Monthly Archives: August 2020

Hagerty Wins; Harshbarger Takes 1st

By Jim Ellis

Former US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty won the Tennessee Senate Republican nomination.

Aug. 10, 2020 — Former US Ambassador to Japan Bill Hagerty won the Tennessee Senate Republican nomination last Thursday night with a 51-39 percent victory margin over his chief opponent, Dr. Manny Sethi, a Nashville surgeon, in the nation’s only Thursday primary.

Now as the official Republican nominee, Hagerty becomes the prohibitive favorite in the general election against businesswoman and environmental activist Marquita Bradshaw, who was an upset winner in the Democratic primary despite spending virtually no money on her campaign.

The last three publicly released Republican primary polls, from JMC Analytics, the Trafalgar Group, and Victory Phones, all forecast a 3-4 point edge, far below Hagerty’s actual percentage spread. The Tarrance Group, which polled at the end of June, was much closer to the final result, predicting a 46-29 percent split in Hagerty’s favor. The surveys, however, were completed through July 19, so it is possible that his late message blitz was responsible for Hagerty gaining strong momentum in the campaign’s final stage that led to a strong victory.

The Democratic side actually became more curious. Attorney James Mackler, who raised and spent more than $2 million and was viewed as a heavy pre-election favorite for Thursday night’s vote, not only lost to Bradshaw, but placed a poor third. In between Bradshaw and Mackler was attorney and Unitarian minister Robin Kimbrough. Together, she and Bradshaw are reporting spending only $17,000 on their combined political effort through the July 17 pre-primary financial disclosure period.

The Republican primary turned into a hard-fought battle between Hagerty, who spent over $9 million, and Dr. Sethi, who was making his first venture into elective politics. Sethi raised and spent well over $4 million. The contest was personal at the end, with both candidates trying to get to the right of the other and launching negative attacks. Hagerty had President Trump and Sen. Marsha Blackburn’s (R) combined endorsement, signaling that he had the conservative credentials necessary to win a Tennessee Republican primary.

East Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) is retiring after serving what will be six complete terms and his successor will be pharmacist and political activist Diana Harshbarger.

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Recapping the Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 6, 2020 — Five states held their primary elections on Tuesday night and many were close, most of which are now complete. Additionally, electorates in several safe open House seats chose a party primary winner who will be the next representative. Therefore, we want to recap the final action along with a projection for the general election.


ARIZONA

Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D); appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Senate: Appointed Sen. Martha McSally scored a 76 percent victory in the Republican primary against minimal opposition, while retired astronaut Mark Kelly was unopposed on the Democratic side. Arizona will host a major national Senate campaign in the fall, and Kelly has the early sustained polling lead.

Even with him facing no opposition on Tuesday, Democratic turnout rose nine percent when compared to 2018, but 55,617 more people voted in Tuesday’s GOP primary. This, after more Democrats had voted early according to pre-election ballot tabulations. Because of the large number of mail ballots present in this election, it is likely that the final count is incomplete.

AZ-1: Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) scored only a 59 percent Democratic primary win over former Flagstaff City councilwoman Eva Putzova on Tuesday, despite a better than 2:1 spending advantage. Attorney Tiffany Shedd won the Republican nomination. This district could become competitive, but Rep. O’Halleran is the clear favorite for re-election. The expansive eastern Arizona district leans Democratic as the party’s 3,000-plus vote edge in primary turnout suggests.

AZ-2: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) was easily re-nominated on Tuesday and is a heavy favorite in the general election. Defense contractor Brandon Martin won the Republican primary, but he faces a very uphill climb against Kirkpatrick in November. Despite more Republicans than Democrats voting statewide, Democrats outpaced Republican turnout in this district by a substantial 75,780 to 58,277.


KANSAS

Senate: Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) convincingly won the controversial Republican primary, and advances into a general election race with state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills), a physician and former Republican. This will be a competitive general election despite the strong Republican voter history because Bollier already has over $4 million cash-on-hand to begin the November campaign cycle. We will soon see new polling here. The last published poll pairing Marshall and Bollier came from the Civiqs research organization at the beginning of June: Marshall 42-41 percent.

