Category Archives: Senate

Primaries: Alaska Preview, Hawaii Wrapup; Oklahoma Special Election

By Jim Ellis — August 16, 2022

Primaries

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska — The long-awaited Alaska primary and special House election will be decided today, and the state’s unique top-four qualifying primary system will be put to its second test.

In the US Senate race, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is running for a fourth full term after being appointed to the seat in 2002 when her father, former Sen. Frank Murkowski (R), was elected governor.

The new top-four system virtually guarantees that the senator will advance into the general election, thus negating the potential of her again losing a partisan Republican primary as she did in 2010. In that year, she was able to win the general election after launching a write-in bid as an Independent.

This time, she faces another Republican challenger, one with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Kelly Tshibaka, the former Alaska Director of Administration and Trump-supported candidate, is also well positioned to advance into the general election and may well have been a serious threat to the Senator in a traditional Republican primary.

A total of 19 candidates are on the Senate ballot: eight Republicans, three Democrats, and eight minor party and independent candidates. Of the three Democrats, two — ex-Seward Mayor Edgar Blatchford and former state Senate nominee Pat Chesbro — have previously won campaigns. It is probable that one of these two will also qualify for the general election simply because one will likely attract enough Democratic votes to place either third or fourth.

As is usually the case, polling is sparse in Alaska and we see no late breaking data. This is likely due to the large number of candidates and that a total of four will advance, thus making the primary vote less significant. In the field of four general election candidates, the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system will be used. Voters will assign a priority of 1-4 for the listed candidates. Should no one reach 50 percent, the last-place finisher is eliminated and the process continues until one candidate reaches majority support.

The RCV system is in effect today and will produce a winner among the three finalists in the US House special election campaign to succeed the late at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon).

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

There are three finalists in this race because the original third place finisher, Independent Al Gross, the 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee, dropped out of the race after qualifying. This left 2008 vice presidential nominee and ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Party of Alaska officially endorsed contender Nick Begich III, whose grandfather, the late Nick Begich, Sr. (D), was the congressman prior to Rep. Young, and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D).

It is likely that Peltola will finish first, consolidating the Democratic vote, but falling well short of majority support. Thus, the RCV system would then swing into action. The key position will be second, and all indications suggest that Palin and Begich are in a tight battle to avoid elimination. It is then probable that the surviving Republican will defeat Peltola in the second round.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is also on the ballot running for a second term. It is expected that Dunleavy, former Gov. Bill Walker (I), and ex-state Rep. Les Gara (D) will secure three of the four available general election ballot positions.

It will be an interesting night in Alaska, but results won’t likely be clear until well into Wednesday considering the significant time change and the counting delays often seen in the Last Frontier when tabulating votes from the remote rural areas.

Hawaii — Hawaii held its statewide primary Saturday, and the results produced no surprises.  In the defining Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a physician, easily defeated former Aloha State first lady Vicky Cayetano and US Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) in a landslide 64-21-14 percent, respectively.  Green now becomes the prohibitive favorite to defeat Republican nominee, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, who scored a majority victory in the GOP primary.

In the open 2nd House District race, former state Sen. Jill Tokuda recorded a 59-25 percent victory over state Rep. Patrick Branco (D-Kailua) and four others.  She now becomes a lock to replace Rep. Kahele who risked his safe House seat for his long shot, and now proven unsuccessful, run for governor.  The Republican primary winner, with 83 percent of the vote, is 2020 GOP congressional nominee Joe Akana.  Two years ago, he lost to Kahele 58-28 percent in the general election, and is likely headed to a similar fate later this year.

Sen. Brian Schatz was an overwhelming winner in his Democratic primary, notching 94 percent of his party’s vote.  He will face state Rep. Bob McDermott (R-Ewa), who won the Republican primary with a 41 percent plurality over four opponents.

Rep. Ed Case (D-Kaneohe) also easily won renomination in his 1st District Democratic primary, with an 84-16 percent landslide over progressive left challenger Sergio Alcubilla.

Democratic turnout overwhelmed that of Republicans.  With ancillary counting remaining, a total of 218,523 individuals voted in the Democratic primary versus just 59,006 who chose the Republican contests.

Senate

Oklahoma Special: Conflicting Polls, Same Leader — The Oklahoma Republican runoff election to advance into the November special election to replace resigning Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) will be decided on Aug. 23. We now see two recently released surveys, both projecting US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) leading former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon but by varying degrees.

The most recent, from Battleground Connect (July 31-Aug. 1; 800 likely Oklahoma Republican special runoff voters; live interview) sees Rep. Mullin leading Shannon, 46-38 percent. Both men are viewed favorably. Rep. Mullin sports a 62:23 percent favorable ratio, while Shannon scores 48:15 percent, though fewer respondents know him well enough to form an opinion.

