted, calling himself a progressive who supports free enterprise.  He also says his campaign will be able to reach many of the rural and working-class voters with whom Mr. Ryan claims his party has stopped communicating.

Joining the presidential contest may not immediately end his congressional career, however. Under Ohio election law, individuals can appear simultaneously on the ballot for more than one political office.  Therefore, Rep. Ryan says, in addition to filing to compete in the Ohio Democratic presidential primary, currently scheduled for March 10, 2020, he will also re-file for his seat in the House of Representatives.

The Money Count:  According to the Federal Election Commission, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) led all fundraising during the first part of 2019 with $18.2 million in receipts.  Sen. Kamala Harris' (D-CA) campaign spokespeople are saying that their candidate will report over $12 million in funds raised.  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg says his campaign has raised over $7 million, an impressive total from a previously unknown candidate.  Most of the contributions to all of the candidates were small dollar and came in the form of online donations.

Senate

Kansas:  State Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita), who has already confirmed that she is a likely open seat US Senate candidate, took a step this week to suggest she will soon enter the statewide campaign.  Sen. Wagle announced that she will not run for the legislature in 2020 and promises a further political declaration after the legislative session ends in May.

The Republican field has been frozen waiting for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to make a decision about running.  Though he has made several public statements indicating that he will not be a Senate candidate, speculation among local and national politicos suggests something different.

New Mexico:  Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe) announced his run for the state's newly open Senate race early in the week. Mr. Lujan becomes the first major candidate of either party to announce his candidacy after Sen. Tom Udall (D) made his retirement intentions public.  Other Democrats, including Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver and freshman Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque) are also potential candidates.

The Republican side has been relatively quiet, but former Gov. Susana Martinez and ex-Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry would certainly be formidable statewide candidates, as would former Congressman Steve Pearce who is currently the New Mexico Republican Party chairman.  Democrats will be favored to hold the seat, but the contest could potentially turn competitive.

Texas:  The latest political talk from Texas suggests that Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) will soon announce a challenge to Sen. John Cornyn (R) and quickly become a consensus Democratic candidate.  But such may not be the case. M.J. Hegar (D), a retired Army helicopter pilot who held veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) to a 51-48% re-election victory, confirmed that she is still looking closely at running for the Senate and indicates Rep. Castro's candidate status will not influence her decision to run.

If both enter the race, it will cause a significant Democratic primary battle that purports to conclude on the same day as the Texas presidential primary: likely March 3, 2020.

House

AZ-6:  Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (D), who twice ran for Congress during the last election cycle in Arizona's 8th District - once in the special election; once in the regular vote - announced that she is returning to the campaign trail but, this time, in a different venue.  Dr. Tipirneni, who recorded just under 48% of the vote in the special and fell under 45% in the regular general against Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria), is now setting her sights on Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) in the adjoining 6th District.  The 6th, known as a Republican stronghold, is beginning to show trends of becoming more politically marginal.  President Trump carried the seat 52-42% in 2016, but that was down substantially from Mitt Romney's 59-39% margin in 2012.

CA-45:  Yorba Linda City Councilwoman Peggy Huang (R) declared her congressional candidacy in the 45th District, but not for the district where most believed she would run. Because Yorba Linda lies wholly within the 39th Congressional District that freshman Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) represents, it was presumed that Ms. Huang would run there.  This is not the case, as she has now filed her committee for the neighboring Orange County 45th District of freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine).  In November, Ms. Porter unseated Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine).

CA-48:  Former state Senator Janet Nguyen (R), another California Republican casualty in 2018, is reportedly looking to challenge freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach).  Ms. Nguyen lost her legislative seat by just under 3,000 votes but managed to carry the Orange County portion by two votes.  With the 48th being fully contained within OC, the district configuration should be more to her political advantage.  This will likely be a campaign worth watching.

FL-26:  With former 26th District Congressman Carlos Curbelo (R) looking more toward the open Miami-Dade County Mayor's contest, Republicans are searching for a candidate to oppose freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Miami).  Yesterday, restaurant owner and national Trump supporter Irina Vilarino (R) has come forward to initiate her candidacy.

The 26th District was drawn to elect a Democrat, which it did in 2018.  Therefore, Ms. Vilarino, or any other Republican candidate will have a difficult time unseating Rep. Mucarsel-Powell. The party leadership believes it must contest the seat in the new incumbent's first re-election, however, before it is re-drawn as an even more Democratic district in 2021 should the Dems gain enough legislative power to implement such a move.

GA-7:  This week, state Rep. Pete Marin (D-Duluth) indicated that he will not run for Congress next year.  The development is a major plus for 2018 Democratic nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux, who held retiring incumbent Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) to a 419-vote victory.  Several other Democrats are still considering running, however, including state Reps. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) and Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross).

MT-AL:  Coming from a 51-46% re-election victory, Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) may see a Democratic primary forming to challenge him in 2020. Early in the week, state Rep. Tom Winter (D-Missoula) declared his congressional candidacy.  Former state Rep. Kathleen Williams, the 2018 Democratic nominee, has not yet declared but said she is considering seeking a re-match.

NY-11:  In the past few days, former Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island) confirmed that he will not be seeking a re-match with freshman Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island) after the 2018 election resulted in the former's defeat, 52-46%.  But, ex-Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island), who completed a seven-month term in prison after a tax evasion conviction and then lost soundly to Mr. Donovan in last year's Republican primary, is again sounding like a candidate.

Republican Party leaders have another idea, however. State Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R) has already announced her candidacy and is clearly favored over Mr. Grimm.   Expect this seat, the only New York City district that has a Republican history, to be a major target in 2020.

NY-15:  Last week, Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) announced that he would not be seeking re-election after what will be almost 30 years in the House once this congressional session concludes.  Before the Congressman's announcement, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres (D) had already announced his candidacy.  Now, Elias Alcantara, a former Obama Administration official, is rumored to be considering entering the congressional contest.  This is the safest of Democratic seats, so the succession battle will be settled in the party primary.

