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Period Ending May 10, 2019

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

President

Mayor Bill de Blasio: Rumors were circulating early this week that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was going to announce his presidential campaign. But, that did not happen. Mr. de Blasio was quoted as saying, "you can't have an announcement before there's a decision."

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: The first cross-party endorsement has already been made for the 2020 election, and it goes to Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. Former presidential candidate and veteran Republican Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX) has publicly endorsed Ms. Gabbard saying she is "by far the very, very best...". It is unclear how much this endorsement will help her in Democratic primaries, but it certainly demonstrates an attempt to project a wide appeal.

Indiana: A small sample We Ask America poll was conducted among selected likely Indiana Democratic primary voters (4/29-5/5; 280 likely Dem primary voters) and the results found former Vice President Joe Biden leading, but the margin was closer than in most other polled states. The WAA data finds the ex-VP with 33% support compared to Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I-VT) 23%, and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who posted 20%.

Maryland: As rumors continue that Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan may launch a Republican primary challenge to President Trump, Gonzales Research, Marketing & Strategy, a Maryland-based company, polled the GOP electorate (4/29-4/4; 203 MD likely primary voters). Though the sample size is very small, the President's margin is very large. The results find Mr. Trump holding a 68-24% advantage over Gov. Hogan in the latter man's home state.

Massachusetts: In an effort to deny former Massachusetts Governor Bill Weld some home state delegates, the MA Republican Party adopted a new rule that changes Massachusetts into a winner-take-all state. The Trump campaign wants a unanimous vote at the convention, and Massachusetts making the move to winner-take-all status makes such a goal all the more achievable.

New Hampshire: In early May, we've seen two pollsters survey the New Hampshire Democratic electorate and arrive at very diverse results. As we've previously reported, the Fireside Strategies/Optima poll (551 respondents) found former Vice President Joe Biden opening up a strong 34-16-10% lead over Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. But, Change Research (864 respondents) countered with data finding Sen. Sanders holding a 30-26-12% margin over Biden and Buttigieg, respectively. Now, Monmouth University reports its findings of their May 2-7 poll with 376 likely Democratic primary voters. They side with Fireside, as the numbers project Mr. Biden to be holding a 36-18-9% advantage over Sanders and Buttigieg, respectively.

Senate

Alabama: US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), who ran for the Senate in the 2017 special election and placed third in the field of candidates, has now made clear his plans regarding the 2020 Senate campaign. In a radio interview, Rep. Brooks definitively declared that he will not be a 2020 statewide candidate. This means Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), state Auditor Jim Zeigler, state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Indian Springs Valley), former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, and possibly Secretary of State John Merrill (R) are the major candidates vying to challenge first-term incumbent Doug Jones (D).

Additionally, former US Senator and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) is re-emerging. Originally stating that he wanted to get away to the Alabama woods for a while when asked if he would consider entering the 2020 Senate primary, Mr. Sessions may now be issuing different signals. This week, he responded that he is "interested in the issues" when asked about the Senate race, prompting some to surmise that Mr. Sessions has not necessarily ruled out becoming a candidate.

Colorado: Former state House Majority Leader Alice Madden (D) announced that she will enter the crowded Democratic US Senate primary. Her move means there are now 12 announced candidates vying for the opportunity of challenging first-term Republican Senator Cory Gardner in the general election. Among the dozen, however, no one has ever won a statewide race. The most well-known of the group are former state House Speaker and defeated US House and Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff, ex-US Ambassador Dan Baer who briefly entered a 2018 House campaign, former appointed US Attorney John Walsh, and ex-state Senator and defeated gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston.

Georgia: We remember Democrat Jon Ossoff who raised a record amount of money for his 2017 special election in Georgia's 6th District, a race he lost to Republican Karen Handel. Though winning the special election and overcoming his $31.6 million treasury, Ms. Handel could not hold the seat in the regular election, losing a one-percentage point result to current Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta). Now Mr. Ossoff is toying with another candidacy, but this time it's for the US Senate. Ossoff confirmed he is considering challenging Sen. David Perdue (R) now that 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D) has decided not to run for the Senate. Already in the Democratic primary is Columbus former Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and several minor candidates.

North Carolina: Former CEO and conservative activist Garland Tucker announced that he will enter the Republican Senate primary against first-term Sen. Thom Tillis (R). Rumors of a primary challenge became rampant when Sen. Tillis publicly began to oppose President Trump's state of emergency action regarding the country's southern border. Sen. Tillis later supported the idea, but he obviously caused himself long-lasting damage with the base Trump supporters in the NC GOP.

