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Period Ending November 22, 2019

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

President

Michael Bloomberg: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who previously entered the presidential race in both Alabama and Arkansas but not in New Hampshire, has formally opened a national campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission. Mr. Bloomberg, who originally decided not to run for President, now believes that none of the current candidates will defeat Mr. Trump. He is also indicating that he will not participate in the early states, choosing to begin, if he follows through, with the Super Tuesday states on March 3rd.

Emerson College Poll: Emerson College tested the national Democratic electorate (11/17-20; 468 US likely Democratic primary voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) tied with 27% apiece. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows with 20%, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg continues to lag nationally in single digits with 7% support. This is a small sample poll, so the results have a high error factor, but this data suggests a different pattern than what we've seen recently. According to other results, Mr. Biden has again been establishing a lead and Sen. Sanders has been further back. There does seem to be a uniform momentum decline for Sen. Warren, which this poll also depicts.

Iowa Poll: The Civiqs polling firm tested the Iowa Caucus likely electorate (11/15-19; 814 IA likely Democratic Caucus participants) and confirms that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is surging within the state. This large sample survey finds him atop the field with a seven-point lead at 26%, followed by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) who garner 19 and 18%, respectively, with former Vice President Joe Biden lagging badly behind with only 12% support.

New York Poll: Siena College released a rare survey of the New York Democratic electorate (11/12-18; 380 NY registered Democratic voters) and finds former Vice President Joe Biden putting distance between he and the rest of the Democratic field. Here, Biden is at 24% preference, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) trailing with 14 and 13 percent. No other candidate, including Mayor Pete Buttigieg, even reaches the 5% plateau. The New York presidential primary is scheduled for April 28th. With 273 first ballot delegates, the Empire State delegation will be the second largest at the Democratic National Convention.

South Carolina Poll: The University of North Florida pollsters tested the Palmetto State Democratic electorate (11/5-13; 436 SC likely Democratic primary voters) and found former Vice President Joe Biden holding a strong lead. UNF projects Mr. Biden with 36% preference, while Senators Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follow with 10% apiece. Here, billionaire Tom Steyer places fourth with 8%, as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Mayor Pete Buttigieg trail with 4 and 3%, respectively.

Texas Poll: The University of Texas at Tyler again conducted a Democratic presidential primary poll of the Lone Star State electorate (11/5-14; 427 TX registered voters) and sees former Vice President Joe Biden posting 28% support. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) are tightly bunched with 19 and 18%, respectively. Mayor Pete Buttigieg falls back into single digits with an 8% preference factor.

Without ex-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) in the race, the large Texas delegation (228 first ballot delegates) appears up for grabs. If this UT Tyler survey were the final vote, Biden would receive approximately 98 delegates, Warren 67, and Sanders 63. A candidate must receive 15% in the at-large vote or individual congressional districts to qualify for delegate apportionment.

Wisconsin Poll: The Marquette University Law School pollsters released their quarterly survey of the Wisconsin electorate (11/13-17; 340 WI likely Democratic primary voters) and project that former Vice President Joe Biden is expanding his lead in the Badger State. The data shows Mr. Biden pulling 30% support, ahead of Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) who follow with 17 and 15%, respectively. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is trailing with 13%, but he expands into double digits for the first time in Wisconsin. The others are far back with no one even reaching 4 percent.

Senate

Georgia: More than 500 people met Gov. Brian Kemp's (R) deadline to file an appointment application to replace resigning Sen. Johnny Isakson (R). The more notable names included US Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville), state House Speaker Pro Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton), former Health & Human Services Secretary and ex-Congressman Tom Price, ex-US Congressmen Jack Kingston and Paul Broun, and author Jackie Gingrich Cushman, daughter of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. It is unclear when Gov. Kemp will make his decision, but it is presumed he will act before Sen. Isakson leaves office on December 31st.

Kentucky: Kentucky Radio sports personality Matt Jones (D), who had been flirting with entering the US Senate race to ultimately face Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), has decided not to run. This very likely means that retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot and failed congressional candidate Amy McGrath will become the Democratic nominee.

Though challenged by several Democrats, including state Rep. Charles Booker (D-Louisville) and retired Marine Corps officer and ex-newspaper editor Mike Broihier who are the most significant of her primary opponents, McGrath's overwhelming financial advantage - she has already raised $10.7 million for the race – makes it difficult to see anyone being able to slip past her to win the party nomination. McGrath will receive national attention, and polling is likely to show this race close early, but Sen. McConnell is again the clear favorite.

