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Period Ending June 10, 2016

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


Nominations: Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton clinched the Democratic nomination with decisive primary victories in New Jersey and California, close wins in New Mexico and South Dakota, but lost to Sen. Bernie Sanders in Montana and the North Dakota Caucus. With one small primary remaining next Tuesday (the District of Columbia), Ms. Clinton will not meet the requisite number of delegates through pledged votes alone. Her dominance in the Super Delegate category, however, ensures her nomination. To stay alive, Sen. Sanders must convert more than 500 Super Delegates to his cause, a near impossible task. Ms. Clinton winning California with 56% of the vote, when Sanders believed he had a chance to win there, was the final blow to his campaign. He had hoped to use the argument that not carrying large bedrock Democratic states like California proves she is too weak to win the general election. In the end, the opposite proved true.

Donald Trump easily claimed the Republican nomination without the aid of any unbound delegates. He scored between 67 and 80% of the vote in New Jersey, South Dakota, New Mexico, Montana, and California, allowing him to capture the winner-take-all states (MT, NJ, SD) and score a backdoor winner-take-all victory in the Golden State by winning the statewide vote and all 53 congressional districts. For the entire primary season, Mr. Trump attracted over 13.4 million votes, a record number for a Republican candidate, and 1,542 delegates, 25% more than the minimum number of 1,237.

The candidates will now move forward to their respective national conventions in order to officially begin the general election campaign.


Alaska: The name controversy in the Alaska Republican primary continues. As candidate filing closed June 1, former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan became a last-minute filer, declaring against Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R). The confusion arises because the former Mayor has the same name as Alaska’s other Republican Senator, Dan Sullivan. This week, things became even more confusing. Despite saying the former Mayor has the “best name in politics,” Sen. Dan Sullivan publicly endorsed Sen. Murkowski for re-election.

California: The state’s jungle primary was held on Tuesday, and Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) advanced to the general election. It is the first time in state history that no Republican Senate candidate will appear on the general election ballot. Ms. Harris pulled 40% of the jungle primary vote as compared to Rep. Sanchez’s 19%. The remaining 32 candidates split the outstanding votes. Republican Duf Sundheim finished third, but with only 8% of the vote. Republicans finished third through sixth, and if the party had consolidated behind one of those candidates, they would have had enough votes to secure a general election position. The Double Democrat general should be interesting. AG Harris begins as the favorite, but now the Republican voters become wild cards since they have no candidate of their own. Rep. Sanchez may be better positioned to develop a coalition of Southern California voters, Hispanics, and Republicans. Such a forged coalition could clearly produce a an upset November victory if Rep. Sanchez can compete financially with Harris.

Iowa: As expected, former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge won the Democratic Senatorial nomination and will now challenge six-term Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) in the November election. Ms. Judge claimed 48% of the statewide Democratic vote. State Sen. Rob Hogg was second with 39%. Sen. Grassley is favored, but his role as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and delaying the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Merrick Garland will clearly be a major campaign issue. Whether or not this will hurt Sen. Grassley remains to be determined.


California Primaries: Two candidates advance to the general election in 52 of the state’s 53 congressional districts from Tuesday’s primary. The California qualifying system sends the top pair of finishers to the November election regardless of political party affiliation and the percentages each candidate receives. Because California allows voters to postmark their ballots on Election Day, it takes several days for all of the ballots to be counted. Well over half of the electorate mails their ballots as opposed to visiting the polling place on Election Day. Eight US House races remain uncalled, as officials are still counting to determine a second-place finisher. Only one incumbent, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) is unopposed in the general election. As many as 15 seats could see some degree of general election congressional competition.

Four California seats are open, and the June 7 qualifying vote identified an eventual winner in at least two of the seats. Former Monterey County Deputy District Attorney Jimmy Panetta (D), and son of former US Defense Secretary, CIA Director, and local Congressman Leon Panetta (D), took 71% of the qualifying vote in the open 20th District and will easily be elected in November. In the Anaheim/Santa Ana CD, former state Sen. Lou Correa (D) outpaced competition from seven opponents by 27 percentage points and looks to be a lock to replace US Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez (D) in the 46th District.

