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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

April 6, 2018
Close Primary Races and Competitive Contests Continue to Emerge
by Jim Ellis
Key Takeaways:
  • Mississippi Senate:  Senate-designate Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to be sworn-in, replacing Sen. Thad Cochran (R), setting stage for competitive special election in November
  • Tennessee Senate:  surprising poll puts former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) ahead of U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) in key Senate open seat race
  • CT-5:  Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D) to retire after widespread criticism for failing to act immediately against her chief of staff who was accused of sexual and physical abuse of a staff member
  • NC-3:  new poll suggests Rep. Walter Jones (R) in primary fight
  • Florida Governor:  new poll shows Republican candidates Rep. Ron DeSantis and former Congressman Adam Putnam virtually tied in crowded primary field
  • Minnesota Governor:  former 2-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty enters race 


Mississippi:Designated Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) won't be sworn in until Monday to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R), but developing special election candidates aren't waiting. When Mr. Cochran first announced he would leave the Senate in early April, former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D) immediately entered the Senate special election. Then, Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel switched from challenging GOP incumbent Roger Wicker to joining the new election. Late this week, Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton (D) announced that he, too, will become a Senate special election candidate.

All candidates will appear on the special election ballot to be held concurrently with the November 6th special election. If no contender receives a majority vote, the top two, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to a run-off election three weeks later, on November 27th. The winner will serve the balance of the current term and be eligible to run for a full six-year stint in 2020. Chances are strong that the secondary election will be necessary because it's unlikely that any one individual can build majority support.

Tennessee:Middle Tennessee State University just released a credible statewide survey (3/22-29; 600 TN registered voters) that surprisingly stakes former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) to a ten point, 45-35%, lead over US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood). It is a virtual certainty that each individual will win his and her respective party nomination so it is not too early to begin testing the pair as if the August 2nd primary has already occurred. Other polls have given Ms. Blackburn the early advantage largely because of the state's strong Republican nature; a voting trend that has noticeably moved rightward since Mr. Bredesen was last on the statewide ballot in 2006.


CA-44: Citing too much bitterness within the electorate, actress Stacy Dash (R), who was challenging freshman Southern California Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-San Pedro), ended her campaign well before the June 5th primary. Ms. Dash, a long shot candidate campaigning as a conservative, would have had a difficult time even qualifying for the general election in a district where only 10.2% of the voters are registered Republicans. Rep. Barragan, an upset winner in 2016, now faces only Compton Mayor Aja Brown (D) as a serious opponent.

CT-5:Late this week, three-term Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Cheshire/Waterbury) announced that she will end her quest for re-election, succumbing to calls for her to resign. While her announcement only indicated that she won't run in November, the intense demands from media editorial boards and even a series of Democratic state legislators for her to step aside are coming because she did not immediately take action against her chief of staff who was accused of sexual and physical abuse of a staff member to the point where a restraining order was required.

For the Democrats, former Simsbury First Selectman Mary Glassman, a twice-defeated candidate for Lt. Governor, quickly announced that she will enter the open seat congressional race. Turning to the GOP, state Rep. William Petit (R-Cheshire) confirms that he is contemplating entering the race. Two Republicans who won't be running for Congress are Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton and New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart. Both confirmed that they will remain in the Governor's race.

FL-23: Law professor Tim Canova made a big splash in 2016 with his primary challenge to South Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Weston), while she was the sitting Democratic National Committee chair. Mr. Canova attracted just under $4 million in financial support, and an endorsement from presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, but lost the party primary 43-57%. After the election, Canova quickly announced that he would seek a re-match this year. With little in the way of 2018 financial support developing for him, and even Sen. Sanders staying away from the re-match, Mr. Canova announced this week that he is exiting the Democratic primary and will run as an Independent in the general election. Rep. Wasserman Schultz now becomes the prohibitive favorite for re-election.