Mississippi: Last week we reported that former Miss America Organization CEO Josh Randle is considering launching a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, but two other prominent Mississippi office holders followed with comments saying they will not run. State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who forced the late Sen. Thad Cochran (R) into a run-off election, and former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr., who advanced into a 2019 run-off election Gov-Elect Tate Reeves, both said late this week that they will not challenge Sen. Hyde-Smith. Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi Congressman Mike Espy (D) announced last week, however, that he will return for a general election re-match with the new Senator.

North Carolina: Despite early research studies finding a competitive Republican primary for Sen. Thom Tillis, the most recent Fox News Poll (11/10-13; 1,504 NC registered voters; 574 likely Republican primary voters) finds the first term incumbent overwhelming opponent Garland Tucker, 54-11%. Assuming he is re-nominated, Sen. Tillis will face former state Sen. Cal Cunningham in the general election.

Texas: The University of Texas at Tyler released the results of their statewide US Senate poll (11/5-14; 1,093 TX registered voters; 427 likely Democratic primary voters) and they find that none of the Democratic candidates even reach double-digits. A majority, 52%, say they are undecided or need more information about the candidates.

The primary ballot test finds retired Army helicopter pilot and failed congressional candidate M.J. Hegar tied with non-profit executive Cristina Tzintzun Ramirez at 9% apiece. State Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) and Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards are right behind with 8% each, and former Congressman and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Chris Bell records 7% support, meaning the five are virtually deadlocked. This tells us the March 3rd primary will almost assuredly lead to a May 26th run-off election between the top two finishers, regardless of who they may be. The eventual Democratic nominee faces three-term Sen. John Cornyn (R) in the general election.

House

CA-25: Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced that the special election to replace resigned Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale) will occur concurrently with the state primary on Super Tuesday, March 3rd. If no candidate obtains a majority vote that day, a run-off between the top two finishers is scheduled for May 12th.

Democrats hope to score a majority victory on March 3rd in the person of freshman state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall), but Republicans are fielding former Congressman Steve Knight, who lost to Hill in 2018. Much depends on who else enters the race. Candidates will file for the special election and for the regular term on December 6th. For this congressional district, two elections will occur on 3/3: the special election primary and the regular election jungle primary.

GA-6: This week, two Republican candidates dropped their congressional bids, meaning a re-match between Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) and former Rep. Karen Handel (R) is becoming more likely. State Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta), who declared his candidacy long before Ms. Handel, announced that he is ending his congressional effort and instead will file for re-election to the state Senate. Yesterday, Merchant Marine veteran Nicole Rodden also dropped out of the GOP primary, following Sen. Beach's lead. Ms. Handel's lone nomination opponent is businesswoman Marjorie Green, who the former Congresswoman is heavily favored to defeat.

MD-7: Former Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), who left office with poor ratings after the Baltimore riots, announced that she will not enter the special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore).

As candidate filing closed for the special election to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore), state Delegate and physician Jay Jalisi (D-Owings Mills) became the 22nd of 24 Democrats who will battle for the nomination. It is now obvious that the Congressman's widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, becoming a candidate did not dissuade others from filing. Also running are state Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore), former Congressman and NAACP president Kweisi Mfume, state House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch (D-Baltimore), and state Delegate and surgeon Terri Hill (D-Columbia), among many others.

MI-3: State Rep. Jim Lower (R-Greenville) was primed to wage a primary campaign against former Republican Congressman Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) before the latter man left the party to become an Independent. Mr. Lower cited his weak fundraising as the chief reason for making a decision to end his effort even before the campaign officially begun. He is expected to seek re-election to the state House. State Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids), real estate analyst Peter Meijer, Lyon Village Trustee Joe Farrington, and at least three others are currently in the Republican primary.

NJ-3: Republicans scored a recruitment victory as ex-Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs, who lost her re-election campaign in November to a lesser candidate, announced that she will challenge freshman Rep. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown). Last November, Mr. Kim unseated then-Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) in a very close election (50.0-48.7%). Because the district's nature is typically Republican, we can count on this being a top tier GOP challenge race next year.

Governor

Louisiana: Defying what is usually a poor trend in run-offs for incumbent Southern politicians forced into a secondary election, Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) recorded a 51.3% victory on November 16th to win a second term over GOP developer Eddie Rispone. Though polling correctly showed a tight race, the latest surveys suggested that the trend might be favoring a Rispone upset. The Governor's superior organization was able to capitalize on his strength in New Orleans and Baton Rouge, while keeping Rispone's margin down in some of the key Republican strongholds.