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.


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

Key Takeaways:

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

President

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor

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

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

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


July 12, 2019
Senate Races Heat Up
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

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

President

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

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

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor

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


July 5, 2019
Campaign Announcement Fireworks
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

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

President

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor

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

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

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


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

Key Takeaways:

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

President

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

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

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

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

Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

House

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

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

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

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

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

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

Governor

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

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


June 21, 2019
Political Musical Chairs
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Polls: FL; MN; US - Elizabeth Warren gaining
  • AL-Sen: Ex-Judge Roy Moore (R) declares                                            
  • GA-Sen: Lt. Gov. Nominee Sarah Amico (D) to run
  • WY-Sen: Ex-Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) makes move
  • CA-21: Ex-Rep. David Valadao (R) may return
  • IN-5: Rep. Susan Brooks (R) to retire
  • MT-AL: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) to run for Governor

President

National Polls:  Both Suffolk and Monmouth Universities conducted national Democratic presidential primary polls, and largely came to the same conclusions, though with some differences.  Suffolk (6/11-15; 1,000 US registered voters) finds former Vice President Joe Biden posting 30% support, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) following with half that number, 15 percent.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is next with 10%, followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9%, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) registering 6% preference.

But, Monmouth U (6/12-17; 301 US self-identified Democratic voters) sees a slightly different order.  They, too, project Mr. Biden first with a similar 32%, but Sen. Warren slips into second place with 15%, just ahead of Sen. Sanders' 14%.  Sen. Harris picks up 8%, and Mayor Buttigieg pulls 5% support.  The Monmouth poll is likely less reliable since their national sample (301 respondents) is so small.

Florida Poll:  The new Quinnipiac University national poll (6/6-10; 1,214 US registered voters; 503 likely Democratic primary voters) returns a poll that delivers particularly negative numbers for President Trump.  The survey shows all major Democratic candidates leading the President in isolated ballot test questions, with anywhere from 13 (Joe Biden) to five (Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker) point margins.  It also projects Independents breaking away from Mr. Trump in the Biden pairing by a whopping 58-28% margin.  These results are more extreme than any other poll recently seen, however.

Minnesota Poll:  Detecting a surge for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in several states and national presidential polling, she now has captured an outright lead in at least one state. Change Research polled the Minnesota Democratic electorate (6/8-12; 772 MN likely Democratic primary voters) in anticipation of the state's presidential primary scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 3rd, and finds her atop the large field.  According to the Change data, Sen. Warren is projected to hold a slight 21-20-19-16-11% edge over former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), home state Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, respectively.  Minnesota carries 75 first ballot delegates to the Democratic National Convention, ranking it as the 17th largest voting entity.

Senate

Alabama:  Former state Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore returned to elective politics yesterday in announcing his second bid for the US Senate.  We will remember that Judge Moore lost the special Senate election to current incumbent Doug Jones (D) in late 2017.  For the 2020 election cycle, Judge Moore's chances are poor.  While he may have enough support to slip into a run-off, in a one-on-one contest he will likely not have enough political strength to upend either Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, or Secretary of State John Merrill.

Georgia:  Sarah Briggs Amico, who was the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor last November and lost 48-52%, is indicating that she will soon enter the 2020 Senate primary.  In that contest she will face former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, and likely several others. The eventual party nominee faces an uphill campaign against first-term Sen. David Perdue (R). In late April 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams said that she would not run for Senate.

North Carolina: After declaring for Lt. Governor at the end of last year, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D) yesterday announced that he is switching into the US Senate race and hopes to challenge Sen. Thom Tillis (R).  Mr. Cunningham served one two-year term in the state Senate, lost the 2010 US Senate Democratic primary, and completed Army JAG Corps tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Already in the Democratic primary are state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston), former state Sen. Eric Mansfield, and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller. Sen. Tillis draws opposition from wealthy retired venture capitalist Garland Tucker in the Republican primary. North Carolina Senate campaigns are always highly competitive, and this one will be no exception.

Tennessee:  Earlier this week, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke (D) said he will not pursue the Democratic nomination in next year's August Senate primary election.  Meanwhile, Republicans are still awaiting former Gov. Bill Haslam's decision about whether he will again become a statewide candidate.  After postponing publicizing his decision for now a third time, Mr. Haslam promises a candidate decision "within two or three weeks."

