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Period Ending May 4, 2018

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

Senate

Missouri: Two more early polls were released for the Missouri Senate race and both again show a virtual dead heat. The Emerson College survey (4/26-29; 600 MO likely voters) finds Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) and Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) tied at 45% apiece. The Hawley Campaign also released their own internal survey (OnMessage; 4/16-18; 600 MO likely voters) projecting the first-term Attorney General to be holding the slightest of leads, 47-46%. Other released data found Sen. McCaskill with a similarly tight edge.

Ohio: Baldwin Wallace University in Berea, OH released their pre-primary polling results (4/24-5/2; 811 OH registered voters; 333 OH likely Democratic primary voters; 323 OH likely Republican primary voters) as the candidates and electorate prepare to go to the polls next Tuesday. In the Senate Republican primary, US Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) leads Cleveland investment banker Mike Gibbons, 24-10%. This result is consistent with other published polls but tells us anything can happen on Election Day. Seeing such a high undecided mark heading into the final weekend before any election is quite unusual.

House

CO-5: Previously, the Colorado state Supreme Court had disqualified Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) from the ballot because the Congressman’s consulting team hired petition circulators who are not state residents, a violation of Colorado election law. Late this week, a federal judge declared that law to be unconstitutional, a ruling upheld at the Appellate Court level. The decision, which is consistent with previous federal rulings from around the country, reinstates Rep. Lamborn to the 2018 Republican primary ballot. The Congressman faces state Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn in the June 26th Republican primary.

CT-5: Both parties were attempting to recruit high profile crime victims to run for the competitive western Connecticut congressional seat, but to no avail. Republicans attempted to convince state Rep. William Petit (R-Cheshire), the victim of a highly publicized and horrific home invasion crime that resulted in his wife and other family members perishing, said he will not run for Congress. Likewise for Sandy Hook Promise founders Mark Barden and Nicole Hockley, two potential Democratic candidates who lost sons in the 2012 school shooting that rocked the nation. Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Cheshire) is not seeking re-election due to a sexual harassment situation involving her former chief of staff.

FL-9: Former Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) reversed his plans to run in one of two central Florida Republican districts and announced that he will file a Democratic primary challenge to 9th District Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) in the seat that he previously represented for two terms. Mr. Grayson says he’s not so much running against Soto, but is doing so to re-claim his old seat. He already is drawing an ideological contrast, claiming to be “disturbed” that freshman Soto, while a member of the Florida state Senate, received an “A” rating from the National Rifle Association. We can expect a raucous primary campaign to conclude on August 28th. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) immediately announced their support for Rep. Soto.

FL-27: Kristen Rosen Gonzalez is a member of the Miami Beach City Commission. When the legislature and Governor enacted legislation that forced current officeholders to resign their positions to seek another office, Ms. Gonzalez was one of many to file a lawsuit to overturn the law. Now that the legal efforts have been rebuffed, Councilor Gonzalez announced that she will resign her position in order to continue with her congressional campaign. Two other candidates, state Sen. Jose Javier Rodriguez (D-Miami) and Miami-Dade County Commissioner Ken Russell, chose the opposite course. Both of them abandoned their respective congressional campaign to keep their current positions. The Democratic leader appears to be former Health & Human Services Secretary and ex-University of Miami president Donna Shalala, while the Republican favorite appears to be former news anchor Maria Elvira Salazar.

IL-6: Congressional candidate Sean Casten, who won the Democratic nomination in March, released a Hart Research poll (4/21-23; 400 IL-6 likely general election voters) that finds Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) clinging to only a 45-44% lead. The 6th District race is expected to be highly competitive despite Rep. Roskam winning many tough races in the past. Back in 2006, the Congressman defeated now-Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) and he scored 58% and 59% in 2008 and 2012, respectively, the two years Illinois favorite son Barack Obama was scoring huge presidential percentages in his home state.

NY-25: Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) not yet scheduling the special election to replace the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester), one candidate’s internal survey was released late last week. Former news reporter Rachel Barnhart (D) publicized her Democratic primary poll (Gravis Marketing; released 4/26; 599 NY-25 Democratic registered voters; 410 likely voters) that projects state Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Joe Morelle (D-Rochester) to be leading the field with 36% followed by Ms. Barnhart at 21 percent. Rochester City Councilman Adam McFadden and Brighton Town Board Member Robin Witt follow with 10 and 7%, respectively. The Republicans are coalescing behind surgeon James Maxwell. The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite to succeed Rep. Slaughter when the election is ultimately scheduled.

PA-7; 15 (previous districts): Keystone State Gov. Tom Wolf (D) late this week set the special election schedule for the state’s two impending vacant seats. Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) resigned from Congress last Friday, ending his congressional career that began in January of 2011. In the next few days, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) will follow suit and depart for the private sector. Gov. Wolf had ten days from the vacancy becoming official to call a replacement election(s) for purposes of choosing a successor(s) for the balance of the current term.

