Election Insights
Election Insights is a political analysis publication of the Business Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). BIPAC is an independent, bipartisan organization, that is supported by several hundred of the nation’s leading businesses and trade associations.  The views expressed in this publication do not necessarily represent the views of our organization.

March 23, 2018
Illinois Primary and Mississippi Senate Appointment Cap Eventful Week of Election Activity
by Jim Ellis


California: The Public Policy Institute of California went into the field again with a major statewide survey (3/4-13; 1,706 CA adults) to test residents' attitudes about issues and candidates. Looking at their new US Senate data, it is clear that the state is again headed for a double-Democratic general election. According to the jungle primary question, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) leads state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) by a 42-16% margin with no prominent Republican candidate on the ballot.

Mississippi: Gov. Phil Bryant (R) announced that he will appoint Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R) before the veteran incumbent actually leaves office. With state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) already declaring that he will become a candidate in the special election and not continue with his plan to challenge Sen. Roger Wicker in the Republican primary, Gov. Bryant says he wants the new Senator to have as much time as possible to begin preparing a campaign. Sen. Cochran says he will resign after the appropriations process is completed on or around April 1st.

Upon Ms. Hyde-Smith being sworn in at some point in April, she will then run for the seat in November. All candidates will be placed on the November ballot with the top two advancing to a November 27th run-off election if no candidate receives majority support. The winner then serves the balance of the term, meaning he or she will be eligible to run for a full six-year term in 2020. Already, state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) has announced for the special election. He came close to upsetting Sen. Cochran in the 2014 Republican primary. Former US Agriculture Secretary and ex-Mississippi US Congressman Mike Espy declared his candidacy on the Democratic side.

Montana: We now see a slate of official Republican Senate candidates in the Montana race hoping to oppose two-term incumbent Jon Tester (D), as the candidate filing period drew to a close. As expected, state Auditor Matt Rosendale, former District Judge Russell Fagg, state Sen. Al Olszewski (R-Flathead Valley), and businessman Troy Downing all submitted the candidate declaration documents. The June 5th Republican primary winner will face Sen. Tester who is unopposed in the Democratic primary. Sen. Tester is favored for re-election and just began his preliminary media advertising blitz last week.

Nevada: Sen. Dean Heller (R) now faces only minor opposition for the upcoming June 12th Republican primary. Businessman and frequent political candidate Danny Tarkanian, adhering to a public request from President Trump to exit the race, did so. Instead, Mr. Tarkanian will enter the open 3rd Congressional District campaign. Back in 2016, he lost that race 47-46% against now-freshman Representative and current US Senate candidate Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson). Bypassing a seriously contested primary will now allow Sen. Heller to pool his resources and immediately concentrate on his general election campaign with Ms. Rosen. A Heller-Rosen general election contest is rated as a toss-up in what is proving to be a swing political state.

Ohio: Ohio-based Baldwin Wallace University released a poll of the upcoming Senate race (2/28-3/9; 1,011 OH registered voters), and they project Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) holding a 41-29% lead over Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). If venture capitalist Mike Gibbons were the Republican nominee, Sen. Brown's margin would be 41-31%.

The sampling period is long meaning the poll's reliability factor is lessened, though the respondent universe size is strong. Additionally, the decided factor is a bit low considering that Sen. Brown is a two-term incumbent, which means more reliability questions. Rep. Renacci is favored to win the Republican nomination, and the general election figures to become highly competitive.

West Virginia: Countering Rep. Evan Jenkins' (R-Huntington) polling release that showed him leading the Republican primary race for the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D), Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) just went public with his own internal poll that shows very different results.   According to his Osage Research survey (3/13; 500 WV likely Republican primary voters), it is Mr. Morrisey who has climbed into first place, leading former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and Rep. Jenkins, 24-23-17%. At the beginning of last week, Mr. Jenkins released his Harper Polling survey that found him leading with 29% support versus 27 for Mr. Blankenship, and 19% for Attorney General Morrisey. The Republican primary is May 8th and expects to become a testy affair.


Illinois: Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) managed to survive a very difficult primary challenge from media consultant Marie Newman. The Congressman was re-nominated for an eighth term with just 51% of the district vote. His stronger performance in Cook County allowed him to capture the district majority despite losing Will County and the sliver of DuPage County to Ms. Newman. Mr. Lipinski is one of the few remaining Blue Dog Democrats, while Ms. Newman came at him hard as part of the party's left faction. Rep. Lipinski will have little trouble in winning the general election.

