Recapping the Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 6, 2020 — Five states held their primary elections on Tuesday night and many were close, most of which are now complete. Additionally, electorates in several safe open House seats chose a party primary winner who will be the next representative. Therefore, we want to recap the final action along with a projection for the general election.


Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D); appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Senate: Appointed Sen. Martha McSally scored a 76 percent victory in the Republican primary against minimal opposition, while retired astronaut Mark Kelly was unopposed on the Democratic side. Arizona will host a major national Senate campaign in the fall, and Kelly has the early sustained polling lead.

Even with him facing no opposition on Tuesday, Democratic turnout rose nine percent when compared to 2018, but 55,617 more people voted in Tuesday’s GOP primary. This, after more Democrats had voted early according to pre-election ballot tabulations. Because of the large number of mail ballots present in this election, it is likely that the final count is incomplete.

AZ-1: Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) scored only a 59 percent Democratic primary win over former Flagstaff City councilwoman Eva Putzova on Tuesday, despite a better than 2:1 spending advantage. Attorney Tiffany Shedd won the Republican nomination. This district could become competitive, but Rep. O’Halleran is the clear favorite for re-election. The expansive eastern Arizona district leans Democratic as the party’s 3,000-plus vote edge in primary turnout suggests.

AZ-2: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) was easily re-nominated on Tuesday and is a heavy favorite in the general election. Defense contractor Brandon Martin won the Republican primary, but he faces a very uphill climb against Kirkpatrick in November. Despite more Republicans than Democrats voting statewide, Democrats outpaced Republican turnout in this district by a substantial 75,780 to 58,277.


Senate: Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) convincingly won the controversial Republican primary, and advances into a general election race with state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills), a physician and former Republican. This will be a competitive general election despite the strong Republican voter history because Bollier already has over $4 million cash-on-hand to begin the November campaign cycle. We will soon see new polling here. The last published poll pairing Marshall and Bollier came from the Civiqs research organization at the beginning of June: Marshall 42-41 percent.

KS-1: The western Kansas open seat is safely Republican. Former Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann easily won the Republican primary and he will be the new congressman, succeeding Rep. Marshall. Republican turnout exceeded Democratic participation by a whopping 117,557 to 25,582 in the unofficial final count.

KS-2: We extensively covered state Treasurer Jake LaTurner’s victory over Rep. Steve Watkins in the Republican primary on Tuesday and yesterday. LaTurner is now favored to hold the seat in November but faces Topeka Mayor Michelle De La Isla (D). She easily won Tuesday’s Democratic primary with 75 percent of the vote. This race will likely render close polling, but it is probable that we will see LaTurner pull away in the final stages to claim the seat. Republicans turned out in much greater numbers in the Tuesday primary, 94,262 (up 25 percent from 2018) to 51,219 (up 32 percent from 2018), according to the unofficial final count.

KS-3: The Kansas City-anchored seat features a budding challenge race to freshman Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Roeland Park), but the incumbent is the clear favorite to win re-election. Former Kansas Republican Party chair Amanda Adkins won a crowded Republican primary with 31 percent of the vote.

Rep. Davids begins the general with over $2.5 million in the bank. Adkins will basically have to begin fundraising from scratch because she had to expend her funds to win the party nomination. Unofficial Republican turnout featured 88,302 voters, which was a 13 percent increase over the 2018 primary. Davids was unopposed for the Democratic nomination; hence, no vote total was reported.


Senate: Both Sen. Gary Peters (D) and businessman and retired Army Ranger John James (R) were unopposed in their respective primaries. Currently, this race should be rated as Lean Democrat, but it will likely get closer as we move into campaign prime time. The race appeared to be a clear toss-up before the COVID-19 shutdown. Latest poll: Hodas & Associates (released Aug. 5; late July numbers, 600 likely Michigan voters: Peters 51-40 percent).

MI-3: Iraq/Afghanistan veteran and businessman Peter Meijer just missed the 50 percent mark in Tuesday’s primary, but easily outdistanced four other Republicans including state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids). He now faces Democrat Hillary Scholten in the general election. She was unopposed in Tuesday’s Democratic primary and drew 65,005 votes, which was up four percent from 2018. Republican turnout grew almost 29 percent from their last primary.

