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.

September 13, 2019
Republican Special Election Sweep in North Carolina
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • MA-Sen: Another poll shows Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D) ahead of Sen. Ed Markey (D)
  • TX-Sen: Sen. John Cornyn (R) could draw primary challenger 
  • NC-3 & 9: Republican special election sweep, electing Greg Murphy (R-NC 3) and Dan Bishop (R-NC 9)
  • WI-5: Three top GOP potential candidates won't run
  • LA-Gov: Polling finds Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) on the cusp of winning
    outright in October 12 jungle primary


Howard Schultz:  In what seemed to be a clear signal that he would not continue his independent run for President when he ceased activities due to a series of medical procedures, former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz formally announced early this week that he would not pursue his 2020 candidacy.  Included in his statement was a point expressing his desire not to become an impediment to former Vice President Joe Biden having a clear shot in the general election to unseat President Trump.

Republicans:  The Republican leadership in at least four states is moving toward canceling their primary or caucus, and instead simply awarding all of their delegate votes to President Trump.  The states seriously weighing the option include two of the "First Four," South Carolina and Nevada, the electorates from which are scheduled to vote in February. Kansas and Arizona are the other two states.  Others could then follow their lead.

This act is not particularly unusual. Several states in both parties have previously canceled primaries when their party held the Presidency.  Such happened for Presidents George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama.  The leaders argue that party funds spent to help administer the primary election or caucus meetings would be better spent in the general election to support their candidates.

Emerson College Poll:  Emerson College tested the New Hampshire Democratic electorate (9/6-9; 481 NH likely Democratic primary voters) and, like many other pollsters, found former Vice President Joe Biden and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren entangled in a tight race at the top.  This survey finds Mr. Biden topping the field with 24%, and Sen. Warren close behind at 21%.  Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders pulls 13% support from this respondent group.

But the surprise finding is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg returning to double-digit figures after a relatively long absence.  He pulls 11% support, just behind Sanders and ahead of California Sen. Kamala Harris, whose preference figure is 8 percent.  Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard also turns in her best polling performance.  She registers 6% in the Emerson poll, the first time she has exceeded the 5% threshold in any survey.

Texas Polls:  Quinnipiac University, YouGov, and Climate Nexus all surveyed the Texas Democratic primary electorate, and each finds former Vice President Joe Biden taking the lead in this important state, the second largest national convention delegation with 228 first ballot votes.  All of the polls were conducted between August 20th and September 9th with relatively small sample sizes - between 456 (Q-Poll) and 639 (CN) respondents - and arrive at similar findings.  Two of the three, Q-Poll and YouGov, find Sen. Elizabeth Warren capturing second place, while Climate Nexus still sees Texas favorite son Beto O'Rourke holding that position.

YouGov Polls:  The YouGov international polling organization conducted simultaneous surveys for the February voting states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. Though these states are small, having only 155 combined delegates, they tend to set the tone for Super Tuesday and the bulk of the voting.  According to YouGov, former Vice President Joe Biden, and Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are close in each of the four places. Mr. Biden leads in Iowa and South Carolina, Sen. Sanders places first in Nevada, and Sen. Warren tops the field in New Hampshire.  None of the other candidates even reach double-digits in any of the four states.


Colorado:  Former US Attorney John Walsh has ended his campaign for the Democratic Senatorial nomination and, while doing so, publicly endorsed former Gov. John Hickenlooper. Mr. Walsh becomes the second candidate to exit, following former state Sen. Mike Johnston. Eleven others, however, remain. Mr. Walsh said he believes that Mr. Hickenlooper has the best chance to unseat Sen. Cory Gardner (R), which, he says, is the ultimate goal.

Georgia:  As has been speculated upon for several months, former special election congressional candidate Jon Ossoff (D), who raised over $31.6 million for his 6th District losing campaign in 2017, announced that he will run for the US Senate.  In a bit of a surprise, however, Mr. Ossoff decided to challenge Sen. David Perdue (R) in the regular election rather than entering the special election against the eventual appointed GOP incumbent.  Because Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) is resigning at the end of the year due to health problem, both of Georgia's Senate seats will be on the ballot in 2020.

Massachusetts:  A new Suffolk University poll (9/3-5; 500 MA likely Democratic primary voters) confirms what we saw in last week's released Change Research survey (8/23-25; 808 MA likely Democratic primary voters) that found Sen. Ed Markey badly trailing Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) in next year's Senate Democratic primary, 42-25%.  According to the Suffolk results, Rep. Kennedy opens with a 35-26% lead over Sen. Markey with the other candidates way below the double-digit mark.

If Markey and Kennedy were to square-off by themselves, Suffolk projects Mr. Kennedy's lead would expand to 42-28%, this despite both men having strong favorability index ratios.   Mr. Kennedy has not committed to making the race but has said he is considering entering the contest.

