By Jim Ellis
March 4, 2020 — Former vice president Joe Biden, with a strong close from his South Carolina victory on Saturday, captured the lion’s share of the delegates on Super Tuesday and has re-established himself as the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Biden placed first last night in 10 states, and surprisingly topped the field in Massachusetts and Maine, right in the backyard of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). He also placed first in Minnesota where home-state Sen. Amy Klobuchar had been leading. Her endorsement of Biden clearly helped propel him to the top position. In 2016 against Hillary Clinton in Minnesota, Sanders notched a 61 percent win. Last night his popular vote percentage was only 29.9 percent.
Though the former vice president carried the day in 10 states, one still must receive a majority of the delegate votes to win the presidential nomination. He exceeded the 50 percent mark in only two of the states, Alabama and Virginia.
Sen. Sanders, disappointingly for him, placed first in only four states, his home base of Vermont, and California, Colorado, and Utah. Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg did very poorly after spending reportedly as much as $700 million from his own fortune. He placed first in America Samoa and qualified for delegates in just eight of the 15 Super Tuesday voting entities. This morning, Bloomberg announced his withdrawal from the race and endorsed Biden.
The Green Papers organization ran full delegate extrapolation tables based upon the preliminary results in both the at-large and congressional district votes. Delegates are earned by exceeding 15 percent in both categories from each state. Totaling all 19 entities that have now voted, Biden would lead the national delegate count with an unofficial 667 bound delegate votes as compared to Sen. Sanders’ 581.
Bloomberg earned only an unofficial 141 delegate total and Sen. Warren just 76. The remaining 34 delegates were split among three others including Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) who won a vote yesterday in American Samoa. These numbers will adjust as official vote totals are reported. California, where potentially more than 2 million votes remain to be counted, will substantially alter the totals once the state’s laborious counting process ends in the next several weeks.
Clearly, Biden is the big winner on Super Tuesday, and the night proved very disappointing for Sen. Sanders. Where the race goes now remains to be seen, but Biden winning on the first ballot in Milwaukee at the Democratic National Convention now seems to be the most likely unfolding scenario.
Five states held their full primaries last night and nominees were chosen in many places while run-offs will occur in a number of other situations. Here’s a state-by-state breakdown:
A run-off was expected in the US Senate Republican race, and that’s exactly what we will see on March 31. Former US attorney general and Alabama senator Jeff Sessions qualified for the run-off but finished slightly behind retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville who led the field. Tuberville scored an unofficial 32.2 percent of the vote versus Sessions’ 31.1 percent. US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) was a close third with 26.8 percent but is eliminated from further competition.
In the open 1st Congressional District, the safely Republican seat that Rep. Byrne risked to run for the Senate, a run-off will occur here, too. Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl (38.7 percent) and former state Sen. Bill Hightower (37.5 percent) will advance. Third-place finisher Chris Pringle, a Mobile state representative, is eliminated with 19.2 percent.
The 2nd CD is open because Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is retiring. This district, too, is safely Republican. Businessman Jeff Coleman (38.3 percent) and it appears former state Rep. Barry Moore will advance. His second-place finish is not yet official, however, as he and Jessica Taylor remain locked in a tight finish. Moore recorded an unofficial 20.6 percent versus Taylor’s 19.8 percent, a difference of 755 votes. It is probable, but not certain, that Moore will face Coleman on March 31.
With Democrats filing no US Senate candidate, Sen. Tom Cotton, who ran unopposed in the GOP primary last night, is virtually re-elected. Both Republicans and Democrats ran unopposed in each of the state’s four congressional districts. The only general election congressional race where some potential competition exists is in the 2nd District as Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) and state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) will do battle.
The Golden State held its qualifying election for all 53 of its congressional districts, and we have general election matchups in almost every CD.
The vacant 25th District will advance to a May 12 special election run-off between state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall/Simi Valley) and Republican defense contractor Mike Garcia. The latter edged former US representative Steve Knight (R) who was attempting a political comeback after losing to Democrat Katie Hill in 2018. Hill would resign the seat due to a sexual scandal. The two will also face each other in the general election regardless of how the special unfolds.
Because the mail votes are still coming in and thousands of early votes won’t be counted for days, the actual official vote totals won’t be known for a long time. Though it looked as if Republicans over-performed in many districts, those totals will substantially change when the early votes are recorded. Potentially half the votes in each of the districts remain to be counted.
In any event, all incumbents seeking another term will advance to the general election. In the open 8th District (Rep. Paul Cook-R running for San Bernardino County Supervisor), state Assemblyman Jay Obernolte (R-Hisperia) and engineer Christine Bubser (D) look to advance. Former assemblyman Tim Donnelly (R) is in third position and could potentially qualify once all of the votes are finally counted.