NC-2:  Four-term Rep. George Holding (R-Raleigh) defended himself against a serious challenge from ex-state Rep. Linda Coleman (D) in November, winning 51-46%.  He may now be looking at a new opponent for 2020.  This week, Marine Corps retired Lt. Col. Scott Cooper (D) publicly indicated that he will enter the Democratic primary for the right to challenge Mr. Holding in November of 2020.  It is likely we will see others coming forward to run, as well, but at this point it does not appear that Ms. Coleman is making any moves to force a re-match.

NM-3:  Now that Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe) has announced that he will run for the Senate, Democratic candidates for the open 3rd District House seat are coming forward. Freshman state Rep. Joe Sanchez (D-Alcalde) is the only elected official who has entered the race, but others are soon expected.  Businessman and former state legislative candidate Mark McDonald is now in the race, as is 2018 state Representative candidate Cameron Chick, Sr.

Republicans are not expected to make a major push in this northern New Mexico district considering its long history as a Democratic stronghold.

SC-2:  Ten-term House incumbent Joe Wilson (R-Springdale/Columbia) has had little trouble winning re-election in his Columbia/Lexington County anchored district, but he has already drawn an opponent for next year's general election.  This week, Adair Boroughs, the Executive Director of Charleston Legal Aide an affiliated group of the South Carolina Legal Services Corporation, announced that she will challenge the Congressman.  Rep. Wilson remains a heavy favorite to win again in 2020, but Ms. Boroughs likely has fundraising capability that could cause the Congressman to spend advertising money.

TX-7:  House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has been actively recruiting to find a strong Republican challenger to a new Democratic incumbent in the converted Texas 7th District.  This week, he succeeded in getting his candidate of choice.

Iraq War veteran helicopter pilot Wesley Hunt (R) said that he will run for Congress next year, attempting to deny freshman Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (R-Houston) re-election and return what was a reliable Republican congressional seat to the GOP column.  Regardless if Mr. Hunt becomes the nominee, we can expect the national GOP to bombard this district, which performed as a 60-39% Mitt Romney CD but one that Donald Trump dropped by a percentage point four years later.

Governor

New Hampshire:  Molly Kelly, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee who held Gov. Chris Sununu (R) to a 53-46% re-election victory, is reportedly looking to run again.  Ms. Kelly made a statement indicating that she is considering declaring her candidacy for 2020.  Again, seeking the Governor's office makes even more sense should Mr. Sununu decide to challenge Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D).  In any event, all the New Hampshire races figure to be close in a state that has swung more wildly between the two parties than any other American domain since the turn of the century.

Utah:  Jon Huntsman, the former Utah Governor, presidential candidate, and US Ambassador to China in the Obama Administration, is reportedly contemplating entering the open 2020 race for Governor.  Currently, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R), though also unannounced, appears to be the leading candidate.  Already, outgoing Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has headlined fundraisers the supporting Lt. Governor.


March 29, 2019
Two Primaries Add to 2020 Open Seats
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • AZ-Sen: Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) won't run
  • NH-Sen: Gov. Chris Sununu (R) considering Senate
  • NM-Sen: Sen. Tom Udall (D) to retire
  • GA-6: Ex-Rep. Karen Handel (R) to seek re-match with Rep. Lucy McBath (D)
  • NY-15: Rep. Jose Serrano (D) to retire
  • WV-Gov: Gov. Jim Justice (R) drawing opponents

President

Fox National Poll:  Fox News went into the field (3/17-20; 1,002 US registered voters; approximately 410 likely Democratic primary voters) to test the coming presidential race and confirmed much of what other pollsters are finding.  President Trump continues to have upside down approval ratings, 46:51% favorable to unfavorable in this survey, and, among Democrats, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) continue to pull away from the pack.

In this study, Mr. Biden leads Sen. Sanders, 31-23%, with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) trailing with 8% apiece.  No other candidate even reaches 5% according to the Fox data.

Iowa Poll:  A new small-sample Emerson College survey of the Iowa Democratic Caucus (3/21-24; 249 IA likely Democratic Caucus participants) uncovers several surprising data points.  First, former Vice President Joe Biden's Iowa lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has dropped to just one percentage point, 25-24%.

Second, and perhaps the biggest surprise, is South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg moving all the way from obscurity into third place with 11% preference, surpassing Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), who post 10 and 9%, respectively.  A third unexpected result is former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) dropping to seventh place with just 5% support.   Because the sample size is extremely small, the error factor in this particular poll is high so more data is needed to verify these conclusions.

Quinnipiac Poll:  Quinnipiac University yesterday released its new national presidential poll (3/21-25; 1,358 US registered voters; 559 Democratic likely primary participants; 582 Republican likely voters) that tests issues, attitudes, and the Democratic primary.  As found in virtually every other national poll, former Vice President Joe Biden leads the ever-growing pack of candidates with two other candidates gaining a bit of momentum.

According to the results, Mr. Biden posts 29% support from the Democratic respondents followed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who has 19%.  Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke is third with 12%, and California Senator Kamala Harris drops to 8% preference. Moving up are both Mr. O'Rourke and South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg who grows from a miniscule support factor to 4%.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) drops to 4%, and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) falls to only 2% backing.

Senate

Arizona:  A surprising announcement came from the Grand Canyon State this week as Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) said that he will not run for the Senate next year.  The move is a boon to Democrats, as Mr. Gallego acknowledged, because a tough late August primary would have made defeating Sen. Martha McSally (R) much more difficult.

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly now appears to have a clear shot at the Democratic nomination even at this early date, more than a year before the candidate filing deadline.  Already raising $3 million for his statewide effort, Rep. Gallego saw that a primary confrontation with Mr. Kelly might well end in a loss for himself, which would mean the end of his congressional career. The Arizona Senate seat may have just moved to number one on the national Democratic target list.

Maine:  A new Maine-based Pan Atlantic Research survey (3/4-13; 500 ME likely voters) finds Sen. Susan Collins (R) posting majority support against declared candidate Sara Gideon (D), the Speaker of the Maine House of Representatives.  According to the ballot test results, Sen. Collins opens with a 51-29% advantage with a job approval rating of 62:37% favorable to unfavorable.

