Monthly Archives: August 2022

Senate Victory for Trump-Endorsed Candidate in Connecticut; Omar Barely Survives in Minnesota; Easy Wins in Other Primaries

By Jim Ellis — Aug. 10, 2022

Primary Results

Former Trump ambassadorial appointee Leora Levy wins in Connecticut.

Connecticut: Trump-Endorsed Candidate Scores Senate Victory — Former Trump ambassadorial appointee Leora Levy, though she failed to win Senate confirmation, easily won the Republican Senate nomination in Connecticut. Levy defeated former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides by a significant 51-40 percent share of the statewide vote. She now advances to challenge Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) who is seeking a third term.

Minnesota: Finstad Wins; Omar Barely Survives — Last night, Minnesota former state Rep. Brad Finstad (R) appears to have won the open 1st District special congressional election left vacant when Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) passed away in mid-February. At this writing, Finstad leads former Hormel corporation CEO Jeffrey Ettinger (D) 51-47 percent with all counties reporting and 99 percent of the expected vote tabulated.

Finstad holds a 4,920-vote lead over Ettinger, which should be more than enough to account for any mailed absentee ballot not included in the overall count. The currently recorded turnout of 118,018 votes is high for a special election. Finstad carried 16 of the district’s 21 southern Minnesota counties.

Finstad also easily won the regular Republican primary in the 1st District after state Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Crystal Lake) made a run at the nomination despite losing the special election primary back in late May. Following suit on the Democratic side, Ettinger was an easy winner in last night’s regular primary, so the two will again do battle in the regular term for a House seat that has been trending more Republican in recent years.

In the 5th District, suggestions that former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels could give two-term controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) a highly competitive battle proved true. Rep. Omar was renominated in a 50-48 percent squeaker over Samuels, thus guaranteeing her another term in the November election.

Vermont: Scott, Welch, Balint Easily Win — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott was a 69 percent winner in his state’s Republican primary. As expected, the Vermont Democratic open Senate primary resulted in a landslide 87 percent-plus victory for at-large Congressman Peter Welch (D-Norwich). He automatically becomes a prohibitive favorite against the new Republican nominee Gerald Malloy, a retired Army officer.

With Rep. Welch running for the state’s open Senate seat, now in strong position to succeed the retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the open al-large House seat will go to the Democratic primary winner, state Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Burlington). Her 60 percent-plus primary win puts her in position to score a landslide general election victory in November.

Wisconsin: Barnes Confirmed; Michels Defeats Kleefisch — Wisconsin Democratic voters confirmed that Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will be their candidate to oppose Sen. Ron Johnson (R). With his three major opponents dropping out of the race within the past two weeks and all endorsing Barnes as a show of party unity, the lieutenant governor captured 77 percent-plus of the Democratic primary vote. Sen. Johnson topped 83 percent in the Republican primary.

Finally, the lone competitive Wisconsin House primary also resulted as expected. State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse) recorded a 39 percent plurality victory over three opponents to win his party’s nomination for the open 3rd District House seat of retiring Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). Sen. Pfaff earned Rep. Kind’s endorsement as his successor.

Republican Derrick Van Orden, a retired Navy SEAL who held Rep. Kind to a tight 51-49 percent re-election win in 2020, returns in another attempt to capture the seat. Van Orden was unopposed in last night’s election. Winning this seat in November becomes a must for Republican House majority prospects in the fall.

Today’s Primaries; Final Results Close to Complete in Ariz.; Herrera Beutler Hanging By a Thread in Washington

By Jim Ellis — August 9, 2022

Primaries

Voting Today: Four States Holding Primaries; One Special Election — The final phase of primary season continues today with nomination elections occurring in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. The most competitive statewide races include choosing Senate candidates in Connecticut and governor’s contests in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A total of 22 House races are on the cumulative political card tonight, including three open seats, one each in Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and a special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) in southern Minnesota. With a victory tonight, either former state Rep. Brad Finstad (R) or ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeffrey Ettinger (D) will take the seat immediately upon election certification and serve the balance of Hagedorn’s final term.

