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.

June 15, 2018
Another Incumbent Defeat and Close Races Highlight Eventful Primary Week
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida Senate: Gov. Rick Scott (R) up in two polls over opponent Sen. Bill Nelson (D)
  • CA-48: second place still up for grabs - biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead (D) has a 329-vote lead over businessman Harley Rouda (D)  
  • CA-49: in a close finish, Mike Levin (D) advances to open seat general election and will face Diane Harkey (R)
  • SC-1: Rep. Mark Sanford (R) loses re-nomination to state Rep. Katie Arrington (R), 50.5-46.6%
  • Maine Gov: instant run-off to decide Democratic primary for Governor
  • Maryland Gov: former NAACP president Ben Jealous and Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker in dead heat; Valerie Ervin (D) drops out of race 
  • South Carolina Gov: Gov. Henry McMaster (R) forced to 6/26 run-off with John Warren (R)


Florida: A new Politico/AARP survey (Morning Consult; 5/29-30; 1,199 FL registered voters; 676 FL voters over 50 years of age) finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) again taking a small lead over veteran Sen. Bill Nelson (D) as the two prepare for the November general election. Overall, Gov. Scott's edge is 40-39%, but the margin expands to nine points, 44-35%, when the pollsters segment only those 50 years of age and older. Cherry Communications, polling for the Florida Chamber of Commerce (5/25-6/4; 605 FL likely voters), also released their latest results. They confirm Scott's small lead, projecting him to a 48-45% advantage. Both results are within the polling margin of error. The Florida Senate race promises to attract national attention all the way to Election Day.

Ohio: With Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) both winning their Democratic and Republican primaries on May 8th, several pollsters just conducted new general election surveys. Fallon Research (5/21-25; 800 OH likely voters) finds the incumbent holding a comfortable 48-34% lead over Rep. Renacci. Suffolk (6/6-11; 500 OH likely voters) and Quinnipiac Universities (6/7-12; 1,082 OH registered voters) also see Sen. Brown in command, 53-37% and 51-34%, respectively.

Pennsylvania: Lancaster, PA based Franklin & Marshall College just released their new survey of the Pennsylvania statewide races (6/4-10; 472 PA registered voters; 224 Democrats, 185 Republicans, 63 Independents) and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), seeking his third term since his original election in 2006, leads Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) by a sizable 44-27% count. This is similar to the 43-25% projection derived from their March survey. Sen. Casey's combined personal favorability is 44:23% positive to negative.


CA-48: The Golden State's 48th Congressional District primary election is still unresolved as ballots from the June 5th vote are still being counted. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is safe in first place with 30% against 15 opponents. But, the identity of Mr. Rohrabacher's general election opponent is still unknown. The latest count finds biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead (D) holding a small 329-vote lead over businessman Harley Rouda (D). It is unclear when this race will finally be decided. On election night Mr. Rouda held a small edge, but Mr. Keirstead surpassed him when the post-election votes began to be counted.

CA-49: Another contest that appeared close enough to turn around when the post-votes are all counted was in the 49th District. With Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) retiring, the open seat contest to replace him also drew 16 candidates. The clear first place finisher was Republican Diane Harkey, who captured 25.6% of the vote. The individual now definitively advancing with her into the general election is attorney Mike Levin (D) who raised well over $1.7 million. It has become clear that Mr. Levin's two full percentage point advantage over his closest competitor, former State Department official Sara Jacobs (D), will hold and he will clinch second place.

KS-4: Many incumbent House members are facing primary opponents this year, but none have Kansas Rep. Ron Estes' (R-Wichita) problem. Mr. Estes' lone Republican nomination foe actually shares his name. To mitigate the confusion, election authorities announced this week that they are allowing Congressman Estes to appear on the August 7th primary ballot as "Rep. Ron Estes." The secondary Mr. Estes will be listed as "Ron M. Estes."

MI-1: Last week, the Michigan Secretary of State rejected retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Morgan's (D) ballot petition to challenge freshman Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/Upper Peninsula) because he used a P.O. Box instead of a street address to register his campaign. Michigan law requires a street address. Yesterday, the state Appeals Court upheld the lower court decision that the administrative ruling is correct, and Mr. Morgan remains disqualified. The retired military officer responded by saying he would not offer any further legal challenges but would instead run a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination. Considering no other Democrat filed for the race, Mr. Morgan's chances of winning a write-in nomination are extremely high.

OH-12: Monmouth University conducted a new poll of the Ohio special congressional election to be decided on August 7th. The survey (6/7-10; 501 OH-12 likely special election voters) finds state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) leading Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Conner (D), 43-33% with the Green Party candidate drawing 1%, and 21% saying they are still undecided.

SC-1: With President Trump as the focal point of the primary campaign, state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville) defeated Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) in Tuesday's South Carolina primary election, with a 50.5 to 46.6% vote margin. The percentage is important because exceeding the 50% mark means Ms. Arrington wins the nomination without advancing to a secondary June 26th run-off election. Mr. Sanford becomes the second incumbent House member to be denied re-nomination in the 2018 primary season. In early May, North Carolina Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) fell to Baptist former pastor Mark Harris in the 9th District Republican primary. In the Charleston area, Ms. Arrington is now expected to defeat Democratic primary winner Joe Cunningham in the November general election.


Colorado: Another new Democratic gubernatorial poll shows US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) to be leading state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, the endorsed Democratic Party candidate, as the candidates turn toward the June 26th Colorado primary. As reported here last week, a Magellan Strategies survey (5/30-31; 503 CO Democratic likely primary voters) projects Rep. Polis to a 31-18% lead over Ms. Kennedy, with all other candidates, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne (D), registering less than 10% support. This week, Strategies 360, polling for the Service Employees International Union (5/29-6/6; 500 CO general election voters; 387 CO likely Democratic primary voters with an over-sample of an additional 200 "Democratic-leaning midterm drop-off voters"), posts Rep. Polis' (D-Boulder) to a 34-23-12% advantage over Ms. Kennedy and ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston. Strategies 360 also tested Rep. Polis and Ms. Kennedy against state Treasurer Walker Stephenson (R) in a proposed general election campaign.   The results are virtually identical. Polis would lead Stapleton, 42-37%, while Kennedy's edge would be 43-38%.

Florida: A new SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey (6/3-7; 600 FL registered Democratic voters) finds Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine expanding his Democratic primary lead to 32-16-11-6-4% over former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-Tallahassee), businessman Chris King, and billionaire Jeff Greene, who just entered the race last week.

Maine: Tuesday's Democratic gubernatorial primary ended with appointed Attorney General Janet Mills outpacing businessman Adam Cote 33-28%, but the race is far from over. In years past, Ms. Mills would have been declared the primary winner, but now the instant run-off system takes effect because no one obtained majority support.

Under the procedure, in use for the first time, the last place finisher's votes among the eight candidates will be distributed to the other seven candidates. In the primary, voters ranked their preferences from one to eight among the contenders. A last place finisher's votes are then distributed to the others in the order that the last place finisher's voters chose. Once those are distributed, the new last place finisher's votes are then distributed according to stated preference, and so forth until a winner is decided. The distribution will begin Friday, meaning it is likely we won't have a new Democratic nominee until sometime next week. On the Republican side, businessman Shawn Moody won the party nomination outright, so he automatically advances into the general election.

Maryland: The University of Baltimore, polling for the Baltimore Sun newspaper (5/29-6/6; 500 MD likely Democratic primary voters), finds a tie at the top of the Democratic gubernatorial contenders list. The fact that the candidates are locked in a dead heat is not particularly surprisingly, but the low number of committed voters as the campaigns begin the final drive toward the June 26th Maryland primary is unusual and might question the poll's accuracy.

According to the Sun poll, former NAACP president Ben Jealous and Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker are tied for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with just 16% support apiece. No other candidate tops 5% support in this poll.

After spending much time trying to secure her own ballot position after gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz (D) passed away, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D) announced this week that she will no longer campaign for Governor. Because Mr. Kamenetz died in the middle of the campaign and Ms. Ervin was his running mate, she had the option, which she exercised, of assuming the top position on the Kamenetz-Ervin ticket. But, state election authorities ruled that they would not change the ballots, meaning primary participants would still be instructed to vote for the late Mr. Kamenetz for the tallies to count for Ms. Ervin. Despite Ms. Ervin's exit and endorsement for Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker (D), Mr. Kamenetz's name will remain on the ballot.

New York: New York's Siena College again tested the impending Democratic gubernatorial primary between two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo and actress Cynthia Nixon. According to the Siena data, the Governor now leads his opponent, 61-26%, which is up a net four points from their previous 58-27% projection released in April. The latest Siena scoring is much better for the Governor than the May Quinnipiac University poll, however. In that latter survey, Gov. Cuomo's lead was only 50-28% over Ms. Nixon.