New Hampshire:  While Gov. Chris Sununu (R) previously ruled out challenging Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D), two new polls showing him landing in a statistical tie with the Senator has clearly caused him to reconsider.  The Governor now confirms he is looking at a potential Senate race and will likely begin his decision-making process shortly that could consume several weeks.

New Mexico:  Two-term Democratic Sen. Tom Udall (D) early this week announced via video message from his home that he will not seek a third term next year but promises to remain active in the political process.  The move is unforeseen as Sen. Udall looked to be a lock for re-election.  Democrats will be favored to hold the seat, but a Republican making this open contest competitive is certainly within the realm of possibility.

Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) appeared set to announce his intention to run for the open Senate seat.  Instead, Mr. Balderas announced that he will not run, choosing to remain in his current position.  Early next week, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe) is expected to become the first candidate to formally declare for the open seat.  Without Mr. Balderas in the race, Rep. Lujan appears to be the early favorite for the Democratic nomination and the seat itself.  But, with well over a year before the June Democratic primary, this campaign is just beginning.

South Carolina:  WPA Intelligence, surveying for the Conservatives for Clean Energy organization (3/11-13; 500 SC likely voters), finds Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) comfortably leading his principal announced Democratic opponent, former state Party chair Jamie Harrison.  The numbers suggest the Senator would hold a sizable 55-32% advantage still more than one year before primary challenges are held.

House

CA-22:  2018 Democratic congressional nominee Andrew Janz, an attorney who raised over $9.2 million for his campaign only to lose to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare/Fresno), 53-47%, says he is unlikely to seek a re-match next year.  While his effort against Mr. Nunes was strong, Mr. Janz instead is probably going to channel his political efforts and resources into a race for Mayor of Fresno against Republican incumbent Lee Brand.  While he may face other strong Democrats before getting a head-to-head opportunity against Mayor Brand, insiders close to Janz suggest the local race is most probably where he will be running.

CO-1: A few weeks ago, former state House Speaker Cristina Duran announced a Democratic primary challenge to veteran Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver).  This week, Ms. Duran unveiled endorsements that make her challenge more substantive.  Both former Senator and US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar (D) and ex-Denver Mayor and US Transportation Department Secretary Federico Pena (D) endorsed Ms. Duran's primary challenge.  This developing primary challenge is likely to draw national political attention.

GA-6: Former Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), who lost her seat to current Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) by one percentage point, will return for a potential re-match next year, she announced yesterday.  First, however, she will have to get past Republican primary opponent Brandon Beach, an Alpharetta state Senator, who announced his intention to run before the end of last year.  Expect the 6th District to be a major target for the GOP next year.

IL-6:  In November, businessman Sean Casten defeated veteran Rep. Peter Roskam (R) by a 54-46% margin.  Late last week it was reported that GOP former state Sen. Karen McConnaughay is considering entering the 2020 race.   Whether or not Ms. McConnaughay runs is clearly undecided, but individuals such as she analyzing their chances is a relatively clear indication that former Rep. Roskam will not be seeking a re-match.

NY-15:  Announcing that he has been diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, 11-term New York Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) said yesterday that he will not seek re-election.  Counting his time in the legislature, Mr. Serrano has been in elective office consecutively since 1975.  Last week, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres (D) announced that he would run for Congress, and we can be assured he will now have a lot of company in the Democratic primary.

OH-13:  Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Youngstown) again confirmed that he is considering entering the presidential campaign but also is not abandoning his congressional post. Rep. Ryan said if he does decide to enter the presidential race he will continue to file for re-election.  Such a move is consistent with Ohio election law that allows candidates to run simultaneously for more than one office.

PA-8:  Investment executive John Chrin (R), who lost to Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/ Scranton) 55-45% in November, has filed a 2020 FEC campaign committee.  It appears Mr. Chrin is gearing up to run again, but there is speculation that he could hop over to the 7th District where freshman Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) will be defending her seat for the first time.  The 7th District is more suited to Mr. Chrin's political base, but the 8th is more Republican and President Trump will likely carry the latter CD.  Either way, it is probable we will see Mr. Chrin returning to the political wars in 2020.

PA-10: In the 2018 cycle, Democratic leaders attempted to convince state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale (D) to run for Congress, but the latter man wanted to finish his term in office.  Now, ineligible to seek re-election in 2020 to his statewide post, Mr. DePasquale may well decide to enter a federal campaign against Rep. Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/York) who just got by first time candidate George Scott (D), 51-49%, last November.  It is unclear whether Mr. Scott, a pastor and military veteran, will consider running again.  If either man ultimately becomes the 2020 Democratic nominee, the 10th District will become a major national Democratic target.

TX-21:  Joseph Kosper, the Democratic nominee who came within 50-48% of winning a Texas open seat that, heretofore, had been solidly Republican, was reportedly deciding whether to seek a re-match with freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) or challenging Sen. John Cornyn (R). This week, he unpredictably indicated that he will not be a candidate for any office.  The 21st should remain in Republican hands but expect Texas Democrats to field a credible candidate and attempt to make a strong run here again in 2020 even without having Mr. Kosper on the ballot.

Governor

Louisiana:  Remington Research, polling for gubernatorial candidate Ralph Abraham (R), released their latest data for the impending 2019 Governor's race featuring incumbent John Bel Edwards (D) seeking re-election.  The new poll (3/13-14; 1464 LA likely voters; 732 self-identified Democratic voters) finds Gov. Edwards holding a 44-33-10% jungle primary lead over Rep. Abraham (R-Alto/ Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), respectively.

If no candidate receives a majority vote in the October 12th primary, the top two finishers would face each other in the general election on November 16th. In the head-to-head pairings, Gov. Edwards would top Rep. Abraham, 47-45%, and Mr. Rispone, 48-42%.  The results obviously indicate that a very close race could develop later this year.

