Category Archives: Governor

Tomorrow’s Primaries Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 29, 2020 — Three more state primaries are on tap for tomorrow, those in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah. The day will be highlighted with the Colorado Senate Democratic primary where former governor John Hickenlooper battles ex-state House wpeaker Andrew Romanoff, and the Utah Republican gubernatorial primary that features four candidates vying for the right to replace retiring Gov. Gary Herbert (R).

Two of these three states, Colorado and Utah, use an all-mail voting process meaning we could again be waiting several days for final returns.

COLORADO

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

Democrats believe that the Centennial State is one of their best conversion opportunities in the country, and early polling confirms their analyses. Sen. Cory Gardner (R) stands for a second term but in a state that has significantly changed since he was elected in 2014. As the state continues to move closer to the Democrats, the tougher the re-election outlook for Sen. Gardner. He may well be the best campaigner in his party’s national stable, but is attaining statewide office now out of touch for any Republican? This election may definitively answer that question.

The House delegation looks set to continue with four Democrats and three Republicans. All will face general election opponents, but none appear competitive. All seven incumbents are clear favorites for re-election, and only Western Slope Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) has a nomination opponent tomorrow. Surprisingly, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), who always seems to draw competitive intra-party opponents, is unopposed in this year’s Republican primary.

OKLAHOMA

Veteran Sen. Jim Inhofe, at 85 years of age, is seeking a fifth full term and is certainly the prohibitive favorite tomorrow night against only minimal opposition. For the Democrats, former television news reporter Abby Broyles should have little trouble in securing her party’s nomination. Already raising over $535,000 through the June 10 pre-primary report, only she and Sen. Inhofe have substantial resources among the eight major party candidates on the ballot.

The big race of the night comes in Oklahoma City’s 5th Congressional District, where a total of nine Republicans are competing for the opportunity of challenging freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma City) who unseated two-term Rep. Steve Russell (R) in 2018. This will be one of the Republicans’ top national targets since the seat has a conservative history and the Horn victory two years ago was unexpected. With nine candidates adorning the GOP ballot tomorrow, advancing to an Aug. 25 runoff election is a certainty.
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Amash Forms Exploratory Committee

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash

May 1, 2020 — It has been speculated upon virtually since the time that Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) left the Republican Party that he would enter the presidential race, and now he has taken the first step toward that end.

Amash made several announcements Wednesday. First, he is indeed filing an exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission to gauge his chances of becoming Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee. Second, he informed the Clerk of the House that he is no longer an Independent, but a member of the Libertarian Party. Third, he confirmed that he will not seek re-election to his 3rd District House seat.

Let’s look at the subjects in order.

It is not surprising that Amash is taking this step. The idea of him becoming the Libertarian presidential nominee was first raised when he became an Independent US House member early last July, and the congressman never expressly ruled out that he would eventually run for president.

Some argue that Amash being on the ticket as the Libertarian nominee could take rightward leaning independent votes away from President Trump and allow former vice president Joe Biden to slip past him in crucial states like Michigan. While the scenario might have some credence in an intensely close election, it matters little that Amash’s name is the one these particular voters would be choosing.

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Utah Convention Results

By Jim Ellis

Utah House Distrits

April 28, 2020 — The Beehive State Republicans and Democrats gathered in respective virtual settings to conduct their nominating conventions on Saturday and posted record delegate participation figures. Both parties were looking to advance candidates into an open Utah gubernatorial primary and in four congressional districts where three incumbents are seeking re-election. A total of 93 percent of 3,850 eligible Republican delegates cast their votes online, while 85 percent of the 2,203 Democratic delegates did the same.

In both parties, if a candidate receives 60 percent of the delegate support the individual is automatically advanced into the June 30 primary election. This year, the vote will be conducted through an all-mail procedure under emergency legislation that Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed on Friday. Additionally, candidates who have qualified through the signature petition process also earn a primary ballot position. Candidates have the choice of only participating in the convention, only gathering signatures, or doing both.

If no one receives 60 percent, the top two finishers advance into the primary. The delegates used the ranked choice format to prioritize their votes, since multiple rounds were needed in most races. In a round, the last place candidate is eliminated and the remainder advance to the next vote. The process ends with either one candidate advancing to the primary ballot outright, or the top two moving forward if no one reaches 60 percent but a pair at least touch 40 percent.

The open Republican gubernatorial race was the main attraction as seven candidates competed for convention votes including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who has retiring Gov. Herbert’s endorsement and leads in the most recent polling, and former governor, US ambassador, and 2012 presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

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Wisconsin Primary Moving Forward

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers

April 8, 2020 — Whether or not the Wisconsin primary would be held as scheduled took rulings from two Supreme Courts to decide, but we will see voting today throughout the Wolverine State.

The Democratic presidential primary is interesting since the Wisconsin electorate will be the first to vote post-March 17, and so far, becomes the only group to cast ballots during the COVID-19 lockdown situation. How this affects today’s vote in terms of turnout and candidate loyalty will be interesting to analyze.

Whether or not this election would even happen today has been a point of discussion for the past two weeks. Many Democratic strategists were lobbying Gov. Tony Evers, a fellow Democrat, for several days to move the election, but he was slow to act. Late last week, Gov. Evers decided to ask the legislature to pass a bill changing the election date, but the Republican majority leadership in the two chambers refused. Gov. Evers then made a last-ditch effort to declare a state of emergency and attempted to move the election.

The latter action drew the Republican leadership’s ire, and they immediately petitioned the state Supreme Court arguing that the governor has no power to arbitrarily move an election. They also went to the US Supreme Court attempting to get a lower-court ruling to extend the absentee ballot return deadline past the original election schedule countermanded.

At the heart of the election date becoming a political football was not the presidential race, but rather an important state Supreme Court election. Though the race is ostensibly nonpartisan, it is clear that Democrats believe chances for the candidate they are backing improve in a later election, while Republicans think the appointed incumbent they support fares better in a quicker, and presumably lower turnout contest.

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Montana’s Competitive Races

By Jim Ellis

Montana

March 23, 2020 — Today, Montana has the reputation of being a Republican state, and GOP candidates have won more races here than their Democratic counterparts of late, but the latter party is far from moribund in Big Sky Country. As an at-large political domain with a sizable number of statewide offices, Democrats have had plenty of opportunities to win.

Montana holds its major statewide races in the presidential election year as opposed to the mid-term. In the state’s seven major statewide offices, Republicans currently enjoy a 5-2 edge, though Democrats hold the governorship and a US Senate office. In the 2012 election, however, the outcome was completely reversed as Democrats took five of the same seven positions.

With this background, a just-released research survey from Public Policy Polling (March 12-13; 903 registered Montana voters) tested a newly formed US Senate race between first-term Sen. Steve Daines (R) and Gov. Steve Bullock (D), along with the open at-large congressional contest. Both parties have contested primaries for the House, but state auditor and former US Senate nominee Matt Rosendale (R) and former state representative and 2018 congressional nominee Kathleen Williams (D) appear to be the favorites to win their respective party nominations.

The state is also hosting an open governor’s race, but the PPP poll did not test that campaign. The progressive left group End Citizens United sponsored the Public Policy Polling survey, and they sampled a universe that contained 37 percent self-identified Republicans, 32 percent Democrats, and 31 percent who describe themselves as Independents. It’s difficult to compare this sampling universe with the actual state electorate because Montana does not have party registration and the state features an open primary system.

That being said, the ballot test finds Sen. Daines and Gov. Bullock locked in a 47-47 percent tie, with an almost identical conclusion for a hypothetical pairing between Rosendale and Williams (45-45 percent).

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