Wyoming:  Regardless of what at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) might do regarding retiring Sen. Mike Enzi's (R) Senate seat, it appears that former US Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) is moving forward.  This week, the ex-Congresswoman took the step of changing the name of the federal campaign committee she still has from her days in the House.  Instead of "Lummis for Congress," her campaign committee is now called, "Lummis for Wyoming."

House

CA-21:  The Daily Kos Elections site is reporting that sources close to former Congressman David Valadao say the defeated Representative is seriously considering mounting a comeback campaign in 2020.  Freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) unseated Mr. Valadao by 862 votes in California's closest congressional race.  A turnout of only 113,616 voters made the 21st the lowest turnout district in the entire state.   It is abundantly clear that the Republicans' only serious chance of making this race competitive in 2020 is to again field Mr. Valadao.

IN-5:  Four-term GOP Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) announced on Friday that she will not seek re-election in 2020, saying she wants to devote the next part of her life to interests outside of elective politics.  Her decision means the open seat count grows to ten, including the two North Carolina seats that will be decided in special elections on September 10th.  The 5th District is reliably Republican but could become competitive in an open seat situation in a strong Democratic year.

MI-3:  It's unclear whether Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) will run for re-election after calling for President Trump's impeachment, but several individuals in both parties have already declared their candidacies against him.  We already know that state Rep. James Lower (R-Greenville) and local official and Iraq War veteran Tom Norton are challenging Mr. Amash in the Republican primary.  Yesterday, attorney Nick Colvin declared for the Democratic nomination joining two other Democrats in a district that is quickly becoming a hotbed of political activity.  Speculation continues to grow that Rep. Amash may jettison the House to run for the Libertarian presidential nomination.

MT-AL:  With at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) now officially running for Governor, it didn't take long for the Montana political musical chairs to start moving.  Early in the week, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton confirmed that he will exit the open Governor's race and enter the newly open Republican primary for the at-large US House seat.  Additionally, state Auditor Matt Rosendale, who lost the US Senate race to incumbent Jon Tester (D) in November, says he will also again become a congressional candidate.

Democrats already have two congressional candidates, each announcing against Mr. Gianforte.  Former state Representative and 2018 congressional nominee Kathleen Williams and state Rep. Tom Winter (D-Missoula) launched their respective campaigns weeks ago.

TX-32: Former Florida Congressman Allen West (R) is about to re-enter politics, but in Texas and not the Sunshine State.  Yesterday, the former House member said he will decide in the next couple of weeks whether he will seek the Republican nomination in the 32nd Congressional District and possibly oppose former Rep. Pete Sessions, the incumbent that freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) unseated in November.  Or, Mr. West claims he might challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R).  And, weighing still another political option, the former Congressman and retired military officer says he may instead decide to run for Texas Republican Party chairman.

Governor

North Carolina:  Two Republican-based polls find very different results from their data testing GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Forest versus first-term Gov. Roy Cooper (D).  The conservative Civitas Institute contracted with Harper Polling to gauge Gov. Cooper's strength.  Their poll (6/8-10; 500 NC likely voters) found the incumbent holding a ten-point lead over Mr. Forest, 47-37%. But, Spry Strategies, polling for the North Carolina Republican Party (conducted in May but released 6/18; 730 NC registered voters) draws the opposite conclusion.  They find Lt. Gov. Forest capturing a 44-40% lead even though the Governor's job approval rating is a whopping 60:38% positive to negative.

At the end of the week, Public Policy Polling entered the picture with their data (6/17-18; 610 NC registered voters) posting Gov. Cooper to a 45-41% advantage.  But this PPP survey could be skewed a bit in Cooper's favor.  The poll overstates the Democratic sample by 6.1% as compared to the actual state count.  They boost the Republican total by three percentage points but downgrade the Unaffiliateds by more than eight points.  Considering this skew, the ballot test numbers could be much closer.


June 14, 2019
Presidential Race Tightening
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential Polls: CA; IA; MA; NV; TX; US - race tightening
  • AL-Sen: Coach Tommy Tuberville releases Senate poll showing him with slight lead in GOP primary
  • NC-Sen: Rep. Mark Walker (R) won't challenge Sen. Tillis
  • MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash (R) trailing primary opponent badly in new poll
  • TX-28: Rep. Henry Cuellar draws Dem primary opponent
  • UT-Gov: Jon Huntsman (R) may return from diplomatic post as Ambassador to Russia to run for Governor again

President

California Poll:  The University of California at Berkeley and the Los Angeles Times conducted a survey of the California Democratic electorate (6/4-10; 2,131 CA likely Democratic primary voters from a pool of 4,435 registered voters) and found a surprisingly tight contest.  Former Vice President Joe Biden placed first with 22%, while a surging Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows closely behind with 18%.  Sen. Bernie Sanders had 16%, and home state Sen. Kamala Harris was next with 13%.  California, with its 416 first ballot delegates spread at-large and over 53 congressional districts, is clearly the top prize on the nomination circuit.

