By Jim Ellis
June 9, 2016 — As has been the pattern since it became clear that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would be the eventual nominees of their respective parties, Trump consistently won big, breaking 67 percent in all primary venues Tuesday (California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota — North Dakota was a Democratic Caucus only) and averaging approximately 74 percent of the Republican vote. Clinton lost Montana, and the North Dakota Caucus to Bernie Sanders but scored surprisingly well in California, topping 62 percent in early returns. Clinton, however, averaged only in the 55 percent range, almost 20 full points below how Trump is performing among Republicans.
It’s officially onto the Clinton-Trump general election even if Sen. Sanders decides to make any type of run at the Democratic National Convention. For now, let’s take a little closer look at each state’s Tuesday results.
Turnouts for the stand-alone US House primaries were very low across the board Tuesday night, averaging just about 25,000 in the eight contested Republican contests and approximately 21,000 in the three significant Democratic intra-party battles. The special plurality primary was instituted in response to the federal court ordered mid-decade congressional re-draw.
In the 2nd District, as most believed would be the case, Rep. George Holding defeated fellow Rep. Renee Ellmers in the new 2nd District Republican primary. In the end, Holding easily won, taking 53 percent of the overall vote to Ellmers’ 24 percent. She just barely edged Tea Party activist and former US senate candidate Greg Brannon, who recorded 23 percent. At least according to Holding’s internal polling, Brannon’s entrance into the race was expected take votes away from the congressman. If so, then Holding’s win would have actually been bigger in a two-way race.
Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) shook off a 51-45 percent primary victory in 2014 with a 65 percent District 3 Republican nomination win last night. His 2014 GOP opponent, former George W. Bush Administration official Taylor Griffin, actually fell to third place. Computer technician and USMC veteran Phil Law finished second with 20 percent versus Griffin’s very poor 15 percent.
As expected, Rep. Richard Hudson (D-Concord) captured 66 percent of the vote against self-funding frequent candidate Tim D’Annuzio. Rep. Hudson was never in danger, but the district is 60 percent different than the constituency that elected him to his first two terms.
The 9th District primary turned into a wild and wooly affair that may not be over. It appears, pending absentee ballots and a recount, that Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) barely survived in the new 9th District, another district that contains approximately 60 percent new territory.
Pittenger looks to have scored a 142-vote victory against Charlotte pastor and former US Senate candidate Mark Harris. Just 1,008 votes behind Harris is ex-Union County Commissioner Todd Johnson. The final percentages were 35-34-31 percent.
It is clear that had a run-off election been in effect as is normally the case in North Carolina, or only one primary challenger had filed, Rep. Pittenger would have been denied re-nomination. Businessman Christian Cano, unopposed for the Democratic nomination, will now oppose Pittenger in the general election. Though not expected to be a strong candidate, the Democratic brain trust may invest in Cano now, sensing that Pittenger is a severely weakened incumbent.
Despite having a new district that completely cut out her Greensboro political base, Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte) defeated former state Senator Malcolm Graham, two sitting state Representatives, and three other Democrats to claim re-nomination for a second term. Most importantly, Rep. Adams garnered 42 percent of the vote, meaning if the run-off were still in place she would have been nominated outright. She should now cruise in the general election even though this 12th District is not quite as Democratic as her previous district.
In the new 13th District that featured 17 Republican candidates, Club for Growth backed agriculture specialist and gun range owner Ted Budd outpaced his 16 opponents with just over 6,000 votes and 20 percent. Clearly, a run-off would have occurred here, but the elimination of such in response to the court directive means Budd is the new nominee, and will be a heavy favorite in the general election. The Democrats had a tight 13th District primary with former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis nipping businessman Bob Isner in a seesaw battle. Davis prevailed by just 112 votes.
Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) easily captured the first general election position, posting a 40 percent total with incomplete returns. The fact that California allows voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day means a count that will take days to finalize. Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) was a clear second place with 16 percent, and will likely advance into a double-Democrat general election. The third-place finisher was Republican Duf Sundheim with 10 percent. A total of 34 candidates were on the ballot. Harris is the early general election favorite.