Ohio: A new small-sample Suffolk University poll conducted for the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper (6/6-11; 500 OH likely voters) projects a change in the state's open Governor's race. This new survey suggests that former Attorney General Richard Cordray (D) has opened up a 43-36% lead over Attorney General and former US Senator Mike DeWine (R). But, among the 16% who responded "undecided", the overwhelming majority, a 2:1 ratio, are Republican voters. The Suffolk data contradicts other polling that posts Mr. DeWine to a similar lead.

As reported above (see Ohio Senate), Fallon Research also conducted a post-primary survey of the statewide campaigns. According to the Fallon data, AG DeWine is staked to a 40-34% advantage over Mr. Cordray. Yet, the latest Quinnipiac University survey (6/7-12; 1,082 OH registered voters), like Suffolk, also finds Mr. Cordray with a slight advantage, 42-40%. This race is expected to be as close as the 2010 state Attorney General's race when Mr. DeWine unseated Mr. Cordray, 47-46%. The race is open because Gov. John Kasich (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Pennsylvania: As reported above (see Pennsylvania Senate) Franklin & Marshall College also asked respondents questions about the gubernatorial race in their new statewide poll. Similar to the Senate responses, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) leads former state Sen. Scott Wagner (R) 48-29%. In March, Mr. Wolf led 38-21%, meaning both candidates have gained support. But, the March polling segment was significantly smaller than in the current poll. Gov. Wolf's combined personal favorability registered 49:33% positive to negative.

South Carolina: As previous polling correctly predicted, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) was forced into a two-week run-off campaign because his opponents held him under 50% support in Tuesday's primary. At the end of this week, two of his challengers, former Nikki Haley Administration cabinet official Catherine Templeton and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, both endorsed the second-place finisher John Warren, a Greenville mortgage company executive and former Iraq War veteran. The endorsements were of little surprise because both individuals were also challenging the new incumbent Governor. Mr. McMaster became Governor when then-incumbent Haley (R) resigned to become US Ambassador to the United Nations.   He was elected as Lt. Governor in 2014 with 59% of the vote. 

June 8, 2018
Results from 2018's Biggest Primary Day and Last Minute Decisions Shake Things Up
by Jim Ellis
Key Takeaways
  • Ohio:  New poll posts Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) to 48-34% lead over Rep. Renacci
  • AL-5: Rep. Martha Roby forced into run-off against former Rep. Bobby Bright
  • California: All seven competitive US House races in the top two primary format produced a Republican and a Democrat advancing to the general
  • MN-5: Ellison decides last minute to run for Attorney General giving potential candidates only hours to decide about running and increasing US House open seat count to 63
  • NY-11: Ex-Rep. Michael Grimm (R) up 47-37% over incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan in new primary poll
  • Alaska:  Former Senator Mark Begich (D) enters gubernatorial race 30 min. before deadline – Governor Walker will no longer run in Dem. primary
  • Minnesota: Candidates from both parties to force primary elections in Governor’s race


California:  Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) advances into the general election with a fellow Democrat, state Senator and former Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).  In a field of 35 candidates, Sen. Feinstein received 44% of the vote, while Mr. de Leon attracted 11% to secure second place and a general election qualifying position.  Sen. Feinstein is now a heavy favorite to win re-election in November.

Mississippi:  In Tuesday’s primary, Democrats David Baria, the state House Minority Leader, and venture capitalist Howard Sherman advanced to a June 26th run-off election.  The winner will face Sen. Roger Wicker (R) in November.

Montana:  State Auditor Matt Rosendale overcame three other Republicans to win the party primary earlier in the week.  Mr. Rosendale now faces an uphill challenge against Sen. Jon Tester (D) in the general election.

New Jersey:  Sen. Bob Menendez (D) captured only 62% in his Democratic primary against an opponent who did nothing more than put her name on the ballot.  Former Celgene pharmaceutical company CEO Bob Hugin was an easy winner in the Republican primary.  This expensive general election pairing may yield more competition than originally forecast.

Ohio:  With Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) both winning their Democratic and Republican primaries on May 8th, Fallon Research conducted a new general election survey (5/21-25; 800 OH likely voters) that finds the incumbent holding a comfortable lead.  According to Fallon, Sen. Brown records a 48-34% lead over Rep. Renacci.

Wisconsin:  According to a new Tarrance Group poll, state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) has taken the lead in the US Senate Republican primary.  The survey, released late this week (800 WI likely Republican primary voters), projects that she has pulled ahead of businessman and former Democrat Kevin Nicholson, 36-29%.  Earlier, an American Viewpoint survey (5/29-31; 500 WI likely Republican primary voters) found Mr. Nicholson clinging to a 32-30% edge.


AL-5:  Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) was forced into a July 17th run-off election with former Democratic Congressman Bobby Bright, who is now a Republican.  In a crowded field, Ms. Roby secured only 39% of the vote on June 5th, meaning she has vulnerability in a run-off. 

California:  All seven of the competitive US House races in the top two primary format produced a Republican and a Democrat advancing into the general election.  The race that is still uncalled resides in Orange County’s 48th District, where Democrats Hans Keirstead and Harley Rouda are only 129 votes apart with mail ballots still arriving.  The election authorities will accept votes through midnight on Friday, June 8th.  The two Democrats are vying for second place and the right to oppose Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) in the general election. 

HI-1:  Democrat Ed Case represented Hawaii’s 2nd District for two terms, winning his first election in 2002 and leaving Congress at the beginning of 2007.  He has since twice run for US Senate, once for Governor, and once in the most recent special election in the 1st District.  As the candidate filing deadline expired on Tuesday, Mr. Case again has become a candidate.  At the last minute, he filed for the open 1st Congressional District.  He joins Lt. Gov. Doug Chin, state Sen. Donna Mercado Kim, state Reps. Beth Fukumoto, and Kaniela Ing, and Honolulu City Councilman Ernie Martin in the open August 11th Democratic primary. 

Iowa:  As expected, state Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) easily won Tuesday’s Democratic primary and now opposes two-term Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) in what will be a toss-up general election.  In the 3rd District, high tech firm owner Cindy Axne easily won the Democratic primary and advances into an underdog challenge against two-term Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter/Des Moines). 

MI-13:  Two weeks ago, John Conyers III, son of resigned Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), was disqualified from the regular election ballot to succeed his father in the House because he failed to submit 1,000 valid registered voter petition signatures.  Late this week, it was reported that Mr. Conyers’ legal challenge to the administrative ruling was denied meaning that he will not be a candidate in the November election.   Nine Democrats are on the ballot for the full term including Mr. Conyers cousin, state Sen. Ian Conyers (D-Detroit).  The Democrats will hold the seat, and the crowded primary results will determine who succeeds the former Dean of the US House.  John Conyers was first elected in 1964 and served until the end of last year when he resigned from office.

MN-5:  In a flurry of political activity surrounding the Democratic endorsing convention and Tuesday’s candidate filing deadline, Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis) jumped into what is now an open Attorney General’s race after incumbent Lori Swanson (D) was denied the party endorsement.  In response, Ms. Swanson abandoned her re-election bid and instead joined the Governor’s primary where she will oppose endorsed candidate Erin Murphy, a St. Paul state Representative, and US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato). 

Rep. Ellison vacating his safe Democratic Minneapolis congressional district gave potential candidates only hours to decide if they would run for the House.  In response, eight Democrats filed to run including Rep. Ellison’s ex-wife, a former state House Speaker, three sitting state legislators, and one ex-state Senator.  Three Republicans are also in the race, but the August 14th Democratic primary will determine who wins the general election.  Mr. Ellison’s departure now means 63 House seats are open (42 Republican-held; 20 Democratic; with one new seat created through Pennsylvania redistricting). 

MS-3:  Local District Attorney Michael Guest and hospital system company executive Whit Hughes advance to a June 26th Republican run-off election in the open the 3rd District.  Mr. Guest is favored to win the party nomination and replace retiring Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Pearl/Jackson) in November.

Montana:  Ex-state Representative Kathleen Williams won a crowded and close Democratic primary and now advances to face freshman Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) in the state’s at-large general election.  The Congressman is a clear favorite for re-election.

New Jersey:  Three key congressional primaries were decided on Tuesday.  State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D) is now heavily favored to convert the open 2nd District for the Democrats in November.  In the competitive 7th District, former State Department official Tom Malinowski won the Democratic primary and advances to challenge five-term Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) in the fall.  In the open toss-up 11th District, state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morristown) and attorney Mikie Sherrill will square off in an expensive general election.