Iowa Poll:  Selzer & Company released their latest Iowa poll (6/2-5; 600 IA likely Caucus attenders from a universe of 3,776 active registered voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 24-16-15-14% with California Sen. Kamala Harris dropping well behind at 7% support.  In this poll, Mr. Biden's support level has dropped below a quarter of the vote, and the combined Sanders-Warren-Buttigieg total of 45% is close to a 2:1 ratio over the top individual percentage.

Nevada Poll:  In what is becoming a familiar pattern across the country, former Vice President Joe Biden now leads the Nevada Caucus according to a new Monmouth University survey (6/6-11; 370 NV likely Democratic Caucus attenders).  Monmouth projects Mr. Biden placing first with 36% over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who has surged to 19% as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who had trouble in Nevada back in 2016, drops to 13 percent.  All other candidates are in single digits led by Mayor Pete Buttigieg with 7% and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) with 6%.  If Sen. Harris is going to become a factor before the important California primary on March 3rd, Nevada is one place where she will need to finish strongly.

Quinnipiac Poll:  The new Quinnipiac University national poll (6/6-10; 1,214 US registered voters; 503 likely Democratic primary voters) returns a poll that delivers particularly negative numbers for President Trump.  The survey shows all major Democratic candidates leading the President in isolated ballot test questions, with anywhere from 13 (Joe Biden) to five (Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker) point margins.  It also projects Independents breaking away from Mr. Trump in the Biden pairing by a whopping 58-28% margin.  These results are more extreme than any other poll recently seen, however.

Suffolk U Poll:  Boston-based Suffolk University just completed their new survey of the Massachusetts electorate (6/5-9; 370 likely MA Democratic primary voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden, somewhat surprisingly, holding a very comfortable lead over home state Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D).  According to Suffolk, Mr. Biden holds a 22-10% lead over Sen. Warren, with Mayor Pete Buttigieg following with 8%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) dropping to 6% preference, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) holding at just 5% support.  All others are at 1% or less.  The major surprise is not that Mr. Biden is leading, but that Sen. Warren, in her own state, can muster no more than 10% support.

Texas Poll:  On the heels of Quinnipiac University's survey last week (5/29-6/4; 1,159 TX registered voters) that found former Vice President Joe Biden leading Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) 30-16-15%, Change Research, from their latest Texas survey, has a different take.  Their poll (5/30-6/3; 1,218 TX likely voters) significantly contrasts the Quinnipiac findings.  According to Change, it is Mr. O'Rourke, the Texas favorite son, with the advantage: 27-24-13-12% over Mr. Biden, Sen. Sanders, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), respectively.

Senate

Alabama:  Former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville made public his Moore Information survey (6/10-11; 650 AL likely Republican primary voters) and it reveals, somewhat surprisingly, that the first-time candidate is jumping out to a slight lead.   Moore Info reports that Mr. Tuberville posts 23% preference, five points ahead of former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, while Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) trails at 16 percent. Secretary of State John Merrill, a potential candidate, recorded 7% support, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County) was last at 2 percent.

Maine:  After a series of turndowns from Democrats who the party leadership was attempting to recruit into the 2020 Senate race to oppose Republican incumbent Susan Collins (R), two individuals appear to be surfacing.  State House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) is indicating she will announce her candidacy when the Maine legislative session ends at the end of next week.  Activist lobbyist Betsy Sweet, who finished fourth in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary, is also expected to soon become a Senatorial candidate.

North Carolina:  While thanking President Trump for his encouragement, Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) announced yesterday that he will not challenge Sen. Thom Tillis in next year's Tar Heel State Republican primary, and instead announced his re-election campaign for a fourth term in the House.  Sen. Tillis still has GOP opposition, however.  Wealthy business owner Garland Tucker is an announced candidate and expected to run a competitive campaign.