Montana:  The open 2020 Montana Governor's race is beginning to attract significant attention.  On Friday, state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-Kalispell) announced that he will enter the race, joining Republican candidates Tim Fox, the state's Attorney General, and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton. Sen. Olszewski placed fourth in a field of four Republican US Senate candidates in 2018, attracting 19% of the vote.  No Democrat has yet announced, but Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney (D) and Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins (D) are expected to make a run.  Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who may soon announce a presidential bid, is ineligible to seek a third term.

West Virginia:  First-term Gov. Jim Justice (R), who was elected as a Democrat in 2016 but switched to the Republican Party less than a year after his statewide victory, has drawn possibly two GOP primary opponents.  Former state Del. Mike Folk says he will likely challenge the Governor in next May's primary election, and Woody Thrasher (R), who Mr. Justice appointed as his original Commerce Department Secretary, is also being discussed as a potential contender.  So far, however, Mr. Thrasher has refused to confirm that such a move is under consideration.

Last week, speculation began surfacing that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) may attempt to re-gain his former post and challenge Gov. Justice in the general election.  Therefore, it appears this Governor's race may soon begin drawing serious national attention from political observers.


March 22, 2019
Primary Challenges Continue to Emerge
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Beto O'Rourke (D) breaks fundraising record        
  • MI-Sen: Sen. Gary Peters (D) already in tight race with GOP manufacturing company owner and retired Army Ranger, John James
  • IN-5: Rep. Susan Brooks (R): facing a primary challenge or running for Attorney General?
  • NY-15: Rep. Jose Serrano (D) draws primary opponent, NY City Councilman Ritchie Torres
  • WV-Gov: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) pondering run for Governor

President

Andrew Gillum: Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, who came very close to winning the 2018 Florida Governor's race, has decided not to run for President.  Right after his statewide loss, support was mounting for him to enter the national campaign, similar to how Democrats began coalescing around ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX).  Instead, Mr. Gillum says he is going to devote his time to an aggressive voter registration project in his home state of Florida in an attempt to help Democrats win more elections there.

Beto O'Rourke:  Former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke just eclipsed Sen. Bernie Sanders' record one-day post-announcement fundraising haul.  Back in February, Sen. Sanders raised $5.9 million in the 24-hour period after he became an official candidate.  Late last week, Mr. O'Rourke officially announced his candidacy and brought in $6.1 million in the first full day of his new campaign.

It appears evident that the former Congressman will be able to continue the torrid fundraising pace he engendered in his unsuccessful US Senate race where he attracted over $80 million in contributions for his Lone Star State contest.

CNN Poll:  A new CNN national presidential poll (conducted by SSRS; 3/14-17; 1,003 US adults; 456 Democratic likely primary voters; 448 Republican likely primary voters) reports similar results to other recent surveys.  According to this data, former Vice President Joe Biden carries a 28-20% lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and former US Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) placing third and fourth with 12 and 11%, respectively.  No other candidate reaches double-digits, which is also highly consistent with other publicly released data.

The fact that no one, including Mr. Biden, ever breaks 30% in a national poll suggests that this race could become wide open.  Sen. Harris and ex-Rep. O'Rourke showing increased strength as time passes would be key to turning this contest into a free-for-all.

Iowa Poll:  A new Public Policy Polling company Iowa Democratic presidential caucus poll (3/14-16; 678 IA likely Democratic Caucus participants) finds former Vice President Joe Biden posting a relatively strong 29-15% lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  The Iowa Caucus is the first voting stop on the Democratic nomination calendar and is scheduled for February 3, 2020.

PPP forecasts all other candidates in single-digits with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) attracting 8%, ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) at 7%, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) tallying 6%, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) registering 5%, and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker drawing 4% support.

Michigan Poll:  Emerson College polled a Michigan Democratic primary sample and finds a similar result to the aforementioned Iowa data.  According to their survey (3/7-10; 743 MI registered voters; 317 MI likely Democratic presidential primary voters) former Vice President Joe Biden holds a healthy 40-23% lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).  Here, however, two other candidates break into double-digits: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 12% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren following with 11% support.  All others are in low single digits. Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) was not tested in this poll.

Wisconsin Poll:  Emerson College also conducted a survey of the Wisconsin Democratic electorate, the first reported study since ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) joined the field of candidates.  According to the small-sample poll (3/15-17; 324 WI likely Democratic primary voters) Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) opens with a large lead over former Vice President Joe Biden and the rest of the field.  Here, Sen. Sanders captures 39% of the Democratic vote as compared to only 24% for Mr. Biden, a much different conclusion than reached in Iowa and Michigan.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren may have hit her highest number of any poll so far in the early cycle.  She posted 14% for third place. Mr. O'Rourke was next with 6%.  Neighboring Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) recorded a disappointing 4%.

The general election sample (3/15-17; 775 WI likely voters) pits President Trump individually against the Democratic field.  Though the President trails in virtually all settings, he is within the polling margin of error against everyone but Mr. Biden.  When paired with the former Vice President, Mr. Trump trails 51-44%.  Sen. Sanders leads him by just two percentage points, 48-46%.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is up by a larger 52-48%, while Beto O'Rourke is staked to a 51-49% edge.  The President breaks even with both Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN).

Senate

Colorado:  National Democrats were unsuccessful in recruiting their top Senatorial prospect to challenge incumbent Republican Cory Gardner when ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper decided to enter the presidential campaign.  At this point their two top contenders appear to be former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff who has lost races for both the US Senate and House, and ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston who finished a distant third in the 2018 gubernatorial primary.

This week, reports began surfacing that the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee leadership is attempting to recruit former US Attorney John Walsh, who served in the Obama Administration.  Mr. Walsh confirms that he is considering the Senate campaign.  Sen. Gardner is viewed as vulnerable because of Colorado's leftward shift in recent elections.

Michigan:  The previously mentioned Emerson College Poll (3/7-10; 743 MI registered voters) likely provided first-term Michigan Sen. Gary Peters (D) with a surprise.  According to their new survey, John James, a Republican manufacturing company owner and retired Army Ranger, has already pulled to within one point of Sen. Peters, 44-43%.  Early signs suggest that this could become a top tier Senate race.

