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Period Ending October 25, 2019

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This weekly roundup of election news and notes is compiled for Thompson Coburn by the The Ellis Insight.

President

Rep. Tim Ryan: Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Youngstown), in a video message yesterday, announced that he is exiting the presidential race. After not qualifying for the presidential forums beyond the second debate, it became just a matter of time before he and several others in a similar situation fold their political tents.

He joins Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO), and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) as candidates who have left the race. A total of 15 Democratic presidential candidates remain active, but several others are soon expected to follow Rep. Ryan's path. The Congressman says he will seek re-election to the House next year. It remains to be seen if his national foray results in him drawing stronger opposition than in the past few election cycles.

California: In critically important California with its 416 first ballot Democratic convention votes, a new Survey USA poll (10/15-16; 553 CA likely Democratic primary voters) finds that Biden is beginning to pull away. According to the S-USA tabulations, the former Vice President now holds a 33-18-17% advantage over Warren and Sanders. Home state Senator Kamala Harris again fares poorly in her home state, registering only single digits (8%) within her own electorate. But Change Research (10/15-18; 1,631 CA likely Democratic primary voters) sees a very different Golden State picture. They post Sen. Warren to a lead at 28% with Sen. Sanders close behind with 24%. Here, Mr. Biden places third with only 19 percent.

Iowa: The immediate post-debate Suffolk University/USA Today Iowa survey (10/16-18; 500 IA likely Democratic caucus participants) sees a tightening Democratic field. Here, former Vice President Joe Biden drops six points from the firm's July poll to register only 18% support, just one point ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is the big mover, however, more than doubling his July support to capture third position with 13% support. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) remains constant at 9% preference.

The new Civiqs/Iowa State University survey (10/18-22; 598 IA likely Democratic primary voters) finds a much different Hawkeye State standing than in previous polling. Here, Civiqs sees Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) posting 28%, now followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who records 20% preference. In third position is Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) at 18%, and finally former Vice President Joe Biden attracting a cycle-low 12% support. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, who must do well in Iowa to keep her campaign alive, still manages only 4% of the proposed vote. Since this poll is producing much different numbers than any other available data, the question must be asked whether Civiqs is setting a new trend or releasing an outlier.

South Carolina: Monmouth University surveyed the South Carolina Democratic electorate (10/16-21; 402 SC likely Democratic primary voters) and found a familiar pattern. Continuing to demonstrate southern dominance, former Vice President Joe Biden posts a 33-16-12-6-4-3% major advantage over Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Kamala Harris (D-CA), billionaire Tom Steyer, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, respectively. The Biden standing at this level has been consistent for months.

Senate

Colorado: A new Colorado Senate poll, consistent with other early surveys, finds former Governor John Hickenlooper (D) establishing a solid lead over incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner (R) in a state that continues to move leftward. A trio of research firms, Keating Research, OnSight Public Affairs, and Martin Campaigns combined their efforts to field this specific Centennial State poll (10/10-14; 500 CO registered voters). The results find Mr. Hickenlooper posting a 53-42% lead over Sen. Gardner in a race that promises to attract major national attention. Mr. Hickenlooper still must win the Democratic primary, however, as nine candidates are opposing him for the nomination.

Maine: Retired Air Force Major General Tom Treacy, who was a rather late entry into the Maine Democratic Senate primary, has already ended his campaign. Citing an inability to compete financially with early Democratic leader Sara Gideon, the Speaker of the state House of Representatives, Gen. Treacy has formally withdrawn from the race.

Ms. Gideon has been one of the most successful US Senate challenger fundraisers in this election cycle. According to her 3rd Quarter financial disclosure report, she has raised $4.26 million for the election cycle, and held $2.76 million in her campaign account on September 30th. The eventual party nominee will challenge Sen. Susan Collins (R) who has raised over $8.5 million for the cycle and had $7.1 million cash-on-hand at the end of the reporting period.

Wyoming: Montana State University-Billings' Political Science Department leaders conducted a poll of the Big Sky Country and included a small sampling segment for Wyoming. The poll was conducted during the Oct 7-12 period, and resumed on 10/14 and 16. The total sample, however, was only 111 individuals in the Equality State, which means the study should be considered a single night track.

Montana State finds at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) standing strong in the Republican primary against former US Representative and declared candidate Cynthia Lummis. MSU sees a 37-17% spread in Ms. Cheney's favor, well beyond even a large polling margin of error, which of course, is present in this poll. Ms. Cheney has not announced her intentions regarding the Senate race, but political insiders expect her to declare after the first of the year. Sen. Mike Enzi (R) is retiring, thus creating the open seat.

House

FL-19: Two-term Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples), who previously served as US Ambassador to the Holy See, announced over the weekend that he will not seek a third term next year. Mr. Rooney, 65 years of age, had been on the unofficial retirement watch list particularly when raising only $6,600 for the campaign cycle. The Rooney retirement means there are now 27 open House seats in the current cycle, 20 coming from the Republican side.