New Hampshire:   Emerson College surveyed the Republican statewide electorate (9/6-9; 379 NH likely Republican primary voters) and found former Trump Campaign manager Corey Lewandowski jumping out to a large lead over his two Republican potential opponents.  Mr. Lewandowski has not committed to running, and it is unclear at this time whether he will enter the race.  Irrespective of his status, Emerson finds Lewandowski leading retired Army General Don Bolduc, and former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien, 23-9-7%.  At this point, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) appears secure for re-election.

Tennessee:  US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty, armed with President Trump's endorsement, officially announced his US Senate candidacy in hopes of succeeding retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R).  So far, most of the notable Republican players are yielding to Mr. Hagerty, though he does face physician Manny Sethi in the GOP primary.  The Democrats look to be coalescing behind Iraq War veteran James Mackler.  At this point, Mr. Hagerty is opening as a heavy favorite in the Republican primary and for the general election.

Texas:  State Sen. Pat Fallon (R-Prosper), who won his current position by defeating a veteran incumbent in the March 2018 Republican primary, has filed a US Senate exploratory committee.  He is working the conservative leader base to test whether he could become a formidable GOP opponent to Sen. John Cornyn.

Two separate polls tested the Democratic Senate primary where the eventual winner will battle Sen. Cornyn, and the results are similar.  Neither shows any candidate in position to win the nomination or avoid a secondary run-off election.  The University of Texas for the Texas Tribune news publication (8/29-9/8; 550 TX likely Democratic primary voters) finds no candidate even reaching mid-double digits.

Ragnar Research Partners also surveyed the Democratic electorate during a more recent period (9/3-5; 600 TX likely Democratic primary voters) and found a comparable split: retired Army helicopter pilot M.J. Hegar 12%, state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), non-profit exec Cristina Ramirez, and Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards all posting 10%, and former US Rep. Chris Bell trailing with 9% preference.


AL-2:  The first Alabama named politician has filed an open 2nd District congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission. Former state Attorney General Troy King (R) appears headed to join the race and will be rated as one of the favorites to capture the Republican nomination.  The GOP nomination process will basically be the election since AL-2 is a safely Republican seat. Five-term Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is retiring.

NC-3 & 9:  GOP nominees won both special congressional elections this week, as state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) and state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) each overcame their Democratic opposition.  Mr. Murphy, as expected, easily won the 3rd District seat, 62-37%, and will succeed the late Congressman Walter Jones, Jr. (R-Farmville).  He defeated former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas (D) in taking 16 of the district's 17 counties.

The 9th District was a battleground that saw more than $10 million expended by both sides. Sen. Bishop scored a hard fought 50.7 - 48.7% victory over Democratic businessman Dan McCready even though the Republican nominee was outspent.  In addition to spending over $5 million from his campaign committee for the special election, Mr. McCready had raised and spent over $6 million for the 2018 general election in a campaign that ended with a disputed result.  For his part, Sen. Bishop raised and spent just over $2 million but was aided by the majority of outside spending.

WI-5:  With veteran Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menominee Falls) not seeking a 22nd term next year, we can expect a crowded Republican primary to eventually form.  The seat is the safest for the GOP in the Badger State, so the primary contest will be hard fought.  Three people who won't be in the race, however, are former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch, 2018 US Senate nominee Leah Vukmir, and Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow who all announced this week that they will not run for Congress next year.   It is widely believed that Ms. Kleefisch is looking to challenge Governor Tony Evers (D) in 2022.

Other discussion centers around the Fitzgerald brothers. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) is the state Senate Majority Leader.  His brother is former state House Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald.  A crowded field is still expected to form, possibly including former Gov. Scott Walker's son, Matt Walker, and several state legislators coming forth to run.

WI-7:  With Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) scheduled to resign on September 23rd, jockeying to replace him continues.  For the Republicans, whose special election nominee will have the inside track to winning the seat, state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) is working to become a consensus congressional candidate.  Other legislators have not yet jumped into the race, and yesterday former Gov. Scott Walker publicly endorsed Sen. Tiffany.


Louisiana:  Baton Rouge-based pollster Bernie Pinsonat of the Southern Media and Opinion Research firm just released his new survey of the Louisiana electorate (9/3-6; 500 "chronic" voters) and the results suggest that Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is on the cusp of winning outright in the October 12th jungle primary.

According to the Pinsonat data, Gov. Edwards commands 47% support as compared to US Rep. Ralph Abraham's (R-Alto/Monroe) 24%, with developer Eddie Rispone pulling 16%.  The key for the challengers is forcing a November 16th secondary election.  If no one receives majority support in the jungle primary, the top two finishers advance to a run-off. It is clear that Edwards will finish first in the primary.  The question is will he go over the top or be forced into what could become, for him, a dangerous secondary election.