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Wacky Wins in a Senate Primary; Incumbents Watkins & Clay Lose

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2020 — We review last night’s primary action in the states of Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Arizona and Washington:


KANSAS

Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend)

The 2020 election cycle’s wackiest Senate primary ended last night with a big victory for Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) as he defeated former secretary of state and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach and Kansas City Plumbing Company owner and self-funder Bob Hamilton in the statewide Republican primary.

The Marshall victory margin is 40-26-19 percent over the two men, while former Kansas City Chiefs football player and state Turnpike Commission chairman Dave Lindstrom captured 6.7 percent of the vote, best among the also-ran candidates.

The race featured both parties making seven-figure media buys. The national Republican leadership, however, came in to run negative spots against Kobach, a risky strategy in case he would become their nominee. It was clear that Republican survey research provided virtually the same results that Democrats were seeing, namely Kobach winning his primary would give the Democrats the inside track toward snatching away what should be a safe Republican seat.

The other unusual Kansas Senate facet was seeing Democratic organizations come into the state to actively boost Kobach in the GOP primary. He lost the 2018 governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly, and the party leaders believed Kobach would be the weakest general election candidate to oppose their party’s consensus nominee, state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills). Now, she must run against the Republicans’ presumed strongest candidate, Rep. Marshall.

Interestingly, the most recent publicly released poll, which dated back to the beginning of June from the Civiqs organization surveying for the Daily Kos Elections website, found Rep. Marshall and Sen. Bollier falling into a virtual tie. It is likely, however, as the new Republican nominee, that Marshall will become a clear favorite to win in November.
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Primary Preview – Part II

Bob Hamilton, self-funding and running clever ads, such as the one above, could be the spoiler in today’s Kansas Democratic senate primary race.


By Jim Ellis

Aug. 4, 2020 — We wrap up our two-part report about today’s August 4th primary with coverage of the Arizona and Kansas nominating elections.


ARIZONA

The US Senate race is on the ballot, though the nominations in both parties are virtually set and have been for months. There is action in three of the state’s nine congressional districts, however.

Senate: Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) will easily win nomination tonight. She faces only skincare company CEO Daniel McCarthy, who has raised just over a half-million dollars for his effort. Sen. McSally has attracted over $30 million and brandishes more than $11 million in the bank. That is the good news for her; the bad is her consensus Democratic opponent, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, has brought in an incredible $46 million and had over $21 million remaining in his campaign account at the end of June.

This is a top-tier challenge race, and a Democratic must-win, but not much will be settled tonight.

According to the Phoenix-based Data Orbital polling firm, over 2.6 million absentee ballots have been requested for the primary, and 1.06 million have been returned for a participation rate of 45.6 percent. Therefore, the state already has a primary voter turnout rate of 26.7 percent. Democrats have a 9,900-unit advantage in returned ballots to date.
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Primary Preview – Part I

Negative ad in the MO-1 race by Rep. Lacy Clay (D)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2020 — Voters in five states go to the polls tomorrow, and we preview Michigan, Missouri, and Washington today. Tomorrow’s report will cover Arizona and Kansas.


MICHIGAN

The US Senate race is on the ballot, though the nominations in both parties are already set. We do, however, see action tomorrow in six of the state’s 14 congressional districts.

• Senate: Neither first-term Sen. Gary Peters (D) nor Republican John James faces primary opposition. Both officially will advance into what will be a competitive general election. Pre-COVID, this race was tight in polling, but Sen. Peters has built a clear advantage since. This race is a must-win for Democrats. Should James break through in this contest the Republican majority will likely continue.


• MI-3: This western Michigan seat anchored in Grand Rapids is open because Republican-turned-Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash is not seeking re-election. The GOP needs to convert the 3rd District back into their column and features a five-person primary that looks to have whittled down into a battle between real estate analyst and Iraq War veteran Peter Meijer, whose family owns the Meijer grocery store chain that has 253 locations throughout the Midwest, and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids).

The winner faces Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten, who is unopposed in her party primary. The district leans Republican, but this race is ascending the Democratic national target list.


• MI-6: A bogus poll was released in late July that found teacher Jen Richardson leading Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) by 20 points, but it is unlikely that she even comes close to winning tomorrow’s Democratic primary. State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) is the favorite for the party nomination, and this race will become competitive in the general election. The 6th CD is a Republican district that is moving toward the political center. Rep. Upton, originally elected in 1986, is on the ballot seeking an 18th term.


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