IN-1: Veteran Indiana Rep. Peter Visclosky (D-Gary), who was first elected in 1984 and is now chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, may draw his first serious challenge in more than a decade. Hammond Mayor Tom McDermott (D) is reportedly making moves to launch a challenge against Mr. Visclosky for the May 5th Democratic primary. This is a developing story. More than 30 Democratic members nationally appear to be facing credible nomination opponents.

MD-7: No one is yet coming forward to confirm interest in entering the special election to replace the late Maryland Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore) who passed away late last week, but speculation as to who might run is beginning. No less than 14 people have been mentioned as potential candidates, but the big question is whether the Congressman's widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings the current Maryland Democratic Party chair, will decide to run. Others being mentioned include former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball, and no less than ten state legislators. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) must set the special election calendar on or before October 28th.

NY-17: State Sen. David Carlucci (D-Ossining), who was a founder of the independent group of Democratic Senators who voted in favor of a Republican chamber president in the previous legislative session, announced that he will enter the 2020 Democratic congressional primary in hopes of succeeding retiring Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-Harrison). The seat is safely Democratic, so it remains to be seen if Carlucci could come through a party primary when the leadership could issue an official endorsement for one of his opponents.

NY-27: Saying that his commitment to the US Army and to promote the Medal of Honor is greater than his desire to run for Congress, Award winner David Bellavia (R) announced this week that he will not enter the special election to replace resigned Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence). In the race are state Sens. Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo) and Robert Ortt (R-Tonawonda) along with attorney and former town judge Beth Parlato. With Mr. Bellavia yielding, we can now expect Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and state Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R-Albion) to also join the congressional field.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) must call the special election to replace Mr. Collins, but as yet has not set the calendar. Last time New York had a congressional vacancy, in 2017 when then-Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) passed away, Gov. Cuomo kept the seat open until the regular election. He recently said that state law would not allow him to do so in this instance, even though he would like to make the vote concurrent with the regular election calendar.

WI-7: Gov. Tony Evers (D) released his revised special election calendar to fill resigned Rep. Sean Duffy's (R-Wausau) vacant seat. The Governor's original schedule did not conform to the federal MOVE Act, which mandates the number of days that must exist between elections in order to provide adequate time for military and overseas voters to return ballots, so he had to issue a new set of special primary and general election dates.

It was thought that the Governor would schedule the special general with the April 7th presidential primary, but he chose a stand-alone option instead. The candidate filing deadline is now December 2nd, with the party primaries to be held Feb. 18th. The special general will now be May 12th. Currently, three House seats are vacant and headed toward special elections, but this is now the only one with a definitive election calendar. The other two vacancies are NY-27 (Chris Collins resignation) and MD-7 (death of Elijah Cummings).

Governor

Louisiana: The We Ask America polling firm released the first Bayou State gubernatorial general election political survey featuring the Gov. John Bel Edwards - Eddie Rispone race, which will be decided Nov. 16th. Those who surmised before the election that if the Governor were forced into a run-off, we would see a very competitive campaign appear to be correct, and the WAA poll (10/14-16; 600 LA likely 2019 general election voters) confirms such speculation. According to their results, the two candidates are already tied at 47% apiece.

Mississippi: Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy released their new survey of the Mississippi Governor's election as the candidates enter the stretch drive toward the November 5th election day. The poll (10/17-19; 625 MS registered voters) finds Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) holding only a slight edge over Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood, 46-43%. The survey segments largely break as one would expect with Reeves doing well with Republicans, men, voters over 50, and whites, while Hood has the advantage with Democrats, women, voters under 50, and blacks.

Under Mississippi election law, a gubernatorial candidate must not only win a majority of the popular vote, he or she must also carry a majority of state House of Representatives' districts (62 of the 122 seats). If neither of these qualifications are met, the House members will then vote to elect the Governor. The Republicans have a 74-44 advantage over Democrats. There are also two Independents and two vacancies in the House.

New Hampshire: Late this week, Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky (D) announced that he would run for Governor next year. Mr. Volinsky achieved notoriety in New Hampshire when, as a trial lawyer, he won a state Supreme Court case that changed the state's education funding formula. He then ran for and won a seat on the New Hampshire Executive Council, a unique five-member district elected panel that has check and balances power over the Governor.

North Carolina: Harper Polling reported the results of their Oct 15-17 survey of 500 likely Tar Heel State voters and confirm what previously published polls have indicated. That is, Gov. Roy Cooper (D) begins the race against presumed Republican nominee Dan Forest, the state's Republican Lt. Governor, with a definitive advantage. According to HP, Gov. Cooper holds a 46-36% ballot test lead for the 2020 statewide campaign. Meredith College also tested the North Carolina electorate. Their poll (9/29-10/7; 996 NC registered voters) finds Cooper leading with a similar but slightly better 46-33% margin.