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Period Ending June 15, 2018

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

Senate

Florida: A new Politico/AARP survey (Morning Consult; 5/29-30; 1,199 FL registered voters; 676 FL voters over 50 years of age) finds Gov. Rick Scott (R) again taking a small lead over veteran Sen. Bill Nelson (D) as the two prepare for the November general election. Overall, Gov. Scott’s edge is 40-39%, but the margin expands to nine points, 44-35%, when the pollsters segment only those 50 years of age and older. Cherry Communications, polling for the Florida Chamber of Commerce (5/25-6/4; 605 FL likely voters), also released their latest results. They confirm Scott’s small lead, projecting him to a 48-45% advantage. Both results are within the polling margin of error. The Florida Senate race promises to attract national attention all the way to Election Day.

Ohio: With Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) and Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) both winning their Democratic and Republican primaries on May 8th, several pollsters just conducted new general election surveys. Fallon Research (5/21-25; 800 OH likely voters) finds the incumbent holding a comfortable 48-34% lead over Rep. Renacci. Suffolk (6/6-11; 500 OH likely voters) and Quinnipiac Universities (6/7-12; 1,082 OH registered voters) also see Sen. Brown in command, 53-37% and 51-34%, respectively.

Pennsylvania: Lancaster, PA based Franklin & Marshall College just released their new survey of the Pennsylvania statewide races (6/4-10; 472 PA registered voters; 224 Democrats, 185 Republicans, 63 Independents) and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), seeking his third term since his original election in 2006, leads Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) by a sizable 44-27% count. This is similar to the 43-25% projection derived from their March survey. Sen. Casey’s combined personal favorability is 44:23% positive to negative.

House

CA-48: The Golden State’s 48th Congressional District primary election is still unresolved as ballots from the June 5th vote are still being counted. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is safe in first place with 30% against 15 opponents. But, the identity of Mr. Rohrabacher’s general election opponent is still unknown. The latest count finds biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead (D) holding a small 329-vote lead over businessman Harley Rouda (D). It is unclear when this race will finally be decided. On election night Mr. Rouda held a small edge, but Mr. Keirstead surpassed him when the post-election votes began to be counted.

CA-49: Another contest that appeared close enough to turn around when the post-votes are all counted was in the 49th District. With Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) retiring, the open seat contest to replace him also drew 16 candidates. The clear first place finisher was Republican Diane Harkey, who captured 25.6% of the vote. The individual now definitively advancing with her into the general election is attorney Mike Levin (D) who raised well over $1.7 million. It has become clear that Mr. Levin’s two full percentage point advantage over his closest competitor, former State Department official Sara Jacobs (D), will hold and he will clinch second place.

KS-4: Many incumbent House members are facing primary opponents this year, but none have Kansas Rep. Ron Estes’ (R-Wichita) problem. Mr. Estes’ lone Republican nomination foe actually shares his name. To mitigate the confusion, election authorities announced this week that they are allowing Congressman Estes to appear on the August 7th primary ballot as “Rep. Ron Estes.” The secondary Mr. Estes will be listed as “Ron M. Estes.”

MI-1: Last week, the Michigan Secretary of State rejected retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Matt Morgan’s (D) ballot petition to challenge freshman Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/Upper Peninsula) because he used a P.O. Box instead of a street address to register his campaign. Michigan law requires a street address. Yesterday, the state Appeals Court upheld the lower court decision that the administrative ruling is correct, and Mr. Morgan remains disqualified. The retired military officer responded by saying he would not offer any further legal challenges, but would instead run a write-in campaign for the Democratic nomination. Considering no other Democrat filed for the race, Mr. Morgan’s chances of winning a write-in nomination are extremely high.

OH-12: Monmouth University conducted a new poll of the Ohio special congressional election to be decided on August 7th. The survey (6/7-10; 501 OH-12 likely special election voters) finds state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) leading Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Conner (D), 43-33% with the Green Party candidate drawing 1%, and 21% saying they are still undecided.

SC-1: With President Trump as the focal point of the primary campaign, state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville) defeated Rep. Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) in Tuesday’s South Carolina primary election, with a 50.5 to 46.6% vote margin. The percentage is important because exceeding the 50% mark means Ms. Arrington wins the nomination without advancing to a secondary June 26th run-off election. Mr. Sanford becomes the second incumbent House member to be denied re-nomination in the 2018 primary season. In early May, North Carolina Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) fell to Baptist former pastor Mark Harris in the 9th District Republican primary. In the Charleston area, Ms. Arrington is now expected to defeat Democratic primary winner Joe Cunningham in the November general election.

Governor

Colorado: Another new Democratic gubernatorial poll shows US Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder) to be leading state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, the endorsed Democratic Party candidate, as the candidates turn toward the June 26th Colorado primary. As reported here last week, Magellan Strategies survey (5/30-31; 503 CO Democratic likely primary voters) projects Rep. Polis to a 31-18% lead over Ms. Kennedy, with all other candidates, including Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne (D), registering less than 10% support. This week, Strategies 360, polling for the Service Employees International Union (5/29-6/6; 500 CO general election voters; 387 CO likely Democratic primary voters with an over-sample of an additional 200 “Democratic-leaning midterm drop-off voters”), posts Rep. Polis’ (D-Boulder) to a 34-23-12% advantage over Ms. Kennedy and ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston. Strategies 360 also tested Rep. Polis and Ms. Kennedy against state Treasurer Walker Stephenson (R) in a proposed general election campaign. The results are virtually identical. Polis would lead Stapleton, 42-37%, while Kennedy’s edge would be 43-38%.