The 3rd should be a Republican seat but fell into Libertarian Party hands when retiring incumbent Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township) changed parties. Meijer, a member of the Meijer family, which owns over 250 grocery stores throughout the Midwest, is the clear favorite to return this seat that former President Gerald Ford once represented back to the Republican column.

MI-6: Democrats found themselves in a seesaw primary on Tuesday that has now been called. State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) scored a close 52-48 percent win over educator Jen Richardson even though he outspent her by a 10:1 ratio. Miss Richardson failed to report even raising $80,000. On the other hand, Rep. Fred Upton’s (R-St. Joseph) 63 percent win against an opponent who spent no money was unimpressive.

Republican turnout was much higher than that recorded for Democrats. For the GOP, 80,216 (up 24 percent from 2018) voters cast their primary ballots as compared to 64,571 (up 80 voters from 2018) on the Democratic side.

The southwest Michigan 6th District was drawn as a Republican seat, but the electorate is moving closer to the political center. With Upton winning a 50-46 percent re-election in 2018, we can anticipate another tight general election here this year.

MI-10: In a race that was as close as a two-vote separation at one point during the counting, financial executive Lisa McClain, who self-funded virtually her entire campaign, scored a 42-36-22 percent Republican nomination win over state Rep. Shane Hernandez (R-Port Huron) and retired Air Force general Doug Slocum. The 10th is open and safely Republican as Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) is retiring after serving only two terms. McClain will easily win the seat in November.


Governor: Both Gov. Mike Parson and State Auditor Nicole Galloway were easy winners in their respective Republican and Democratic gubernatorial primaries. Parson scored a 75 percent victory in his first run for the state’s top job after succeeding resigned Gov. Eric Greitans in 2018. Galloway, a second-term auditor, captured 84.6 percent in the Democratic primary.

Gov. Parson is favored in November, as the Missouri electorate has moved significantly right since the turn of the century. Primary turnout heavily favored Republicans. In the governor’s race, 680,310 people voted in the GOP primary as compared to 535,676 who cast a Democratic ballot. The latter party turnout was up substantially (64.6 percent), however, from 2016. Though the aggregate was stronger for the Republicans, their turnout figure dropped by almost 4,000 voters in comparison to 2016.

MO-1: Rep. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis), as reported yesterday, was unseated in the Democratic primary. This ends 52 consecutive years of congressional service by a member of the Clay family. Before Lacy Clay was elected in 2000, his father, Rep. Bill Clay (D-St. Louis), served in the House for 32 years.

Cori Bush, a local pastor who unsuccessfully challenged Clay in 2018, came with greater national support this time, mostly from the Justice Democrats PAC loosely associated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). This is a safely Democratic seat (Clinton ’16: 77-19 percent), so Bush will join the 117th Congress in January.


Governor: Washington features a jungle primary, so the top two finishers advance into the general election regardless of percentage attained or political affiliation. A total of 35 individuals were on the ballot seeking the governor’s office and incumbent Jay Inslee (D), running for a third term after his early exit in the presidential campaign, recorded receiving 51.4 percent of the vote with 58 percent of the ballots tabulated.

Because Washington is one of the states that allow ballots to be received after the election, the counting process will drag on for several days if not weeks. Also projected to qualify for the general election is Republic (WA) Town Police Chief Loren Culp (R). He becomes a severe underdog in the general election, and Gov. Inslee should cruise toward a third term.

WA-10: The only congressional primary of note occurred in the open 10th District that Rep. Denny Heck (D-Olympia) is vacating to run for lieutenant governor. (Heck placed first in the statewide jungle primary and will be on the general election ballot against another Democrat). At this point in the congressional district counting with 51 percent reporting, former Tacoma mayor Marilyn Strickland (D) has clinched the first general election ballot position, but with just 21.6 percent from a field of 19 candidates.

Currently in second position is state Rep. Beth Doglio (D-Olympia) with 14.6 percent, just over 2,000 votes ahead of former state representative, Kristine Reeves (D). While it is still unclear who will qualify for second place, it looks to be a foregone conclusion that we will see a competitive double-Democratic general election to conclude this open-seat campaign.

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