West Virginia: First-term Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) now sees her first Democratic opponent come forward.  Yesterday, Paula Jean Swearengin, who bills herself as a "Coal Country environmentalist" announced that she will enter the Democratic Senatorial primary. Ms. Swearengin ran before, last year in a primary challenge to Sen. Joe Manchin.  She fared poorly, attracting only 30% of the vote and raising slightly more than $200,000.  Sen. Capito should have an easy re-election run if Ms. Swearengin becomes the Democratic nominee.

House

CA-15:  Recently, state Sen. Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) announced that he would run for Congress directly after incumbent Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/Hayward) declared for President.  Late last week, however, Sen. Wieckowski did an about-face and pulled out of the congressional race on the heels of Rep. Swalwell making comments conceding that it is conceivable he will return to the House race before the California candidate filing deadline on December 6th.  Remaining in the Democratic primary with a possible Rep. Swalwell return is Hayward City Councilwoman Aisha Wahab, insurance agent and frequent candidate Peter Liu, and Democratic activist Sam Campbell.

GA-7:  State Rep. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), lead sponsor of the Georgia's heart beat pro-life legislation, announced that she will enter the open Republican primary in the 7th Congressional District.  Sen. Unterman is the eighth Republican to announce, but the first elected official.  She is vying to replace retiring Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville).  The 2018 race ended in only a 419-vote victory for Rep. Woodall, as he defeated former state Senate Budget Committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D).  She is running again but has already drawn four Democratic primary opponents including state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Gwinnett) and former Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves.

MI-3: The Michigan Information & Research Service published a new congressional poll from the Practical Political Consultants firm (6/5-9; 335 MI-3 likely Republican primary voters) testing Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) after his call for President Trump to be impeached.  The results find the Congressman now trailing badly, which will likely enhance calls for him to run for the Libertarian presidential nomination.  According to this latest data, state Rep. James Lower (R-Greenville), an announced congressional candidate, would lead Mr. Amash by a whopping 49-33% among the likely primary voters.

NY-10:  More activity appears to be brewing in Manhattan's 10th Congressional District.  In addition to former Andrew Cuomo economic advisor Lindsey Boylan entering the Democratic primary against Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), now we see ex-Hillary Clinton campaign digital aide Peter Daou coming forward to say he is considering a challenge to the 14-term Congressman.   

TX-28:  Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo), originally elected in 2004 and who has won with super majorities ever since, was rated early in the year as the leftward Justice Democrats organization's top target.  The group claims Mr. Cuellar votes with President Trump more than any other Democrat in the House.  Now, they have a candidate. Jessica Cisneros, an immigration attorney and former intern to Mr. Cuellar, yesterday announced her candidacy and indicates she will run an ideological primary campaign against the eight-term congressional veteran.

Governor

Montana:  At-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) is expected to announce his candidacy for Governor at the Montana State Republican Party convention this weekend.  Mr. Gianforte lost the 2016 Governor's race to incumbent Steve Bullock (D), 50-46%, but then turned around and won the at-large special election to replace Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) when the latter man became Interior Secretary in the Trump Administration. Attorney General Tim Fox and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton are both already in the Republican gubernatorial primary.

Up until this week, no Democrat had yet announced.  Now, state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D-Great Falls) is an official candidate as is former state Rep. Reilly Neill (D-Livingston).  Incumbent Governor Steve Bullock (D), an announced presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term.

Utah:  Jon Huntsman (R) served as Utah Governor from 2005-2009, leaving to become US Ambassador to China in the Obama Administration.  He then became a Republican presidential candidate in 2012.  Currently, Mr. Huntsman serves in the Trump Administration as US Ambassador to Russia, and before his election as Governor was US Ambassador to Singapore in the George W. Bush Administration.  Now, there is mounting evidence that he will soon resign his current diplomatic post and again seek the Governorship of his home state.

A Huntsman entry would drastically change the Republican primary.  In the race is Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, whom retiring Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has already endorsed, and state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) said he plans to announce his own campaign sometime during the summer.  Retiring US Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Brigham City) also confirmed this week that he is contemplating entering the open 2020 Governor's race and will decide by September.  The Utah state primary is scheduled for June 23, 2020, with a candidate filing deadline of March 19.  Therefore, much time remains for this race to develop.