In the open 50th District (Rep. Duncan Hunter-R resigned), Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, the 2018 second-place finisher, will advance to the general election and likely faces former US Rep. Darrell Issa (R). The latter man enjoys a three-percentage point advantage over former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R) as of this writing, but the early voting results could potentially still change this outcome. Odds favor a Campa-Najjar and Issa general election, however.
The open 53rd (Rep. Susan Davis-D retiring) will likely feature a double-Democratic general election between first-place finisher Sara Jacobs, a former State Department official who ran in the 49th District two years ago, and San Diego City Council President Georgette Gomez. Again, however, because of the massive number of early votes to count, this result is also unofficial, but likely.
A full California report will be prepared once more races are called.
As expected, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) will face former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D) in the coming general election. Cunningham easily defeated state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston), 57-35 percent, to secure the party nomination. This will be one of the premier national Senate races in November.
The two open seats that the court-ordered redistricting ruling created, Districts 2 (Raleigh) and 6 (Greensboro), went to former federal candidates, both of whom will now be elected in November. Former state Rep. Deborah Ross, who was the 2016 Democratic US Senate nominee against incumbent Richard Burr (R), easily won the 2nd District party nomination with 70 percent of the vote. In the 6th, University of North Carolina at Greensboro trustee Kathy Manning, who challenged Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in the former 13th District during the last election, easily won her primary (48.4 percent) and will become the prohibitive favorite for the November election.
In the open 11th District, retiring Rep. Mark Meadows’ (R-Skyland/Buncombe County) endorsed candidate, real estate executive and former Haywood County Republican Party chair Lynda Bennett, placed first with 22.7 percent among the dozen GOP candidates. However, in failing to reach 30 percent, she will advance to a May 12 run-off versus wheel chair bound real estate investor Madison Cawthorn. The latter man edged early favorite Jim Davis, the Asheville area state senator, by just over 1,000 votes to claim the second qualifying position. The May 12 winner will succeed Rep. Meadows in the safely Republican western North Carolina congressional district.
A very active primary ballot yielded many run-offs and several outright wins last night.
However, it is still unclear who advances to the US Senate secondary election. Retired Army helicopter pilot and former congressional candidate M.J. Hegar finished first in the Democratic primary with 23 percent, but remaining votes will decide whether state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), who has 13.8 percent at the moment, or non-profit executive Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez (13.3 percent) will join her in the May 26 run-off vote. The secondary vote winner will then challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R) who was easily re-nominated.
In the congressional races, veteran Rep. Kay Granger (R-Ft. Worth) scored a hard-fought 58-42 percent win over former Colleyville City councilman Chris Putnam in the GOP primary. Granger will easily win a 13th term in November.
Looking at South Texas, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) remains locked in an uncalled contest. He leads attorney Jessica Cisneros (D), 51.6 – 48.4 percent with thousands of votes outstanding.
In the 5th CD, freshman Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) was easily re-nominated with 85 percent of the vote.
Going to Houston, 7th District mortgage executive and Iraq War veteran Wesley Hunt scored a 61 percent victory in the Republican primary over three other candidates to advance into the general election against freshman Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (D-Houston) in what will be a competitive election.
Turning to the open Midland-anchored 11th District (Rep. Mike Conaway-R retiring), retired Air Force officer and former National Security Council official Austin Pfluger impressively topped a huge Republican primary field to win outright the party nomination with 52.1 percent of the vote. He will win the safely Republican seat in November.
In the open west Texas Panhandle 13th District, former congressional aide Josh Winegarner (38.9 percent) and retired Navy Admiral and ex-White House physician Ronny Jackson (19.8 percent) topped another multi-candidate field to advance to the Republican run-off. The winner will replace retiring Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Clarendon/Amarillo) in this safest of Republican districts.
Former congressman Pete Sessions (R) will advance to a run-off in a new district, the Waco-anchored 17th CD. He will face either medical company executive Renee Swann (19.0 percent) or businessman George Hindman (18.1 percent) in the May 26 secondary election once the final totals become known. Outgoing Rep. Bill Flores (R-Bryan/College Station) endorsed Swann.
Back to the Houston area, 22nd District (Rep. Pete Olson-R retiring) candidate Pierce Bush, the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush, failed to reach the Republican run-off. Instead, Ft. Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls (40.5 percent) and businesswoman and local Republican Party official Kathaleen Wall (19.4%) will advance to May 26th. The winner of that contest faces 2018 Democratic nominee Sri Preston Kulkarni, who won last night’s party nomination outright.
In the Dallas area 24th District, former Irving Mayor Beth Van Duyne looks to have scored an outright Republican primary victory in hopes of succeeding retiring Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell). Democrats will advance to an apparent run-off between former state Agriculture Commissioner nominee and retired Air Force officer Kim Olson (43.2 percent) and local school board member Candace Valenzuela (30.1 percent). This, also, will be a competitive general election.
As in California, a full report of the Texas races will be composed when the numbers become finalized.