MA-3:Retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas' (D-Lowell) open 3rd District congressional seat is creating a great deal of interest within the Massachusetts political community. A total of 13 Democrats have announced their candidacies for the seat along with one Republican, business owner Rick Green. State Sen. Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover) just released the results of her EMC Research survey (3/14-19; 500 MA-3 likely Democratic primary voters), which finds the poll sponsor leading the primary field with 19% support. Trailing in second place at 8% is former Boston mayoral chief of staff Dan Koh. No other breaks 5% preference.

NH-1:Levi Sanders, son of Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, is coming under attack because he doesn't even live close to the 1st Congressional District where he is an announced Democratic candidate. Mr. Sanders resides in Claremont, NH, which is near the Vermont border in the southwestern part of the state. New Hampshire's 1st District covers the eastern portion of the Granite State. Though he just received a new public endorsement, it probably won't help Mr. Sanders too much. This week, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced his support of Levi Sanders. But, backing from another state's Governor won't help quell the attacks against him for not having much local support.

NY-24:After originally saying she would not run for Congress this year, apparently Juanita Perez Williams, a former attorney for the city of Syracuse and ex-Navy JAG officer who fared badly in the last Syracuse Mayor's race (losing 54-38% to Republican Ben Walsh), is circulating petitions to qualify for the ballot. In order to advance to the general election and face two-term Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse), Ms. Williams will have to first get past Dana Balter, the local Democratic Party endorsed candidate for the June 26th federal primary. Ms. Williams was a top recruitment target for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) after the party leadership failed to convince former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner to run. Though the 24th CD leans Democratic, Rep. Katko has put up a pair of strong 58% victories in his two House elections.

NY-25:It remains unclear if Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will call a special election to replace the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester), but there will be a June 26th primary election for the regular ensuing term. Last week state Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) announced his candidacy, as did former journalist and Mayoral candidate Rachel Barnhart, and Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt. Now, Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden (D) joins the Democratic field. Republicans are coalescing behind surgeon Jim Maxwell, who had announced a challenge to Rep. Slaughter before she unexpectedly passed away on March 16th. Democrats are favored to hold the seat.

NC-3:Veteran US Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) is no stranger to competitive primaries, and faces another in 2018. In the May 8th North Carolina primary, two Republicans, Craven County Commissioner Scott Dacey and computer technician and frequent candidate Phil Law, are opposing the 12-term incumbent. No Democrat filed in this contest, so whoever wins the GOP primary takes the seat in November. The Civitas Institute commissioned a Voter Roll Call poll (3/23-25; 700 NC-3 registered voters; 329 NC-3 likely Republican primary voters) and found Rep. Jones only leading his opponents Dacey and Law, 37-28-15%, respectively.

WI-1:House Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Janesville) likely general election opponent in his southern Wisconsin congressional district, labor union activist Randy Bryce (D), said this week that his campaign has raised over $2.1 million to be reported on the April 15th Federal Election Commission disclosure report and possesses more than $2.3 million in his campaign account.


Florida:Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) released an internal North Star Opinion Research poll (3/12-15; 600 FL likely Republican primary voters) that stakes the Atlantic Coast Congressman to a 21-19% lead over Agriculture Commissioner and former Congressman Adam Putnam in their open race for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Twelve Republicans have announced their candidacies, but only state House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O'Lakes) is a formidable opponent to Messrs. DeSantis and Putnam. With a May 30th candidate filing deadline, an August 28th primary, and the leading Republican candidates virtually tied, this race is weeks, if not months, away from becoming defined.

Hawaii:Current Gov. David Ige (D) made national political news in 2014 when he trounced incumbent Gov. Neil Abercrombie, 66-31% in the Democratic primary, but things have gone badly for him since that time. Last week we reported upon a new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey that found US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) leading him in the August 11th Hawaii Democratic primary, 47-27%. Now, a group of key Democratic state legislative leaders have jointly endorsed Rep. Hanabusa. State Senate President Ron Kouchi (D-Kauai), state House Speaker Scott Saiki (D-Honolulu), Senate Ways & Means Committee chairman Donovan Dela Cruz (D-Honolulu), and House Finance Committee chair Sylvia Luke (D-Makiki) all publicly agreed to join the Hanabusa campaign finance team.

