Incumbent Loss; Favorites & Upsets

By Jim Ellis

June 16, 2016 — Digging a little deeper for a more detailed look at Tuesday’s primary results:

District of Columbia

In what proved to be a meaningless District of Columbia primary, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton destroyed Sen. Bernie Sanders with a 79-21 percent win from almost 100,000 votes cast.

The contest concluded all primaries and caucuses and sends Clinton to the national convention in Philadelphia with more than enough pledged votes and Super Delegate support to claim an official first ballot victory in late July.


The big news came from the Virginia Tidewater where eight-term veteran Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Chesapeake) suffered a crushing 53-41 percent 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 is Virginia Beach first-term state Delegate Scott Taylor (R) who spent less than 20 percent of incumbent Forbes’ $2 million total. The court-ordered mid-decade redistricting plan forced Forbes out of his 4th District. The new CD-4 includes the cities of Petersburg and part of Richmond, which virtually assures the Democrats of victory. Thus, Rep. Forbes decided to move into the open Virginia Beach anchored 2nd District an area that he had never represented in his 15-year congressional career, but which seemed to be his best available chance of prolonging his career.

Scott Taylor declared for the seat immediately upon incumbent Rep. Scott Rigell’s (R-Virginia Beach) announcement that he would not seek a fourth term this year. Taylor did not back down when Rep. Forbes moved into the district. With a strong grassroots effort and local knowledge, Taylor was able to overcome Forbes’ semi-incumbent advantage and his experience as a top member of the House Armed Services Committee. With the dominant military presence in this region, the committee becomes one of the district’s economic drivers.

Since redistricting made the 4th District much more Democratic, as a result the 2nd gained more Republicans. With the Democrats filing only minor candidate Shaun Brown, Taylor is essentially assured of election in November.

In the 4th District, as expected, state Sen. Donald McEachin scored a 75 percent win in the Democratic primary. Henrico Sheriff Mike Wade won the Republican primary with 64 percent of the vote. Sen. McEachin opens the general election campaign as a heavy favorite to carry the November vote and convert the seat to the Democratic column.

In the only remaining contested primary, 6th District incumbent Bob Goodlatte (R-Roanoke), the House Judiciary Committee chairman, captured 77 percent of the Republican vote en route to an easy re-nomination victory. He will score a landslide general election win in November.


We now have two official open US Senate nominees, one of whom will replace retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D). Former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto scored an 81 percent victory in the Democratic primary, while Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) took 65 percent of the Republican primary vote in outdistancing former US Senate nominee Sharron Angle by 44 percentage points. The resulting general election will likely be considered a toss-up all the way to November, and has a great effect upon which party assumes the Senate majority in the next Congress.

In the contested House races, it appears that former congressional nominee Danny Tarkanian topped state Senate Majority Leader, and establishment favorite, Michael Roberson by eight points in the Republican primary. For the Democrats, establishment favorite Jacky Rosen despite being widely outspent, easily topped attorney Jesse Sbaih and four others. Rosen, a software developer and local businesswoman, garnered 63 percent of the vote. Though Republicans began as favorites for the general election here, considering Tarkanian’s poor previous general election performances it is likely a toss-up rating will immediately be assigned. The winner succeeds Rep. Heck.

In the neighboring 4th District, freshman Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) will face Democratic establishment candidate Ruben Kihuen, a state senator. Running with key party leader support, including an endorsement from Sen. Reid, Kihuen topped former state Assemblywoman Lucy Flores, state school board president Susie Lee, and five others. Kihuen 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.

North Dakota

The evening’s second major upset occurred in the North Dakota governor’s race. The state convention endorsed candidate and top statewide office holder, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, went down hard to wealthy businessman Doug Burgum in the Republican primary.

Normally, candidates don’t force primaries when the North Dakota Republican state convention delegates make an official endorsement, but in this case Burgum did, and the decision paid dividends. Burgum defeated the attorney general, 60-39 percent to capture the Republican nomination in landslide fashion. He is now the heavy favorite to defeat state Rep. Marvin Nelson, who was unopposed for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Gov. Jack Dalrymple (R) is retiring.

South Carolina

Virtually everyone was unopposed in the Palmetto State, but the closer of the two primaries occurred in the 1st District where Charleston representative and former governor, Mark Sanford, took only 56 percent of the vote against state Rep. Jenny Horne in the Republican primary. Rep. Sanford will have little trouble of disposing of Democrat Dmitri Cherny in November, but last night’s contest 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.

The evening’s only other primary featured a 78 percent victory for 5th District Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster/Rock Hill).

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