Tag Archives: Brad Finstad

Senate Victory for Trump-Endorsed Candidate in Connecticut; Omar Barely Survives in Minnesota; Easy Wins in Other Primaries

By Jim Ellis — Aug. 10, 2022

Primary Results

Former Trump ambassadorial appointee Leora Levy wins in Connecticut.

Connecticut: Trump-Endorsed Candidate Scores Senate Victory — Former Trump ambassadorial appointee Leora Levy, though she failed to win Senate confirmation, easily won the Republican Senate nomination in Connecticut. Levy defeated former state House Minority Leader Themis Klarides by a significant 51-40 percent share of the statewide vote. She now advances to challenge Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D) who is seeking a third term.

Minnesota: Finstad Wins; Omar Barely Survives — Last night, Minnesota former state Rep. Brad Finstad (R) appears to have won the open 1st District special congressional election left vacant when Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) passed away in mid-February. At this writing, Finstad leads former Hormel corporation CEO Jeffrey Ettinger (D) 51-47 percent with all counties reporting and 99 percent of the expected vote tabulated.

Finstad holds a 4,920-vote lead over Ettinger, which should be more than enough to account for any mailed absentee ballot not included in the overall count. The currently recorded turnout of 118,018 votes is high for a special election. Finstad carried 16 of the district’s 21 southern Minnesota counties.

Finstad also easily won the regular Republican primary in the 1st District after state Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Crystal Lake) made a run at the nomination despite losing the special election primary back in late May. Following suit on the Democratic side, Ettinger was an easy winner in last night’s regular primary, so the two will again do battle in the regular term for a House seat that has been trending more Republican in recent years.

In the 5th District, suggestions that former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels could give two-term controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) a highly competitive battle proved true. Rep. Omar was renominated in a 50-48 percent squeaker over Samuels, thus guaranteeing her another term in the November election.

Vermont: Scott, Welch, Balint Easily Win — Vermont Gov. Phil Scott was a 69 percent winner in his state’s Republican primary. As expected, the Vermont Democratic open Senate primary resulted in a landslide 87 percent-plus victory for at-large Congressman Peter Welch (D-Norwich). He automatically becomes a prohibitive favorite against the new Republican nominee Gerald Malloy, a retired Army officer.

With Rep. Welch running for the state’s open Senate seat, now in strong position to succeed the retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the open al-large House seat will go to the Democratic primary winner, state Senate President Pro Tempore Becca Balint (D-Burlington). Her 60 percent-plus primary win puts her in position to score a landslide general election victory in November.

Wisconsin: Barnes Confirmed; Michels Defeats Kleefisch — Wisconsin Democratic voters confirmed that Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes will be their candidate to oppose Sen. Ron Johnson (R). With his three major opponents dropping out of the race within the past two weeks and all endorsing Barnes as a show of party unity, the lieutenant governor captured 77 percent-plus of the Democratic primary vote. Sen. Johnson topped 83 percent in the Republican primary.

Finally, the lone competitive Wisconsin House primary also resulted as expected. State Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse) recorded a 39 percent plurality victory over three opponents to win his party’s nomination for the open 3rd District House seat of retiring Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse). Sen. Pfaff earned Rep. Kind’s endorsement as his successor.

Republican Derrick Van Orden, a retired Navy SEAL who held Rep. Kind to a tight 51-49 percent re-election win in 2020, returns in another attempt to capture the seat. Van Orden was unopposed in last night’s election. Winning this seat in November becomes a must for Republican House majority prospects in the fall.

New Polls Lean to GOP Leaders in Missouri; Fetterman Expands Lead in Pennsylvania; Getting Close in NJ-1

By Jim Ellis — July 28, 2022

Senate

Scandal-tainted Gov. Eric Greitens (R) trending downward in Missouri.

Missouri: New Polls Pleasing GOP Leaders — The hard-fought Missouri Republican primary is a week away, and three new late July polls are bringing sighs of relief to GOP leaders. It has long been believed that the Missouri race comes off the table if either Attorney General Eric Schmitt or US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville) wins the party nomination, but danger looms for the GOP if resigned, scandal-tainted Gov. Eric Greitens were to forge through a crowded field with plurality support.