Iowa:The signature petition process has officially claimed another victim. Earlier, an Iowa election review panel ruled that former Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett (R) fell short of submitting the required 4,005 legal petition signatures to qualify for the ballot. Disputing the ruling, Mr. Corbett ultimately took his argument to court, but now his candidacy has ended. Yesterday, a Polk County District Judge upheld the Iowa State Objection Panel's ruling that Mr. Corbett did not qualify. After the decision was made public, the former Mayor said he would end his challenge and accept the ultimate result that he would not be allowed to challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds in the Republican primary. This means that the new Governor will run unopposed for the party nomination.

Minnesota:For weeks, it has been speculated upon that former two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) was planning to make a return to the political scene after an eight-year absence from Minnesota politics. That speculation proved true on Thursday as the ex-Governor announced that he will enter the open seat campaign for his previous position. He faces Hennepin County Commissioner and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson in the Republican primary. In 2014, Mr. Johnson held retiring Gov. Mark Dayton (D) to a 50-45% re-election victory.

Tennessee:Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, in a series of polls for the Save the Children Action Network (3/7-14; 600 TN registered voters), surveyed the Volunteer State gubernatorial primaries. For the Republicans, US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) jumps out to the early lead, with 25% preference followed by Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd, who posts 20% support. Williamson County businessman Bill Lee, and House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) lag with 7 and 6 percent, respectively. On the Democratic side, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean opens up with a large lead, registering 41% among those stating a preferred candidate. State House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh (D-Ripley) had just 11% support. The Tennessee primaries are not until August 2nd, so much time remains for these nomination races to change.

March 30, 2018
2018 Election Contests Continue to Take Shape 
by Jim Ellis


Florida:It appears that Gov. Rick Scott (R) will soon become an official Senate candidate, a move that has been anticipated for more than a year. Toward the end of the week, Mr. Scott scheduled what he calls "a major announcement" for April 9th. The Governor has yet to commit to challenging Sen. Bill Nelson (D), but the former man's vast wealth and universal name identification provides him the luxury of skipping the preliminary campaign organizational period. Though not a Senate candidate, an unconnected Super PAC has been advertising heavily throughout Florida pushing a Scott-backed issue agenda and extolling the Governor's strong role in implementing positive change during his tenure in office. Polling has consistently shown that a Nelson-Scott Senate race would be a toss-up, an unsurprising conclusion in politically swing Florida.

Massachusetts: A new WBUR Boston Public Radio poll (3/16-18; 504 MA registered voters) tested Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) against two potential Republican opponents as she runs for her first re-election. According to the data, Sen. Warren posts a 53:36% positive to negative personal favorability rating. Paired with former state Consumer Affairs Department director Beth Lindstrom (R), Sen. Warren forges a 56-33% advantage. Against state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Norwell), Ms. Warren scores a slightly stronger 58-32%.

Pennsylvania:A just-released Franklin & Marshall College poll (3/19-26; 423 PA registered voters) gives us some new information about the Keystone State's political affairs, but the methodology is suspect. The sample size is small for a statewide poll in a large domain, the sampling period long, the error factor high (6.8%), and the results yield a slight Democratic skew. Though the flaws are obviously significant, the ballot test result finds Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) leading Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton), 43-25%.


IA-3:Real estate developer Theresa Greenfield's congressional candidacy was seesawing between qualifying for the ballot and not during the past few days. Enough of Ms. Greenfield's ballot petition signatures were ruled invalid to keep her from attaining official candidate status. When Democratic Attorney General Tom Miller issued an opinion supporting the Iowa State Objection Panel's ruling, Ms. Greenfield announced that she will end her candidacy. The administrative bungle is a major blow to Democratic chances of unseating two-term Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter/Des Moines). Party leaders believe that Ms. Greenfield is their best candidate.

