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Period Ending July 5, 2019

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

President

Nomination Polls: The Biden slide continues. YouGov (6/27-7/2; 1,522 likely US Democratic primary voters) now sees just a one-point race, as former Vice President Joe Biden nips Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) 23-22%, with Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 17%, and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 15%, while all others fall to single digits. The Quinnipiac University small-sample survey (6/28-7/1; 554 US registered Democratic voters) sees a similar 22-20-14-13% split for Biden, Harris, Warren, and Sanders, respectively.

CNN just released their latest nationwide Democratic primary survey (conducted by the SSRS organization; 6/28-30; 656 Democratic voters) that similarly projects Mr. Biden to be holding only 22% support, with Sen. Harris now five points behind at 17%. Sen. Warren is next with 15%, while Sen. Sanders drops to 14% support. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg may be performing well on the fundraising circuit, but all of the aforementioned polls find his support declining to single digits.

The HarrisX firm, however, sees things differently for the top four. Conducting their poll during the same period 6/29-7/1; 882 US Democratic voters), HarrisX finds Mr. Biden still perched on top at 28% with Sen. Sanders holding second at 14%. Sens. Harris and Warren claim 12 and 9%, respectively.

Senate

Iowa: Despite the national Democratic Party establishment lining up behind Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield to be their eventual US Senate nominee, retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken said at the end of last week that he may still join the race. Conceding that Greenfield has a "head start" over him in the Democratic primary, Admiral Franken believes he would be a stronger general election opponent for Sen. Joni Ernst (R).

Kansas: Though rumors of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo changing his mind and entering the Senate race continue at a brisk pace, one Kansas official refuses to remain on the sidelines. Late last week, Kansas Turnpike Authority chairman David Lindstrom, a former professional football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, announced that he will enter the Republican Senate primary. Mr. Lindstrom has also been elected to the Johnson County Commission and was the GOP Lt. Governor nominee in the 2002 election.

Two Democrats also took action toward becoming US Senate candidates. Former US Attorney Barry Grissom announced his candidacy, while former US Rep. Nancy Boyda (D) filed a committee with the FEC, but says she has not yet made a final decision to run. Sen. Pat Roberts (R) is retiring.

Massachusetts: The Politico news site ran a story this week quoting a key consultant as saying that Sen. Ed Markey's (D-MA) seat is "there for the taking." References were made to Rep. Ayanna Pressley's (D-Boston) upset victory over then-Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville) in the 2018 election with the idea that the Massachusetts extreme activists would now turn on Sen. Markey.

They cite an early June Suffolk University/Boston Globe survey as a source showing that Sen. Markey could be vulnerable. His name ID and approval are actually a bit low for an incumbent who has been in elective office consecutively since 1973 when adding his time in the state legislature and both houses of Congress. And, he polls only 44% on the original ballot test. But, his two opponents post support figures of just 5% apiece. While there may be some cracks in Sen. Markey's political armor, it is quite a stretch to declare that he is in danger of losing next year's statewide Democratic primary.

Minnesota: 2018 US special election nominee and state legislator Karin Housley (R), who lost to Sen. Tina Smith (D) 53-42%, announced just before the holiday break that she will not seek a re-match next year for the full six-year term. Instead, Ms. Housley declared her candidacy for re-election to the state Senate.

House

AK-AL: At-large US Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), the Dean of the House of Representatives with 46 years of service after winning a special election in 1973, announced that he will run for a 24th term next year. It looks like we may see a re-match of the 53-47% campaign ran in 2018. Also looking to declare her candidacy is the 2018 Democratic nominee, Alyse Galvin.

CA-50: As indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter's (R-Alpine) campaign finance legal situation continues to weaken as the two sides make moves before a September trial, another Republican just announced his congressional candidacy. Former Escondido Mayor Sam Abed will become a candidate in what is presumed to be an early 2020 special election in a district that continues to elect Republicans even in liberal California.

Already in the presumed race are two other Republican Mayors, Bill Wells of El Cajon and Matt Rahn from Temecula. Retired Navy SEAL and former congressional candidate Larry Wilske is also an announced candidate. Rumors persist that retired Rep. Darrell Issa could also join the Republican primary once a special election is established. The 2018 Democratic nominee who lost 52-48% to an indicted Mr. Hunter, Ammar Campa-Najjar, has already said that he, too, will run again.