Missouri:  Just a few days after drawing a Republican primary challenge from term-limited state Rep. Jim Neely (R-Cameron), who says he doesn't necessarily disagree with the incumbent on any key issue, Gov. Mike Parson (R) officially kicked-off his nomination campaign for a full term.  Mr. Parson, elected Lt. Governor in the 2016 election, ascended to the Governorship when then-incumbent Eric Greitens (R) was forced to resign due to a sex scandal.

Democrats are coalescing around state Auditor Nicole Galloway, who, at this point in the cycle, appears to have an unencumbered path to her party's nomination.  Gov. Parson is favored to win a full term in November of 2020.

September 6, 2019
Four House Retirements Highlight the Week
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • MA-Sen: Poll shows Rep. Kennedy crushing Sen. Markey in primary
  • Four House Retirements: Rep. Susan Davis (D-CA 53), Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL 15), Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX 17) & Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI-5)
  • KS-2: State Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R) to challenge Rep. Watkins (R)
  • NC-3 & 9: Sept 10 special election polling
  • WV-Gov: Sen. Manchin (D) will not challenge Gov. Justice (R)


Colorado:  Former state Sen. Mike Johnston, who was the leading money raiser in the crowded Senate Democratic race with $3.4 million raised and $2.6 million in the bank, has suspended his campaign.  Mr. Johnston, a former gubernatorial candidate, indicated he is simply "not willing to run the kind of negative race needed" to defeat ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper for the Democratic Party nomination.

Georgia:  Freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta), who upset GOP Rep.  Karen Handel in the 2018 general election, is reportedly considering entering the Senate special election that will be conducted somewhat concurrently with the 2020 election cycle.  The calendar will be announced once Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) resigns at the end of this year, though we already know that the special will be in the form of a jungle primary scheduled concurrently with the regular general election date of November 3, 2020.  If no candidate receives a majority, the top two primary finishers will run-off in a January 5, 2021 statewide election.

Kansas:  Western Kansas Congressman Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) has scheduled a formal announcement for this Saturday at the Kansas State Fair.  It is presumed that Mr. Marshall will make his long-awaited declaration of candidacy for the state's open US Senate seat.  The Congressman had been raising money for such a race throughout the cycle but held back on making the move when it was thought that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might return to the state in order to run.

Rep. Marshall will enter the Republican primary against former Secretary of State and gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach, state Senate President Susan Wagle, and Kansas Turnpike Authority chairman and former Kansas City Chiefs NFL football player Dave Lindstrom.

Massachusetts:  The Change Research polling organization tested Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) in a hypothetical primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey (D), and the incumbent starts out well behind.  According to Change (8/23-25; 1,088 MA registered voters; 808 Democratic primary voters; online), Rep. Kennedy would lead Sen. Markey 42-25% if the September 15, 2020 Democratic primary were today.  Mr. Kennedy has now admitted to considering the race and has filed a Senate committee with the Federal Election Commission. With such a long primary season, the candidate filing deadline isn't until May 5th, so much time remains for all potential contenders to make decisions.

Freshman Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Boston), who denied then-Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville) re-nomination in the 2018 Democratic primary, also hasn't ruled out entering next year's Senate race.  When asked whether she would become a candidate, Rep. Pressley was non-committal, but cryptically said, "I just follow the work. Wherever the work takes me, that's where I go."


CA-53:  Ten-term Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego) is one of three more House members to announce this week that they will not seek re-election next year.  The open seat count, including the two North Carolina seats that will be filled in special elections next week, now grows to 21, but Rep. Davis is only the fourth Democrat heading to the exits.

The Congresswoman's district is fully contained within San Diego County, covering part of the city of San Diego, and the La Mesa, El Cajon, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, and Bonita communities.  The region is now Democratic as evidenced by President Trump managing to receive only 30% of the vote here in 2016.  Rep. Davis has averaged 64.1% in the four elections under the district's current configuration.

IL-15:  Twelve-term Illinois Congressman John Shimkus (R-Collinsville) also announced that he will not seek re-election next year.  The veteran Representative said he is making his decision public now because candidates will begin circulating nominating petitions next week. The 15th District covers southeastern Illinois and is a safe Republican seat. President Trump carried the district, 71-24%, a stronger performance than Mitt Romney's 63-43% margin. Mr. Shimkus was re-elected with 71% of the vote last November.

KS-2:  Late this week, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R), who was the first to announce his US Senate candidacy when the seat opened, switched races.  Mr. LaTurner will now challenge freshman Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Topeka) in the Republican primary.  Many leading Republicans, including former Gov. Jeff Colyer, urged LaTurner to make the move.  Resignation rumors surrounding Mr. Watkins had begun to surface, but the Congressman put such talk to bed last week.

MN-7:  House Agriculture chairman Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) could well face the most accomplished opponent since he originally came to the House after the 1990 election.  Right after the holiday weekend, former Lt. Governor and state Senate President Michelle Fischbach (R) announced that she will challenge the veteran Congressman in the most pro-Trump district in the country that sends a Democrat to Washington.  Mr. Trump carried this seat 62-31% in 2016.  Mr. Peterson, against weak opposition, has failed to exceed 52.5% in his last two election campaigns.

