Category Archives: House

Interesting Details in Arkansas and Kentucky

Presidential and congressional primaries were held in Arkansas and Kentucky last night without major surprises. As predicted, President Obama won two tepid victories in the pair of states, failing to break 60 percent in either place. He opposed an unknown Democratic candidate in Arkansas and was pitted against an uncommitted slate in Kentucky.

John Wolfe Jr., a Chattanooga, Tenn. attorney, scored 42 percent against Obama in the Arkansas Democrat primary. This is the strongest race Wolfe has run. Prior to entering the presidential contest, he twice ran for Congress, and once each for the offices of Tennessee state senator and mayor of Chattanooga. Prior to last night when facing the President of the United States, Wolfe never could top 34 percent in any of his multiple political endeavors.

In Kentucky, Obama also scored an anemic 58 percent of the vote. Here, 42 percent of the Blue Grass State’s Democrats chose an uncommitted slate of delegates to go the party’s national convention in Charlotte.

The results don’t mean much from a national perspective; only that the president will not be re-elected in a 50-state sweep. This is the second and third primaries where an alternative to Obama received substantial votes. West Virginia was the other state where that occurred. It is unlikely that the President will be competitive in any of these places in November, since better than four of six of his own party’s primary voters failed to support him.

In the KY-4 Republican congressional primary race (Rep. Geoff Davis-R, retiring), Lewis County Judge (county executive) and engineer Thomas Massie defeated state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge Gary Moore. The margin was 45-29-15 percent in what was a poor finish for Moore, who represented more people through his local office than did the other two. It is a boon for the Paul family because both Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) endorsed the hard-charging winner. All three of the candidates were approaching financial parity. The Republican nature of the district means that Massie will be the new congressman. He faces Grant County Democratic Chairman Bill Adkins in the fall and what stands to be a non-competitive election.

The closest race of the evening was in Arkansas’ 1st Congressional District where Second Circuit Prosecuting Attorney Scott Ellington came within less than one point of winning the Democratic nomination outright. He will face state Rep. and Marvell ex-mayor Clark Hall in a June 12 secondary vote. The winner will oppose freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R) in a newly configured 1st District that now has an even higher Democratic baseline than under the current lines, though President Obama could only score 39 percent under each version. This could become a competitive general election battle.

In the south-central 4th District, polling correctly suggested another outcome, as Afghan War veteran and businessman Tom Cotton, who raised more than $1 million for the primary campaign, won the Republican nomination outright with an impressive 57-37 percent win over 2010 congressional nominee and former Miss Arkansas Beth Anne Rankin.

Cotton must now wait until June 12 to see if he will face state Sen. Gene Jeffress or attorney Byrum Hurst, the latter of whom, as the underdog, made a very strong run for the top spot. At the end of the evening, Jeffress totaled 40 percent to Hurst’s 36 percent.

While the 1st District race could be headed to toss-up territory, Cotton figures to be the 4th District general election favorite. AR-4 is a Republican conversion seat because Rep. Mike Ross (D), a Blue Dog Coalition co-chairman, is retiring.

More Primaries Tomorrow: Arkansas and Kentucky

Tomorrow, voters in Arkansas and Kentucky go to the polls to decide a few key open seat and challenger nominees.

In Arkansas, two races will likely be decided tomorrow, or will at least give us a clue as to who will be the general election participants. A run-off election June 12 is the next step, should no candidate secure a majority vote in the original primary.

In the 1st District, where freshman Rep. Rick Crawford (R) stands for re-election in a much more difficult district for him politically, Democrats may choose their nominee. The favorite is state Rep. Clark Hall, who raised just over $254,000 for the May 2 pre-primary filing period. Steve Ellington, the local prosecuting attorney, who was thought to be a strong challenger originally, has raised just under $55,000 suggesting that his effort has not taken hold. The third candidate, and the man whose presence on the ballot could potentially deny Hall a majority tomorrow night, is Arkansas State University business professor Gary Latanich. He has, likewise, raised money in the $55,000 range and had just $30 cash-on-hand at the pre-primary reporting period deadline. Though he is no threat to make the run-off, Latanich could steal enough votes to deny Hall an outright majority.

In the open 4th District, both parties are engaged in a primary fight for the right to replace retiring Rep. Mike Ross (D). As the 1st District became more Democratic with the inclusion of a greater number of African-American voters who reside in the state’s delta region, the 4th became more Republican because of the shift. Without Ross running for re-election, AR-4 becomes one of the Republicans’ best conversion opportunities in the country.

