By Jim Ellis
May 24, 2016 — Voters in several states go to the polls in primary elections today, but only one group will vote for president.
Washington State Republicans will visit the polling places and cast ballots in the presidential contest even though the delegates were just chosen over the weekend. Though the state convention participants overwhelmingly chose Sen. Ted Cruz supporters as national delegates, they will still be bound to the voters’ choice on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention.
Turnout will likely be low because the nomination of Donald Trump is now a foregone conclusion, and the state primary, featuring the US Senate and House races, will not occur until Aug. 2. Therefore, today’s vote is a stand-alone Republican presidential contest since Democrats have previously voted in caucus.
Washington is a 20 percent threshold state, and there is a reasonable chance that Trump will be the only contender to exceed the minimum percentage. If so, he would be awarded all 11 at-large delegates.
In the 10 congressional districts (CD), candidates exceeding 20 percent of the district votes qualify for delegates. If one obtains a majority in a CD, then all three delegates are awarded to that particular candidate. Trump stands a good chance of exceeding 50 percent in all 10 districts. If so, it’s possible to see him obtain 41 delegate votes from Washington with the three RNC delegates remaining unbound.
Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) is seeking re-nomination for the second time after serving three terms in the US House, and 18 years in the Georgia legislature. He faces two minor Republican opponents. On the Democratic side, financial sector businessman Jim Barksdale is favored over two minor candidates. Sen. Isakson is a prohibitive favorite in the general election.
In the House races, Representatives Buddy Carter (R-GA-1) and David Scott (D-GA-13) drew no opponents for the primary or general election, thus they have already secured seats in the next Congress. Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA-10) faces no GOP opposition, and only one Independent candidate in the fall.
None of the remaining three Democratic incumbents have primary opponents tomorrow, but five of the 10 GOP Representatives seeking re-election drew intra-party challengers. One seat, Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s (R-Grantville) 3rd District, is open because he is retiring from the House. It is likely the western Georgia congressman will enter the 2018 open governor’s race, however. A run-off among the eight Republicans running to succeed Westmoreland is a virtual certainty.
Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA-8) faces only businesswoman Angela Hicks (R) in the GOP primary. She had raised less than $30,000 at the end of March. Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) has three opponents, but this should not sidetrack his ability to secure a majority vote, meaning he will be re-nominated outright. Rep. Graves would then face no Democratic opposition in November.
In Rep. Doug Collins’ (R-Gainesville) 9th District, former Rep. Paul Broun (R) is attempting a political comeback. He represented half of this district’s constituency during most of his four terms in the House. He left the House in 2014 to run unsuccessfully for Senate. Retired Army general Bernie Fontaine and two Tea Party activists are also in this race. No Democrats filed, so the eventual Republican nominee wins the seat. Because of the large field, the worst that Collins would experience is being forced to a July 26th run-off election. The congressman is expected to prevail tomorrow, however.
Freshman Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-Cassville) also faces four 11th District Republicans in tomorrow’s primary. Businessman Daniel Cowan is the strongest of the four GOP challengers, putting $400,000 in the bank before the end of March. Here, too, Rep. Loudermilk’s worst-case scenario for tomorrow is being forced into a run-off election, but he also is expected to win re-nomination tomorrow night.
Finally, freshman Rep. Rick Allen (R-GA-12) draws businessman and former congressional candidate Eugene Yu in the election. Allen defeated Yu in the 2014 primary, and will do so again. Democrats filed only minor candidates for a seat they held for 10 years in the person of former Rep. John Barrow (D).
A couple of Lone Star State congressional run-off elections are also scheduled for today, and we will see the two winners becoming new House members.
In the open 15th District, attorney Vicente Gonzalez (D) who captured just over 42 percent in the primary squares off with Edinburgh School Board member Juan “Sonny” Palacios Jr. (D), who was second with just 19 percent. Gonzalez is favored to capture the Democratic nomination. Though Republicans will have a general election nominee, winning the Democratic nomination here is tantamount to being elected in November. Rep. Ruben Hinojosa (D-McAllen) is retiring after 10 terms.
In the Lubbock-anchored 19th District, two Republicans are running a tight race to determine which individual will succeed retiring Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock). Former Texas Tech Chancellor and George W. Bush Administration official Jodey Arrington faces Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson in the secondary election.
In March, the two fought to a virtual tie, with Robertson placing first by just 855 votes. Since both men hail from Lubbock and are well known there, the Abilene area vote may prove to be the deciding factor. This has been a tough campaign, and is considered a toss-up going into the election. No Democratic candidate filed in this seat, so tomorrow’s vote is final.