Monthly Archives: August 2018

Collins & Hunter Indictments:
The Political Status

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2018 — The news media has heavily covered the indictment proceedings against New York Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) and California Congressman Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and though the legal process will drag on for some time against both men, their political situations will be resolved much sooner.

Both NY-27 and CA-50 are safe Republican seats, neither of which were major Democratic targets. News stories had been circulating that indictments were possible for both men, and safe republican districts california new yorkparticularly so of Rep. Hunter, but neither seat would have fallen into play without the legal flap. Now, the Republicans are even in danger of being shut out from what are typically safe GOP seats, just when their precarious majority is hanging in the balance.

When his insider trading indictment was announced, Rep. Collins’ first reaction was to continue running for re-election. But he quickly changed his mind and announced his intention to withdraw from the race. The problem is New York election law doesn’t allow party nominees such an easy out.

Since the NY federal primary has passed, there are only three ways a candidate can pull his or her name from the ballot.

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Reviewing the Latest Senate Data

1200px-Seal_of_the_United_States_Senate.svgBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2018 — With 43 state electorates now having chosen nominees (most recently Alaska and Wyoming on Tuesday), it’s a good time to check just how the top Senate races are performing as the calendar turns towards Labor Day.

Currently, the national political map yields 16 Senate races where both parties have the potential to win. Below is a recap snapshot of the 11 competitive states where public polls have been released from mid-July to the present:


ARIZONA
Emerson College Polling (likely to be released yesterday or today)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) — 50%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) — 42%

OH Predictive Insights (July 23-24; 600 likely Arizona voters)
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) — 48%
Rep. Martha McSally (R) — 44%

Note: The Arizona primary is Aug. 28. Rep. Sinema is a lock for the Democratic nomination, and all polling shows Rep. McSally leading beyond the margin of error for the Republicans.


CALIFORNIA
Public Policy Institute of California (July 8-17; 1,020 likely California voters)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) — 46%
St. Sen. Kevin de Leon (D) — 24%

Note: While the California race is not in play from a partisan standpoint, the campaign has competitive potential between the two Democratic contenders.


FLORIDA
Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies (July 24-25; 625 likely Florida voters)
Gov. Rick Scott (R) — 47%
Sen. Bill Nelson (R) — 44%

Florida Atlantic University (July 20-21; 800 registered Florida voters)
Gov. Rick Scott (R) — 44%
Sen. Bill Nelson (R) — 40%

Note: The Florida primary is Aug. 28. Both Sen. Nelson and Gov. Scott are sure winners in their respective nomination campaigns.
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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.

Breaking Polls

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 20, 2018 — Now with 41 states having officially moved into general election campaign mode and two more, Alaska and Wyoming, voting on Tuesday, new November surveys and a key primary election poll were all just released into the public domain.
Looking at the two Senate special elections, the just-completed Minnesota primary yielded, as expected, appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) advancing into the general election against Republican state Sen. Karin Housley (R). The Emerson College polling institute went into the field just before the primary vote, and released their data as the voting concluded.

According to the Emerson results (Aug. 8-11; 500 likely Minnesota general election voters conducted electronically), Sen. Smith jumps out to a small 32-28 percent lead over Housley when the two are paired in the now-official general election match-up. While 40 percent are not yet professing a choice, largely because both candidates have low name identification, we can expect this race to become a top-tier Senate campaign as the time progresses towards Election Day.

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