House

AZ-8:  Already, Arizona Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) has won two elections for the House, one in a special election, and the other in the regular 2018 cycle. Both times she defeated physician Hiral Tipirneni in campaigns that were closer than previous voter history would have typically projected.  Now, a new candidate is emerging.  Earlier this week, former Litchfield Park City Councilman Bob Musselwhite (D) said he plans to challenge Rep. Lesko next year.  It is unclear if Dr. Tipirneni will make a third attempt, but publicly stated she is not ruling out challenging Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) in the adjacent 6th CD.

HI-2:  Ever since Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) announced for President, things have not gone well for her at home.  Soon after her presidential move, state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) announced for her congressional seat.  Should Ms. Gabbard not fare well in the presidential race she will now face a serious re-nomination challenge in the Democratic primary.

During this period, Democratic former Governor Ben Cayetano announced his endorsement of Sen. Kahele.  Previously, two other Democratic ex-Governors, Neil Abercrombie and John Waihee, also endorsed the challenger. Rep. Gabbard has consistently absorbed attacks from both the left and right.  She also created major controversy when she met with Syrian dictator Bashar Hafez al-Assad.

IN-5:  Former state Sen. Mike Delph (R), who had previously contemplated several runs for US Senate but then lost his seat in the state legislature last November, is reportedly considering either a primary challenge to Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) or entering an open seat contest.  Speculation is brisk that Rep. Brooks may challenge Attorney General Curtis Hill (R) in the GOP primary or if the seat is open.  Mr. Hill faces sexual harassment accusations and disciplinary proceedings but has not resigned.

NJ-5:  Investment banker Frank Pallotta (R) says he is going to soon form a congressional exploratory committee comprised of "industry leaders and experts" to help him assess his chances of unseating two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wycoff) next year.  The 5th District has typically performed as a Republican seat until 2016, so the GOP looking to target this district is realistic, especially if they have a candidate with financial wherewithal.

NY-15:  As predicted in the New York Post last week, New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres has indeed announced his intention to challenge veteran Rep. Jose Serrano (D-Bronx) in next year's Democratic primary.  This, like other budding New York City Democratic primary challenges, must be taken seriously. NY-15 is one of the safest Democratic districts in the country.  Mr. Serrano, 75 years of age, was first elected to the House in 1990, after serving in the NY state Assembly since 1975. Mr. Torres, 31, was first elected to the City Council in 2013.

NY-22:  New York ex-Rep. Claudia Tenney (R), who lost her seat in November after one term, says she is looking at all future political options including attempting to force a re-match with freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica).  The 2018 campaign was bitter and ended in a close 50.0-48.3% Brindisi victory.  NY-22 is now the second strongest Trump seat that a Democrat holds.  The President carried the seat 55-39% suggesting that Ms. Tenney needs to strengthen her appeal among Republicans.  Broome County District Attorney Stephen Cornwell has already announced his candidacy, so if Ms. Tenney decides to make a return appearance, she will likely have GOP primary opposition.

TX-10:  One of the surprise results last November was veteran Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) winning re-election with only a 51-47% victory margin against under-funded opponent, Michael Siegel.  Soon after the election, Mr. Siegel announced that he would seek a re-match, but now it looks like he will have to fight for the Democratic nomination.  Early this week, Dell Medical School assistant professor Pritesh Gandhi announced that he, too, will run to challenge Rep. McCaul.

Governor

Indiana:  Former Indiana Health Commissioner and congressional candidate Woody Myers (D) is reportedly considering entering the Governor's race.  Democrats struck out in trying to recruit defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly to challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), so they are in need of a candidate to oppose the first term incumbent.  Indiana went hard for President Trump (57-38%) and with Sen. Mike Braun (R) unseating Mr. Donnelly in 2018, recruiting a viable Democratic gubernatorial challenger is no easy task.

West Virginia:  Before the 2016 election there was much public speculation about whether Sen. Joe Manchin (D) would run to re-claim his former job as West Virginia's Governor.  He, of course, didn't and businessman Jim Justice won the position as a Democrat but then changed parties less than a year after winning the general election.  Now, Gov. Justice is seeking re-election as a Republican.

This week, more rumors began to surface that Sen. Manchin is again apparently weighing the option of running for Governor, this time because he strongly opposes Gov. Justice.  This could be the start of another long political song and dance that becomes a false alarm, but clearly Sen. Manchin would be the best candidate the Democrats could field.

On the other hand, he will be under enormous national political pressure from the Democratic establishment to remain in the Senate.  West Virginia requires special elections to fill Senate vacancies, so the chances of Republicans picking up the seat in an open contest would be quite high if Mr. Manchin were to be elected Governor.


March 15, 2019
Beto O'Rourke Joins Crowded Democratic Presidential Candidate Field
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D) in; Rep. Tim Ryan (D)--maybe  
  • AZ-Sen: strong Phoenix Mayoral win of ex-wife likely means Rep. Ruben Gallego (D) runs
  • MT-Sen: Gov. Steve Bullock (D) out
  • GA-6: Ex-Rep. Karen Handel (R) may seek re-match against Rep. Lucy McBath (D)
  • IN-Gov: Ex-Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) accepts new position so run for Gov. in 2020 unlikely

President

Beto O'Rourke:  Yesterday, former Texas Congressman Beto O'Rourke became an official Democratic presidential candidate.  His announcement was made in conjunction with a campaign trip to Iowa, site of the nation's first caucus vote.

Mr. O'Rourke became a political star despite losing his US Senate campaign to incumbent Ted Cruz (R) last November.  Recently, however, he has dropped into single-digits in national presidential polling and is typically battling Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) for fourth place behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA).

Though O'Rourke has potential to become a first-tier candidate, he will have to show momentum early.  The Texas primary, coming on March 3rd of next year, with its 228 elected delegates (the second largest contingent from any state) will become critical in defining Mr. O'Rourke's chances for the nomination.

