Category Archives: Governor

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.

The Florida Seesaw Race

florida-governor-candidates-2018By Jim Ellis

Aug. 16, 2018 — There has been no race in this current election cycle that has featured more swings among the candidates than the open Florida governor’s campaign. What makes it even more interesting is that the wide swings are happening virtually simultaneously in both parties.

Yesterday, several polls were released showing more change in both nomination contests as the Aug. 28 primary date draws nearer. On the Republican side, the new Survey USA poll (Aug. 10-13; 558 likely Florida Republican primary voters) finds the contest again reverting into the toss-up realm after Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) had opened a discernible advantage over agriculture commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam. According to this latest S-USA result, the DeSantis lead is now only 40-38 percent.

A pair of polls was also released on the Democratic side and, as for their Republican counterparts, the nomination race is again getting close. After leading for most of the early campaign, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine fell behind former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), but studies from Survey USA (Aug. 10-13; 631 likely Florida Democratic primary voters) and Schroth, Eldon & Associates (Aug. 11-14; 600 likely Florida Democratic primary voters) see a re-tightening of this contest, too.

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Four More Primaries Today

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 14, 2018 — Voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin will choose their nominees today. Minnesota and Wisconsin, in particular, feature some key contests.


MINNESOTA

Most of today’s action will occur in the Land of 10,000 Lakes, as a major open race for governor will see party finalists determined in both political camps. Republicans feature former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner who is the officially endorsed party candidate.

Democrats have a three-way battle among state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), the official party endorsed candidate, Attorney General Lori Swanson, and US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato). Though Murphy is the sanctioned candidate, she appears to be trailing both Swanson and Walz. The winners will set up a highly competitive general election that will probably be considered a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.

Both US senators are on the ballot. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) is a lock for re-election, while appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) is finding a competitive battle coming from state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Croix River Valley), but these scenarios are dependent upon all of the aforementioned easily winning their respective nominations tonight.

The state could yield as many as four competitive campaigns from their eight congressional districts, but today the real nomination battles are in Districts 1, 5, and 8.

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Hanabusa Defeated in Hawaii;
Case Nominated in Dem Contest

Gov. David Ige (D-HI)

Gov. David Ige (D-HI)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 13, 2018 — The Hawaii primary was held on Saturday, and while Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) began her Democratic primary challenge as a virtual favorite to deny Gov. David Ige re-nomination — at one time she led by more than 20 points according to several polls — the incumbent rebounded to score a 51-44 percent victory. Winning the Democratic primary is tantamount to claiming the general election, meaning the November contest between Gov. Ige and state House Minority Leader Andrea Tupola (R-Kapolei), the new Republican nominee, is likely to be a mere formality.

Rep. Hanabusa was originally elected to the House in 2010, defeating then-Rep. Charles Djou (R-Honolulu) in that year’s general election. In 2014, she challenged appointed Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary after the passing of veteran Sen. Daniel Inouye (D), who served in Congress from the day when Hawaii became a state.

Hanabusa returned to the House in 2016 when her successor, Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea), passed away from pancreatic cancer. Quickly after making her way back to Washington, however, the congresswoman decided to launch the intra-party challenge to Gov. Ige who himself had unseated a Democratic governor, Neil Abercrombie, in the 2014 primary campaign.

Ige hit rock bottom in this contest when a false alarm catastrophic missile attack warning was unleashed, sending panic throughout the islands, and his poll numbers unsurprisingly dropped precipitously in the aftermath. But he rebounded to re-generate support from his Democratic base, improve his job approval ratio, and substantially increase his lagging fundraising operation. Polling had detected the momentum change within the last two weeks of the primary cycle, and an Ige lead was being widely reported as the two candidates headed into the election’s final days.

The Democratic turnout was 242,413 voters, most of whom voted early, which is about 5,000 more than voted in the last midterm when Ige defeat then-Gov. Abercrombie in a 66-31 percent landslide margin. By contrast, Saturday’s GOP turnout was only 31,134 individuals.

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