By Jim Ellis
June 26, 2018 — Five more states vote in nominating primaries or run-off elections today — Colorado, Oklahoma, South Carolina (run-off), the New York federal primary and the Utah races.
Leading the Centennial State ballot is the open governor’s race, which feature spirited contests for both parties. The Democratic race is largely between US Rep Jared Polis (D-Boulder) and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, the officially endorsed party candidate. Polling suggests that Rep. Polis has the advantage, even though Kennedy is the party insider’s favorite. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, and former state Sen. Mike Johnston complete the Democratic field.
For the Republicans, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, the officially endorsed party candidate, looks to be leading the GOP battle for the nomination. His strongest competition appears to be coming from former state representative and businessman Victor Mitchell. Former Small Business Administration state director and ex-Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, and investment banker Doug Robinson round out the Republican field. The individuals nominated today will battle to succeed outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who is ineligible to seek a third term.
The open 2nd District campaign will be waged in the Democratic primary, with today’s winner being a lock to succeed Rep. Polis. Ex-University of Colorado Regent Joe Neguse is favored over former Boulder County Democratic Party chairman Mark Williams.
Democrats are fielding a primary campaign in what is commonly known as the “western slope district,” where three party members are fighting for the nomination to challenge four-term Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez). Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, ex-Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon, and former Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi are the Democratic contenders with Bush commonly viewed as the favorite. Rep. Tipton will be favored in the general election.
Perhaps the major contested Republican primary comes in the Colorado Springs anchored 5th District, where Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) is battling four opponents, including El Paso County Commissioner and former US Senate nominee Darryl Glenn, state Senator Owen Hill, retired Texas District Judge Bill Rhea, and ex-Green Mountain Falls Mayor Tyler Stevens. The large field suggests that the congressman could win re-nomination with only a plurality.
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora) will discover whom he will face in the general election from tomorrow’s vote. The Democratic battle is between attorney and Iraq War veteran Jason Crow and clCrow is favored for the nomination. Though the 6th District proves to be a tempting Democratic target every two years, none of their strong nominees have been able to topple Rep. Coffman, and though the race will again likely fall into the toss-up category, the congressman has routinely overcome difficult challenges.
The Sooner State political ballot features several races of note.
Gov. Mary Fallin (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, and budget and education funding short falls make this a more competitive open situation than one normally sees in this conservative state. For the Republicans, 10 candidates are vying for the nomination in what will surely require a run-off to find a winner. Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb, state Auditor Gary Jones, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, ex-US Attorney Gary Richardson, and former state Rep. Dan Fisher are the top contenders. If no candidate receives majority support tomorrow the first two finishers will advance to an August 28th run-off election.
In the open 1st Congressional District, vacated because former Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) was appointed as NASA Administrator, a five-way Republican nomination battle has resulted that will likely determine who succeeds Mr. Bridenstine in the House. State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris, businessman Kevin Hern, Iraq War veteran and attorney Andy Coleman, and Baptist pastor Danny Stockstill comprise the GOP candidate field. Two of them will advance to a run-off. Five Democrats will also likely whittle down to two finalists. None of the latter group has ever held political office.
Three-term Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville/Muskogee) is breaking his term-limit pledge meaning controversy has arisen. Three GOP 2nd District candidates are challenging Rep. Mullin tomorrow: Afghan War veteran and 2016 candidate Jarrin Jackson, mortgage broker John McCarthy, and college professor Brian Jackson. Jarrin Jackson held Rep. Mullin to a 63 percent primary victory two years ago, so this race merits some attention. Should Mullin be forced to a run-off, he could be in trouble come August 28.
Reps. Frank Lucas (R-Cheyenne), Tom Cole (R-Moore), and Steve Russell (R-Oklahoma City) all have primary opponents but should have little trouble winning re-nomination tomorrow night.
The Palmetto State features a run-off election tomorrow, culminating the two-week post-primary campaign period. Two races are of note: Governor, and the open 4th Congressional District.
Polling suggests that Gov. Henry McMaster (R) will comfortably defeat businessman John Warren (R) in the GOP gubernatorial run-off. The winner will then face state Rep. James Smith (D-Columbia) in the general election. McMaster has spent heavily, prepared because he knew that the primary result would yield a secondary election. The Trafalgar Group went into the field immediately after the June 12th vote and surveyed more than 1,000 likely Republican run-off voters, which produced a 60-31% McMaster advantage.
In the open 4th CD, from which Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg) is retiring, former state Sen. Lee Bright, who finished first with 25% of the vote in a field of 13 GOP candidates, now faces state Sen. William Timmons (R-Greenville) who slipped into second place with 19.2% of the vote. The winner almost assuredly wins the general election and will replace Rep. Gowdy.
The big race on the ballot in the Beehive State is the Republican US Senate primary featuring former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. His opponent is state Rep. Mike Kennedy, a Provo physician. Dr. Kennedy outpaced Romney in the state Republican delegate vote, and will try to do so again before the entire electorate. Polling suggests otherwise, but voters will make the decision today. The winner faces Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson who won the Democratic nomination outright in the April state convention. Therefore, there is no Senate Democratic primary on the ballot today.
