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.


January 18, 2019
Candidate Announcements Continue
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI-2) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) to form exploratory committees                 
  • North Carolina: Sen. Thom Tillis (R) draws first opponent - Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller (D)                    
  • West Virginia: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) considers run for Governor in 2020                      
  • CA-52: Rep. Scott Peters (D) won't run for San Diego Mayor
  • PA-12: Rep. Tom Marino (R) to resign on January 23 to take job in private sector
  • ND-Gov: Ex-Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) to Join CNBC making potential campaign for Governor highly unlikely

President

Julian Castro:  As expected, former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro (D) made his campaign for President official by announcing for the office in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas, a place where he won his only elective office as Mayor.  Mr. Castro's brother, Joaquin Castro, represents part of the city in the US House. Mr. Castro is a long shot for the Democratic nomination who hopes to rally a constituency around the immigration issue.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard:  In a CNN interview, four-term Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) said that she will formally announce her campaign for President.  Ms. Gabbard was first elected to the House in 2012 after serving in the Hawaii state House of Representatives and on the Honolulu City Council.  She did not seek re-election after one term in the state legislature in order to serve in Iraq with her Hawaii National Guard unit.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand:  Yet another presidential exploratory committee has been announced. On the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), as expected, said that she is forming a committee to study her chances of winning the Democratic presidential nomination, and eventually the White House.  She becomes the seventh significant Democrat to either file an exploratory committee or officially announce or schedule a declaration of their national candidacy.

Rep. Seth Moulton:  Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) became the focal point leader of the opposition to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi once the Democrats captured the majority in the 2018 election.  Though Mr. Moulton voted for Speaker Pelosi in the House roll call, his future opportunities in the chamber are not expected to be particularly plentiful.

Reports coming from New England indicate that the Congressman is scheduling meetings in neighboring New Hampshire, suggesting that he, too, may now be thinking about testing the waters for a presidential run.  Rep. Moulton has also been mentioned as a potential Democratic primary opponent to Sen. Ed Markey, but such a move doesn't appear to have any political legs at this time.

Senate

North Carolina: In what is expected to be a crowded political card lining up against first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R), the first notable Democratic challenger indicated that he will run. Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller told the local Charlotte Observer newspaper that he will be a Senatorial candidate in 2020.  State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) is also expected to enter the race in relatively short order.

Tennessee: Gov. Bill Haslam leaves office this weekend, and speculation is continuing as to whether he will become a 2020 US Senate candidate to replace the retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R).  Gov. Haslam reiterated that he is considering running and says he will make up his mind in "a month or so" after leaving office.  No other Republican has yet to come forward to declare for the open seat, obviously waiting to see what Gov. Haslam intends.

Attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler, who quickly raised $1 million for the 2018 open Senate campaign but withdrew when former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) declared his candidacy, is the only Democrat so far to officially enter the 2020 contest.

West Virginia:  Sen. Joe Manchin (D) making comments that he might run for Governor in 2020 has GOP leaders watching with interest.  Should he run and defeat GOP Gov. Jim Justice, a special election would be called to fill the balance of Manchin's Senate term as opposed to the Governor filling the vacant seat via appointment.  The law does allow a short-term appointment until the special is held, but the election would quickly follow the vacancy becoming official and would be conducted in mid-2021.  Republicans would be favored in an open Senate special election without Mr. Manchin on the ballot.

House

AZ-1:  Late this week, former Flagstaff City Councilmember Eva Putsova announced that she will oppose two-term Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Sedona) in the 2020 Democratic primary.  Ms. Putsova, a native of Slovenia, was a member of the local council for one four-year term that ended in 2018.   Her challenge to the moderate House member will be from his ideological left.

CA-52:  After filing an exploratory committee before Christmas to study his chances of winning the upcoming 2020 San Diego Mayor's race, Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego), a former SD City Council President, has abandoned further plans to return to local government.  Facing a crowded field in the 2020 jungle primary to succeed term-limited Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R), and a race that would require him to risk his congressional seat, Rep. Peters has instead announced that he will seek a fifth term in the US House next year.

CO-4:  US Rep. Ken Buck (R-Windsor/Greeley) confirms that he is running to become chairman of the Colorado Republican Party.  It has been a Colorado tradition that the state party chairman does not serve in an elected office, but reports indicate that Mr. Buck would eschew such a practice if he were to win the post at the state Republican convention on March 30th in order to continue serving in Congress.

NV-4:  Former US Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), who retired after one term, announced that he will now run for a seat on the Las Vegas City Council.  Earlier he filed an exploratory committee to assess his chances, and obviously the initial research indicates his chances of winning are enough to launch an official political effort. Before winning his congressional seat in 2016, Mr. Kihuen served in the Nevada state Senate and Assembly.

NH-1:  New Hampshire's 1st Congressional District has defeated more incumbent House members than any CD in the United States since 2006.  In an open seat situation last year, NH Executive Councilor Chris Pappas (D) defeated former police chief Eddie Edwards (R) by a healthy 54-45% margin.  But, considering the competitive history of this district, one can never fully predict what the voters here will do.  Mr. Edwards confirms he is considering running again next year. Republican Party leaders, however, may prefer to look in a different direction because the 2018 nominee under-performed in terms of attracting votes and fundraising.

NC-3:  With North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) confirming that he will not seek a 14th congressional term next year, the GOP open seat candidate field is already starting to develop.  Both 2018 Republican candidates Phil Law, an Iraq War veteran, and Craven County Commissioner Scott Dacey confirm they are likely to run again in 2020.  In the May '18 Republican primary, Mr. Jones won re-nomination with a 43-29-28% win over Messrs. Law and Dacey.

PA-12:  Yesterday, five-term Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) announced that he is going to resign from the House on January 23rd to accept a position in the private sector. The 12th District is safely Republican, and the vacancy means a special election will be called likely to coincide with the state's municipal election primary on May 21st. Republicans will be favored to hold the seat, which is the third best Republican district in Pennsylvania and the 41st most pro-Trump CD in the country.  President Trump carried PA-12 with a 66-30% margin in 2016.

SC-1:  In what will likely be the first of many Republican campaign announcements against freshman Rep. Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston), Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert (R) became the initial person to become an official candidate with his public declaration this week. Also expected to run is 2018 GOP nominee Katie Arrington, a former state Representative who lost to Mr. Cunningham, 51-49%, in a major upset result.  Former Congressman and ex-Governor Mark Sanford, who lost to Arrington in last year's Republican primary, remains noncommittal about his future political plans.  This race will be considered a pure toss-up.

Governor

Kentucky:  With the January 29th candidate filing deadline fast approaching for the 2019 Kentucky Governor's campaign, a great deal of political attention is being paid to the state. Last week, US Rep. James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), who lost to current Gov. Matt Bevin (R) by just 83 votes in the 2015 Republican primary, said he would have interest in running for Governor if the incumbent decided not to run.

Since then, Gov. Bevin has made it clear that he intends to seek re-election, and now Rep. Comer appears to be changing his tune.  This week, the Congressman said that he may consider challenging the Governor now that he fully understands the precarious political position encompassing Mr. Bevin. State Rep. Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt) has already announced his Republican primary challenge to the Governor.  The Democratic field features Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelin, and state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook).

Louisiana:  The latest Louisiana Governor's campaign news features former US Rep. John Fleming (R) indicating that he is also considering entering the 2019 Governor's race in order to challenge Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards.  Dr. Fleming served four terms in the House, leaving in 2016 to run unsuccessfully for the Senate.  He finished fifth in a field of 24 jungle primary candidates, failing to advance into the general election.  Then-state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) eventually claimed the seat in the run-off election.  Currently, Dr. Fleming is an official in the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Gov. Edwards is seeking re-election.  His current challengers are US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and land developer Eddie Rispone (R).  Both Sen. Kennedy and Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) declined to run.

New York:  The New York legislature, now that Democrats have assumed control of both legislative chambers, just passed a sweeping election procedure package.  The most significant change is the elimination of the two-tiered primary system.  The Empire State is the only one in the Union that holds a federal primary and a separate nomination vote for state offices.  Under this bill, the two would be unified as in all other states.  Additionally, an early voting option would be added to the New York voting procedure for the first time.  Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is expected to approve these election procedural changes.

North Dakota:  Earlier in the month, former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) was peppered with reporters' questions about whether she would challenge Gov. Doug Burgum (R) in the 2020 election.  While denying interest, she did indicate that an announcement would soon be forthcoming about her professional future.  This week, Ms. Heitkamp informed the North Dakota public that she has accepted a position with the CNBC Financial News Network as a regular contributor.  Therefore, it is highly unlikely that she will return to North Dakota in order to challenge a first-term GOP Governor with high approval ratings.


January 11, 2019
Potential Candidates Making Decisions to Run...or Not

by Jim Ellis

 

Key Takeaways:

  • President:  Former Sec. Julian Castro forms exploratory committee
  • President:  Tom Steyer, billionaire former hedge fund manager, decides not to run                        
  • Kansas:  Sen. Pat Roberts (R) to retire                       
  • Tennessee:  Ex-Gov. Bill Haslam (R) considering run for Senate                      
  • House: SCOTUS claims jurisdiction over MD and NC gerrymandering cases
  • WV-Gov: Gov. Jim Justice (R) to seek re-election

President

 

Sen. Sherrod Brown:  Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown (D), just winning a 53-47% re-election victory over now-former Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth), indicated that he will decide whether to enter the presidential race within the next two months.  As many as ten Senators are either taking definitive steps toward entering the race or considering doing so.

 

Julian Castro:  Former Housing & Urban Development secretary Julian Castro has scheduled an announcement for Saturday, at which point he is expected to convert his presidential exploratory committee into a candidate committee.  Mr. Castro is a long shot for the party nomination.