The Sooner Poll conducted for News Channel 9 in Oklahoma City. The sampling period was longer and the sample size smaller than Battleground Connect’s (July 25-Aug. 1; 383 likely Oklahoma Republican special runoff voters; live interview) and it produced an overwhelming advantage for Rep. Mullin, 63-35 percent. The Republican runoff winner will be favored to defeat former US Rep. Kendra Horn, who is the official Democratic Party nominee, in the November special general election.

Beasley Up in North Carolina; CO-8 Shows Toss-Up Race; Dem Race Tightens in Florida

By Jim Ellis — August 12, 2022

Senate

Former North Carolina state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D)

North Carolina: Democrat Beasley Up in New Poll — Blueprint Polling released a new North Carolina US Senate poll (Aug. 4-6; 656 registered North Carolina voters; live interview) that projects former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) to be holding a 46-42 percent edge over US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance). A Republican being down in a North Carolina poll is nothing new, however. In 2020, GOP Sen. Thom Tillis found himself outside the lead in 26 of 28 October public polls but won the race by two percentage points.

House

CO-8: Toss-Up District Shows Toss-Up Race — Colorado received a new congressional district in national reapportionment, and the Colorado Independent Redistricting Commission members drew the new seat, located just north of Denver, to be an even district from a partisan perspective. A new Global Strategy Group poll (July 26-Aug. 2; 500 likely CO-8 general election voters) suggests the district is performing as designed. The ballot test finds Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer leading state Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D) by a tight 44-42 percent margin. This district is highly important to both parties in determining the next congressional majority.

NY-12: Potential Three-Way Race — Slingshot Strategies, polling for the Indian American Impact Fund (Aug. 2-5; 600 likely NY-12 Democratic primary voters) sees a tight ballot test forming between Democratic paired incumbents Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, but also a third candidate coming into range. Businessman Suraj Patel returns for a third Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Maloney, and the poll, the sponsors of which favor Patel, find the race breaking 29-27-20 percent in favor of Rep. Nadler. Maloney holds a close second place, with Patel showing enough momentum to possibly make a significant closing run.

The New York congressional primary is Aug. 23. The Democratic primary in this new Lower Manhattan/Brooklyn congressional district easily wins the seat in the general election.

Governor

Florida: Dem Race Tightens — State Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried released a new Public Policy Polling survey (Aug. 8-9; 664 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; live interview & text) that suggests the primary race scheduled for Aug. 23 is becoming much closer.

The PPP data finds Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D-St. Petersburg) once substantial lead over Fried now falling to just 42-35 percent suggesting that the latter candidate may have enough closing momentum to cast doubt over the eventual outcome especially with 23 percent saying they are still undecided. The eventual Democratic nominee begins a shortened general election cycle in the underdog position opposite GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis.

Tied Poll for Florida Senate Race? Ryan Leads in Ohio; Hererra Beutler Behind in WA-3

By Jim Ellis — August 11, 2022

Senate

Florida: Demings Touting Tied Poll — Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) is brandishing a new poll that finds she and Sen. Marco Rubio (R) tied at 45 percent apiece. This is only the second poll of the 10 released this year that does not project the senator as the race leader. The Clarity Campaigns survey (July 26-31) conducted an online survey of 2,244 registered voters from a pre-selected panel. Since 2016, pollsters have typically underestimated Republican strength in Florida, so it is reasonable to add a couple of percentage points for the Republican candidate in a typical Sunshine State poll.

Ohio: Heavy Campaign Spending Keeps Rep. Ryan in Lead — Riding a major campaign spending wave, thus taking advantage of his abundant campaign war chest, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) again sees a developing lead in his race against Republican nominee and author J.D. Vance. The just released Impact Research survey (July 21-28; 800 likely Ohio general election voters) projects Ryan as holding a 48-45 percent edge in the race for the open Ohio Senate seat. Last month, the same firm also found Ryan holding an almost identical lead at 48-45 percent.

The Ryan campaign has spent over $6.5 million on the airwaves since the end of May according to the Politico news publication, with virtually no counter media push from the Vance forces. Though Rep. Ryan has had the field virtually to himself in the early going, he still does not expand beyond the polling margin of error. When Vance does counter, we are likely to see a Republican rebound here.

House

Trump-endorsed former retired Army officer Joe Kent (R)

WA-3: Rep. Hererra Beutler Now Behind — New results from the laborious Washington ballot counting process have put Trump-endorsed former retired Army officer Joe Kent (R) ahead of six-term incumbent Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/ Vancouver) by 960 votes with still several thousand ballots left to count. Officials report that it may be as long as Aug. 16 before the totals are finalized.

Since the bulk of the outstanding ballots are from Thurston County, an entity where Kent placed first, some analysts are declaring that Rep. Herrera Beutler will not be able to rebound. At this point, Democrat Marie Glusenkamp Perez places first and will advance to the general election presumably to face Kent.

