By Jim Ellis
May 11, 2022
Primary ResultsNebraska: Gov. Ricketts’ Candidate Defeats Trump’s Contender — The media is leading with the point that former President Donald Trump’s Nebraska gubernatorial candidate, rancher and company CEO Chuck Herbster, lost his primary battle last night to rancher and University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen. The fact that eight women, including a state senator, accused Herbster of sexual harassment long after the Trump endorsement was announced likely was the more critical factor in how the race ended.
For his part, Pillen had the support of term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts, former US congressman and ex-University of Nebraska championship head football coach Tom Osborne, former Gov. Kay Orr, the Nebraska Farm Bureau, and Americans for Prosperity, thus demonstrating a wide range of conservative and institutional backers.
Pillen defeated Herbster and Omaha state Sen. Brett Lindstrom in a close 33-30-26 percent result to claim the Republican nomination. He will be a heavy favorite in November against the new Democratic nominee, Bellevue state Sen. Carol Blood. Republican turnout was up approximately 53 percent when compared with the 2018 midterm election. Democrats also increased their participation rate but only in the six percent range.
West Virginia: Mooney Defeats McKinley — In the first of potentially six incumbent-paired contests of the 2022 post-redistricting election cycle, US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) scored a double-digit win over fellow Congressman David McKinley (R-Wheeling) last night. West Virginia lost one of its three seats in reapportionment, hence the reason for the two Republicans facing each other.
All of Rep. McKinley’s current district was contained in the new 2nd, but only half of Mooney’s territory. Former President Donald Trump backed Rep. Mooney after McKinley backed the Biden infrastructure package, which appeared to even the advantages. With polling correctly projecting a Mooney win, the four-term West Virginia congressman who previously served in the Maryland state Senate recorded a convincing 54-36 percent victory.
Alabama: Confirming Poll — Another released survey confirms that Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) is moving back into contention and very much alive to capture one of the two runoff slots that the May 24 primary will yield. A Cygnal group poll for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television (May 6-7; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters) agrees that former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt leads the race while Rep. Brooks and former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant are in a tight battle for the second runoff position. In this study, Britt holds a 32-23-21 percent lead over Rep. Brooks and Durant.
Pennsylvania: Three-Way Race Emerging — Two new surveys find the Pennsylvania Senate Republican primary turning into a three-way race within the last week prior to the May 17 primary election. Pennsylvania has no runoff system, so whoever has the most votes next Tuesday, regardless of percentage attained, will become the party nominee.
The Trafalgar Group (May 6-8; 1,080 likely Pennsylvania Republican primary voters; culled from a large sample through live interview, interactive voice response system, email and text) finds television Dr. Mehmet Oz leading the candidate field with newcomer Kathy Barnette, an Army veteran and 2020 congressional nominee, placing second ahead of former hedge fund CEO David McCormick. The respondents split 24.5 – 23.2 – 21.6 percent. Insider Advantage, polling for Fox29 (released May 10; 750 likely Pennsylvania GOP primary voters) produced similar numbers: Oz 22.5 percent; Barnette 20.9 percent; and McCormick 18.5 percent.
These polls suggest that any of the top three contenders can still win the nomination. The Republican standard bearer will likely face Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), who has a large polling lead over US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) in all published surveys.
NE-1: As Predicted — Both party-endorsed candidates easily won their respective congressional nominations in the vacant 1st District. Norfolk state Sen. Mike Flood captured the Republican nomination with 73 percent, and Lincoln state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks became her party’s nominee with an 87 percent score. The two will square off in a June 28 special election to fill the unexpired portion of the current term. Former Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) resigned his seat at the end of March after being convicted for campaign finance violations in a California court. Regardless of how the special ends, both Sens. Flood and Pansing Brooks will face each other in the regular general election.
NE-2 & 3: Incumbents Easily Re-Nominated — US Reps. Don Bacon (R-Papillion/Omaha) and Adrian Smith (R-Gering) were easily re-nominated last night in their respective primary elections. Both posted more than 75 percent of the vote. Bacon, in a competitive 2nd District will now face Omaha state Sen. Tony Vargas, while Rep. Smith drew farmer David Else as his general election opponent in the expansive 3rd CD. The NE-3 seat stretches the width of Nebraska from the Wyoming border on the west all the way to the Iowa state line in the east.