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Period Ending April 12, 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. Eric Swalwell: After almost a year of indicating he would run for President, California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin/Hayward) officially announced his intentions yesterday. He now becomes the 18th Democratic presidential candidate. The total does not include former Vice President Joe Biden, ex-Virginia Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, nor Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) or Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. Should all enter, as expected, the total candidate list will swell to 22.

Washington: The Washington Democrats, at their state party meeting last weekend, decided to convert their caucus nomination system into a primary. Earlier, the legislature and Governor took action to move the nomination event date from late in the cycle to March 10, 2020. Washington moving means that 69% of the first ballot delegate votes will likely be locked into place at the close of the primaries and caucuses to be held on March 17, 2020.

Senate

Alabama: Tommy Tuberville (R), the former head football coach of Alabama's Auburn University, announced over the weekend that he will seek the Republican US Senate nomination. Already in the race is Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile). Others, such as Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and even possibly 2017 special election nominee Roy Moore (R), the former state Supreme Court Chief Justice, are also reportedly considering running.

The eventual Republican nominee then challenges Sen. Doug Jones (D), who is filling former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) unexpired term after winning the 2017 special election. This race is going to be the top Republican conversion target next year, and very likely a must-win campaign for the GOP to maintain their Senate majority.

Georgia: While still awaiting whether former gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) will announce for the Senate, ex-Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson (D) formed a US Senate exploratory committee at the end of last week. Ms. Tomlinson maintains that she will yield to Ms. Abrams if the latter woman decides to run - Abrams indicated she will make a decision at some point this month - but appears to be readying an effort to challenge Sen. David Perdue (D) if the former statewide nominee decides to go in another political direction.

New Hampshire: The 1st quarter financial disclosure reports are due at the beginning of next week, and already many of the office holders and candidates are releasing their numbers. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) did so, and her totals were surprising. Potentially facing a tough re-election fight with Gov. Chris Sununu (R), Sen. Shaheen has finally kicked her fundraising operation into gear. In the first quarter, the campaign obtained over $1.4 million, but her closing cash-on-hand figure was a surprisingly low $1.5 million.

New Mexico: Freshman Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque), who flirted with the idea of running for the state's newly open US Senate seat, announced yesterday that she will seek re-election to the US House position she won last November. At this point, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe) clearly has the inside track to the Democratic nomination and will be favored in the general election, but another Democrat, Secretary of State Maggie Toulouse Oliver, is a potential candidate. Republicans have yet to see a major candidate come forward. Sen. Tom Udall (D) is retiring.

West Virginia: Little so far has been said about first-term Sen. Shelley Moore Capito's (R) re-election bid. At this point, nary a Republican nor Democrat has indicated an interest in running. Therefore, it was of little surprise when Sen. Capito announced that she will run for re-election. With most of the political attention on the Governor's race, and with President Trump on the ballot in his second strongest state, Sen. Capito looks to be a lock to secure a second term.

House

AZ-1: Late last year former Flagstaff City Councilmember Eva Putzova announced her Democratic primary challenge to two-term Rep. Tom O'Halleran (D-Sedona). Though early in the cycle, her campaign appears to be experiencing a weak beginning. Ms. Putzova's first quarter filing is reported to show only $31,000 raised with just $20,000 cash-on-hand.

CA-25: Earlier this week, Lancaster City Councilmember Angela Underwood-Jacobs (R) indicated that she will be announcing her congressional challenge to freshman Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale). Ms. Underwood-Jacobs will already become the fourth Republican to declare his or her candidacy. She joins defense contractor Mike Garcia, non-profit organization executive Suzette Valladares, and GOP activist Charles Patron.

IL-13: The Land of Lincoln's 13th District, a seat that includes the Capital City of Springfield and President Lincoln's home for many years, hosted one of the closest congressional campaigns in the country last year. In November, Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) outlasted challenger Betsy Dirksen Londrigan by just 2,058 votes, or a 50.4 - 49.6% split. This week, Ms. Londrigan announced that she will return for a re-match. It is likely she will have little to no competition in the Democratic primary, and the general election could again become close. We can count on another competitive campaign here next year, though Rep. Davis may be in stronger position in the presidential year.

MI-6: While 2018 Democratic nominee Matt Longjohn, who held veteran Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) to a 50-46% re-election victory, continues to say he is considering seeking a re-match with the Congressman, a new Democratic contender has stepped forward. Two-term state Rep. Joe Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) announced his candidacy for the party nomination. Therefore, we will likely see a significant August 2020 Democratic primary here before the winner has a chance to directly challenge Mr. Upton.

