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Period Ending February 1, 2019

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

President

Former Vice President Joe Biden: Leading in all national polling for both the Democratic nomination and against President Trump, Ex-VP Joe Biden says he is getting closer to making a decision about running but will still ultimately decide whether to launch a new national campaign in the very near future.

Sen. Cory Booker: Early news stories are reporting that New Jersey Senator Cory Booker is informing colleagues that he will formally announce his presidential campaign.

Jeff Flake: Former Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), now a CBS News commentator, publicly confirmed that he will not be running for President next year. Speculation previously occurred that he was testing the waters toward challenging President Trump for the GOP nomination.

Mayor Eric Garcetti: Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has decided that he, too, will not enter the Democratic presidential foray. It is still likely we will see Democratic candidates numbering well into double-digits, but the actual number of active candidates may end up being closer to 18-20 rather than 23-25.

Howard Schultz: Starbucks former CEO Howard Schultz publicly clarified his presidential status. He confirms considering becoming a candidate, but, if he moves forward, it will be as an Independent because of his increasing disgust with the two major political parties.

Jill Stein: Green Party 2016 and '12 presidential nominee Jill Stein, who successfully requested post-election recounts of the close Great Lakes States until it became obvious that no major counting errors were present in the last election, announced that she will not become a candidate in 2020. She received just 1.1% of the national popular vote in 2016, and 0.4% in 2012.

Rep. Eric Swalwell: California Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin) continues to say he is considering entering the presidential contest. Though a minor candidate who would not be a serious threat to win the Democratic nomination, Mr. Swalwell did offer a newsworthy comment. While he could run both for President and his House seat should his national nomination quest be unsuccessful, the Congressman said he would not seek re-election to the House if he ultimately becomes a presidential candidate.

William Weld: Former Massachusetts Governor and ex-Libertarian Party Vice Presidential nominee Bill Weld indicated that he is planning on becoming a Republican nomination opponent to President Trump and will make an official declaration announcement on February 15th. He refused to extrapolate any further in order to avoid "spoiling" his address.

Senate

Colorado: Former state Senator Mike Johnston (D), who finished third in the 2018 Democratic gubernatorial primary with 23.5% of the vote, announced that he will enter the US Senate primary field next year. The winner claims the opportunity of challenging Sen. Cory Gardner (R) in the general election. Mr. Johnston joins former state House Speaker and congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff and two minor candidates at this point in the Democratic primary.

Democrats still hope to convince former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) to run, but he appears intent on entering the presidential campaign in March.

Georgia: In a further effort to recruit former gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams into the race to challenge Sen. David Perdue (R) next year, the party brass at the behest of Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), invited her to present the national Democratic response to President Trump's State of the Union Address. Ms. Abrams continues to maintain that she will make a decision about whether to undertake a Senate campaign sometime in March.

New Hampshire: Any doubt that Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D) would seek a third term has now been dispelled. Yesterday, Sen. Shaheen announced that she will stand for re-election in 2020. Because New Hampshire is the quintessential swing state, the race must be viewed as competitive even though no GOP competitor has yet come forward to declare a challenge.

North Carolina: Early this week, state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Beaufort) announced that she will enter the Democratic US Senate primary in hopes of winning the opportunity of challenging Sen. Thom Tillis (R). Already in the race is Mecklenburg County Commissioner at-large Trevor Fuller (D). State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte) is also expected to soon enter. So far, however, no statewide official has indicated a preference to enter the Senate race. The North Carolina contest is viewed as highly competitive heading into 2020.

Texas: A newly released Atlantic Media & Research survey conducted earlier in January (for Courageous Conservatives PAC; 1/5-11; 504 TX registered voters) finds Sen. John Cornyn (R) posting healthy re-election numbers when tested against former US Representative and 2018 US Senate nominee Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso), though the sample appears to have a right-of-center skew. According to the results, Sen. Cornyn would lead Mr. O'Rourke, 50-37%, which seems a bit of a stretch considering the latter man's close finish with Sen. Ted Cruz (R) last November. Additionally, O'Rourke's favorability numbers (28:44% positive to negative) are not consistent with other post-election polling.

Utah: Salt Lake County Councilor Jenny Wilson (D) challenged Sen. Mitt Romney (R) for the Utah's open US Senate seat last November, and fell to him, 31-63%. But, she now has a new political position, nonetheless. The Salt Lake County Democratic leadership has appointed her as the local Mayor to replace Ben McAdams (D), who was elected to Congress. Because the Democrats previously controlled the vacant position, state succession law allows the party leaders to name a replacement. Mayor Wilson will be able to run for a full term as Salt Lake County's chief executive in 2020.

House

GA-6: Two weeks ago, state Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) filed a federal campaign committee presumably to become a congressional candidate, opposing freshman US Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta). During the middle of last week defeated Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell) indicated that she is seriously considering seeking a re-match with the new Congresswoman who outpaced her in November by less than a percentage point.

