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Period Ending July 29, 2016

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

President

Hillary Clinton was officially nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate with the national convention drawing to a close in Philadelphia. Despite the early flap with Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz being forced to resign over the Wiki Leaks email disclosure, many Bernie Sanders delegates going rogue on the first day of the convention, and the delegations’ overwhelming response to the Vermont Senator during his opening speech, the convention leaders rallied and returned the proceedings to a more normal track for the event’s duration.

Donald Trump clearly received a bump from his national convention, actually taking the lead over Ms. Clinton in most polls as the week began. We can expect a rebound from Clinton over the weekend and into early next week. Once all of the polling shakes out, we will again find the data telling us that either candidate can win this race, and pointing to a conclusion that the determining factors simply have not yet occurred.

Eight polls, all from different survey research entities or media outlets, were conducted during the July 18-24 period. The pollsters were: Gravis Marketing, Raba Research, NBC/Survey Monkey, University of Delaware, Morning Consult, CNN, CBS News, and YouGov/The Economist.

Five of the eight surveys featured respondent groups of over 1,000 individuals (Gravis, NBC/Survey Monkey, Morning Consult, CBS, and YouGov). Averaging the margin between the two candidates, Donald Trump forges a 0.08% slight edge. The remaining three (Raba, University of Delaware, and CNN) all were small sample surveys. Their combined totals actually give Ms. Clinton the thinnest 0.02% lead.

A new Suffolk University Pennsylvania poll (7/25-27; 500 PA likely voters) finds Ms. Clinton thumping Mr. Trump and the minor party candidates, 46-37-5-3%. In Oregon (Clout Research; released 7/26; 701 OR likely and somewhat likely general election voters) sees only a 43-40-6-3% split in that usually reliable Democratic state.

Senate

Florida: Rep. Alan Grayson (D-FL-9) is under fire for news stories saying his former wife filed abuse complaints against him with the police. Though it’s being treated as a new story, this came into the public domain several years ago. Grayson then successfully argued in divorce proceedings that his wife was guilty of bigamy because she never divorced her first husband before entering into her second marriage. Rep. Grayson’s daughter has gone on record accusing her mother of initiating the physical abuse. The Congressman made things worse by entering into a slight physical tussle with a Politico reporter at a national convention event, all the while being filmed. The string of events led incoming Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to ask Grayson to withdraw from the Senate race. The Democratic establishment backs Rep. Pat Murphy (D-FL-18). The Florida primary is August 30. The winner will face Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Grayson will continue as a candidate.

Kansas: The US Senate primary is Tuesday, and Sen. Jerry Moran (R) has little trouble in securing re-nomination. Three little-known Democrats are vying for their party nomination.

Louisiana: Candidate filing closed for the November 8 jungle primary open Senate race. Twenty-four contenders officially entered the race, including nine Republicans, seven Democrats, two Libertarians, and six Independents. The top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to the December 10 run-off election. The secondary contest will be a necessity because it is highly unlikely any one candidate will obtain the necessary 50% of the vote to be elected outright.

The most notable candidates are state Treasurer John Kennedy (R), who claims first place in all polling, Reps. Charles Boustany (R-LA-3) and John Fleming (R-LA-4), Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), former Lt. Governor nominee Caroline Fayard (D), retired Air Force officer and 2014 US Senate candidate Rob Maness (R), and former one-term Congressman Joe Cao (R-LA-2). A major flap occurred when former Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon and ex-state Representative David Duke (R) also entered the statewide contest. Sen. David Vitter (R) is retiring.

Missouri: The Senate primary occurs August 2, and Sen. Roy Blunt (R) and Secretary of State Jason Kander (D) will easily win their respective party nomination campaigns.

Virginia: Sen. Tim Kaine (D) was selected as Hillary Clinton’s Vice Presidential running mate. Should he be elected Vice President in November, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will appoint a replacement after official resignation. The individual will serve until the Virginia statewide election in November of 2017. The winner completes the balance of Kaine’s current term and then would be eligible to stand for a full term in November of 2018. This means Virginia could see two Senate races for the same seat within a two-year time frame.

Washington: The jungle US Senate primary is scheduled for next Tuesday, August 2, and Sen. Patty Murry (D) will finish first. She will advance to the general election most likely against former state Republican Party chairman and ex-King County Councilman Chris Vance (R).

House

DE-AL: A new Fairleigh Dickinson University poll (7/20-24; 715 likely DE Democratic and Republican primary voters) surveyed the open congressional primary for the Delaware News Journal. For the Democrats, the poll is inconclusive with only two of the five candidates, former state Labor Secretary Lisa Blunt Rochester (D) and state Sen. Bryan Townsend (D) just reaching 11% preference. The Republican picture is a bit clearer. There, former Wyoming Mayor Hans Reigle (R), who is virtually unopposed for the party nomination, has a clear lead. The eventual Democratic nominee will be favored to succeed Rep. John Carney (D-Wilmington) who is running for Governor.

