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Period Ending August 31, 2018

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

Primary Results

Voters in Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma chose nominees on Tuesday in the final multi-state primary and run-off of the 2018 election cycle.

Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum scored an upset win in the open Florida Governor's Democratic primary while Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast; Daytona Beach) romped on the Republican side. As is the case in most Florida statewide elections, the general election will be a toss-up.

The Arizona Senate contest produced a solid win for Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson), who will now oppose Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) in the open general election, which becomes one of the premier national Senate campaigns. Arizona State University professor David Garcia won the right to challenge Gov. Doug Ducey (R).

Mortgage banker Kevin Stitt easily turned back Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett in the Sooner State gubernatorial run-off and now pairs with former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson (D) in the general election.

Multiple congressional races up and down the ballot in all three states were determined, advancing both parties into many competitive general election political contests.

President

Iowa: The Democratic National Committee scheduled the next first-in-the-nation presidential campaign caucus for the state of Iowa. The first votes for the 2020 presidential election will occur in the Hawkeye State on February 3, 2020.

Senate

Arizona: In order to quell political speculation during the late Sen. John McCain's mourning period, Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that he will begin considering replacement choices only after the Senator is laid to rest. As we have seen, Mr. McCain has already lain in state in the Arizona state Capitol and his local funeral has been held. His body is now being transported to the US Capitol to lie in state followed by a public funeral at the National Cathedral in Washington, before his burial at the Naval Academy Cemetery in Annapolis, MD.

Arizona pollster OH Predictive Insights, for ABC News 15 in Phoenix, and the Data Orbital firm released their final pre-primary surveys just before the August 28th vote. The firm predicted that Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) held a 47-27-13% lead over former state Sen. Kelli Ward and ex-Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Data Orbital posted Rep. McSally to an even stronger ballot test position, 48-22-18%, over Ms. Ward and former Sheriff Arpaio. The polls proved accurate. In the actual vote, Ms. McSally won 53-28-19%.

New Mexico: After former Governor and Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson entered the US Senate race as a replacement nominee when state Lands Commissioner Aubrey Dunn decided to withdraw from the Libertarian Party ballot position he won in June, speculation began building that Republican nominee Mick Rich might drop out of the race to allow Mr. Johnson a clear shot at potentially defeating first-term Sen. Martin Heinrich (D). Such is not the case, however. Late this week, the deadline passed for removing a candidate's name from the New Mexico ballot, so the nominees are now locked for the general election. If Mr. Rich was to make such a move, he would have needed to notify the authorities by last Tuesday in order to begin the withdrawal process.

Pennsylvania: Franklin & Marshall College, a regular pollster for Keystone State elections, released their latest data for the upcoming general election. According to the college's new study (8/20-26; 511 PA registered voters; 243 registered Democrats; 200 registered Republicans; 68 Independents), Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) holds a 47-34% lead over Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton), which is a spread consistent with other relatively recent publicly released polls. The F&M sampling universe is small, which is typical for their polls. The data suggests that Sen. Casey continues to hold a firm lead in this general election campaign, but the contest may not be fully locked down just as yet.

West Virginia: Reversing the trend that places Sen. Joe Manchin (D) ahead by double-digit margins, Gravis Marketing released a new survey (8/23-26; 600 WV likely voters) that finds Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) pulling into within six points of the Senator, 47-41%. Heavy anti-Manchin outside organization advertising has been underway, which likely at least partially explains the tightening campaign. Additionally, President Trump has already made one appearance in the state for Mr. Morrisey and that, too, is helping the Republican in a state where the President is most popular.

Wisconsin: On the heels of a Marquette University Law School survey published last week that found Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) topping state Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield) by just two percentage points, Suffolk University released their first post-primary Wisconsin data (8/18-24; 500 WI likely voters) that posts the first-term incumbent to a 50-42% advantage. While the spread is beyond the polling margin of error, and Ms. Baldwin clearly has an advantage, the fact that she is only hovering around 50% and Ms. Vukmir is now consistently in the 40s, suggests this race is tightening.

House

CA-50: Survey USA, polling for News Channel 10 in San Diego, fielded the first congressional poll after Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) and his wife were indicted for campaign finance violations. According to the survey results (8/22-26; 850 CA-50 adults; 746 registered voters; 539 likely voters), Rep. Hunter would lead Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, 47-39%, if the election were today. By a margin of 76-21%, respondents said they are aware that Rep. Hunter was indicted. In a spread of 41-33%, the polling sample indicated that Rep. Hunter should continue to run as opposed to resigning his seat.

