Tag Archives: Sen. John Barrasso

Barrasso Wins Easily in Wyoming;
Alaska Results as Expected

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesAug. 22, 2018 — Voters in the Last Frontier and Equality State selected their nominees yesterday in Republican and Democratic primaries. Even though they are small, relatively speaking, the impact of the results is important. Here’s a rundown of the results:


WYOMING

Sen. John Barrasso easily overcame his self-funding primary opponent last night with a 67-28 percent landslide victory. The senator topped investor David Dodson and four minor GOP candidates in the Equality State Republican primary.

The Barrasso nomination victory makes him the prohibitive favorite to win a third general election in November. Dr. Barrasso was originally appointed in 2007 after Sen. Craig Thomas (R) passed away shortly after winning re-election in 2006. He was then elected in a special 2008 election, and re-elected to a full term in 2012.

Sen. Barrasso now faces former Teton County School Board chairman and two-time congressional nominee Gary Trauner in the general election. Trauner was unopposed in yesterday’s Democratic primary.

In the tight three-way governor’s race, state Treasurer Mark Gordon defeated billionaire mutual fund founder and national Republican donor Foster Friess, 32-26 percent, with attorney Harriet Hageman finishing third with 21 percent of the vote. The remaining 20 percent was divided among three also-ran candidates.

Gordon now advances to the open general election where he will oppose the Democratic winner, former state Rep. Mary Throne who captured the party nomination with just over 71 percent of the vote.

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Alaska, Wyoming Vote Today

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 21, 2018 — Voters in the Last Frontier and Equality State choose their nominees today, and even though these are small, single-member US House states, important primaries fill the election docket.


ALASKA

With no US Senate race on the Alaska ballot, voters are coming to the polls to choose nominees in both major parties to oppose the nation’s lone Independent governor, Bill Walker.

While coalescing with the Democrats to pass a major portion of his political agenda, Gov. Walker’s plan to take advantage of a new state election law that would allow an Independent candidate to also enter one of the major party primaries went awry when a familiar Democrat came forward to announce his candidacy just as the filing period closed.

Former US senator and ex-Anchorage mayor Mark Begich stepped forward in a somewhat surprising move at the filing deadline to declare his candidacy for governor. Knowing he would be doomed in the Democratic primary against Begich, Gov. Walker retreated to run only on the Independent ballot line once again with his running mate, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, a former Democrat who was elected mayor of two municipalities and ran the Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation, the entity that pays oil royalties annually to every Alaska resident.

The Republican gubernatorial field features former state Sen. Mike Dunleavy and ex-Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell. Businessman and founding Alaska Economic Development Corporation president Scott Hawkins withdrew from the race after Treadwell entered, reasoning that he no longer had a clear opportunity to draw a direct contrast with Dunleavy. Therefore, though minor candidates also adorn the Republican ballot, the race is now realistically just between Dunleavy and Treadwell, with polls favoring the former.

In a three-way race with Begich, who is unopposed in today’s Democratic primary, and Gov. Walker on the Independent line, the Republican nominee will have a real opportunity to take advantage of split loyalties among Democrats and Independents, meaning solidifying the Republican base might be enough to win the succeeding general election.

In the at-large congressional race, the nation’s longest serving House member, Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), who was originally elected in a 1973 special election, runs for a 24th term and is the heavy favorite both in today’s primary and for the general election. Likely to emerge from the Democratic primary is education reform activist Alyse Galvin.


WYOMING

All the action is in the Republican primary, both at the US Senate and gubernatorial level.

In the Senate contest, incumbent John Barrasso (R) is in the process of fending off a credible intra-party challenge from investor Dave Dodson. The latter man has spent well over $1.5 million on his race, investing $1 million of his own money.

Dodson is running against a “broken Washington”, and promises to better prioritize Wyoming’s interest than has the senator. He also attacks Barrasso for being the “14th wealthiest senator,” but it is unclear whether Dodson would actually be higher on that particular chart if he were to deny the incumbent re-nomination.

It is likely Dodson will dent the senator’s vote percentage, but Barrasso should easily again obtain the party nod. If successful, Sen. Barrasso will then face former Teton County School Board member and ex-US House candidate Gary Trauner in the general election.