Other key congressional match-ups are now set. Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Wheaton) will face climate change advocate and energy business owner Sean Casten (D) in the general election. Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro/Carbondale) is paired with St. Clair County State's Attorney Brendan Kelly (D) in two of the more competitive races in the state.

MT-AL: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) was elected in a May special election that drew national attention. As candidate filing closed Friday in Big Sky Country, six Democrats officially entered the June 5th plurality primary contest to challenge the new Congressman in November. Among the half-dozen contenders are former state Sen. Lynda Moss, ex-state Rep. Kathleen Williams, and attorney and author Jared Pettinato. Rep. Gianforte is favored to win a full term in the 2018 election.

ND-AL: North Dakota Democratic state party delegates convened in Grand Forks during the week. Delegates awarded official party endorsements for their two federal offices on the ballot in 2018, and both winners have clinched the nomination. In no surprise, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) won endorsement for her re-election campaign. In the at-large House race, former state Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) topped the delegate vote, and his opponents then quickly followed suit to profess their support for the man who defeated them. With no further opposition coming for the June 5th primary, Mr. Schneider will become the Democratic congressional nominee.

Texas: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has taken sides in two Texas run-off elections. According to their new "Red to Blue" target campaign listing released at the end of this week, the Committee is recommending support of former Office of the US Trade Representative official Gina Ortiz Jones, in a May 22nd run-off election for the right to face Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) in November, and attorney and ex-NFL football player Colin Allred who wants to oppose veteran US Representative and Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-Dallas). Mr. Allred's Democratic run-off opponent is businesswoman and former Deputy Agriculture Department Undersecretary Lillian Salerno.

TX-27: Over the weekend, the four Republican candidates who failed to qualify for the open GOP run-off election to replace retiring Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) - the group cumulatively garnered 30% of the vote in the March 6th primary - unanimously endorsed former Victoria County Republican Party chairman Michael Cloud in his May 22nd Republican run-off battle with former state Water Development Board chairman Bech Bruun. In the primary, Mr. Bruun placed first with 36.1% of the vote followed closely by Mr. Cloud's 33.9 percent. Because of the close primary result, the secondary run-off election is rated as a toss-up so the united opponent endorsement development carries some significance.

UT-3: Newly elected Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo), who won a November special election to replace resigned Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R), will likely face primary competition against the man whom convention delegates endorsed in the special election.   Former state Rep. Chris Herrod, who won the nominating convention endorsement last year, filed to run again. Because he will likely be strong in the nominating convention once more, Rep. Curtis is both participating in the convention process and announced he will circulate petitions to qualify. A candidate must receive at least 40% of the convention delegate vote to proceed to a primary. If one receives 60%, the individual is either nominated outright or advances to a primary election against only candidates who have qualified via ballot petition.

UT-4:The Mellman Group, polling for Democratic congressional candidate and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (2/27-3/4; 400 UT-4 likely voters), finds Rep. Mia Love's (R-Saratoga Springs) campaign edge is only 43-40% if the general election were held in the present time frame. Several other polls have been conducted of the campaign over the past several weeks, with each projecting Love with a similarly small lead. We can expect this to be a competitive campaign in the fall, even considering Utah's strong Republican voting history.


California: Looking at the Public Policy Institute of California's survey for the Governor's race (see California Senate above), Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) continues to hold a lead. The question is whether a Republican will qualify for the second general election position. According to the jungle primary ballot test question, Mr. Newsom has a 28-14% lead over businessman and former presidential candidate John Cox (R). Close behind is ex-Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) at 12%. Republican state Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) is next with 10%. The big question is whether Villaraigosa can make a strong enough push to claim second place, which would enable him to battle Newsom in the general election. Republicans have virtually no chance of winning the statewide election.

Illinois:Gov. Bruce Rauner barely survived his Republican primary challenge earlier in the week, winning a scant 52-48% victory over state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, who at least spent $65 million of his own money to capture the party nomination, won his primary with a 45-27-24% win over state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Chicago) and businessman Chris Kennedy, the son of Robert F. Kennedy. Despite Gov. Rauner being the incumbent, his poor primary performance reveals Republican base trouble thus making Pritzker the early favorite to convert the Illinois Governor's mansion to the Democratic column.