FL-5; FL-9: Freshman Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) turned back former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown (D), 60-40% in the Democratic primary to secure re-nomination. The victory virtually assures Mr. Lawson of a second term. In the Kissimmee area, another freshman Democratic Representative, Darren Soto, easily defeated former US Rep. Alan Grayson (D), 66-34%, to win re-nomination. Likewise, Mr. Soto will go onto secure a second term in the November general election.

FL-27: Former Health & Human Services secretary and ex-University of Miami president Donna Shalala defeated state Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami) and three others, but her margin of victory over her closest competitor was only 32-28%, much closer than polls had predicted. She now faces the new Republican nominee, Maria Elvira Salazar, an Emmy Award winning bilingual news journalist in the general election. The 27th, long thought of as the top Democratic conversion target in the nation, is likely to again become a competitive race.

MD-6: Total Wine, Inc. founder and CEO David Trone, who won the Democratic primary in the open 6th District back in late June, announced that he is battling kidney cancer. Despite undergoing chemotherapy treatment and kidney removal surgery scheduled shortly, Mr. Trone says he will continue his campaign and intends on serving the succeeding term in the House should he be elected. Mr. Trone is a heavy favorite to win the open seat in November and replace three-term Rep. John Delaney (D-Potomac), who is leaving Congress to begin a long shot 2020 presidential nomination campaign. The Republican nominee is 2016 congressional candidate Amie Hoeber, a former State Department official.

NY-24: In the middle of back and forth accusations and responses about whether Democratic congressional nominee Dana Balter would vote to raise taxes, Suffolk University released a poll (8/20-23; 513 NY-24 likely voters) that projects two-term US Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) to be holding a strong advantage over Ms. Balter, a visiting college professor. He leads 54-39%.

OH-12: Ohio election officials have certified state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) as the 12th Congressional District special election winner by a 1,680-vote margin (50.1 – 49.3%). This means Rep-Elect Balderson will be sworn into Congress shortly and serve the balance of the current term. He and the man he just barely defeated, Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor (D), will again square off in the regular general election for the full two-year term, but Rep-Elect Balderson will likely expand his margin before a regular midterm turnout.

WV-3: Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington), who lost the Senate Republican nomination to Attorney General Patrick Morrisey earlier in the year, was just appointed to fill a West Virginia state Supreme Court vacancy, meaning he will immediately resign from Congress. Gov. Jim Justice (R), who made the appointment, has also declared that he will not schedule a special election to fill the balance of Mr. Jenkins' congressional term. In the open 3rd District general election, state House Majority Whip Carol Miller (R-Huntington) is running against state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) in an open seat race that is becoming highly competitive.

Governor

Alaska: The Alaska AFL-CIO leadership released the results of its Harstad Strategic Research poll (8/13-16; 602 AK likely voters) that sees Republican nominee Mike Dunleavy leading Gov. Walker and Mr. Begich, 36-26-24%, respectively. The union leadership then used the polling results to call upon Mr. Begich, a former US Senator and Anchorage Mayor, to drop out of the gubernatorial race to give incumbent Walker a better chance of beating Mr. Dunleavy.

Kansas: The Kansas State Objections Board ruled against a Democratic complaint claiming that Independent Greg Orman filed too many illegitimate ballot petition signatures, which should disqualify him from the November campaign. The Board's action secures Mr. Orman's ballot position unless the Democratic plaintiffs can overturn the ruling in court. The Democrats fear that Orman will drain too many votes away from their open seat gubernatorial nominee, state Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka), thus yielding victory for Republican Secretary of State Kris Kobach. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), who replaced Gov. Sam Brownback (R) after he accepted a federal appointment, lost the Governor's nomination to Mr. Kobach by just 361 votes statewide.

Pennsylvania: The aforementioned Franklin & Marshall College poll (see Pennsylvania Senate above) also tested the Governor's race between incumbent Tom Wolf (D) and state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York). Contrasting the Governor's results with those of Sen. Bob Casey, the F&M survey suggests that Mr. Wolf is in the stronger position. Here, the ballot test breaks 52-35% in the Governor's favor, projecting that this race is close to being put away.

Wisconsin: The new Suffolk University survey (8/18-24; 500 WI likely voters) confirms that Gov. Scott Walker (R) and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Evers (D) are locked in a tight battle. According to the latest Suffolk results, the Governor trails Mr. Evers, 46-44%. We expect this Governor's race to remain in toss-up territory all the way to Election Day.