By Jim Ellis
Sept. 21, 2016 — The Aug. 30 Arizona primary gave us the closest congressional primary of this entire election cycle. At the evening’s end, former Go.Daddy.com executive Christine Jones appeared to have enough of a margin to secure the 5th District Republican primary nomination in order to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa).
Originally, the preliminary Election Day count gave Jones an 876-vote lead. Later that evening, it dropped to 576 votes. We now know that 576 was not quite enough. By the time the absentee and provisional votes were counted, Jones had lost all of her lead and state Senate President Andy Biggs had forged ahead by just nine votes from more than 85,000 cast ballots.
After the official canvass, which ended Sept. 12, the Biggs’ lead had expanded to a whopping 16 votes. The re-count then began, and Biggs gained again, this time reaching a 27-vote edge. This last known total will stand, as yesterday Ms. Jones conceded the election. She will take no further action to prolong the contest.
Andy Biggs is now certified as the official Republican primary winner. He will cruise to victory in the general election and take the seat in January. Biggs had major conservative support, including that of Rep. Salmon and outside organizations such as the Club for Growth.
New House Polling
Florida’s open 18th District race is shaping up to be one of the most interesting in the country. The Palm Beach area seat, vacated because Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) is running for Senate, is a marginal political district that voted for Mitt Romney despite twice electing a Democratic congressman.
After disabled Afghan War veteran Brian Mast, a Republican, and Democratic debris removal company owner Randy Perkins won their respective primaries on Aug. 30, what promises to be a tight general election quickly ensued.
McLaughlin & Associates conducted a poll of the district (Sept. 12-14; 400 likely FL-18 voters) for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Not surprisingly, the results portend a toss-up contest. The McLaughlin ballot test question yielded a 41-40 percent lead for Mr. Perkins. We can expect this race to be close down to the wire. This 18th CD is a major potential Republican conversion opportunity.
Staying in Florida, the Data Targeting organization, polling for Rep. David Jolly’s (R-Pinellas County) campaign (Sept 8-10; 300 likely FL-13 voters), finds the incumbent and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) tied at 46 percent apiece. Considering that the district has been re-drawn to elect a Democrat, the poll gives some credence, even though the sample size is low, to the argument that Rep. Jolly could still prevail against Crist even though he faces significant voter registration and financial disadvantages.
The McLaughlin poll also tested each candidate’s favorability index. While both men produced a 46 percent positive rating, Crist’s negative factor was 37 percent as compared to Jolly’s 16 percent.
Moving to the open 8th District of Pennsylvania, retiring Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown), who is leaving Congress to uphold a four-term limit pledge he made in 2004, is attempting to hand over the Bucks County congressional seat to his brother, Brian. According to a new Communication Concepts poll (Sept. 6-7; 416 likely PA-8 voters), the ploy is working.
The CC survey finds Fitzpatrick, a former FBI agent, leading state Rep. Steve Santarsiero (D), 50-38 percent. This is a strong showing for a candidate in a marginal open seat, but obviously the Fitzpatrick name is creating some positive confusion for the Republican nominee.
Fitzpatrick receives his strong vote even though Hillary Clinton appears in favorable position to carry the district against Donald Trump. The presidential ballot test suggests Clinton is leading Trump 42-37 percent, with Libertarian Party nominee Gary Johnson drawing seven percent, and Green Party candidate Jill Stein attracting three percent support.
The 8th is a swing political district, so these numbers are even more encouraging for the Fitzpatrick camp.