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Period Ending September 27, 2019

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

President

Bill de Blasio: Joining fellow New York politician Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has officially ended his presidential quest for the Democratic nomination, though he never became a significant factor. Ironically, the only New Yorker left in the race on the Dem side is start-up entrepreneur and candidate Andrew Yang who is now beginning to post small single digit numbers in national polls.

New Debate Requirements: The Democratic National Committee leadership has again made qualifying for the national debate forums more difficult. Though the requirements are in place for the October debate from the Columbus, Ohio area on October 15-16, the new conditions may cull the number of future participants even further.

To qualify for the November and December forums, candidates will need to prove they have 165,000 donors, up from 130,000, and hit 3% polling support in at least four designated surveys. The Committee also added a 5% requirement from at least two polls from electorate studies in the first four voting states: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. The September debate featured ten participants, but at least eleven have qualified for October with the possibility of another being added.

Iowa Poll: A new Iowa poll was released over the weekend, from Selzer & Company and the Des Moines Register newspaper (9/14-18; 602 IA likely Democratic Caucus attenders), and both segments find Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) moving past former Vice President Joe Biden. This survey employs a different methodology in that they are combining the numbers for those who mentioned each candidate as their first or second choice.

Under the first choice response, Sen. Warren posts a 22-20-11-9-6% advantage over Mr. Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), respectively. Combining first and second choice responses, the division expands to 42-30-21-18-16% with the candidates finishing in the same order.

Monmouth University Poll: Monmouth University again tested the first-in-the-nation primary state of New Hampshire (9/17-21; 401 NH likely Democratic primary voters) and once more sees a close battle brewing for first place between Sen. Elizabeth Warren (27%) and former Vice President Joe Biden (25%). The surprise finding is Sen. Bernie Sanders' poor standing (12%), which is uncharacteristic of where he normally polls in the Granite State. On the other hand, Mayor Pete Buttigieg out-performs his normal positioning, breaking into double digits with 10%.

Quinnipiac University Poll: Quinnipiac University is out with a new poll (9/19-23; 1,337 US registered voters; 561 self-identified Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic), and for the first time their numbers put Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) ahead of former Vice President Joe Biden. The results show Warren with 27% and Biden trailing slightly with 25%. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is the only other candidate in double-digits, scoring 16%. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg posted 7% support while Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) drops all the way to 3 percent. In the August Q-Poll, Mr. Biden led Sen. Warren 32-19%.

Suffolk University Poll: Suffolk University in Boston released the results of their new Nevada survey (9/19-23; 500 NV likely Democratic caucus attenders) and found former Vice President Joe Biden returning to first place. Suffolk sees a tight contest between Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), 23-19%, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recording 14% support. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) scores a disappointing 4% in her neighboring state, just ahead of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and New York City businessman Andrew Yang who both register 3% preference. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) has 2%, and all others post 1% or less.

Senate

Colorado: Last week, national construction company CEO Denise Burgess announced her candidacy for the Democratic nomination, showing no fear to line up opposite former Gov. John Hickenlooper and eleven others. Already, however, she has ended her campaign. A news story revealing that she has liens against her for unpaid taxes is the factor that has prematurely driven her from the campaign. Mr. Hickenlooper is the clear favorite for the party nomination and we can expect him to be Sen. Cory Gardner's (R) general election opponent.

Massachusetts: Saying that, "...the outdated structures and old rules, the everyday oppressions and injustices that hold our people back," Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) officially announced his Senatorial candidacy for Democratic nomination, meaning a direct challenge to Sen. Ed Markey. The move sets up a year-long campaign, as the Massachusetts state primary won't be held until September 15, 2020. Sen. Markey responded quickly, announcing an endorsement from Rep. Alexandria Ocascio-Cortez (D-NY) and challenging Kennedy and his two other opponents to a climate change debate in the "near future."

Maine: Sen. Susan Collins (R) drew another Democratic opponent yesterday. Retired Air Force Major General Jon Treacy announced his US Senate candidacy, joining state House Speaker Sara Gideon (D-Freeport) and former gubernatorial candidate Betsy Sweet in the primary campaign. The Maine primary will be decided June 9th, after a March 16th candidate filing deadline. Gen. Treacy will certainly start out substantially behind Ms. Gideon in the money race. She attracted $1.059 million in just her first few days of campaigning post her late June announcement.

Texas: Mark Yancey, an investor and former co-owner of the Dallas Wings basketball franchise of the Women's National Basketball Association, announced his Republican primary challenge to Sen. John Cornyn yesterday. Since Mr. Yancey is challenging Cornyn from the left, the primary battle may actually help the Senator with the Republican base. If Mr. Cornyn has any weakness in running for a fourth term, it would come from the party's hard right faction. In 2014, Sen. Cornyn was challenged from the right and was re-nominated with 59% of the vote against seven opponents.

House

Impeachment Pledge: A total of 219 House Democrats and one Independent have signed the petition pledge indicating they will vote for at least some version of an impeachment resolution. Doing so would impeach, or indict, the President, and send the charge to the Senate for a potential trial and motion to remove from office. Among the signers are several members who have competitive re-elections, are in Trump districts, or have primary competition. The lone Independent, Rep. Justin Amash (I-MI), will likely face attacks from both sides as he presumably seeks re-election as an Independent or minor party nominee.

