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Period Ending March 11, 2016

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


Delegate Count Updates: With Sen. Bernie Sanders’ upset victory in the Michigan Democratic primary, he breathed life back into his campaign. We can now expect this race to continue on at least through the April primaries before Hillary Clinton has enough delegate votes to clinch victory. The latest delegate count finds Ms. Clinton still leading by a substantial 1,221-573. Without the announced Super Delegates, the former Secretary of State’s lead among regular Democratic delegate votes earned through the primaries and caucuses is 221. A total of 2,383 delegate votes are required to win the Democratic nomination.

Republicans are headed for their extreme showdown in Ohio next Tuesday night, March 15. In order to position himself for a first ballot victory at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump needs to sweep the two major Winner-Take-All states of Florida and Ohio. If he does, Trump has a chance to gather the 1,237 delegate votes needed for nomination. While looking secure in Florida, if he loses Ohio to Gov. John Kasich, which is a distinct possibility, the Republicans are likely headed for a contested convention. It is unlikely any other candidate beside Trump can score a first-ballot victory. Therefore, the Republicans are almost assuredly down to a choice of just two outcomes: a Trump nomination, or a brokered convention.

Michael Bloomberg (I): Saying he doesn’t want to do anything to help elect Donald Trump, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I) says he will not enter the 2016 presidential campaign as an Independent candidate. Under the two-party system, any candidate running on a third party or individual ballot line has almost no chance of winning the national election but can certainly influence the outcome. Polling suggested his presence on the ballot would hurt Hillary Clinton much more than Trump. Therefore, Bloomberg ended further speculation that he would become a candidate.


Florida: A new Washington Post/Noticias Univision survey (3/2-5; 450 FL likely Democratic voters) produced results that will bring smiles to the Democratic establishment. They now find party favorite Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter/Palm Beach) leading Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) by a 36-29% count. All other surveys had previously posted Grayson to leads of varying sizes. Survey USA (3/4-6; 1,961 likely FL voters; 937 likely Republican presidential primary voters; 823 likely Democratic presidential primary voters) this week confirms the new Murphy advantage. They peg the race at 27-16%, with a huge undecided factor. On the Republican side, Pinellas County Rep. David Jolly outpaces Daytona Rep. Ron DeSantis, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera, and businessman Todd Wilcox, 18-11-9-7%, respectively. The Florida state primary is not until August 30.

Illinois: In preparation for the March 15 Illinois primary, the Chicago Tribune conducted a poll (Research America; 3/2-6; 600 IL likely primary voters; numbers of respective Democratic and Republican respondents not released) of the two Senate primary contests. As expected, Sen. Mark Kirk (R) and Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) are having an easy time in their individual primaries. According to the data, Sen. Kirk has a 65-22% over nominal opponent James Marter. On the Democratic side, Rep. Duckworth strikes a commanding 72-8-4% advantage over former Urban League President Andrea Zopp and state Sen. Napoleon Harris.

Maryland: A new Gonzales Research & Marketing Strategies survey (2/29-3/4; 411 MD likely primary voters) also concludes, as have many other polling firms, that the Democratic primary race between Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D-Montgomery County) and Donna Edwards (D-Prince Georges County) is a flat toss-up. Their new results find Van Hollen clinging to a bare one-point edge, 42-41%. The Maryland primary is April 26.

New Hampshire: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) has drawn a Republican primary opponent. Former state Sen. Jim Rubens, who scored only 23% against 2014 Senate nominee Scott Brown in that year’s primary, says he will run again in 2016. Rubens should not pose much of a problem for the first term incumbent. Her major challenge is defeating Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) as the two vie for the Senate seat in the general election. The often unreliable University of New Hampshire Polling Institute released their latest data (2/20-28; 628 NH likely general election voters), but their results this time are consistent with everything else that has been published over the past few months. The polling spread again gives Sen. Ayotte a slight lead, 45-41%.