MN-8:In an unsurprising move, since he was taking no action to become a candidate other than not to rule out running, state House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R-Crown) said this week that he will not enter the Iron Range 8th District open US House race. St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber continues as the leading Republican candidate for the open congressional district, a seat that Republicans believe will be converted. In the last two elections, retiring Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth) has won by 1.4 percentage points (2014), and less than ½ percent (2016).

NV-3: A new Strategic National poll (3/10-11; 400 NV-3 likely voters), taken just before 2016 Republican nominee Danny Tarkanian switched out of the Senate race and into this campaign, finds him substantially leading all the GOP candidates who announced weeks ago. According to the data, Mr. Tarkanian scores a 37-10-9-9-1% lead over former television news reporter Michelle Mortensen, state Sen. Scott Hammond, ex-Assemblywoman Victoria Seaman, and former Clark County Republican Party chairman Dave McKeon, respectively. Upon Tarkanian re-entering the congressional campaign, Ms. Seaman withdrew her candidacy.

NY-25:Now that veteran New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) has been laid to rest after she unexpectedly passed away on March 16th, candidates are beginning to announce for the vacant 25th Congressional District. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has yet to announce whether he will call a special election or allow the seat to remain vacant until the regular November 6th vote. Supported by several individuals who were said to be considering their own candidacies, such as the late Congresswoman's daughter, state Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D) announced his candidacy and immediately becomes the race favorite. Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt also joined the Democratic field. On the Republican side, party leaders appear to be coalescing around surgeon James Maxwell who weeks ago launched a campaign against Rep. Slaughter.


Colorado:So far, faring well in early polling and demonstrating strength in county party conventions, Democratic former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy continues to prove she is far from an "also ran" candidate. A new Magellan Strategies poll (3/20-23; 410 CO likely Democratic primary voters and unaffiliated voters who choose the Democratic primary ballot) finds US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) holding only a 27-23% lead over Ms. Kennedy. Far behind are former state Sen. Mike Johnston (D-Denver) and Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne who capture 8 and 5% support, respectively. Two-term Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Florida:Public Policy Polling, surveying for an undisclosed labor organization (3/23-25; 613 FL likely Democratic primary voters) tested the upcoming open gubernatorial campaign. According to their results, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, who has already been advertising on electronic media, has taken the lead over former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), 22-19%. Trailing well behind is Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum at 8%, and businessman Chris King with 5% support. Much time remains in this nomination campaign, however. The Florida state primary is not until August 28th.

Hawaii:Four years ago, then-state Sen. David Ige (D) rocked Hawaii politics with his 66-31% rout of sitting Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the 2014 Democratic primary. Now, the tables appear to be turning. A new Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy survey (3/13-18; 800 HI voters; 498 HI likely Democratic primary voters) finds US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) crushing Gov. Ige, 47-27%, if the August 11th primary election were held today. A series of mistakes, including the highly publicized false alarm that the state was under an imminent nuclear attack, has hampered the Governor's job approval rating.

Illinois:The first post March 20th primary poll was released into the public domain, and the Ogden & Fry/ABC News 7 survey (3/23; 667 IL registered voters) finds the new Democratic gubernatorial nominee, venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, jumping out to a commanding lead over incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). The data reports a 46-28% Pritzker advantage. Such a result is not particularly surprising. Gov. Rauner has poor approval ratings and failed to reach even 52% in his own Republican primary.

