By Jim Ellis
May 19, 2016 — Once again Sen. Bernie Sanders performed well against presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s primaries. While even Sanders is all but conceding a Clinton ultimate Democratic presidential nomination victory, he nonetheless won the Oregon primary. In the face of the latest Fox News poll (May 6-9; 304 likely Oregon Democratic primary voters) predicting a 15-point Clinton advantage, Sanders appears to have won by six. The final tally, because of Oregon’s all-mail voting system will take time to fully record.
In Kentucky, Sanders actually gained the lead with 95 percent of the precincts reporting, but in the end Clinton pulled out what appears to be a 1,900-vote victory. The count is not final at this writing, however.
Even though Clinton again badly under-performed in what should be a victory lap for her, she still moved closer to her goal of capturing the 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination. There is no doubt she will deliver, but it’s going to take her until the primary season’s last day (June 7) to officially clinch, something that was not predicted at the beginning of the campaign. Most analysts believed she would become the presumptive nominee back on Super Tuesday (March 1).
The Republicans did not have a presidential primary in Kentucky, having apportioned their delegates in a March 5 caucus. But in Oregon, Donald Trump racked up a big 67 percent victory against his politically moribund opponents, but attracting the percentage range one would expect from a candidate who is in an inevitable position to win the party nomination.
No surprises occurred in the Kentucky federal races. Sen. Rand Paul captured 85 percent in the Republican primary against minor opposition. He will now officially face Lexington-Fayette County Mayor Jim Gray (D), a wealthy construction executive. The latter won the Democratic nomination with a vote percentage of 59 against six opponents.
Sen. Paul is the clear favorite for re-election. Kentucky is becoming one of the strongest Republican states in the presidential election, so it will be hard for Gray to overcome the likely wave Republican turnout model at least in the Blue Grass State. Still, Gray should be able to attract financial support and spend his own money to wage a credible competitive campaign against Sen. Paul.
In House races, as expected, former state Agriculture Commissioner and 2015 gubernatorial candidate James Comer (who lost the Republican primary to now-Gov. Matt Bevin by just 83 votes statewide), scored a 61 percent open 1st District Republican primary victory. He will easily win the general election and replace retiring 11-term Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Hopkinsville).
All other incumbents brushed back minor opposition. No Kentucky seat is expected to change hands in the general election.
There was no presidential action in the Gem State, and Sen. Mike Crapo (R) and investment banker Jerry Sturgill (D) were unopposed for their respective party nominations. Sen. Crapo is a prohibitive favorite to win a fourth term in November.
1st District Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) registered an 81 percent victory against two Republican opponents. In eastern District 2, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) notched a 73 percent primary win against his token Republican opponent. Both will easily win new terms in November.
The special gubernatorial election is now set. As expected, interim Gov. Kate Brown (D), who ascended to the governorship when incumbent John Kitzhaber (D) resigned to avoid scandal, secured the Democratic nomination for the November special election. The winner serves the balance of the current term and is eligible to run for a full four-year term in 2020. Former state Medical Association president Bud Pierce won the Republican nomination, and will face Gov. Brown in the special general election. She should have little trouble in winning.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D) breezed to his nomination win, and now draws only Technology executive Mark Callahan (R) who won the crowded GOP primary. Sen. Wyden is the prohibitive general election favorite.
In the House, all five House incumbents are seeking re-election and each will record landslide victories in November. All but Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Portland) had primary opposition Tuesday night, and Rep. Kurt Schrader’s (D-Canby/Salem) 73 percent was the lowest incumbent winning total.