Tag Archives: Alaska

Primaries: Alaska Preview, Hawaii Wrapup; Oklahoma Special Election

By Jim Ellis — August 16, 2022

Primaries

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska — The long-awaited Alaska primary and special House election will be decided today, and the state’s unique top-four qualifying primary system will be put to its second test.

In the US Senate race, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is running for a fourth full term after being appointed to the seat in 2002 when her father, former Sen. Frank Murkowski (R), was elected governor.

The new top-four system virtually guarantees that the senator will advance into the general election, thus negating the potential of her again losing a partisan Republican primary as she did in 2010. In that year, she was able to win the general election after launching a write-in bid as an Independent.

This time, she faces another Republican challenger, one with former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Kelly Tshibaka, the former Alaska Director of Administration and Trump-supported candidate, is also well positioned to advance into the general election and may well have been a serious threat to the Senator in a traditional Republican primary.

A total of 19 candidates are on the Senate ballot: eight Republicans, three Democrats, and eight minor party and independent candidates. Of the three Democrats, two — ex-Seward Mayor Edgar Blatchford and former state Senate nominee Pat Chesbro — have previously won campaigns. It is probable that one of these two will also qualify for the general election simply because one will likely attract enough Democratic votes to place either third or fourth.

As is usually the case, polling is sparse in Alaska and we see no late breaking data. This is likely due to the large number of candidates and that a total of four will advance, thus making the primary vote less significant. In the field of four general election candidates, the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system will be used. Voters will assign a priority of 1-4 for the listed candidates. Should no one reach 50 percent, the last-place finisher is eliminated and the process continues until one candidate reaches majority support.

The RCV system is in effect today and will produce a winner among the three finalists in the US House special election campaign to succeed the late at-large Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon).

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

There are three finalists in this race because the original third place finisher, Independent Al Gross, the 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee, dropped out of the race after qualifying. This left 2008 vice presidential nominee and ex-Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, Republican Party of Alaska officially endorsed contender Nick Begich III, whose grandfather, the late Nick Begich, Sr. (D), was the congressman prior to Rep. Young, and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D).

It is likely that Peltola will finish first, consolidating the Democratic vote, but falling well short of majority support. Thus, the RCV system would then swing into action. The key position will be second, and all indications suggest that Palin and Begich are in a tight battle to avoid elimination. It is then probable that the surviving Republican will defeat Peltola in the second round.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy is also on the ballot running for a second term. It is expected that Dunleavy, former Gov. Bill Walker (I), and ex-state Rep. Les Gara (D) will secure three of the four available general election ballot positions.

It will be an interesting night in Alaska, but results won’t likely be clear until well into Wednesday considering the significant time change and the counting delays often seen in the Last Frontier when tabulating votes from the remote rural areas.

Hawaii — Hawaii held its statewide primary Saturday, and the results produced no surprises.  In the defining Democratic primary, Lt. Gov. Josh Green, a physician, easily defeated former Aloha State first lady Vicky Cayetano and US Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) in a landslide 64-21-14 percent, respectively.  Green now becomes the prohibitive favorite to defeat Republican nominee, former Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona, who scored a majority victory in the GOP primary.

In the open 2nd House District race, former state Sen. Jill Tokuda recorded a 59-25 percent victory over state Rep. Patrick Branco (D-Kailua) and four others.  She now becomes a lock to replace Rep. Kahele who risked his safe House seat for his long shot, and now proven unsuccessful, run for governor.  The Republican primary winner, with 83 percent of the vote, is 2020 GOP congressional nominee Joe Akana.  Two years ago, he lost to Kahele 58-28 percent in the general election, and is likely headed to a similar fate later this year.

Sen. Brian Schatz was an overwhelming winner in his Democratic primary, notching 94 percent of his party’s vote.  He will face state Rep. Bob McDermott (R-Ewa), who won the Republican primary with a 41 percent plurality over four opponents.

Rep. Ed Case (D-Kaneohe) also easily won renomination in his 1st District Democratic primary, with an 84-16 percent landslide over progressive left challenger Sergio Alcubilla.

Democratic turnout overwhelmed that of Republicans.  With ancillary counting remaining, a total of 218,523 individuals voted in the Democratic primary versus just 59,006 who chose the Republican contests.