Iowa:Way back in June of last year, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett launched a Republican primary challenge to new Governor Kim Reynolds, soon after she succeeded departing Gov. Terry Branstad who had been appointed US Ambassador to China. The Iowa State Objection Panel, however, just ruled that Mr. Corbett did not submit enough valid petition signatures to qualify him for a ballot position. The minimum number of valid signatures for Iowa statewide candidates to obtain is 4,005 and Mr. Corbett was disqualified for being eight valid nominating petition signatures short. Late this week, the Cedar Rapids Mayor said he will challenge the state panel's decision in court. The Iowa primary is scheduled for June 5th.

Maine:Though candidate filing has already been completed, Maine state Senate President Mike Thibodeau (R-Waldo County) announced that he is dropping his bid to succeed term-limited Gov. Paul LePage (R). Originally, five Republicans, seven Democrats, and six Independents had filed to run in the statewide campaign. Though Gov. LePage is not supporting a particular Republican candidate, he did previously announce his opposition to Thibodeau. The general election is viewed to be a toss-up. The Maine primary is scheduled for June 12th.

Nevada:National Democratic pollster Expedition Strategies surveyed the open Silver State gubernatorial primary scheduled for June 12th. According to the poll (3/17-19; 600 NV likely Democratic primary voters) Clark County Commissioner Chris Giunchigliani holds a slight 31-27% edge over her local governing board colleague, Commissioner Steve Sisolak. The result confirms that the Democratic nomination is up for grabs. The winner will face the eventual GOP nominee, most likely Attorney General Adam Laxalt. Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Massachusetts: The aforementioned WBUR Boston Public Radio poll (see MA-Senate above) finds first-term Republican Gov. Charlie Baker in strong shape heading into his first re-election. With a favorability index of 66:14%, Gov. Baker leads Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D) 54-28%, and the latter man actually fares best among the three Democrats tested. Though Massachusetts is one of the strongest Democratic states in the country, it has a penchant for electing Republican Governors. The GOP has won five of the last seven gubernatorial elections since former Democratic presidential nominee Michael Dukakis did not seek re-election in 1990.

Pennsylvania:The aforementioned Franklin & Marshall College poll (see PA-Senate above) finds Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf comfortably leading the filed Republican candidates. Against state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York), Gov. Wolf records a 38-21% advantage. Paired with the other two Republican candidates, the Governor fares better. If former Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Laura Ellsworth were the GOP nominee, the Governor's advantage would be 51-22%. Opposite businessman Paul Mango, Mr. Wolf's general election polling advantage registers a 40-22% spread.

South Carolina:The Save the Children Action Network commissioned a joint Democratic and Republican poll that was just released (TargetPoint Consulting/Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research; 3/10-17; 800 SC registered voters; 397 SC likely Republican primary voters; 296 SC likely Democratic voters), and the totals find Gov. Henry McMaster (R) pulling 41% support. Former state cabinet official Catherine Templeton is next with 10%, followed by Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant's 5%, while former Democratic Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill posts 3%, and Greenville businessman John Warren stands at 2% support. For the Democrats, state Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) leads with 18% over Florence attorney Marguerite Willis' 11%, and Charleston businessman Phil Noble who garners seven percent. If no candidate receives majority support in the original party primary elections, the top two finishers then advance to a June 26th run-off election.

March 23, 2018
Illinois Primary and Mississippi Senate Appointment Cap Eventful Week of Election Activity
by Jim Ellis


California: The Public Policy Institute of California went into the field again with a major statewide survey (3/4-13; 1,706 CA adults) to test residents' attitudes about issues and candidates. Looking at their new US Senate data, it is clear that the state is again headed for a double-Democratic general election. According to the jungle primary question, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) leads state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) by a 42-16% margin with no prominent Republican candidate on the ballot.

Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant (R) announced that he will appoint Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R) before the veteran incumbent actually leaves office. With state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) already declaring that he will become a candidate in the special election and not continue with his plan to challenge Sen. Roger Wicker in the Republican primary, Gov. Bryant says he wants the new Senator to have as much time as possible to begin preparing a campaign. Sen. Cochran says he will resign after the appropriations process is completed on or around April 1st.