 

Sen. Kamala Harris:  Reports are now suggesting that California Sen. Kamala Harris (D) is close to officially becoming a presidential candidate and will apparently bypass the exploratory phase.  It appears Sen. Harris will announce her national bid from her native Oakland, CA at a rally on the Martin Luther King birthday holiday, scheduled for January 21st, and not through social media as so many candidates are now doing.  Announcing now will provide her a full year of campaigning before early voting begins in the California primary on February 3, 2020.

 

Tom Steyer:  Earlier this week, billionaire former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer made his scheduled announcement from Iowa, but the message was different than expected.  Instead of launching a presidential exploratory committee, Mr. Steyer said he is not running for President "at this time," and chooses to devote his time and ample resources into building his organization that is attempting to rally grassroots support for President Trump's impeachment.

 

Senate

 

Georgia:  Speculation continues to grow about former state House Minority Leader and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Stacy Abrams potentially challenging Sen. David Perdue (R) next year.  This week, Ms. Abrams again confirmed considering running for the Senate and said she will make a decision about whether to enter the race in late March.

 

David Perdue was first elected in 2014, defeating Democrat Michelle Nunn by a 53-45% margin.  Ms. Abrams lost a very close Governor's race to Republican Brian Kemp, a spread of just 54,723 votes from more than 3.94 million ballots cast.

 

Kansas:  Veteran Sunflower State Sen. Pat Roberts (R) announced that he will not run for a fifth term in 2020.  The Senator, who will be 84 years of age at the next election, will have served a total of 40 years in Congress when combining his time in the Senate and House. He was originally elected to the western 1st Congressional District in 1980 and served eight terms, rising to become chairman of the House Agriculture Committee.  He is currently the Senate Agriculture Committee chair.

 

We are expecting to see multiple candidates vie for the Republican and Democratic nominations.  The 2020 election will be only the fifth open Kansas Senate race since 1968.

 

On the Republican side, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R), who was appointed to his position when Ron Estes was elected to Congress in 2017 and then won a 58% statewide election victory in November, became the first announced candidate.   Former Gov. Jeff Colyer, ex-Secretary of State and defeated gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach, and Attorney General Derek Smith are all making early moves toward running or speaking favorably toward doing so. For the Democrats, ex-US Attorney Barry Grissom and Bernie Sanders campaign activist, and 2018 congressional candidate Brent Welder look like they are moving toward candidacy.

 

Those not looking toward running are US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and former US Rep. Kevin Yoder.  Indicating they will make decisions later in the year are US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend), American Conservative Union president Matt Schlapp, and Kansas Chamber of Commerce president Alan Cobb (R).

 

Maine:  Sen. Susan Collins (R), who was first elected in 1996, stopped short of formally announcing that she will seek a fifth term next year but did say she is "getting ready to run." She was last re-elected in 2014 with 67% of the vote, but a more highly competitive contest is expected in the coming election.  Six-term Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-North Haven/Portland) is a potential opponent.

 

Tennessee:  Iraq War veteran James Mackler (D), who quickly raised over $1 million for the 2018 Senate race before exiting in favor of former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D), announced yesterday that he will enter the 2020 open seat contest to replace retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander (R).  He is the first person from either party to declare his candidacy.

 

No Republican has yet stepped forward to become a candidate, probably because former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) made a statement last week confirming that he is at least considering running.  The move probably froze the potential GOP field, which is likely to remain in limbo until the popular two-term chief executive makes his political intentions public.

 

House

 

House:  In a signal that the US Supreme Court may be ready to issue definitive rulings about racial and political gerrymandering, the high panel announced that SCOTUS will assume jurisdiction over the Maryland political gerrymandering case that involves the state's 6th District and will hear the latest challenge to the North Carolina lines involving a further claim of racial discrimination.

 

Republicans are bringing the Maryland case, while Democrats are plaintiffs in the North Carolina litigation.  The Court is setting early hearing dates for these cases meaning that rulings will likely come before the end of June.

 

FL-8:  Dena Grayson, wife of former Congressman and ex-US Senate candidate Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), is launching her second run for the US House. In 2016, she lost the Democratic primary for her husband's former 9th District when he was running statewide.  Ms. Grayson announced that she will challenge Rep. Bill Posey (R-Rockledge) in the adjacent 8th CD, a much more Republican district (Trump '16: 58-38%), instead of again going after Democratic Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) in the more Democratic 9th District.  Rep. Posey will be heavily favored for re-election.

 

IA-4:  Largely due to controversial statements that Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron/ Sioux City) made early in the campaign, his 2018 victory margin dropped to 50-47% against a candidate who spent more than $3 million against him.  The result is more indicative of political weakness when seeing that this district carried Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds to statewide victory.

 

This week, state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) announced that he would challenge Rep. King in next year's Republican primary. Responding to the move, the Iowa Republican Party leadership yesterday made public their position that the party apparatus will remain neutral if this nomination contest actually materializes for June of 2020.  Normally, the party structure supports its incumbents.

 

NY-22:  Broome County District Attorney Stephen Cornwell (R) just announced that he will not seek re-election next year in order to pursue "other political opportunities."  The statement is widely interpreted to mean that the local DA plans to challenge freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica), who upended one-term Republican Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) by a small 50.1 - 48.3% margin of victory.  It is also possible that Ms. Tenney may seek a re-match, but it is evident from Mr. Cornwell's move that the former Congresswoman will face a battle for re-nomination should she again choose to enter the electoral fray.

 

Governor

 

Kentucky:  Though Gov. Matt Bevin (R) has twice stated he intends to seek re-election this year, speculation is rampant that he will not.  US Rep. James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), who lost the 2015 Republican gubernatorial primary to Mr. Bevin by just 83 votes of more than 214,000 ballots cast before he was elected to Congress in 2016, said he would not challenge Gov. Bevin if the Kentucky chief executive files for re-election but would run if the position comes open.

 

State Rep. Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt) did formally announce his opposition to Gov. Bevin in this year's Republican primary, however. 

 

In a public comment, the Governor said he is going to going to seek re-election and hasn't filed his committee because he is undecided about his running mate.  In Kentucky, the Governor and Lt. Governor run as a ticket.  The state requires both names when filing for the office, and the deadline is January 29th.  This clearly brings into question whether he will retain Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, but he promises a decision will soon be made.

 

Louisiana:  Originally, it appeared that Attorney General and former US Congressman Jeff Landry (R) was gearing up to run for Governor but instead opted to announce for re-election when it appeared that US Sen. John Kennedy (R) would challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards (D). When the Senator decided to remain where he is, rumors began surfacing that Mr. Landry was re-thinking his political plans.  This week, the Attorney General ended the speculation by announcing that he is continuing his campaign for re-election and will by-pass a run for Governor in 2019.

 

The gubernatorial field includes, at this point, only two announced contenders: US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and real estate developer Eddie Rispone, but others still have plenty of time to enter the race.  Former Congressman and US Senate candidate Charles Boustany (R), state Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta, and state Sen. Sharon Hewitt (R-Slidell) are all potential gubernatorial candidates.

 

The Louisiana candidate filing deadline is not until August 8th for the October 12th statewide jungle primary and November 16th run-off election.

 

North Carolina:  Public Policy Polling just conducted a survey of North Carolina voters (1/4-7; 750 NC registered voters), providing Gov. Roy Cooper (D) with results of some early ballot test data.  According to the PPP results, Gov. Cooper is favorably positioned against his two potential principle opponents.

 

Isolating former Gov. Pat McCrory (R), the man he unseated in 2016, Gov. Cooper jumps out to a close 45-41% edge.  His advantage grows opposite GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Forest.  In that ballot pairing, the Governor would lead 47-35%.  Mr. Cooper's favorability index is 44:35% positive to negative.  Before winning the Governor's office, Roy Cooper won four consecutive elections as state Attorney General.

 

West Virginia:  Late this week, Gov. Jim Justice (R) announced that he will seek re-election in 2020. Mr. Justice was first elected in 2016 as a Democrat, but publicly switched parties at one of President Trump's rallies.  It was thought that he might draw opposition in the Republican primary, and still may, but none has yet materialized.  Gov. Justice would begin as the favorite to win again next year.

 

January 4, 2019
Pelosi Elected as Speaker and Presidential Candidate Announcements Begin 2019
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President:  Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) form presidential exploratory committees
  • President: Ex-Gov Martin O'Malley (D-MD) confirms he will not be a 2020 presidential candidate                       
  • Senate: Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) draws primary opponent - State Representative-elect Anne Stava-Murray                  
  • CA-50: Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) to run again after losing in 2018 to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R)                                    
  • NC-3: Rep. Walter Jones (R) confirms retirement in 2020
  • MS-Gov: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) officially announces run for Governor

President

Jay Inslee:  Reports coming from Washington State indicate that Gov. Jay Inslee (D) will imminently announce the formation of a presidential exploratory committee.  The Governor is working to construct a national finance team and develop a campaign platform that will center around climate change.  At this point, Mr. Inslee would be the first Governor to take a step toward officially joining the candidate mix, although Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) and outgoing Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) are both contemplating becoming a national candidate.

Martin O'Malley:  Former Maryland Governor and 2016 presidential candidate Martin O'Malley (D) confirmed that he will not be running for the nation's top office in 2020 via a public statement made yesterday. Mr. O'Malley, however, urged former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) to enter the race saying that, "it's time for a new generation of leadership."

Sen. Elizabeth Warren:  The Massachusetts Senator kicked off 2019 with her announcement that she is forming a presidential exploratory committee. Early polling has found Sen. Warren dropping in support, coming in well behind former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT), and US Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX). She fails to reach double-digit backing among surveyed Democrats so far in any poll.

Sen. Warren is kicking off the exploratory phase of her presidential campaign with a trip to Iowa, visiting four cities in the central and western part of the state.

