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Period Ending August 9, 2019

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

President

Iowa Poll: Monmouth University released their latest Iowa presidential caucus poll this week (8/1-4; 401 likely Democratic caucus participants from a pool of 681 Iowa sampled registered voters) that projects former Vice President Joe Biden leading his opponents with 28% support. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is second, as she is now in most polls, with 19%, while Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Mayor Pete Buttigieg trail with 11, 9, and 8%, respectively.

Pennsylvania Poll: Franklin & Marshall College released their new Keystone State survey (7/29-8/4; 295 likely PA Democratic primary voters from a pool of 627 PA registered voters) for the Democratic presidential primary and finds former Vice President Joe Biden's advantage being a bit less than expected. Mr. Biden scores only 28% support here and is closely followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-MA) 21% preference. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the only other candidate who posts double-digits, at 12%. California Sen. Kamala Harris registers only 8%, while South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg records a first-choice tabulation of just 6 percent. The poll's sample size, however, is very small. Just 295 likely Democratic primary voters are surveyed, making the poll's error factor very high.

Quinnipiac Poll: Quinnipiac University went into the field right after the July 31st Democratic presidential debate (8/1-5; 807 Democratic and Democratic leaning Independent voters) and found former Vice President Joe Biden continuing to lead, with Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) establishing a strong foothold in second place. The results yield Mr. Biden recording 32% followed by Sen. Warren with 21%, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) sitting at 14%, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dropping all the way to 7%, just ahead of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg who continues to poll only in mid-single digits at 5 percent.

Texas Poll: Emerson College released their small-sample Texas Democratic poll conducted for the Dallas Morning News (8/1-3; 400 TX Democratic primary voters), which finds former Vice President Joe Biden topping his opponents with 28% support. Ex-Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke is second with 19%, followed by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 16 and 14%, respectively. Under Democratic delegate apportionment rules, this poll would suggest that the four top finishers would all qualify to receive a share of the state's 228 first ballot delegates, the second largest delegation at the Democratic National Convention.

Senate

Colorado: The talk about former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) potentially leaving the presidential race and returning to run for the Senate doesn't appear to be dissuading any of the 13 Democratic candidates already in the race. In fact, another just announced her candidacy. Late this week, Open Door Ministries founder and National Immigration Forum organization consultant Michelle Ferrigno Warren announced that she, too, will join the Democratic nomination battle. The winner faces first-term Republican Sen. Cory Gardner in the general election for what promises to be one of the most competitive races in the nation.

Texas: The recent Emerson College/Dallas Morning News poll (8/1-3; 400 TX Democratic primary voters) sees no clear leader for the Democratic Senatorial nomination. Retired Army helicopter pilot and 2018 congressional nominee M.J. Hegar leads with just 10% support, followed by state Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas), ex-US Rep. Chris Bell, and Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards, who post a close 8, 7, and 5%, respectively. The eventual Democratic nominee faces three-term Sen. John Cornyn (R) in the 2020 general election.

House

CA-50: Indicted California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) doesn't go on trial until September for campaign finance violations, but now five Republicans have already declared their candidacies to replace him. The latest is former San Diego City Councilman and radio talk show host Carl DeMaio (R), who officially announced this week. Mr. DeMaio is no stranger to running for Congress. After coming close in a San Diego Mayoral special election, Mr. DeMaio then ran for the 52nd District in 2014 but lost to incumbent Scott Peters (D-San Diego), 52-48%, after his once promising campaign imploded.

IN-5: Former Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard (R) said he will not enter the open 5th Congressional District race from which Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) is retiring. Many believed that Mr. Ballard would be the Republicans' strongest candidate, but the party will still be favored to hold the seat with a different nominee.

IA-4: J.D. Scholten, last November's Democratic nominee who held embattled Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron/Sioux City) to a 50-46% re-election victory, said this week that he will run again next year. Mr. Scholten was also considering entering the US Senate race. Republican state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull) is already putting together a strong primary challenge to Rep. King, however, so Scholten may not get the chance to again face the controversial Congressman who is stripped of his committee assignments because of racial comments.

ME-2: Former Maine Congressman Bruce Poliquin (R), who lost in November after the state's Ranked Choice Voting system changed his close victory into a close loss against current Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), says he will not seek a re-match next year but claims he is "itching" to run again. Mr. Poliquin cited needing to care for his elderly parents as his reasoning for not running in 2020 but would consider a 2022 campaign either for the 2nd District or Governor.

In the current congressional race for the GOP is 2018 US Senate nominee Eric Brakey, a former state Senator. Mr. Brakey fared poorly in the statewide campaign, losing to incumbent Sen. Angus King (I-ME), 53-35%. President Trump carried this district 51-41% in 2016 and will need to win it again next year. Maine is one of two states that awards electoral votes based upon congressional districts won.