New Mexico:  Former state Democratic Party chair and Tribal Administrator Deb Haaland captured the Democratic congressional primary and is now heavily favored to defeat Republican Janice Arnold-Jones in the open 1st District general election.  In the open 2nd District, Republican state Rep. Yvette Harrell (R-Alamogordo) advances into the general election against attorney Xochitl Torres-Small who easily won the Democratic primary.  Ms. Harrell begins the general election as a slight favorite.

NY-11:  A new Siena College survey (5/29-6/3; 513 NY-11 likely Republican primary voters) turns in a surprising result.  Their data projects that former US Rep. Michael Grimm (R-Staten Island) is leading incumbent Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island) by a substantial 47-37% margin.  Mr. Grimm was elected to three terms in the House, resigning at the beginning of his third because of a federal tax fraud conviction.  Mr. Grimm would then serve eight months in federal prison.  After his release, he began campaigning to regain the seat he was forced to relinquish.  Rep. Donovan, a former Staten Island District Attorney, won the special election to replace Mr. Grimm in 2015, and then clinched a 57-34% general election victory for the full term.  The New York federal primary is June 26th.

NY-18:  New York is the only state in the country that has two separate primaries, one for federal offices (June 26), and another for state (September 13) elected positions.  With the Attorney General’s race now open when Eric Schneiderman (D) resigned, a battle is ensuing in the state Democratic primary.  Yesterday, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/West Point) said he is going to enter both primaries.  In June, he will seek re-nomination for his US House seat.  Come September, he will run for the statewide Democratic Attorney General’s nomination.  Should he win both, Mr. Maloney says he will withdraw from the congressional race.  This would force the local party to name a replacement with only about seven weeks to go in the general election. 

South Dakota:  Former state Public Utilities Commissioner Dusty Johnson won the at-large US House Republican primary, and now becomes the prohibitive favorite to win the open seat in the fall.  Mr. Johnson is heavily favored to defeat Democratic nominee Tim Bjorkman, a retired Circuit Court judge.

VA-5:  The 5th District Republican Party committee met last weekend to nominate a replacement for incumbent Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville) who is not seeking a second term.  With a scant one-vote margin, the committee chose local businessman Denver Riggleman as the party nominee.  He will face Democrat Leslie Cockburn in the general election.   This will be a competitive campaign, but Mr. Riggleman will benefit from the district’s Republican voting history.


Alabama:  Gov. Kay Ivey (R) and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D) both won their respective party nominations outright, and advance into the general election.  Gov. Ivey, who assumed her position when Ex-Gov. Robert Bentley (R) was forced to resign, is running for her first full term and is favored in the fall campaign.

Alaska:  For months, former US Sen. Mark Begich (D) had refused to rule out that he would enter the 2018 gubernatorial race, but there appeared little in the way of positive speculation that he would actually become a candidate.  With 30 minutes remaining in the candidate filing period last Friday, the former US Senator and Anchorage Mayor did submit his papers and will run for Governor.  Reacting to the move, Gov. Bill Walker (I), who had indicated he would enter the Democratic primary and also run on the Independent ballot line, said he now will not compete in the August 21st Democratic primary. 

The moves will produce a highly competitive three-way general election, featuring the Governor on the Independent line, very likely Mr. Begich becoming the Democratic standard bearer, and an eventual Republican nominee. 

California:  Republicans achieved their goal of advancing a GOP candidate into the general election from the top two primary format.  Attorney John Cox (R) placed a strong second place to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), as the two proceed to the general election campaign.  Mr. Newsom is a heavy favorite to win in November, but Republicans now at least have a candidate to rally around and help spur turnout for the down ballot races.

Colorado:  Though former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy is the endorsed Democratic Party candidate, the polling continues to find her trailing US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) as the campaign begins to kick into overdrive before the June 26th Colorado primary.  According to the new Magellan Strategies survey (5/30-31; 503 CO Democratic likely primary voters), Rep. Polis now claims a 31-18% lead over Ms. Kennedy, with all other candidates, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne (D), registering less than 10% support. 

Georgia:  Two Republican pollsters released data for the new Georgia gubernatorial run-off election that will be decided July 24th.  Both polls were conducted over the same two-day period.  McLaughlin & Associates (5/29-31; 500 GA likely Republican run-off voters) finds its poll sponsor, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, leading Secretary of State Brian Kemp, 52-42%.  Public Opinion Strategies, for the Kemp Campaign, (5/29-31; 600 GA likely Republican run-off voters) found a much closer race: Cagle leading 46-45%.  In the actual primary vote, Mr. Cagle placed first with 39%, followed by Mr. Kemp with 26%.  Since neither came close to garnering majority support, the two were forced into the statewide run-off. 

Iowa:  As expected, businessman Fred Hubbell easily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary and now challenges Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who ascended to the position when incumbent Terry Branstad (R) became US Ambassador to China.  The general election will be competitive.

Minnesota:  Usually, the Minnesota state convention process endorses individual candidates, and those not receiving said support generally unite and do not exercise their right to force a primary.  Such is not the case within either party for 2018. 

Last weekend in the open Governor’s race, Republicans nominated their 2014 gubernatorial standard bearer, Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, and Democrats tabbed St. Paul state Representative Erin Murphy.  Immediately, former Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who did not participate in the Republican convention, confirmed that he will challenge Mr. Johnson in an August 14th primary election.  Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) followed suit, and will oppose Ms. Murphy in a forced Democratic primary.  The Governor’s race is an open contest because incumbent Mark Dayton (D) is retiring.

In another key race, incumbent Attorney General Lori Swanson (D) was surprisingly denied the party endorsement in her bid for re-election.  Instead, the Democratic delegates endorsed attorney Matt Pelikan.  In response, AG Swanson decided to enter the gubernatorial primary since Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) is already forcing a vote against Ms. Murphy.  The Attorney General, though rebuked by the party activists in her own party, is a popular statewide official and her entry into the Governor’s race drastically changes the Democratic outlook. 

New Mexico:  As expected, US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) won a landslide Democratic gubernatorial primary and now will oppose her congressional colleague, Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), in the general election.  The general election winner replaces term-limited Gov. Susana Martinez (R).  New Mexico tends to lean Democratic, but the fall campaign will be competitive.

Ohio:  As reported above (see Ohio Senate), Fallon Research conducted a new post-primary survey of the statewide campaigns.  While Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown holds the lead in his re-election campaign, it is Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine, a former US Senator, who is staked to a 40-34% advantage over ex-state Attorney General Richard Cordray (D).  This race is expected to be as close as the 2010 state Attorney General’s race when Mr. DeWine unseated Mr. Cordray, 47-46%.

South Carolina:  Two polls conducted over the same May 29-31 period draw largely the same conclusions.  First, that the Republican race will advance to a June 26th run-off election, and second, that businessman and military veteran John Warren is making a serious come-from-behind bid for second place.  According to the Fabrizio Lee polling firm (500 SC likely Republican primary voters), Gov. Henry McMaster leads Mr. Warren and former Nikki Haley Administration cabinet official Catherine Templeton, 33-19-17%.  Target Insyght (400 SC likely Republican primary voters) finds a similar result, but with a different order.  They see Gov. McMaster leading 37-25-20% over Ms. Templeton and Mr. Warren, respectively.  The South Carolina primary is Tuesday.

South Dakota:  In a race that was not as close as polling indicated, at-large Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) easily won the open Republican primary and is now poised to succeed term-limited Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R).  She faces new Democratic nominee Billie Sutton, the state House Minority Leader in the fall campaign.

June 1, 2018
Primary Season Now in Full Swing 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Rhode Island Senate:  former Senator & Governor Lincoln Chafee (R/I/D) won't challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D)
  • Texas Senate:  Sen. Ted Cruz (R) stronger in latest polling, leading challenger, Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D), 50-39%
  • Utah Senate:  polling finds former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney (R) with commanding lead in upcoming primary
  • Washington Senate:  Sen. Maria Cantwell strong in first re-election poll
  • West Virginia Senate:  latest post-primary poll shows Sen. Joe Manchin (D) opening larger lead over Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), 53-40% in top-tier Republican challenge campaign
  • NM-1:   Albuquerque City Councilman Pat Davis (D) suspends campaign and endorses former state Democratic chair and Tribal Administrator Deb Haaland (D)
  • VA-5:  Rep. Tom Garrett (R) retires; Republicans to choose new nominee in special convention
  • Florida Governor:  latest polling indicates Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine (D) opening larger lead over other Democrat opponents
  • Georgia Governor:  Dem poll finds new gubernatorial nominee and former state House Majority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) topping both GOP run-off participants
  • Missouri Governor:  Lt. Governor Mike Parson (R) to replace resigned Gov. Eric Greitens (R)
  • South Dakota Governor:  latest polling shows at-large Rep. Kristi Noem (R) and Attorney General Marty Jackley (R) locked in a virtual tie as candidates enter the stretch run to June 5th primary


Rhode Island: Late last month, former Rhode Island Senator and Governor Lincoln Chafee (R/I/D) indicated he was considering challenging Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in this year's Democratic primary. After polls were published showing the Senator crushing Mr. Chafee, he began saying less about this possibility. Now, according to an announcement this week, the former statewide office holder says he will not run for any office this year.

