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Period Ending May 18, 2018

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

Senate

Indiana: Gravis Marketing released their first Indiana post-primary poll featuring US Senate nominees Joe Donnelly (D) and Mike Braun (R). According to the poll (5/10-15; 400 IN likely voters), those surveyed break 45-44% in challenger Braun's favor. But, when pushed to make a choice the "Uncertain" respondents broke toward Sen. Donnelly 19-13% with 69% remaining as undecided. We can expect to see similar tight polls such as this one in the foreseeable future.

Missouri: A new survey from the Missouri Scout news service (5/9-10; 888 MO registered voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) clinging to a 48-44% lead over Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), which is her best showing since the last Missouri Scout poll (4/19-20) that produced exactly the same result. Other surveys, from four other pollsters, found a much tighter contest. The ranges come all the way from Hawley leading by one point to McCaskill ahead by two. Expect this to be another of the hard fought toss-up Senate races that will occur later this year.

Pennsylvania: Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) captured the Republican Senatorial nomination with a 63% victory over state Rep. Jim Christiana. Mr. Christiana performed well in the western PA counties north of Pittsburgh, but Rep. Barletta won throughout the rest of the state. He now faces Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) in the general election. At this point, the contest clearly favors Sen. Casey, but Rep. Barletta has the potential of making the general election competitive.

Rhode Island: A couple of weeks ago, former Governor and US Senator Lincoln Chafee (R/I/D) floated the idea that he might challenge Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse in this year's Democratic primary. Yesterday, Sen. Whitehouse's campaign released the results of their Anzalone Liszt Grove Research internal poll (5/7-14; 801 RI likely general election voters with an over-sample of 101 likely Democratic primary voters making the total primary sample size 329). According to the data, Sen. Whitehouse would defeat Mr. Chafee in a landslide, 72-14%. Within the polling sample, Sen. Whitehouse's favorability index is 79:10% positive to negative as opposed to Mr. Chafee's, 32:46%. Mr. Chafee has yet to announce definitively that he will run.

West Virginia: WPA Intelligence conducted the first West Virginia post-primary survey (5/10; 400 WV likely general election voters) for the new Joe Manchin-Patrick Morrisey US Senate race. According to the results, Attorney General Morrisey (R) notches a two-point, 46-44%, spread over Sen. Manchin (D). As predicted on primary night, this general election campaign, from a place where President Trump scored 69% of the vote but has also elected Mr. Manchin twice as both Governor and Senator, will go down to the political wire. Perhaps most troubling for Sen. Manchin, however, is his poor 30:59% favorability index among those polling respondents who declared themselves as undecided with regard to whom they will support in November.

Wisconsin: This past weekend, Republican convention delegates from across the Badger State gathered to make official party endorsements. In the US Senate primary, the delegates voted 73-27% to endorse state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) over businessman Kevin Nicholson and several other minor candidates. The endorsement doesn't preclude an August 14th primary, but does provide the favored contender with extra campaign resources and the official party candidate designation. The eventual nominee faces first-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) in what will be a competitive general election, but one in which the GOP candidate begins as a decided underdog.

House

AZ-2: A new FM3 Research survey (4/29-5/3; 400 AZ-2 likely Democratic primary voters) indicates that former US Representative and ex-US Senate candidate Ann Kirkpatrick (D) has dropped behind 2016 congressional nominee Matt Heinz in the battle for the open 2nd District Democratic nomination. According to the FM3 results, Mr. Heinz now posts a 27-23% advantage over the former Congresswoman. The Arizona primary is not until August 28th, so plenty of time remains for what now appears to be a volatile nomination campaign. Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) is vacating the district to run for Senate. This general election contest will likely earn a toss-up rating.

CT-5: After the district Republican endorsing convention where delegates officially supported Meriden Mayor Manny Santos for the official party nomination, retired psychology professor Ruby O'Neill immediately said she would force an August 14th primary election. Now, businessman Rich DuPont, who also secured enough convention delegate votes to advance to the primary ballot announced this week that he, too, will compete in the August election. Democrats also look to have a contested primary. The seat is open because Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Cheshire) is retiring.

ID-1: In the open 1st District, as expected, former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher easily won the Republican primary against a former Lt. Governor and two state Representatives. Mr. Fulcher has virtually punched his ticket to Washington with his party nomination victory since the western Idaho congressional district is strongly Republican.

MI-13: We have seen a number of candidates fail to qualify for the ballot around the country this year and John Conyers III, seeking to replace his father, resigned Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), may be the next to fall short in the signature gathering process. According to authorities at the Wayne County Elections Division, Mr. Conyers has only 880 valid nominating petition signatures from the 1,914 submitted. All candidates must submit 1,000 valid registered voter signatures from CD 13. A final determination about Mr. Conyers' ballot status is scheduled for later today. The MI-13 special election is running concurrently with the general election cycle. The winner will serve the final two months of the current term along with the succeeding full term assuming the same individual wins both the special and regular election that will be conducted simultaneously.

