Category Archives: Primary

Today’s Massachusetts Primary

Massachusetts congressional districts

Massachusetts congressional districts

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 4, 2018 — Bay State voters head to the polls today to choose nominees for federal and state office.

In the Senate race, Republicans will select an opponent for first-term Sen. Elizabeth Warren. But the question looming is whether she will quickly jump into 2020 presidential campaign immediately upon concluding her re-election in November.

Republicans have three candidates vying for the party nomination: state Rep. Geoff Diehl (R-Plymouth), former Department of consumer affairs director, Beth Lindstrom, and businessman John Kingston who has loaned almost $5 million to his campaign. All three have generated well into seven figures in campaign resources. But, whomever wins the nomination tonight will begin the general election in an obvious underdog position to Sen. Warren.

There are several US House primaries to be settled today. The most competitive incumbent challenge comes against ten-term veteran Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville). He is working to repel a challenge from Boston at-large City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley.

Presley is a strong candidate, having been twice elected citywide to the Boston Council. Most of the Democratic political establishment has fallen in behind Congressman Capuano, i.e., Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, ex-Gov. Deval Patrick, and major labor union leadership. This, in addition to his 20-year service record in Congress and as mayor of Somerville before coming to Washington, largely gives him the support base necessary to win another re-nomination tonight.

The latest publicly released MassInc poll (July 27-29; 403 likely MA-7 Democratic primary voters) gave the congressman a 48-35 percent advantage and showed Presley performing well in Boston, but not outside the city. Capuano’s margin in the non-city portion of the district, in places like Somerville and Cambridge, should be enough to carry him to victory tonight. Winning the Democratic primary here is tantamount to victory in November.

Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) is also facing a Democratic primary challenge in his western Massachusetts district. His opponent, Muslim activist Tahirah Amatul-Wadud, gains more media attention than campaign support, however. His finances show just over $112,000 in total receipts. Therefore, Rep. Neal should win easily tonight.

Retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas’ (D-Lowell) open 3rd District concludes a long Democratic primary featuring a myriad of candidates. The field is now down to ten candidates after three withdrew, and several are competitive.

Daniel Koh, former chief of staff to Boston Mayor Walsh, has raised more than $3.3 million and is one of the top candidates. But, the 3rd District doesn’t touch any of Boston, and coming from the state’s dominant city might not be viewed as a major positive within a field of so many more locally based candidates.

Other strong contenders include state Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover), who wants to launch impeachment proceedings against Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; former US Ambassador Rufus Gifford has raised more than $2 million for his congressional effort, while state Rep. Juana Matias (D-Lawrence) possesses strength within the district’s Hispanic community. Ex-congressional aide Lori Trahan is also running an active campaign and could become factor tonight.

The Republican nomination is decided. Business owner Rick Green is unopposed for the party nomination and poised to run a competitive general election campaign against tonight’s winner. The 3rd District is one seat where Gov. Charlie Baker (R) must run well to secure re-election, and he is on track to score a landslide victory. Therefore, Green taking advantage of the opportunity to work in conjunction with the Baker turnout operation here is a decided positive.

The 9th District will also yield a potentially competitive general election, which is another place where Gov. Baker must run up the score. Here, former chain convenience store owner Peter Tedeschi (R) is quietly putting together a viable challenger campaign opposite three-term Rep. Bill Keating (D-Bourne/Cape Cod) who has only averaged 53.5 percent in his trio of campaign victories.

The congressman posting his strongest showing, 55.1 percent, in his initial campaign yet failing to expand upon that number in subsequent re-election efforts suggests potential political weakness. Keating won re-election in 2016 with just 52.5 percent against an opponent who spent less than $1,000. The congressman faces anemic Democratic primary opposition tonight, while Tedeschi is unopposed in the Republican primary.

The House Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 31, 2018 — While we covered the statewide results for the Aug. 28 nomination elections in Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma earlier in the week, now is a good time to review the many US House campaigns that were decided last Tuesday, and which will become competitive in November.


the-primariesARIZONA

• AZ-1: Freshman Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) stands for his first re-election in an expansive district that encompasses most of eastern Arizona. The Republican winner is retired Air Force officer Wendy Rogers, who has run for several offices in the state but has never been successful. It’s likely that the same pattern will again emerge in November. Rogers defeated state Sen. Steve Smith in the GOP primary, and he was viewed as the party’s strongest general election candidate. Therefore, we can now rate this race as Likely Democratic.

• AZ-2: The pre-race favorites for this Tucson-anchored open seat, vacated because Rep. Martha McSally is running for the Senate, were former US Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) and Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president Lea Marquez-Peterson (R). While both won their respective nominations, each of their win percentages (41.4 percent and 33.6 percent, respectively) were less that predicted. With neither candidate close to majority support in her own party, the general election will prove interesting. Most believe that Kirkpatrick is the favorite here, but it doesn’t appear her win is yet clinched.

• AZ-9: Rep. Kyrsten Sinema leaves this largely Democratic Phoenix suburban seat to run for the Senate. The heir-apparent is Phoenix former Mayor Greg Stanton (D), and he will face GOP physician Steve Ferrara, a first-time candidate. No question that Stanton is the general election favorite, but Dr. Ferrara is getting high marks as a candidate. Likely Democratic.