Rep. Tim Ryan:  Eastern Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Youngstown), who has been considered as an outlier presidential candidate, maintained again this week that he may enter the national race and will decide within the next several weeks.

Mr. Ryan has toyed before with running for Governor, Lt. Governor, and US Senate, without pulling the trigger.  He did, however, challenge Rep. Nancy Pelosi for the Democratic Leader position in 2016 and lost badly, attracting just 1/3 support among his party colleagues.  He has the advantage, under Ohio election law, of being able to run simultaneously for President and re-election to his House seat.

Minor Candidates:  The number 65,000 is becoming important in the 2020 political cycle because each debate-qualifying Democratic candidate needs to have this many individual donors and at least 200 in each of 20 states in order to earn a podium for the televised forums.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang, who announced months ago and is running on the Universal Basic Income platform that would guarantee every American $1,000 per month, has already made the financial threshold.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is also on his way.  Participating in a CNN Townhall event, Mr. Buttigieg attracted over 22,200 donations just in that one evening.  The first debates will be held in June and July, with four more to follow before the end of 2019.

Monmouth National Poll:  Monmouth University just released their new national Democratic primary survey (3/1-4; 746 US registered voters; 310 Democratic likely primary voters). According to their results, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) are continuing to break away from the rest of the large field. Monmouth sees Mr. Biden attracting 27% as compared to Sen. Sanders' 25%.  California Sen. Kamala Harris was third at 10%, while all others tracked in single-digits.

Iowa Poll:  The Des Moines Register/CNN/Mediacom (Selzer & Company; 3/3-6; 401 likely Democratic Caucus participants) released their new Iowa data, now 11 months before the first-in-the-nation caucus vote.  The numbers almost perfectly mirror the latest Monmouth national poll.  As in the Monmouth poll, Selzer & Company, polling for the three media entities, finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sen. Bernie Sanders by the same 27-25% margin.

Here, however, the third-place finisher, still well behind the leaders, is Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with 9%.  In the national poll, California Sen. Kamala Harris holds third with 10%.  In Iowa, Sen. Harris drops to fourth with 7%.  But, the statistical differences among those bunched together in these small sample surveys is insignificant.

Democratic National Convention:  The Democratic National Committee leadership has announced that Milwaukee, WI has been officially selected as the site of the party's national convention next year.   The official dates encompass the period from July 13-16, 2020. Milwaukee was chosen over the two other finalist cities, Houston and Miami.  The Republicans selected Charlotte, NC, for their presidential nominating convention to be held August 24-27, 2020.

Senate

Alabama:  WPA Intelligence conducted a new poll of Alabama Republicans (3/10-12; 501 AL Republican primary voters) to test how former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who lost the 2017 special election to Sen. Doug Jones (D), would fare against Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville).  Mr. Moore defeated Rep. Brooks and eight other candidates including appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) for the special GOP Senate nomination.

According to the WPA results, Mr. Brooks would cruise to the Senate nomination in a one-on-one battle with former Justice Moore.  The numbers would break 52-32% in Brooks' favor.  At this point, Mr. Brooks is saying he does not intend to run for the Senate. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) is in the race, but WPA numbers featuring him were not released.  Mr. Moore says he is considering making another run even though his 2017 attempt ended in political disaster.

Arizona:  Rep. Ruben Gallego's (D-Phoenix) ex-wife, former City Councilwoman Kate Gallego, won the special Phoenix Mayoral election over fellow Democrat Daniel Valenzuela on Tuesday night.  Her strong 58% victory makes it more likely that Rep. Gallego will soon announce his US Senate candidacy.

Though the two are divorced, the Gallegos' are still political allies, and the Congressman put his own statewide plans on hold until his ex-wife's race was complete.  With a strong Gallego win, the Congressman's chances of competing against astronaut Mark Kelly for the Democratic Senatorial nomination appear to have improved.  We can soon expect to see a Gallego for Senate campaign being formed.  The eventual Democratic winner will face appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) in the special general election to run concurrently with the 2020 election calendar.

Montana:  Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D), serving his second and final term as the state's chief executive, is in Iowa testing the presidential waters.  Still, questions abound, however, as to whether he might turn away from his national ambition and instead challenge Sen. Steve Daines (R) next year.

Gov. Bullock has previously indicated his disinclination toward challenging the first-term Republican Senator, but he always seemed to leave the door to such a possibility open a crack.  Yesterday, he closed off his Senate option, telling the news media that he has "ruled out" running against Sen. Daines next year.  He is still a potential presidential candidate and appears leaning toward entering the national Democratic campaign.

New Hampshire:  A recent Emerson College New Hampshire poll (2/21-22; 910 NH registered voters) projected Gov. Chris Sununu (R) and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) to be locked in a 44% tie if the two were to oppose each other next year.

Previously, Gov. Sununu had shown no interest in a Senate race, but that may be changing. When asked about the possibility of challenging Sen. Shaheen instead of seeking a third term as Governor, Mr. Sununu simply indicated that he isn't "ruling anything out."  Clearly, the Governor would be the GOP's top recruitment target to challenge the two-term Senator and former Governor. Ms. Shaheen has already announced that she will run for a third term next year.

Texas:  Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards (D) is the latest Democrat to state publicly that he or she is considering running for the party nomination to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R) next year.  Though Ms. Edwards is a local official, she has run at-large in the state's biggest city of Houston and would have name identification throughout Harris County. The latter entity houses 8% of the state's 15.8 million registered voters.  

US Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) is considering a Senate candidacy.  Former state Senator and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis (D) says she would possibly enter the race if Rep. Castro decides not to run.

House

CA-49:  San Clemente City Councilman Steve Knoblock (R) has formed an FEC committee to begin testing the waters over challenging freshman Rep. Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano). Previously, San Juan Capistrano Mayor and former congressional candidate Brian Maryott (R) said that he would again run for the seat next year.  Though 2/3 of this district's constituency resides in San Diego County, all of the candidates, including Rep. Levin, are from Orange County.  Though this district has been traditionally Republican, Rep. Levin will be favored to win his first re-election.

