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.

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Key Takeaways:

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


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

March 1, 2019
In or Out?  Candidate Announcements Continue 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) in; former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) to be announcing decision soon
  • IA-Sen: Ex-Gov. Tom Vilsack (D) says no to Senate race   
  • NC-3: special election scheduled - partisan primaries April 30, special general election or run-off if needed (if no candidate receives 30% of the vote), July 9 with September 10 special general election date if run-off occurs
  • PA-12: GOP nominating convention Saturday to replace resigned Rep. Tom Marino
  • IN-Gov: Ex-Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) says no to Gov race


Gov. Jay Inslee:  Reports coming from Washington State indicate that Gov. Jay Inslee (D), who formed a presidential exploratory committee in early January, will formally announce his campaign today.  Gov. Inslee, by all accounts, is a minor presidential candidate who is unlikely to change the course of the race.  He plans to make climate change his cornerstone issue, but it remains to be seen if he can catch fire to the point of catapulting into serious contention for the nomination.

New Hampshire Poll:  Emerson College conducted a survey of New Hampshire Democratic voters just after neighboring Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) announced his presidential campaign.  According to Emerson (2/21-22; 405 NH Democratic registered voters), Sen. Sanders has taken the lead over former Vice President Joe Biden, the first time any other Democratic candidate has led in a primary poll.

The results post Sen. Sanders to a 27-25% edge over Mr. Biden, with California Sen. Kamala Harris trailing at 12%. In another instance where Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren fails to reach double-digits, she scores just 9% in this neighboring state poll.  Also, soon after announcing, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) jumped to 8%, followed by ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), both tallying 5 percent.

Beto O'Rourke: The Dallas Morning News ran a story this week saying that former Rep. Beto O'Rourke has decided not to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) and will instead soon announce his presidential campaign.  O'Rourke told the news reporter that he and his wife will have a "decision about how we can best serve our country" and "are excited to share it with everyone soon."


Iowa:  Former Iowa Governor and ex-US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) indicated last weekend that he will not challenge US Sen. Joni Ernst (R) next year.  Mr. Vilsack served two terms as Iowa's Governor before going to Washington to serve in President Obama's cabinet for the entire tenure of his Administration.  During her husband's time in Washington, Mr. Vilsack's wife, Christie Vilsack, unsuccessfully challenged Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron/Sioux City) in 2012, losing 53-45%.

With the former Governor disqualifying himself, it now appears that freshman Rep. Cindy Axne (D-West Des Moines) becomes a recruitment objective for party leaders.  Ms. Axne upset Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter) in November and is now a familiar figure in the state's largest media market.  There is no word as to whether the Congresswoman is considering making a statewide move.  Staying in the House will also lead to a competitive campaign, however, as Republicans plan to heavily target her 3rd District.

Kansas:  Now that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has again said he will not enter the 2020 open seat Kansas Senate race, movement is beginning to occur.  Before the Pompeo statement, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R) had already declared his candidacy.  Previously, Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) indicated that he would likely be moving toward the Senate race now that Mr. Pompeo is out.  Yesterday, Attorney General Derek Smith (R) confirmed reports that he, too, is considering becoming a Senate candidate.  State Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita) is also indicating that she will enter the statewide contest.

New Hampshire:  The aforementioned Emerson College poll (see New Hampshire Poll above) featured a ballot test question between Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) and Gov. Chris Sununu (R). According to their large-sample poll (2/21-22; 910 NH registered voters), the two candidates would tie at 44% support.

Former state House Speaker Bill O'Brien, coming from the right faction of the New Hampshire Republican Party, confirms he is considering challenging Sen. Shaheen next year.  The Senator has already announced that she will seek a third term.  New Hampshire is a swing state, and one where the electorate moves wildly between elections.  Therefore, any credible challenge to Sen. Shaheen must be viewed seriously.


AL-1:  Because Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) has announced his US Senate campaign, the open 1st District is expected to draw a great deal of competition, particularly among Republicans.  Yesterday, the first GOP candidate stepped up and announced his candidacy. Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl (R) says he will enter the open Republican primary, which should open the door for others to soon follow suit.

IA-4:  Despite being publicly attacked for what many claim are white supremacist comments and being stripped of his committee assignments as a result, Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron/Sioux City) says he will run for re-election next year.  He was originally elected to the western Iowa seat in 2002 and has held the seat largely without major controversy until now.  Already, state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull), former Irwin Mayor Bret Richards, and Woodbury County Supervisor Jeremy Taylor are announced Republican candidates.