All went as expected in the House races. All incumbents seeking re-election advanced to the general election. We will definitely see a re-match in the San Jose area’s 17th District as Rep. Mike Honda (D) and former Obama Administration official Ro Khanna (D) will again face each other. Both scored in the 38 percent range Tuesday. The 2014 general election was a 52-48 percent split.
In the open seats, former Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta (D-CA-20), son of former Defense Secretary, CIA Director, and Congressman Leon Panetta (D), took 70 percent of the open vote and will romp to an easy general election against a little-known Republican.
In the open Santa Barbara 24th District, it appears County Supervisor Salud Carbajal (D) has secured one of the general election positions. The second slot will be a continuing battle between businessman Justin Fareed (R) and Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R). The two were virtually tied, and it will be days before we know who will ultimately oppose Carbajal.
Turning to Los Angeles County 44th District, state Sen. Isadore Hall (D), as expected, was approaching the 50 percent mark against nine opponents. It is likely he will face another Democrat in November, frequent candidate Nanette Barragan.
In Rep. Sanchez’s open Santa Ana/Anaheim CD, former state Senator and Orange County Supervisor Lou Correa (D) placed first and secured a slot in the general election. It appears Republican Bob Peterson, a former commander in the County Sheriff’s office, will be his general election competition.
Much more on the California results when all of the numbers become final.
Former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge (D) will face veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) in the general election. Judge won the Democratic primary, but failed to attract majority support. She recorded 48 percent of the vote versus state Sen. Rob Hogg’s 39 percent, with two minor candidates splitting the remaining 13 percent. The senator is the obvious favorite to secure a seventh term in office.
In the eastern state 1st District, former state House Speaker Pat Murphy (D), who surprisingly lost to then-businessman Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) in the 2014 general election, lost a 68-32 percent landslide last night to Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon (D). The latter had the clear support from the state and national party leadership, and spent over $1.4 million to secure the victory. This will be a top Democratic conversion opportunity in the fall.
In the Des Moines anchored 3rd District, former Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer (D), who ran in the 4th District during the last election cycle, defeated investor Mike Sherzan (D), 50-36 percent. Mowrer will now challenge freshman Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter/Des Moines).
Turning to the western Iowa 4th District, Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) notched a 65-35 percent Republican primary win against state Senate Assistant Majority Leader Rick Bertrand.
The Big Sky State has no US Senate race this year. At-large Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) and state School Superintendent Denise Juneau (D) were both unopposed for their party nominations and will square off in the general election.
In the governor’s race, as expected, businessman Greg Gianforte scored a 76 percent victory in the Republican primary and will now challenge first-term Gov. Steve Bullock (D).
All challenged Garden State incumbents in both parties were re-nominated, all but one scoring between 70 and 94 percent of the vote. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ-7) again recorded a tepid re-nomination victory, defeating frequent candidate David Larsen (R), 54-33 percent, with third candidate Craig Heald capturing the remaining 13 percent. This is the second cycle in a row where Rep. Lance has failed to win impressively against Larsen, who this time spent less than $300,000.
The Land of Enchantment has no Senate race in 2016, and none of the three congressional incumbents faced primary challengers last night. Reps. Michelle Grisham Lujan (D-Albuquerque), Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs), and Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe) are all prohibitive favorites in the general election.
In the special election to replace resigned Speaker John Boehner (R), GOP businessman Warren Davidson, as expected, registered an easy 77 percent victory and will fill the balance of Boehner’s final congressional term. Davidson previously won the Republican nomination for the regular cycle, which will of course be decided in November.
Neither Sen. John Thune (R), nor at-large Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) faced primary opposition. Their Democratic counterparts were also unopposed.
Former local school board member Jay Williams (D) will now challenge Sen. John Thune (R) in a race that will proved to be an easy win for the incumbent Republican.
State Rep. Paula Hawks (D) opposes Rep. Noem in the general election, which proscribes as another safe contest for the GOP.