June 7, 2019
Former Candidates Prepare to Run Again in 2020
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Presidential: Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) out
  • Presidential Polls: NC; TX - Biden Doing Well
  • IA-Sen: Democrats endorse real estate executive Theresa Greenfield in primary
  • MI-Sen: 2018 Senate nominee John James (R) to run again
  • NY-12: Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) attracts more primary foes
  • TX-32: A former Congressmen GOP primary battle between Pete Sessions and Alan West?
  • LA-Gov: Poll shows Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in tough race
  • MT-Gov: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) looking to announce
  • UT-Gov: Ex-Speaker Greg Hughes (R) in; Josh Romney out

President

Gov. Larry Hogan:  Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who didn't appear to be overtly squelching political rumors that he was considering challenging President Trump, has finally put an end to the speculation.  To the surprise of very few, Gov. Hogan confirmed that he will not be running for President in 2020.  Whether his slight foray into presidential waters is a prelude to a potential 2024 national campaign, however, remains an unanswered question.

Emerson College NC Poll:  Emerson College conducted a survey in the critical primary state of North Carolina, which will be among the entities voting in the March 3rd Super Tuesday primary.  According to the Emerson data (5/31-6/2; 397 NC likely Democratic primary voters), former Vice President Joe Biden leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 39-22%, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) improving to place third with 15%. South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) trail with 8 and 5%, respectively.  North Carolina has 110 first ballot delegates for the Democratic National Convention, making it the 9th largest delegation.

Texas Poll:  Quinnipiac University went into the field in the Lone Star State (5/29-6/4; 1,159 TX registered voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading the Democratic primary field with 30% preference.  Following are ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) with 16 and 15%, respectively.  Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the only other candidate who breaks into double-digits at 11 percent.  When paired with President Trump all results are close, but Mr. Biden is the only Democrat who places ahead, at 48-44%.

Senate

Iowa:  Real Estate executive Theresa Greenfield (D), who was planning to run in the 3rd Congressional District last year until her nominating petitions contained falsified signatures causing her to withdraw, announced early in the week that she will return to the political wars and run for the US Senate.  Ms. Greenfield is the first person to come forward in this race with wherewithal to raise sufficient funding to conduct a statewide campaign.  Later, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee's leadership announced that they are already endorsing Ms. Greenfield over attorney Kimberly Graham and insurance broker and former congressional candidate Eddie Mauro.  The winner of next year's June 2nd primary will then face first-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R) in the November general election.

Massachusetts:  Business executive Steve Pemberton late this week announced his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey.  Mr. Pemberton was abandoned as a child and raised in foster families.  He then was able to graduate from college, wrote a best-selling book about his experiences that later became the subject of a movie, and succeeded in the private sector.  Sen. Markey is certainly favored for re-nomination and re-election, but Mr. Pemberton will likely make an interesting candidate.

Michigan:  The Republican leadership had been attempting to recruit 2018 US Senate nominee John James to again run for the Senate, this time against first-term incumbent Gary Peters (D).  Last November, Mr. James, a manufacturing company owner and retired US Army Ranger, held Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) to a 52-46% victory, much closer than experts had predicted.  Additionally, Mr. James raised over $12 million for his race, an impressive number since he received very little outside support. Yesterday, Mr. James announced that he will return for the 2020 Senate race, and he will likely be the Republicans' top challenger.

Tennessee:  Though Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) announced that he would not seek re-election back in December, no Republican had yet come forward to announce his or her candidacy. That has now changed. Dr. Manny Sethi, a surgeon who co-authored medical books with former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN), announced his candidacy yesterday.

Former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) had frozen the GOP field.  He is reported to be still contemplating running, and now says he will make a decision sometime in the next few weeks.  Originally, the ex-Governor, who left office in January after being ineligible to seek a third term, said he would decide in April.  Attorney James Mackler is the lone Democrat in the race.  Once the Republican field solidifies, the party's eventual nominee will become the favorite to hold the seat.

House

CA-22:  Financial advisor and failed Fresno City Council candidate Phil Arballo announced his congressional candidacy to oppose Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and moves forward with a public endorsement from Andrew Janz, the 2018 Democratic nominee who raised over $8 million for his race and held the Congressman to a 53-47% victory.  Currently, Mr. Janz appears to be the leading candidate to become Fresno's Mayor in the open seat contest later this year.  Also in the Democratic race are Healthcare executive Bobby Bliatout and accountant Dari Rezvani.

GA-6:  Former Rep. Karen Handel continues to draw Republican opposition. State Sen. Brandon Beach (R) was in the race before Handel, two Navy veterans, Ken Brown and Nicole Rodden, have previously declared, and now construction company owner Marjorie Taylor Greene said this week that she, too, will become a congressional candidate.  The eventual winner will face freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta), who unseated Ms. Handel in November.  At this point it appears that the former Congresswoman is favored for the nomination, but her competition is formidable and the outcome, at this point, could be in doubt.