Senate

Illinois:  State Representative-Elect Anne Stava-Murray (D), who will be sworn into office next week after unseating Republican state Rep. David Olsen, 51-49% in her western Chicago suburban district, has already announced plans to challenge US Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) in the 2020 statewide Democratic primary.

Ms. Stava-Murray ran as an anti-establishment, anti-political machine opponent to Democratic state House Speaker Mike Madigan, so we can expect the same type of outsider attacks to be launched against Sen. Durbin.  Her chances of denying the four-term Senate leader re-nomination are slim at best, however.

House

Speaker Pelosi:  California US Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco), as expected, was elected Speaker of the 116th House of Representatives, winning 220 votes for the position. She escaped going to a second ballot by only two votes.  Fifteen members of her own party, including four who are not serving their first full term, voted for another individual.

Ms. Pelosi, the 52nd Speaker of the House, returns to the position she held from 2007 to 2011. This is the first time since 1955 that an individual has returned to the Speakership after exiting. She is the sixth person in US history to regain the Speaker's gavel after her party lost the majority.

CA-50:  Ammar Campa-Najjar (D), one of the few 2018 California Democratic congressional challengers who failed to win, announced that he will run again in the next cycle.  Back in November, he lost 54-46% to Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine).

It's possible that Mr. Campa-Najjar won't have to wait until 2020. Rep. Hunter is scheduled for trial under a campaign finance indictment and will likely resign or be expelled if found guilty.  Therefore, we can expect much early political action coming from this San Diego County anchored seat.

NC-3:  During the re-election cycle, North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) said that the 2018 campaign would be his last. Through a spokesman when the new Congress convened, Mr. Jones confirmed that he will not seek a 14th term in 2020.  The Congressman was first elected in 1994 and will have served 26 years when the new term ends.

NC-9:  Only 434 certified voting members took their seats when the House was called to order this week.  Since the state of North Carolina still has not officially decided the 9th District race - and the eventual conclusion will likely be to call a new election - the House leadership had little choice but to declare the seat vacant.

The North Carolina Board of Elections is next scheduled to meet on January 11th.  At that time, the panel may order and schedule the new election that will probably be scheduled for late February or March. Voting irregularities in one county are the reason the Board refused to certify Republican Mark Harris as the winner.  Unofficially, Mr. Harris still leads businessman Dan McCready (D) by 905 votes.

PA-7:  Freshman Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown) has been in office just one day but she has already drawn her first re-election opponent. Yesterday, former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning (R), who barely lost the 2018 Republican primary to County Commissioner Marty Nothstein (318 vote margin from 32,164 ballots cast), announced that he will run again in 2020.

VA-7:  Former Rep. Dave Brat (R) is unlikely to seek a re-match with new Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger (D) in Virginia's 7th District.  Liberty University just announced that Mr. Brat will rejoin academia with his acceptance of their offer to run the institution's business school.  VA-7 is expected to be a top Republican conversion target in 2020, but the party will likely be fielding a fresh standard bearer.

Governor

Mississippi:  As expected, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) officially announced that he will run for Governor in this year's election.  Two-term incumbent Phil Bryant (R) is ineligible to seek re-election.

The announcement likely sets up a competitive odd-year statewide campaign featuring Mr. Reeves and four-term Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood.  At this point, both men have primary opposition, but neither faces major competition for their respective party nominations. The Mississippi candidate filing deadline is March 1st.  The party primaries are August 6th in preparation for the November 5th general election.

Montana:  Gov. Steve Bullock, a budding 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term in his present position come the next election.  Yesterday, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton, who ran for Governor in 2012 but was defeated in the Republican primary, announced that he will enter the open 2020 Governor's race.

Republican Attorney General Tim Fox (R) is also expected to run setting up a major primary between two statewide officials. Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney is expected to lead the statewide Democratic ticket in next year's campaign.

North Carolina:  Earlier this week, former Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who was defeated for re-election in 2016 by a tenth of a percentage point, says he will not become a congressional candidate.  He did confirm, however, that he is considering seeking a re-match with Gov. Roy Cooper (D) next year, or possibly running for US Senate in 2022 if incumbent Richard Burr (R) follows through with statements made in the 2016 campaign that he would not seek a fourth term when his seat next comes in-cycle.


December 21, 2018
Attention Turns to 2020 Election Cycle 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President:  Democratic Party 2019/2020 plans feature a dozen candidate debates                            
  • Tennessee: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) will retire                                   
  • ME-2: Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) will appeal federal court ruling in effort to strike down Maine's Ranked Choice Voting system
  • NC-9: 116th Congress will begin with NC-9 as a vacant seat pending a new election
  • KY-Gov: Gov. Matt Bevin (R) trails in first polling

President

Debates:  The Democratic National Committee has already announced their plan for the presidential debate series coming in 2019 and 2020.  The program will feature a dozen candidate debates, six in mid to late 2019, with the remaining forums to be scheduled before the key 2020 primaries.

Changing the Republicans' approach of 2016 where they divided a large candidate field by poll standing, relegating the weakest candidates to their own debate that quickly was coined a "junior varsity" assembly, DNC chairman Tom Perez said that the "double-header" term would be a better description of their format.  Each city hosting a debate will have programs on successive nights.  The fields will be determined through drawing lots to determine which candidates will appear on the first night, and who would participate on the second evening.

The 2019 debates will precede the early primaries and caucuses and could possibly include California because the state's early voting process will begin simultaneously with the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary.

South Carolina:  Though South Carolina hosts one of the first four nominating events within the presidential cycle, commonly known as the "First in the South" primary, the Republicans may not schedule a 2020 version.

Doing so would not be unprecedented.  The state Republican Party followed a similar course in 2004 to ensure that President George W. Bush had no impediment to obtaining unified support from the South Carolina delegation.  Because of President Trump's demonstrated strength in this state, party leaders are considering again following such a course.  In any event, the Democratic primary will definitely be held and likely scheduled for February 29th.

Pete Buttigieg:  South Bend, IN Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) announced that he will not seek re-election to a third term and is expected to join the presidential campaign sometime early next year. Mr. Buttigieg, who is openly gay, will bank on strong support from the LGBT community and its allies as he builds a base within the Democratic Party.  Though officially mum about running for President, he is already heading to Iowa for speaking appearances this coming weekend.

Bernie Sanders:  The Democracy for Action organization surveyed what they claim are 94,000 self-identified progressives asking their preference for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.  As was the case in 2016, the most liberal faction of the Democratic Party is again lining up behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In this new survey, he captured 36% support.

Again falling far behind, as she has already done in other polls, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren attracts only 8%, falling to single digits even within a group where she should draw strong support.  In second position is former Vice President Joe Biden followed by Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX). The two captured 15 and 12%, respectively.

Senate

Colorado:  Sen. Cory Gardner (R), possibly the most vulnerable Republican Senator standing for election in 2020 because of his state's recent leftward electoral lurch, has drawn a second Democratic challenger. Former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff filed a 2020 US Senate campaign committee late last week, indicating that he intends to become a candidate. Previously, the executive director of the Colorado Statewide Parent Coalition, Lorena Garcia, announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination.

Others, such as Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden), former state Treasurer and ex-gubernatorial candidate Cary Kennedy, and ex-state Senator and 2018 gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston are all viewed as possible Democratic Senatorial candidates.

Iowa:  Democratic leaders nationally and in Iowa are making it clear that they would like to recruit former Governor and US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack (D) into the Senate race in order to challenge first-term incumbent Joni Ernst (R).  The former Governor and cabinet secretary, however, was vague when asked about his intentions.  As reported in many places, Mr. Vilsack responded that, "the door's not open, closed, shut. I don't even know where the door is." It appears apparent that Mr. Vilsack, who was last on the Iowa ballot in 2002, is less than committed to making another statewide run.

Kansas:  Sen. Pat Roberts (R), at 82 years of age and a clear retirement prospect particularly after a difficult 2014 re-election campaign, is already drawing a probable 2020 Democratic challenger.   Former US Attorney Barry Grissom (D) again reiterated that he is seriously considering entering the Senate campaign in the next cycle. Sen. Roberts has not yet committed to seeking re-election.

Tennessee:  Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) released a statement this week announcing that he does not intend to seek re-election to a fourth term in 2020. Prior to being elected in 2002, Mr. Alexander had served as US Education Secretary under President George H.W. Bush, and as Tennessee Governor for two terms.  He is the only person in Tennessee history who served as both Governor and US Senator.

The Senate opening will ignite a large field of candidates seeking the office, particularly on the Republican side.  Moves will soon be made, so this story will continue to develop.  The Tennessee nominating primaries won't be held until the first week of August in 2020.

House

CA-52:   Four-term Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego) has officially formed an exploratory committee to test his viability in the open 2020 Mayor's race. Before being elected to Congress, Mr. Peters was President of the San Diego City Council.  The Congressman said he will decide about running for the city post in the "next few months."  He can expect major competition from both Republicans and Democrats as a number of strong candidates are expected to vie for the office. Incumbent Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

ME-2:  After losing his constitutional federal lawsuit to strike down Maine's instant run-off system, known as Ranked Choice Voting, Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor) has ended the full recount he requested of last month's vote.  The recount process was about half complete, and no significant change was discovered.

Mr. Poliquin lost his initial attempt at overturning Maine's Ranked Choice Voting system in federal court but has now decided to appeal the lower court decision.  He argues that the RCV, which gives more votes to people whose original candidates finish in the second tier, is unconstitutional.  The Maine state Supreme Court has already ruled the system as unconstitutional for state races, but they have no jurisdiction over federal elections.

NE-2:  2018 Democratic nominee Kara Eastman, who held Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillon/Omaha) to a 51-49% victory margin, says she will run again in the next election cycle. Ms. Eastman upset former US Representative and ex-state Senator Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) in the 2018 Democratic primary to advance into the general election.