Senate

Oklahoma Special: Conflicting Polls, Same Leader — The Oklahoma Republican runoff election to advance into the November special election to replace resigning Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) will be decided on Aug. 23. We now see two recently released surveys, both projecting US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville) leading former state House Speaker T.W. Shannon but by varying degrees.

The most recent, from Battleground Connect (July 31-Aug. 1; 800 likely Oklahoma Republican special runoff voters; live interview) sees Rep. Mullin leading Shannon, 46-38 percent. Both men are viewed favorably. Rep. Mullin sports a 62:23 percent favorable ratio, while Shannon scores 48:15 percent, though fewer respondents know him well enough to form an opinion.

The Sooner Poll conducted for News Channel 9 in Oklahoma City. The sampling period was longer and the sample size smaller than Battleground Connect’s (July 25-Aug. 1; 383 likely Oklahoma Republican special runoff voters; live interview) and it produced an overwhelming advantage for Rep. Mullin, 63-35 percent. The Republican runoff winner will be favored to defeat former US Rep. Kendra Horn, who is the official Democratic Party nominee, in the November special general election.

Not So Close in Maryland; Sen. Murray Pulling Away in Washington; de Blasio Out in New York

By Jim Ellis — July 21, 2022

Primary Results

Maryland: Not So Close — Though polling was suggesting that several close races would be present on the Maryland primary ballot, it appears none materialized Tuesday night. Approximately 40 percent of the Democratic ballots and 20 percent of the GOP’s tallies still remain to be counted, and it will be several days until we see final totals, but the margins from the various races are such that they are unlikely to reverse any finishing order.

It appears that author and anti-poverty activist Wes Moore will win the Democratic gubernatorial primary. At this writing, he has almost a full 10-percentage point lead over his closest rival, former labor secretary and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, with state Comptroller Peter Franchot now a distant third.

Claiming the Democratic nomination makes him a prohibitive general election favorite against Donald Trump-backed state Delegate Dan Cox (R-Frederick) who clinched the Republican primary over former state Commerce Department Secretary Kelly Schulz. Assuming a November win, Moore will become Maryland’s 63rd governor and first African American to hold the post. He would replace term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is ineligible to run again because of the state’s term-limited law.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen was a landslide Democratic primary winner as expected. He will face Republican activist and home-building contractor Chris Chaffee in what should be an easy re-election run for the incumbent.

US Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Bowie) also was easily nominated as the Democratic candidate for attorney general in another race polling projected as trending close. Rep. Brown has so far claimed approximately 60 percent of the vote against retired district judge Katie Curran O’Malley (D), wife of former governor and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley.

Tuesday night’s competitive US House races saw the open 4th District going to ex-Prince Georges State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, who surprisingly easily defeated former US Rep. Donna Edwards (D). The ex-House member, who served nine years after winning a special election in 2008, was attempting a political comeback after losing the 2016 US Senate Democratic primary to Van Hollen.

In the 6th District, State Delegate and 2020 Republican nominee Neil Parrott easily defeated journalist Matthew Foldi who attracted support from Gov. Hogan and other key GOP leaders. Parrott will again challenge Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac), but now in a district that is more favorable to a Republican candidate.

Senate

Washington: Sen. Murray Pulling Away — For the second time in a matter of days, a poll finds Sen. Patty Murray (D) re-establishing a strong lead in her 2022 re-election effort after earlier surveys were projecting a tight race. Elway Research (July 7-11; 400 registered Washington voters; live interview & text) projects Sen. Murray to be holding a 51-33 percent lead over veterans advocate and former nurse Tiffany Smiley (R). The result is almost identical to the Survey USA poll that was conducted during the same period. The S-USA data found a 53-33 percent Murray advantage. The confirming Elway result suggests the two pollsters are detecting a positive response to the recent Murray ad blitz.

House

NY-10: de Blasio Out — After two released polls from progressive left survey research firms found him stuck in low single digits for his US House run, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has ended his congressional effort. In a video message thanking people for their help and support, de Blasio indicated that since it is clear the people of the new 10th District prefer a different direction, it is time that he found a different way to serve. Therefore, de Blasio says he will exit elective politics.

Though the former city chief executive won two terms as New York’s mayor, he met a similar fate in short-lived bids for president and governor. With 100 percent name identification according to both Data for Progress and Justice Research, de Blasio managed a preference factor of only five and three percent in the two polls.

