By Jim Ellis
June 2, 2020 — Super June is here. During the month, almost half of the country (24 entities) will hold nomination elections, 10 of which have moved their voting days to June from earlier dates. Here’s today’s lineup.
• DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Washington, DC voters will vote in a Democratic presidential primary that still features three individuals who are no longer contenders. Former vice president Joe Biden will defeat Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), but the question to watch surrounds the strength of his vote percentage. It is arguable that his last two performances in Oregon and Hawaii fell below what a virtually unopposed presumptive nominee typically receives.
DC voters will also nominate candidates for Delegate to the US House of Representatives and for members of the DC City Council.
• IDAHO: The Idaho primary began with in-person voting on May 19, but Gov. Brad Little (R) extended the absentee ballot return deadline to today, June 2. Therefore, no votes will be counted until the mail votes are received today. The presidential primary was held earlier as a stand-alone vote, so this election in the state’s regular primary.
Sen. Jim Risch seeks a third term and is unopposed for re-nomination in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, 2018 gubernatorial nominee Paulette Jordan, a former state representative, is favored. Reps. Russ Fulcher (R-Meridian) and Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) face only minor opposition in their respective primaries. Sen. Risch and both congressmen are all prohibitive favorites in November.
• INDIANA: Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) leads the state ticket this year and is unopposed in the primary, as is Democratic former health commissioner, Woody Myers. Gov. Holcomb appears safe for re-election in the Fall.
With no Senate race in the Hoosier State this year, the US House delegation features two open seats that will attract most of the attention on primary night.
Veteran Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Merrillville/Gary), first elected in 1984, is retiring after serving what will be 18 terms in the House. The Democrats will keep this seat (Clinton ‘16: 54-41 percent) so today’s election will almost assuredly choose the new representative. Of the 14 candidates, only two currently hold elective office, Mayor Tom McDermott of Hammond and state Rep. Mara Candelaria Reardon (D-Lake County), and both figure to be major contenders.
In the Indianapolis area’s 5th CD, Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring after four terms leaving a battle among 16 Republicans to compete for what should remain a GOP district (Trump ’16: 53-41 percent). Several candidates here are competitive, but the leader appears to be Ukrainian-born Indiana state Sen. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville). Now under attack from several other candidates, one of who emphasizes that she “was born in the USA,” Sen. Spartz is still expected to prevail with a plurality victory.
Democrats, who look to make a serious play for the seat in November, have generally settled upon former state representative and 2016 lieutenant governor nominee Christina Hale, though she does have primary opposition from four Democratic candidates tomorrow, including Andy Jacobs Jr., son of the late Indiana Congressman Andy Jacobs (D-Indianapolis) who served 30 years in the House.
The remaining seven Indiana House incumbents either are unopposed or have minimal opposition. All will be re-nominated, and each are already heavy favorites for re-election.
• IOWA: In many ways, the Iowa primary is today’s most important. Democrats are choosing a US Senate nominee to oppose first-term Republican Sen. Joni Ernst.
The party leaders consistently back real estate executive Theresa Greenfield, who launched a US House campaign in 2018 only to withdraw before filing when it was discovered that a large number of her petition signatures were either from ineligible voters or illegally obtained. She returns for the Senate race this year and is considered the favorite to win tomorrow. The primary, however, has been more difficult than expected and she finds herself under attack from her two main opponents, retired Navy admiral Mike Franken and self-funding businessman Eddie Mauro.
The bigger story comes in the state’s western congressional district, however. Here, we may see the second US House incumbent lose re-nomination – Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) failed in his Democratic primary back in March – in the person of embattled Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron). State Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux County) is running a strong campaign against Rep. King who was stripped of his committee assignments after making statements that even key Republicans say align him with white supremacists. Sen. Feenstra has caught King in polling and dominates the money race.
The other three seats also have competition. The 1st District will yield a general election between freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) and state representative and former television news anchor Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids), which will be one of the top Republican target races in the country.
The 2nd District is open because veteran Rep. David Loebsack (D-Iowa City) is retiring after serving seven terms. Here, the Democrats feature an unopposed candidate for an open seat. Rita Hart is a former state senator who was the party’s 2018 lieutenant governor nominee. Republicans are again looking toward now-state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa). This will be Miller-Meeks’ fourth run for the congressional seat.
In the 3rd District, we will see a highly competitive re-match between freshman Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) and former Rep. David Young (R). In 2018, Axne unseated then-Rep. Young, 48.7 – 46.7 percent.