Texas: A new Quinnipiac University survey (5/23-29; 961 TX registered voters) finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) with a much larger lead over US Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) than two previous polls, including one from Quinnipiac, have shown. According to this latest Q-Poll, Sen. Cruz's margin over Congressman O'Rourke is 50-39%.

Utah: A new Dan Jones & Associates poll for the Utah Policy Institute finds former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney holding a commanding lead over the man who topped him in the April 21st Utah Republican state convention. The poll (5/15-25; 295 UT likely Republican primary voters) gives Mr. Romney a 67-24% lead over three-term state Representative and physician Mike Kennedy (R-Alpine). The survey, however, has major methodological flaws. The sampling period is approximately three times too long, and the respondent group much too small for a statewide campaign.   Still, the margin is so overwhelming that there can be little doubt Mr. Romney holds a substantial pre-election lead for the June 26th Republican primary.

Washington: Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Northwest Progressive Institute (5/22-23; 675 WA likely voters), finds three-term Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) opening her 2018 re-election campaign in robust fashion. The results are hardly unexpected, however, since the tested Republican, former state GOP chair Susan Hutchison, surprisingly decided to enter the race just as candidate filing closed. According to the PPP results, the Senator's early advantage is 52-36%.

West Virginia: Since the May 8th primary election that nominated Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) as Sen. Joe Manchin's (D) November challenger, three polls have been released. The latest, from Gravis Marketing (5/22; 543 WV likely general election voters) puts the Senator in his strongest political position, leading Mr. Morrisey, 53-40%. Mr. Manchin's internal poll, from the Global Strategy Group (5/13-16; 600 WV likely general election voters), found the incumbent's advantage to be 50-42%. An immediate post-primary WPA Intelligence survey (5/10; 400 WV likely general election voters) actually posted Mr. Morrisey to a two-point edge, 46-44%. The West Virginia race will continue as a top-tier Republican challenge campaign all the way to November.


Michigan: The Michigan Secretary of State has ruled that several congressional candidates failed to meet ballot qualification requirements and are, at least for the moment, denied ballot position for the state's August 7th primary election. In the 1st District, which will prove to be the most controversial situation, Democrat Mike Morgan, a retired Marine Corps Lt. Colonel, is disqualified because he did not list a street address on his candidate application. Michigan law specifically prohibits post office boxes being used as an official candidate address. Mr. Morgan says he will fight the ruling in court. He is the lone Democrat who filed for the race. If the Secretary of State's ruling stands, freshman Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/Upper Peninsula) will be unopposed for re-election.

NM-1: As Tuesday's primary fast approaches, the Democratic field in the open 1st District is becoming better defined at the eleventh hour. With incumbent Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) departing the House to run for Governor - she has a big lead in the statewide Democratic primary - the eventual Democratic nominee will become the heavy favorite to win the seat in November. Late this week, Albuquerque City Councilman Pat Davis, who at one time was viewed as a major candidate, decided to suspend his campaign and endorsed former state Democratic chair, 2014 Lt. Governor nominee, and Tribal Administrator Deb Haaland. She is battling retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and former US Attorney Damon Martinez in addition to two others. Though Mr. Davis has withdrawn from active campaigning, his name will remain on Tuesday's ballot.

NY-18: New York is the only state in the nation to hold two primaries: one for federal offices (June 26), and one for state positions (Sept 13th). Therefore, it is possible for a candidate to run for Congress in June and, if defeated, turnaround and run for state office. Though Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/West Point) is in no danger for re-nomination in his US House seat, he is publicly toying with the idea of running for state Attorney General since the forced resignation of Eric Schneiderman (D) has created an open seat contest. Rep. Maloney says he will make a decision about the open AG's race on or before June 6th.

VA-5: On the Memorial Day holiday, Virginia freshman Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/ Charlottesville) reversed course from his previous re-election announcement and will instead retire. The local 5th District Republican Party organization will then meet in a special convention over this weekend to choose a new nominee. The eventual candidate will oppose former CBS News "60 Minutes" producer Leslie Cockburn who is well underway with her campaign. The district still leans Republican, so being able to turn away from a weakened Rep. Garrett should actually help the GOP's position, even though the post-convention candidate will have to quickly assemble a major congressional campaign from scratch. This race will continue to attract national political attention.


California: Survey USA (5/21-24; 678 CA likely primary voters) and Emerson College (5/21-24; 600 CA registered voters) tested the impending open Governor's campaign. In both surveys, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) retains the lead, as he has in every survey throughout the year. S-USA sees him with 33% jungle primary support, Emerson: 24%. In second place is Republican attorney and former presidential and Illinois Senate candidate John Cox with 16 and 17%, respectively, in the two polls.

It appears former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) may have a hard time forcing a double-Democratic general election. He gets only 8% in the latest S-USA poll, but finds 12% from Emerson College. St. Treasurer John Chiang (D), another significant candidate, pulls ahead of Villaraigosa in the S-USA survey, but behind him in Emerson. Both find Mr. Chiang taking 10% of the vote. The question soon to be answered in the June 5th primary is whether or not the Republicans will be able to secure any statewide general election ballot positions.

Florida: Sunshine State Democratic gubernatorial candidate Philip Levine (D), the Mayor of Miami Beach, has put some separation between he and the rest of the primary gubernatorial campaign according to a new Public Policy Polling survey (5/21-22; 583 FL likely Democratic primary voters). The data projects Mayor Levine to be holding a 30-20-12-6% advantage over former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-Tallahassee), and businessman Chris King, respectively. This is the largest recorded lead for any of the candidates since the field formed earlier in the year and polling began. The Florida primary is August 28th. Gov. Rick Scott (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Georgia: The Garin Hart Yang Research Group (5/23-25; 601 GA likely general election voters) conducted a poll for their client, former state House Minority Leader and new Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and found her topping both Republican run-off participants. But, the survey methodology is open to question. According to the results, Ms. Abrams leads Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (R), 48-43%, and Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R), 49-40%. This admittedly assumes, however, a turnout model where Trump voters outpace Hillary Clinton voters by just two percentage points. In the actual election, the President's Georgia victory margin was six points.

Pollster Fred Yang accounts for the discrepancy by adhering to the "Democratic surge" in turnout that is expected in November. But, in the recent May 22nd Georgia primary, 52,352 more Republicans than Democrats cast ballots, thus failing to prove any hard evidence that Georgia Democratic turnout will surpass the GOP voter base.

Minnesota: Lt. Gov. Michelle Fischbach (R) who, as state Senate President, became Lt. Governor when incumbent Tina Smith (D) was appointed to the US Senate, has agreed to join former Gov. Tim Pawlenty's (R) statewide ticket for the general election. Mr. Pawlenty is petitioning onto the primary ballot, deciding to bypass the important state Republican endorsing convention because he is well behind 2014 nominee Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner, in delegate support. It is likely that Mr. Pawlenty and Mr. Johnson will square off in the August 14th Republican primary with the winner advancing to the general election. US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), state Auditor Rebecca Otto, and state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul) are the leading Democrats. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is retiring.

Missouri: As has been reported nationally, Gov. Eric Greitens (R), in order to escape potential felony charges hanging over his head after some were recently dismissed, agreed to resign his office as part of an informal plea bargain arrangement. Lt. Gov. Mike Parson (R) will ascend to the office today after the Governor officially leaves office. Incoming Gov. Parson, a former state Senator and Representative who represented the region east and south of Kansas City and north of Springfield, will serve through 2020. He would be eligible to run for a full term at that time.  

South Dakota: A new Republican primary poll of the open Governor's campaign was just released in advance of the June 5th nomination election, and it appears that at-large US Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) and Attorney General Marty Jackley are locked in a virtual tie as the candidates enter the stretch run.   Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy surveyed the South Dakota Republican electorate (5/21-23; 625 SD GOP likely Republican primary voters) and found Rep. Noem clinging to a bare 45-44% lead over AG Jackley. The eventual Republican nominee will be a heavy favorite to replace term-limited Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) in the general election.

Wisconsin: Milwaukee Mayor and former Congressman Tom Barrett (D), who has already run three times for Governor, a couple of weeks ago said he was contemplating entering the very large field of Democratic candidates who are vying for the right to challenge Gov. Scott Walker (R). This week, Mayor Barrett announced his decision not to run statewide this year. In the Democratic primary are 17 individuals who have announced their candidacies for the August 14th primary. The early leader appears to be state Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers, who has built small advantages in several released statewide surveys. The general election, featuring Gov. Walker running for a third term, promises to yield another close finish.