MN-7:  Without any fanfare, western Minnesota Congressman and House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) filed a new FEC campaign committee for the 2020 election cycle, though he has yet to confirm that he will seek an 11th term.  The signs, however, point to him attempting to continue his long congressional tenure.  In the past few cycles, the Congressman was coy about whether he would run again all the way to the candidate filing deadline, so his actions this year are consistent with past behavior.

NJ-5:  Montvale Mayor Mike Ghassali (R) declared yesterday that he will enter the Republican primary in hopes of challenging two-term Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff).  Though the GOP field is becoming crowded, Mr. Gottheimer is one of the better prepared Democratic incumbents and a prolific fundraiser. Regardless of the district's partisan nature (Trump '16: 49-48%), Rep. Gottheimer will be favored for re-election.

NY-12:  In 2016, Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) was one of several New York House members to repel what turned out to be a serious nomination challenge.  This week, attorney and MeToo organization activist Erica Vladimer (D) announced that she will challenge Rep. Maloney joining comedy show producer Lauren Ashcraft as official candidates. 2018 challenger Suraj Patel is another potential candidate. So is former White House aide Dawn Smalls.  In any event, Rep. Maloney is favored for re-nomination, but she will have to wage an active campaign.

TX-32:  Former Congressman Pete Sessions represented the Dallas area for 22 years until freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) defeated him last November.  Now, Mr. Sessions is testing the waters to run again.  But he may not be alone in the Republican primary if he does run.  Stories are surfacing that former Florida Congressman Allen West will soon announce his own candidacy for this Texas seat.  Mr. West moved to Dallas after losing his Florida seat to head the National Center for Public Analysis, which has since gone out of existence.  Thus, it is possible we could well see a Republican primary between two staunch conservative ex-Congressmen.

WA-6:  Another Democratic House member is likely to face a political primary from his ideological left.  In the latter part of the week, Bainbridge City Councilman Matthew Tirman (D) filed an exploratory committee to determine if he can raise adequate funding to challenge Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor).  Mr. Kilmer was first elected in 2012 from the Tacoma anchored seat, replacing 18-term Congressman Norm Dicks (D), who retired. Rep. Kilmer has yet to face a serious re-election challenge and it is yet undetermined if Mr. Tirman can mount the type of effort needed to deny the Congressman re-nomination.

Governor

Indiana:  Yesterday, state Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) announced that he is forming a gubernatorial exploratory committee to test his viability against first-term incumbent Governor Eric Holcomb (R).  At this point, Sen. Melton is the first Democrat to come forward to take any official action.  Two-time nominee John Gregg is mentioned as a possible candidate as is former Evansville Mayor Jonathan Weinzapfel, but neither of them look to be making any discernible move toward entering the race.

Louisiana:  The Remington Research Group released the findings of their Louisiana Governor's poll taken immediately after Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) signed the controversial heartbeat abortion bill.  The poll (6/1-2; 1,471 LA registered voters through interactive voice response system) found that the abortion issue has yet to take hold because the numbers did not precipitously change from the organization's previous poll conducted in March.  In the current survey, Gov. Edwards would lead the 2019 jungle primary, 43-34-8%, over Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), respectively.

When the two Republicans are isolated against Edwards, the Governor's numbers drop slightly against Abraham but improve when opposing Rispone.  Paired against Rep. Abraham, the two would tie at 45% apiece.  Opposite Mr. Rispone, Gov. Edwards would lead 49-38%. In March, Gov. Edwards led 47-45% over Abraham and 48-42% against Rispone.

Montana:  Possibly as early as today, at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) is expected to announce his 2020 gubernatorial candidacy.  Mr. Gianforte held Gov. Steve Bullock (D) to a 50-46% victory in 2016, and the latter man, an official presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term. Rep. Gianforte already has formidable Republican opponents.  Attorney General Tim Fox and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton are both in the race, and with two congressional victories of under 51%, Gianforte's nomination is no sure thing.  His gubernatorial declaration will make MT-AL the ninth open House seat for the coming election cycle.

