April 30, 2018 — Completing the Arizona special congressional election earlier this week is the precursor to the beginning of the primary season’s most prolific period: the nomination voting scheduled for May and June.
With two primary elections already in the books — the March nomination contests in Texas (March 6) and Illinois (March 20) — 11 additional states vote in May with 18 more coming in June. Once the final June primaries are completed on June 26, a total of 31 states will have nominees.
There are only run-offs scheduled in July before 14 more states vote in August. Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island still hold September primaries, while the unique Louisiana election calendar continues to feature a jungle primary concurrent with the general election followed by a December run-off for those races where a candidate does not obtain a majority.
New York is the only state with two primaries. The federal primary for the Senate and House is scheduled for June 26. The statewide contests, including the governor’s race, will nominate in a separate vote on Sept. 13.
April 27, 2018 — The nomination races in the May 8 primary states are heating up as Election Day draws near, and one of the more interesting campaigns is in West Virginia. There, three major Republican candidates are vying for the party nomination to earn the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in November.
Two polls were released earlier in the week, each projecting a different leader. The first came from National Research, Inc. for GOPAC, a long-established political organization that supports Republican candidates. The survey (April 17-19; 411 likely West Virginia GOP primary voters) gives Attorney General Patrick Morrisey a 24-20-16 percent lead over US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) and former Massey Energy company CEO Don Blankenship who recently spent time in a Nevada prison for his role in a mine explosion that killed 29 of his company’s workers in 2010. Five years later, Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to willfully violate government safety standards. He received the maximum sentence, which resulted in a one-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.
The second poll comes from Fox News, employing their normal research process. The media organization conducts its surveys in collaboration with two polling firms, one a Democratic research organization, Anderson Roberts Research, and the other Republican, Shaw & Company Research. In West Virginia, their poll was in the field over the April 18-22 period and interviewed a more robust 985 likely West Virginia Republican primary voters.
April 26, 2018 — Arizona Republican former state Senate President Debbie Lesko defeated physician Hiral Tipirneni (D) last night, 53-47 percent, to win the vacant 8th District seat that former Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria) resigned in January.
Lesko held the seat for Republicans with a high turnout of 173,708 voters, but her six-point win is being cast in the media as an under-performance. Dr. Tipirneni, however, ran a significant campaign and will spend a projected financial number in the $1 million range. Therefore, it’s not particularly surprising that a credible candidate spending significant resources would place in the mid-high 40s despite her opponent’s party being dominant in the region. Lesko will likely spend a bit less than Dr. Tipirneni but received stronger outside support, particularly from the national Republican Party apparatus.
Though Rep. Franks averaged 69.2 percent during his three terms with the district in its present configuration, he did so against candidates who spent virtually no money. In 2014, when he drew 75 percent of the vote, he didn’t have a Democratic opponent. When Franks first won in open configuration back in 2002, his initial win percentage was 59 percent against a candidate who spent only $40,000.
The most recent polls correctly forecast the outcome. Emerson College, the pollster conducting the only two publicly released polls during the period immediately preceding the election (April 19-23; 400 likely AZ-8 special election voters: Lesko 49 percent, Tipirneni 43 percent), correctly predicted a Lesko six-point victory. A week earlier the same pollster (Emerson College; April 12-15; 400 likely special election voters) actually found Dr. Tipirneni forging a small one-point lead.
April 25, 2018 — The Colorado state Supreme Court, reversing a lower court opinion, disqualified Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) Monday from the June 26 primary ballot.
While Lamborn submitted more than enough legal names to meet the state’s petition requirement of 1,000 nomination signatures from 5th District registered Republicans, apparently the consulting firm Lamborn hired to collect the names, Kennedy Enterprises, employed some circulators who are not Colorado residents. According to state election law, such circulators must live in the state. Therefore, the high court invalidated all petitions that the non-residents circulated, enough to drop Lamborn’s valid signature total below the minimum prerequisite.
The congressman indicated that he will file a lawsuit in federal court to overturn the ruling. In the past, federal courts have upheld petitions under similar circumstances citing the circulators and petition signers’ 1st Amendment right of free speech to support political candidates of their choice.
Former presidential nominee and governor, Mitt Romney
April 24, 2018 — Over the weekend, delegates to the Utah state Republican Party nominating convention gathered in the Maverik Center, an arena that is home to the minor league Utah Grizzlies hockey club in West Valley City, a Salt Lake City suburb, to potentially choose general election candidates in contests from US Senate to the state legislature.
In the biggest of the races, former presidential nominee Mitt Romney was forced into a June 26 primary and will face state Rep. Mike Kennedy (R-Lindon), a physician, who actually was the delegates’ first choice.
After multiple rounds of voting that eliminated 10 other senatorial candidates, Kennedy placed first with 51 percent delegate support as opposed to Romney’s 49 percent. To win the nomination in convention without going to a primary election, a candidate needs 60 percent of the delegate vote, a number that neither Kennedy nor Romney came close to attaining.
Romney, knowing that he would have trouble at the convention because the average convention delegate is more conservative than he, a former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate, also opted to qualify for the ballot via petition. His operation easily gathered the necessary number of signatures to gain ballot access, and exceeded it to the point of collecting over 28,000 verified names.