Earlier, former state Sen. Judson Hill (R), a former congressional candidate, again acknowledged himself as a potential contender. Additionally, Fulton County Commissioner Liz Hausmann and Alpharetta City Councilman Ben Burnett are also reported as potential GOP candidates. With this much action so early in the new election cycle, it is clear that this formerly Republican district will be a major GOP conversion target next year.

GA-7: In November, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) and former state Senate committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux (D) battled to the closest vote spread in the country, a 419-ballot difference tipped in the Congressman's favor. So far, 2018 candidate David Kim and Democratic activist and attorney Marqus Cole have come forward to publicly express interest in running, and now the Atlanta Journal Constitution issued a story saying that Ms. Bourdeaux is eyeing a political comeback. It is evident that in the coming election, Rep. Woodall will take his 2020 challenger more seriously than he did in the early part of the previous election cycle.

MO-1: With the most liberal Democratic faction already saying they want to force 2020 primary challenges against veteran party office holders, at least one more looks to be a certainty. Nurse Cori Bush, who fell to Missouri Rep. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) by a 57-37% count last August, says that she will run again in 2020. Ms. Bush spent just under $150,000 for her primary battle against Rep. Clay, but her chances of attracting greater resources for the next campaign appear enhanced.

NV-4: Nevada former state Assemblyman Jim Marchant (R) has filed a 2020 congressional political committee with the Federal Election Commission, signaling he is preparing to challenge Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) next year. Mr. Horsford was first elected in 2012 but defeated for re-election two years later by Republican Cresent Hardy, who Democrat Ruben Kihuen then unseated in 2016. In the 2018 open seat, Mr. Horsford returned to the House, this time defeating Mr. Hardy when Rep. Kihuen declined to seek re-election due to sexual harassment allegations.

NY-2: Political action among Democrats and Republicans looks to be stirring on the South Shore of Long Island. 2018 Democratic nominee Liuba Grechen Shirley, who lost to Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford/Babylon), 52-46%, is reportedly considering running again next year. But, rumors are beginning to surface that suggest Rep. King, who will be 76 years old before the next election, is considering retirement from Congress. If so, a prime candidate to replace him would be his daughter, Hempstead Town Councilmember Erin King Sweeney (R). As an open seat, the 2nd District would become highly competitive.

NY-11: Freshman New York Rep. Max Rose (D-Staten Island) unseated Rep. Dan Donovan (R-Staten Island) in November scoring an upset victory. We can be assured of a very active 2020 political contest in this district. Former Representative and convicted felon Michael Grimm (R) has already indicated that he will run again. During the week, state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) filed a campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, suggesting that a multi-candidate Republican primary is a likelihood.

PA-12: Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) just resigned from the House, and Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has called the special election to fill the vacancy for May 21st, concurrent with the state's municipal primary. Each political party will now meet in convention to choose a special election nominee. Those selected will face each other on May 21st in a plurality election, with the winner serving the balance of the current term. Republicans will be favored to hold what should be a safe GOP district.

Governor

Kentucky: Gov. Matt Bevin (R), working to overcome poor approval ratings as he heads into a 2019 re-election campaign, has now officially filed for re-election. But, Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton will not be Gov. Bevin's choice to continue in her current position should he win re-election. His new running mate is state Sen. Ralph Alvarado (R-Winchester).

Now that the 2019 candidate filing deadline has past we know that US Rep. James Comer (R-Tompkinsville), who lost the 2015 statewide Republican gubernatorial primary to Mr. Bevin by just 83 votes and had been openly contemplating running for Governor again, will not be a gubernatorial candidate.

Gov. Bevin will face state Rep. Robert Goforth (R-East Bernstadt) and two minor candidates in the Republican primary while Attorney General Andy Beshear, former state Auditor Adam Edelen, state House Minority Leader Rocky Adkins (D-Sandy Hook), and economist Geoff Young comprise the field of candidates doing battle for the Democratic nomination. The Kentucky primary is set for May 21st. The state does not utilize a run-off system. This year's general election is scheduled for November 5th.

Louisiana: A new LJR Custom Strategies survey conducted for the Education Reform Now advocacy group (1/14-27; 600 LA likely voters), a supporter of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), finds the first-term state chief executive way ahead of his two current prospective Republican opponents.

According to the LJR results, Gov. Edwards leads Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and land developer Eddie Rispone (R), 45-17-4%, if the state's jungle primary were held in the present time frame. But, this respondent group consisted of 53% self-identified Democrats, 34% Republicans, and 13% unaffiliateds. Typically, the Louisiana electorate has a much different complexion. On the other hand, a December poll from Remington Research conducted for Rep. Abraham found that he and Gov. Edwards would tie at 44% apiece if the two advanced into the general election, providing a distinct example of early polling disparity.

North Carolina: To no one's surprise, North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) has filed a gubernatorial exploratory committee to gauge his victory chances in challenging Gov. Roy Cooper (D). It has always been expected that Mr. Forest would run for the state's top office.