CT-5: Freshman Rep. Jahana Hayes (D-Wolcott) drew her first significant 2020 challenge yesterday. David X. Sullivan (R), who just retired as an Assistant US Attorney after 30 years of service, immediately announced his congressional candidacy. Though the 5th District plays as being somewhat competitive (Trump '16: 46-50%), it is unlikely that Rep. Hayes would be in danger of losing her seat in a presidential year from a non-battleground state.

FL-20: Despite his diagnosis as having Stage 4 pancreatic cancer, 14-term Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) announced just before the 4th of July that he will seek re-election next year. Many believed his serious health situation would force him to retire, but the Congressman will continue to move forward. He will be a prohibitive favorite for re-election in 2020.

MI-3: Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township), who said yesterday that "…politics is in a partisan death spiral," officially left the Republican Party and will now serve in Congress as an Independent. Speculation will grow that Mr. Amash will eschew re-election and run for President under the Libertarian Party banner. Should the Congressman decide to seek re-election as an Independent, however, we can expect a major three-way campaign. With Amash and a new Republican nominee taking general election right of center votes, Democrats will move this race up on their target list, believing they can win a base election with only a small plurality.

MN-7: Though House Agriculture Committee chairman Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) continues to remain coy about his re-election plans as always, it is presumed he will seek re-election for a 16th term next year. Officially, Rep. Peterson says he will make a final decision in January or February. He has already filed a 2020 campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission, however, and is actively raising money.

WA-3: It also looks like we will see a rerun of another 53-47% campaign, that in the state of Washington. In 2018, Rep. Jamie Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver) and college professor Carolyn Long (D) battled to a six-point finish. Ms. Long began a multi-city announcement tour during the week, informing voters that she will return to the campaign trail to oppose the five-term GOP incumbent.

Redistricting/Census: As we covered last week, the US Supreme Court released their rulings on the Maryland and North Carolina partisan gerrymandering cases and whether asking about a person's citizenship status can be placed on the 2020 census questionnaire.

On the redistricting question, the high court definitively ruled that the partisan gerrymandering question will not be adjudicated by the federal court system. Looking practically at the live cases the SCOTUS' action affects, the redistricting battles in Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin are essentially dead and their current congressional district boundaries will remain in place through the last election of this decade, in 2020. With Democrats controlling the North Carolina state Supreme Court, it may be possible that the Tarheel State lines are redrawn because of partisan gerrymandering but whether a new case can get to them in time to affect 2020 remains questionable. Unlike the US Supreme Court, the North Carolina high panel does not have the authority to bring a case up before the lower courts rule.

The Trump Administration has ordered the Commerce Department to move ahead with printing the 2020 census questionnaires, signaling that they will not make another attempt to add the citizenship query to the official questionnaire. Last week, the US Supreme Court ruled that the government has the right to ask the question but returned this particular case to the Commerce Department to conduct a further inquiry into the motivation behind such inclusion. While the Administration will no longer fight to add the question administratively, reports suggest the President may be considering doing so through Executive Order.

Governor

Missouri: Frustrated with Missouri's new restrictive abortion law, state Auditor Nicole Galloway says she will enter the Democratic gubernatorial primary with the goal of challenging Gov. Mike Parson (R) who will be running for his first term. Gov. Parson was elected Lt. Governor in 2016 after serving twelve years in the Missouri legislature and another dozen years as the Polk County Sheriff. Mr. Parson ascended to the Governorship when elected Gov. Eric Greitens was forced to resign over a sexual scandal. The Governor will be favored for election, but Ms. Galloway will be capable of running a competitive race.

Montana: As has been expected for some time, Montana Lt. Governor Mike Cooney (D), who was appointed in January of 2016 to replace his resigned predecessor and will serve the entire second term under Governor and now Democratic presidential candidate Steve Bullock, announced that he will run to attempt to succeed his boss. Also entering the Democratic primary are state House Minority Leader Casey Schreiner (D-Great Falls) and former state Rep. Reilly Neill. Republicans are featuring a major primary battle between Attorney General Tim Fox and at-large US Representative and 2016 gubernatorial nominee Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman).

New Hampshire: Executive Councilor Andru Volinksy (D), as hinted about earlier in the year, this week formed an exploratory committee to test his viability against Republican Gov. Chris Sununu. It is likely that Mr. Volinsky will face a primary campaign, however. Both state Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes and 2018 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Molly Kelly are expected to enter the race. In 2018, Gov. Sununu defeated Ms. Kelly, 53-46%.