The Republican race, which likely will be decided tomorrow, is between 2010 nominee Beth Anne Rankin, a former Miss Arkansas in the Miss America beauty pageant and businesswoman, and management consultant and Afghan War veteran Tom Cotton, who is gaining notoriety as one of the better GOP congressional candidates in the nation. Though Rankin enjoyed some national conservative support in her 2010 campaign, a race she lost 57-40 percent to Ross, Cotton is gaining greater local and national backing in this primary campaign. The latest Arkansas Talk Business poll, released last week, gives him a 51-39 percent lead in the primary, just weeks after the same survey sponsor showed the two tied. A third candidate, police officer John Cowart, is on the ballot, but it is unlikely that he will attract enough votes to deny one of the two an outright victory. In terms of fundraising, Cotton has already raised over $1 million versus just under $400,000 for Rankin.

On the Democrat side, in a field that disappoints the national party, a three-way race among state Sen. Gene Jeffress, who has raised only $25,000 for the race, attorney Byrum Hurst, and 2010 Senate candidate D.C. Morrison make up the pool of Dem candidates. While Jeffress was supposed to be the top candidate, it is Hurst who has raised the most money. But even he hasn’t done all that well, as his campaign treasury has yet to exceed $155,000.

In Kentucky, the GOP primary for retiring Rep. Geoff Davis’ (R) open seat is the race of major interest. Davis is leaving the safe Republican seat after four terms for personal reasons and the winner of tomorrow’s party primary, since Kentucky features no run-off election, will succeed him in the House next year.

Seven Republicans are vying for the position, but the race appears to be narrowing to three serious candidates. With no candidate exceeding the $350,000 mark in funds raised, this campaign will be decided by ground efforts. The leading contenders are Lewis County Judge (commonly called the county executive in other states) Tom Massie, Boone County Judge Gary Moore, and state Rep. Alecia Webb-Eddington.

The race has been marked by the entry of 21-year-old Texas resident John Ramsey, who formed a Super PAC called Liberty for All. He has invested more than $500,000 of his own money to involve himself in this race, on behalf of Massie. He has recently run negative ads criticizing both Moore and Webb-Eddington, so it remains to be seen what effect this has on tomorrow’s vote. It is likely that a new congressman will emerge from this race tomorrow night.

Gosar’s Re-election Chances Improve in Arizona’s 4th CD

Freshman Rep. Paul Gosar’s (R-AZ-1) re-election chances improved at the end of last week when Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) announced that he is ending his AZ-4 congressional campaign and will instead seek re-election as sheriff. Gosar, originally elected in the 1st District, decided to run in AZ-4 despite only representing 34 percent of the constituency because of the new seat’s strong Republican voting trends.

Babeu was embroiled in controversy earlier in the year when a male former lover accused the sheriff of attempting to use his official position to have him deported. With obvious negative ramifications being heaped upon his congressional campaign as a result, Babeu finally decided to throw in the towel.

Originally thought to be an underdog to Babeu before the controversy struck, Gosar now has to be considered the favorite to capture the Republican nomination. AZ-4 is rated as safe Republican for the general election.

Post-Election Points

Tuesday’s primaries have come and gone, but three key points need to be added:

• First, there’s the North Carolina run-off schedule. Because US House races are involved, the MOVE Act (Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act) is invoked, which places time restraints upon official election notice; the election date now becomes July 17 instead of June 26. This affects Republican secondary elections in Districts 8 (Richard Hudson vs. Scott Keadle), 9 (Robert Pittenger vs. Jim Pendergraph) and 11 (Mark Meadows vs. Vance Patterson). All 13 NC congressional districts nominated Democratic candidates on Tuesday, so they have no run-off contests.

• Second, Charles Malone, the Democratic nominee in the new North Carolina District 13, may withdraw from the race due to health reasons. Mr. Malone is indicating that, should the party have a more able candidate, he would consider stepping aside. The Democrat is a decided underdog to former US Attorney George Holding (R) in what will likely be a Republican conversion seat. Holding won the Republican nomination outright on May 8. Rep. Brad Miller (D) decided to not seek re-election rather than run here.

• Third, a possible indication of what may happen in the June 5 Wisconsin governor’s recall election occurred Tuesday night. Despite Gov. Scott Walker being on the primary ballot against one minor opponent (Walker received 97 percent of the vote) and his renomination being a foregone conclusion, he received almost as many votes as all of the Democratic candidates combined. Walker totaled 626,538 votes compared to 670,278 cumulatively among all five Democrats. This is a clear sign that the governor has a strong base, which is critically important in a low-turnout recall election format.