Pennsylvania: Despite his internal problems that have caused instability in this Senate Democratic primary campaign, former Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA-7) continues to lead party establishment favorite Katie McGinty (D) according to a new Harper Polling survey (3/1-2; 347 PA likely Democratic primary voters). The data find Sestak leading McGinty, the former gubernatorial chief of staff who ran a poor fourth in the 2014 Democratic statewide primary, 33-17%, with Braddock Mayor John Fetterman claiming 15% support. The winner faces first-term Sen. Pat Toomey (R). General election match-ups from Harper’s sample of 662 PA registered voters find Sen. Toomey leading Sestak 47-41%, while his advantage over McGinty is 47-39%.


FL-1: Rep. Jeff Miller (R), chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee, announced that he will not seek a ninth term later this year. The retirement means that 43 House seats will have no incumbent running in the 2016 election cycle, the third campaign year in a row with an abnormally high number of open seats. The 1st District, occupying the territory in the western-most portion of the Florida panhandle, will remain under Republican control.

GA-9: Former Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10), who badly lost the 2014 US Senate Republican primary, announced a political comeback attempt. He is launching a primary challenge against two-term Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) in the northeastern Georgia 9th District. This campaign will be one to watch. The Georgia congressional primary is May 24. If no candidate secures a majority vote, a run-off between the top two finishers will be held on July 26. Two other candidates, former educator Roger Fitzpatrick and land surveyor Mike Scupin, are also announced Republican candidates. Neither of the latter two are expected to be strong, but even a small vote in a close contest could conceivably force a run-off.

GA-11: As filing closes today for the Georgia primary, freshman Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R) has drawn two opponents. With just under $68,000 cash-on-hand at the end of 2015, Loudermilk has attracted attention from individuals who may become stronger candidates. Businessman Daniel Cowan and radio talk show host Hayden Collins both announced their Republican primary challenges to the first term Congressman. The seat will remain safely Republican in the general election.

IL-8: Preparing for the March 15 primary, open seat Democratic contender Raja Krishnamoorthi released the results of his March 3-6 GBA Strategies poll that posts him ahead of this two opponents. According to the result, Krishnamoorthi, the former deputy state Treasurer, holds a 55-17-9% advantage over state Sen. Mike Noland, and Villa Park local president Deb Bullwinkel. The Democratic nominee will win the open seat in November. Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D) is leaving the Chicago suburban seat to run for Senate.

NH-2: Former state House Majority Leader Jack Flanagan (R) announced that he will challenge Rep. Annie Kuster (D) this year. It’s likely that Rep. Kuster won’t have too much trouble defending her seat against Flanagan. The latter coalesced with Democrats to put himself in a legislative leadership position when he was a state House member, defeating the party-backed Republican slate. Conservatives, still angered at the Flanagan team’s move, won’t likely come to his aide against Kuster. Since this seat has been trending solidly Democratic for several elections, Rep. Kuster remains in strong position to win a third term.

NY-3: Local Nassau County leaders this week convinced state Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci (R) to exit the open Long Island US House race and endorse favored candidate Jack Martins, the local state Senator. The leaders are now trying to unify the party by convincing retired Marine Corps officer David Gurfein to also follow suit and exit the race. They would like him to hop into the 4th District and challenge freshman Rep. Kathleen Rice (D), but that is a long-shot race for a Republican. The open swing 3rd District seat could be a top GOP conversion opportunity. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Huntington) is retiring, thus leaving a crowded Democratic primary that features controversial defeated Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi among five others. This is a House race to watch.


Oregon: Candidate filing closed for the special gubernatorial election to be held with the regular 2016 calendar. Acting Gov. Kate Brown (D) attracted no major Democratic primary opponents. For the Republicans, businessman and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Allen Alley and physician Bud Pierce are the top candidates. Ms. Brown succeeded Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) who resigned under pressure earlier in the year. She stands for election this year to fill the unexpired portion of the current term, and then can seek a full four-year term in 2018.