Primary Results

Former news anchor Kari Lake (R)

Arizona: Final Results Close to Complete — In states that feature large numbers of mail ballots and allow such votes to count even when arriving after election day, the better part of two weeks is needed to finalize the election totals. From Arizona’s Aug. 2 primary, the winners of all races are now statistically projected as the last remaining votes are being tabulated. The latest published figures show 98 percent of the Republican ballots and 92 percent of the Democratic votes recorded. Republican turnout looks to top 815,000, while Democrats are likely to exceed 625,000.

In the general election, Sen. Mark Kelly (D) will face venture capitalist Blake Masters (R), while Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and former news anchor Kari Lake (R) square off in the open governor’s race.

The key House races feature Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) against businessman Jevin Hodge (D); retired Navy SEAL Eli Crane (R) challenging Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona); Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) in a competitive contest against business owner Kelly Cooper, who upset favored Tanya Wheeless in the 4th District Republican primary; and former state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D) and ex-Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive Juan Ciscomani (R) doing battle in the Tucson-anchored open new 6th District.

Washington: Rep. Herrera Beutler Hanging By a Thread — Washington’s laborious vote counting procedure continues from the Aug. 2 all-mail jungle primary, and the biggest development is that Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) has not yet secured a general election ballot slot, and may in fact lose to challenger Joe Kent (R).

With just under 96 percent of the 3rd District votes counted, Democrat Marie Perez, with 31.2 percent of the vote, has clinched the first ballot position. Rep. Herrera Beutler barely holds the second qualifying position with 22.6 percent (41,603 votes) nipping Kent’s 22.5 percent (41,346 votes), a margin of just 257 votes with as many as 7,000 votes remaining to be counted. Since 45.1 percent of the voters chose either Herrera Beutler or Kent, it is reasonable to believe approximately 3,000 of those votes will determine the second-place qualifier. Of the remaining votes for either Herrera Beutler or Kemp, the latter man would need 54 to overcome the congresswoman’s edge.

In the 4th District, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside) who, like Rep. Herrera Beutler, voted to impeach former President Trump, has clinched a general election ballot position with 25.4 percent, but with as many as 25,000 votes to count. In second place, also clinching a general election slot, is Democratic businessman Doug White. Eliminated in third place is Trump-endorsed former town police chief and 2020 gubernatorial finalist Loren Culp (R).

Turning to the 8th District, 2020 Attorney General qualifier Matt Larkin (R) has clinched second position over King County Councilman Reagan Dunn and 2020 general election qualifier Jesse Jensen. Larkin now advances to the 2022 general election to challenge Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Sammamish). This is evolving into a top competitive national congressional campaign. Schrier only secured 47.9 percent in the jungle primary, and the cumulative partisan totals suggest that a very tight general election is coming. The cumulative Democratic vote so far totals 97,341 with 91.3 percent of the expected vote tabulated compared to the cumulative Republican total of 96,572.

House

MN-1: Finstad Leading in Final Special Election Poll — The closing poll in the special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) was released late last week. The Survey USA poll (July 26-30; 544 likely MN-1 special election voters; live interview) finds Republican former state Rep. Brad Finstad leading ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) by a 46-38 percent margin. Finstad also faces a regular election primary contest with former state Rep. Jeremy Munson whom the former defeated in the May 24 special primary election by just 427 votes.

MN-5: Rep. Omar Facing Serious Primary Challenge — Former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels is waging a strong Democratic primary challenge against controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) in an election that will be decided today. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune announced its editorial board endorsement of Samuels and so did the city’s mayor, Jacob Frey (D). In the last week, a Super PAC entitled “Make A Difference” sponsored a $350,000 television buy to support Samuels. This will be a race to watch tonight.

NY-12: Rep. Nadler Leads in New Poll — Emerson College tested the upcoming Democratic-paired incumbent primary between Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan). The survey (Aug. 1-2; 1,000 likely NY-12 Democratic primary voters; live interview, text & interactive voice response system) finds Rep. Nadler, largely with the overwhelming support of men, leading Rep. Maloney 40-31 percent, with the third candidate, businessman and former congressional candidate Suraj Patel attracting 11 percent support. The New York congressional primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.