Though Mr. Ashford is an unlikely 2020 candidate, his wife, Ann Ferlic Ashford, confirms that she is seriously considering entering the race.  Should this occur, a re-match of sorts would be decided before the main rerun is even held. Nebraska's 2nd District is politically marginal, so we can expect this contest to again be competitive.

NM-2:  New Mexico state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) looks to be taking steps to seek a re-match against the woman who defeated her 51-49% in November, attorney and now Rep-Elect Xochitl Torres-Small (D).  Though Ms. Herrell is still considering filing a lawsuit over potential voting irregularities in Dona Ana County, she is "not ruling out" another congressional run in 2020.

Outgoing Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), who just lost the Governor's race but was subsequently elected as the New Mexico Republican Party chairman, is also not closing the door on a second comeback for the seat he vacated to run statewide in both 2008 and 2018.

NC-9:  It is now a virtual certainty that North Carolina's 9th District will begin the new Congress as a vacant seat pending a new election.  The North Carolina State Board of Elections postponed their December 21st meeting to January 11th, meaning the issue of officially certifying Republican Mark Harris' apparent 905-vote victory will not be finally decided until almost two weeks after the new congressional session begins.

The meeting, however, is basically a formality.  All sides are calling for a new election, which will almost certainly be ordered at the next BoE meeting.   A new law is likely to be enacted that will open the impending special primary election to all individuals meaning Mr. Harris may not even be re-nominated.  The accusations of voter fraud surrounding his lead have severely damaged his image, therefore he would have a very difficult time winning the seat in the special. Republicans will likely move forward with a new candidate, while Democrats are almost certain to coalesce behind their 2018 nominee, businessman Dan McCready.

The special election will likely be scheduled sometime in March. A run-off will occur if a leading party primary candidate falls under 40%.

SC-1:  Late this week, Beaufort County Councilman Mike Covert (R) confirmed that he is considering running for the 1st Congressional District seat that Democrat Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) wrestled away from the Republicans last month.

State Rep. Katie Arrington (R), who lost to Cunningham after denying Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) re-nomination and was then involved in a serious automobile accident that landed her in the hospital for an extended stay, is likely to run again and Mr. Covert was already drawing a distinction between he and the 2018 nominee over the important off-shore oil drilling issue that was a large reason for Cunningham's upset victory. Additionally, Rep. Sanford has yet to confirm or deny any interest in running again.

TN-5:  Immediately quelling some very early retirement rumors, Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Nashville) announced that he is definitely running for re-election in 2020.  Mr. Cooper was elected to the 5th District in 2002, when then-incumbent Bob Clement (D-Nashville) ran unsuccessfully for Senate.

Governor

Kentucky:  Another Democrat is soon expected to enter the campaign against first-term Gov. Matt Bevin (R).  Former state Auditor Adam Edelen has formed an exploratory committee.  If he moves forward, Mr. Edelen will join Attorney General Andy Beshear and state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook) as official candidates.

Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies released the first Kentucky gubernatorial election poll for the coming cycle, and it does not provide Gov. Matt Bevin (R) with good news.  The poll was taken over the December 12-15 period, and interviewed 625 Kentucky likely gubernatorial campaign voters.

According to the results, Gov. Bevin would trail Attorney General Andy Beshear, 48-40%, and even falls one point behind state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook), 42-41%.  Though many incumbents have rebounded from numbers such as these, it appears Mr. Bevin has his work cut out for him if he is to win a second term next year.

Louisiana:  Speculation is becoming rampant about the 2019 gubernatorial elections.  Two new names have surfaced as potential Louisiana candidates, former US Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) and Public Service Commissioner Eric Skrmetta (R).

The field began taking shape once US Sen. John Kennedy (R) announced that he would not challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) next year.  Currently in the race are US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and GOP developer Eddie Rispone.  Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) is another potential candidate. Plenty of time for decisions remains, however.  The candidate filing deadline is not until August 8th for the October 12th jungle primary, followed by a November 16th run-off if no one obtains majority support.


December 14, 2018
Candidate Announcement Decisions Continue and New Election in North Carolina 9  
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: former Obama Administration Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (D) jumping into presidential race; MoveOn Straw Poll shows former Rep. Beto O'Rourke leading list of Democratic presidential contenders
  • Tennessee: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) readies for 4th term
  • ME-2: Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) loses court challenge to Maine's Ranked Choice Voting run-off system; unclear if he will appeal ruling
  • NC-9: new vote a certainty; GOP getting open primary 
  • LA-Gov: new early polling data shows Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) with jungle primary lead over Republican candidates Rep. Ralph Abraham and developer Eddie Rispone; if goes to a run-off, a much closer contest 

President

Castro Announcement:  Former Obama Administration Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (D) officially formed a presidential exploratory committee, but apparently won't spend too much time assessing his chances.  Mr. Castro has scheduled an announcement for January 12th, at which time he is expected to formally enter the national race.  The former Secretary's lone electoral experience is successfully running for Mayor of San Antonio, TX.

MoveOn Straw Poll:  The 2020 presidential campaign is unofficially launched now that we have a straw poll to report.  The MoveOn.org group released the results of their first straw poll, testing for preference among the plethora of Democratic candidates.  In a bit of a surprise, Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso), fresh from his US Senate defeat at the hands of Sen. Ted Cruz (R), led all the candidates with 15.6% support.  Closely behind in second place was former Vice President Joe Biden (14.9%), Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders (13.1%), and California Sen. Kamala Harris (10.0%).

In the second tier were Sen. Elizabeth Warren (6.4%) with a rather poor showing, Sens. Sherrod Brown (2.9%) and Amy Klobuchar (2.8%), former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (2.7%), and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (2.6%), consecutively.  The poll is not statistically significant but does give us an idea that the party's most hardened ideological faction is almost evenly split.

Senate

Tennessee:  Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) has not yet committed to running for a fourth term but releasing his new North Star Opinion Research poll (11/26-29; 600 TN likely voters) provides a good indication that he is looking to do so.  According to the new survey, the Senator's favorability index, the only numbers placed in the public domain, finds him at a very high 65:22% favorable to unfavorable.  In the eastern Tennessee region, his ratio soars even higher to 72:18%.  The third quarter Morning Consult approval ratings, however, posted Mr. Alexander to only a 43:33% overall positive rating.

The 78-year old Senator says he will make his political plans public before the end of this year. In 2014, he won re-nomination over state Rep. Joe Carr (R), 50-41%, and secured a landslide 62-32% victory in the 2014 general election.

Texas: A local Austin political blog suggested that Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R) might be considering developing a campaign to challenge Sen. John Cornyn in the 2020 Republican primary.  Similar rumors surrounded Patrick two years ago in conjunction with a potential 2018 primary challenge to Gov. Greg Abbott.  At that time, Mr. Patrick quickly ended such speculation when he responded by publicly endorsing the Governor for re-election.  Now, the Lt. Governor again finds himself immediately quashing rumors about running for another office. As he did before, Mr. Patrick reiterated that he has no intention of challenging Sen. Cornyn and issued a public endorsement of the three-term incumbent.

House

CO-6:  Outgoing US Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), who lost his seat in November to Democrat Jason Crow, says he will not again seek partisan public office.  He has, however, left open the possibility of running for Mayor of Aurora, which is elected on a non-partisan basis.

Mr. Coffman has been in public office since his first election to the state House of Representatives in 1988.  He then served in the state Senate, as state Treasurer, Secretary of State, and will complete five terms in the US House of Representatives.

ME-2:  Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor), who placed first on election night by 1,910 votes but lost Maine's Ranked Choice Voting run-off system that allows people who vote for losing candidates to have a second and possibly third vote count toward the ultimate election, lost his seat to Democrat Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) as a result of the unique system.

After the election, Mr. Poliquin sued in federal court claiming the system is unconstitutional, but late this week the judge rejected his case.  Thus, constitutionality of the RCV system was upheld even though the Maine Supreme Court has ruled it unconstitutional for state races.  It is unclear if Mr. Poliquin will appeal yesterday's ruling.

MA-6:  Massachusetts state Sen. Barbara L'Italien (D-Andover), who placed a distant third in the crowded open 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary back in September, says she is considering challenging 6th District Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) because he is a key leader of the movement to deny Nancy Pelosi from becoming Speaker.

NM-2:  Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) just lost the Governor's race in November, but he has already made a political comeback of sorts.  Last weekend he was elected as chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party and will attempt to rebuild the party, which now has no GOP officials either in statewide or federal office.

Mr. Pearce has also not ruled out attempting to re-gain his House seat after Democratic attorney Xochitl Torres-Small converted the seat in the general election.  As party chairman, however, it may be difficult for him to devote time to his new responsibilities and simultaneously prepare for another congressional campaign against a freshman Democratic member.

NC-9:  North Carolina Republicans appear resigned to the eventuality that the 9th District will host a new election.  Considering the election fraud allegations that kept GOP candidate Mark Harris' 905-vote victory on November 6th from being officially certified, the Republican nominee's standing has clearly been damaged.  Therefore, a rerun campaign featuring himself, Democrat Dan McCready, and Libertarian Jeff Scott, would likely result in another GOP loss.

In a deal with the Democrats to restore some of Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) appointment powers, Republicans in the state legislature passed a new election law that will allow an open special election partisan primary and run-off as part of a broad legislative package to reform the controversial State Board of Elections.  With bipartisan approval (79-19 in the House and 34-3 in the Senate), the bill has a good chance of winning Gov. Roy Cooper's (D) support but the state chief executive has not yet signaled he will sign the bill.  With such margins, however, even a Cooper veto might not stop the legislation from becoming law.

NV-4:  First-term Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), who did not seek re-election, is apparently not done with running for office.  Mr. Kihuen has already filed to run for Las Vegas City Council next year, so it will be interesting to see if the controversy that cost him his congressional career will be a factor in a local Las Vegas city race.