Sen. Barrasso is a heavy favorite to return to Washington for another six-year term. He was originally appointed to the seat after Sen. Craig Thomas (R) passed away in 2007. He was then elected in 2008 to fill the unexpired portion of that term, and was re-elected to a full term in 2012.

The other key race is for the open governor’s position as incumbent Matt Mead (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. Six candidates are on the Republican ballot, but the race is actually among three of the contenders: state Treasurer Mark Gordon, investment fund founder and national Republican donor Foster Friess, and attorney Harriet Hageman. The primary winner becomes the favorite to defeat the Democratic nominee in the fall. Among the four Democratic candidates, the only one to have held any office is former state Rep. Mary Throne (D-Cheyenne).

In the at-large House race, freshman Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson Hole) has two Republicans and two Democrats running against her, but none will be able to mount a viable campaign. Rep. Cheney is a lock for re-election to the statewide seat that her father, former Vice President Dick Cheney, won six times.

New Year Senate Preview – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 4, 2018 — Now that we are officially in election year 2018, it is a good time to set the stage for the coming campaign season. With Democrat Doug Jones converting the Alabama special election last month, and new Sen. Tina Smith (D-MN) standing for a concurrent special election this November, a different picture exists for the coming Senate election campaigns.

THE REPUBLICANS

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)

Before Alabama, it was a virtual mathematical certainty that the Republicans would retain Senate control after the 2018 vote because the Democrats had too few viable conversion targets. The Jones’ special election victory to permanently replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who left the Senate in order to accept his Trump Administration position, now gives the Democrats a path to attaining the majority but they still must overcome the GOP’s strong defensive wall.

Only forced to defend eight of the now 34 in-cycle seats, the Republicans are most at risk in Nevada and Arizona.

In the Silver State, first-term Sen. Dean Heller (R) currently defends his statewide position against two known opponents, only one of which is a Democrat.

Perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian, who has lost campaigns for five different offices (state Senate, Secretary of State, US Senate, Congressional District 4, and Congressional District 3), is nevertheless 4-1 in Republican primaries. Therefore, Sen. Heller’s first task is to secure the GOP nomination in June. Already we have seen erratic polling, with the Tarkanian camp and some national pollsters posting him ahead of Heller, but the senator and other independent research firms countering with the opposite result.

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Could Bannon Cost the GOP?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13 2017 — Several articles have surfaced this week speculating that former presidential advisor Steve Bannon wanting to find and support challengers to Republican Senate incumbents could cost the GOP its majority. It appears individuals making such a claim have forgotten how to count.

Keeping in mind that the Democrats must protect 25 of 33 in-cycle Senate seats, there are simply not enough legitimate targets available for the minority to change their status within the chamber, even though they need a net gain of only three seats. Yes, the Dems are forcing Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) into toss-up situations, but the remaining six GOP incumbents are some of the safest in the Senate. So, even if Bannon or other conservative insurgents recruit opposition to incumbents, the chances of the eventual Republican nominee losing the general election in these particular states are extremely low.

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Bannon: How Much a Factor?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2017 — Several articles have appeared in the past few days contemplating former presidential advisor Steve Bannon’s perceived political strength, most specifically regarding his actions involving recruiting Republican primary challengers against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) loyalists.

While Bannon appears in good stead vis-à-vis financial backers — with the billionaire Mercer family serving as his monetary base — those running the McConnell-aligned outside political operation downplay just how strong the insurgents might be opposite 2018 Senate GOP incumbents standing for re-election.

Valid points resonate with both sides. Buoyed by Alabama former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s victory over appointed Sen. Luther Strange in last week’s special Republican run-off election, the Bannon forces, who heaped attack ads on the interim incumbent, were naturally taking a great deal of credit for the victory. And, without doubt, anyone thinking of challenging a sitting senator is greatly encouraged after seeing the Alabama outcome.

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The Primary Fallout

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 29, 2017 — Former Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s victory in Tuesday’s special Senate run-off election has created a media narrative suggesting that statewide GOP primary challenges will soon be sweeping the political scene, but such simply won’t happen.

While Judge Moore’s win may give legs to one adjacent budding Senate primary challenge, the number isn’t going expand due to the 2018 electoral set-up. That is, few Republicans, eight to be exact, are in-cycle for the coming election and the two most vulnerable situations already feature incumbents engaged with primary opponents.