May 25, 2018
Primaries in Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas Run-offs Conclude While Key Contests for Senate and Governor Heat Up 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Texas: JMC Analytics find Sen. Ted Cruz (R) expanding lead over Democrat opponent, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, 47- 40%.
  • Vermont: Sen. Bernie Sanders to run for re-election as Democrat and Independent
  • West Virginia: both candidates claim lead in conflicting new polls in Senate contest between incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R)
  • AR-2: State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D) to oppose Rep. French Hill (R) in competitive race
  • CO-5: Rep. Doug Lamborn (R) leads in new survey despite ballot and court hurdles
  • KY-6: retired Marine Corp. Lt. Col. Amy McGrath wins Democratic primary and now faces Rep. Andy Barr (R) in what should be a highly competitive race
  • VA-6: state Delegate Ben Cline (R) wins open seat party nomination to replace retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R)
  • Georgia: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp advance to GOP run-off for Governor; ex-House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams Wins Democratic nomination
  • Hawaii: recent Merriman River Group poll shows tighter Democratic Gov primary between Rep. Colleen Hanabusa and Gov. David Ige with Hanabusa leading 37-31% 
  • Kansas: new Remington Research poll shows two-point GOP race between Gov. Jeff Colyer (29%) and Secretary of State Kris Kobach (27%) in eight candidate gubernatorial primary
  • Texas:  Dallas Co. Sheriff Lupe Valdez wins Democratic gubernatorial nomination over businessman Andrew White, 53-47%


Texas: A JMC Analytics & Polling survey of the Texas Senate race (5/19-21; 575 TX likely voters) finds Sen. Ted Cruz (R) leading US Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso), 47-40%, as the two continue their general election campaign. The results, while still close, are a slight improvement for Sen. Cruz from the April Quinnipiac University poll that found him leading Mr. O'Rourke only 47-44%. Both Sen. Cruz and Rep. O'Rourke won their respective Republican and Democratic primaries back on March 6th.

Vermont:  Months ago, former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders again pledged to seek re-election to the Senate as an Independent on the Vermont ballot. Now, the Senator and potential future presidential candidate says he will also enter the Democratic primary. If he wins the party nomination, Sen. Sanders maintains his name will still reside on the Independent line. Winning the Dem nomination would ensure that he would only face a Republican in the general election and not a three-way campaign. In any scenario, however, Sen. Sanders is a lock for re-election.

West Virginia: WPA Intelligence conducted the first West Virginia post-primary survey (5/10; 400 WV likely general election voters) for the new Joe Manchin-Patrick Morrisey US Senate race. According to the results, Attorney General Morrisey (R) notches a two-point, 46-44%, spread over Sen. Manchin (D). As predicted on primary night, this general election campaign, from a place where President Trump scored 69% of the vote but has also elected Mr. Manchin twice as both Governor and Senator, will go down to the political wire. Perhaps most troubling for Sen. Manchin, however, is his poor 30:59% favorability index among those polling respondents who declared themselves as undecided regarding who they will support in November.

Sen. Manchin then countered, releasing his own poll that provides a much different perspective of the impending general election. According to the Senator's internal Global Strategy Group survey (5/13-16; 600 WV likely voters), he leads Mr. Morrisey, 50-42%. Tthe totals are a bit surprising when seeing Sen. Manchin receive support from only 70% of Democrats, but then picking up 29% of Republicans. While the Democratic support number appears low, the Republican defection figure seems high.


AR-2: State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) defeated three Democratic opponents to win the party nomination outright this Tuesday. Mr. Tucker advances to the general election where he faces two-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) in what could become a competitive general election.

CA-50: Embattled California Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) still fares well in a new Survey USA poll conducted for the San Diego Union Tribune and local Channel 10 News. According to the S-USA results (5/15-20; 567 CA-50 likely June 5th jungle primary voters), Rep. Hunter would lead the upcoming primary vote with 43% support. Placing second with just 10% support is Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar. The 2016 Democratic candidate who opposed Mr. Hunter, Patrick Malloy, is next with 7%, and El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells (R) follows at 6% support. In California, the top two finishers in the primary election, regardless of percentage earned or party affiliation, advance into the general election.

CO-5: Though Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) had to fight through the courts to secure a ballot position after he was disqualified because of using non-Colorado resident petition circulators, a new political poll suggests he remains in position to win a plurality primary against two strong opponents. Magellan Strategies (5/20-21; 519 CO-5 likely Republican primary voters) conducted a pre-primary survey and find Rep. Lamborn leading the field of candidates attempting to deny him re-nomination. According to Magellan, Rep. Lamborn posts 37% support as compared to El Paso County Commissioner and former US Senate nominee Darryl Glenn who records 27% preference. State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) registers 10 percent. Two other minor candidates fail to even reach the 5% plateau. The Colorado primary is June 26th.

GA-6: Gun control advocate Lucy McBath (36%) and businessman Kevin Abel (31%) both slipped past former news anchor Bobby Kaple (26%) to advance into a July 24th Democratic run-off election. The winner faces Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), who won the most expensive congressional election in history last June in a special election to replace then-Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell).

GA-7: Ex-congressional and state Senate staff member Carol Bourdeaux (27%) and chain business owner David Kim (26%) advanced to the late July Democratic run-off election. The winner will then oppose four-term Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) in the upcoming general election.

HI-1: The Honolulu-anchored 1st Congressional District is again open as Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) is once more engaged in a statewide Democratic primary challenge, this time opposite Gov. David Ige. The Merriman River Group, polling for the Honolulu Civil Beat online news and political newsletter, (5/3-5; 967 HI statewide registered voters; 321 HI-1 likely Democratic primary voters), finds state Senator and former congressional candidate Donna Mercado Kim leading the all-important Democratic primary, 26-19% over new Lt. Gov. Doug Chin. Party-switching state Rep. Beth Fukumoto (D-Mililani) is in third place with 11%. No other candidate reaches double-digits. The eventual Democratic nominee wins the seat in November. The Hawaii primary is August 11th.

KY-6: Retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath defeated Lexington-Fayette Mayor Jim Gray in Tuesday's Democratic primary with a 49-41% victory margin. Ms. McGrath now challenges three-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington) in what should be a highly competitive general election.

Texas: Partisan run-off elections were won on Tuesday. Retired Naval officer Dan Crenshaw (TX-2; 70%), state Rep. Lance Gooden (TX-5; 54%), Tarrant County Tax Assessor Ron Wright (TX-6; 52%), former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy (TX-21; 53%), and businessmen Michael Cloud (TX-27; 61%), all won their respective Republican party nominations and become prohibitive favorites to win their seats in November. For the Democrats, attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (TX-7; 67%), former Obama Administration US Trade Office official Gina Ortiz Jones (TX-23; 68%), retired Army officer M.J. Hegar (TX-31; 62%), and ex-NFL football player Colin Allred (TX-32; 69%), advanced into the general election where they will face respective incumbents John Culberson (R-Houston), Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), John Carter (R-Round Rock), and Pete Sessions (R-Dallas).

VA-6: Last weekend, delegates in Virginia's open 6th District met in convention to choose a Republican nominee to replace retiring Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke). The first ballot winner is state Delegate Ben Cline (R-Amherst), who captured 52% of the vote. He defeated Republican National Committeewoman Cynthia Dunbar, a former Texas Board of Education member, who scored 39% delegate support. Mr. Cline will go into the general election as the prohibitive favorite since the 6th is Virginia's second-most Republican congressional district (Trump '16: 60-35%). Four Democrats are vying for the party nomination that will be decided in the June 12th primary election.


Alabama: The Tarrance Group, polling for Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R), projects their client to be in strong position as we enter the primary campaign's final two weeks. The poll (5/20-22; 602 AL likely Republican primary voters) finds Gov. Ivey holding a stout 58-18% lead over Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle. Baptist minister Scott Dawson is next with 7%, while state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile) posts only 5% support. The Alabama primary will be held June 5th.

Connecticut: Businessman Ned Lamont, the founder of Campus Televideo, a company that provides video and data services to colleges and universities, easily won the official Democratic primary endorsement at the state party convention last weekend.   Mr. Lamont's victory was so complete that his top challenger, Bridgeport Mayor Joe Ganim did not even secure enough support to qualify for the primary ballot. He pledges to force an August 14th primary through petition, however.