Colorado Rep. Boebert Stakes 49-42 Percent Advantage over Opponent; Special Election Confusion in MN-1

By Jim Ellis — August 8, 2022

House

Colorado freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt)

CO-3: New Dem Poll Shows Margin Beyond Error Margin — Democratic polling firm Keating Research released a survey of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, termed the “Western Slope Seat,” that features freshman Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) and former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch (D). The poll (released Aug. 2; 550 likely CO-3 general election voters) gives Rep. Boebert a 49-42 percent advantage over Frisch. The 3rd District was largely kept intact in redistricting, and rates as R+15 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

IN-2: Rep. Walorski Succession Situation — The death of Indiana five-term Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-Elkhart), who was killed in a car crash this past Wednesday, Aug. 3, is leading to a confusion succession situation. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) must call a special election to fill the unexpired portion of the late representative’s term, and is expected to schedule that election concurrently with the regular general election on Nov. 8.

The nomination process, however, is another matter. Under Indiana vacancy succession procedure, the District chairman, in this case the 2nd Congressional District chairman, would name the party nominee. That individual, however, is Zach Potts, an aide to Rep. Walorski who was the reported driver of the vehicle in which all perished. Therefore, the local party members will first have to elect a new district chairman who will have the power to name the congressional candidate and likely next member of the House in a district that rates R+26 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

The Democratic chairman is likely to name environmental consultant Paul Steury, the party’s regular election nominee, as their party’s special election candidate.

NY-23: Conflicting Polling Data — Last week the Carl Padalino campaign released a WPA Intelligence survey that suggested the former New York Republican gubernatorial nominee owns a wide 30-point lead over NY Republican Party chairman Nick Langworthy in the primary election battle to replace resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning). Now, the Langworthy campaign is citing a Zeplowski Research survey (Aug. 1-2; 400 likely NY-23 special election voters) that finds the ballot test at only 39-37 percent in Padalino’s favor.

The race is getting testy between the two candidates as the contest for the safe western New York Republican district is drawing to a close. The New York congressional primary is scheduled for Aug. 23. The eventual GOP winner advances to the general election against unopposed Democratic candidate Max Della Pia, a retired US Air Force officer and attorney.

MN-1: Special Election Confusion — One of the unusual aspects of the 117th Congress is the large number of special US House elections we’ve seen in the current election cycle, possibly as high as 14, at least four of which must still be settled.

An aspect of several of these special contests has been the unusual situation of seeing a candidate being forced to run for two positions simultaneously. On Aug. 9, we are about to see this scenario unfold again in Minnesota as voters will simultaneously decide who will serve the balance of the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn’s (R) final term and choose nominees for the regular election in November.

Just last week, the MN-1 race became very confusing. State Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Crystal Lake), who lost the special primary election back in May to succeed Hagedorn by just 427 votes, confirmed that he is running to win the regular congressional primary election. This means that former state Rep. Brad Finstad (R), who won the special primary, must now conduct two separate competitive campaigns against different opponents.

Finstad must now separately win the special general election against former Hormel Corporation CEO Jeffrey Ettinger (D), and the Republican nomination for the regular term against Munson since the special general is being run concurrently with the regular statewide primary.

With Munson competing in the regular election, the confusing scenario of seeing two different District 1 Republican winners tomorrow could occur. With the only publicly released special general poll suggesting a dead heat between Finstad and Ettinger, so many mixed GOP campaign messages could actually help yield a Democratic special election upset.

So far, we have seen nine special elections completed in this cycle with only one seat, TX-34, changing parties. Also in May, Rep. Mayra Flores (R-McAllen) converted the Brownsville-anchored seat from which Democratic Rep. Filemon Vela resigned to accept a position in the private sector.

In addition to MN-1, three more special elections, one in Alaska on Aug. 16 and two in New York on Aug. 23, are scheduled. A fourth could occur in Florida later this year when Rep. Ted Deutch (D-Boca Raton) officially resigns from the House. It is likely that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) will align the special election with the regular general election date of Nov. 8, if he decides to call another election at all since so little time will remain in the current Congress.

The new developments in the MN-1 special election adds another twist to the campaign, and suddenly this race becomes a much better Democratic conversion target in the waning days before the final votes are cast.