CA-50:  With several candidates already announcing against indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), one major political figure just declared that he is not going to run.  Former state Senator Joel Anderson (R), who was ineligible to seek a third term under California's term limits law, said yesterday that he will not run for Congress, and fully supports Rep. Hunter.

GA-6:  Former US Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), who lost her seat in November to current Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) by a 50.5 – 49.5% margin, confirmed that she is considering running again in 2020.  Ms. Handel, a former Secretary of State and gubernatorial and US Senate candidate, won the 6th District seat in the 2017 special election overcoming record spending by her opponent, Jon Ossoff.  She failed, however, to hold the position in the regular election.

Earlier, state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) announced his candidacy meaning that Ms. Handel will face significant primary opposition before obtaining her desired rematch with Ms. McBath.

GA-7:  The closeness of the 7th District race last November in the Atlanta suburbs has engendered much political change.  The 419-vote difference race has led to Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) already announcing his retirement, while four Democrats, including 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux, have already declared their candidacies.

Now, a fifth contender has emerged. Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves (D) made his congressional announcement during the week.  It is likely we will see additional individuals step forward in the lengthy remaining interval between now and Georgia's candidate filing exactly a year from now.  Democratic State Reps. Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross), Pete Marin (Duluth), and Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville) have all signaled interest.  Eight Republicans, mostly state legislators, also confirm they are at least considering entering the open congressional contest.

GA-13:  It appears that veteran Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) is drawing a 2020 primary re-match challenge.  Claiming that the Congressman has cast too many votes with Republicans, outgoing Cobb County Democratic Party chairman Michael Owens is confirming that he will again attempt to deny Mr. Scott re-nomination.  In 2014, the two tangled and Rep. Scott won easily in an 82-18% victory spread.  Therefore, the chances of this race developing into a threatening challenge appear slim at least at the outset.

TX-24:  Eight-term Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell), like many Texas Republican members, had a relatively close call in November.  He defeated an under-funded opponent by only a 51-47% count.  Now, it appears he will have a more substantial Democratic foe. Kim Olson (D), who held state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller (R) to a 51-46% win in November, says she will enter the 24th District race next year.  There was some speculation that Ms. Olson might enter the Senate race but has apparently settled for a battle against Rep. Marchant.

Governor

Indiana:  Former Sen. Joe Donnelly (D), who lost his seat to new Senator Mike Braun (R) in November, has made a decision about his professional future.  While being recruited to challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) next year, Mr. Donnelly instead announced that he is joining the Akin Gump law and legislative advocacy firm.  Doing so virtually guarantees that he will not return to Indiana to run for Governor in 2020.


March 8, 2019
Presidential Candidate Slate Continues to Evolve
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) in; former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) & Hillary Clinton out
  • OR-Sen: Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) in for Senate, out for President    
  • TX-Sen: Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) mulling Senate bid
  • NC-9:  special election schedule - May 14 primary; runoff on Sept. 10 if required then general election on Nov. 5; if no runoff, general election on Sept. 10    
  • PA-12: State Rep. Fred Keller (R) nominated for special election
  • MS-Gov: candidate filing list released

President

Stacey Abrams:  Reports from Georgia suggest that defeated gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams (D), who said she would decide about challenging Sen. David Perdue (R) by the end of this month, may now be on a different timetable that could extend well into April.  In addition to determining if she might launch a Senate race or return in 2022 to challenge Gov. Brian Kemp (R), she also is contemplating whether to enter the presidential campaign.

Michael Bloomberg:  Despite public comments that he would spend $500 million of his own money on a presidential campaign, hiring key political staff, designing a presidential logo, and planning an announcement tour beginning in his birth city of Boston, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that he will not run for president in 2020.  While saying he believes he would match up well against President Trump in the general election, he doesn't see a path to claim the Democratic nomination.

Sen. Sherrod Brown:  Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, who many believed was also preparing to enter the Democratic presidential nomination field, said yesterday that he will not.  Citing a reason similar to that which Michael Bloomberg articulated, Sen. Brown basically indicated that he did not see a victory path, meaning that he would be unable to attract many of the supporters he needs because of other similar candidates fighting over the same voter pool.

Hillary Clinton:  Former Secretary of State, US Senator, and First Lady Hillary Clinton publicly confirmed that she will not run for President in 2020, but says she wants to remain active in the political process.

Gov. Jay Inslee:  As expected, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee became the twelfth official Democratic presidential candidate, with decisions still pending from former Vice President Joe Biden and ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), but declined to rule out seeking a third term in his present position.  Because the Washington candidate filing deadline is not until May of 2020, Mr. Inslee can stay in the race through the critical March 17th primary election day when 65% of the first ballot delegate votes will be committed.  If not a contender headed toward the national convention at that time, he will easily have time to revert back into reelection for Washington Governor.

Senate

Colorado:  Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada), who entered the 2018 Governor's race only to withdraw after two months and return to his safe House seat, said yesterday that he is not thinking about entering the 2020 Senate campaign and that, "he likes the House."

Democrats are in search of a stronger potential opponent to Sen. Cory Gardner (R) than the ones who have already announced: former state Senator and defeated gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, and ex-state House Speaker and twice defeated federal candidate Andrew Romanoff.  The seat looks to be highly competitive since Colorado is moving distinctively toward the political left.  But it will likely take a stronger candidate than Messrs. Johnston or Romanoff to unseat Sen. Gardner, one of the GOP's most talented candidates.

Kansas:  Dave Lindstrom, a retired Defensive End for the Kansas City Chiefs NFL Club (1978-85), is considering entering the open US Senate Republican primary.  Currently, Mr. Lindstrom is the chairman of the Kansas Turnpike Authority and serves as a member of the Johnson County Community College Board. Johnson County, home of Kansas City, KS, is the state's largest county by far, home to over 559,000 people.  Sen. Pat Roberts (R) has already announced that he will not seek a fifth term in office.