Under Iowa election law, if no candidate receives 35% in a primary election, a district convention is then convened to choose a nominee.  If a crowded field ultimately takes shape, Rep. King might have a chance of winning re-nomination with a plurality vote, or possibly prevailing in a convention. In 2018, Rep. King, as the current controversy was taking form, defeated Democrat JD Scholten, 50-46%.

NJ-11:  Morris County Sheriff James Gannon, who Republican leaders hoped would challenge freshman Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), says he will not run for Congress next year.  Ms. Sherrill was impressive in her 2018 campaign, putting to bed early what had been a reliable Republican seat.  Her political strength suggests that she will not be a top tier GOP conversion target in 2020, at least in the early going.

NC-3:  Gov. Roy Cooper (D) set the schedule to fill the 3rd District seat left open by the recent death of Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville).  The candidate filing deadline will be March 8th, with the partisan primaries scheduled for April 30th.  If no candidate in any party receives 30% of the vote, a secondary runoff election will be held July 9th.  Should all parties nominate on April 30th, the special general then would occupy the July 9th date.  If a runoff is necessary, the special general won't be held until September 10th.

Seven Republicans have already announced their candidacies.  Among them are three sitting state legislators: Reps. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), Phil Shepard (R-Jacksonville), and Michael Speciale (R-New Bern).  The candidate group also includes 2016 and '18 GOP candidate Phil Law, who performed better than most experts projected in both of his primary elections against Rep. Jones, gubernatorial aide Jeff Moore, NC Republican Party Vice Chair Michele Nix, and accountant Sandy Smith. No major Democrat has yet declared his or her intention to run.

NC-9:  Republican Mark Harris, who finished first in the November election but was denied certification due to election fraud allegations that continue to be investigated, announced that he will not compete in the newly ordered special election.  This will allow the Republicans to choose a new nominee with a better ability to compete.

Mr. Harris' tarnished reputation during the post-election period in addition to his suffering recent health problems, led to the decision of not pursing the congressional seat in the special election.  Mr. Harris endorsed Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing as part of his announcement.  The NC Board of Elections is expected to schedule the election calendar on Monday.

PA-12:  Central Pennsylvania Republican delegates will meet tomorrow in a special district convention to nominate a candidate to run in the May 21st special election to replace resigned Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport).  A total of 24 individuals have petitioned the state Republican Party to become candidates.  State Reps. Jeff Wheeland and Fred Keller appear to be the leading candidates.  The winner faces Democrat Marc Friedenburg in the special general election.  The GOP nominee will begin the campaign as a heavy favorite.


Indiana:  Speculation has been swirling that defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) might decide to challenge Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) next year.  It appears Mr. Donnelly has now put such talk to bed.  The ex-Senator and Representative told a Howey Political Report representative that he is fortunate to be teaching at Notre Dame University and is concentrating on "getting my snow blower going these days."

Mississippi:  State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), a two-time former US Senate candidate, said publicly that he will not be filing as a candidate for Governor today.  The open gubernatorial field appears set for Republicans with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves leading former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr., while the Democrats feature Attorney General Jim Hood who is a heavy favorite over Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith.

This should be a competitive race in the fall despite Mississippi's strong Republican voting history.  Gov. Phil Bryant (R), who has already endorsed Mr. Reeves as his successor, is ineligible to seek a third term. The Mississippi primary is scheduled for August 6th.

February 22, 2019
Special Election to be Scheduled in NC-9
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) announces presidential campaign; NH poll shows former VP Joe Biden and Sanders first and second in Democratic field of tested candidates
  • AL-Sen: Rep. Bradley Byrne (R) announces     
  • KS-Sen: US Sec of State Mike Pompeo (R) reiterates he will not run for Senate
  • GA-7: crowded Dem field in open 2020 seat   
  • NC-9: North Carolina Board of Elections calls for new election to be scheduled
  • MS-Gov: Gov. Phil Bryant (R) endorses Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) over GOP primary challenger, former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr.


Sen. Bernie Sanders:  Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) officially announced his presidential campaign via YouTube and email this week.

The Sanders entry means that eleven Democrats have either formally announced their campaigns or have filed a national exploratory committee.  Former Vice President Joe Biden remains the major outlier at this point.  He promises an announcement of his political plans sometime in March, and his decision, regardless of whether he decides to run, will have a major effect upon the overall campaign.