Utah:  During the week, former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R) announced that he will not enter the open 2020 Utah Governor's race as many had speculated he would.  Mr. Chaffetz indicated his media and public speaking career has blossomed so he will be taking a pass on the Governor's race.  Former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) then said that he will announce his gubernatorial candidacy later in the year.  Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election and has already endorsed the most prominent announced candidate, Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R).   Additionally, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) commented on the upcoming Governor's race by indicating that his son, Josh Romney, would not enter the race.  The Utah state primary is scheduled for June 23, 2020.


May 31, 2019
Primary Challenges Continue to Emerge
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • AL-Sen:  Judge Roy Moore (R) may run
  • NC-Sen:  Poll shows serious primary challenge developing
  • MA-4:  Rep. Joe Kennedy III draws Dem primary challenge
  • NC-9:  Dan Bishop (R) up in special election poll
  • Redistricting: SCOTUS stays MI and OH rulings
  • MS-Gov:  Legal challenge to election system

President

Morning Consult National Poll:  Former Vice President Joe Biden again leads a new national Morning Consult large sample poll (5/20-26; 16,368 US registered Democratic voters) but remains well under the 50% support he will need to clinch a first ballot win at next year's national convention in Milwaukee.  The MC numbers find Mr. Biden holding a 38-20% advantage over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while all others hover in single-digits.  Topping the second tier, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) captures 9% and South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg and California Senator Kamala Harris both record 7% support.

Senate

Alabama:  For weeks speculation has been rampant that former state Supreme Court Chief Justice and 2017 failed US Senate candidate Roy Moore is contemplating another run next year. Mr. Moore now confirms that he is considering again becoming a statewide federal candidate and says he will make a decision in the next few weeks.  Already in the race are US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville, state Auditor Jim Zeigler, and state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs).

Maine:  Maine US Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/ Portland) says she "doubts" that she or her daughter, former state House Speaker Hannah Pingree (D), will challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R) next year.  In addition to Rep. Pingree's comments, neither woman appears to be constructing a statewide campaign nor raising money to support such an operation.  The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had hoped to recruit either Pingree into the 2020 race.

The DSCC leadership also made overtures to freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston).  With the Congressman declaring for re-election last week, it appears none of the party's top three choices will enter the race.  At this point, Sen. Collins appears in strong position for re-election.

North Carolina:  The Club for Growth organization is making it clear they would like to see Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) challenge North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis in next year's Republican primary.  The Club sponsored a new WPA Intelligence poll (5/19-21; 502 NC likely Republican primary voters) that finds Sen. Tillis below majority support in a GOP primary, but well over the minimum 30% threshold needed to win the party nomination.

According to WPA, Sen. Tillis would lead Rep. Walker and wealthy businessman Garland Tucker, who announced his Senate campaign earlier this month, 40-17-11%.  When push questions are added, Walker's standing greatly increases to the point where he leads the primary field.

South Carolina:  Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jamie Harrison, who formed a US Senate exploratory committee in February, announced late this week that he will become a full-fledged candidate against Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Lindsey Graham (R).  The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee then quickly endorsed Mr. Harrison.  Any real threat to Sen. Graham, however, comes in the Republican primary, but he appears secure for re-election.

Texas:  Former one-term Houston Congressman Chris Bell (D) announced that he is forming a US Senate exploratory committee.  If he decides to run, Mr. Bell will oppose retired Army helicopter pilot and 2018 congressional candidate M.J. Hegar for the Democratic nomination. The winner opposes three-term Sen. John Cornyn (R) in the general election.

House

CO-3:  Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush (D), who challenged Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez/Western Slope) announced yesterday that she will run again next year.  While Ms. Bush lost 52-44% to Mr. Tipton, she did manage to outspend him $1.9 million to $1.7 million. Rep. Tipton is presumed to become a candidate for a sixth term in 2020.  He will be favored for re-election in a district that President Trump carried, 52-40%.

GA-6:  The idea that ex-US Rep. Karen Handel (R), a former Secretary of State and Georgia gubernatorial candidate, would get a free ride for a re-match nomination against Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) is now an official pipe dream.  After state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) declared his candidacy even before Ms. Handel decided to run, we now see a Navy and Merchant Marine veteran coming forth.  This week, Nicole Rodden, who will be a first-time candidate, made public her intention to run.

IA-2:  Things are looking positive for former state Senator and Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart to become a consensus Democratic candidate in the battle to replace retiring Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City).  Yesterday, Rep. Loebsack publicly endorsed Ms. Hart as his successor.  At this point, Ms. Hart is the only announced Democratic candidate. Republicans are expected to field several significant contenders but, so far, only Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley is an announced candidate.  The 2nd performs as a reliable Democratic district, but President Trump carried the seat 49-45% in 2016.  Therefore, as an open contest, this race could become competitive.