Additionally, the Moore-Sen. Luther Strange contest had unique characteristics that made a primary victory over this particular incumbent more likely, if not probable. Strange, then Alabama’s attorney general, receiving the vacancy appointment in “swamp-like” fashion from a governor trying to avoid impeachment, and using the Senate appointment process to game the system so that he could later choose the person who would continue the legal investigation of himself, cast Strange in a negative light from his very first day in Washington.

Furthermore, the new senator attracted only 32 percent in his first election, meaning that two-thirds of his own party’s Aug. 15 primary voters turned away from him at their first opportunity, was a clear signal that Strange’s appointment was met with widespread dissatisfaction and that the former AG wouldn’t last long in his new job.

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Nevada Senate: The Race is On

By Jim Ellis

June 29, 2017
— Last week, freshman Nevada Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) informally declared her intention to run for the Senate – promising an actual announcement for sometime this week or next – and now we already see the first poll for the impending race.

First-term Sen. Dean Heller is clearly the Republicans most vulnerable incumbent in an election year where Democratic opportunities are few and far between. In this particular cycle, Democrats must defend 25 of the 33 Senate campaigns to come before their respective voters versus the Republicans’ mere eight; and, realistically, only two of the latter group are in the competitive realm.

Republican in-cycle Sens. Orrin Hatch (UT), John Barrasso (WY), Deb Fischer (NE), Bob Corker (TN), Ted Cruz (TX), and Roger Wicker (MS) all come from secure Republican states, and none are in serious danger for re-election. Sen. Jeff Flake finds himself in an iffy Arizona situation, but he has time to right his political ship. Therefore, the Nevada seat becomes possibly the Democrats’ lone conversion focal point for the coming election.

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Cheney Results In;
Alaska Primary Decided

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2016 — Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president, US defense secretary, and five-term Wyoming congressman, Dick Cheney, successfully captured Wyoming’s open seat Republican congressional nomination Tuesday night. The first-place finish, though nowhere close to garnering a majority of the votes cast, is enough to earn her the primary victory. Becoming the GOP nominee is tantamount to winning the seat in November since Wyoming will undoubtedly vote Republican once again this year.

Cheney scored 40 percent of the vote, far ahead of second-place finisher Leland Christensen’s 22 percent. The latter is a veteran state senator. Placing third was state Rep. Tim Stubson (17 percent), followed closely by attorney Darin Smith (15 percent). Five minor candidates came after Smith with college professor Mike Konsmo, obtaining under two percent of the vote, being the largest vote-getter within the also-ran group.

In 2014, Cheney aborted a challenge to veteran Republican US Sen. Mike Enzi and controversy arose that the candidate, who has lived in Virginia most of her life, was not a true Wyoming resident, nor was she and her family committed to living there. Cheney’s regular presence in the state and actually residing there after the 2014 election cycle put her in strong position to run for the at-large US House seat once incumbent Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Cheyenne) decided not to seek a fifth term.

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Liz Cheney’s Announcement Sets Up GOP Battle

It’s rare when two candidates make a public pronouncement about their political plans on the same day, but that’s what happened yesterday in the Equality State of Wyoming. Shortly after three-term Sen. Mike Enzi (R) confirmed that he will run for re-election next year, but said he will make a formal announcement at a later date, Liz Cheney, the daughter of the former vice president and ex-Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney, released a video officially launching a primary campaign against the senator.

Immediately the Republican establishment in Washington and the state began rallying around Enzi. His senatorial colleague, John Barrasso an appointed senator who was overwhelmingly elected to a full term in his own right last November, immediately endorsed his re-election. The state’s lone US House member, Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), quickly followed with her own public support. National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Jerry Moran (R-KS) also went public with an Enzi endorsement and pledged to put the resources of his organization behind the senator.

Even noted Tea Party leader and national conservative, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), confirmed that, though they don’t agree on all issues, he considers Enzi to be a “good conservative.”

Sen. Enzi also called out Cheney, in a round-about way describing her a liar. As quoted in “Politico,” Enzi offered that Cheney previously said she wouldn’t run if he (Enzi) sought re-election. “That wasn’t correct,” he said.
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