Three polls were conducted from July 21 through 24, and the results are consistent. The Remington Research Group (July 23-24; 802 likely Missouri Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system), the Trafalgar Group (July 22-24; 1,059 likely Missouri Republican primary voters; multiple sample-gathering tactics) and Emerson College, polling for The Hill newspaper (July 21-23; 1,000 likely Missouri Republican and Democratic primary voters, but the number of each is unspecified; multiple sample-gathering tactics), all arrived at similar conclusions. That is, Attorney General Schmitt seems to be developing a secure lead.

RRG sees Schmitt leading Rep. Hartzler and Greitens, 32-25-18 percent. Trafalgar finds the candidates placing in the same order, but a bit closer, 27-24-20 percent. Emerson’s numbers are better for Schmitt, at 33-21-16 percent. For the Democrats, Emerson projects philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine, despite being under heavy political attack, as leading Iraq War veteran Lucas Kunce 39-35 percent with a 22 percent undecided factor.

Pennsylvania: Fetterman Expands Lead — The Democratic firm Blueprint Polling released a new PA statewide poll (July 19-21; 712 likely Pennsylvania voters; live interview) and found Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), still recovering from a serious stroke he suffered just before the primary election, expanding his lead to 49-40 percent over Dr. Mehmet Oz (R). The most recent Senate survey prior to Blueprint’s, from Fabrizio Ward (R) and Impact Research (D) for AARP (June 12-19; 1,382 likely Pennsylvania voters), projected a 50-44 percent Fetterman edge. In the governor’s race, Blueprint found Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) topping state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville), 51-39 percent, which is also a significant improvement for him over the previous statewide poll.

House

MN-1: Republicans Have Special Trouble — State Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Crystal Lake), who lost the special primary election to succeed the late US Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R) by just 427 votes, confirms he is running to win the regular primary election. This means that former state Rep. Brad Finstad (R), who won the special primary, must continue conducting two separate campaigns through the Aug. 9 election.

In slightly different district configurations, Finstad must separately win the special general election against former Hormel Corporation CEO Jeffrey Ettinger (D), and the nomination for the regular term since the special general is being run concurrently with the regular statewide primary. With Munson competing in the regular election, the confusing scenario of having two different District 1 Republican winners could occur. With the only public post-special primary poll suggesting a dead heat between Finstad and Ettinger, so many mixed messages could yield a Democratic special election upset.

NJ-1: Surprisingly Close — According to a new Grassroots Targeting survey (July 13-19; 625 likely NJ-1 general election voters), New Jersey Rep. Donald Norcross (D-Camden City) lies barely beyond the polling margin of error in yet another potential warning sign for Democrats.

The GT results find Rep. Norcross topping Republican nominee Claire Gustafson, 49-44 percent, despite the fact that 83 percent of the respondents said they have not heard of the GOP nominee. To underscore matters, Rep. Norcross’ favorability index has dropped to 42:41 percent favorable to unfavorable. This contrasts with his 2020 re-election margin of 62-38 percent, similar to what President Biden recorded in the district. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates NJ-1 as D+20, so seeing a close poll featuring an unknown Republican with little money from this district is surprising to say the least.

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).

And The Landslides Bring It Down

By Jim Ellis — May 25, 2022

Primary Results

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp

Georgia: Gov. Brian Kemp turned back former Sen. David Perdue with an unpredicted landslide 74 percent win in what was clearly the most anticipated race of the evening. While polling showed that the governor would be re-nominated, a huge 74-22 percent vote spread was unforeseen. Considering where Gov. Kemp started after the 2020 election and former President Donald Trump piling on him up until the day of this vote, Kemp’s win was extraordinary within a primary turnout of just under 1.2 million GOP voters, the size of which has not been previously seen.

Also scoring big was Herschel Walker in the US Senate Republican primary. He won with more than 68 percent of the vote and now advances to face Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) in the general election. Sen. Warnock had only minor opposition in the Democratic primary and captured 96 percent of the 713,000-plus Democratic votes that have been recorded.

In the 7th Congressional District Democratic incumbent pairing contest, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) scored a huge 63-31 percent victory over freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee). The two incumbents became paired when the Republican map drawers decided to make the new 6th District safely Republican, thus forcing McBath into the adjoining 7th CD.