Redistricting

Ohio: State Supreme Court Strikes Again — Continuing the fight between the Ohio Supreme Court and the Buckeye State legislature, the high court again struck down the enacted congressional map as a partisan gerrymander, once more on a 4-3 ruling, and mandated that the plan be re-drawn for the 2024 election. It is likely that the US Supreme Court will issue a ruling on partisan gerrymandering at some point next year, which may make the Ohio decision moot. This ruling does not affect the 2022 election cycle, which will be run under the plan that the court just struck down.

States

Missouri: No Top Four — The grassroots organization attempting to convert the Missouri primary system into a Top-Four jungle primary format a la Alaska, has failed to qualify for the November initiative ballot. Though the group recruited more than 300,000 signatures, they failed to reach the mandated number of verified petition signatures in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. The organizers vowed to mount a similar effort for the 2024 election.

The Top-Four system, used only in Alaska and for the first time in the 2022 election cycle, features a jungle primary that includes all candidates on the same ballot. The top four candidates then advance to the general election regardless of party preference and vote percentage attained. Once the four general election finalists are determined, the system converts to Ranked Choice Voting System, where voters prioritize their candidate choices from 1-4. Contenders are eliminated once one reaches the 50 percent mark.

Alaska Candidates Settle to Three; Conflicting Polls in IL-15; Economy Polls as Highest Concern in MN

By Jim Ellis — June 24, 2022

House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, now running for US House Representative

AK-AL: Now Top Three — Officials from the Alaska Division of Elections, grappling with the new top-four qualifying system, have changed their initial ruling after finalist Al Gross (I/D), announced earlier this week that he was ending his campaign. Division officials initially were leaning toward placing the fifth-place finisher, Republican Tara Sweeney, into the group of four finalists, but they have since reversed themselves.

The final ruling does not add a replacement for Dr. Gross, meaning that only former Gov. Sarah Palin, businessman Nick Begich III (R), and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D) will advance into the special general election scheduled for Aug. 16. Sweeney followed up with an announcement that she will not challenge the Elections Division’s ruling.

IL-15: Conflicting Polls — The next in a series of paired incumbent elections is scheduled in Illinois when two sets of paired incumbents will square off in the June 28 primary election. In the downstate Republican primary, Reps. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) and Mary Miller (R-Oakland) are battling for the new gerrymandered 15th District, one of only three Land of Lincoln seats that will likely send a Republican to the House. This week, we see two polls released with conflicting conclusions.

The Victory Geek firm, polling for the Illinoize political blog (June 15-19; 515 IL-15 respondents; interactive voice response system), finds Rep. Davis leading Rep. Miller, 38-35 percent. When forcing the undecideds to make a choice, the full universe breaks for Davis, 51-49 percent. The bad news for him is when voters are informed that former President Trump has endorsed Miller, the preference factor switches to 47-39 percent in Miller’s favor.

The Miller campaign also released their internal Cygnal firm survey conducted during the same time period (June 18-19; 420 likely IL-15 Republican primary voters; peer-to-peer text) that gave the congresswoman a 45-40 percent edge over Davis. The other paired incumbent election features a Chicago suburban Democratic pairing between Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange).

MN-1 Special: Virtual Tie — An Expedition Strategies survey of the MN-1 special election (June 6-9; 400 likely MN-1 special election voters; live interview) scheduled for Aug. 9 finds the two party nominees, former Republican state Rep. Brad Finstad and ex-Hormel corporation CEO Jeff Ettinger (D) falling into a virtual tie. The ballot test gives Finstad a 48-47 percent edge in a district that is no stranger to close elections. The winning percentage in the past three congressional elections was 48.6 percent, 50.1 percent, and 50.3 percent in 2020, 2018, and 2016. The seat is in special election because incumbent Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) passed away in February.

In terms of what the survey respondents perceive as the most important issue, the “economy and cost of living” registered 27 percent, “guns” was second with a 12 percent mention, and “election integrity” was third with 10 percent. Interestingly, the healthcare issue, which now includes COVID, registered as the most important issue from only six percent of the respondents. Ettinger scored a 53-40 percent advantage on preferring a candidate with experience running a business as compared to Finstad’s career in government and rural policy making.