• MARYLAND: The Free State has no US Senate or governor’s race in 2020, and all eight US House incumbents are seeking re-election. All are prohibitive favorites to win again in November, including the state’s lone Republican Congressman, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Cockeysville). Despite just winning his special election to fill the balance of the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-Baltimore) final term in office, Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Baltimore) now must win nomination for the full term today. He still has Democratic primary opposition including opposition from Cummings’ wife, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings.
There are 19 Democrats on the ballot but very few are making any effort to oppose Rep. Mfume. All filed in the special election and they also had to qualify for the regular primary and general election at the same time. Therefore, while legally they did not have to file in both races, it made no practical sense just to participate in the special election. Therefore, we see the crowded regular primary field. Rep. Mfume will be an easy winner tonight and in November.
• MONTANA: Three races of note are on the ballot for November, the Senate race between incumbent Republican Steve Daines and Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock, the open at-large House seat, and the open governor’s race. Both Sen. Daines and Gov. Bullock have minor primary opposition, but there is little doubt that both will advance into the general election. For November, the Montana Senate race is one of the Republican firewalls and becomes a national general election campaign.
The state’s lone House race and the governor’s campaign are open. The House contest is likely to feature State Auditor Matt Rosendale (R), who will be running for his fifth different office this decade, and former state representative Kathleen Williams (D), the 2018 nominee who held incumbent Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) to a 51-46 percent victory. This also promises to be a competitive campaign, though the Republicans do have the advantage in all races because President Trump will be running strong in the state.
Rep. Gianforte is risking his House seat to again run for governor. In 2016, he lost 50-46 percent to Gov. Bullock. In today’s Republican primary, Rep. Gianforte faces Attorney General Tim Fox and state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-Kalispell). For the Democrats, the battle is between Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney and former Clinton White House aide Whitney Williams. The governor’s race will also be competitive in the fall, though the Republicans again look to have an advantage.
• NEW MEXICO: Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe) looks to have an easy road to replace retiring Sen. Tom Udall (D). He is unopposed in today’s Democratic primary and the Republican primary is unlikely to produce a top-tier opponent.
Two of the state’s three congressional districts feature political competition. In Rep. Lujan’s 3rd District, which is the state’s northern district, it is presumed that we will learn the identity of the next representative because the Democratic primary winner becomes the prohibitive favorite in November. A strong field of seven Democratic candidates have been doing battle, which will culminate today.
Several of the top contenders are ex-Clinton White House Fellow Teresa Leger Fernandez, state Rep. Joseph Sanchez (D-Alcalde), and Valerie Plame, the former CIA agent who was outed in the Scooter Libby controversy. The result here is likely to be tight but with the winner punching his or her ticket to Washington.
The other key primary is in the state’s southern district on the Republican side. Here, a nasty primary between 2018 nominee Yvette Herrell, a former state representative, and Claire Chase, chair of the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association, are battling for the right to challenge freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) in a highly competitive general election. This 2nd District, with its long Republican history, is a must-win for the GOP if they are to have any chance of re-taking the House majority.
The progressive left outside organization Patriot Majority has involved itself in the Republican primary hoping to influence conservative voters to support Herrell. They are doing this because they believe she is the weaker candidate in the general election.
• PENNSYLVANIA: The Keystone State primary was postponed from April 28, and it looks like the results will be delayed again. Yesterday, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) announced that he will issue an executive order to allow ballots postmarked today to be counted if they arrive in the county clerks’ offices in at least seven days. Therefore, it is possible knowing the final outcome of close races could take even more time.
There is no Senate or governor’s race this year, so the 18 House districts will take center stage in the primary. We can expect competitive primaries throughout the state, with most of the action for Democrats coming in the battles to challenge Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) and Scott Perry (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg), while the Republicans are looking to field strong nominees against Reps. Susan Wild (D-Allentown), Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton), and Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh).
Just three of the congressional incumbents face primary opposition, but none are in danger of losing re-nomination. Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) seems to have drawn the strongest opponent in law professor Jerry Dickinson, but the congressman is not seriously threatened.
• RHODE ISLAND: The Ocean State has scheduled its state primary for Sept. 15, so today’s vote is a stand-alone in the presidential race. As in the other seven states that will have the national campaign at the top of its ballot today, it will be of interest to see how strongly former vice president Joe Biden performs. Without active competition, Biden should record percentages of 75 and over in these states, but his last two performances in Oregon and Hawaii found him winning with lesser percentages. Should this pattern continue tonight, Biden’s strength within his own party could well be questioned.
• SOUTH DAKOTA: Sen. Mike Rounds is on the ballot to seek a second term and looks to have an easy ride in both today’s Republican primary and in the general election. Freshman at-large Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell) has drawn only one Republican primary opponent and no one in the general election. Therefore, when he defeats former state Rep. Liz Marty May tonight, he will have won a second term.