Category Archives: House

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.