NC-3:  A just-released RRH Elections survey (8/26-28; 500 NC-3 likely special election voters) finds Republican state Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville) holding a 51-40% lead over his Democratic opponent, former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas, as the September 10th special election quickly approaches.  The seat is heavily Republican, so Mr. Murphy is the clear favorite and could easily exceed this polling margin.

NC-9:  Harper Polling released their poll (8/26-28; 551 NC-9 registered voters) for the upcoming September 10th special election congressional campaign in south-central North Carolina.  According to the Harper results, Democrat Dan McCready would lead Republican state Sen. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte), 46-42% on the first ballot test.  When leaners are prodded for a response, the totals increase to 49-44%.  This polling sample contained 56% female respondents suggesting a slight Democratic skew.

RRH Elections then publicized their 9th District survey results that suggest a different conclusion.  The RRH study (8/26-28; 500 NC-9 likely special election voters) finds Sen. Bishop holding a slight 46-45% lead over Mr. McCready, and the margin extends to 48-41% among those who say they have already cast their ballot under the state's early voting system. Clearly, this special election campaign appears headed to a photo finish.

TX-7:  The Congressional Leadership Fund yesterday released their mid-August survey (TargetPoint Consulting; 8/10-11; 336 TX-7 registered voters) that shows Iraq War veteran and mortgage industry executive Wesley Hunt (R) taking a slight lead over freshman Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (R-Houston), 45-43%. Mr. Hunt already has the national Republican leadership's support and raised over $500,000 through the June 30th reporting period.  The poll also revealed Rep. Fletcher recording only a 31:30% favorability index.

TX-17:  Another Texas Congressman has decided not to seek re-election next year, making the fifth from the state to announce his retirement.  Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan) was first elected in 2010 and has had little trouble winning re-election in his four subsequent terms.  The Bryan-College Station anchored district stretches into northern Travis County and then all the way to Waco.  It is a strongly Republican seat (Trump '16: 56-39%; Romney '12: 60-38%), so we can expect a hard-fought GOP primary likely followed by a run-off election featuring the top two finishers.

WI-5:  Veteran Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls), who was first elected to represent the west Milwaukee suburban area in 1978, announced yesterday that he will conclude what will be a 42-year career in the House at the end of this term.  The fact that this district will open for the first time in two generations certainly changes the area's political situation, but Republicans will be favored to hold the seat.  President Trump carried the CD with a 57-37% margin and will likely do so again next year.


Missouri:  State Representative and physician Jim Neely (R-Cameron), serving in his last legislative session under the state's term-limit law, announced that he will challenge Gov. Mike Parson in next year's Republican primary.  Gov. Parson, who ascended to the office from his position as Lt. Governor when elected Gov. Eric Greitens (R) resigned, will be running for his first elected term.  He is the early favorite both in the Republican primary and general election. State Auditor Nicole Galloway is the lone announced Democrat and well on her way to becoming a consensus candidate for the party nomination.

West Virginia:  A MetroNews Dominion Post West Virginia Poll (Research America; 8/14-22; 501 WV registered voters) finds Sen. Joe Manchin (D) leading Gov. Jim Justice (R), 49-39%. In the Republican primary, Gov. Justice holds a 53-19-12% advantage over former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and ex-state Delegate Mike Folk.

Sen. Manchin had been traveling his state during the congressional recess testing the waters as to whether he should challenge Gov. Justice.  Though he was leading in the aforementioned poll and presumably in private surveys, Sen. Manchin announced that he will not run for Governor choosing instead to continue his career in federal office.  The Senator was just re-elected in November, meaning he does not again come before the voters until 2024.

In the last gubernatorial campaign, Mr. Manchin made a similar maneuver, indicating he might run but then chose to remain.  Joe Manchin was Governor from January of 2005 to November of 2010 when he resigned to enter the Senate after winning a special election to replace the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D).

Washington:  Washington state Republican leaders were trying to convince retired US Representative and former King County Sheriff Dave Reichert to return to the political wars and challenge Gov. Jay Inslee (D) next year.  Late this week, Mr. Reichert released a statement saying he has decided not to run and is confident the GOP will field a strong candidate to oppose Gov. Inslee.  At this point, the Governor is favored to win a third term now that he is concentrating on state office after withdrawing from the presidential campaign.

August 30, 2019
Resignations Announced in Senate and House 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Pres Campaign:  Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Rep. Seth Moulton out
  • GA-Sen: Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) to resign  
  • MA-Sen: Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D) considers Senate race
  • CA-21: Ex-Rep. David Valadao (R) returns for re-match
  • WI-7: Rep. Sean Duffy (R) to resign


Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:  Officially failing to qualify for the September 12th presidential debate, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has ended her presidential quest.  She joins Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), Gov. Jay Inslee (WA), and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) in withdrawing from the presidential campaign.  The race effectively has 12 remaining active candidates.