Georgia: Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle (39%) and Secretary of State Brian Kemp (26%) advanced to a July 24th Republican run-off after placing first and second in Tuesday's primary election. State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) (18%), businessman Clay Tippins (12%), and state Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) (5%) were eliminated. For the Democrats, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams won a landslide 76-24% outright victory over ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans. Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Hawaii: An early May Merriman River Group survey was just released (5/3-5; 707 HI likely Democratic primary voters), and while this data still finds US Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) leading incumbent Gov. David Ige (D) for the August 11th Democratic primary election, the margin is much closer. According to Merriman, Rep. Hanabusa's lead is 37-31%. In March, a Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategies survey found her substantially outpacing the Governor, 47-27%. Back in 2014, then-state Sen. Ige blasted Gov. Neil Abercrombie (D) out of office with a 66-31% Democratic primary win. Rep. Hanabusa hopes to continue the Democratic voter streak of denying re-nomination to their incumbent Governors.

Iowa: It appears more likely than ever that businessman Fred Hubbell will capture the Democratic gubernatorial nomination on June 5th. His chief rival, state Sen. Nate Boulton (D-Des Moines) yesterday suspended his campaign in response to several sexual harassment claims. The move assuredly ends Sen. Boulton's statewide efforts, though it is too late to remove his name from the ballot. The eventual Democratic nominee would then challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), who is running for her first full term after succeeding former Gov. Terry Branstad (R) upon the latter's appointment as US Ambassador to China.

Kansas: While the Kansas gubernatorial primary is not until August 7th, Remington Research went into the field to provide early numbers for the Republican nomination battle. According to their poll (5/14-15; 1,441 KS likely Republican primary voters via automated message device), Gov. Jeff Colyer, who ascended to the Governorship when incumbent Sam Brownback (R) accepted a federal appointment, has only a 29-27% slight lead over Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Though eight Republicans are in the race, it already appears the GOP primary is winnowing down to the two major candidates.

Maryland: This week, state election authorities informed gubernatorial candidate Valerie Ervin (D) that while she can now run for Governor in the late Kevin Kamenetz's place, her name will not appear on the ballot because it is too late to reverse the printing. Therefore, Ms. Ervin will have to convince her supporters to vote for Mr. Kamenetz, who suddenly passed away on May 10th, in order for the tallies to count for her. Obviously, this procedure lessens her nomination chances. She faces Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, and state Sen. Rich Madaleno (D-Montgomery County) in the June 26th party primary. The winner opposes Gov. Larry Hogan (R) in the fall.

Tennessee: US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) released the results of her new OnMessage gubernatorial survey (5/14-17; 600 TN likely GOP primary voters) that post her to a sizable 41-28-9-8% advantage over former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd (R), State House Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville), and businessman Bill Lee (R). The Tennessee primary is Thursday, August 2nd.   Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Texas: A day after Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez won the Lone Star State Democratic gubernatorial nomination over businessman Andrew White, 53-47% in Tuesday's run-off election, JMC Analytics & Polling released a general election survey taken just days before the vote (5/19-21; 575 TX likely voters). The results find Gov. Greg Abbott (R) leading Ms. Valdez by a 48-36% clip. The totals are likely understating Gov. Abbott's strength because of the pre-primary publicity the Democrats were generating. Additionally, the campaign war chest figures are grossly out of balance.   Going into the Democratic run-off election, Ms. Valdez reported having only $115,000 in her campaign account versus almost $41 million in the Governor's campaign treasury.

May 18, 2018
Pennsylvania, Nebraska, Oregon & Idaho Primaries Top Weekly Campaign Developments
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Indiana:  Gravis Poll shows general election dead heat between US Senate nominees Joe Donnelly (D) and Mike Braun (R)
  • Missouri:  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) leads Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) by four points
  • Pennsylvania:  Rep. Lou Barletta wins GOP Senate primary
  • Rhode Island:  Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse would easily defeat former Gov. and US Senator Lincoln Chafee (R/I/D) in Senate Dem primary
  • West Virginia:  Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) leads Sen. Joe Manchin (D) by two points
  • AZ-2:  Ex-Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick drops behind in Dem Primary
  • ID-1:  Ex-state Rep. Russ Fulcher wins GOP primary; will win general election
  • MI-13:  John Conyers III may not qualify for Dem primary ballot
  • NE-2:  non-profit organization executive Kara Eastman upsets former Rep. Brad Ashford in Dem primary
  • NM-1:  three-way open Dem primary a dead heat between retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez, former US Attorney Damon Martinez, and ex-New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Deb Haaland
  • PA Primary:  among other results, state Rep. Rick Saccone loses to state Senator Guy Reschenthaler in open 14th CD GOP primary and tight PA-7 GOP primary race results in victory for former Olympic Gold Medalist and Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein
  • Idaho:  Lt. Gov. Brad Little wins R primary; heavy favorite in general election
  • Maryland:  former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D) will replace the late gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz 
  • Oregon: state Representative Knute Buehler (R) to face Gov. Kate Brown (D) in Governor’s race


Indiana:  Gravis Marketing released their first Indiana post-primary poll featuring US Senate nominees Joe Donnelly (D) and Mike Braun (R). According to the poll (5/10-15; 400 IN likely voters), those surveyed break 45-44% in challenger Braun's favor. But, when pushed to make a choice, the "uncertain" respondents broke toward Sen. Donnelly 19-13% with 69% remaining as undecided. We can expect to see similar tight polls such as this one in the foreseeable future.

Missouri:  A new survey from the Missouri Scout news service (5/9-10; 888 MO registered voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) clinging to a 48-44% lead over Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), which is her best showing since the last Missouri Scout poll (4/19-20) that produced exactly the same result. Other surveys from four other pollsters, found a much tighter contest. The ranges come all the way from Hawley leading by one point to McCaskill ahead by two. Expect this to be another of the hard-fought toss-up Senate races that will occur later this year.

Pennsylvania: Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) captured the Republican Senatorial nomination with a 63% victory over state Rep. Jim Christiana. Mr. Christiana performed well in the western PA counties north of Pittsburgh, but Rep. Barletta won throughout the rest of the state. He now faces Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) in the general election. At this point, the contest clearly favors Sen. Casey, but Rep. Barletta has the potential of making the general election competitive.

Rhode Island: A couple of weeks ago, former Governor and US Senator Lincoln Chafee (R/I/D) floated the idea that he might challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in this year's Democratic primary. Yesterday, Sen. Whitehouse's campaign released the results of their Anzalone Liszt Grove Research internal poll (5/7-14; 801 RI likely general election voters with an over-sample of 101 likely Democratic primary voters making the total primary sample size 329). According to the data, Sen. Whitehouse would defeat Mr. Chafee in a landslide, 72-14%. Within the polling sample, Sen. Whitehouse's favorability index is 79:10% positive to negative as opposed to Mr. Chafee's, 32:46%. Mr. Chafee has yet to announce definitively that he will run.

West Virginia:  WPA Intelligence conducted the first West Virginia post-primary survey (5/10; 400 WV likely general election voters) for the new Joe Manchin-Patrick Morrisey US Senate race. According to the results, Attorney General Morrisey (R) notches a two-point, 46-44%, spread over Sen. Manchin (D). As predicted on primary night, this general election campaign, from a place where President Trump scored 69% of the vote but has also elected Mr. Manchin twice as both Governor and Senator, will go down to the political wire. Perhaps most troubling for Sen. Manchin, however, is his poor 30:59% favorability index among those polling respondents who declared themselves as undecided about whom they will support in November.

Wisconsin: This past weekend, Republican convention delegates from across the Badger State gathered to make official party endorsements. In the US Senate primary, the delegates voted 73-27% to endorse state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) over businessman Kevin Nicholson and several other minor candidates. The endorsement doesn't preclude an August 14th primary, but does provide the favored contender with extra campaign resources and the official party candidate designation. The eventual nominee faces first-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) in what will be a competitive general election, but one in which the GOP candidate begins as a decided underdog.


AZ-2: A new FM3 Research survey (4/29-5/3; 400 AZ-2 likely Democratic primary voters) indicates that former US Representative and ex-US Senate candidate Ann Kirkpatrick (D) has dropped behind 2016 congressional nominee Matt Heinz in the battle for the open 2nd District Democratic nomination. According to the FM3 results, Mr. Heinz now posts a 27-23% advantage over the former Congresswoman. The Arizona primary is not until August 28th, so plenty of time remains for what now appears to be a volatile nomination campaign. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) is vacating the district to run for Senate. This general election contest will likely earn a toss-up rating.

CT-5: After the district Republican endorsing convention where delegates officially supported Meriden Mayor Manny Santos for the official party nomination, retired psychology professor Ruby O'Neill immediately said she would force an August 14th primary election. Now, businessman Rich DuPont, who also secured enough convention delegate votes to advance to the primary ballot announced this week that he, too, will compete in the August election. Democrats also look to have a contested primary. The seat is open because Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Cheshire) is retiring.

ID-1: In the open 1st District, as expected, former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher easily won the Republican primary against a former Lt. Governor and two state Representatives. Mr. Fulcher has virtually punched his ticket to Washington with his party nomination victory since the western Idaho congressional district is strongly Republican.