TN-6:  Rep-Elect John Rose (R-TN) announced this week that former Congressman Van Hilleary (R-TN) has agreed to serve as his first chief of staff.  Mr. Hilleary was originally elected to the House in 1994 and served four terms before running unsuccessfully for Governor in 2002, losing a tight 51-48% contest to former Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen.  As we will remember, Mr. Bredesen ran for Senate this year and fell to Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood).   Mr. Hilleary also became a US Senate candidate in 2006 but lost the Republican primary to future Sen. Bob Corker (R).

Interestingly, Mr. Hilleary is the second former Congressman returning in a staff role for the next session.  Earlier, incoming Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ) announced that she has hired former Rep. Ron Barber (D-AZ) to run her district office program.

Governor

Louisiana:  A great deal of action has already occurred in preparation for next year's Louisiana Governor's campaign.  Earlier this week, state Treasurer John Schroder (R), who confirmed he was considering entering the Governor's race, announced that he would not challenge Democratic incumbent John Bel Edwards.

Now that two Republicans, US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), are formally opposing Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Remington Research went into the field to test where the contenders currently stand.  The survey (12/11-12; 1,680 LA likely 2019 gubernatorial election voters) finds Gov. Edwards holding a jungle primary lead over both Republicans.  But, advancing to a run-off election should no candidate score majority support, suggests the final outcome could be very close.

With all individuals appearing on the ballot for the original vote, which will come next October 12th, Gov. Edwards would lead Rep. Abraham and Mr. Rispone, 43-31-9%.  But, the mid-40s may be at least an early ceiling for Mr. Edwards.  If he and Rep. Abraham advanced to a November 16th run-off, the two would tie at 44% apiece.  If Mr. Rispone finished second in the original election, Gov. Edwards would top him in the run-off, but only by a 46-39% margin.

Mississippi:  During the week, first-term conservative state Representative Robert Foster (R-DeSoto County) announced he is entering the 2019 open Governor's race. Rep. Foster will soon be opposed by Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) who promises to announce his intention to run before the new state legislative session commences on January 8th.

For the Democrats, four-term Attorney General Jim Hood is already an official candidate. He has run very well in his four statewide races and will be a formidable contender even in this strongly Republican state. Gov. Phil Bryant (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Virginia:  Virginia is the only state in the country that limits its Governors to only one term in office. Therefore, despite Gov. Ralph Northam (D) only being in office for one year, he is already a lame duck.  For the open 2021 campaign, Attorney General Mark Herring (D) yesterday announced that he will be a gubernatorial candidate.  He may be jumping into the race so quickly in order to earn an advantage over Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who also has reported interest in succeeding Gov. Northam.


December 7, 2018
Another California GOP House Loss and North Carolina Ballot Controversy Conclude 2018 Election Cycle
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: new moves are being made by potential Democratic candidates expressing interest in running
  • Arizona: Gov. Ducey (R) won't run for Senate
  • Mississippi: 2018 Senate candidate Mike Espy (D) files 2020 Senate Campaign Committee for likely re-match with Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R)
  • CA-21: Rep. David Valadao (R) concedes election to opponent TJ Cox (D) after lengthy post-election ballot counting process
  • NC-9: certification controversy could lead to new vote for seat
  • Louisiana:  Sen. John Kennedy (R) will remain in Senate and won't run for Gov.; other candidates express interest

President

Gov. Inslee:  As a plethora of Democratic political figures begin to make statements and initiate moves toward the 2020 presidential race, several took a definitive step early this week.  One of them, two-term Washington Governor and ex-US Congressman Jay Inslee (D), formed a federal political action committee that could be the first step in his making a formal move into the presidential contest.

Of the 30 potential candidates who have at least acknowledged considering the race, five are Governors or former Governors.  The sitting incumbents in addition to Gov. Inslee are Govs. John Hickenlooper (CO) and Steve Bullock (MT).  The former state chief executives are Terry McAuliffe (VA), and Deval Patrick (MA).  

Ex-Gov. Patrick:  Though 30 individuals are still expressing interest in entering the 2020 presidential campaign, one Democrat who won't be joining them is Massachusetts former two-term Gov. Deval Patrick.  Earlier this week, Mr. Patrick made public his intentions not to become a candidate.  The decision surprised many observers as most believed the former Bay State chief executive was making moves to enter the race.

Sen. Merkley:  Attempting to follow Sen. Cory Booker's (D-NJ) lead in changing state law to allow an individual to run simultaneously for different offices, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is not finding the same reception among Oregon political leaders as Mr. Booker did in New Jersey. Asked whether the state legislature will move on legislation to, in this case, allow Mr. Merkley to run for President as he seeks re-election to the Senate, the state Senate President and House Speaker, according to local publication Willamette Week, respectively did not respond to inquiries and said that she doesn't currently have a position on the issue.

But, Gov. Kate Brown's (D) spokesperson was a bit more definitive when she said, "Gov. Brown's current focus is on helping Oregon families thrive and working with legislators, stakeholders, and community members on her budget and policy agenda, which does not include a proposal for legislation on this topic."

Senate

Arizona:  Grand Canyon State Gov. Doug Ducey (R), fresh from winning a landslide election to a second term, stated yesterday that he will not be a US Senate candidate in 2020, and that he intends on serving his entire second term.

Appointed Sen. Jon Kyl (R) is likely to soon leave his interim post, since he committed only to serving to the end of 2018 when accepting Gov. Ducey's short-term appointment after incumbent Sen. John McCain (R) passed away in late August.  Once Mr. Kyl departs, Gov. Ducey will name a replacement who could presumably run in the 2020 special election to serve the balance of the McCain term.  The seat next comes before the voters for a full term in 2022.  Some believed that the Governor would appoint another caretaker officeholder at which point he would run himself. But such will not be the case.

Georgia:  Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson (D) is confirming that she is considering challenging Sen. David Purdue (R) when her term expires in January.  Ms. Tomlinson was first elected to lead the city of approximately 195,000 people in 2010, becoming the first female Mayor in Columbus' history. She was re-elected in 2014 but is ineligible to seek a third term in this election year.

Ms. Tomlinson qualified her Senate consideration, however, indicating she would yield to gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams if the latter woman chooses to run.  For her part, Ms. Abrams, while confirming she wants to run for office again, says she wants to spend next year as a "private citizen."  In 2014, Mr. Purdue scored a 53-45% win over Michelle Nunn (D), the daughter of former Sen. Sam Nunn (D).

Mississippi:  Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy's 54-46% loss to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) is not yet two weeks old, but he has already made a political decision for 2020.  Mr. Espy just formed a campaign committee for the next election cycle, meaning we will likely see a re-match of the contest just ended.

House

CA-21:Though California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/ Bakersfield) had been projected as the winner, the state's marathon post-election day counting process has produced a different outcome.  Now falling behind by 862 votes with still some more provisional ballots to count, Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) conceded defeat to Democrat T.J. Cox, finally closing a race that had been left undecided since election night.

The Cox victory now makes the final pre-commencement count, 235 Democrats, 199 Republicans, with one seat, NC-9, very possibly headed to a new election because of a certification deadlock.  Republicans have now been decimated in the 53-member California delegation, trailing the Democrats 46-7.

CA-52: Political rumors are surfacing in San Diego that four-term US Rep. Scott Peters (D) may decide not to seek re-election in 2020 so he can enter the open Mayor's race.  Republican incumbent Kevin Falconer is ineligible to seek a third term, so the Mayor's position is guaranteed to be open.  Before coming to Congress, Mr. Peters served as president of the City Council.

The 52nd District began the decade as a swing seat that saw Mr. Peters winning by very close margins. Over the succeeding elections, however, the Congressman has secured the seat and it remains to be seen if Republicans can again become competitive here before the next redistricting should the district open.

NC-9:The North Carolina Board of Elections, on a 7-2 vote last Friday, again refused to certify Republican Mark Harris' 905 vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready postponing a further review until December 21st.  The problem revolves around what some Board members are claiming "irregularities" in one county.

Much of the controversy concerns a large number of absentee ballots requested but not returned, and other unexplained issues.  The problem is that a state court has already ruled the composition of this Board to be unconstitutional and is scheduled to dissolve on December 12th.  Therefore, it appears that finding a solution to this situation will likely require a great deal of time through what will likely be several legal venues.  It appears very possible that no one will be sworn in from this district on January 3rd and holding a new election could become the ultimate solution.

Governor

Indiana: Though he has yet to publicly respond, many Indiana Democratic Party leaders are already encouraging defeated Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) to challenge first term Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) in 2020.  Mr. Holcomb, who had been appointed Lt. Governor less than a year before the previous general election, won a 51-45% victory over former state House Minority Leader John Gregg (D) in 2016.  For his part, Mr. Gregg, who was also the party nominee in 2012 when then-US Rep. Mike Pence (R) slipped past him, 49-47%, confirms that he is considering making another run for the state's highest office.

Kentucky:  Former congressional candidate Amy McGrath, the Democratic retired Army helicopter pilot who raised over $7 million in an unsuccessful attempt to unseat Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington), is considering entering next year's Governor's race but may face an obstacle even if she decides to move forward.

Kentucky law requires gubernatorial candidates to be residents of the state for the previous six years before running, and though Ms. McGrath has maintained an address there since 1995, she has not necessarily lived in Kentucky for the entire time, some of which was due to military service.  But, when comparing similar past court rulings, maintaining an address in the state, voting, and paying state taxes during times of extended absence may not be enough to meet the state's residency standards.

Gov. Matt Bevin (R) is seeking a second term. Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) and state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (R-Sandy Hook) are already announced Democratic candidates.  Ms. McGrath's strong fundraising ability and name ID as a result of her high profile but losing campaign makes her a viable potential statewide candidate, even against established Democratic primary opposition.