Rep. Seth Moulton:  US Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), who failed to qualify for any of the national debates and never made a ripple in the presidential campaign, also withdrew from the presidential race.  It is believed that he will now return to seek re-election to his northeastern Massachusetts congressional district.  If so, he will likely face three credible Democratic primary challengers including Salem City Councilwoman Lisa Peterson.  But, with the Massachusetts congressional primary not until September 15th of next year, Rep. Moulton has plenty of time to recover from his failed presidential effort.

Maine:  As the Maine special legislative session was ending this week, the state Senate passed a bill and sent to Gov. Janet Mills (D) a measure that would add the Ranked Choice Voting system to the presidential primary ballot.  Maine, like several other states, is moving from a caucus system to a primary and will join 13 other places in voting on Super Tuesday, March 3rd.  Ranked Choice Voting is a system that allows voters to rank their candidate choices, and certain individuals will have their multiple votes counted if the first-place finisher only receives a plurality of the vote.  The system's purpose is to guarantee that a candidate will exceed 50%.

Two Polls:  The new Quinnipiac University poll (8/21-26; 1,422 US registered voters; 648 self-identified Democratic and Democrat-leaning Independent primary voters) and the latest Suffolk University survey (8/20-25; 424 likely US Democratic primary voters) find very similar results, and to former Vice President Joe Biden's benefit.  The Q-Poll sees Biden with a 32-19-15-7-5% advantage over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  Suffolk sees the same order, with just slightly different numbers, 32-14-12-6-6%.

HarrisX Poll:  During the past few weeks Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) seemed to be locking into a second-place position but the latest polls are reflecting a different result.  The HarrisX research firm released their latest survey (8/20-23; 1,343 US registered Democratic voters), which provides more support for a new trend.  That is, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) eclipsing Ms. Warren for the second position behind former Vice President Joe Biden.  Their latest data finds Biden recording 28% preference followed by Sanders' 17%, and Warren's 12 percent.  All others are in single digits.

New Jersey Poll:  Change Research conducted one of the few Democratic presidential polls of the New Jersey electorate (8/16-20; 635 NJ likely Democratic primary voters) and finds a tight three-way race for the top spot.  Former Vice President Joe Biden places first with 28%, followed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 23% and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at 21%.  In fourth position, posting 12%, is South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.  Home state Sen. Cory Booker could only manage 5% support for his presidential effort.  New Jersey has 126 first ballot delegates.  The state primary is one of the latest on the schedule, June 2, 2020.

September 12th Debate:  The final two polls that help determine debate qualification were released, those from Quinnipiac and Suffolk universities, and the two candidates on the cusp, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and billionaire Tom Steyer, failed to reach 2% support in the required number of surveys.  Had they done so on at least one of these last two surveys during the qualifying period, they would have been admitted.  But each could only muster 1% preference.

Therefore, the next debate will feature ten candidates and occurs over just one night, not two as has been previously the case.  The qualifiers are the obvious top tier candidates: Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg.  Joining them are Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), and New York City businessman Andrew Yang.


Arizona:  Skincare company CEO Daniel McCarthy (R) earlier this week announced that he will challenge appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) for the Republican nomination in next year's August 4th Arizona primary.  Mr. McCarthy, a Trump campaign activist, is planning to attack McSally from the right.  It is presumed he has the ability to self-fund.

Colorado:  Clearly part of the enticement package for former Gov. John Hickenlooper to enter the US Senate race was getting national party support despite being in a field with 13 other Democratic candidates.  Late last week, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee officially endorsed Mr. Hickenlooper, just two days after he officially entered the Senate race. Obviously, the party leaders are "all-in" with Hickenlooper, and it is likely we will see a highly competitive Hickenlooper-Sen. Cory Gardner (R) general election campaign.  The nine Democratic female candidates in the race, however, objected and sent a joint letter to Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) asking that the DSCC endorsement be rescinded.

Georgia:  Veteran Republican Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) announced on Wednesday that his deteriorating health condition is forcing him to resign his seat at the end of the year.  Sen. Isakson said his Parkinson's Disease is progressing, and this and further health complications precludes him from handling his job in an effective manner.  His official resignation is scheduled for December 31, 2019.

The development means that Gov. Brian Kemp (R) will appoint a replacement Senator for a year.  A special election will be held to fill the balance of the current term, which ends at the beginning of 2023.  The special primary will be in a jungle format - that is, where all candidates are placed on the same ballot - for a vote on November 3, 2020, concurrent with the regular general election.  If no candidate receives majority support the top two finishers, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to a January 5, 2021 special run-off election.

Massachusetts:  Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) for the first time publicly admitted to considering challenging Sen. Ed Markey in next year's Democratic primary.  In a written message, Rep. Kennedy continues to say he has not yet made a decision, but also wrote that, "...I'm not sure this is a moment for waiting.  Our system has been letting down a lot of people for a long time, and we can't fix it if we don't challenge it."  The Massachusetts primary is not until September 15, 2020, so this campaign has a long cycle.