Upon Ms. Hyde-Smith being sworn in at some point in April, she will then run for the seat in November. All candidates will be placed on the November ballot with the top two advancing to a November 27th run-off election if no candidate receives majority support. The winner then serves the balance of the term, meaning he or she will be eligible to run for a full six-year term in 2020. Already, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) has announced for the special election. He came close to upsetting Sen. Cochran in the 2014 Republican primary. Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi US Congressman Mike Espy declared his candidacy on the Democratic side.

Montana: We now see a slate of official Republican Senate candidates in the Montana race hoping to oppose two-term incumbent Jon Tester (D), as the candidate filing period drew to a close. As expected, state Auditor Matt Rosendale, former District Judge Russell Fagg, state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-Flathead Valley), and businessman Troy Downing all submitted the candidate declaration documents. The June 5th Republican primary winner will face Sen. Tester who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Sen. Tester is favored for re-election and just began his preliminary media advertising blitz last week.

Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller (R) now faces only minor opposition for the upcoming June 12th Republican primary. Businessman and frequent political candidate Danny Tarkanian, adhering to a public request from President Trump to exit the race, did so. Instead, Mr. Tarkanian will enter the open 3rd Congressional District campaign. Back in 2016, he lost that race 47-46% against now-freshman Representative and current US Senate candidate Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson). Bypassing a seriously contested primary will now allow Sen. Heller to pool his resources and immediately concentrate on his general election campaign with Ms. Rosen. A Heller-Rosen general election contest is rated as a toss-up in what is proving to be a swing political state.

Ohio: Ohio-based Baldwin Wallace University released a poll of the upcoming Senate race (2/28-3/9; 1,011 OH registered voters), and they project Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) holding a 41-29% lead over Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). If venture capitalist Mike Gibbons were the Republican nominee, Sen. Brown's margin would be 41-31%.

The sampling period is long meaning the poll's reliability factor is lessened, though the respondent universe size is strong. Additionally, the decided factor is a bit low considering that Sen. Brown is a two-term incumbent, which means more reliability questions. Rep. Renacci is favored to win the Republican nomination, and the general election figures to become highly competitive.

West Virginia: Countering Rep. Evan Jenkins' (R-Huntington) polling release that showed him leading the Republican primary race for the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D), Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) just went public with his own internal poll that shows very different results.   According to his Osage Research survey (3/13; 500 WV likely Republican primary voters), it is Mr. Morrisey who has climbed into first place, leading former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and Rep. Jenkins, 24-23-17%. At the beginning of last week, Mr. Jenkins released his Harper Polling survey that found him leading with 29% support versus 27 for Mr. Blankenship, and 19% for Attorney General Morrisey. The Republican primary is May 8th and expects to become a testy affair.


Illinois: Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) managed to survive a very difficult primary challenge from media consultant Marie Newman. The Congressman was re-nominated for an eighth term with just 51% of the district vote. His stronger performance in Cook County allowed him to capture the district majority despite losing Will County and the sliver of DuPage County to Ms. Newman. Mr. Lipinski is one of the few remaining Blue Dog Democrats, while Ms. Newman came at him hard as part of the party's left faction. Rep. Lipinski will have little trouble in winning the general election.

Other key congressional match-ups are now set. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) will face climate change advocate and energy business owner Sean Casten (D) in the general election. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro/Carbondale) is paired with St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly (D) in two of the more competitive races in the state.

MT-AL: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) was elected in a May special election that drew national attention. As candidate filing closed Friday in Big Sky Country, six Democrats officially entered the June 5th plurality primary contest to challenge the new Congressman in November. Among the half-dozen contenders are former state Sen. Lynda Moss, ex-state Rep. Kathleen Williams, and attorney and author Jared Pettinato. Rep. Gianforte is favored to win a full term in the 2018 election.