MA-6: It's painfully obvious that Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton's (D-Salem) presidential campaign has yet to generate any excitement. He failed to qualify for the first two debates and has no chance of making the September 13th forum in Houston. Therefore, he made a statement yesterday indicating that he will run for re-election to the House should his campaign continue to languish. When returning to the congressional campaign, however, he will find at least three Democratic challengers awaiting him, including Salem City Councilwoman Lisa Peterson. So, Mr. Moulton's return to the House may be more difficult than he may have originally perceived.

NY-3: Earlier this month when Democratic National Committee member Bob Zimmerman said he would not launch a primary challenge against Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), it appeared the Congressman was home free for re-election. Yesterday, however, the situation changed. Wellness professional Melanie D'Arrigo announced that she will now challenge the Congressman for the Democratic nomination. Ms. D'Arrigo will campaign to Mr. Suozzi's left and begins with an attack over his membership in the bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus. She was quoted as saying, "he trades a dollar for a quarter every time. It only benefits Republicans. It does not benefit Democrats." Rep. Suozzi remains the obvious favorite for re-nomination.

Texas: The recent spate of Texas US House retirements has caused further speculation that the number of GOP Lone Star State vacancies would soon grow beyond the four members who have already announced their plans. But, two of those rumored to be retirement possibilities, Reps. Michael McCaul (R-Austin) and John Carter (R-Germantown), both said they are already hard at work assembling respective new campaign organizations and are intent on seeking re-election.

TX-4: Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall), who withdrew his nomination as National Intelligence Director under pressure from the media and key Senators, will seek re-election to the House. Therefore, the 4th District is no longer open since the incumbent is again running. Despite the short-term negative publicity, Rep. Ratcliffe should have little trouble winning re-nomination and re-election.

TX-23: Naval officer Tony Gonzales, who retired from the service at the end of July, announced that he will run in the open 23rd District Republican primary. He originally said he would challenge Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) in the heavily Democratic 35th CD. The Republican field to succeed retiring Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) is likely to be large, but Mr. Gonzales is beginning with public support from former 23rd District GOP Representatives Henry Bonilla and Quico Canseco, who issued endorsement statements in conjunction with the Gonzales announcement. The Democrats' 2018 nominee, Gina Ortiz Jones who came within 927 votes of unseating Mr. Hurd, announced weeks ago that she will return for another run in 2020.

TX-24: Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Coppell/DFW area) joined the growing group of retiring US House members, especially from Texas. Mr. Marchant yesterday announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex district that is becoming more competitive. The House open seat count grows to 16, four of which come from Texas. Six Democrats had already announced their candidacies including 2018 nominee Jan McDowell, who held Mr. Marchant to a 51-48% re-election victory, and Kim Olson, the party's 2018 statewide nominee for Agriculture Commissioner. In an open seat situation, we can expect the candidate field to grow even further. President Trump carried the seat 51-44%, down from Mitt Romney's 60-38% margin in 2012.

VA-5: Dr. Cameron Webb (D), a University of Virginia physician and former White House Fellow, says he will mount a campaign against freshman Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas). Despite the Democratic trend in the Virginia 2018 elections, Mr. Riggleman was able to score a 53-47% open seat victory over former national news programming director Leslie Cockburn (D) and keep the seat in the Republican column. It is likely that Mr. Riggleman will be even stronger here in 2020. President Trump, for example, scored a 53-42% win here over Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite him losing the statewide vote, 44-50%.

WA-6: Saying he has no clear path to deny Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor) re-nomination, Bainbridge Island City Councilman Matt Tirman has already ended his Democratic primary challenge to the four-term Congressman. Mr. Tirman's political move made little sense from its inception, and now Rep. Kilmer should easily sail to re-nomination and re-election.

Governor

Mississippi: Mississippi voters went to the polls on Tuesday to choose nominees to replace term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant (R) in the November general election. Attorney General Jim Hood, as expected, easily defeated seven minor candidates with 69% of the vote to claim the Democratic nomination. Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves recorded 49% support in the Republican primary against two opponents, falling just one point short of winning the nomination outright. He now advances to an August 27th run-off election against former state Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller, Jr. The latter man attracted 33% of the vote in finishing second.

Republican turnout ran well ahead of the last open seat nomination period, back in 2011, while Democratic participation fell way short. It is likely that Lt. Gov. Reeves will easily win the GOP run-off, and then be rated as a favorite against Mr. Hood in the November 5th general election.

Utah: US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman (R), a former twice-elected Utah Governor and ex-Ambassador to China, resigned his position yesterday and plans to return to his home state. It is widely believed that the former Governor, who was elected in 2004 and 2008, will again run for the state's top position. He will face Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox in the Republican primary with the winner becoming the heavy favorite to the retain the Governorship for the party in November. Gov. Gary Herbert (R) is retiring after winning three terms in office.