Ogles Claims TN-5; Valadao Trails in New CA Poll; Salazar Holding Lead

By Jim Ellis — August 5, 2022

Primary Results

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles

Tennessee: Ogles Claims 5th District; Dem Gov Undecided — The Volunteer State voters engaged in the country’s only Thursday primary, and the open 5th District (Rep. Jim Cooper-D retiring) was the evening’s key race. The crowded Republican primary winner was Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles. He defeated former state House Speaker Beth Harwell and retired National Guard Gen. Kurt Winstead along with six others.

Redistricting transformed this seat into a Republican domain, so Ogles becomes a heavy favorite to defeat state Sen. Heidi Campbell (D-Nashville) in the general election. The three incumbents who faced competition, Reps. Charles Fleishmann (R-Chattanooga), David Kustoff (R-Germantown), and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) were all easily renominated.

The Democratic governor’s nomination is still undecided. With 98 percent of the vote counted, physician Jason Martin leads Memphis City Councilman J.B. Smiley Jr. by only 1,468 votes. Gov. Bill Lee was unopposed in the Republican primary. He will be the prohibitive general election favorite over either Martin or Smiley.

House

CA-22: Rep. Valadao Trails in New Poll — California Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) represents the most Democratic district in the nation that elects a Republican to the US House, and redistricting made the seat tilt even further away from the congressman. The jungle primary saw him qualify for the general election, but with only 26 percent of the vote as he finished in second place.

A newly released David Binder Research poll (July 13-15; 600 likely CA-22 general election voters) finds state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) leading Rep. Valadao 43-35 percent as the general election campaign in California’s Central Valley is now fully underway. We can expect this race to close tight, but it is one of the best Democratic opportunities in the nation to convert a Republican seat.

FL-27: Rep. Salazar Holding Lead — Despite inheriting a slightly more favorable district for Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami) post-redistricting, but one that still favors the Democrats, a new Alvarado Strategies Poll for the Floridians for Economic Advancement PAC (July 26-29; 440 likely FL-27 general election voters; online) stakes the congresswoman to a lead slightly beyond the polling margin of error. Though the ballot test shows a large undecided factor of 27 percent, Rep. Salazar posts a 39-34 percent margin over state Sen. Annette Taddeo (D-Miami).

NM-2: Dead Heat — Freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamorgordo) was dealt a difficult blow in redistricting, and a new Global Strategy Group poll conducted for Democratic nominee Gabe Vasquez, a Las Cruces City Councilman (July 19-25; 500 likely NM-2 general election voters; live interview), projects a dead heat already forming for the general election. According to the GSG survey, Vasquez would hold a slight 45-44 percent edge over Rep. Herrell. The 2nd District was drawn as a D+4 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization transforming it from the R+14 seat that Herrell currently represents.

Governor

Minneosta: Gov. Walz (D) in Tight Race — A just-released Cygnal group survey of the Minnesota electorate (July 18-19; 500 likely Minnesota general election voters; live interview & text) sees Gov. Tim Walz (D) leading presumed Republican nominee Scott Jensen, a physician and former state senator, but only by a few percentage points. According to the Cygnal poll, Dr. Jensen trails the governor by a tight 50-46 percent margin. The Minnesota primary is Tuesday, but Dr. Jensen faces only minor Republican opposition by virtue of his state party convention victory earlier in the year.

The Cygnal poll found Gov. Walz with a 49:45 percent favorability rating and Dr. Jensen scored a 32:24 percent positive index. President Biden’s rating is an upside down 42:56 percent positive to negative ratio. Within the polling universe, 43 percent believe Minnesota is on the right track, while 48 percent feel the state has veered in the wrong direction.

Tennessee Primary Today; Tight Race Forming in Arizona Senate; Godlewski Drops From Wisconsin Senate Race; Indiana Rep. Walorski, Three Others Killed in Crash

Tennessee Congressional Districts (click on image to see larger)

By Jim Ellis — August 4, 2022

Primary

Tennessee Primary Today: While still waiting for the remaining final numbers from Tuesday’s Arizona, Michigan, and Washington primaries, Volunteer State voters will go to the polls today to choose their nominees in the nation’s only Thursday primary.

