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Period Ending May 6, 2016

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

President

Republican Nomination: Donald Trump scored a backdoor winner-take-all primary victory in Indiana, capturing all 57 delegates early this week. The victory unleashed a chain of events that saw Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) exit the race leaving the Trump as the only active candidate. He, therefore, becomes the presumptive Republican nominee even though he remains 200+ delegate votes away from mathematically clinching.

Democrats: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, still perched on the precipice of clinching the Democratic nomination, again came up short in a northern state. She fell to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-D/VT) within the Indiana popular vote, but came away with a 46-44 delegate split thanks to her unanimous support among the state’s Super Delegates. Ms. Clinton’s nomination is virtually guaranteed, however, because she needs only 16.4% of the outstanding delegate votes to reach the required number of 2,383 delegate votes.

With the nomination suspense now quelled, the Clinton-Trump general election campaign now unofficially begins. Ms. Clinton begins with the early lead, but this race is far from over.

Senate

California: Survey USA released the results of their latest Golden State poll (4/27-30; 1,502 CA likely primary voters). The data gives us one more indication that the primary vote could well send two Democrats to the general election. The eventual winner succeeds retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D). According to the data, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) captures 28% of the vote, while Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) notches 18%. Under California law, the top two primary finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. The top Republican is former GOP state chairman Tom Del Beccaro, but he has only 10% support.

Colorado: After seeing several Republican candidates not qualify for the primary ballot because of faulty signature petitions, a state judge reinstated businessman Robert Blaha to the Republican primary ballot. The GOP continues to flounder in finding an opponent for Sen. Michael Bennet (D). Early, it was believed that the Colorado seat was vulnerable to a Republican challenge, but such has not materialized as yet. Mr. Blaha has the ability to self-fund but fared poorly in his only other run for public office, a Republican primary challenge to Rep. Douglas Lamborn (R-CO-5) in 2012.

Indiana: Rep. Todd Young (R-IN-9) won the Republican Senate nomination over his colleague, Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R-IN-3), in last Tuesday’s Indiana state primary, and the final result wasn’t even close. Leading in all polling by various margins, Rep. Young scored a landslide 67-33% nomination victory for the right to advance to the general election. Rep. Young will now face former Rep. Baron Hill (D-IN-9), in a re-match of sorts. In 2010, Mr. Young unseated then-Rep. Hill by 10 points to claim the congressional seat he now represents. On a bigger stage, the general election result is likely to be similar. During the preliminary qualifying period, Stutzman and the Democrats challenged Young’s petition signatures, saying he was two short in one of the nine congressional districts. A judge ruled for Young, and he was allowed to remain on the ballot. Therefore, it is technically true that Young’s victory margin is actually two disputed votes, or signatures.

Ohio: A new Public Policy Polling survey (4/26-27; 799 OH registered voters) again finds a tight contest between Sen. Rob Portman (R) and former Gov. Ted Strickland (D). According to this poll, the two are tied at 38%. Portman has consistently scored better in polling on job and personal approval, but fails to break away on the ballot test.

House

FL-13: Former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) received another break in his political comeback attempt. His major Democratic opponent, former Defense Department official Eric Lynn, exited the congressional race in favor of running for an open seat in the state House of Representatives. Crist will now have a free shot at the Democratic congressional nomination in a district where such is a major advantage toward winning the seat. Rumors still persist that Rep. David Jolly (R) may drop his US Senate bid and comeback to the House race to challenge Crist. Chances are, however, that ex-Gov. Crist will simply walk into the House.

IN-3: As projected in late polling, state Sen. Jim Banks won a close Republican primary battle to win the party nomination for Rep. Marlin Stutzman’s (R) open congressional seat. Mr. Banks now becomes a prohibitive favorite in the general election in this most conservative of northern Indiana CDs. He won a 34-31-25% victory over agriculture executive Kip Tom and state Sen. Elizabeth Brown.

IN-9: Trey Hollingsworth (R), who moved to Indiana from Tennessee just to run for Congress, spent more than $1 million of his own money and won the GOP nomination. He claimed a third of the vote, but that was enough to beat state Sen. Erin Houchin, and Attorney General Greg Zoeller. This is a Republican district, but Hollingsworth’s status as an outsider could come into play during the general election. Democrats are fielding Monroe County Commissioner Shelli Yoder, a former 1993 Miss America runner-up. If she can make carpet bagging an issue, Ms. Yoder may be in position to make this a competitive race.

NE-2: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee leadership is taking the virtually unprecedented step of spending committee money to influence the outcome of a Republican primary. Desperate to defeat retired Brigadier General Don Bacon in Omaha, the DCCC is spending independent money to help prop up former state Sen. Chip Maxwell (R), obviously someone they believe is an easier opponent for vulnerable freshman Rep. Brad Ashford (D).

NH-1: State Rep. Pam Tucker (R) suspended her primary campaign against embattled Rep. Frank Guinta (R) for family reasons. This leaves businessman Rich Ashooh as Guinta’s one GOP opponent. With Guinta reeling from a FEC violation involving his parents over which the Republican leadership pounced on him, it is a major advantage for Ashooh to have a one-on-one shot at the two-term incumbent. Meanwhile, former Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D), who has lost this seat twice as an incumbent, is returning for yet another comeback but has a battle on her hands. Businessman Shawn O’Connor, her Democratic primary opponent, is threatening to sue Shea-Porter over comments he claims she made accusing him of domestic abuse.

ONC-12: State Rep. Rodney Moore (D) has ended his Democratic primary challenge to Rep. Alma Adams (D) in the redistricted 12th CD. This still leaves five candidates opposing the Congresswoman, however, including two sitting state Representatives, two former state Senators, and an ex-USAID official. The one published poll, released two weeks ago, found Ms. Adams leading the field but with less than 40% of the vote. Because of the redistricting situation, there will be only a plurality primary on June 7 a set-up that greatly helps Rep. Adams to survive.

Governor

New York: Rep. Chris Gibson (R-NY-19), who announced that he would not seek re-election on the day he was sworn in for a third term, now says he won’t challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in 2018. When he declined to seek a fourth term in the House, he did so for stated reasons of wanting to construct a statewide campaign. Now, Mr. Gibson says, he is eschewing the gubernatorial race in exchange for accepting a visiting professorship at a small Massachusetts college.

North Carolina: Another pollster, bi-partisan RABA (Red America-Blue America; a bi-partisan firm), surveyed the Tar Heel electorate (4/26-27; 688 NC registered voters) and found Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) leading Gov. Pat McCrory (R), 41-36%, in what will be a highly competitive general election. This is the third poll in a row that finds McCrory trailing.

Virginia: Former Attorney General and defeated gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli (R) announced during the week that he will not run for Governor again next year. Previously, Cuccinelli had not ruled out a statewide comeback. A key figure in the Cruz for President campaign, the former AG said running two major campaigns in back to back years would be too much. Former US Senate nominee and RNC chairman Ed Gillespie and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-VA-1) are the active gubernatorial candidates. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is not eligible to seek a second term.

West Virginia: Repass Research & Strategic Consulting for MetroNews West Virginia (4/22-5/2; 315 WV likely Democratic primary voters) finds businessman Jim Justice leading former US Attorney Booth Gardner, and state Senate Minority Leader Jeff Kessler, 32-27-23% as their Democratic primary campaign draws to a close. The poll has a very long sampling period for a very small respondent sample, however, meaning a low accuracy factor. The West Virginia primary is next Tuesday, May 10.