Alabama: Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who former President Trump pulled back from endorsing because, at the time, it was viewed his campaign was going nowhere, rebounded to capture second position (29.2 percent) in the open US Senate Republican primary and advance to the June 21 runoff election. The first-place finisher is former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt (44.7 percent). Both defeated retired “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant (23.3 percent), whose self-funded campaign fell short of the mark in what was an expensive three-way race.

In the contested Republican gubernatorial primary, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) won re-nomination with 54 percent of the vote against eight Republican opponents. Here, too, GOP turnout was much higher than the Democrats’ — over 645,000 voters compared to 168,000. In both Georgia and Alabama, the Trump endorsements clearly lacked the punch we have seen in the other early primaries.

Arkansas: Sen. John Boozman turned back three Republican challengers to win his re-nomination outright with 58 percent of the vote. All four GOP US House members were also re-nominated, though 2nd District Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) posted a surprisingly low 58.5 percent.

The open governor’s race produced no surprise. Former Trump press secretary and daughter of ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, won a landslide Republican nomination with 83.2 percent of the vote. She will easily replace term-limited Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) in the autumn election.

MN-1 Special Primary: The Minnesota special congressional primary to begin the replacement process for the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) is also undecided. The Republican side now features a two-way battle between former state Rep. Brad Finstad (38.0 percent) and state Rep. Jeremy Munson (36.8 percent) with 88 percent reporting. The Finstad lead is 427 votes, which may or may not stand up as the final counting process proceeds.

On the Democratic side, former Hormel company CEO Jeff Ettinger won the party nomination with 64.3 percent of the vote over seven opponents. The eventual nominees will square off in a special general election on Aug. 9, a date concurrent with Minnesota’s regular primary election. Republican turnout so far surpasses the Democratic participation rate by almost a 2:1 margin, 35,330 to 18,392.

Texas: The Texas results featured a crushing defeat for the Bush family, as two-term incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton swamped Land Commissioner George P. Bush, son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, with a 67.2 – 32.8 percent margin. Paxton will now face attorney Rochelle Garza who won the Democratic runoff with 62.9 percent of the vote.

There are two unresolved congressional races at this writing. In one of the South Texas seats, veteran Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) leads attorney Jessica Cisneros by just 177 votes with 94 percent of the expected vote recorded. Most of the outstanding vote appears to come in Cuellar-favorable counties, so it is more likely that he survives a very close primary and runoff set of elections.

In the contested open 15th District, in what could well become the most hotly contested general election in the Lone Star State, the Democratic runoff is still a long way from being decided. Candidates Michelle Vallejo and Ruben Ramirez are only 23 votes apart with just 50 percent of the counting reported. This contest could require quite a bit of time to decide. The eventual winner will face the 2020 Republican nominee, Monica de la Cruz, who easily won re-nomination outright back on March 1.

Moving to the open Dallas-anchored 30th District, State Rep. Jasmine Crockett (D-Dallas) recorded a 60.6 percent runoff win to capture the party nomination in the safely Democratic seat. She will succeed retiring US Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas) in November. Johnson has represented the area in Congress for the past 30 years.

House

NY-19: Rep. Delgado to Take Oath for Lieutenant Governor; Will Resign Today — US Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) will officially be sworn in as the state’s new lieutenant governor later today. Resigning the congressional seat just before taking the oath of office allows Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) to schedule the special election to replace Delgado concurrently with the Aug. 23 congressional primary. The political parties will choose their respective nominees, meaning there will be only one election to fill the balance of the congressman’s current term. The new member then could seek a full term in the new 19th CD, which will be different in configuration to the current pre-redistricting seat.

Governor

Michigan: Top GOP Candidate Facing Disqualification — Media reports surfacing from Michigan are indicating that several Republican candidates, including polling front-runner James Craig, the former Detroit Police Chief, may fall short of presenting 15,000 valid registered voter petition signatures to qualify him for a ballot position. According to the Michigan Bureau of Elections, 9,879 of Craig’s signatures were invalid for various reasons, leaving him well short of the 15,000 minimum number.

Another gubernatorial candidate, businessman Perry Johnson (R), is in similar position. The Michigan governor’s race is one of he premier statewide campaigns in the country this year, so with Craig potentially being ousted as a candidate, that’s a major developing story.