By Jim EllisAug. 12, 2020 — The two most controversial candidates on the primary ballot yesterday were both nominated and advance into safe general election campaigns from their respective states.
Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) withstood a hard-fought and expensive Democratic primary challenge from attorney Antone Melton-Meaux for a 57-39 percent re-nomination victory last night in a district election that drew the highest turnout of the night (just over 160,000 voters). Both candidates raised well over $4 million apiece for their respective campaigns.
In Northwest Georgia, businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) who has drawn attention for her association with the QAnon movement, a loose organization of individuals who believe that the government’s “deep state bureaucrats” are conspiring to take down President Trump, won the Georgia 14th District Republican runoff election.
Greene defeated Rome area surgeon John Cowan by a 57-43 percent margin from what will likely be over 75,000 voters who participated in the runoff vote. The final turnout number could soar, however, since a relatively substantial number of mailed ballots remain to be counted. The primary election in this district drew over 108,000 voters.
Very little fanfare occurred here as few races were contested. The only result of interest came in the state’s 2nd District Republican primary where the two candidates are separated by just 78 votes with approximately 90 percent of the precincts reporting. The winner advances to the general election and a sure loss opposite Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Vernon). All five Democratic candidates were unopposed for re-nomination last night and each is a heavy favorite for re-election in the Fall.
In addition to Greene winning the 14th District Republican runoff and stamping her ticket for Washington, DC from her politically safe congressional district from which Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger/Rome) is retiring (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent), three other runoffs were settled.
In the Savannah-anchored 1st District, attorney and retired Army officer Joyce Griggs defeated former local Democratic county chair Lisa Ring in the party runoff. Griggs’ victory margin was 56-44 percent, but from a low in-person turnout of only about 28,000 individual voters. Griggs now becomes a heavy underdog against incumbent Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) who is running for a fourth term.
The open 9th District located in northeast Georgia and has no incumbent seeking re-election because Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) is a candidate in the US Senate special election. Both parties held runoff elections last night, and retired Navy officer and firearm business owner Andrew Clyde, who self-funded most of his campaign, defeated state Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) by a hefty 56-44 percent margin. In the June 9 primary, it was Rep. Gurtler outpacing Clyde, 21-19 percent, within a field of nine contenders.
On the Democratic side, retired Army veteran and local business owner Devin Pandy, also a second-place finisher in the original Democratic primary, scored a strong 68-32 percent victory over businesswoman Brooke Siskin last night. The 9th is a strong Republican CD (Trump ’16: 78-19 percent), so Clyde now becomes the congressman-in-waiting.
Both Sen. Tina Smith (D) and former Rep. Jason Lewis (R) were easy winners in their respective primaries last night, with percentage victories of 87 and 78 over their minor Democratic and Republican opponents. Lewis is a clear underdog against Sen. Smith but a new Emerson College survey of Minnesota likely voters (Aug. 8-10; 733 likely Minnesota voters) finds the incumbent’s lead shrinking to only 48-45 percent over Lewis. Other polling yields Sen. Smith a more substantial advantage.
The other consequential race last night came in the northwestern Minnesota 7th District, where Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) will now officially face former lieutenant governor and ex-state Senate president Michelle Fischbach. Rep. Peterson easily won the Democratic primary with 76 percent of the vote against two minor candidates. Fischbach won the Republican nod in a strong 59-22-15 percent victory over David Hughes, the 2016-18 nominee who twice held Rep. Peterson to 52 percent re-election wins, and Dr. Noel Collis, who spent heavily on television advertising.
This will likely be a strong Republican challenge race, as MN-7 was President Trump’s strongest district in the country (Trump ’16: 62-31 percent) that elects a Democrat to the House. The contest begins as a Lean Democrat race but could quickly become a toss-up affair. The turnout figures in last night’s primary election slightly favored the GOP, as about 9,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted here despite the latter party enjoying a 2:1 turnout advantage statewide.
Though South Dakota had runoff elections scheduled for last night, no federal race fell into that category. Therefore, the two federal general election nominees, Sen. Mike Rounds (R) and at-large freshman Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell), face only minimal opposition in the Fall.
Republican Gov. Phil Scott easily won re-nomination opposite three minor Republican candidates, exceeding 73 percent of the vote.
In the Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman defeated former state education secretary Rebecca Holcombe, 51-40 percent. Zuckerman will also carry the Vermont Progressive Party ballot line. Gov. Scott can expect a competitive general election campaign in his quest for a third two-year term from a state that clearly favors the Democrats.
In the lone House race, seven-term at-large Rep. Peter Welch (D-Norwich) recorded a 96 percent victory in the Democratic primary. His Republican opponent will be nurse and screenwriter Miriam Berry who scored a plurality win over three other GOP contenders. Rep. Welch is a prohibitive favorite to again prevail in November.
An uneventful night in the Wisconsin primary election, as most of the incumbents and candidates from both parties ran unopposed in the US House races.
Freshman Rep. Bryan Steil (R-Janesville) succeeded former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R) in the 1st Congressional District and will face National Security analyst Roger Polack who scored a 58-42 percent Democratic primary win last night. Rep. Steil is a strong favorite to clinch a second term in November.
As expected, state Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) scored a big 77 percent victory in his Republican primary last night from a district that recorded the highest number of voters in the state. He is the prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Menomonee Falls) who is retiring after serving what will be 42 years in the House. Democrat Tom Palzewicz, a Navy veteran and business consultant, was unopposed in his primary last night.