Tag Archives: Gov. Phil Scott

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.

Sen. Patrick Leahy’s Retirement Could Create a Domino Effect of 0pen Seats

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 17, 2021 — Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D), the Senate President Pro Tempore and fifth longest-serving senator in American history, announced Monday that he would not seek a ninth term next year.

The decision was a surprise in that few expected the senator to do anything but run despite some cryptic comments he made earlier in the year. Sen. Leahy will retire as the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee after previously heading both the Agriculture and Judiciary Committees. He came to national prominence as the 10-year Judiciary Committee chairman.

As the Chittendon County State’s Attorney, Leahy first ran for the Senate as a little known underdog and was able to win a close general election in the Watergate year of 1974. In those days, Vermont was a Republican state. He was then re-elected in 1980, ’86, ’92, ’98, 2004, ’10, and ’16. Over his long electoral career, he averaged 60.6 percent of the vote over the eight elections.

During all of that time, he had one close call after his original victory, beating Republican Stewart Ledbetter by 2,755 votes in his first re-election during the 1980 campaign cycle. After that, in only one contest did he drop below 60 percent.

In his first election, with a combined vote on the Democratic and Independent Vermonters ballot lines, he was able to defeat Republican Richard Mallary and Bernie Sanders, the latter of whom drew 4.1 percent of the vote on the Liberty Union Party ticket.

After a string of Republican senators exiting, five in all with two more — Sens. Ron Johnson (R-WI) and John Thune (R-SD) — not yet revealing their 2022 political plans, Sen. Leahy becomes the first in-cycle Democrat not to seek re-election. The five departing Republicans are Richard Shelby (AL), Roy Blunt (MO), Richard Burr (NC), Rob Portman (OH), and Pat Toomey (PA).

Vermont, however, is unlikely to become a competitive open seat. Eight-term at-large Rep. Peter Welch (D-Norwich), who has the same constituency as a senator, is well positioned to succeed Sen. Leahy and is expected to soon announce his candidacy.

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Rep. Omar, Georgia’s Greene Both Win

By Jim Ellis

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) won a hard-fought Democratic primary challenge from attorney Antone Melton-Meaux for a 57-39 percent re-nomination victory last night.

Aug. 12, 2020 — The two most controversial candidates on the primary ballot yesterday were both nominated and advance into safe general election campaigns from their respective states.

Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) withstood a hard-fought and expensive Democratic primary challenge from attorney Antone Melton-Meaux for a 57-39 percent re-nomination victory last night in a district election that drew the highest turnout of the night (just over 160,000 voters). Both candidates raised well over $4 million apiece for their respective campaigns.

In Northwest Georgia, businesswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene (R) who has drawn attention for her association with the QAnon movement, a loose organization of individuals who believe that the government’s “deep state bureaucrats” are conspiring to take down President Trump, won the Georgia 14th District Republican runoff election.

Greene defeated Rome area surgeon John Cowan by a 57-43 percent margin from what will likely be over 75,000 voters who participated in the runoff vote. The final turnout number could soar, however, since a relatively substantial number of mailed ballots remain to be counted. The primary election in this district drew over 108,000 voters.


CONNECTICUT

Very little fanfare occurred here as few races were contested. The only result of interest came in the state’s 2nd District Republican primary where the two candidates are separated by just 78 votes with approximately 90 percent of the precincts reporting. The winner advances to the general election and a sure loss opposite Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Vernon). All five Democratic candidates were unopposed for re-nomination last night and each is a heavy favorite for re-election in the Fall.


GEORGIA

In addition to Greene winning the 14th District Republican runoff and stamping her ticket for Washington, DC from her politically safe congressional district from which Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger/Rome) is retiring (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent), three other runoffs were settled.

In the Savannah-anchored 1st District, attorney and retired Army officer Joyce Griggs defeated former local Democratic county chair Lisa Ring in the party runoff. Griggs’ victory margin was 56-44 percent, but from a low in-person turnout of only about 28,000 individual voters. Griggs now becomes a heavy underdog against incumbent Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) who is running for a fourth term.

