By Jim Ellis
June 29, 2016 —
Sen. Michael Bennet (D) officially heads into the general election, and learned the identity of his Republican opponent, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn. The GOP has had nothing but trouble in finding a suitable challenger here, in what was once thought to be a competitive race. But, a series of recruiting mishaps and several candidates having trouble with the petition signature process means the Senator stands in strong position for re-election.
In addition to Glenn, the Republican candidates were businessman John Blaha, and ex-state Rep. Jon Keyser, along with former Aurora city councilman and previous congressional candidate Ryan Frazier, and ex-Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham. Glenn begins as a decided underdog to Sen. Bennet and faces a major uphill climb in making this race a top-tier challenge campaign.
Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) and Douglas Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) drew respective party primary challenges, but both won easily.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) stands for re-election and will have little trouble securing a fourth term in November. He had no primary opposition.
Several congressional primaries are on tap. In the 1st District, Democrats were vying for the right to challenge freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/Suffolk County). The establishment choice is Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, who is opposed by Suffolk County Planning Commission chairman David Calone. Throne-Holst is a slight favorite to win, and leads by only 29 votes at this writing.
The open 3rd District was also a tough Democratic primary fight. Defeated Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi (D) won the race but, despite his strong name identification, was not the party establishment choice. Suffolk County legislator Steve Stern, North Hempsted Town Councilwoman Anna Kaplan, and ex-Nassau County official and judge Jon Kaiman battled Suozzi in a race that went down to the wire. Republicans are set with state Sen. Jack Martins, who has a good chance of converting this seat for the GOP in the general election. This Long Island congressional race has the early appearance of being a toss-up campaign, and is a top Republican conversion opportunity. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) is retiring.
In retiring Rep. Charlie Rangel’s (D-Harlem) 13th District, a new congressman was elected last night. Among the nine Democratic primary contenders, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Assemblyman Keith Wright appeared in the best position to win, and Espaillat prevailed. The Democratic primary is tantamount to winning the overall election here, a district that is one of the party’s safest seats in the country.
In the open Republican 19th District, former state Assembly GOP Leader and gubernatorial candidate John Faso was the premier contender for the party nomination. He had primary opposition from heating oil executive Andrew Heaney, who has raised over $1.3 million and personally added approximately $400,000 to his campaign coffers. Heaney outspent Faso, but to no avail. Democrats will be competitive here in the general election and have coalesced around law professor and former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) primary challenger Zephyr Teachout (D). She turned back opposition from former Livingston Town Councilman Will Yandik. This campaign will begin in Lean Republican status.
The open 22nd District – Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld) retiring – left behind a competitive GOP primary among state assemblywoman and 2014 challenger Claudia Tenney (R), party establishment favorite Steve Wells, the RNC National Committeeman, and former Broome County legislator George Phillips. Tenney won with 41 percent of the vote. Another Broome County legislator, Kim Myers, is the Democratic nominee, and this shapes up as a competitive open seat campaign.
In the Syracuse-anchored 24th CD, freshman Republican Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) is witnessing a competitive Democratic primary involving ex-congressional aide Colleen Deacon, college professor Eric Kingson, and attorney Steve Williams. The 24th is a competitive seat, but Rep. Katko begins in the clear favorite’s position.
All of the action was on the GOP side, but there were no surprise finishes.
Sen. James Lankford (R) was on the ballot again after winning in 2014 to serve the balance of ex-Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R) final term. Sen. Lankford runs for the full six years in 2016, and will have little trouble in the general election. He was unopposed last night.
House incumbents Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) and Markwayne Mullen (R-Westville/ Muskogee) have primary opponents with resources, but both won comfortable victories. Rep. Bridenstine had the tougher task, facing energy executive Tom Atkinson who has raised in the $300,000 range and added another $400,000 from his personal funds.
The state’s other three incumbents, Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Cheyenne), Tom Cole (R-Moore/Norman), and Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City) had only nominal opponents and won easily last night.
Sen. Mike Lee (R) has already been nominated in convention and will have little trouble securing a second term. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) has primary opposition from Overstock, Inc. CEO Jonathan Johnson (R) but, despite the challenger making a campaign effort, Gov. Herbert had wide polling leads and won easily.
All four GOP incumbents are set for re-nomination. In the general election, the re-match between freshman Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) and attorney Doug Owens (D) will be a race to watch. Love has under-performed in her two elections (one loss and one win), and fights to secure a second term. She defeated Mr. Owens 51-46 percent in 2014.