Category Archives: Governor

Another Big Primary Day

By Jim Ellis

Controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) faces a primary challenge today by attorney Antone Melton-Meaux (D).

Aug. 11, 2020 — In addition to the Georgia runoff elections, which we covered yesterday, today we see five states holding their regular state primary. Voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin are all choosing their nominees for the Fall.


CONNECTICUT

With no Senate or governor’s race on the ballot this year, votes are being cast to select the general election candidates in the Nutmeg State’s five congressional districts. Reps. John Larson (D-Hartford), Joe Courtney (D-Vernon), Rosa DeLauro (D-New Haven), and Jim Himes (D-Cos Cob) look safe for re-election as they have each won multiple terms.

Freshman Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Wolcott) in the 5th District is also a heavy favorite for re-election but retired federal prosecutor David X. Sullivan (R) is a credible candidate in a district that could elect a Republican under the right circumstances. This year, however, doesn’t appear to yield such a positive atmosphere for the GOP. Sullivan has raised over $230,000, but that won’t be near enough to run a strong campaign against Rep. Hayes. The first-term congresswoman is the top fundraiser in Connecticut with $1.33 million in receipts through June 30.


MINNESOTA

Former representative Jason Lewis (R) is vying for the opportunity of challenging first-term Sen. Tina Smith (D) and is a likely winner tonight over four lightly regarded Republican opponents. Lewis will be a clear underdog against Sen. Smith, who won a 2018 special election with a 53-42 percent victory over what looked to be a strong challenge from GOP state Sen. Karin Housley. A recent Public Policy Polling survey (July 22-23; 1,218 Minnesota voters) found Sen. Smith leading Lewis, 48-39 percent.

The 1st District congressional race looks to be another hard-fought political battle. Here, we see a re-match between freshman Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) and former Defense Department official Dan Feehan (D). In 2018, this contest was decided by a scant 50.1 – 49.7 percent percentage spread, a margin of just 1,315 votes.

Feehan leads the money chase with $2.3 million raised to the congressman’s $1.66 million through the July 22 pre-primary campaign finance disclosure deadline. Both will easily win re-nomination tonight, but a close finish here is a virtual certainty.

The race that will attract the most attention lies in the Minneapolis-anchored 5th District where the challenger to controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis), attorney Antone Melton-Meaux (D), has raised almost as much money as the incumbent, $4.15 million to $4.28 million, and both had less than $1 million remaining in their accounts at the July 22 reporting deadline.

It is unlikely that Melton-Meaux will deny Rep. Omar re-nomination, but his percentage will be interesting to watch. His main mode of attack, while positioning himself clearly on the ideological left, underscores that Rep. Omar is much more interested in developing a national platform than she is in representing the local district.

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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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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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Tomorrow’s Primaries Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 29, 2020 — Three more state primaries are on tap for tomorrow, those in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah. The day will be highlighted with the Colorado Senate Democratic primary where former governor John Hickenlooper battles ex-state House wpeaker Andrew Romanoff, and the Utah Republican gubernatorial primary that features four candidates vying for the right to replace retiring Gov. Gary Herbert (R).

Two of these three states, Colorado and Utah, use an all-mail voting process meaning we could again be waiting several days for final returns.

COLORADO

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper

Democrats believe that the Centennial State is one of their best conversion opportunities in the country, and early polling confirms their analyses. Sen. Cory Gardner (R) stands for a second term but in a state that has significantly changed since he was elected in 2014. As the state continues to move closer to the Democrats, the tougher the re-election outlook for Sen. Gardner. He may well be the best campaigner in his party’s national stable, but is attaining statewide office now out of touch for any Republican? This election may definitively answer that question.

The House delegation looks set to continue with four Democrats and three Republicans. All will face general election opponents, but none appear competitive. All seven incumbents are clear favorites for re-election, and only Western Slope Congressman Scott Tipton (R-Cortez) has a nomination opponent tomorrow. Surprisingly, Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), who always seems to draw competitive intra-party opponents, is unopposed in this year’s Republican primary.

OKLAHOMA

Veteran Sen. Jim Inhofe, at 85 years of age, is seeking a fifth full term and is certainly the prohibitive favorite tomorrow night against only minimal opposition. For the Democrats, former television news reporter Abby Broyles should have little trouble in securing her party’s nomination. Already raising over $535,000 through the June 10 pre-primary report, only she and Sen. Inhofe have substantial resources among the eight major party candidates on the ballot.