If this trend holds and Herrera Beutler is defeated, it will mean that 11 House incumbents will have already lost their seats in the 2022 election cycle, and 68 seats will be open in the general election. Republican prospects to hold the 3rd District are strong despite the incumbent losing and a Democrat placing first in the jungle primary, however. A total of 64.8 percent of the more than 208,000 primary voters at this point voted for a Republican candidate.

Governor

Oklahoma Poll: Governor’s Race Closer Than Expected — The Democratic online polling firm Change Research released their latest Oklahoma Governor’s survey (July 22-26; 2,079 likely Oklahoma general election voters; online) and sees Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) in a tighter battle than expected against Oklahoma Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister (D). The ballot test projects the governor to be holding only a 42-34 percent advantage.

The main reason for Stitt’s downturn apparently relates to his falling job approval rating. According to the Change numbers, the governor’s favorability index has slid to 42:56 percent favorable to unfavorable. It is probable, however, that the governor will be able to rebound and score a convincing win in November. It is difficult to predict a deep red state like Oklahoma going Democratic in what appears to be at least a relatively strong Republican election year.

Senate Victory for Trump-Endorsed Candidate in Connecticut; Omar Barely Survives in Minnesota; Easy Wins in Other Primaries

By Jim Ellis — Aug. 10, 2022

Primary Results

Former Trump ambassadorial appointee Leora Levy wins in Connecticut.

Connecticut: Trump-Endorsed Candidate Scores Senate Victory — Former Trump ambassadorial appointee Leora Levy, though she failed to win Senate confirmation, easily won the Republican Senate nomination in Connecticut. Levy defeated former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides by a significant 51-40 percent share of the statewide vote. She now advances to challenge Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) who is seeking a third term.

Minnesota: Finstad Wins; Omar Barely Survives — Last night, Minnesota former state Rep. Brad Finstad (R) appears to have won the open 1st District special congressional election left vacant when Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) passed away in mid-February. At this writing, Finstad leads former Hormel corporation CEO Jeffrey Ettinger (D) 51-47 percent with all counties reporting and 99 percent of the expected vote tabulated.

Finstad holds a 4,920-vote lead over Ettinger, which should be more than enough to account for any mailed absentee ballot not included in the overall count. The currently recorded turnout of 118,018 votes is high for a special election. Finstad carried 16 of the district’s 21 southern Minnesota counties.

Finstad also easily won the regular Republican primary in the 1st District after state Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Crystal Lake) made a run at the nomination despite losing the special election primary back in late May. Following suit on the Democratic side, Ettinger was an easy winner in last night’s regular primary, so the two will again do battle in the regular term for a House seat that has been trending more Republican in recent years.

In the 5th District, suggestions that former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels could give two-term controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) a highly competitive battle proved true. Rep. Omar was renominated in a 50-48 percent squeaker over Samuels, thus guaranteeing her another term in the November election.

Vermont: Scott, Welch, Balint Easily Win — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott was a 69 percent winner in his state’s Republican primary. As expected, the Vermont Democratic open Senate primary resulted in a landslide 87 percent-plus victory for at-large Congressman Peter Welch (D-Norwich). He automatically becomes a prohibitive favorite against the new Republican nominee Gerald Malloy, a retired Army officer.

With Rep. Welch running for the state’s open Senate seat, now in strong position to succeed the retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the open al-large House seat will go to the Democratic primary winner, state Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Burlington). Her 60 percent-plus primary win puts her in position to score a landslide general election victory in November.

Wisconsin: Barnes Confirmed; Michels Defeats Kleefisch — Wisconsin Democratic voters confirmed that Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will be their candidate to oppose Sen. Ron Johnson (R). With his three major opponents dropping out of the race within the past two weeks and all endorsing Barnes as a show of party unity, the lieutenant governor captured 77 percent-plus of the Democratic primary vote. Sen. Johnson topped 83 percent in the Republican primary.

Finally, the lone competitive Wisconsin House primary also resulted as expected. State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse) recorded a 39 percent plurality victory over three opponents to win his party’s nomination for the open 3rd District House seat of retiring Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). Sen. Pfaff earned Rep. Kind’s endorsement as his successor.

Republican Derrick Van Orden, a retired Navy SEAL who held Rep. Kind to a tight 51-49 percent re-election win in 2020, returns in another attempt to capture the seat. Van Orden was unopposed in last night’s election. Winning this seat in November becomes a must for Republican House majority prospects in the fall.