Howard Schultz:  Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz said during the week that he would likely abandon his Independent presidential ambitions if the Democrats were to nominate a candidate who he described as being more moderate such as former Vice President Joe Biden or ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

The Money Count:  Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I/D-VT) has already put himself atop the money list in his first day as an official 2020 presidential candidate.  It is being reported that the Sanders Campaign exceeded $6 million in campaign receipts in the 24 hours after the Vermont Senator officially entered the campaign.  This amount exceeded California Sen. Kamala Harris' $1.5 million for her first day, and is far better than Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D-MN) initial 24 hour $1 million and Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) $300,000.

New Hampshire Poll:  Amherst University, located in Manchester, NH, released a new survey for the state's 2020 first-in-the-nation primary (2/7-15; 337 NH Democratic likely primary voters) and found that former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders place first and second within the field of ten tested candidates.

According to the results, Mr. Biden holds a 28-20% lead over Sen. Sanders. In third place is California Sen. Kamala Harris with 14%, followed by another disappointing performance from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who posted only 9% support in a neighboring state.  Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX), Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro round out the field.  All of the latter group consecutively finished in mid-to-low single digits.


Alabama:  US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) announced his US Senate candidacy this week. Mr. Byrne had been expected to run for the Senate, but his prospects to win the Republican nomination might be in doubt.  The pro-economic prosperity organization Club for Growth conducted an Alabama statewide poll (2/10-12; 500 AL likely Republican primary voters) and found Mr. Byrne tied at 27% with fellow Rep. Gary Palmer (R-Hoover/Alabaster).  Mr. Palmer has not yet indicated whether he will run for the Senate.

The eventual Republican Senatorial nominee will face Alabama 2017 special election winner Doug Jones (D), who has already declared his intention to run for the full six-year term.  The Alabama seat will serve as the Republicans' top conversion opportunity target for the 2020 election cycle.

Arizona:  Late last week, we mentioned that OH Predictive Insights had just released an Arizona statewide survey (2/12-13; 600 AZ registered voters) giving appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) a 44-42% edge over just-announced Democratic candidate Mark Kelly.  The latter man is a retired astronaut whose wife is former US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson).  More results were released early this week.  When paired with Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix), who confirms he is seriously considering entering the race, Sen. McSally would lead him by a stronger 49-41% margin.

Kansas:  Despite US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying on several occasions that he would not be entering the open US Senate race in his home state of Kansas next year, speculation continued to grow that he would run.  Though candidate filing won't occur until June of 2020 for the August primary, meaning much time remains to reverse course, Mr. Pompeo again said yesterday that he is ruling out launching a Senate campaign.

The seat is open because veteran Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is not seeking re-election.  US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend/Western Kansas) has previously said that he would enter the Senate race if Mr. Pompeo decides not to run.

Texas:  The Public Policy Polling Company, surveying for a Dallas Democratic political consultant, finds former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) almost tying Sen. John Cornyn (R) in a February research study.  According to the poll (2/13-14; 734 TX registered voters), Sen. Cornyn would lead Mr. O'Rourke, 47-45%.  The former Congressman and 2018 US Senate nominee said this week that he would likely make a decision about running for President or against Sen. Cornyn by the end of this month, though he said that date is not firm.


AZ-6:  Dr. Hiral Tipirneni (D), who twice ran for Congress last year in the 8th CD - once in the special election to replace resigned Rep. Trent Franks (lost 52-48% to Debbie Lesko) and again in the regular election (lost 55-45% to Rep. Lesko) -- is potentially looking to run again, but in a different district.  According to the Daily Kos Elections website, Dr. Tipirneni is considering challenging Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/ Scottsdale) in the adjacent 6th District.

Though typically a strong Republican district, Rep. Schweikert is now under an Ethics Committee violation for possibly using his government resources to further his political campaign.  There is no firm indication this race will materialize, but Dr. Tipirneni did indicate that she "lives close to the 6th District."

CA-50:  El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, who attracted 12.9% of the vote to finish third in the 2018 jungle primary election against indicted Republican incumbent Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), this week announced the formation of a new 2020 federal fundraising committee.  With Rep. Hunter scheduled to face a federal trial in September on campaign finance charges, potential candidates are already swirling attempting to best position themselves if a special election occurs should he be found guilty.

In addition to Mayor Wells, Temecula Mayor Matt Rahn (R), retired Navy SEAL and former congressional candidate Larry Wilske (R), and 2018 Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) have already said they will run for the seat in the next election.