NY-19 Special: Republican Molinaro Launched to Big Led — A Triton Polling & Research survey conducted for the Freedom Council USA (June 16-20; 505 current NY-19 registered voters; interactive voice response system) finds Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro (R) leading Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan (D) by a large 52-38 percent clip in the special election race to replace resigned US Rep. Antonio Delgado (D). The congressman left the House to accept his appointment as lieutenant governor.

A Molinaro victory would mean another special election GOP conversion of a Democratic seat as we saw in Texas on June 14 when Republican Mayra Flores defeated Democrat Dan Sanchez and two minor candidates to win the seat from which Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) resigned. If the GOP is successful in NY-19, and holds their other 2022 special elections in AK-AL, MN-1, NE-1, and NY-23, the conference will increase to 215 members, just three away from majority status.

TX-28: Rep. Cuellar Officially Wins — The tight Democratic primary and runoff campaign featuring veteran Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and attorney and 2020 congressional candidate Jessica Cisneros has finally come to an official end. The Texas Secretary of State has reported the final results of the runoff recount. Counting the ballots again actually increased Cuellar’s lead by eight votes. The final counts shows a 22,901 to 22,612 margin in favor of Rep. Cuellar, a spread of 289 votes, or 50.3 percent of the runoff electorate.

Rep. Cuellar now advances into a general election against former Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) staff member Cassy Garcia. This could become a competitive general election in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+7. Though Garcia will have the ability to run a credible campaign, Rep. Cuellar is now viewed as the favorite to win a 10th term.

Governor

Florida: Crist Rebounds With Substantial Lead — A surprising poll released earlier in June (Global Strategy Group; June 8-13; 600 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; live interview) found state Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried pulling to within a 38-34 percent margin against US representative and former Gov. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg). Now, a new St. Pete Polls survey (June 16-17; 1,007 likely Florida Democratic primary voters; interactive voice response system) posts Crist back to a more substantial lead, 49-24 percent. The Florida primary is scheduled for Aug. 23. The Democratic winner will then challenge Gov. Ron DeSantis (R).

Britt Wins Alabama Runoff; Al Gross Exits Alaska Race; Tough Night For Trump in Peach State

By Jim Ellis — June 22, 2022

Senate

Katie Britt won the Republican US Senate nomination in Alabama.

Alabama: Britt Wins Runoff — As the post-primary polling unanimously foretold, Katie Britt, the former president and CEO of the Business Council of Alabama organization and ex-chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), won the Republican US Senate nomination with a landslide 63-37 percent margin over Alabama US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) in last night’s runoff election.

Britt’s victory was complete in that she carried 66 of Alabama’s 67 counties en route to claiming the party nomination, and a veritable ticket to the US Senate. She now faces pastor Will Boyd, who won the Democratic nomination outright on May 24 in what will prove to be a perfunctory general election in this safely Republican state.

House

AL-5: Dale Strong Headed to DC — Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong (R) defeated former Deputy Army Secretary Casey Wardynski with just over 63 percent of the Republican runoff vote. Like Britt, Strong has punched his ticket to Washington with last night’s victory.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates AL-5 as R+32, leaving little doubt that Strong is now the prohibitive favorite to defeat Democratic nominee Kathy Warner-Stanton who won her party’s nomination outright in the regular primary contest.

AK-AL: Al Gross Exits Race — Yesterday, surgeon Al Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic US Senate nominee against Sen. Dan Sullivan (R) but running as an Independent in the US House special election, decided to end his campaign. Dr. Gross had qualified for the four-candidate runoff with his third-place finish in the special primary on June 11. He simply said he had “great hope for Alaska” in his departing statement but did not offer a particular reason for making the decision to prematurely end his campaign.

It appears the fifth place finisher, Republican Tara Sweeney a former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the US Department of Interior will move into the fourth position, but even officials at the Board of Elections could not confidently confirm that such is the procedure.

Former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin qualified in first position, followed consecutively by businessman Nick Begich III (R), Dr. Gross, and former state Rep. Mary Peltola (D).  In his statement, Dr. Gross endorsed both Peltola and Sweeney saying “they are two outstanding Native women who will serve our state well.” The special general election is Aug. 16.
 
Georgia: Trump has Another Tough Night in Peach State — Georgia proved another tough night for former President Donald Trump, as his two key candidates in House runoff races, Jake Evans in the newly reformed open District 6 and Vernon Jones in the open 10th CD, both went down in landslide proportions. These results, added to Trump candidates David Perdue and Rep. Hice losing the governor and Secretary of State’s races respectively in the May 24 primary, suggests that the Peach State will likely prove to be Trump’s poorest endorsement state.

