Hillary Takes Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands; A North Carolina Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 7, 2016 — Hillary Clinton won the Puerto Rico primary Sunday, capturing just under 60 percent of the vote. She unofficially defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders in pledged delegates, 36-24, and captured an additional five Super Delegates. Two Puerto Rico convention voters remain uncommitted.

The former secretary of state also won the US Virgin Island caucus on Saturday, and comes away with at least six of the seven pledged delegates who were at stake. Sen. Sanders scored one convention vote. Two Super Delegates indicated support for Clinton, with the remaining three classified as uncommitted.

Combined, she gained 42 pledged delegates and likely another seven Super Delegates for an aggregate weekend total of 49 votes. She is now and additional 49 delegate votes away from clinching the nomination, which she will do early tonight.

The pledged delegate vote is another matter, however. In order to secure the nomination with only pledged delegates, she would unofficially need another 572 legally bound votes to completely shutout Sanders. With only 714 pledged delegates remaining, Clinton will likely need her Super Delegate support to finally win the Democratic nomination.

June 7 – North Carolina

Though the North Carolina primary was held on March 15, the court-ordered redistricting dictate led to postponing the congressional primary. Today, Tar Heel State voters will go to the polls for stand-alone US House contests. Normally, a run-off would occur should for any first-place finisher who fails to reach the 40 percent plateau, but the delayed schedule requires only a plurality irrespective of percentage attained.

Eight of the 12 districts where incumbents are seeking re-election will see competition, with three being hotly contested.

District 2: This is the race most people are closely watching. It features two members of the delegation, Representatives Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) and George Holding (R-Raleigh), vying for the new 2nd District. Physician Greg Brannon, who drew 25 percent in the March 15 statewide Republican primary against Sen. Richard Burr returned to enter the 2nd District race when the primary was postponed to June 7th.

Early polling suggested that Holding was the clear leader, but the entrance of Tea Party activist Brannon in the race has apparently drawn some of the more conservative voters his way and away from the congressman. Holding is going to outspend Ellmers by about $500,000, and most still believe he will prevail. Rep. Ellmers has hurt herself with the Republican base, and probably doesn’t have enough support to overcome Holding, even if Brannon proves to be somewhat of a spoiler.

District 3: Former George W. Bush Administration official Taylor Griffin returns for another primary challenge to Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville). In 2014, Griffin held the now 11-term congressman to a 51-45 percent nomination victory. Jones is likely to do better today. The redistricting plan adds about 20 percent new territory to the seat, which will likely favor the incumbent. Griffin will spend only in the $400,000 range, which is probably not enough to dislodge the long-time congressman. Computer technician Phil Law is the third candidate in the primary race.

District 8: Congressman Richard Hudson (R-Concord) inherits a district that is 60 percent different than the 8th District he represented during his first two terms. He faces businessman and frequent candidate Tim D’Annunzio. Rep. Hudson is in strong position, spending over $1.5 million. D’Annunzio has not dropped the type of cash necessary to be a relevant challenger.

District 9: Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) also has 60 percent new territory and now travels southeast from Charlotte instead of due north. A pair of Republicans is challenging the two-term incumbent, ex-Union County Commissioner Todd Johnson and former pastor and US Senate candidate Mark Harris. Despite Pittenger’s business being under FBI investigation, the congressman appears poised to turn back both challengers.

District 12: The new 12th District draw is a radical departure from the pre-redistricting seat. Rep. Alma Adams (D-Greensboro) loses her entire political base, as the new 12th becomes solely a Charlotte/Mecklenburg County seat. The congresswoman has five Democratic opponents including two sitting state representatives and a former state senator. None of the opposition candidates have raised much money, and it is quite possible that Rep. Adams will survive with only a small plurality of the vote. Not having a run-off in this election could well be what saves Rep. Adams as she could be highly vulnerable in a one-on-one race with a true Charlotte candidate. For the general election, the new 12th is solidly Democratic, but not as secure as her previous district. The final outcome here will be an interesting one.

District 13: The new open 13th District, beginning in Guilford County and Greensboro, which contains all or parts of five counties, is likely a Republican seat. No less than 17 Republicans are running, including four sitting state legislators, and four current or former local officials. With no run-off, today’s victor, who could possibly win with less than 20 percent of the vote, is anyone’s guess. Democrats also have a primary, and five candidates including a former Guilford County Commissioner are seeking the party nomination. Tomorrow’s vote will likely be surprising no matter what happens.

Representatives Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5), Mark Walker (R-NC-6), and Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10) each have minor primary challenges, but these nomination campaigns are virtually non-competitive. All three incumbents will easily be re-nominated.

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