GA-7:Though 2018 Democratic congressional nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux came within 419 votes of unseating Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville), who has already announced he will not seek re-election next year, it appears that she will have to fight hard to win re-nomination.

Three state Representatives all confirm they are considering running in the 7th District, meaning a hotly contested primary will be forced with a likely succeeding run-off if they, and others, enter the race.  In addition to Ms. Bourdeaux, who confirms she will run again, state Reps. Sam Park (D-Lawrenceville), Pete Marin (D-Duluth), and Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross) are all confirming that they are potential candidates.

IL-14:Local Chicago suburban business owner and state Senator Jim Oberweis (R-North Aurora), who has lost four statewide and two congressional elections is making yet another electoral attempt, but his entrance into the 14th Congressional District race is already marred. Because, according to Sen. Oberweis, a staff member inadvertently checked the wrong box on the federal political committee form, the office for which he legally formed a committee was the US Senate; in other words, to challenge Sen. Dick Durbin (D).

The Oberweis campaign quickly reversed course after discovering the mistake and correctly filed FEC committee documentation to challenge freshman Rep. Lauren Underwood (D-Naperville).  Expect other Republican candidates to join the field.  The party leaders are wary of Mr. Oberweis' past losing record and desire another, fresher and presumably more electable 2020 nominee.

MN-7:  Retired Air Force officer Dave Hughes (R) has twice challenged veteran Minnesota Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) and, with little in the way of national fanfare, has recorded vote percentages of 47 and 48 in the last two consecutive elections.  This week, he announced that he will return for a third campaign next year.  Now, with Minnesota Rep. Tom Emmer (R-Delano) in charge of the National Republican Congressional Committee it is likely that MN-7, for the first time, will see some outside attention in this coming election cycle.

NC-9:  After three days of hearings before the North Carolina Board of Elections and ending with even Republican candidate Mark Harris calling for a new election, the five-member panel finally issued the order, a conclusion that has been apparent for weeks.  At the Board's next meeting, a special election schedule will be announced.

The 9th District result has been tied up for months following the November election over voter fraud allegations in one county and internal Board of Elections politics.  Because North Carolina has a three-tiered election process, meaning a secondary run-off election occurs if no party primary contender reaches at least 30% support, the timing could stretch well into June before the 9th CD finally has a Representative for this congressional session.

PA-12:  Pennsylvania Republicans will be holding a special congressional district convention this Saturday to choose a nominee to replace resigned Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) for the May 21st special election.  At least 24 Republican participants have filed with the committee for consideration as a candidate.  This is one of the few times a person can run for Congress with little in the way of preliminary expenditure, so seeing a large number of aspirants is not particularly surprising.

The convention winner will face the already-chosen Democratic nominee, college professor and 2018 congressional nominee Marc Friedenberg.  The Republican candidate will be considered the favorite in a reconfigured district that President Trump carried 66-30% in 2016.


Mississippi:  Responding to former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. entering the Republican primary to challenge Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, term-limited Mississippi chief executive Phil Bryant (R) came out early to take sides.

Late this week, Gov. Bryant formally endorsed Lt. Gov. Reeves for the party nomination. Despite Mississippi's strong Republican voting history since the turn of the century, Democrats will have an unusually strong nominee this year in the person of Attorney General Jim Hood, one of the most successful Democrats in the Deep South.  Mr. Hood has won four consecutive elections as the state's AG, over a period when any other Democratic regional victory has been quite scarce.

February 15, 2019
North Carolina and Pennsylvania to Hold Special Elections to Fill House Vacancies
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: CA Dem primary poll shows home state U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris tied with former VP Joe Biden, followed closely by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders      
  • AZ-Sen: Astronaut Mark Kelly (D) announces 
  • NC-3: Rep. Walter Jones (R) passes away; special election details pending
  • PA-12 Special: Democrats choose former congressional nominee and college professor Marc Friedenberg as nominee; GOP choose nominee at party convention on March 2          
  • KY-Gov: Dem primary poll finds AG Andy Beshear leading other Democratic Party rivals
  • MS-Gov: Ex-Justice Bill Waller Jr. enters GOP primary


Michael Bloomberg:  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a few days ago that he will decide within three weeks whether to enter the presidential campaign.  Most observers expect him to become a candidate.  If he does, the multi-billionaire is pledging to spend $500 million of his own money to advance his drive to win the Presidency.