CA-8:  Speculation is surfacing that four-term California Rep. Paul Cook (R-Yucca Valley) may eschew running for re-election to the House next year in order to seek an open seat on the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.  Should the Congressman not seek re-election, the 8th District would be heavily contested in the March 3rd jungle primary.  In two of the last four elections, the jungle vote produced two Republicans advancing to the general election. Thus, the 8th is the second-safest seat in the state for the GOP.  It stretches along California's eastern border from San Bernardino County all the way through the Death Valley National Park, and even to the El Dorado National Forest on the outskirts of South Lake Tahoe.

CA-21:  Former Congressman David Valadao (R), who lost his Central Valley California congressional seat to now-freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) by 862 votes of more than 113,000 ballots cast in a final count that came weeks after the election drew to a close, announced that he will return for a re-match next year.  The new California ballot harvesting law was largely responsible for changing the outcome since Valadao had originally been projected as the winner.  Ballot harvesting allows individuals to collect ballots from voters and return them to the county authorities in batches.  The rural 21st District is typically a Democratic CD, but Mr. Valadao successfully held the office for three terms after serving a two-year stint in the state Assembly. This contest will be a top GOP target next year.

CA-50:  Former 49th District Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) has formed an exploratory committee to assess his chances in adjacent District 50.  The current incumbent, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) is scheduled for trial early next year on campaign finance charges.  The race has already attracted five Republican challengers for the jungle primary including a Mayor, former Mayor, city councilman, a retired Navy SEAL and 53rd District candidate, and a radio talk show host who has run for both Mayor of San Diego and the 52nd CD, along with the 2018 Democratic candidate and two Independents.  Because the trial has now been postponed to after the December 6th candidate filing deadline, Rep. Hunter may well file for re-election.

IN-5:  Former state Rep. Steve Braun, the brother of freshman US Senator Mike Braun (R-IN), lost a 2018 congressional Republican primary in the open 4th District to now-Congressman Jim Baird (R-Greencastle).   Now, Mr. Braun has announced that he is returning to campaign in another district as he declared his candidacy for the open 5th District, from which Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring.  Mr. Braun becomes the first named candidate to enter the CD-5 Republican primary.  Democrats will likely coalesce behind former state Representative and Lt. Governor nominee Christina Hale.

WI-7:  Five-term Wisconsin Congressman Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) announced this week that he will be leaving office effective September 23rd.  Mr. Duffy, originally elected in 2010 to the seat that former House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey was retiring from after 41 years in the House, is leaving because an expectant child has already been diagnosed with serious health challenges.

Gov. Tony Evers (D) will call a special election for the seat once the resignation takes place.  It is likely that the special will coincide with the state's Spring Election, a primary and general vote where judges and local officials are elected.   The Spring primary is February 18, with the general election scheduled concurrently with the Wisconsin presidential primary on April 7th.   The Duffy resignation means there are now 17 open US House seats.


Kentucky:  A new Garin Hart Yang Research Group internal survey for the Andy Beshear for Governor campaign shows incumbent Matt Bevin (R) falling behind Democratic Attorney General Beshear.  According to the poll (8/19-22; 501 KY likely voters) Beshear has jumped out to 48-39% lead over Gov. Bevin for the November 2019 election.

Louisiana:  A just-released mid-August Market Research Insight survey (8/13-16; 600 LA likely 2019 jungle primary voters) finds Gov. John Bel Edwards performing well enough in the prelude to the October 12th jungle primary election that he may be re-elected outright. According to the results, Gov. Edwards would score a 52-25-19% victory over US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R).  For Gov. Edwards, his numbers in the three-way race are better than if he's forced into a run-off. Against Rep. Abraham, his lead would dip to 53-47%.  If Mr. Rispone advanced opposite the Governor, the Edwards' margin would be 55-45%.

Mississippi:  Lt. Governor Tate Reeves scored a 54-46% victory in Tuesday's Mississippi Republican gubernatorial run-off election, meaning that he will oppose four-term Attorney General Jim Hood (D) in the November election.  The winner will succeed term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant (R) as the state's Governor.

Just after Tuesday's vote, Hillman Analytics released their mid-August general election survey (8/11-15; 600 MS likely 2019 general election voters).  The results gave Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood a 43-42% edge over Mr. Reeves.  It will be interesting to see how the run-off result will affect subsequent polling.  The general election is scheduled for November 3rd.