NE-2: Omaha provided the state with a major political upset in Tuesday's primary election. In the 2nd District Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders'-backed Kara Eastman, a non-profit organization executive, edged former US Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha) to score a 51-49% upset victory for the party nomination. She will now oppose freshman Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) in November. This will be a race to watch, but Mr. Bacon begins the general election as the favorite.

NM-1: A new Lake Research Partners survey (5/13-14; 390 NM-1 registered voters by Interactive Voice Response system) finds almost a three-way tie for the open Democratic nomination. Retired law professor Antoinette Sedillo Lopez has a slight 25-23-20% lead over former US Attorney Damon Martinez and ex-New Mexico Democratic Party chairman Deb Haaland. The results mean the race is a virtual tie at this point, just three weeks from the state's June 5th primary election. Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) is vacating the House seat to run for Governor. The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite to hold the seat in November.

PA-1: A competitive race is now on tap in the Bucks County 1st District, where freshman Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) will defend his seat against investment fund CEO Scott Wallace, the grandson of former US Vice President Henry Wallace. Mr. Wallace decisively won the Democratic primary on May 15th.

PA-4 & 5: Democratic state Rep. Madeleine Dean won a huge primary victory in the new Montgomery County 4th District. She captured 73% of the vote and caused former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) to finish last in the primary with just 11% support. Ms. Dean now becomes the prohibitive favorite to win in the general election. A similar situation exists in the neighboring new 5th District where former local school board member Mary Gay Scanlon also convincingly won her Democratic nomination battle. Ms. Scanlon will convert this district to the Democratic column in the fall.

PA-6: Businesswoman and retired Air Force officer Chrissy Houlahan (D) is favored to capture the 6th District against attorney Greg McCauley (R) after Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester) decided to withdraw from the primary after the filing deadline. Both Ms. Houlahan and Mr. McCauley ran unopposed in their respective primaries.

PA-7: The very tight outcome in the Allentown-Bethlehem Republican primary has been resolved. Former Olympic Gold Medalist (cycling) and Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein has won the Republican nomination and advances to the general election against new Democratic nominee Susan Wild. Mr. Nothstein's 308-vote margin from more than 31,000 ballots cast has been confirmed. Former County Commissioner Dean Browning conceded the race and endorsed Mr. Nothstein. The winner of what is likely to be a toss-up general election contest will succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown).

PA-8: Businessman John Chrin won the Republican primary and now will become a competitive opponent to Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in the new 8th District. The 8th is the one incumbent Democratic district that the court-ordered redistricting made weaker for the incumbent Congressman.

PA-9 & 13: Outside the Philadelphia area, former Revenue Commissioner Joe Meuser won the new 9th District Republican primary, and Altoona dermatologist John Joyce topped a large field in the new 13th CD GOP vote. Both men will head to Washington in the fall.

PA-14: In western PA, state Rep. Rick Saccone, who lost the March 13th special election to Democrat Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), again went down to defeat. This time, he lost the new open 14th CD, a district containing 57% of the territory where he previously ran. State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Township) easily defeated Saccone, 55-45%, and will win the seat in November.

Governor

Connecticut: This weekend, the Connecticut Democrats will meet in convention to officially endorse party candidates. In response to developments earlier in the week, the delegates will have more to consider. Former Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz announced that she was dropping out of the Governor's race and will instead form a ticket with fellow candidate Ned Lamont who, in 2006, denied Sen. Joe Lieberman re-nomination in the Connecticut Democratic primary. Under the state's election law, Mr. Lieberman was still able to qualify as an Independent candidate despite losing in a partisan primary election. Sen. Lieberman went on to win the general election in that year despite not being a major party nominee. The seat is open because Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is not seeking re-election.

Idaho: The two races of note were the primary campaigns to nominate candidates who will eventually succeed retiring three-term Gov. Butch Otter (R). For the favored Republicans, Lt. Gov. Brad Little scored a 37-32-27% primary victory over US Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/ Boise) and physician Tommy Ahlquist. Mr. Little now becomes the favorite against state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Moscow) who registered a big victory over 2014 gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff.

Maryland: Last week it was widely reported that Maryland gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz, the Baltimore County Executive, suddenly passed away. Before his untimely death, Mr. Kamenetz had formed a ticket with former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin who was his choice for Lt. Governor. Under Maryland election law, Ms. Ervin is empowered to make a decision regarding continuing the campaign. She could automatically assume the top position on the ticket, withdraw the ticket from the race, or appoint a new candidate to replace the late Mr. Kamenetz. Yesterday, Ms. Ervin announced she would continue the Kamenetz campaign and run for Governor. She then named former Baltimore School Board member Marisol Johnson as her own running mate. The Maryland primary is June 26th.

Oregon: With little competition in the US House races and no Senate race for 2018, all attention was focused on the Republican gubernatorial primary. There, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) defeated former statewide candidate Sam Carpenter and Blue Angels former commander Greg Wooldridge by a 47-29-19% count. Mr. Buehler now challenges Gov. Kate Brown (D) who stands for her first full term after winning a 2016 special election. Gov. Brown is favored for re-election.