MT-AL: Late this week, former state Rep. Kathleen Williams (D), who held at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) to a 51-46% re-election victory, announced that she will seek a rematch next year. Ms. Williams doesn't have the Democratic primary to herself, however. State Rep. Tom Winter (D-Missoula) has already announced his candidacy. There are political rumors that Mr. Gianforte may run for Governor - he was the GOP nominee in 2016 - but the Congressman is providing no confirmation that he will be jumping into the open statewide race.

NJ-2: New Jersey's coastal 2nd District, anchored in the Atlantic City region, had been in Republican hands for 24 years in the person of Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor) until last year. The Congressman's retirement led to Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew having a relatively easy run to replace Mr. LoBiondo, though his victory margin against weak Republican nominee Seth Grossman was lower than expected: 53-45%.

This year, the competition already appears stronger. Venture capitalist David Richter (R) announced his congressional candidacy late this week in a seat that President Trump carried, 51-46%. With Mr. Trump again on the 2020 ballot, this race could become much more competitive than last year.

NJ-7: State Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R-Westfield), whose father served two terms as Governor in the 1980s, will reportedly announce his congressional challenge to freshman US Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill/Short Hills) on April 16th. Mr. Kean, who has lost past races for both the US Senate and House, has been in the state Senate since 2003, and in leadership beginning in 2008.

NM-2: Chris Mathys, who lost the GOP nomination for a district position on the New Mexico Regulation Commission by a mere 25 votes last June, is returning to run for a higher office. This week, Mr. Mathys announced that he will compete for the GOP nomination to face freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) in a general election campaign that will be competitive. But first, Mr. Mathys will have to deny former state Rep. Yvette Harrell (R) re-nomination. In November, she held then-candidate Torres Small to a tight 51-49% victory margin.

NY-1: On Friday, 2018 Democratic nominee Perry Gershon, who lost to three-term Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) 51-47%, says he will wage another campaign effort next year. At this point, Mr. Gershon has the Democratic field to himself, but such can certainly change. The 1st District is fully contained within Suffolk County on Long Island and houses all of the easternmost territory including the Hamptons to the Atlantic shore.

NY-18: Chele Farley was the Republican Senatorial nominee against incumbent Kirsten Gillibrand (D) last fall, losing by a landslide 65-32%. Now, Ms. Farley has announced that she is returning to launch another political campaign, but this time for the US House. Farley only raised $1.4 million for her race against Sen. Gillibrand, but that amount would be a very credible financial starting point against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring/Peekskill). Though Ms. Farley was blown out, as most Republicans are at the statewide level, she could become a viable congressional candidate.

OR-5: Milwaukie (OR) Mayor and National Geographic magazine photographer Mark Gamba filed a Federal Election Commission committee this week, the first official step toward launching a Democratic primary challenge campaign to six-term veteran Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby/Salem). If Mr. Gamba can raise substantial resources, the race could become viable. Rep. Schrader tends to be more moderate than his electorate, which could open the door to stiff competition especially in context with the concurrent presidential campaign atmospherics.

TX-7: Earlier this week, Cathy Siegel (R), who serves on the Metro Transit Authority of Houston, filed Federal Election Commission papers to open a congressional committee for Harris County's 7th District. When freshman Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-Houston) upset nine-term incumbent Rep. John Culberson (R) in November, she became the first Democrat to represent the seat since 1968 when George Herbert Walker Bush first converted it to the Republican column.

Last week, at the reported behest of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) Iraq War veteran Wesley Hunt (R) entered the race so it appears this Houston area district will host an early March Republican primary. Expect this district to be a major Republican conversion target next year.

Governor

West Virginia: When Gov. Jim Justice (R) appointed businessman Woody Thrasher to be his Commerce Department Secretary, he didn't figure that a member of his Cabinet would return to oppose him in the 2020 election. But, this is about to happen. Next week, Mr. Thrasher is expected to announce his Republican primary gubernatorial challenge to Gov. Justice.

In 2016, Mr. Justice was elected as a Democrat, but then changed parties less than a year into his Governorship. Therefore, as he seeks re-election, this will be the first time he appears before an exclusively non-Democratic electorate. Mr. Thrasher's entry in the race will make this primary, a contest that also features former state Delegate Mike Folk (R), a campaign to watch. The Governor's race is expected to dominate West Virginia politics in next year's election.