FLORIDA

• FL-1: Freshman Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach) under-performed in his primary, winning with only 65 percent of the vote, but he is still safe in the general election against pediatrician Jennifer Zimmerman (D) in his heavily Republican district.

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Gillum Tallies Upset in Florida;
A Look at Arizona, Oklahoma Results

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesAug. 29, 2018 — Turnout favored the Republicans in both contested states; about 110,000 more Republicans than Democrats voted in Florida, while the Arizona GOP participation rate was approximately one-third higher than Democrats. The big surprise of the day was Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum’s win to become the Democratic nominee for governor in Florida.


FLORIDA

Yesterday, we covered the impending Florida Democratic gubernatorial primary in terms that suggested the surge detected related to Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum would likely be too little, too late, and that former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) was in the best position to win the open Democratic primary. In reality, most of the polling was flawed, and the Gillum surge was enough for him to score a 34-31-20-10 percent victory over Graham, Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, billionaire developer Jeff Greene, and four others.

Up until the last two weeks, Gillum didn’t appear to be much of a factor as he consistently hovered only around 10-12 percent in the polling. But, combined independent spending from liberal billionaires Tom Steyer and George Soros designed to increase his turnout, an endorsement from former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and what was obviously inaccurate polling — the only survey to show Gillum ever ahead was an internal study, but that was discounted because it came from the mayor’s campaign — allowed Gillum to claim the statewide Democratic nomination.

On the Republican side, the polling appeared to be more reliable. Six of the seven August polls projected Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) to be holding a substantial lead over Agriculture Commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam, the early race leader. Such predictions proved true, as Rep. DeSantis scored a 20-point, 57-37 percent victory, and put him in solid position moving into the general election.

With Rep. DeSantis possibly being the most vociferous Donald Trump supporter of any winning GOP candidate within this election cycle and Mayor Gillum coming from the Democratic Party’s far left flank, the open general election will feature an extreme contrast.

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Today: Arizona, Florida & Oklahoma

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesAug. 28, 2018 — We have now come to the end of the multi-state primaries for the 2018 election cycle. Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma voters go to the polls today in one of the last major primary days of the current election cycle. We take a look at how all the primaries look like they will shake down:


ARIZONA

Two statewide campaigns are on the Grand Canyon State primary ballot, the Republican US Senate contest, and the Democratic race to determine the general election opponent of Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

The Senate primary is now clouded, of course, with the death of Sen. John McCain (R), though his passing should have no effect upon today’s vote. Gov. Ducey will appoint a replacement for the late senator, but he announced over the weekend that an individual won’t be named until after Sen. McCain is laid to rest. The new senator will serve until the 2020 election, at which point a special vote will be held for the winner to serve the balance of the term. Sen. McCain was re-elected in 2016, meaning the seat again comes in-cycle in 2022.

Republicans in the state will choose among Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson), former state Sen. Kelli Ward, and ex-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. With polling showing McSally pulling away from the other two, and Ward sending an ill-advised tweet after Sen. McCain’s death — her former opponent in the 2016 Senate Republican primary — the stage appears set to propel the Tucson-area congresswoman to victory tonight.

If the predicted match-up does come to fruition, the open general election will feature two prominent female House members doing battle: McSally and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) who is virtually unopposed on the Democratic ballot. Sen. Jeff Flake (R) is retiring after one term.

Gov. Ducey is set for re-nomination and figures to face either Arizona State University professor David Garcia, state Sen. Steve Farley (D-Tucson), or Lutheran minister Kelly Fryer. Polling suggests that Garcia is favored by what appears to be a large margin.

Three congressional district races are of note. In the sprawling 1st District that comprises most of eastern Arizona, a trio of Republicans is vying for the opportunity of opposing freshman Democratic Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona). State Sen. Steve Smith (R-Maricopa), retired Air Force officer and frequent candidate Wendy Rogers, and attorney Tiffany Shedd are the candidates competing for the GOP nomination. This general election has the potential of becoming competitive in what is now a marginal political district that leans towards the Democrats.

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MA-3: A Sleeper?

Massachusetts congressional districts

Massachusetts congressional districts


By Jim Ellis

Aug. 27, 2018 — One of the few interesting remaining primaries in this 2018 election cycle is the open northern Massachusetts congressional race a week from tomorrow featuring 10 Democratic candidates all attempting to succeed retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell).

A new University of Massachusetts at Lowell and Boston Globe survey of the impending MA-3 Democratic primary (Aug. 14-21; 849 MA-3 registered voters, 553 MA-3 likely Democratic primary voters) finds ex-Boston mayoral chief of staff Dan Koh forging into the lead, but with only a 19-13-13 percent edge over former ambassador to Denmark, Rufus Gifford, and state Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover) as the state’s Sept. 4 partisan primary draws near.

But other candidates could possibly make a run, too. Business consultant Lori Trahan posts eight percent in the poll, and while state Rep. Juana Matias (D-Lawrence) has just six percent, she is dominant within the district’s Hispanic community. In such a crowded campaign with a low voter turnout, any candidate with a major support base must be taken seriously. The other five candidates each register four percent and below.

But there could be more to this campaign than the winner of a crowded primary going on to easily take the general election in what should be a safe seat for the dominant party in the district, in this case the Democrats.

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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.