North Carolina:  It has been no secret that the Democratic leadership has tagged state Attorney General Josh Stein as their top choice to challenge first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC). Yesterday, it was reported that the first-term AG is planning to eschew a Senate race, however, in order to run for re-election to his current post.

At this point, the Democrats have not fielded a Senate candidate with statewide name recognition.  So far, state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston) and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller are the only announced Senate candidates.  Since both are regional officials, each will first be tasked with becoming known on a statewide basis in order to position themselves as Mr. Tillis' top challenger.

Oregon:  Late this week, two-term Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) announced that he will seek re-election next year.  His declaration also means that he will not be a presidential candidate, which he acknowledged, because the Oregon political leadership would not adhere to his request to change election law so individuals could simultaneously seek more than one office. Sen. Merkley is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

Texas:  Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio), the subject of much discussion about whether he will challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) next year, took an unusual step during the week.   The Congressman released a statement saying that he is "seriously considering a Senate 2020 campaign."

While former state Senator and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Wendy Davis (D) said she would yield to Rep. Castro if he chooses to oppose Sen. Cornyn, she would consider running for the Senate if the Congressman decides to remain in the House.  The emergence of ex-Senator Davis would likely be a welcome sight for Sen. Cornyn and the Republicans.  Against then-Attorney General Greg Abbott (R), Ms. Davis fared poorly, losing 59-39%.

House

CA-21:  Former Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) lost a close re-election battle to businessman T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) in November, but recent developments suggest no rematch is likely at least in 2020.  This week, Mr. Valadao and his wife filed for bankruptcy citing multi-million-dollar agribusiness losses.

The 21st District is heavily Democratic, and Mr. Valadao had done well to hold the seat for three terms until what certainly proved to be a wave election in California swept him out of office.  It is unlikely another Republican could do better in the future, so Rep. Cox may find himself in good shape for re-election.

CA-48:  Former state Assemblyman and Orange County Republican chairman Scott Baugh (R) announced this week that he will not challenge freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) even though he filed a fundraising committee with the FEC earlier in the year.  Mr. Baugh, who finished a strong fourth in the 2018 jungle primary, was viewed as one of the Republicans' strongest potential candidates for 2020. Mr. Rouda defeated 15-term Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), 54-46%, in the November election.

CA-49:  Freshman Mike Levin (D-San Juan Capistrano) proved to be an easy winner in November, converting this southern California Republican congressional district to the Democratic column.  With incumbent Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) not in the field, Levin cruised to a November victory over Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey, 56-44%.

Late this week, one of the 16 candidates who ran for the open seat last year says he will run again in 2020.  San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott (R), who finished in the middle of the pack in 8th place, captured only 3% of the jungle primary vote.  He will have to perform considerably better next year if he is to have a chance at unseating Rep. Levin.   At least in the early going, the new Congressman appears to be a lock to secure a second term.

NC-9:  We now know that North Carolina's 9th Congressional District will remain vacant for exactly one year.  On November 6th, Republican Mark Harris, the top vote getter in the 2018 general election, was not certified the winner because of voter fraud accusations in one particular county.  On Monday, the NC State Board of Elections, after last week ordering a brand-new vote, released the special election schedule.

The candidate filing deadline will be March 15th for the special primary now scheduled for May 14th.  If a run-off is required - meaning no candidate received 30% of the party primary vote - such election will be conducted on September 10th.  The special general election will occur November 5th.  If no party requires a run-off, the general will move to September 10th.  But, considering that Mr. Harris won't run and the GOP side is wide open, it is highly likely that a run-off will occur.  Democratic businessman Dan McCready, the '18 Democratic nominee, is the prohibitive favorite to win the party nomination in the special election.

PA-12:  Republican delegates to the special district convention chose a party nominee for the May 21st special election to replace resigned Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) in a marathon seven-hour session last Saturday.

With 14 candidates entered into the nomination process, the delegates voted four times before a winner emerged with majority support.  State Rep. Fred Keller (R-Mifflinburg) is the new party nominee defeating fellow state Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Williamsport) and the dozen others.  He becomes the heavy favorite to succeed Rep. Marino in a central Pennsylvania district that voted 66-30% for President Trump.  Mr. Keller will now face Democratic nominee Marc Friedenberg, a college professor who lost to Rep. Marino in November 66-34%.

TX-23: Though 2018 Democratic nominee Gina Ortiz Jones has yet to confirm that she will again run for Congress, all signs are pointing to a re-match between she and three-term Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio).  In November, Ms. Jones lost to Congressman Hurd by just 926 votes.

While Ms. Jones has yet to declare her candidacy, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Cheri Bustos, who represents a district in Western Illinois, is telling Texas news reporters that there will be a re-match in 2020.  We can expect another tight race from this highly volatile Lone Star State district.

Governor

Louisiana:  Though House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-Slidell) has several times indicated he is not planning to run for Governor this year, political speculation continues that he may well reverse course and enter the jungle primary against incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). During the week the situation clarified as Mr. Scalise again reiterated that he is "not running for Governor."

Many Louisiana Republican leaders reportedly feel the party needs a stronger candidate than the two announced entries, Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone. 

Mississippi:  At the beginning of this week Mississippi election officials released the candidate list for the 2019 state elections, thus the field for the August 6th party primaries are now set.  If no candidate receives majority support in the first election, the top two finishers will run-off on August 27th.  The general election is November 5th.

In the Republican gubernatorial primary, to replace term-limited incumbent Phil Bryant (R), three candidates filed as expected.  Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who Gov. Bryant has endorsed, retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr., and state Rep. Robert Foster (R-Hernando) are now the official contenders.

For the Democrats, nine individuals filed paperwork to run.  The prohibitive favorite for the gubernatorial nomination is four-term Attorney General Jim Hood.  The other candidates of significance are Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith, and former Natchez Mayor and ex-state Representative Phillip West.

The large number of minor candidates suggest there is an outside possibility that Hood is forced to a run-off, but at this point he must be considered a clear favorite to win outright.  Most observers believe that AG Hood gives the Democrats a legitimate chance to capture the Governor's mansion for the first time since Ronnie Musgrove last won in 1999.