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Another Big Primary Day

By Jim Ellis

Controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) faces a primary challenge today by attorney Antone Melton-Meaux (D).

Aug. 11, 2020 — In addition to the Georgia runoff elections, which we covered yesterday, today we see five states holding their regular state primary. Voters in Connecticut, Minnesota, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin are all choosing their nominees for the Fall.


CONNECTICUT

With no Senate or governor’s race on the ballot this year, votes are being cast to select the general election candidates in the Nutmeg State’s five congressional districts. Reps. John Larson (D-Hartford), Joe Courtney (D-Vernon), Rosa DeLauro (D-New Haven), and Jim Himes (D-Cos Cob) look safe for re-election as they have each won multiple terms.

Freshman Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Wolcott) in the 5th District is also a heavy favorite for re-election but retired federal prosecutor David X. Sullivan (R) is a credible candidate in a district that could elect a Republican under the right circumstances. This year, however, doesn’t appear to yield such a positive atmosphere for the GOP. Sullivan has raised over $230,000, but that won’t be near enough to run a strong campaign against Rep. Hayes. The first-term congresswoman is the top fundraiser in Connecticut with $1.33 million in receipts through June 30.


MINNESOTA

Former representative Jason Lewis (R) is vying for the opportunity of challenging first-term Sen. Tina Smith (D) and is a likely winner tonight over four lightly regarded Republican opponents. Lewis will be a clear underdog against Sen. Smith, who won a 2018 special election with a 53-42 percent victory over what looked to be a strong challenge from GOP state Sen. Karin Housley. A recent Public Policy Polling survey (July 22-23; 1,218 Minnesota voters) found Sen. Smith leading Lewis, 48-39 percent.

The 1st District congressional race looks to be another hard-fought political battle. Here, we see a re-match between freshman Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) and former Defense Department official Dan Feehan (D). In 2018, this contest was decided by a scant 50.1 – 49.7 percent percentage spread, a margin of just 1,315 votes.

Feehan leads the money chase with $2.3 million raised to the congressman’s $1.66 million through the July 22 pre-primary campaign finance disclosure deadline. Both will easily win re-nomination tonight, but a close finish here is a virtual certainty.

The race that will attract the most attention lies in the Minneapolis-anchored 5th District where the challenger to controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis), attorney Antone Melton-Meaux (D), has raised almost as much money as the incumbent, $4.15 million to $4.28 million, and both had less than $1 million remaining in their accounts at the July 22 reporting deadline.

It is unlikely that Melton-Meaux will deny Rep. Omar re-nomination, but his percentage will be interesting to watch. His main mode of attack, while positioning himself clearly on the ideological left, underscores that Rep. Omar is much more interested in developing a national platform than she is in representing the local district.

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Looking at the Governors’ Races

2018-gubernatorial-elections

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2018 — Earlier this month, we set the stage for the Senate and House campaigns. Today, we look at another important election platform, that of the nation’s governors. Though these races will elect people who will obviously determine future individual state policy, most of the 2018 gubernatorial winners will carry redistricting veto power in 2021. Therefore, these elections also carry national implications.

Of the 36 governors’ campaigns, 17 will be open races mostly due to state term limit laws. While the Democrats must protect the preponderance of US Senate seats this year, the opposite situation exists in the governors’ races. Here, Republicans must defend 26 state houses, 13 of which are open seats.

Of the 13 GOP incumbents seeking re-election, three are actually running for governor for the first time. Govs. Kay Ivey (R-Alabama), Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa), and Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) were all lieutenant governors who ascended to their current position because the person elected in 2014 is no longer in office.

Alabama’s Gov. Robert Bentley (R) was forced to resign as part of a plea bargain arrangement over campaign finance violations. The other two state chief executives, Terry Branstad (IA) and Nikki Haley (SC), accepted positions in the Trump Administration. At this point in the election cycle, all three unelected governors are favored to win a full term.

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