As we know, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court re-drew the boundaries earlier this year for the regular 2018 election cycle, but these special elections will be held in the previous districts. The state political parties will convene to choose nominees, presumably after the May 15th primary. Mr. Wolf announced that the special elections, as expected, will run concurrently with the regular election cycle, meaning November 6th. The winners will begin their congressional service upon election, and could be the individuals who will be chosen in the corresponding districts for the new 116th Congress.

TX-6: As the candidates head toward the Texas run-off elections scheduled for May 22nd, WPA Intelligence released their survey (4/26-28; 400 TX-6 likely run-off voters) of the open 6th District Republican run-off between Tarrant County Assessor Ron Wright and airline pilot and Iraq War veteran Jake Ellzey. According to the results, Mr. Wright is staked to a 47-24% lead as the run-off campaign turns toward its final two weeks. In the March 6th primary, Mr. Wright placed first with 45% as compared to Mr. Ellzey’s 22 percent. Because first-place finisher Wright did not garner majority support the secondary election is required. Also on May 22nd, the contest between journalist Jana Lynne Sanchez (D) and pastor Ruby Faye Woolridge (D) will be decided. In the primary, Ms. Woolridge topped Ms. Sanchez by just 15 votes, but neither were anywhere close to obtaining majority support.

Governor

Alabama: Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is standing for her first election after ascending to the position from the Lt. Governor’s perch when Gov. Robert Bentley (R) resigned last year. In the June 5th primary, the new Governor faces Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, Birmingham pastor Scott Dawson, and state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile). According to Leverage Public Strategies, polling for the Alabama Daily News (4/23-30; 600 AL Republican likely primary voters) Gov. Ivey posts a 47-11-9-4% lead over Mayor Battle, Mr. Dawson, and Sen. Hightower, respectively. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election on July 17th. These numbers suggest, however, that Gov. Ivey has a strong chance of winning the nomination outright in early June. She would immediately become a heavy favorite to win the general election.

Georgia: The University of Georgia’s School of Public and International Affairs ran a survey (4/19-26; 507 likely GA Republican primary voters) that finds Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle opening up a large lead over Secretary of State Brian Kemp and former state Sen. Hunter Hill, 41-10-9%, respectively, for the open May 22nd Republican primary. Earlier in the month, a similar poll was released on the Democratic side that found former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams topping ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans, 33-15%. Two-term Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek re-election.

Minnesota: This week, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) confirmed that he will force a primary campaign if he fails to win the party endorsement in the upcoming state convention. State Auditor Rebecca Otto (D) and state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul) previously said they would abide by the party delegates’ vote. Mr. Walz is viewed as at least a slight favorite to win the nomination, but he obviously feels he could be upset at the convention. The primary announcement will likely reduce his strength among delegates even further, so the chances of now going to an August 14th Democratic primary are high. Prospects also exist for a Republican primary because former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) is getting into the race too late to commit large numbers of county convention delegates already pledged to former gubernatorial nominee Jeff Johnson, a Hennepin County Commissioner. All of these aforementioned developments suggest we could see an unusually active primary season in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Ohio: The aforementioned Baldwin Wallace University (see Ohio Senate above) also tested both party primaries in the open Governor’s race. For the Democrats, former Attorney General Richard Cordray posts a 31-15% lead over former US Representative and presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. Following with less than double-digit support are state Sen. Joe Schiavoni (D-Mahoning Valley) at 7%, and retired state Supreme Court Justice Bill O’Neill who has 6% support. For the Republicans, as expected, Attorney General and former US Senator Mike DeWine holds a 52-25% commanding lead over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor. The Ohio primary is Tuesday.

New York: Quinnipiac University (4/26-5/1; 1,076 NY registered voters; 473 Democratic likely primary voters) tested the formulating Democratic gubernatorial primary race between two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo and actress Cynthia Nixon. For the third time, a poll finds Gov. Cuomo comfortably leading the intra-party contest, but not overwhelmingly so. According to the Q-Poll, the Governor’s re-nomination margin is 50-28%, which is actually more competitive than found in the two earlier polls. The survey results are providing signs that this developing campaign will be one to watch. The New York state office primary is scheduled for September 13th. The NY federal primary, which will determine US Senate and House nominees, occurs on June 26th.

Perhaps more disconcerting to the Governor are the general election results. Because Ms. Nixon already has the Working Families Party endorsement, she will be on the general election ballot. Tested with Republican Marc Molinaro, the Dutchess County Executive, and Ms. Nixon, Gov. Cuomo’s lead is only 40-23-20%, respectively.