MI-13: We have seen a number of candidates fail to qualify for the ballot around the country this year and John Conyers III, seeking to replace his father, resigned Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), may be the next to fall short in the signature gathering process. According to authorities at the Wayne County Elections Division, Mr. Conyers has only 880 valid nominating petition signatures from the 1,914 submitted. All candidates must submit 1,000 valid registered voter signatures from CD 13. A final determination about Mr. Conyers' ballot status is scheduled for later today. The MI-13 special election is running concurrently with the general election cycle. The winner will serve the final two months of the current term along with the succeeding full term assuming the same individual wins both the special and regular election that will be conducted simultaneously.

NE-2: Omaha provided the state with a major political upset in Tuesday's primary election. In the 2nd District Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders-backed Kara Eastman, a non-profit organization executive, edged former US Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) to score a 51-49% upset victory for the party nomination. She will now oppose freshman Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) in November. This will be a race to watch, but Mr. Bacon begins the general election as the favorite.

NM-1: A new Lake Research Partners survey (5/13-14; 390 NM-1 registered voters by Interactive Voice Response system) finds almost a three-way tie for the open Democratic nomination.   Retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has a slight 25-23-20% lead over former US Attorney Damon Martinez and ex-New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Deb Haaland. The results mean the race is a virtual tie at this point, just three weeks from the state's June 5th primary election. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) is vacating the House seat to run for Governor. The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite to hold the seat in November.

PA-1: A competitive race is now on tap in the Bucks County 1st District, where freshman Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) will defend his seat against investment fund CEO Scott Wallace, the grandson of former US Vice President Henry Wallace. Mr. Wallace decisively won the Democratic primary on May 15th.

PA-4 & 5: Democratic state Rep. Madeleine Dean won a huge primary victory in the new Montgomery County 4th District. She captured 73% of the vote and caused former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) to finish last in the primary with just 11% support. Ms. Dean now becomes the prohibitive favorite to win in the general election. A similar situation exists in the neighboring new 5th District where former local school board member Mary Gay Scanlon also convincingly won her Democratic nomination battle. Ms. Scanlon will convert this district to the Democratic column in the fall.

PA-6: Businesswoman and retired Air Force officer Chrissy Houlahan (D) is favored to capture the 6th District against attorney Greg McCauley (R) after Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester) decided to withdraw from the primary after the filing deadline. Both Ms. Houlahan and Mr. McCauley ran unopposed in their respective primaries.

PA-7: The very tight outcome in the Allentown-Bethlehem Republican primary has been resolved. Former Olympic Gold Medalist (cycling) and Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein has won the Republican nomination and advances to the general election against new Democratic nominee Susan Wild. Mr. Nothstein's 308-vote margin from more than 31,000 ballots cast has been confirmed. Former County Commissioner Dean Browning conceded the race and endorsed Mr. Nothstein. The winner of what is likely to be a toss-up general election contest will succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown).

PA-8: Businessman John Chrin won the Republican primary and now will become a competitive opponent to Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in the new 8th District. The 8th is the one incumbent Democratic district that the court-ordered redistricting made weaker for the incumbent Congressman.

PA-9 & 13: Outside the Philadelphia area, former Revenue Commissioner Joe Meuser won the new 9th District Republican primary, and Altoona dermatologist John Joyce topped a large field in the new 13th CD GOP vote. Both men will head to Washington in the fall.

PA-14: In western PA, state Rep. Rick Saccone, who lost the March 13th special election to Democrat Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), again went down to defeat. This time, he lost the new open 14th CD, a district containing 57% of the territory where he previously ran. State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Township) easily defeated Saccone, 55-45%, and will win the seat in November.


Connecticut: This weekend, the Connecticut Democrats will meet in convention to officially endorse party candidates. In response to developments earlier in the week, the delegates will have more to consider. Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced that she was dropping out of the Governor's race and will instead form a ticket with fellow candidate Ned Lamont who, in 2006, denied Sen. Joe Lieberman re-nomination in the Connecticut Democratic primary. Under the state's election law, Mr. Lieberman was still able to qualify as an Independent candidate despite losing in a partisan primary election. Sen. Lieberman went on to win the general election in that year despite not being a major party nominee. The seat is open because Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is not seeking re-election.

Idaho: The two races of note were the primary campaigns to nominate candidates who will eventually succeed retiring three-term Gov. Butch Otter (R). For the favored Republicans, Lt. Gov. Brad Little scored a 37-32-27% primary victory over US Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/ Boise) and physician Tommy Ahlquist. Mr. Little now becomes the favorite against state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Moscow) who registered a big victory over 2014 gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff.

Maryland: Last week it was widely reported that Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County Executive, suddenly passed away. Before his untimely death, Mr. Kamenetz had formed a ticket with former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin, who was his choice for Lt. Governor. Under Maryland election law, Ms. Ervin is empowered to make a decision regarding continuing the campaign. She could automatically assume the top position on the ticket, withdraw the ticket from the race, or appoint a new candidate to replace the late Mr. Kamenetz. Yesterday, Ms. Ervin announced she would continue the Kamenetz campaign and run for Governor. She then named former Baltimore School Board member Marisol Johnson as her own running mate. The Maryland primary is June 26th.

Oregon: With little competition in the US House races and no Senate race for 2018, all attention was focused on the Republican gubernatorial primary. There, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) defeated former statewide candidate Sam Carpenter and Blue Angels former commander Greg Wooldridge by a 47-29-19% count. Mr. Buehler now challenges Gov. Kate Brown (D) who stands for her first full term after winning a 2016 special election. Gov. Brown is favored for re-election.

May 11, 2018
Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio & West Virginia Primaries Headline Eventful Election Week
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Florida: Gov. Rick Scott (R) leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in new poll
  • Mississippi: poll finds Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) leading; Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton (D) out of Senate race
  • Indiana: businessman Mike Braun wins Senate Republican primary
  • Ohio: Rep. Jim Renacci (R) advances to face Sen. Sherrod Brown (D)
  • West Virginia: Attorney General Patrick Morrisey wins Republican  primary
  • IN Congress: St. Rep. Jim Baird (R), Greg Pence (R) headed to Congress
  • NC-3: Rep. Walter Jones (R) wins primary with plurality
  • NC-9: Rep. Bob Pittenger (R) defeated for re-nomination
  • OH-12: St. Sen. Troy Balderson (R) wins special primary; general election set for August 7
  • OH-6: Ex-NFL player Anthony Gonzalez wins open GOP primary
  • SC-4: poll shows run-off coming to replace Rep. Trey Gowdy (R)
  • WA-8: poll shows Dino Rossi (R) has commanding lead in open seat
  • WV-3: Del. Carol Miller, Sen. Richard Ojeda advance to general
  • Alaska: Gov. Bill Walker (I) enters Dem primary
  • Florida: close polling in both gubernatorial primaries; state House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) leaves primary race and endorses former US Rep. Adam Putnam (R)
  • Iowa: new Dem poll gives businessman Fred Hubbell large lead for Governor
  • Kansas: Minority Leader Jim Ward (D) drops out of Governor's race
  • Ohio: Attorney General Mike DeWine (R) to face ex-Federal Consumer Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray (D) in race for Governor


Florida: A new Florida Atlantic University survey (5/4-7; 1,000 Florida registered voters via online sampling) finds Gov. Rick Scott (R), who has been advertising heavily since announcing for the Senate in early April, leads incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D), 44-40% according to the poll results. Among likely voters within the large polling segment, however, the two men are tied at 45% apiece. We can expect this race to carry a toss-up rating all the way to Election Day.

Mississippi: The US Chamber of Commerce commissioned a Global Strategy Group survey (5/1-3; 500 MS likely voters) and found new Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) holding a 30-22-17-4% lead over former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D), state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), and Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton (D), respectively. The polling confirms Republican concerns that McDaniel's candidacy will force Hyde-Smith into a post-election run-off.

Meanwhile, Mayor Shelton announced that he will not continue his campaign, thus allowing Mr. Espy to better coalesce Democrats around his statewide effort. All candidates will appear on the November 6th ballot in a jungle primary format. A likely run-off will ensue on November 27th because it is improbable, at least as this early-going forecast suggests, that any candidate can command an outright majority.

Indiana: Former state Representative and national distribution company owner Mike Braun (R-Jasper) defeated US Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), 41-30-29% for the Republican US Senate nomination on May 8th. Mr. Braun now challenges Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) in the general election in a campaign that should earn a toss-up rating all the way to Election Day.

Ohio: The Senate general election campaign is now set. In the May 8th primary, Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) won the Republican nomination with a 47-32% victory over Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons. Rep. Renacci will now challenge two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the fall. Sen. Brown was unopposed for re-nomination in the Democratic primary. The Senator begins the general election cycle in the clear favorite's position. 