ME-2: Former state Sen. Eric Brakey (R), who challenged Sen. Angus King (I) last year and lost 53-35%, is expressing interest in opposing freshman Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) in 2020.  He also plans to meet with former Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R), who has not yet decided whether he will run again.   Mr. Brakey indicated that he did not envision a scenario where he and Mr. Poliquin would oppose each other for the Republican nomination.

MA-4:  Massachusetts Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) is drawing a primary challenge from his political left.  Former Wall Street regulator Ihssane Leckey announced at the beginning of the holiday weekend that she would run against the four-term legacy Congressman and criticized his remark that we should be striving for "moral capitalism."  Ms. Lecky is running as a Democratic Socialist. It is unlikely that she will be able to deny Rep. Kennedy re-nomination, but the contest may be worth watching.

NC-9:  The new data coming from JMC Analytics (5/21-24; 350 NC-9 registered voters) reminds us that the south-central North Carolina congressional district is still Republican in nature.  Despite Democrat Dan McCready raising huge sums of money (over $2 million cumulative within the pre-primary disclosure report filing period), new Republican nominee Dan Bishop, a Charlotte state Senator, has taken an early 46-42% lead in the first published poll for the September 10th special general election.

The 9th District has been vacant all year.  The 2018 results were held in suspension due to vote fraud irregularities.  Therefore, the individual placing first in that election, Republican Mark Harris who is not running again, was not certified as the official winner thus forcing a new election cycle.  Expect this race to become a major battle as the summer progresses.

TX-24:  Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/Carrollton) now has three opponents.  Yesterday, 2018 Democratic nominee Jan McDowell, who didn't even spend $100,000 on her campaign, confirmed that she will run again.  So will 2018 Agriculture Commissioner candidate Kim Olson, a retired Air Force Colonel who ran well statewide, 51-45%, in a losing effort.  Also in the Democratic primary is Carrollton-Farmers Branch School Board Trustee Candace Valenzuela.  Therefore, in what has traditionally been a quiet political district, we can expect to see serious competition in both the Democratic primary and general election next year.  In 2018, Rep. Marchant's victory margin dropped to 51-48%.

Redistricting:  At the end of last week, the US Supreme Court, in a rare 9-0 vote, granted the Republicans' motion to stay redistricting orders in Michigan and Ohio that would have forced the legislature to re-draw the respective states' congressional maps before the 2020 election. The move could be a prelude to three important high court rulings scheduled for release at some point in June: those on the Maryland and North Carolina redistricting cases, and the constitutionality of including a citizenship question on the upcoming census questionnaire.

Governor

Mississippi:  Yesterday, four African American voters, with the backing of former US Attorney General Eric Holder's National Democratic Redistricting Committee, filed suit to challenge the long-held Mississippi electoral practice of requiring statewide candidates not only to win a majority of votes, but also carry a majority of state House districts. If the top vote-getter fails to win a majority of votes or House districts, the election is deferred to the state House to resolve the outcome.

The Mississippi statewide election system has been in effect since 1890.  No first-place candidate in the statewide vote has ever been denied their office when the final vote was sent to the state House.  The Mississippi statewide elections will be held later this year.

Montana:  Reports from a local Montana news service are indicating that Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) will soon announce his gubernatorial candidacy.  Mr. Gianforte was the Republican nominee for Governor in 2016, losing to incumbent Gov. Steve Bullock (D), 50-46%.  He since won a special US House election in 2017, and re-election to a full term in 2018. Already in the open race are Attorney General Tim Fox (R) and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton (R).

Rep. Gianforte's House election percentages were both rather tepid: 50-44% in the special election, and 51-46% in the 2018 regular election, which may not bode well for him in a contested Republican primary. By contrast, President Trump racked up a 56-36% victory here in 2016, and Sen. Steve Daines (R) won his first term in 2014 with a 58-40% margin. Gov. Bullock, now an official presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term.

New York:  Three-term New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is wasting no time declaring his next political move.  This week, the Governor said he will run for a fourth term in 2022.  If successful, Mr. Cuomo will achieve a political mark that alluded his father.  Republican George Pataki defeated then-Gov. Mario Cuomo (D) when the latter man ran for his fourth term in 1994.


 



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