The big race of the night comes in Oklahoma City’s 5th Congressional District, where a total of nine Republicans are competing for the opportunity of challenging freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma City) who unseated two-term Rep. Steve Russell (R) in 2018. This will be one of the Republicans’ top national targets since the seat has a conservative history and the Horn victory two years ago was unexpected. With nine candidates adorning the GOP ballot tomorrow, advancing to an Aug. 25 runoff election is a certainty.
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Amash Forms Exploratory Committee

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash

May 1, 2020 — It has been speculated upon virtually since the time that Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (L-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) left the Republican Party that he would enter the presidential race, and now he has taken the first step toward that end.

Amash made several announcements Wednesday. First, he is indeed filing an exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission to gauge his chances of becoming Libertarian Party’s presidential nominee. Second, he informed the Clerk of the House that he is no longer an Independent, but a member of the Libertarian Party. Third, he confirmed that he will not seek re-election to his 3rd District House seat.

Let’s look at the subjects in order.

It is not surprising that Amash is taking this step. The idea of him becoming the Libertarian presidential nominee was first raised when he became an Independent US House member early last July, and the congressman never expressly ruled out that he would eventually run for president.

Some argue that Amash being on the ticket as the Libertarian nominee could take rightward leaning independent votes away from President Trump and allow former vice president Joe Biden to slip past him in crucial states like Michigan. While the scenario might have some credence in an intensely close election, it matters little that Amash’s name is the one these particular voters would be choosing.

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Utah Convention Results

By Jim Ellis

Utah House Distrits

April 28, 2020 — The Beehive State Republicans and Democrats gathered in respective virtual settings to conduct their nominating conventions on Saturday and posted record delegate participation figures. Both parties were looking to advance candidates into an open Utah gubernatorial primary and in four congressional districts where three incumbents are seeking re-election. A total of 93 percent of 3,850 eligible Republican delegates cast their votes online, while 85 percent of the 2,203 Democratic delegates did the same.

In both parties, if a candidate receives 60 percent of the delegate support the individual is automatically advanced into the June 30 primary election. This year, the vote will be conducted through an all-mail procedure under emergency legislation that Gov. Gary Herbert (R) signed on Friday. Additionally, candidates who have qualified through the signature petition process also earn a primary ballot position. Candidates have the choice of only participating in the convention, only gathering signatures, or doing both.

If no one receives 60 percent, the top two finishers advance into the primary. The delegates used the ranked choice format to prioritize their votes, since multiple rounds were needed in most races. In a round, the last place candidate is eliminated and the remainder advance to the next vote. The process ends with either one candidate advancing to the primary ballot outright, or the top two moving forward if no one reaches 60 percent but a pair at least touch 40 percent.

The open Republican gubernatorial race was the main attraction as seven candidates competed for convention votes including Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, who has retiring Gov. Herbert’s endorsement and leads in the most recent polling, and former governor, US ambassador, and 2012 presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.

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Wisconsin Primary Moving Forward

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers

April 8, 2020 — Whether or not the Wisconsin primary would be held as scheduled took rulings from two Supreme Courts to decide, but we will see voting today throughout the Wolverine State.

The Democratic presidential primary is interesting since the Wisconsin electorate will be the first to vote post-March 17, and so far, becomes the only group to cast ballots during the COVID-19 lockdown situation. How this affects today’s vote in terms of turnout and candidate loyalty will be interesting to analyze.

Whether or not this election would even happen today has been a point of discussion for the past two weeks. Many Democratic strategists were lobbying Gov. Tony Evers, a fellow Democrat, for several days to move the election, but he was slow to act. Late last week, Gov. Evers decided to ask the legislature to pass a bill changing the election date, but the Republican majority leadership in the two chambers refused. Gov. Evers then made a last-ditch effort to declare a state of emergency and attempted to move the election.

The latter action drew the Republican leadership’s ire, and they immediately petitioned the state Supreme Court arguing that the governor has no power to arbitrarily move an election. They also went to the US Supreme Court attempting to get a lower-court ruling to extend the absentee ballot return deadline past the original election schedule countermanded.

At the heart of the election date becoming a political football was not the presidential race, but rather an important state Supreme Court election. Though the race is ostensibly nonpartisan, it is clear that Democrats believe chances for the candidate they are backing improve in a later election, while Republicans think the appointed incumbent they support fares better in a quicker, and presumably lower turnout contest.

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