August 23, 2019
Democratic Presidential Candidate Slate Continues to Evolve
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Campaign:  Gov. Jay Inslee (D) out
  • AZ-Sen: Sen. Martha McSally (R) drops behind challenger and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) 
  • CO-Sen: Ex-Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in Senate race
  • MN-Sen:  Former Rep. Jason Lewis (R) announces for Senate
  • NC-Sen: Sen. Thom Tillis' (R) tepid GOP primary lead over businessman Garland Tucker 
  • FL-26: Firefighters Union President Omar Blanco announces for GOP
  • OR-4: Anti-terrorist hero Alec Skarlatos (R) announces for Congress


Gov. Jay Inslee:  Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced late this week on The Rachel Maddow Show that he is withdrawing from the presidential race, saying that he understands he will not become the Democratic nominee.  Mr. Inslee is the third candidate to leave the presidential race. He then quickly announced plans to seek a third term as Governor.

Debates:  The upcoming September 12-13 Democratic presidential debate from Houston now has ten qualifiers.  Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro is the latest to earn a podium.  The others are former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sens. Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, and ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke, in addition to Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren along with businessman Andrew Yang.  Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and billionaire Tom Steyer each have secured the necessary 130,000 donors, but still need to score 2% on at least one more designated poll in order to be included.  The qualification deadline is August 28th.

Elector Ruling:  A 10th Circuit Appellate three-judge panel overturned a federal district court ruling that allows states to mandate Electoral College members vote for the candidate who carried the state they represent.  Michael Baca, a 2016 Colorado Elector who said he would not vote for Hillary Clinton despite the candidate winning his state because of a national elector strategy designed to deny Donald Trump the Presidency, was removed from his position before the Electoral College convened.  He subsequently filed a lawsuit against the state arguing that his constitutional rights were violated.  The Appellate Court ruling agreeing with Baca could have a wide-ranging effect and we could see the US Supreme Court petitioned to make a declarative ruling.

YouGov/Economist:  International online pollster YouGov, again surveying for The Economist magazine, returned with another test for the Democratic presidential contest.  As in other polls, the YouGov study (8/17-20; 559 US likely Democratic primary voters), finds the top three finishers to be former Vice President Joe Biden (22%), Sens. Bernie Sanders (19%) and Elizabeth Warren (17%).  These results project Sanders slipping past Warren into second while most of the other surveys see the order reversed.

Colorado:  A new Emerson College poll (8/16-19; 403 likely CO Democratic primary voters) finds Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) topping the Democratic presidential field in the Centennial State.  While Sen. Sanders leads, it is by the smallest of margins, just one point over former Vice President Joe Biden.  The ballot test finds a 26-25-20-13% split among Sanders, Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), respectively.  South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg trails substantially, polling only at 5% just one point over New York City businessman Andrew Yang.

Nevada:  Gravis Marketing just surveyed the important Nevada Caucus prospective electorate (8/14-16; 382 likely NV Democratic caucus participants from a survey universe of 926 registered voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden developing a comfortable lead but with a low support level.  The results find Mr. Biden commanding 25% preference followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 15%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 10%, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) close behind him with 9 percent.  The Nevada Caucus is third on the election calendar and will likely prove to be a more important nominating event than it has in previous elections.


Alabama:  State Rep. John Rogers (D-Birmingham) has ended his Democratic primary challenge to US Sen. Doug Jones saying he does not have the resources to compete with the incumbent.  The primary challenge was never viewed as particularly serious, but now it will not even be an irritant.  Sen. Jones will face a very difficult general re-election, however, against the eventual Republican nominee in a state that will be one of President Trump's strongest domains.

Arizona:  Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights conducted their semi-regular survey of the Arizona electorate (8/13-14; 600 AZ likely general election voters) and again finds a close contest between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) but, this time, the lead has changed.  The OH data finds Mr. Kelly leading Sen. McSally for the first time, 46-41%, in what promises to be one of the most competitive Senate elections in the 2020 cycle.

Colorado:  The long process for former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper to end his presidential campaign and convert into a Senate candidacy has been completed.  Yesterday, Mr. Hickenlooper, despite earlier saying the Senate would not suit him, declared his candidacy. He has 13 Democratic opponents, but some of those may withdraw.  The eventual nominee faces vulnerable Republican Sen. Cory Gardner.  Early polling gives Hickenlooper a large lead, but Gardner is arguably the Republicans' best Senate campaigner.

Minnesota:  Former one-term Congressman Jason Lewis (R) announced yesterday, as expected, that he will challenge Sen. Tina Smith (D) next year.  Mr. Lewis was originally elected to the House in 2016, defeating businesswoman Angie Craig.  In the 2018 election, Ms. Craig returned for a re-match and unseated the freshman incumbent.  Instead of attempting to regain his 2nd District Congressional seat, the former radio talk show host has now entered the statewide campaign.  Sen. Smith was appointed to replace Al Franken when he resigned due to a sexual harassment scandal.  She was then elected in a special election last November to fill the balance of the current term on a 53-42% vote over state Senator Karin Housley (R).