ND-AL: North Dakota Democratic state party delegates convened in Grand Forks during the week. Delegates awarded official party endorsements for their two federal offices on the ballot in 2018, and both winners have clinched the nomination. In no surprise, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) won endorsement for her re-election campaign. In the at-large House race, former state Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) topped the delegate vote, and his opponents then quickly followed suit to profess their support for the man who defeated them. With no further opposition coming for the June 5th primary, Mr. Schneider will become the Democratic congressional nominee.

Texas: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has taken sides in two Texas run-off elections. According to their new "Red to Blue" target campaign listing released at the end of this week, the Committee is recommending support of former Office of the US Trade Representative official Gina Ortiz Jones, in a May 22nd run-off election for the right to face Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) in November, and attorney and ex-NFL football player Colin Allred who wants to oppose veteran US Representative and Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-Dallas). Mr. Allred's Democratic run-off opponent is businesswoman and former Deputy Agriculture Department Undersecretary Lillian Salerno.

TX-27: Over the weekend, the four Republican candidates who failed to qualify for the open GOP run-off election to replace retiring Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) - the group cumulatively garnered 30% of the vote in the March 6th primary - unanimously endorsed former Victoria County Republican Party chairman Michael Cloud in his May 22nd Republican run-off battle with former state Water Development Board chairman Bech Bruun. In the primary, Mr. Bruun placed first with 36.1% of the vote followed closely by Mr. Cloud's 33.9 percent. Because of the close primary result, the secondary run-off election is rated as a toss-up so the united opponent endorsement development carries some significance.

UT-3: Newly elected Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo), who won a November special election to replace resigned Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), will likely face primary competition against the man whom convention delegates endorsed in the special election.   Former state Rep. Chris Herrod, who won the nominating convention endorsement last year, filed to run again. Because he will likely be strong in the nominating convention once more, Rep. Curtis is both participating in the convention process and announced he will circulate petitions to qualify. A candidate must receive at least 40% of the convention delegate vote to proceed to a primary. If one receives 60%, the individual is either nominated outright or advances to a primary election against only candidates who have qualified via ballot petition.

UT-4:The Mellman Group, polling for Democratic congressional candidate and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (2/27-3/4; 400 UT-4 likely voters), finds Rep. Mia Love's (R-Saratoga Springs) campaign edge is only 43-40% if the general election were held in the present time frame. Several other polls have been conducted of the campaign over the past several weeks, with each projecting Love with a similarly small lead. We can expect this to be a competitive campaign in the fall, even considering Utah's strong Republican voting history.


California: Looking at the Public Policy Institute of California's survey for the Governor's race (see California Senate above), Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) continues to hold a lead. The question is whether a Republican will qualify for the second general election position. According to the jungle primary ballot test question, Mr. Newsom has a 28-14% lead over businessman and former presidential candidate John Cox (R). Close behind is ex-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) at 12%. Republican state Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) is next with 10%. The big question is whether Villaraigosa can make a strong enough push to claim second place, which would enable him to battle Newsom in the general election. Republicans have virtually no chance of winning the statewide election.

Illinois:Gov. Bruce Rauner barely survived his Republican primary challenge earlier in the week, winning a scant 52-48% victory over state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, who at least spent $65 million of his own money to capture the party nomination, won his primary with a 45-27-24% win over state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Chicago) and businessman Chris Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy. Despite Gov. Rauner being the incumbent, his poor primary performance reveals Republican base trouble thus making Pritzker the early favorite to convert the Illinois Governor's mansion to the Democratic column.

New York:Cynthia Nixon, who came to fame playing the role of Miranda Hobbes in the HBO series, "Sex and the City," announced on Monday that she will launch a campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the coming Democratic primary. Though this challenge is a long shot at best, Ms. Nixon will be hitting the Governor from his ideological left. She will likely have the ability to attract some national money, but the chances of her denying the Governor re-nomination are poor. But, the New York state primary isn't until September, so this potential race has time to develop.