Today’s Primaries; Final Results Close to Complete in Ariz.; Herrera Beutler Hanging By a Thread in Washington

By Jim Ellis — August 9, 2022

Primaries

Voting Today: Four States Holding Primaries; One Special Election — The final phase of primary season continues today with nomination elections occurring in Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont and Wisconsin. The most competitive statewide races include choosing Senate candidates in Connecticut and governor’s contests in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

A total of 22 House races are on the cumulative political card tonight, including three open seats, one each in Minnesota, Vermont, and Wisconsin, and a special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) in southern Minnesota. With a victory tonight, either former state Rep. Brad Finstad (R) or ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeffrey Ettinger (D) will take the seat immediately upon election certification and serve the balance of Hagedorn’s final term.

Primary Results

Former news anchor Kari Lake (R)

Arizona: Final Results Close to Complete — In states that feature large numbers of mail ballots and allow such votes to count even when arriving after election day, the better part of two weeks is needed to finalize the election totals. From Arizona’s Aug. 2 primary, the winners of all races are now statistically projected as the last remaining votes are being tabulated. The latest published figures show 98 percent of the Republican ballots and 92 percent of the Democratic votes recorded. Republican turnout looks to top 815,000, while Democrats are likely to exceed 625,000.

In the general election, Sen. Mark Kelly (D) will face venture capitalist Blake Masters (R), while Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and former news anchor Kari Lake (R) square off in the open governor’s race.

The key House races feature Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) against businessman Jevin Hodge (D); retired Navy SEAL Eli Crane (R) challenging Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona); Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) in a competitive contest against business owner Kelly Cooper, who upset favored Tanya Wheeless in the 4th District Republican primary; and former state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D) and ex-Hispanic Chamber of Commerce executive Juan Ciscomani (R) doing battle in the Tucson-anchored open new 6th District.

Washington: Rep. Herrera Beutler Hanging By a Thread — Washington’s laborious vote counting procedure continues from the Aug. 2 all-mail jungle primary, and the biggest development is that Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground) has not yet secured a general election ballot slot, and may in fact lose to challenger Joe Kent (R).

With just under 96 percent of the 3rd District votes counted, Democrat Marie Perez, with 31.2 percent of the vote, has clinched the first ballot position. Rep. Herrera Beutler barely holds the second qualifying position with 22.6 percent (41,603 votes) nipping Kent’s 22.5 percent (41,346 votes), a margin of just 257 votes with as many as 7,000 votes remaining to be counted. Since 45.1 percent of the voters chose either Herrera Beutler or Kent, it is reasonable to believe approximately 3,000 of those votes will determine the second-place qualifier. Of the remaining votes for either Herrera Beutler or Kemp, the latter man would need 54 to overcome the congresswoman’s edge.

In the 4th District, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Sunnyside) who, like Rep. Herrera Beutler, voted to impeach former President Trump, has clinched a general election ballot position with 25.4 percent, but with as many as 25,000 votes to count. In second place, also clinching a general election slot, is Democratic businessman Doug White. Eliminated in third place is Trump-endorsed former town police chief and 2020 gubernatorial finalist Loren Culp (R).

Turning to the 8th District, 2020 Attorney General qualifier Matt Larkin (R) has clinched second position over King County Councilman Reagan Dunn and 2020 general election qualifier Jesse Jensen. Larkin now advances to the 2022 general election to challenge Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Sammamish). This is evolving into a top competitive national congressional campaign. Schrier only secured 47.9 percent in the jungle primary, and the cumulative partisan totals suggest that a very tight general election is coming. The cumulative Democratic vote so far totals 97,341 with 91.3 percent of the expected vote tabulated compared to the cumulative Republican total of 96,572.

House

MN-1: Finstad Leading in Final Special Election Poll — The closing poll in the special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) was released late last week. The Survey USA poll (July 26-30; 544 likely MN-1 special election voters; live interview) finds Republican former state Rep. Brad Finstad leading ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) by a 46-38 percent margin. Finstad also faces a regular election primary contest with former state Rep. Jeremy Munson whom the former defeated in the May 24 special primary election by just 427 votes.

MN-5: Rep. Omar Facing Serious Primary Challenge — Former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels is waging a strong Democratic primary challenge against controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) in an election that will be decided today. The Minneapolis Star-Tribune announced its editorial board endorsement of Samuels and so did the city’s mayor, Jacob Frey (D). In the last week, a Super PAC entitled “Make A Difference” sponsored a $350,000 television buy to support Samuels. This will be a race to watch tonight.

NY-12: Rep. Nadler Leads in New Poll — Emerson College tested the upcoming Democratic-paired incumbent primary between Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan) and Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan). The survey (Aug. 1-2; 1,000 likely NY-12 Democratic primary voters; live interview, text & interactive voice response system) finds Rep. Nadler, largely with the overwhelming support of men, leading Rep. Maloney 40-31 percent, with the third candidate, businessman and former congressional candidate Suraj Patel attracting 11 percent support. The New York congressional primary is scheduled for Aug. 23.