The Democrats supporting impeachment who already face credible general election opposition are (listed alphabetically by name) Reps: Cindy Axne (IA), Gil Cisneros (CA), Sharice Davids (KS), Antonio Delgado (NY), Abby Finkenauer (IA), Lizzie Fletcher (TX), Andy Kim (NJ), Susie Lee (NV), Elaine Luria (VA), Tom Malinowski (NJ), Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (FL), Chris Pappas (NH), Katie Porter (CA), Harley Rouda (CA), Elissa Slotkin (MI), Abigail Spanberger (VA), and Lauren Underwood (IL).

CA-50: Former Congressman Darrell Issa (R), who represented California's 49th District for nine terms before retiring prior to the beginning of the current Congress, formally announced yesterday that he will enter the crowded 50th District primary contest against indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine). Appearing with him at the announcement event were two other GOP candidates, former Escondido Mayor Sam Abed and current El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, who both said they will not file for the office and instead endorsed Mr. Issa.

Remaining in the race are seven other challenger candidates, four Republicans, two Independents, and 2018 Democratic candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar who lost to Rep. Hunter, 52-48%. All contenders will appear on the March 3, 2020 primary ballot, with the top two advancing into the November general election irrespective of party affiliation.

MI-6: A veteran House member who is on reporters' retirement-potential list is signaling that he will return to run for an 18th term. Michigan Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), the former chairman of the House Energy & Commerce Committee who was first elected in 1986, is stopping short of announcing for re-election but giving every indication that he will run. He had raised almost $700,000 at the end of June and has already printed 2020 campaign materials. In 2018, Mr. Upton faced his toughest re-election, winning 50-46% against physician Matt Longjohn (D). Dr. Longjohn is a potential 2020 candidate, but state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) has already announced his congressional candidacy.

MI-8: There has been little in the way of fanfare surrounding a Republican opponent for freshman Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/ Lansing) after she defeated two-term Rep. Mike Bishop (R) last November. Now, State Board of Education member Nikki Snyder (R) says she is close to making the decision to challenge the new Congresswoman.

Ms. Slotkin was one of the top fundraisers on the congressional circuit last year, spending more than $7.3 million on her campaign. One reason activity has been slow in this district and in the 11th CD featuring freshman Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills/Livonia) is that Michigan is losing a seat in reapportionment, meaning that any new member could quickly see their seat collapsed into another district. There is a better chance more activity will be present in the next cycle when the new district lines become known.

MI-13: Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones (D) both won and lost congressional races to Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) on the same day in 2018. Running to fill the unexpired term of resigned Rep. John Conyers (D), Ms. Jones scored a 38-36% victory over Tlaib and two others and served the final two months of the previous Congress. But, in a primary for the regular term, one that included two additional candidates, then-state Sen. Coleman Young II, the son of former long-time Mayor Coleman Young, and former state Rep. Shanelle Jackson, it was Ms. Tlaib who scored a 31-30% win over Jones and the rest of the six-candidate field.

Speculation continues to mount that Ms. Jones, still the City Council President, will seek a re-match. Ms. Jones has not confirmed her intentions, but reports quote those close to her as saying she is considering running and is moving toward doing so. The Michigan candidate filing deadline isn't until April 21st for the August 4, 2020 state Democratic primary. So, this potential race has plenty of time to develop.

WI-7: After Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) called the special election to replace resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau), political moves were quickly made. Iraq War veteran Jason Church, a congressional aide to Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), announced his candidacy and may well become state Sen. Tom Tiffany's (R-Minocqua) lone major Republican opponent. Two other expected GOP candidates, Mosinee Mayor Brent Jacobson and surgeon Fernando Riveron both said earlier this week that they would not enter the special election campaign. Same for Democratic former state Sen. Pat Kreitlow. The special general is scheduled for January 27, 2020, with a special primary on December 30, 2019.

Governor

Louisiana: Baton Rouge-based JMC Enterprises went back into the field to test the Louisiana electorate in anticipation of the state's October 12th gubernatorial election. The survey (9/19-21; 550 LA likely voters) finds Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) hitting the 48% mark against his two major opponents, US Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto/Monroe) and developer Eddie Rispone (R). The two Republicans record 22 and 20%, but this time it's Rispone who jumps into second position. Previously, Rep. Abraham had consistently been second. Mr. Rispone is spending millions of his own dollars to advertise.

West Virginia: Now that Sen. Joe Manchin (D) has said he will not enter the 2020 Governor's race, incumbent Jim Justice (R) is drawing new Democratic opponents. The latest, and perhaps most significant, is state Sen. Ron Stollings (D-Madison) who carried a district that President Trump won with a 59 percentage point margin. At this point, Sen. Stollings is the only Democrat in the field of four candidates with electoral experience. Gov. Justice has two Republican primary opponents, former state Commerce Secretary Woody Thrasher and ex-state Delegate Mike Folk.