Florida: A new SEA Polling & Strategic Design survey (6/3-7; 600 FL registered Democratic voters) finds Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine expanding his Democratic primary lead to 32-16-11-6-4% over former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-Tallahassee), businessman Chris King, and billionaire Jeff Greene, who just entered the race last week.

Maine: Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary ended with appointed Attorney General Janet Mills outpacing businessman Adam Cote 33-28%, but the race is far from over. In years past, Ms. Mills would have been declared the primary winner, but now the instant run-off system takes effect because no one obtained majority support.

Under the procedure, in use for the first time, the last place finisher’s votes among the eight candidates will be distributed to the other seven candidates. In the primary, voters ranked their preferences from one to eight among the contenders. A last place finisher’s votes are then distributed to the others in the order that the last place finisher’s voters chose. Once those are distributed, the new last place finisher’s votes are then distributed according to stated preference, and so forth until a winner is decided. The distribution will begin Friday, meaning it is likely we won’t have a new Democratic nominee until sometime next week. On the Republican side, businessman Shawn Moody won the party nomination outright, so he automatically advances into the general election.

Maryland: The University of Baltimore, polling for the Baltimore Sun newspaper (5/29-6/6; 500 MD likely Democratic primary voters), finds a tie at the top of the Democratic gubernatorial contenders list. The fact that the candidates are locked in a dead heat is not particularly surprisingly, but the low number of committed voters as the campaigns begin the final drive toward the June 26th Maryland primary is unusual and might question the poll’s accuracy. According to the Sun poll, former NAACP president Ben Jealous and Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker (D) are tied for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination with just 16% support apiece. No other candidate tops 5% support in this poll.

After spending much time trying to secure her own ballot position after gubernatorial candidate Kevin Kamenetz (D) passed away, former Montgomery County Councilwoman Valerie Ervin (D) announced this week that she will no longer campaign for Governor. Because Mr. Kamenetz died in the middle of the campaign and Ms. Ervin was his running mate, she had the option, which she exercised, of assuming the top position on the Kamenetz-Ervin ticket. But, state election authorities ruled that they would not change the ballots, meaning primary participants would still be instructed to vote for the late Mr. Kamenetz for the tallies to count for Ms. Ervin. Despite Ms. Ervin’s exit and endorsement for Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker (D), Mr. Kamenetz’s name will remain on the ballot.

New York: New York’s Siena College again tested the impending Democratic gubernatorial primary between two-term incumbent Andrew Cuomo and actress Cynthia Nixon. According to the Siena data, the Governor now leads his opponent, 61-26%, which is up a net four points from their previous 58-27% projection released in April. The latest Siena scoring is much better for the Governor than the May Quinnipiac University poll, however. In that latter survey, Gov. Cuomo’s lead was only 50-28% over Ms. Nixon.

Ohio: A new small-sample Suffolk University poll conducted for the Cincinnati Enquirer newspaper (6/6-11; 500 OH likely voters) projects a change in the state’s open Governor’s race. This new survey suggests that former Attorney General Richard Cordray (D) has opened up a 43-36% lead over Attorney General and former US Senator Mike DeWine (R). But, among the 16% who responded “undecided”, the overwhelming majority, a 2:1 ratio, are Republican voters. The Suffolk data contradicts other polling that posts Mr. DeWine to a similar lead.

As reported above (see Ohio Senate), Fallon Research also conducted a post-primary survey of the statewide campaigns. According to the Fallon data, AG DeWine is staked to a 40-34% advantage over Mr. Cordray. Yet, the latest Quinnipiac University survey (6/7-12; 1,082 OH registered voters), like Suffolk, also finds Mr. Cordray with a slight advantage, 42-40%. This race is expected to be as close as the 2010 state Attorney General’s race when Mr. DeWine unseated Mr. Cordray, 47-46%. The race is open because Gov. John Kasich (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Pennsylvania: As reported above (see Pennsylvania Senate) Franklin & Marshall College also asked respondents questions about the gubernatorial race in their new statewide poll. Similar to the Senate responses, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) leads former state Sen. Scott Wagner (R) 48-29%. In March, Mr. Wolf led 38-21%, meaning both candidates have gained support. But, the March polling segment was significantly smaller than in the current poll. Gov. Wolf’s combined personal favorability registered 49:33% positive to negative.

South Carolina: As previous polling correctly predicted, Gov. Henry McMaster (R) was forced into a two-week run-off campaign because his opponents held him under 50% support in Tuesday’s primary. At the end of this week, two of his challengers, former Nikki Haley Administration cabinet official Catherine Templeton and Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant, both endorsed the second-place finisher John Warren, a Greenville mortgage company executive and former Iraq War veteran. The endorsements were of little surprise because both individuals were also challenging the new incumbent Governor. Mr. McMaster became Governor when then-incumbent Haley (R) resigned to become US Ambassador to the United Nations. He was elected as Lt. Governor in 2014 with 59% of the vote.