By Jim Ellis
June 9, 2020 — While some national Democratic delegate counts show former vice president Joe Biden already reaching the 1,991 bound first-ballot votes he needs to clinch the party’s presidential nomination, others have him only knocking on the door.
The difference surrounds interpretation of state delegate selection rules and whether to count projected delegates in places like Iowa where state convention delegates have more authority to veer away from the original popular vote count.
Regardless of the count observed, delegate votes earned in today’s Georgia and West Virginia presidential primaries will certainly give him enough to mathematically clinch the Democratic presidential nomination.
• GEORGIA: The Georgia vote, with its 105 bound first-ballot delegates should alone be enough to put Biden over the top. The more suspenseful statewide race is the US Senate Democratic primary featuring the two principle candidates vying for the right to challenge Sen. David Perdue (R) in the general election.
Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff and ex-Columbus mayor Teresa Tomlinson are the top two contenders, while 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Sarah Riggs Amico appears to be running a distant third. If neither Ossoff nor Tomlinson reach the 50 percent mark, and polling suggests the former is close to the majority mark, the two will runoff in a secondary election on Aug. 11.
A pair of major national congressional races are on the docket for today. In the swing 6th District, freshman Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) will face former Rep. Karen Handel (R) in a re-match of their 2018 campaign that ended in a 50-49 percent result. This year promises another tight general election battle.
In the adjacent open 7th District, both parties bring crowded fields in a campaign that was decided by just 419 votes two years ago. With Republicans having seven candidates and Democrats’ six, seeing both parties advance to runoff elections becomes a probable result tonight. This, too, will be a toss-up general election campaign.
• NEVADA: There is no presidential race in the Silver State today, since the Nevada caucus was held in February. Neither does the state have a governor nor Senate race this year.
Two of Nevada’s four congressional races have the potential of becoming competitive. In the Clark County based 3rd District, which was a Republican seat before Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) won in 2018, the Democratic incumbent is a clear favorite for re-election, but she will have to wage a strong campaign. Former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer is favored to top former state Treasurer Dan Schwartz for the Republican nomination.
The 4th District may be more interesting. Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) has already lost this seat as an incumbent so his recently disclosed affair with a Senate intern could become a bigger issue. Eight Republicans are competing for the party nomination, and it is likely that either former state assemblyman Jim Marchant, businessman Sam Peters, or businesswoman Lisa Song Sutton will win tonight. Nevada has no runoff law, so whoever tops the crowded field this evening wins the nomination.
• NORTH DAKOTA: Very little political competition is on tap for the Peace Garden State, as Gov. Doug Burgum (R) looks like a lock for a second term, and freshman at-large Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Dickinson) faces only minor opposition in the Fall campaign. There is no US Senate race in North Dakota this year.
• SOUTH CAROLINA: The Democratic presidential primary held at the end of February launched Biden’s comeback and helped propel him toward clinching the party nomination today. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) and former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison will both win their respective party nominations tonight. This will be a more competitive general election than usual for Sen. Graham, as Harrison has already raised over $19 million for the race. Sen. Graham is favored in Republican South Carolina, but Harrison is clearly a viable opponent.
The congressional delegation appears secure with the exception of the Charleston-anchored 1st District. In 2018, Democrat Joe Cunningham snatched the typically safe Republican seat, and the GOP is pulling out all of the stops toward getting it back in November.
The primary is coming down to a race between state Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Daniel Island) and Mt. Pleasant City Councilwoman Kathy Manning. It is likely one of the two will top 50 percent to avoid a runoff. If not, the top two finishers will face each other just two weeks from now on June 23. The general election immediately becomes a toss-up no matter who wins tonight’s Republican primary.
• WEST VIRGINIA: The biggest Mountain State story is Gov. Jim Justice’s Republican primary challenge. The governor has two opponents, former state Delegate Mike Folk and ex-Commerce Department Secretary Woody Thrasher. Polling suggests Gov. Justice, in the Republican primary for the first time after originally winning the office as a Democrat, is the clear favorite tonight and in November.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) stands for a second term and has only minor opposition in the Republican primary. Her likely general election opponent will be former state Sen. Richard Ojeda, who ran for the 3rd Congressional District in 2018 but lost 56-44 percent to now freshman Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington). He then briefly jumped into the presidential race but was the first candidate to exit. Sen. Moore should have little trouble in securing re-election in November.
All three Republican US House incumbents are secure for re-nomination and re-election.