Wyoming: Four-term Senator Mike Enzi (R) announced on Saturday that he will not seek re-election next year. This becomes the fourth open Senate seat of the 2020 election cycle, three of which are Republican-held. Most of the action will come in the Republican primary from one of the GOP's best states. At-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson) is the name most often mentioned as a possible candidate. Former Gov. Matt Mead (R) is also a possibility, as well as several statewide office holders. At the end of the week, it emerged that former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) is also reported to be considering entering the Senate campaign.

House

CA-10: Ex-Rep. Jeff Denham (R-CA), who served four terms in the House, just accepted a position in Washington and said this week that he is ruling out any re-match campaign for the US House. Last November, Mr. Denham lost to now-freshman Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock/ Modesto) on a 52-48% count. Three Republicans have already announced their candidacies to oppose Rep. Harder, including former Turlock City Councilman Ted Howze who entered the race against Mr. Denham last year and received 15% of the jungle primary vote in an eight-person candidate field.

FL-7: Though sophomore Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) has already shown electoral strength, she is drawing a crowd of opponents for her next re-election. This week, attorney and former congressional candidate Vennia Francois announced her candidacy, joining businessman and National Guardsman Thomas Delia, anti-human trafficking advocate Jan Edwards, and college student Armani Salado. It is unclear if any of these can mount a credible challenge, but the level of early activity here is significant.

GA-13: Former Cobb County Democratic Party chairman Michael Owens announced that he will again challenge Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) for re-nomination next year. Accusing Mr. Scott of straying from the party on too many key issues and supporting Republican candidates for certain races, Mr. Owens said he is again ready to forge a challenge to the nine-term Congressman. The first time the two faced each other occurred in a 2014 primary election. Then, Rep. Scott thrashed Owens 82-18%, so the Congressman obviously begins this new campaign as a prohibitive favorite.

IA-2: Rep. David Loebsack's (D-Iowa City) early retirement announcement obviously caught a great many southeastern Iowa politicos by surprise because almost a month after his creating an open competitive seat in the 2020 election, no one in either party had come forward to declare a candidacy. That has now changed. Osceola Mayor Thomas Kedley (R) officially entered the Republican congressional primary this week, and we assume many more candidates in both parties will be coming forward to run.

IA-3: Former Rep. David Young (R), who lost his congressional seat to Democrat Cindy Axne (D-West Des Moines) in November, said yesterday that he will return for a re-match. Other defeated Republican members are considering comebacks, but Mr. Young is the first to make his candidacy official. The two battled to a two-point decision, with Ms. Axne unseating Mr. Young, 49-47%, a difference of 7,709 votes of more than 360,000 cast.

NC-9: NC-9: Public Policy Polling went into the field to test the Republican special election candidates two weeks before the May 14th primary vote. The survey (4/29-30; 592 NC-9 likely GOP primary voters) finds state Senator Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) positioned with a chance not only to finish first in the field of ten candidates but potentially exceeding the 30% threshold to win the party nomination outright. The poll totals show Sen. Bishop attracting 31% support with his next closest rival, Union County Supervisor Stony Rushing, garnering 17%. Realtor Leigh Brown, who the national Realtors PAC is spending over $1.2 million in a support independent expenditure operation, could be the wild card. Sitting at 6%, the outside resources could be enough to push her into second place while denying Sen. Bishop the plurality victory.

If a run-off is necessitated, the vote will be scheduled for September 10th. If the Republicans nominate a candidate on May 14th, the special general then occupies the 9/10 date. Otherwise, the general will be held November 5th. Democrat Dan McCready is unopposed for the party nomination, so he will automatically advance into the special general. The seat is vacant because voter fraud allegations kept the 2018 election result from being certified.

Ohio Redistricting: A federal three-judge panel struck down the Ohio congressional district boundaries, ruling that the map is a political gerrymander. The Buckeye State now joins a long list of places dealing with similar decisions that have already been rendered in North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Maryland, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The real action, however, is before the US Supreme Court, where potentially definitive binding rulings on the North Carolina and Maryland cases could remand all of the pending cases with clearer direction as to what constitutes gerrymandering. The high court decisions are expected before June ends.

Governor

Louisiana: JMC Analytics, a regular pollster of the Louisiana electorate, just reported the results of their new survey (4/25-27 & 29; 650 LA registered voters) for the upcoming Governor's election. According to the JMC data, the October 12th jungle primary finds Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) leading US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/ Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R), 38-23-7%. In tested general election run-offs, Gov. Edwards would top Rep. Abraham by a slight 40-36% count, while his advantage against Rispone would balloon to 41-28%.