By Jim Ellis
June 15, 2016 — A review of yesterday’s slate of primaries:
District of Columbia
Yesterday marked the final presidential primary as Democrats trudge to the polls in the District of Columbia. Forty-six Democratic delegates are at stake, 26 of whom are Super Delegates.
But the DC count wouldn’t and didn’t change anything. If Sen. Bernie Sanders had captured the entire slate, it wouldn’t change the final result. That didn’t come close to happening, however, as presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton destroyed Sanders with a 79-21 percent win from almost 100,000 votes cast. Clinton won with the balance of Super Delegates providing her the margin to exceed the 2,383 votes required to secure the party nomination.
The Old Dominion’s unusual nomination system where the party leadership in each district can decide to hold a primary or convention culminated with voting in three CDs yesterday.
The most interesting was in the open Virginia Beach 2nd District where Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4) attempted to win re-nomination from a new CD. The court-ordered mid-decade redistricting turned Rep. Forbes’ previous domain into what should now become a decidedly Democratic seat. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virginia Beach) deciding to retire after three terms gave Forbes the opportunity to jump into an available political situation.
Forbes suffered a crushing 53-41% defeat in his new Virginia Beach district, becoming the cycle’s second special redistricting casualty following Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2) loss last week. The winner was Virginia Beach first-term state Delegate Scott Taylor (R) who spent less than 20 percent of Forbes’ $2 million total, having raised only $173,000 through the pre-primary disclosure period. By contrast, the congressman had banked almost $1.3 million. His campaign resource advantage plus service on the regionally important House Armed Services Committee gave him what appeared to be strong advantages over Taylor and attorney Pat Cardwell, the third Republican candidate, but to no avail.
Both parties see primaries in the open district that Rep. Forbes vacated, the southern Virginia 4th CD. Now stretching through Petersburg and into Richmond from Chesapeake and Suffolk, the Democratic primary will be key to determining the next congressman. State Sen. Donald McEachin and Chesapeake City Councilwoman Ella Ward fight for the party nomination, in a battle that should yield a victory for the former.
Henrico County Sheriff Mike Wade was heavily favored to capture the Republican nomination last night, which he did with 64 percent of the vote; but he will become a heavy underdog once the general election campaign officially commences.
The only other primary was a minor Tea Party challenge to House Judiciary Committee chairman Bob Goodlatte (R) in the Roanoke Valley’s 6th District. However, Goodlatte won, capturing 77 percent of the vote.
Silver State voters chose nominees for both the US Senate and House of Representatives and was the day’s most active state.
Little suspense existed in the Senate race, as Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) easily secured their respective party nominations. Both faced only minor or nuisance candidates. This is particularly true for Rep. Heck, as former Senate nominee Sharron Angle (R) returns as a late entry into the campaign. Angle lost to Sen. Harry Reid (D) six years ago in a race that appeared winnable at the onset.
A Heck-Masto general election will be one of the most important and hard-fought campaigns in the country, and goes a long way toward deciding which party will control the Senate in the new Congress.
Only minor candidates opposed both incumbent representatives Dina Titus (D-NV-1) and Mark Amodei (R-NV-2). The competitive contests reside in Districts 3 and 4.
In the open Clark County 3rd District that stretches from southern Las Vegas to the Arizona and California borders, seven Republicans are vying to succeed Rep. Heck as the GOP nominee. But, the race really comes down to two candidates, state Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson and former 4th District congressional nominee Danny Tarkanian, the son of the late Hall of Fame college basketball coach Jerry Tarkanian. It appears that Tarkanian topped Roberson by 10 points in the Republican primary.
Roberson began the campaign as the favorite, but did not campaign like one. Tarkanian came out swinging and released an early internal poll showing him with the lead. Roberson countered in the closing days, and yesterday’s result showed us that his campaign retaliated with too little, too late. Democrats, who were disappointed with their recruiting efforts here, settled upon either software developer and businesswoman Jacky Rosen, who won 64 percent of the vote among a total of six candidates, including attorney Jesse Sbaih, despite being widely outspent. Sbaih had substantially outraised Rosen, even though the latter is the Democratic establishment’s choice.
The political nature of the marginal 3rd District means this will be one of the hottest House campaigns in the country come November regardless of who is nominated tonight.
Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite), one of the major surprise winners in 2014, will face a stiff Democratic challenge in the fall. With eight Democratic candidates in the race, understanding that the political trends here will favor their party in the general election, state Sen. Ruben Kihuen will secured the nomination. The party establishment, led by outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, backed Kihuen, who finished well under a majority, but came in 16 points ahead of his closest competitor. The district’s Democratic nature portends a difficult Republican hold for freshman Rep. Hardy and both the 3rd and 4th districts are top Dem conversion opportunities.
Last night’s Democratic contest was interesting and signaled the beginning of a highly competitive November campaign.
The big race last night was in the Republican gubernatorial primary. Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and wealthy businessman Doug Burgum battled for the right to succeed retiring Gov. Jack Dalrymple as the GOP nominee.
Stenehjem placed first in the party convention, and was the officially endorsed candidate, but Burgum decided to force a primary vote anyway. It paid off. Burgum defeated Stenehjem, 60-39 percent to capture the Republican nomination in landslide fashion. Burgum will face state Rep. Marvin Nelson, who is unopposed on the Democratic side.
Sen. John Hoeven (R) and at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) were both unopposed for re-nomination and face only minor general election opponents.
Sen. Tim Scott (R) was again on the ballot, this time running for a full six-year term. Scott was originally appointed to his seat after then-Sen. Jim DeMint (R) resigned in late 2012. He then stood for election in 2014 in order to serve the balance of the current term. Sen. Scott was unopposed yesterday and faces only insignificant opposition this fall.
Only two congressional delegation members faced primary opposition. State Rep. Jenny Horne (R) challenged Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) in the 1st District. Horne had only raised $115,000 through the pre-primary disclosure deadline (May 25), so it did not appear that her congressional effort was particularly serious. However, Sanford won with only 56 percent of the vote. That kind of finish underscores that Sanford still bears the scars of his highly publicized extra-marital affair and divorce that sent him leaving the governor’s office in disgrace.
In the northern 5th District, three-term Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster/Rock Hill) faced competition only from international ministry employee Ray Craig who was not a particularly serious candidate. Mulvaney captured 78 percent of the vote.
No serious primary occured in the Pine Tree State as neither congressional incumbent, Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) or Bruce Poliquin (R-ME-2), drew any opposition. Minor Republican candidates battled in the 1st District to see who will challenge Rep. Pingree in the fall.
Former state Sen. Emily Cain (D), who lost to Poliquin when the seat was open in 2014, returns for a general election re-match. She, too, had no intra-party opposition.