West Virginia: Attorney General Patrick Morrisey defeated US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) and former energy company CEO and convicted felon Don Blankenship to win the Republican Senate primary this Tuesday. Mr. Morrisey scored a 35-29-20% win over Messrs. Jenkins and Blankenship, respectively. The two-term Attorney General now faces Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the general election in what should be another hard-fought toss-up election all the way to November.


Indiana: Since Congressional Districts 4 and 6 are both safely Republican, new GOP nominees Jim Baird, a state Representative, and Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Mike Pence, have virtually punched their tickets to Congress. Both won the respective primaries in the 4th and 6th, and the two men will individually replace Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), each of whom risked their seats to run unsuccessfully in Tuesday's Senate primary.

NC-3: North Carolina veteran Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) survived two primary challengers earlier this week, but only garnered 43% of the vote. Because North Carolina election law only requires a run-off if a candidate falls below 30%, however, Rep. Jones won re-nomination and clinched another term on Tuesday night. Because the Democrats did not file a candidate in the 3rd District race, Rep. Jones is guaranteed to win re-election in November. He was first elected in 1994 and says the upcoming term will be his last.

NC-9: The first incumbent electoral casualty of the 2018 election season occurred this week in southern North Carolina. Two years ago, after a mid-decade court-ordered redistricting radically changed the 9th Congressional District, making 60% of the territory new to Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) soon before the 2016 primary, he and former Charlotte area pastor Mark Harris fought to a virtual draw in the GOP primary. In that year, Rep. Pittenger survived by only a 134-vote margin. On Tuesday, the tables turned. Mr. Harris denied Rep. Pittenger re-nomination with a 48.5 - 46.2% percentage spread, a margin of 814 votes.

Mr. Harris will now face Democratic businessman Dan McCready, who has already raised almost $2 million for his campaign. The 9th District, which now stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border, looks to be competitive in the fall. But, President Trump carried the seat by nine percentage points in 2016, and Rep. Pittenger won the general election with 58% of the vote, so the voting trends still clearly favor the new Republican nominee.

OH-12: On Tuesday, state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) nipped local township trustee Melanie Leneghan by one percentage point to win the Republican special election nomination. Sen. Balderson now advances to the special general scheduled in a stand-alone election on August 7th. The winner replaces former Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) who resigned from the House to return to the private sector. In that election, Sen. Balderson faces Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor who won the Democratic nomination with 41% of the vote in a field of six candidates. The Republican primary out-drew the Democratic side by over 23,000 voters. Sen. Balderson is the clear favorite to win the special general. He simultaneously won the Republican nomination for the full term in the regular cycle, also by a one-percentage point margin.

OH-16: Also on Tuesday, Anthony Gonzalez, a former professional football player with the Indianapolis Colts after starring at Ohio State University, won the Republican primary to succeed Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) who became the Senate Republican nominee on the same night. Mr. Gonzalez defeated state Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro Township), 53-41%. He now will oppose healthcare company executive Susan Moran Palmer (D) in the general election. The 56-39% Trump district should easily yield a Gonzalez victory on November 6th.

SC-4: A total of 13 Republican candidates are running to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg) in the upcoming June 12th primary election. If no candidate secures majority support, a run-off will occur just two weeks later on June 26th. According to a National Research survey (4/23-25; 400 SC-4 likely Republican primary voters) for the GOPAC Election Fund, former state Sen. Lee Bright (R-Roebuck) pulls 13%, followed by a group of candidates between 5 and 7%. Former Spartanburg County Republican chairman Josh Kimbrell, state Sen. William Timmons (R-Greenville), and state Rep. Dan Hamilton (R-Greenville) are all within the margin of polling error for the second run-off position. No other candidate exceeded 2% support. In all, only 37% of the respondents could name a preferred candidate.

WA-8: Controversy has been reigning in the Washington state media about a Global Strategy Group poll (released in part on 4/12; 400 WA-8 likely jungle primary voters) that has been selectively released. The flap surrounds whether pediatrician Kim Schrier or attorney Jason Rittereiser is in second place. Under the Washington primary process, the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of vote percentage or party affiliation. But, regardless of who is doing better among Democrats, the more important fact is that Republican former state Senator and gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi begins the race with a commanding lead. According to the latest release from the GSG, the "uniformed", or first ballot test question asked, finds Rossi garnering 48% support. Dr. Schrier is second with 14%, Mr. Rittereiser third at 6%, and a second physician, Shannon Hader (D), is third with 5 percent. The 8th District is a marginal Republican seat that Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is vacating after seven terms.

WV-3: With Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) leaving the House for his unsuccessful Senate run, the voters in the open 3rd District chose nominees on Tuesday. The Republicans fielded seven candidates, and state House Majority Whip Carol Miller (R-Cabell County) won the nomination with just 25% of the vote. She will face state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) who grabbed 52% support in the Democratic primary over three others. Ms. Miller will begin the race as the favorite, but Sen. Ojeda could make this a competitive general election.


Alaska: Under a new state election law that allows Independent candidates to enter partisan primaries, Gov. Bill Walker, the nation's lone Independent Governor, said yesterday that he will compete for the Democratic nomination in the state's August 21st primary. He could continue on the Independent line in the general election irrespective of the primary outcome. Over the weekend, former US Sen. Mark Begich (D) again refused to rule out his own bid for Governor. Should he enter the race, Mr. Begich would be viewed as the favorite for the Democratic nomination, yielding a likely three-way free-for-all in the general election where anything could happen.

Florida: The aforementioned Florida Atlantic University poll (see Florida Senate above) finds both the open Democratic and Republican gubernatorial primaries to be virtual ties with all candidates securing less than 20% support. For the Democrats, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine leads the field with just 16% respondent preference, followed by former US Rep. Gwen Graham at 15%, businessman Chris King taking 10%, and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum following with just 6% support. On the Republican side, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) has an identical 16-15% edge over Agriculture Commissioner and former US Rep. Adam Putnam.

The third presumed significant candidate, state House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O' Lakes), was expected to begin a major push forward but has now changed course. Consistently failing to even reach high single-digits in polling, Mr. Corcoran has decided not to run, and this week instead endorsed Mr. Putnam.

Iowa: According to a new Remington Research survey (5/5-6; 2,315 IA likely Democratic primary voters; automated), businessman Fred Hubbell (D), who has been advertising heavily as the nomination campaign moves into its final month before the June 5th primary election, has developed a large lead. The results find Mr. Hubbell capturing 46% of the polled Democratic respondent group. State Sen. Nate Boulton (D-Des Moines) is far back with 20%, followed by four other candidates all registering below 8% preference. The winner will challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) in November. Ms. Reynolds, the state's Lt. Governor until incumbent Terry Branstad (R) was appointed US Ambassador to China, is running for her first full term.

Kansas: State House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita) has ended his gubernatorial campaign. With state Rep. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) capturing the party's liberal faction and former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer (D) squeezing him from a geographic perspective, Mr. Ward had a very narrow path to victory. Instead, he announced that he will seek another term in the state House.

Maryland: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who was one of the leading Democratic gubernatorial candidates, suffered a heart attack early yesterday morning and suddenly passed away at the age of 60. His passing leaves not only a void in statewide Democratic politics but also in Baltimore local government. Since Mr. Kamenetz chose an official running mate, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D), she has until next Thursday to make a decision about her ticket's status. Under state law, Ms. Ervin can elevate herself to the gubernatorial position, invite another person to take Mr. Kamenetz's place, or withdraw the ticket from the ballot. The latest available campaign finance report showed the Kamenetz campaign had raised over $1 million, a war chest that Ms. Ervin will inherit if she decides to become the gubernatorial candidate.

Missouri: State legislative leaders announced they have met the requirements to call a special session of the state House and Senate to consider the special committee report about Gov. Eric Greitens (R) pre-election affair with a married woman and subsequent felony indictment for invasion of privacy. The special session will begin May 18th and could result in an impeachment vote.   In the House, 15 Representatives beyond than the required minimum amount signed the legislative petition to request a special session. In the Senate, 26 were needed to agree, and 29 Senators made the official request. Such numbers do not bode well for Gov. Greitens. If he were removed from office, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson (R) would become Governor. 

Ohio: In the lone Governor's race on the ballot in the multi-state May 8th primary, Republican Attorney General Mike DeWine easily defeated Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, 60-40%. For the Democrats, as expected, former Attorney General and ex-Federal Consumer Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray topped former Rep. Dennis Kucinich and others with 62% of the party vote. The DeWine-Cordray general election now sets up a re-match between the two former opponents. In 2010, Mr. DeWine, who lost his US Senate seat in 2006, unseated then-Attorney General Cordray, 47-46%, in that year's general election. The Ohio Governor's race is open because incumbent John Kasich (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.