GA-3: West Point Mayor and dentist Drew Ferguson scored a 54-46% Republican run-off victory over state Sen. Mike Crane. The pair advanced to the run-off contest with only 93 votes separating them from the original election. Dr. Ferguson now advances to the general election where he will face Democratic nominee Angela Pendley. The new Republican nominee becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Grantville), who is retiring from Congress but expected to make a run for the open Governor’s post in 2018.

IN-4 & 5: Neither Reps. Todd Rokita (R-IN-4) and Susan Brooks (R-IN-5) were selected as the replacement gubernatorial nominee for Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence. Both had to withdraw from their respective congressional races to ask for consideration from the Indiana Republican Party State Committee who has the power to replace vacant statewide positions. After the July 26 selection of appointed Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb as the Republican gubernatorial nominee, both Reps. Rokita and Brooks said they would ask their local congressional committees to reinstate them in their congressional races. Both are expected to return to their original campaigns and each should win a comfortable re-election.

Kansas: Primaries are scheduled for Tuesday in five states. Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Fowler) has another significant primary challenge, this one coming in a one-on-one challenge from physician Roger Marshall (R). Rep. Huelskamp being removed from the Agriculture Committee in a district so dependent upon the industry is a major Marshall attack point.

Michigan: There is no Michigan Senate race in 2016, and the congressional delegation appears stable. Electorates in two open seats will choose nominees in the 1st and 10th Districts. Republicans have strong battles in each district. State Democratic Party chairman Lon Johnson is favored over 2012 nominee Jerry Cannon in the 1st District.

Missouri: All nine incumbents are seeking re-election and most face only minor primary opposition. State Sen. Mary Chappelle-Nadal is challenging Rep. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) and has been making the Ferguson controversy the centerpiece of her campaign. Rep. Clay is favored.

Tennessee: The Volunteer State hosts the nation’s only Thursday primary. Neither Senator is on the ballot this year, and three congressional primary challenges are underway. Considering Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg) won re-nomination two years ago by just 38 votes, the challenge from attorney Grant Starrett is clearly significant. Two minor Republicans are also on the ballot, and them siphoning anti-DesJarlais votes away from Starrett could help the incumbent hang on. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) faces a GOP primary challenge from former state Rep. Joe Carr and two others in the 6th District. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis), representing a 60% African American district always must fend off challenges from black Democratic opponents. Shelby County Commissioner Justin Ford is Mr. Cohen’s main opponent this time around. In the state’s lone open district, retiring Rep. Stephen Fincher’s (R) 8th District has drawn 13 Republicans, three Democrats, and five Independent candidates. With no run-off under Tennessee election law, this free-for-all primary election will determine the general election participants on Thursday night.

Washington: Nine of the states’ 10 House members are seeking re-election and all are expected to cruise to re-nomination. Rep. Jim McDermott’s (D-Seattle) retirement leaves behind a five-person Democratic field of the eight individuals running. It is possible that two Democrats could advance to the general election.

Governor

Indiana: The Indiana Republican State Committee selected Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb to replace Vice Presidential nominee Mike Pence (R) as the GOP gubernatorial candidate. Mr. Holcomb will now battle former state House Speaker and 2012 gubernatorial nominee John Gregg (D) in the general election. Holcomb defeated Reps. Susan Brooks (R-IN-5) and Todd Rokita (R-IN-4) through two secret ballots. Rokita and state Sen. Jim Tomes (R) were eliminated after the first ballot. On the second ballot, Holcomb defeated Brooks by a reported 14-8 count, though the actual voting numbers were not officially released. An early Tarrance Group poll gives Gregg an eight-point lead as the two begin the now open race for Governor.

Missouri: The OnMessage polling firm (7/17-18; 500 MO likely Republican primary voters) surveyed the open Republican gubernatorial field in anticipation of the August 2 Missouri primary. The results revealed a very close race among Iraq/Afghan War veteran and author Eric Greitens, businessman John Brunner, former state House Speaker and US Attorney Catherine Hanaway, and Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder. Ms. Hanaway topped Brunner by a 25-23% margin, closely followed by Greitens and Kinder at 21 and 19%, respectively. Therefore, less than a week before the primary a clear four-way race has developed, of which any one of the individuals could claim the contest. The winner faces consensus Democratic nominee Chris Koster, the state Attorney General. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Oregon: The aforementioned Clout Research statewide poll finds interim Gov. Kate Brown (D) leading former Oregon Medical Association president Bud Pierce (R) by only a single point, 43-42% in the special gubernatorial election. This is the second poll that suggests Dr. Pierce could give the new Governor a serious run. The candidates are battling for the right to serve the remainder of resigned-Gov. John Kitzhaber’s (D) final term. The seat will then vote again in the regular-cycle gubernatorial campaign.

Washington: The Governor’s primary also occurs next Tuesday, and incumbent Jay Inslee (D) will place first in a race that features all candidates from every party. Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant (R) is expected to advance to the general election along with Gov. Inslee. The November race could become surprisingly competitive.