New York:Cynthia Nixon, who came to fame playing the role of Miranda Hobbes in the HBO series, "Sex and the City," announced on Monday that she will launch a campaign against Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the coming Democratic primary. Though this challenge is a long shot at best, Ms. Nixon will be hitting the Governor from his ideological left. She will likely have the ability to attract some national money, but the chances of her denying the Governor re-nomination are poor. But, the New York state primary isn't until September, so this potential race has time to develop.

March 16, 2018
Emerging Candidates and Pennsylvania Updates
by Jim Ellis


Florida: According to a newly released Clearview Research poll (3/1-7; 750 FL likely voters), Gov. Rick Scott (R) has taken a 43-41% lead over Sen. Bill Nelson (D) if the pair were to face each other in the impending US Senate race.   Last week, an online Survey Monkey internet poll found the Senator owning a ten-point advantage. For his part, Gov. Scott has still yet to announce his Senate candidacy, but all political observers expect him to soon enter the race now that the legislature's 60-day session has concluded.

Mississippi: Speculation continues to build about who Gov. Phil Bryant (R) will appoint to the Senate once exiting incumbent Thad Cochran (R) resigns on April 1st.   While Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) appears to be the Governor's first choice, signs point to him keeping his current position and entering the open 2019 gubernatorial campaign. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R) was quoted over the weekend as saying that he will run for Lt. Governor, thereby seemingly taking himself out of consideration for the Senate appointment and lending more credence to the idea that Mr. Reeves will continue building an open seat gubernatorial campaign. Gov. Bryant is ineligible to seek a third term in the next regular state election.

Late in the week, Tea Party state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) announced that he is abandoning his challenge to incumbent Sen. Roger Wicker (R) in order to enter the new special election to replace Sen. Cochran. The special will run concurrently with the general election cycle. All candidates will first appear on the November 6th ballot. Should no candidate receive majority support, the top two would run-off on November 27th. The winner will serve through 2020, at which time he or she will be eligible to run for a full six-year term.

Appointment speculation is now turning toward Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R). Mississippi is the only state to never have elected a woman to any of its congressional positions, so Gov. Bryant can begin a new path by appointing a Republican female. Additionally, Ms. Hyde-Smith has the reputation of being a strong campaigner, which is an attribute the Republican leadership wants to see in the appointed Senator.

New Jersey:The first New Jersey Senate race public poll release came this week when Quinnipiac University ventured forth with their new data (3/8-12; 1,052 NJ registered voters) testing Sen. Bob Menendez (D) and former Celgene Corporation CEO Bob Hugin (R). This is also the first political poll publicized since the Justice Department dropped federal bribery charges against Sen. Menendez. According to the poll, the two-term incumbent would lead the former pharmaceutical company chief, 49-32%, with Independents breaking for the Senator, 41-36%. Mr. Menendez begins the election cycle as the clear favorite for re-election.

Pennsylvania: The biggest surprise at the statewide candidate filing deadline was businessman Paul Addis not entering the Republican Senate primary despite having invested over $1.45 million into his campaign. Raising only $12,000+ from other individuals and seeing his anti-Trump attacks not catching fire with the Pennsylvania GOP electorate, Mr. Addis decided not to continue his campaign. The development cements US Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) as the prohibitive favorite to win the GOP nomination in the May 15th primary. He now faces only state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Monaca). Mr. Christiana had less than $20,000 in his campaign account according to his year-end Federal Election Commission disclosure filing.

Utah: Candidate filing also closed in Utah, and it is now clear that former presidential nominee and Massachusetts Governor won't have a free ride in this year's Republican primary. Though nine Republicans have announced their candidacies to oppose Romney, one individual with an electoral record has just stepped forward. State Rep. Mike Kennedy (R-Lindon), a practicing physician and three-term state Representative, announced his candidacy and will ostensibly oppose Mr. Romney. It is clear that Rep. Kennedy is his most substantial Republican opponent, but it is highly unlikely that he, or anyone else, will deny the former presidential candidate the Senate nomination. In the general election, his eventual opponent is likely to be Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson (D). Mr. Romney is the prohibitive favorite to replace retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch (R).


AZ-8: The next special congressional election, this one to replace resigned Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria), will be held on April 24th. With former state Senate President Pro Tempore Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) winning the special Republican primary on February 27th, she is the clear favorite to win the special general in what performs as a safe Republican seat. According to a new Lake Research poll (3/3-6; 400 AZ-8 likely special election voters), Ms. Lesko would lead her Democratic opponent, Scientific Review Officer Hiral Tipirneno (D), by a strong 48-34% margin.