The two other open seats merit more attention. In the open Santa Barbara 24th District, local county supervisor Salud Carbajal (D) placed first with 33%, while a dogfight for second place is not yet completely sealed. It looks, however, like businessman and former UCLA football player Justin Fareed (R) has eclipsed Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian (R) for second place and will battle Carbajal in what should be a competitive general election. In Los Angeles, state Senator Isadore Hall (D) will face Democratic Hermosa Beach Councilwoman Nanette Barragan (D) in a double Democrat general election. Sen. Hall is a big favorite, but with 70% of the constituency being Hispanic, the demographics are clearly in Barragan’s corner and that creates some uncertainty.

It appears that five races will feature Democrat vs. Democrat general elections. One district will have a Democrat vs. Independent November battle. There are no double Republican contests.

HI-1: Former Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) is going to be virtually unopposed in re-taking her old US House seat. After Hanabusa officially filing for Congress, former Rep. Charles Djou (R-Honolulu) decided not to make another attempt for the office. Instead, he entered the Honolulu Mayor’s race. Ms. Hanabusa will replace freshman Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea), who was forced to retire due to his recurring bout with pancreatic cancer.

Iowa Primaries: Former state Speaker of the House and 2014 congressional nominee Pat Murphy went down to a crushing defeat at the hands of Cedar Rapids City Councilwoman Monica Vernon (D) and the Democratic Party establishment. Vernon now opposes vulnerable freshman Rep. Rod Blum (R-Dubuque) in the eastern state 1st District. Freshman Rep. David Young (R-Van Meter/Des Moines) seeks a second term against Iraq War veteran Jim Mowrer (D), who challenged Rep. Steve King in the 4th District during the last election. The 3rd District is competitive, so we can expect a tough campaign here in the fall. Rep. King easily outpaced Senate Assistant Majority Leader Rick Bertrand in the western 4th District Republican primary, and now is poised to win an eighth term in November.

NJ-7: For the second consecutive election cycle, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) won a very tepid re-nomination victory against a frequent candidate who spends well under $400,000 on the campaign. Mr. Lance won a 54-33-13% Republican primary victory over businessman and frequent candidate David Larsen and GOP activist Craig Heard. Though his political base is not particularly firm, Mr. Lance is still well positioned to win the general election in November.

North Carolina Primaries: The Tar Heel State held its irregular, post-redistricting congressional primary this past Tuesday. Rep. George Holding (R-NC-13), paired with colleague Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2) for the new 2nd District, easily defeated she and Tea Party activist and former US Senate candidate Greg Brannon. Holding captured 53% of the vote as compared to Ellmers’ 24 and Brannon’s 23%. Ms. Ellmers becomes the first Republican US House member to be denied re-nomination.

After a close re-nomination election in 2014, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC-3) strongly rebounded against USMC veteran Phil Law and former Bush Administration official Taylor Griffin to win a 65% victory on Tuesday. Rep. Jones is now a lock to win a twelfth term in November.

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC-8) easily defeated wealthy businessman Tim D’Annunzio (R) in a district that has 60% new territory. Mr. Hudson captured 65% of the GOP vote.

Barring a recount, it appears Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-NC-9), whose business is under a FBI investigation, barely survived in the new 9th District against two Republican opponents. The initial final count projects Pittenger outpacing local Charlotte pastor and former US Senate candidate Mark Harris (R) by just 142 votes.

Rep. Alma Adams (D-NC-12), who no longer has any of her Greensboro political base in the new Charlotte-anchored 12th CD, scored 42% against five Democratic candidates, including a former state Senator, two state Representatives, and an ex-US AID Inspector General to win re-nomination. She will now score a landslide general election victory.

The new open 13th District, created in the Greensboro area with rural territory north of Charlotte included, fielded a Republican primary with 17 candidates. The winner, with just over 6,300 votes, is agriculture businessman and gun range owner Ted Budd who received strong support from the Club for Growth organization. Mr. Budd becomes a heavy favorite in the general election to defeat former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis, who won a tight Democratic primary.

OH-8: Also as predicted, businessman Warren Davidson (R) scored a 77% special election victory and will serve the balance of resigned House Speaker John Boehner’s (R) final term. Having previously won nomination for the regular election, Rep-elect Davidson is now also the prohibitive favorite in November.


Montana: Businessman Greg Gianforte, as expected, won the Republican gubernatorial nomination with 76% of the vote and now will challenge first-term Gov. Steve Bullock (D). The Governor also had a minor primary. He captured nearly all of the votes, winning a 91% victory. Gov. Bullock is favored for re-election, but this race has the potential of becoming competitive.