Louisiana:  US Sen. John Kennedy (R) was expected to make an announcement on Monday of this week proclaiming his challenge to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in next year's Louisiana gubernatorial election.  Instead, however, Sen. Kennedy stated that the best way for him to serve Louisiana is to remain in the US Senate.  Therefore, even though he wouldn't have to risk his Senatorial position to run for Governor, Mr. Kennedy will let the opportunity of forcing a race against Gov. Edwards pass.

US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) then announced his statewide candidacy as expected, joining developer Eddie Rispone as Republican candidates.  On the other side of the spectrum, Lt. Gov. Billy Nungesser (R) announced that he will not run for Governor, presumably in order to seek re-election for a second term in his current position.

The big unanswered question seems to surround whether Attorney General Jeff Landry (R) will change his mind about seeking re-election now that Sen. Kennedy is out of the Governor's race and Abraham and Rispone are in.  Early signals suggest that he may be again readying himself to enter the race.  State Treasurer John Schroder also confirms that he is considering becoming a gubernatorial candidate.

Mississippi:  The open Mississippi Governor's race is beginning to attract a lot of attention on the eve of the new election year.  While Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is said to be less than a month away from announcing his presumed candidacy, state Rep. Robert Foster (R-DeSoto County), who was originally elected in 2017, says he is strongly considering entering the Governor's race and appears to have no trepidation about running against Mr. Reeves.

On the Democratic side, Attorney General Jim Hood (D) is an official candidate and looks to be drawing some intra-party opposition.  Velesha Williams, the former director of the Metro Jackson Community Prevention Coalition, announced her candidacy early this week.  Magnolia Mayor Anthony Witherspoon also confirms that he, too, is considering entering the Democratic gubernatorial primary.


November 30, 2018
Candidate Announcement Decisions Begin
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: numerous states considering moving their 2020 primary/caucus to earlier dates
  • President: Sen. Mike Bennet (D-CO) thinking about presidential race; Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) rules out run
  • Mississippi: Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) wins special run-off election, 54-46% over former US Agriculture Secretary and former Congressman Mike Espy (D) 
  • CA-21: Democratic challenger TJ Cox (D) takes 591 vote lead over Rep. David Valadao (R) which flips another seat to Democrats
  • NC-9: Congressman-elect Mark Harris' (R) victory not certified by NC Board of Elections - voting irregularities in one county cited as reason
  • Louisiana Governor: Sen. John Kennedy (R) to make announcement on possible run against Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) shortly

President

An Early Schedule:  Though the 2020 primary/caucus election schedule is far from being finalized, at least ten states are considering moving their primary or caucus date to the election calendar's beginning stage, which could mean that early voting in several places will coincide with the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire primary.

Officials in Arizona, California, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas, and Vermont are reportedly all looking at early delegate selection dates.  By party rule for both Democrats and Republicans, the Iowa caucus, New Hampshire primary, Nevada caucus, and South Carolina primary must be the initial scheduled events, but the aforementioned states appear ready to encroach upon the First Four's domain.

Sen. Bennet:  Add yet another US Senator to the potential presidential candidate rolls. Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet (D) confirms that he, too, is thinking of entering the presidential campaign.  Among more than 20 other prospective contenders, Sen. Bennet, if he were to run, might directly oppose his state's outgoing Governor, John Hickenlooper.  As many as ten sitting US Senators could enter the presidential campaign, among the most serious being Kamala Harris (D-CA), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and, of course, Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT).

Gov. Cuomo:  New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), fresh from a 58% re-election victory to a third term, said definitively late this week that he would not enter the burgeoning Democratic presidential primary field.  With more potential candidates expressing interest daily, Gov. Cuomo has effectively taken any budding national candidacy for himself off the political table. Mr. Cuomo said he ran again for Governor to accomplish certain things for the state of New York, and he intends to concentrate on implementing his stated goals.

Senate

Alabama: Potential US Senate candidates are already beginning to make preparatory moves for challenging Sen. Doug Jones (D), who must stand for election to a full six-year term next year. State Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), who initially looked toward running for Governor but backed off when Lt. Governor Kay Ivey (R) ascended to the state's top position and quickly began to solidify party support, announced that he is filing an exploratory committee to assess his chances against Sen. Jones.

We can expect to see a crowded Republican primary field, including perhaps former Attorney General and US Senator Jeff Sessions (R) who has not ruled out making a bid for his former position. US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) is another major political figure expected to make a run for the Senate post. Clearly, Sen. Jones, who was elected in the controversial 2017 special election, is the most vulnerable national Democratic incumbent seeking re-election.

Colorado:The final 2018 Senate race ended this week, and already we see a 2020 challenger announcement. Lorena Garcia, the president of the Colorado Statewide Parents Coalition, announced that she will seek the Democratic nomination in order to challenge Sen. Cory Gardner (R). We can expect to see many Democratic candidates coming forth to make this race, but Ms. Garcia is first to make a definitive announcement.

Mississippi:Appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) won the special Mississippi run-off election this week with a 54-46% margin over former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D). Despite making several gaffes in the run-off cycle, Ms. Hyde-Smith won a comfortable victory though understandably a few points shy of a typical Republican statewide vote total. In comparison, Sen. Roger Wicker (R) was re-elected to his third term in this year's regular election with a 58-39% victory margin.

The Republican win brings next year's Senate partisan division to 53R-47D with all the 2018 election cycle races now decided, a net gain of two seats when compared to the previous Congress. Eight of the members will constitute the freshman class. This number does not include the two appointed Senators, Tina Smith (D-MN) and Ms. Hyde-Smith, who have now been elected in their own right. In 2020, 22 Republicans will be defending their seats versus just 12 Democrats, the opposite of the 2018 situation where the latter party was on the defensive in 26 of the 35 election campaigns.

Montana:Gov. Steve Bullock (D), who is ineligible to seek a third term in 2020, late this week again ruled out launching a challenge to Sen. Steve Daines (R) who is in-cycle in the next election. The statement fuels speculation that Mr. Bullock will form a presidential campaign committee. It has been no secret that the Governor has been testing the national political waters about joining the bulging Democratic field of presidential candidates.

House

The House Numbers:  With the 2018 campaign results now in the books, or close to it (the one exception being the outstanding CA-21 race that now favors Democrat T.J. Cox to defeat GOP Rep. David Valadao), we can look at the detailed composition of the new House.

In January, the chamber will feature 235 Democrats and 200 Republicans, a gain of 40 Democratic seats when compared to the previous Congress.  A total of 93 are freshmen, not counting the eight members who came to the House as special election winners in 2017 and '18 who were elected to a full term earlier this month. Of the 93 freshmen, 62 are Democrats.  A total of 244 House members will have served three full terms or less when the new Congress convenes, making this the least senior chamber in the modern political era.

CA-21:  Though California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/ Bakersfield) had been projected as the winner, the state's marathon post-election day counting process appears to be producing a different outcome.  Though the counting is still not complete and likely won't be until early next week, Democratic challenger T.J. Cox has taken a 591-vote lead over the Congressman as a new batch of Kern, Kings, and Fresno County votes were reported.  It is difficult to say how many mail, overseas, and provisional votes remain since the 21st is split among four counties and the domain totals report in aggregate, but California political experts anticipate that this trend will hold giving Democrats their seventh conversion victory in the Golden State alone.

FL-26:  Two-term Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Miami) lost his congressional seat to Democrat Debbie Mucarsel-Powell earlier this month and says it is unlikely that he will run for Congress in 2020.  The outgoing Congressman did say, however, that he has interest in seeking the Miami-Dade County mayoral position, so Mr. Curbelo's career in elective office may not yet be at an end.

GA-7:  Another final call was made early in the week. A machine recount actually increased Rep. Rob Woodall's (R-Lawrenceville) meager 419 vote margin to 433 votes.   Former state Senate Budget committee director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) conceded the result and offered the Congressman her congratulations.  The final tally finds Woodall winning 140,443 to 140,010.

MI-13:  Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones (D) won the special 13th District congressional election to fill resigned Rep. John Conyers' (D-Detroit) vacancy but failed to secure the seat in the regular election.  She had petitioned the House Administration Committee and Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) asking for a waiver to be able to serve in the lame duck session without being forced to resign her local position.  Since Ms. Jones cannot continue serving in the new Congress once the lame duck session ends, the Speaker ruled that she can take the seat for the balance of the year.  Therefore, Ms. Jones will be sworn in to complete the remaining few weeks of this congressional term.

NM-2:  Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), who lost the Governor's race three weeks ago to his congressional colleague, Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque), confirmed late this week that he will run for chairman of the New Mexico Republican Party next year, and has not ruled out making yet another attempt to regain the House seat he relinquished to run statewide.

In 2008, Rep. Pearce ran for US Senate only to see a Democrat win the House seat while the Congressman was losing statewide.  Mr. Pearce re-claimed the congressional seat in 2010. With attorney Xochitl Torres-Small converting Pearce's seat to the Democratic column in this election, it is clear that the party will be looking to recruit a strong challenger.  Since it would be difficult for the party to find a stronger candidate than Rep. Pearce, a second comeback run to regain the seat he voluntarily ceded for the second time would again have to be taken seriously.

NC-9:  The North Carolina Board of Elections, comprised of four Democrats, four Republicans, and one Independent, this week refused to certify the 9th District election results that produced a 905-vote win for Republican Mark Harris.  The Board Vice Chairman cited "irregularities" in one county as the reason to delay certification.  The remaining eight members agreed, hence the seat was placed in political limbo.  The Board will now reconvene today in hopes of rectifying the situation and making a final decision.  We can expect a long court fight if the Board formally decides to deny Mr. Harris his certificate of election.

