Sept. 8, 2016 — In last Tuesday’s Arizona primary, it appeared that former GoDaddy.com executive Christine Jones had all but clinched the Republican nomination in the state’s open 5th Congressional District. However, just as all votes were finally counted, the lead surprisingly switched. This means we are headed for a re-count and a long sorting out process because the result is a virtual tie.
The unofficial final tally shows state Senate President Andy Biggs now clinging to just a nine vote lead over Jones. On election night, the initial count found Jones leading Biggs by 876 votes with absentee and provisional votes remaining to be counted. In the early post-election counting her lead dropped to 578 votes, but it appeared that Jones would have enough of a margin to cement her preliminary victory.
The final pre-canvass report, however, shows Sen. Biggs with 25,228 votes as compared to Jones’ 25,219. Under Arizona election law, this slim margin triggers an automatic re-count and, with such a small difference separating the two candidates, this contest could still go either way.
Sept. 2, 2016 — It is clear that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is in a more precarious political position the day after his primary than the day before. On Tuesday, the veteran Arizona senator recorded only a 52-39 percent victory over his top challenger, former state Sen. Kelli Ward. Two other Republican candidates, Alex Meluskey and Clair Van Steenwyk, received a combined 9.1 percent of the GOP primary vote: 5.5 percent for Meluskey and the remainder for Van Steenwyk.
But Tuesday’s underlying numbers illuminate what is likely a greater McCain vulnerability for the fall campaign against 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff): a weak Republican base.
Looking at the state’s 15 counties, Ward actually defeated McCain in three of them, Cochise, Navajo, and Mohave. Additionally, the senator only carried Apache County by 75 votes. Together, this suggests McCain is doing poorly on the Indian reservations, which is not unusual since the region is a Democratic stronghold, but these votes came from within his own party.
Aug. 31, 2016 — A look at overnight primary results:
Veteran Sen. John McCain (R) won his re-nomination campaign last night in Arizona, but with a lesser majority than expected. McCain topped former state Sen. Kelli Ward, 52-39 percent, which proved worse than his GOP primary margin six years ago (56 percent). Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) was unopposed on the Democratic side. The rather tepid McCain victory last night increases her chances in the general election.
Sen. Marco Rubio rebounded strongly from his failed presidential campaign with a 72 percent victory in his statewide Republican primary yesterday. More than 1.4 million Republican voters cast ballots in Florida’s nomination contest. Businessman Carlos Beruff, who spent more than $8 million of his own money on his campaign, finished a distant second with only 19 percent support.
Sen. Rubio now advances to the general election to face, as expected, Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) who won his Democratic primary with 59 percent of the vote. Controversial Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando), who was close early in the campaign, fell to only 18 percent, just ahead of also-ran candidate Pam Keith, an attorney and Navy veteran (15 percent). About 300,000 fewer Democrats than Republicans participated in the primary election. Sen. Rubio has been consistently gaining momentum, so he begins the general election as the slight favorite.
By Jim Ellis
Aug. 30, 2016 — Today, we cover the second half of the competitive Florida campaigns, with just a word about Arizona. The Washington Post ran an article yesterday chronicling Sen. John McCain as being “in the fight of his life.” It does not appear that McCain is in any danger of losing the primary today, and his general election polling puts him in his strongest position of this election cycle. Therefore, the Post story seems ill timed.
Also in Arizona, and not covered yesterday, despite a moderate independent expenditure leveled against Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott), the congressman is also expected to easily survive his primary challenge. Gosar’s opponent, former local official Ray Strauss (R), has attracted just over $100,000 in support of his own campaign, far less than the independent expenditure. The general election will not be competitive.
• FL-9: The new 9th District, which stretches from east Orlando south through Kissimmee, west to Winter Park and then east to the Yeehaw Junction, is a few points less Democratic than the seat Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) currently represents. His departure to the Senate race makes this one of seven open Florida congressional districts. While Alan Grayson will not represent this district in the next Congress, another Grayson may. A poll released last week found the congressman’s new wife, physician Dena Grayson, leads the Democratic primary field, thus making her at least a slight favorite. Former congressional aide Susannah Randolph and state Sen. Darren Soto are the other viable candidates in the Democratic field. Today’s Dem primary victor will win the seat in November. Safe Democratic
Aug. 29, 2016 — Arizona and Florida voters go to the polls tomorrow in what has become the most important of the late summer primaries.
Today, we cover Arizona and half of the competitive Florida campaigns. Tomorrow, the remaining Sunshine State races will be updated. Resulting from the court-ordered mid-decade redistricting changes and an unusually large number of open seats, competition is developing in no less than 17 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Both states also host critical Senate contests.
• Senate: Sen. John McCain (R) is seeking a sixth term after originally winning in 1986, four years after his initial election to the House. What was thought to be a potentially competitive Republican primary at the outset seemingly fizzled when McCain drew a lesser primary opponent. For a time, it appeared that either Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa) or Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) might enter the statewide contest, but neither chose to do so. In fact, Rep. Salmon would later decide to retire altogether.
Former state Senator Kelli Ward, who resigned her position in order to spend her full energies in challenging McCain, has raised about $1.5 million, but it would likely require more in the way of resources and outside support to deny the veteran incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee a re-nomination victory. Expect Sen. McCain to do better than his 56 percent Republican primary performance in 2010.
Aug. 22, 2016 — Several analysis articles have appeared in the last few days indicating that the House majority might well be in play for the Democrats. Is this reality, wishful thinking, or just a partisan rhetorical ploy to engage the party base?
To re-cap, the Republicans have their largest House majority since the 1928 election, currently standing at 247-R to 186-D, with two Democratic vacancies. In order for the Democrats to secure even a one-seat majority, they would have to re-elect incumbents and candidates in all 188 of their current districts and then convert 30 Republican positions.
Initially, not all 188 Democratic seats are secure. In fact, at least one is surely coming the GOP’s way. After the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting operation in Florida, the 2nd District became a virtual Republican gimme seat. Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) choosing not to seek re-election guarantees a Republican victory.