There is no Senate race in the state in this election cycle, as Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R) will next be on the ballot in 2024 with Sen. Bill Hagerty (R) presumably running for his second term in 2026. While Gov. Bill Lee (R) is in-cycle this year, he is unopposed in today’s Republican primary.

Three Democrats are tonight vying for their party nomination, which of course will give the winner the right to challenge the governor in November. The only elected official of the group is Memphis City Councilman J.B. Smiley. Challenging him are physician Jason Martin and African American History Museum founder Carnita Atwater. Regardless of tonight’s outcome, Gov. Lee will be rated as a prohibitive favorite in the general election.

In the nine congressional races, five Republican incumbents are all unopposed for re-nomination this evening. Two incumbents — Reps. Charles Fleishmann (R-Chattanooga) and Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), the state’s lone Democratic member on the ballot this year — face only minor opponents. Rep. David Kustoff (R-Germantown) has three opponents tonight, but none look to be serious challengers. Therefore, all of the action lies in the open 5th District.

Retiring Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN) has represented the district since the beginning of 2003. However, as a result of redistricting, Tennesseans decided to restructure a new 5th District, which was formerly a Nashville center city seat and wholly contained within Davidson County. As a result, the FiveThirtyEight organization rates the new 5th as R+15, thus upending what was a D+17 domain, which is one of the widest partisan redistricting swings in the nation. The Dave’s Redistricting App partisan lean calculations sees the new 5th as 54.4 – 42.6 percent in the Republicans’ favor. Nine Republicans are on the ballot, and with no runoff law in Tennessee, a plurality winner will be chosen tonight.

TN-5 attracted much attention just after redistricting because the state Republican Party decided to add qualifications for their candidates, such as voting in the most recent three statewide elections. The party requirement, which survived a court challenge, was designed to bounce former State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus, music producer Robby Starbuck, and businessman Baxter Lee from participating in the election. It was successful. All three had just recently moved to the area.

Once today’s Tennessee primary concludes, 36 states will have completed their nomination process. Two big states will remain, however, Florida, and the New York congressional and state Senate primary, both scheduled for Aug. 23.

Senate

Arizona: New Post-Primary Poll Shows Tight Race Forming — Venture capitalist Blake Masters won the Republican Senate primary on Tuesday night, and a new OnMessage survey already shows him within striking distance of Sen. Mark Kelly (D). The poll (Aug. 1-2; 600 likely Arizona general election voters) finds the senator leading Masters, 49-44 percent.

We can expect the Arizona race to be one of the most heavily polled general election campaigns during the remaining time before the Nov. 8 election. Arizona is a tight political state, and this race will go a long way toward determining which party controls the Senate in the next Congress.

Wisconsin: Dem Race Ends — While it looked as if state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski would have a last-ditch opportunity to deny Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes the Democratic US Senate nomination in a one-on-one race, that will not be the case. After both Milwaukee Bucks basketball club executive Alex Lasry and Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson dropped out of the race, some believed Godlewski could become a factor in the closing days before the Aug. 9 primary election.

Late last week, however, Godlewski followed suit and ended her Senate campaign. All three now former candidates have endorsed Lt. Gov. Barnes, meaning a united Democratic Party will head into the general election to oppose Sen. Ron Johnson (R). The Johnson-Barnes campaign will be national in scope and one of the key races to decide the next Senate majority.

House

IN-2: Rep. Walorski, Three Others Killed in Crash — Indiana five-term Republican Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-Elkart) and three others were all tragically killed in a car accident yesterday. The congresswoman and her two aides were returning from an event in the district, and died when another vehicle crossed the median line and struck them head-on. The driver of that car also died.

Walorski, who was 58, is the sixth House member to pass away in this session of Congress. Indiana state law will govern the succession procedure to replace the late representative.

Incumbent Defeats — Tuesday’s defeats of Michigan Reps. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) and Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Township) in their respective Republican and Democratic primaries are the ninth and tenth House incumbents to lose their seats in this election cycle. Five come from both parties. Five of the incumbent losses are redistricting related, two because of ethics or personal behavior problems, one for ideological reasons, and a pair on the Republican side, such as Rep. Meijer, for voting to impeach then-President Trump.