UT-4:  Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) conceded her congressional race to Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) late this week as the final vote counting concluded.  Though Ms. Love dominated the rural counties, Mr. McAdams' strength in Salt Lake County was enough to propel him to a close 694 vote victory from more than 269,000 ballots cast.

Governor

Louisiana:  It has been presumed for some time that Sen. John Kennedy (R) will challenge Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in next year's Louisiana gubernatorial campaign.  And, it appears that we will know definitively early next week.  Reports are that Sen. Kennedy will likely announce his intention to run on Monday.  It is believed that he will not draw major Republican opposition should he choose to enter the race. Developer Eddie Ripsone is already in the Republican race, and Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe/Alexandria) is expected to run but may not if the Senator formally becomes a candidate.

Early polling suggests that Sen. Kennedy would force Gov. Edwards into a run-off and appears well positioned to potentially defeat him in a such a subsequent campaign.


November 16, 2018
Midterm Voter Turnout Highest in a Century With Some Races Still Too Close To Call
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • President: first post-midterm national poll shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading other Democratic party contenders
  • 2018 Election Report: midterm voter turnout highest in a century
  • Arizona Senate: should appointed Sen. Jon Kyl resigns following the lame duck session as anticipated, speculation growing next appointment could be recent Senate candidate Rep. Martha McSally (R) 
  • Florida Senate: recount lawsuits mean long delays in determining winner
  • California & NJ:  in late results, Democrats take CA-10/Denham, CA-48/Rohrabacher, possibly CA 39/Royce-Open and 45/Walters; NJ-3/MacArthur flips to Democrats as well
  • ME-2: ranked choice system changes outcome with Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) losing to state Rep. Jared Golden (D)
  • UT-4: Rep. Mia Love (R) comes storming back and within 1,229 votes from Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D)
  • Florida Governor: Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) unofficial winner over Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D)

President

First Post-Midterm National Poll:  Morning Consult and the Politico publication joined forces to test the national Democratic presidential primary, the first such released survey after the 2018 mid-term election.  According to the result (11/7-9; 1,952 US registered voters; 773 Democratic primary voters), former Vice President Joe Biden jumps out to a lead with more than one-quarter support, but far from reaching the majority plateau. Mr. Biden commands 26% in the poll, followed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders with 19%, and newcomer Beto O'Rourke, the Texas Congressman and defeated US Senate candidate, who posts 8% preference.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ), follow with 5, 4 & 3%, respectively.  Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg draws 2% support. Nine other candidates attracted just 1%, while four lesser known individuals did not even register on the poll.

Election Update

Turnout Report:  National voter turnout reports are surfacing and University of Florida professor Michael McDonald, who manages the United States Election Project, estimates that more than 115 million people will have voted in the 2018 midterm election when all the results are final.  This is an all-time record in terms of midterm aggregate vote, and the eligible voter turnout percentage of an estimated 48.9% is the highest since the 1914 midterm.

By contrast in 2014, the national voter turnout was 83.2 million people, or just under 37% of the eligible voters. That total was the lowest in the post-World War II era. The 2016 presidential election saw almost 137 million voters cast a ballot, the highest aggregate ever.

Senate

Arizona:  While Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) conceded her US Senate battle to Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) on Monday, speculation is growing that she still may find herself in the Senate sooner rather than later.  Should Sen. Jon Kyl (R) resign after the lame duck session, as he indicated that he would when he accepted Gov. Doug Ducey's (R) appointment, Rep. McSally would be in prime position for the next appointment.

In any event, the Arizona seat will be in special election mode during the 2020 regular cycle. Sen. John McCain (R) was re-elected in 2016, meaning this seat will again come before the electorate for the six-year term in 2022.  Therefore, the appointed Senator must stand before the voters in the next regular election.  Among Democrats, two names are quickly surfacing as possible candidates.  Former Republican Attorney General Grant Woods and US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) are frequently being mentioned as possible special election contenders.

Florida:  The recount deadline expired on Thursday, and 66 of Florida's 67 counties submitted new totals after completing the machine recount process.  The one county not complying, Palm Beach, did not meet the time requirement because of machine malfunctioning.  Their antiquated system can only count races consecutively and not simultaneously.  Because of more than 174,000 ballots being mis-read or mis-counted and then the machines over-heating, all 600,000+ votes must be resubmitted.  In addition to the US Senate race being legally within the recount guidelines, so are the Governor and Agriculture statewide contests.  In addition, Palm Beach County has one state House of Representatives race that is also in political limbo.

Counting Palm Beach's original numbers, which were re-submitted at the deadline, Gov. Rick Scott (R) leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) by 12,603 votes, an increase of 47 votes.  The next step is constituting three-member canvassing teams in all counties who will review contested ballots and submit them to hand counting.  Seven lawsuits have been filed regarding including or excluding pockets of ballots in the various counties, the largest vote cache in Broward County. Palm Beach is ordered to have its recounts submitted by 3 pm on Sunday.

Massachusetts:  Sen. Ed Markey (D) announced this week that he will stand for re-election to a second full term in 2020, but it might not be without significant primary opposition.  Though he claims to have no plans to challenge Sen. Markey, Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) is not completely ruling out doing so. Before winning a special Senate election after then-Sen. John Kerry (D) became Secretary of State and clinching a full term in 2014, Sen. Markey served in the House for 37 years. He would again be rated as a heavy favorite in both the ensuing primary and general elections.

House

California:  The Golden State's voting system that allows voters to postmark their ballots on Election Day is again making California the last state in the union to call their races, and the process is likely to drag on for a much longer period of time.  State and county authorities estimate that they have an astounding 3.4 million mail ballots remaining to count.  Adding to the approximately 8 million votes already tabulated would take the statewide voter turnout number to the 11.5 million range. In contrast, only 7.3 million voted in the 2014 midterm election.  Almost 14.2 million participated in the 2016 presidential campaign.

CA-10; NJ-3:  Two more congressional campaigns have been clinched.  Both Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA) and Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) have now lost their seats to Democratic challengers Josh Harder and Andy Kim, respectively.  With these victories, it appears that the new Democratic majority could grow to as high as 235, meaning an increase of 40 seats.  Five races remain uncalled, and Democrats look well positioned in at least three of the remaining undecided House campaigns, if not all.

CA-45 & 39:Though this race has not yet been officially called, it is appearing more likely that Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) will become yet another Republican casualty of the California vote. Now falling behind challenger Katie Porter (D) by just under 4,000 votes, the swing toward the Democrat has eclipsed 10,000 votes since the post-Election Day counting began. There could still reasonably be about 75,000 votes still to count, but the trends here favor a Porter victory.

If the open 39th District contest between Young Kim (R) and Gil Cisneros (D) also goes Democratic, although that election is still within 1,000 votes and Ms. Kim leading, the party will have converted six Republican seats in California alone when tabulations are finally completed at the end of the month.

CA-48:  Though thousands of votes will be added to the final total, a projection was made in what should be the safely Republican 48th Congressional District, a seat fully contained within Orange County.  Businessman Harley Rouda (D) defeated Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), ostensibly ending the Congressman's 30-year political career. 

ME-2:  As expected, the Ranked Choice Voter system that allows people who vote for minor candidates to effectively have more voting power than those who support major party candidates changed the outcome of Maine's 2nd District campaign.  Now, Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston) will be declared the victor by just under 3,000 votes, as the second and third choices from the voters who supported the two independent candidates were factored in to the major party totals.  The incumbent, Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor) has already filed a lawsuit against the instant run-off procedure.

MD-6:Democratic businessman David Trone (D) won the open district campaign last Tuesday, but just after his victory a federal court ruled that his congressional district boundaries constitute an illegal gerrymander. Should the ruling hold through the Appellate courts, the legislature will be forced to re-draw the seat, and any adjacent districts that the new boundaries affect.  Thinking that the district may become more Republican, state Delegate Neil Parrott (R-Funkstown/ Hagerstown) announced that he is forming a 2020 congressional exploratory committee in order to possibly launch a federal campaign at a later date.

North Carolina:  Democrats will end the decade again filing suit against the North Carolina congressional and state legislative maps, as they have done consistently since 2011.  Even when they were successful in forcing a re-draw, the NC congressional map did not improve upon the 10R-3D split that Democrats have been attempting in vain to change.

Their chances are now considerably better. Armed with a new 5-2 majority on the state Supreme Court, the Democrats filed suit this week emulating the Pennsylvania strategy of challenging under the state constitution.  The US Supreme Court refused to hear a challenge to such a Pennsylvania lawsuit last year, thus opening the door for other similar legal maneuvers.  The North Carolina Democrats are the first to make the subsequent move.

NC-9:  Another close congressional was called, this one in the Charlotte, NC area.  Here, Baptist former pastor Mark Harris (R) looks to have clinched about a 2,000-vote victory over businessman Dan McCready (D).  It appeared that Mr. McCready was well positioned to score an upset, especially immediately after the May primary when Mr. Harris denied three-term Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) re-nomination. In electing a Republican, it appears this district defied the national trend.

TX-23:  The TX-23 campaign result has been the most difficult to read.  On election night, Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) had been projected as the winner. Later in the evening, the projection was rescinded, only to be later reinstated. Now, with Democratic challenger Gina Ortiz Jones challenging some ballots, the race appears to be undecided once again.  The current count stands with Rep. Hurd holding a 1,150-vote edge over Ms. Jones from over 209,000 votes cast.

UT-4:  In a lead for congressional challenger Ben McAdams (D), the Salt Lake County Mayor, that had grown almost to 9,000 votes, Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) appeared in grave danger of losing the congressional seat that she has represented for four years.  But post-election counting from the rural areas has seen her storm back, and she is now within 1,229 votes of Mr. McAdams.  At this point, Ms. Love is filing a lawsuit to halt the remaining counting so further signature verification can begin of each mailed ballot.  Approximately 40,000 votes remain uncounted.  Models are present suggesting that each candidate could ultimately win, but the more likely victor remains Mr. McAdams.