California Poll:  The Change Research organization conducted a California Democratic presidential primary survey and found that home state Senator Kamala Harris is not dominating the field.  According to the just-released survey (2/9-11; 948 CA likely Democratic presidential primary voters), Sen. Harris can do no better than tie former Vice President Joe Biden for first place, at 26% apiece.  Closely following is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) at 20%. No other candidate reaches 10%.

If the former Vice President and Sen. Sanders decide not to run, it is then Sen. Harris who takes charge.  Without Mr. Biden in the field, the California first term Senator develops a commanding 53-23% lead over Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), with all the also-rans scoring no better than 7 percent.

Sens. Amy Klobuchar & Elizabeth Warren:  As expected, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar joined the Democratic presidential field last Sunday, announcing in the open air during a Minneapolis snow storm.  Meanwhile, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren officially converted her exploratory committee into a formal campaign entity.  We now have 11 Democrats who have either declared their candidacies or formed working exploratory committees.

National Poll:  The Morning Consult firm has released results of another of their presidential polls, this one conducted during the Feb 4-10 period.  The survey, of 11,627 likely Democratic primary voters or caucus attenders in addition to 517 Democratic voters in the four early states of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina, again project former Vice President Joe Biden as the leader for the party nomination.

According to the national results, Mr. Biden leads Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) by a 29-22-13% split, and a 33-21-11-10% division within the early states.  In the secondary poll, Sens. Sanders and Harris are again in second and third place with Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren placing fourth just behind Ms. Harris.  In both polls, the remainder of the field - 19 candidates or potential candidates in all were tested - finishes well below the 10% mark.

Reps. Tim Ryan & Seth Moulton:  Though we haven't heard much from these men about their own presidential prospective campaigns, it appears such a trend will quickly change.  Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Youngstown) says he is seriously considering entering the national race and made appearances in Iowa and New Hampshire during the week.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) now confirms that he is contemplating a presidential run.  Adding these two to the burgeoning Democratic presidential field, it is again possible that the total number of candidates could soar past twenty.


Arizona:  As expected, Democrat Mark Kelly, husband to former Arizona US Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Tucson) and part of the first twin brother team to ever fly in space, announced that he will enter the special Senate election to be held concurrently with this regular general election cycle.

After the announcement, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) reiterated through Twitter that he is still seriously considering mounting a campaign.  Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) is expected to run to fill the balance of the late Sen. John McCain's (R) final term in office.  On the heels of Mr. Kelly's formal announcement, OH Predictive Insights conducted a flash poll of the state's electorate (2/11-13; 600 AZ likely voters) and found Sen. McSally leading Mr. Kelly, 44-42%. Clearly a close November 2020 race is expected.

Additionally, former Arizona Attorney General Grant Woods, who served as a Republican but then later joined the Democratic Party, said that he will not enter the 2020 special Senate election campaign.

Colorado:  About this time two years ago, Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) held a major announcement event to declare his candidacy in the open Governor's race.  But his statewide campaign did not last long.  Soon, he was saying not only would he end his gubernatorial bid, but also his congressional career.  Changing his mind yet again before the candidate filing deadline, Rep. Perlmutter ultimately filed for, and won, re-election.

This week, the Congressman again stated that he is considering entering the Democratic primary for US Senate with the hope of challenging first-term incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Tennessee:  State Sen. Sara Kyle (D-Memphis), one of the Democrats thought to be eyeing the open US Senate race since incumbent Lamar Alexander (R) has already announced that he won't be seeking re-election, said that she will not run statewide next year.  At this point, only Iraq War veteran James Mackler, who for a time was in the 2016 Senate campaign but bowed out when former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) stated his intention to run, is the only announced open seat candidate.  Former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) promises a decision in March about whether he will seek the open Senate seat.

Texas:  While previously saying he would be concentrating on his twin brother Julian Castro's presidential race, Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) now confirms that he is considering entering the US Senate race to challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R) next year.  Ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke's (D-El Paso) strong finish in the 2018 Senate race against junior Senator Ted Cruz (R) gives Democrats some hope that they could unseat Sen. Cornyn.

M.J. Hegar is a decorated retired Army helicopter pilot who told her compelling personal story while challenging Texas Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock) last November and holding him to a scant 51-48% re-election victory after raising $5 million for her campaign.  While many believed she would again seek the congressional seat, instead Ms. Hegar is sending signals suggesting that she is entertaining thoughts about running for the US Senate.


AZ-1:  Arizona's 1st Congressional District, which covers most of the state's territory east of Phoenix, has proven itself as a highly marginal political region that tends to lean slightly Democratic in congressional races but favors Republicans in the presidential contest.  Second-term Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Sedona) won a 54-46% re-election victory against frequent Republican candidate Wendy Rogers last November, but the race appeared to be more competitive than the final vote count indicated.

