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Period Ending April 15, 2016

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

President

Upcoming Primaries: The northeast corridor now steps into the proverbial batter’s box, as the New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Maryland primaries are just around the corner. New York voters will cast their ballots next Tuesday, while the other states’ electors have their chance on April 26.

Several polls suggest that Donald Trump and former New York Sen. Hillary Clinton will easily win their respective Republican and Democratic New York primaries. But placing first there is not the only objective. Trump needs a major delegate haul to reinvigorate his campaign after losing Wisconsin on April 5. It is critical for Trump to score a landslide delegate haul in order to return to the realm of obtaining a first ballot victory at the Republican National Convention. Therefore, he needs to garner in the neighborhood of 80 New York delegates from the pool of 95 in their very complicated delegate allocation system. In a combined statewide/congressional district allocation system (NY has 27 districts), attaining this number will be difficult even though all surveys project him to a healthy lead over Ohio Gov. John Kasich and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Ms. Clinton’s road to her nomination is much simpler than Mr. Trump’s. Now in a position where she needs only 30% of the outstanding delegates to clinch the nomination, taking the lion’s share of New York’s 291 Democratic delegates will go a long way to achieving her goal. Polling gives her low double-digit leads over Sen. Bernie Sanders, which might be considered an under-performance from a state that twice elected her Senator. Such a finish, however, will be more than enough to meet her state delegate projection quota.

Rigged! At least two candidates, one in each party, are complaining about both the Republican and Democratic nominating process. Donald Trump unleashed against the Colorado system that does not have a primary or caucus attached to the delegate allocation process. Rather, the Republicans meet in a state convention and choose the state’s 34 available delegates. Because Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) worked the process, he was rewarded with a sweep of the unbounded delegation and is apparently scoring a backdoor Winner-Take-All victory. A week earlier, the North Dakota Republican Party conducted a similar delegate apportionment state convention, also with Cruz faring considerably better than Trump, but without the chorus of complaints emanating from the Trump camp.

On the Democratic side, it was Hillary Clinton’s team who was accusing Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) of trying to “rig” the convention. Ms. Clinton’s spokesman, Brian Fallon, stated that Sanders going after the announced Clinton Super Delegates to convince them to switch sides is his (Fallon’s) definition of “rigging” the nomination system. For the record, neither side is rigged, and all of the actions in both parties have been within the agreed upon party rules.

Senate

California: The Field Poll (3/24-4/4; 633 CA likely jungle primary voters) just tested the US Senate electorate, and became the first to do so since significant Republican candidate Ron Unz joined the race. The California system allows the top two candidates to advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. Therefore, the Democratic leadership hopes to send two of their party members into the general election to succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). The latest Field data, as other pollsters have also determined, suggests the leadership may get its wish. According to the survey results, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) leads Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) by a 27-14% spread, with a huge 48% undecided factor. The top Republican, Mr. Unz, comes in only at 5 percent.

Colorado: At the aforementioned state Republican convention, attenders also considered the US Senate contest where a multitude of second-tier candidates are vying for the opportunity to challenge Sen. Michael Bennet (D). The convention endorsed only El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn (R). Therefore, he automatically advances to the primary ballot. Four other candidates, businessman Robert Blaha, former Aurora Councilman Ryan Frazier, ex-Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham, and former state Rep. Jon Keyser, all announced that they will file petition signatures to qualify for the Republican primary ballot. Sen. Bennet is a clear favorite for re-election.

Maryland: The new NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist College poll (4/6-10; 775 MD likely Democratic primary voters) again detects a seesaw Maryland Democratic primary race between Reps. Donna Edwards (D-MD-4) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8). Several polls have been published in the past three weeks showing each candidate with a small single-digit lead. The NBC/WSJ/Marist survey is no different. This poll finds Van Hollen regaining the lead 44-38%. The previous data, from the Washington Post/University of Maryland had given Rep. Edwards a 44-40% advantage. This race is going down to the wire. The Democratic nominee will succeed retiring Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D).

House

FL-4: Eight-term Rep. Ander Crenshaw (R-Jacksonville) announced mid-week that he will not seek re-election in 2016, becoming the 44th House member to voluntarily decide to leave Congress. The decision will yield a contested Republican primary, the winner of which will succeed Mr. Crenshaw. The 4th is the second-strongest Republican district in the state and is sure to elect another GOP candidate. The early political buzz suggests that former Duval County Sheriff John Rutherford (R) will be cast as the early leader in the coming race. St. John’s County Commissioner Bill McClure (R) became the first person to announce an official congressional candidacy. Candidate filing closes on May 6 for the August 30 primary.

FL-6: Former four-term Rep. Ric Keller (R-Orlando), who was defeated for re-election in 2008, announced a return to the political arena. He will join the Republican primary in the Atlantic Coast 6th District, the seat that Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Daytona) is leaving to run for the Senate. Mr. Keller becomes the seventh Republican candidate to enter the race, which should at least slightly favor the GOP nominee in November. The surprise entry alters the political picture here, but it is likely too early to determine the degree of change and whether Keller has a strong chance to win the nomination and seat. He previously represented only a small portion of this new 6th District.

FL-13: Pinellas County Republicans were hoping that former St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker (R) would enter the open congressional campaign, likely against Democratic former Gov. Charlie Crist. In a re-drawn 13th District, Democrats have a significant advantage. Much to the Republican leadership’s consternation, ex-Mayor Baker this week announced that he would not enter the congressional race. It is possible that he may run for office again, however. He stated that he felt an executive elected position is more in line with his skill set. The development most likely costs the Republicans their only candidate who could have made this general election campaign competitive. Incumbent Rep. David Jolly (R) is running for Senate.

NJ-9: Just days after former Paterson Mayor Jeffery Jones (D) filed to enter the Democratic primary against Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), he quickly announced an end to his challenge. The decision leaves only Republican physician Hector Castillo (R) as the lone candidate opposing Rep. Pascrell. The Jones’ development means Pascrell will easily win an 11th term in November.

TX-19: In the run-off election (May 24) to replace retiring Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock), former Gov. Rick Perry (R) formally endorsed previous Bush Administration official and ex-Texas Tech University Chancellor Jodey Arrington (R) against Lubbock Mayor Glen Robertson (R). With no Democratic candidate filed for the general election, the Republican run-off will elect the next Congressman.

Governor

North Carolina: The fallout from the North Carolina controversy over the Charlotte transgender legislation is hurting Gov. Pat McCrory (R). Survey USA (4/8-11; 701 NC likely voters) now finds Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) taking a small lead over McCrory in their race for Governor. The S-USA data shows a 47-43% spread in Cooper’s favor, now opposite of previous polls. The NC Governor’s race is likely to be the closest gubernatorial contest in the nation.