Governor

Florida:  Continuing the Florida recount story (see Florida Senate above), the Governor's race is much closer to concluding.  The statewide recount, sans Palm Beach County, now finds former US Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) leading Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) by 33,683 votes.  Since this race did not fall within ¼ percent after the recount, the three-member county canvassing process will not occur.  Therefore, after Sunday, DeSantis will likely be declared the unofficial winner pending lawsuit resolution.

Kentucky:  Now that the 2018 midterm elections are behind us, potential office seekers are turning their attention toward 2019.  The Kentucky Governor's race will be on the ballot next year with Gov. Matt Bevin (R) presumably seeking re-election to a second term.  He has already drawn opposition from Attorney General Andy Beshear (D), son of former Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who now has company in the Democratic primary.  State House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook) announced his gubernatorial campaign this Wednesday, and others are expected to join.

Louisiana:  Attorney General and former US Congressman Jeff Landry (R), who appeared to be preparing a challenge to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) next year, announced late this week that he will seek re-election to his current position.  The move sends yet another signal that Sen. John Kennedy (R) will enter the race.  Earlier in the week, Mr. Landry said he would not run for Governor if Mr. Kennedy chose to become a candidate.

The Senator has said he will make his political plans known before December 1st, but all indications now point to him running for Governor.   Not having to run for re-election until 2022, Mr. Kennedy does not have to risk his Senate seat in order to run in a 2019 statewide campaign.


November 9, 2018
Midterm Election Recap
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Senate:  depending on the final outcome in Arizona and Florida, GOP gains between one and three seats
  • House:  new Democratic majority is likely to exceed 230 seats with a net of at least 35 conversions 
  • Governor:  Democrats make significant gains in 36 races, with new party division of 27R and 23D, a net gain of seven seats for Democrats
  • Mississippi: Senate race goes to run-off between Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) and former US Agriculture Secretary & former Congressman Mike Espy (D)
  • Georgia Governor: Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) declares victory, but race not over

Senate

Senate Election Results:  Republicans have held the Senate majority in the election conducted on November 6th.  Depending upon the final outcome in Arizona and Florida, the Republican gain will be between one and three seats. Democratic incumbents Heidi Heitkamp (North Dakota), Joe Donnelly (Indiana), and Claire McCaskill (Missouri) were all defeated as was Republican Senator Dean Heller (Nevada).

Alabama:After Sen. Doug Jones (D) won the controversial Alabama special election in 2017, it was clear he would become the Republicans' number one target in the 2020 regular election. The Senator's decision to oppose Justice Kavanaugh's confirmation heightened his top target status even more.  Now, he may draw a very well-known Republican opponent.  Departing Attorney General and former US Senator Jeff Sessions confirms that he would consider entering the race to attempt to regain the Senate seat he relinquished to become Attorney General.

Arizona:  The race between Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Arizona) has yet to be called. More than 460,000 ballots remain uncounted. Rep. Sinema took a small 9,610 vote lead after the first day of counting that included votes not previously tabulated in heavily Democratic Pima County.  Prior to this, Rep. McSally held leads of between 15-32,000 votes throughout the original count.  Local Republican authorities have filed lawsuits against county clerks in several counties, attempting to ensure that the state adopts uniform procedures for handling questionable mail ballots and those delivered to "emergency voting centers."  It is likely that this situation will drag on for days.

Florida:  While the statewide vote count continues to draw closer as more votes are continually counted and controversy arises over the process in Broward County, Senate candidate Rick Scott (R) has accused the Democrats of attempting to "steal" the race and has sued at least one election supervisor.  Originally, it appeared that he had won a close victory.  In his capacity as Governor, Mr. Scott has ordered the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the counting.  This outcome is very much in doubt and will likely go on for many days reminiscent of the 2000 Florida recount that decided the presidential contest that proved one of the closest in history.  Mr. Scott's opponent in this race is Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.

Though the margin is greater in the open Governor's race between former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) and Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), the outcome of this contest is also now in question.

Mississippi:  The partisan division includes the Republicans winning the Mississippi special election.  The race now advances to a November 27th run-off election because neither candidate reached the 50% mark.  Appointed Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), however, is a heavy favorite to defeat former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D).

Montana:  The Montana Senate election proved close as predicted, and now we have a final projection. Sen. Jon Tester (D) has been re-elected to a third term, winning 51.2 - 46.0% with the remainder of absentee and provisional ballots still to be counted.  Therefore, the numbers are not final, but the quantity of outstanding ballots cannot alter Sen. Tester's lead. Thus, the outcome has been officially declared.  The Tester victory guarantees that the Democrats will have at least 46 Senators in the next Congress.

House

House Election Results:  Democrats successfully took control of the House and when the final nine uncalled races are determined, the new Democratic majority is likely to exceed 230 seats meaning that the final gain number will exceed a net 35 conversions.

CA-25: Though there could be as many as 100,000 votes still to count, Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) announced that he is conceding the congressional race to Democratic opponent Katie Hill. It is obvious that the Knight political team has calculated that he cannot make up his current deficit even with the large number of outstanding ballots.

CA-49: As has been the speculation for months, the San Diego area coastal district long held by retiring Congressman Darrell Issa (R-Vista) has now officially flipped to the Democrats. Attorney Mike Levin (D) has defeated Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey (R), 53.5 - 46.5%, with many more ballots to be added. Though thousands of ballots remain to be counted in each California congressional district, victory projections have been made in all but five of the state's 53 CDs.

CA-50: Another of the California contests has been decided. In San Diego County, embattled Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) has officially been re-elected despite his outstanding federal indictment on a multitude of campaign finance charges. Mr. Hunter defeated Ammar Campa-Najjar (D) by a current 54.3 - 45.7% victory margin.

The other indicted or past indicted sitting lawmakers, Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY) and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), respectively, were both also re-elected on Tuesday night.

GA-6: Democratic challenger Lucy McBath was declared the winner of the contested 6th District race as she built a 2,900-vote lead in late counting. Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), who won the seat in a 2017 special election despite having $36 million spent against her, could not hold it in the regular election. She has formally conceded the race to Ms. McBath, so there will be no recount of the eventual final result.

GA-7: Though the state's 6th District race has now concluded, the adjacent 7th District is still very much undecided. Late counting has eroded Rep. Rob Woodall's (R-Lawrenceville) lead to 890 votes with an unannounced number of ballots outstanding. The Democratic candidate is former state House Budget Committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux.

MN-1: In one of the few Republican conversions of a Democratic seat, GOP businessman Jim Hagedorn (R), whose father served four terms in the US House, defeated Democrat Dan Feehan in another race that has been finally projected. Mr. Hagedorn will succeed Democrat Tim Walz who left the House to run successfully for Governor. The Hagedorn victory margin was a scant 1,312 votes, or 50.2 - 49.8%. This is the second consecutive close election in this southern Minnesota district that covers most of the area on the Iowa border. In 2016, Rep. Walz was re-elected with just a 50.3% margin.

MT-AL: While a projection was made to give Montana Democratic Sen. Jon Tester his victory, at-large Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) was also re-elected. Mr. Gianforte leads the race by 24,801 votes with ballots remaining, but he has been declared the victor over former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D). The Gianforte victory percentage spread is 51.2 - 46.0%. The Congressman was originally elected in a 2017 special election, so he has now been elected to his first full term.

NY-22: Though the outcome in this Upstate New York race is razor-thin, it appears that freshman Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) has been defeated. The race was originally called for state Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D), but then the result appeared to be unclear when more ballots were counted. In the end, however, Mr. Brindisi looks to have scored a 1,293-vote win pending further counting and possible individual vote challenges.

WA-3: In another close contest, four-term Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Vancouver) has been projected as the victor over Democratic candidate Carolyn Long. Washington, like California, allows voters to postmark their ballots on Election Day, so the counting process can consume days, if not weeks, to complete. It is clear, however, that her 13,000+ vote advantage would hold through the final counting process, hence her projection. The current percentage division is 52.6 - 47.4.

WA-8: The open Republican 8th District from which Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn) is retiring has gone Democratic. Late yesterday, pediatrician Kim Shrier (D) was declared the winner, defeating former statewide candidate and ex-state Senator Dino Rossi (R). Dr. Shrier has a 12,600+ vote lead entering final counting, which is enough to compensate for any gains that Mr. Rossi could see as the vote count progresses. This is Dr. Shrier's first run for public office. With this Republican seat converted to the Democrats it appears the latter party will gain more than 30 seats.

Governor

Gubernatorial Election Results: Democrats made significant gains in the 36 Governor's races held on November 6th. The party converted state houses in Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin, while Georgia and now Florida appear to be undecided. Republicans converted the Independent-held state house in Alaska. If Georgia and Florida hold for the leading GOP candidate, the new gubernatorial party division will be 27R - 23D, a net gain of seven seats for Democrats.

The Democratic victories in Michigan and Wisconsin have major 2021 redistricting implications, though the GOP did hold both state legislative chambers in each state. Michigan voters appear to have adopted a redistricting commission ballot proposition, but that procedure will undoubtedly be challenged in court. Republicans held the critical gubernatorial position in Ohio, again in a redistricting context, as well as Florida, if the current count holds through the post-election counting process.

Florida: See Florida Senate above.

Georgia: Secretary of State Brian Kemp (R) has declared victory in the Governor's race and resigned his current statewide position. The Democratic nominee, former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams (D), however, is pursuing all options in the post-election counting process. Under Georgia law, winning candidates must receive majority support. The current vote count, and ballot tabulations are still ongoing, puts Mr. Kemp's percentage at 50.3%. Republicans, however, are confident that his margin will remain about 50%. If Ms. Abrams is right and he drops below 50%, the two candidates will advance to a December 4th run-off election. This situation will continue to remain undecided for the next several days.