Mr. O'Halleran, who served in the state legislature as a Republican, announced this week that he will seek re-election in 2020.  Republicans will be expected to mount a serious challenge here.  Already, however, former Flagstaff City Council member Eva Putzova has announced a Democratic primary challenge, which likely prompted the Congressman to declare his future political intentions now.

NC-3:  After entering hospice in late January, veteran Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville), who was first elected to the US House in 1994 after serving ten years in the North Carolina state legislature, passed away yesterday on his 76th birthday.  Gov. Roy Cooper (D) will now be tasked with calling a special election to choose a successor to the 13-term Congressman who developed a conservative voting record but was often at odds with his own party's leadership. Mr. Jones' father, Walter B. Jones, Sr. (D), also was elected to Congress 13 times and, like his son, died in office.

PA-12:  Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) resigned from the House at the end of January ostensibly to accept a position in the private sector, but now we are learning he also has a health condition.  This creates a special election in the north-central Pennsylvania seat that Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has scheduled to be filled on May 21st, in conjunction with the state's municipal primary day.  The parties are to meet in a special district convention to decide nominees.  The Republican leaders announced that they have chosen March 2nd as their convention day.  Democrats have already chosen college professor and 2018 congressional nominee Marc Friedenberg as their nominee.  Mr. Friedenberg fell to Rep. Marino, 66-34%, in the November 2018 congressional contest.

SC-1:  The Trafalgar Group recently conducted a survey (1/28-2/1; 2,479 SC-1 likely GOP primary voters; automated) among potential Republican congressional candidates who may battle for the opportunity of challenging freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston), a surprise 2018 winner.  The seat promises to be at the top of the GOP conversion target list for the entire 2020 election cycle.

2018 GOP nominee Katie Arrington, who denied then-Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) re-nomination but lost to Cunningham in the general election, tops the large field of tested candidates.  With Mr. Sanford included, she would lead him 25-23% with the nine other named potential candidates all falling well below 10 percent.  Without Sanford in the field, she would touch 31% with state Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) leading the rest but with only 8% support.  If Arrington is not included, Mr. Sanford, who has yet to say whether he has interest in running again, almost reaches 37% with all of the others below the double-digit mark.


Kentucky:  The Garin Hart Yang Research firm recently tested Attorney General Andy Beshear in his battle for the Kentucky Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  The survey (2/4-7; 603 KY likely Democratic primary voters) finds the one-term AG substantially leading his two Democratic Party rivals in anticipation of the state's May 21st primary.

Against state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook) and former state Auditor Adam Edelen, Mr. Beshear takes a commanding 55-17-7% lead over his two opponents.  Such is not particularly surprising when considering the Beshear name is well known to Kentucky Democratic primary voters.  Mr. Beshear's father, Steve Beshear, was the state's Governor from 2007-2015.

Mississippi:  It had been suggested for some time that former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. (R) may enter the 2019 gubernatorial campaign, but his final decision was surprising nonetheless.  While most believe Mr. Waller would run as an Independent or minor party candidate, he has decided to take a more traditional route. Instead of going straight into the general election and potentially become a spoiler, Mr. Waller announced late this week that he will challenge Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for the Republican gubernatorial nomination.

The Mississippi general election is expected to be close against four-term Attorney General Jim Hook (D).  Lt. Gov. Reeves remains the clear favorite in the Republican primary, irrespective of Mr. Waller's presence as his GOP primary opponent.

Virginia:  While Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) now faces serious potential criminal charges, two polls were conducted testing whether respondents believe that Gov. Ralph Northam (D) should resign over his past racial antics.

The Washington Post-Schar Poll and the Democratic survey research firm Civiqs, polling for the liberal Daily Kos Elections website, arrived at very different results.  The Post's survey (2/6-8; 706 VA residents) found the state split as to whether Gov. Northam should resign.  According to this data, 47% believe he should step down while another 47% say Mr. Northam should remain in office.  But, the Civiqs results (2/5-8; 868 VA registered voters) see a much different sentiment.  According to this study, by a whopping 60-24%, the electorate says he should resign.

Though the polls were conducted over the same time period, the Post's survey includes all adults while Civiqs segmented only registered voters.  At this point, Mr. Northam says he will not resign and the flap involving Lt. Gov. Fairfax makes it more likely that the Governor will hold his position.