North Carolina:  Public Policy Polling tested the North Carolina Senate Republican primary (8/19-20; 564 NC likely Republican primary voters) and found incumbent Sen. Thom Tillis leading businessman Garland Tucker by an unimpressive margin.  The survey results found Mr. Tillis leading only 38-31% in a state that has a penchant for defeating its US Senators. Since the 1974 election, only Senators Jesse Helms (R) and Richard Burr (R) have successfully been re-elected.  Democrats are coalescing around former state Sen. Cal Cunningham as their prospective nominee.  The North Carolina primary is scheduled for March 3, 2020.


AZ-1:  Sophomore Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Sedona) already has a Democratic primary opponent to his left, former Flagstaff City Councilwoman Eva Putzova, and now it appears he has one to his right.  Former state Senator Barbara Maguire, who also served in the Arizona House of Representatives and is a self-described "conservative Democrat," announced that she will run for Congress next year and attempt to deny Mr. O'Halleran re-nomination in the August 4th Democratic primary.  She now says that Mr. O'Halleran has moved too far right.

Last week, former three-time World Series champion pitcher Curt Schilling indicated that he was considering running in an Arizona congressional district.  This week, Mr. Schilling, who pitched for the Arizona Diamondbacks and attended high school and college in the state, said if he does run it will be against Rep. O'Halleran in this expansive district that encompasses almost all of eastern Arizona.

CA-45:  Congressional candidate Greg Raths, a retired Marine Corps officer and member of the Mission Viejo City Council, the 45th District's second largest municipality, released his recent internal Fabrizio Lee Associates poll (8/15-18; 300 CA-45 likely jungle primary voters).  The data shows Mr. Raths as the strongest Republican, but not to the point of being out of reach for any of the others.  Freshman Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) easily captures first place for the jungle primary with 46%, followed by Mr. Raths with 10%.  Three other candidates all finish with either 3 or 2% support.  We can expect this race to be a major congressional contest in the fall of 2020.

OR-4:  Alec Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guardsman who helped stop a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015 and later played himself in a Clint Eastwood directed movie depicting the event, has announced a bid for Congress.  This won't be Mr. Skarlatos’ first political run, however.  Last year, he ran for Douglas County Commissioner, and while placing second in a field of eight candidates for the non-partisan position, still came just under 1,300 votes of winning.  Mr. Skarlatos will be running in the Republican primary to eventually challenge House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield/Eugene) who has held the politically marginal district since the beginning of 1987.

FL-26: Miami-Dade Firefighters local union president Omar Blanco has filed a 2020 congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, the prelude to him announcing his candidacy. Should he win the 26th District Republican nomination, he will face freshman Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-Miami) in a seat the Democrats converted away from Republican hands in 2018. The presence of a Hispanic Republican union president as the GOP nominee will make this race one to watch.

NM-2:  Reports say New Mexico Oil & Gas Association chair Claire Chase (R) is scheduled to announce her candidacy against freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) in the state's southern congressional district.  Assuming Ms. Chase wins the Republican nomination, it is highly likely that we will see a race based upon the Green New Deal and its promise to eliminate the fossil fuels industry within twelve years.  Southeastern New Mexico is rich in oil and gas, thus placing the energy issue as the focal point of this impending campaign.

PA-8:  Saying, "I think more people are interested in me running than I am," ex-Rep. Lou Barletta, who was the Republican US Senate nominee in 2018, indicates he is not planning to challenge Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in the district that adjoins his previous CD.  Republicans are looking for a strong candidate to challenge Rep. Cartwright because he sits in a seat that went strongly for President Trump in 2016.  Early this year, 2018 nominee John Chrin, who lost to Cartwright 55-45%, filed a 2020 cycle FEC committee but has since declined to run.  Mr. Barletta says he will make a final decision after Labor Day.

TX-22:  Mega-GOP and conservative cause donor Kathaleen Wall announced her congressional candidacy for the open 22nd District yesterday.  In the last cycle she ran in the open 2nd District and lost to now-Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) by just 155 votes as she failed to qualify for the run-off that the latter man eventually won.  We can expect both a tight primary and general election in this seat from which four-term Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) is retiring.

Also in the GOP race is County Court judge Greg Hill, a former Pearland City Councilman. Expected to join is Ft. Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls.  For the Democrats, the leading contender is 2018 nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni, who held Mr. Olson to a 51-46% re-election victory last November.

UT-4:  In what will be a Top Five Republican target race nationally, state Sen. Dan Hemmert (R-Orem) this week announced his congressional candidacy.  If successful in the GOP primary, he will face freshman Rep. Ben McAdams (D-Salt Lake City), the former Mayor of Salt Lake County.  Also in the race is former radio talk show host and software gaming developer Jay Mcfarland and ex-Utah Republican Party Communications Director Kathleen Anderson. Former Rep. Mia Love (R), who has not ruled out running again, previously said she would not seek a re-match with Rep. McAdams if Sen. Hemmert would seek the position.

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

August 9, 2019
Another Retirement in Texas
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

July 26, 2019
Two House Retirements Announced
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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