Inmate Scores 40% vs. Obama in W.Va.; N.C., Wis. Updates

West Virginia

Perhaps the biggest surprise of last night’s primaries came in West Virginia, where Keith Russell Judd, an inmate in a Beaumont, Texas federal prison currently serving a 17-year sentence, scored a full 40 percent of the vote against President Obama in the West Virginia Democratic primary. This clearly suggests that West Virginia will be a solid Mitt Romney state in the fall.

North Carolina

A lot of action also occurred in the North Carolina primary. In the Democratic gubernatorial primary, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton posted a 45-38 percent victory over former Rep. Bob Etheridge. Dalton will now face 2008 gubernatorial nominee and former Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory (R) in the general election. Gov. Bev Perdue (D) is retiring after one term.

In open seats, former state Sen. Robert Pittenger and Mecklenberg County Commissioner Jim Pendergraph will square off in a June 26 Republican run-off election for retiring Rep. Sue Myrick’s 9th District. The Charlotte suburban seat will go to eventual GOP nominee in the general election. In the Asheville-based 11th CD, being vacated by the retiring Rep. Heath Shuler (D), two non-elected officials, businessmen Mark Meadows and Vance Patterson will battle each other in the Republican run-off. The winner faces Shuler’s former chief of staff, Hayden Rogers, who won the Democratic nod. Redistricting makes the GOP nominee the general election favorite. Finally, in new District 13, former US Attorney George Holding won the Republican nomination outright and will be the heavy favorite in November.

Turning to challenger primaries, state Sen. David Rouzer won a see-saw Republican primary battle with 2010 nominee Ilario Pantano. He now faces Democratic Rep. Mike McIntyre in what will be a highly competitive general election. In Rep. Kissell’s 8th District, a run-off will occur between business consultant and former congressional aide Richard Hudson and ex-Iredell County Commissioner Scott Keadle. Hudson, a first-time candidate, came within eight points of winning outright. Kissell is highly endangered in the general election.

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, Democrats again nominated Milwaukee mayor and former congressman Tom Barrett to face Gov. Scott Walker (R) in a June 5 recall election. Barrett easily defeated Dane County ex-Executive Kathleen Falk by a 58-34 percent count. The Walker-Barrett campaign is a re-match from 2010, when the Republican won 52-46 percent.

Lugar Trounced in Indiana

The final weeks of the Indiana Senatorial campaign showed six-term Sen. Dick Lugar spiraling downward in his Republican primary battle with state Treasurer Richard Mourdock, and it ended last night with an emphatic 61-39 percent victory in the challenger’s favor. Turnout exceeded 665,000 voters, which is high. This is nowhere near the 1.2 million plus voters who participated in the 2008 Democratic presidential primary, but much more than the 412,000 who voted in the Republican presidential primary of that same year.

The general election will now feature Mourdock and Rep. Joe Donnelly (D-IN-2) who was unopposed in last night’s Democratic primary. The Republican outcome now suggests a competitive race here in the fall, though Mourdock is a much stronger candidate than those conservative challengers who defeated 2010 Republican incumbents or nomination favorites in various states, and then proceeded to lose their respective general elections.

Though President Obama became the first Democrat to carry Indiana since Lyndon Johnson in 1964, it does not appear the state will be a major target in 2012. In fact, Indiana isn’t even on the first list of states where the President’s campaign is buying television advertising time. That translates to less of a boost for Donnelly as we turn toward November.

The biggest Indiana surprise of the evening, however, was former Rep. David McIntosh (R), the favorite coming into Indiana’s open 5th District primary race, failing to win his party’s nomination. He lost a 30-29 percent decision to ex-US Attorney Susan Brooks. Ms. Brooks is also an Indianapolis former deputy mayor. She will be the heavy favorite to defeat state Rep. Scott Reske who won the Democratic nomination.

As expected, former state Rep. Luke Messer was an easy winner in the 6th District Republican open seat primary. He becomes the prohibitive favorite to replace Rep. Mike Pence in November. Pence, unopposed tonight, is now the state’s official GOP gubernatorial nominee. In Donnelly’s open 2nd District, as expected, Democratic businessman Brendan Mullen will face former state Rep. Jackie Walorski (R) in a competitive general election. Because of redistricting, Walorski has to be considered at least a slight favorite. All other Indiana incumbents won renomination last night.