Dr. Rich McCormick, a retired Navy physician who was the 7th District GOP nominee in 2020, scored a 67 percent win over Evans. In District 10, businessman Mike Collins, a trucking company owner and son of the late former Congressman Mac Collins, recorded almost 75 percent of the runoff vote.

Virginia: Two Congressional Primaries Decided — As predicted, state Sen. Jen Kiggans (R-Virginia Beach), a US Navy veteran and nurse practitioner, topped a field of four Republican candidates with a convincing 56 percent of the vote. She will now oppose Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) in what promises to be one of the most hotly contested GOP challenger races in the country.

Moving to northern Virginia, Rep. Abigail Spanberger’s (D-Glen Allen) politically marginal 7th CD produced a general election Republican challenger last night. Prince William County supervisor and former law enforcement officer Yesli Vega defeated five GOP opponents on her way to a tight 29-24-20 percent victory spread. The Spanberger-Vega general election will be hard fought. While the congresswoman has a slight advantage in partisan voting history, the potential turnout pattern suggests that this seat is still very much in play for a potential GOP upset.

Britt Looks Solid in AL; Dems Drop from AK Race; Velazquez Endorses Rivera in NY-10

By Jim Ellis — June 21, 2022

Senate

Former Business Council of Alabama CEO Katie Britt

Alabama: Polls Find Britt Comfortably Ahead — The Alabama Republican runoff is scheduled for today, and former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt is poised to become the party nominee. Five polls from four pollsters conducted between June 6-16 with sample sizes between 400 and 1,000 find Britt with a support range between 50 and 58 percent, as Rep. Mo Brooks trails with a span between just 30-36 percent.

The pollsters are McLaughlin & Associates (two surveys), the University of Auburn at Montgomery, JMC Analytics, and Emerson College. Today’s GOP winner is a lock to claim the Senate seat in November. Sen. Richard Shelby is retiring.

House

AK-AL: Three Democrats Drop From Race — Saying that the at-large special primary election has made it clear that Democratic voters support ex-state Rep. Mary Peltola, state Rep. Adam Wool (D-Fairbanks), Kodiak Island Assemblyman Mike Milligan, and Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant have all ended their candidacies for the regular at-large House primary scheduled concurrently with Alaska’s special general election on Aug. 16. The move reduces the jungle primary field from 31 to 28 candidates.

The special general will feature, in order of primary finish, former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin (R), businessman Nick Begich III (R), surgeon and 2002 Democratic US Senate nominee Al Gross (I), and Peltola (D).

NY-10: Rep. Velazquez Endorses Against Rep. Jones — New York veteran Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-Brooklyn), who currently represents about half of the territory in the state’s new open 10th District, announced on Friday that she is endorsing NYC Councilwoman Carlina Rivera in the Aug. 23 Democratic primary. The race features 15 Democrats, including US Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-Westchester County), ex-NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, and state Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou.

Rep. Velazquez criticized Rep. Jones from seeking re-election in a new district an hour away from his current 17th CD. She said she doesn’t understand why he didn’t stay in the D+9 17th and seek re-election where his constituency lies. The Jones campaign responded in saying the congressman did not want to run in a member vs. member primary with Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring). The spokesperson did not indicate why Jones didn’t run in what is now an open 18th CD, which also contains a portion of the congressman’s current constituency.

OH-13: Conflicting Polls — Two political pollsters, the Remington Research Group and the Democratic research firm GQR released survey results of what should be a very tight general election campaign in the new Akron-anchored CD-13. Here, state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron) is competing against Republican nominee and attorney Madison Gesiotto Gilbert.

Both surveys were conducted in May but released on Friday. According to Remington (polling for US Term Limits; May 19-20; 500 likely OH-13 general election voters), Gilbert opens with a 46-37 percent lead. GQR has a different take. Their survey (May 13-31; 700 likely OH-13 voters with a 200-person over-sample of African Americans; live interview) projects that the two candidates are virtually tied with Rep. Sykes holding a 47-45 percent edge. This race is categorized a toss-up in a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates R+2. Conversely, President Biden carried the new 13th by a 51-48 percent spread in 2020.