Only two congressional primaries will be decided. In the 1st District, Democrats Lee Castillo and Kurt Weiland battle for the right to challenge veteran Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Brigham City), who has already said he intends to retire in 2020. In the 3rd District, we see a re-match of the 2017 special election primary that launched Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo) on his way to Congress. Curtis again faces former state Rep. Chris Herrod (R), who qualified for the ballot in the party convention. The new incumbent is again favored in tonight’s election.
New York is the only state that now has two primaries, one for federal offices and another for state positions. The change came after the federal MOVE Act was adopted, which requires at least 45 days notice be given to overseas and military voters. The NY state primary is scheduled for Sept. 13.
All of the action today is in the House primaries as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) is a lock for re-election.
In the 1st District, six Democrats are battling for the party nomination to challenge two-term Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley/The Hamptons). Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning is the only sitting office holder on the ballot. Former Suffolk County Legislator Vivian Viloria Fisher is expected to be a strong candidate in today’s voting. Lending corporation executive Perry Gershon has dropped more than $1.6 million for the primary campaign, the overwhelming majority of it self-financed.
Moving to Long Island’s 2nd District, two Democrats are competing for advancement into a race with veteran Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford). DuWayne Gregory is the Suffolk County Legislature’s presiding officer, and he also carries the Independence, Working Families, and Women’s Equality party ballot lines. Therefore, he will move into the general election regardless of today’s Democratic Party primary outcome. Gregory’s key opponent is business consultant Liuba Grechen Shirley, who has outraised him 4:1 in campaign contributions.
One of the bigger races of the evening comes in Staten Island, where Rep. Dan Donovan (R) defends his seat against the man he succeeded, former Rep. Michael Grimm (R). The latter man was forced to resign after a federal tax fraud conviction sent him to prison for seven months. Polling has been inconsistent, so a close race is expected. Democrats are fielding six candidates, none of whom have ever served in public office. Healthcare executive Max Rose is also carrying the Working Families and Women’s Equality party ballot lines, so he may be considered the favorite to take the Democratic nomination tonight. The 11th District is the only New York City district that sends a Republican to Washington.
In New York City’s Upper East Side 12th District, veteran Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D) faces a well funded challenger in the person of businessman and former Obama White House aide Suraj Patel. Patel had raised over $1.2 million through the June 6 pre-primary financial disclosure period, almost all of it from individuals. It remains to be seen if he can translate his fundraising prowess into votes against a 13-term incumbent who served ten years on the New York City Council prior to her election to federal office. Maloney was last challenged in a primary two years ago, an election in which she obtained almost 91 percent of the vote.
Beginning in the Upstate seats, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/West Point) is unopposed for the Democratic nomination but he may not stay in the congressional race. The congressman has announced that he will compete for the open attorney general’s contest and has already said he will leave the US House campaign if he wins the statewide nomination. Doing so would cause havoc for the Democrats and force the local party to choose a new candidate in late September. The development could bode well for Republican Orange County Legislator James O’Donnell, who is a retired state police commander. Rep. Maloney was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote in 2016, after surviving a close 2014 call against former US Rep. Nan Hayworth (48-46 percent).
A total of seven Democrats, none of whom have ever won an election, are competing to challenge freshman Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook) in what will likely be a tough and close general election campaign. Faso won his first congressional term 54-46 percent in 2016. Prior to running for Congress, he served 16 years in the New York State Assembly, rising to the position of Minority Leader. Rep. Faso also ran statewide for governor and state controller.
Five Democrats, including former MSNBC television host Dylan Ratigan, are running for the party nomination in the North Country seat (NY-21). Tonight’s winner will then challenge two-term incumbent Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) who is the youngest woman in American history to win a seat in the US House. Stefanik was 30 years old when she was initially elected in 2014.
The 22nd District general election is already set, and it will be highly competitive. Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford) runs for a second term and faces a challenge from Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica). Each are unopposed for their respective party nominations tonight, and both have raised over $1.6 million for the general election campaign.
Another five Democrats, in yet one more NY race featuring first-time candidates, are running to face four-term Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) in a race that could develop depending upon who is nominated tonight.
Democrats have had a difficult time fielding credible opposition against two-term Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse). Ex-Syracuse Corporate Counsel Juanita Perez Williams, a former Syracuse mayoral candidate, is favored for the Democratic nomination tonight.
The 25th District remains vacant following the death of veteran US Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester). Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has not scheduled a special election, which likely means the seat will remain vacant through the general election. Tonight, four Democrats battle for the regular election party nomination. State Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) is perhaps the favorite this evening. He also carries the Independence, Working Families, and Women’s Equality Party ballot lines. Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden, former television journalist Rachel Barnhart, and Brighton Town Board member Robin Wilt round out the Democratic field. The winner draws neurosurgeon Jim Maxwell, who also has the Conservative and Reform Party ballot lines.