Primary Preview: North Carolina

The House races dominate tomorrow’s North Carolina primary election from a national perspective, but the Democratic gubernatorial vote is one of the main turnout drivers for the state’s voters.

  • Governor: Incumbent Bev Perdue (D) is retiring after one term, upon deciding that her lagging approval numbers relegated her to an underdog re-election position. This sets up a Democratic primary largely between Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton and former Rep. Bob Etheridge. The main question is whether one of these two men will secure the 40 percent-plus one vote necessary to avoid a June 26 run-off. Regardless of the outcome tomorrow or next month, the eventual Democrat nominee will begin the general election as a decided underdog to ex-Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, who will cruise to outright victory in the Republican primary.
  • NC-1: The new 1st CD, an African-American majority district, is again safe for five-term Rep. G. K. Butterfield (D).
  • NC-2: Rep. Renee Ellmers (R) was a surprise winner in 2010 against then-Rep. Etheridge, and now stands for re-election in a much more favorable Republican district. This seat soars from a 47 percent McCain score to one that voted 56 percent Republican in 2008. The new 2nd should be safe for Ellmers despite her gaining 70 percent new territory.
  • NC-3: The new 3rd, now encompassing much more of the North Carolina coast than the current NC-3 and about a quarter new in configuration, is another safe Republican district. Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R), who strays further from the House Republican leadership than any other GOP congressman, could be vulnerable to a primary challenge … but not this year.
  • NC-4: Originally, this seat was drawn as a Democratic pairing between Rep. David Price (D) and Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC-13). After saying he would run against Price, it became obvious that Miller felt he was in an inferior political position in the new 4th and he decided to withdraw. The lack of primary opposition means Price will easily win re-election.
  • NC-5: Although she picks up almost 30 percent new territory, the new Winston-Salem anchored 5th District is again secure for Rep. Virginia Foxx (R).
  • NC-6: Eighty-one year-old Rep. Howard Coble (R), originally elected in 1984, is again headed for re-election. The seat performed at a 56 percent McCain rate, but is 57 percent new territory for Coble. Two locally well-known candidates are challenging Coble in the GOP primary, but they have raised little money and have negative personal opinion polling scores. Coble should have little trouble securing renomination and will be the prohibitive favorite in the general election.
  • NC-7: Redistricting was not kind to moderate Rep. Mike McIntyre (D), another vulnerable member of the Blue Dog Coalition. Thirty-six percent of the Wilmington-based 7th District is new to McIntyre, and the Republican complexion grows from 52 percent McCain to 58 percent McCain. Tomorrow, McIntyre will know if he will face 2010 GOP nominee Ilario Pantano or state Sen. David Rowser. One of the two will likely win the primary outright tomorrow night and quickly enter into a toss-up race with the eight-term congressman.
  • NC-8: Two-term Rep. Larry Kissell (D) is one of the biggest redistricting victims and will likely go into the general election as the underdog. The district flips from 53 percent Obama to 57 percent McCain and loses most its African-American voters and their exceedingly loyal Democratic voting patterns. The Republican primary, among five candidates, is likely to advance to a run-off probably between former congressional aide Richard Hudson and ex-Iredell County commissioner Scott Keadle.
  • NC-9: Rep. Sue Myrick (R) retirement sets up an 11-way Republican primary for the new NC-9, which will be a safe Republican seat. Count on a run-off here with the winner becoming the new congressman.
  • NC-10: Rep. Patrick McHenry (R) takes on almost half a district in new territory, and because of this the GOP will likely win the 11th District.
  • NC-11: The western NC seat is another redistricting casualty, as Rep. Heath Shuler’s (D) seat now becomes the most Republican Tar Heel State district. This is the reason the three-term, 40-year-old congressman has opted for retirement. Eight Republican candidates are in this race, and another run-off is likely here. Democrats are not going down without a fight, though, quite possibly in the person of Shuler chief-of-staff Hayden Rogers.
  • NC-12: The 12th is possibly the most famous of Voting Rights Act seats after enduring legal challenges in every decade since it was created. Rep. Mel Watt (D) will continue to win here as long as he stays in the game.
  • NC-13: Everything changes about the 13th District – from its location to voting preferences. Previously a safe Democratic seat under Rep. Brad Miller (D), the new 13th will send a Republican to Washington likely for the entire ensuing decade. The GOP race is between former US Attorney George Holding, and Wake County Commissioner and ex-Raleigh mayor Paul Coble. There is a good chance one of these two wins outright tomorrow night, which is likely his ticket to Washington, DC. The general election appears non-competitive.