CO-2:Former University of Colorado Regent Joe Neguse (D) comes a step closer to becoming the consensus Democrat to succeed Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder). Mr. Polis is leaving the House to run for Governor, leaving a safely Democratic open seat in his wake. This week, Nederland Mayor Kristopher Larsen announced that he is ending his congressional quest. Therefore, Mr. Neguse now only faces former Boulder County Democratic Party chairman Mark Williams in the Democratic primary. Winning the June party primary is tantamount to capturing the seat in November.

FL-13: Ex-US Rep. David Jolly (R-Pinellas County), who former Gov. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) defeated in 2016 after the Florida state Supreme Court handed down a new set of district lines that were unfavorable to a Republican candidate in this Tampa Bay area CD, has announced a decision about whether he will challenge his successor to a re-match. Mr. Jolly, who was constantly fighting with sectors of the Republican leadership, and then candidate Donald Trump during the presidential election, announced yesterday that he will not run in 2018. Even though he was the incumbent during the 2016 campaign, the National Republican Congressional Committee refused to invest financial resources into his campaign, thus dooming the Jolly re-election effort. With Mr. Jolly left on his own in what is now a Democratic district, the party-switching former Governor Crist won, 52-48%.

NJ-7: It appears that Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton Township) now knows the identity of his next general opponent even though the Democratic primary here isn't until June 5th. Bank executive Linda Weber (D) announced that she was dropping out of the congressional race, after losing the official Union County Democratic Party endorsement by a single vote to former Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski. Though at least three other announced Democratic candidates remain, Ms. Weber's departure virtually cedes the party nomination to Mr. Malinowski. We can expect a highly competitive general election campaign here later in the year.

NY-11: Two polls were released that depict completely different political pictures of the impending Staten Island Republican primary battle between Rep. Dan Donovan and former Rep. Michael Grimm. According to a Barry Zeplowitz & Associates poll for the Donovan campaign (3/7; 400 NY-11 GOP primary voters), the Congressman would hold a whopping 60-21% advantage over the former US Representative who was only recently released from prison after his tax evasion conviction. But, a Big Dog Strategies survey (3/4-5; 446 likely NY-11 GOP primary voters) for the Grimm campaign finds the two candidates locked in a dead heat. According to these data, Rep. Donovan would cling to only a 35-34% edge over Mr. Grimm. The New York primary is June 26th. NY-11 is comprised of Staten Island and part of Brooklyn. It is the only Republican congressional district in New York City.

ND-AL: Former state Senate Minority Leader Mac Schneider (D-Grand Forks) announced that he will compete in the upcoming March 15-18 Democratic state Party Convention for the open at-large congressional district nomination. Delegates will vote to endorse a contender at that time. Most often, those not receiving the endorsement do not force a primary. State Sen. John Grabinger (D-Jamestown) and ex-state Rep. Ben Hanson (D-Fargo) are already in the Democratic race. The Republican endorsing convention will be held April 6-8. The seat recently came open when US Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced his challenge to Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D).

Pennsylvania:The much-watched Pennsylvania special election went to Democrat Conor Lamb, who scored a bare 627 unofficial vote victory over state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg) earlier in the week. It is likely the turnout will exceed 230,000 voters when all votes are counted and the military and overseas ballots are added to the totals. Once all votes are added to the total, the Lamb victory margin will approximately be 500 votes, much less than polling projected.

Quickly, the focus will now turn to where Rep-Elect Lamb and Mr. Saccone will run in the general election. Mr. Saccone has already been circulating qualifying petitions in the new 14th District, the place where redistricting put 57% of the 18th District's constituency. This seat is nine points more Republican than the current 18th, so Rep-Elect Lamb looks to be headed to the new 17th CD to challenge Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley). The 17th CD is a swing district much more favorable to a Democratic candidate, but it does mean Lamb will be forced to challenge a three-term incumbent with 56% constituent carry-over from his previous 12th District. Only 20% of the district that Lamb just won finds itself in new District 17.

PA-4: With redistricting creating an open Democratic 4th District in Pennsylvania's Montgomery County, former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) just filed a new campaign committee with the FEC and expects to soon announce his candidacy. Mr. Hoeffel was first elected to Montgomery County's then-13th Congressional District in 1998 and served three terms before leaving to unsuccessfully challenge Sen. Arlen Specter (R) in the 2004 statewide election. Mr. Hoeffel would return to the Montgomery County Commission in a 2007 election, and then competed for the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nomination. He retired from elective politics in 2012. Already in the campaign are state Reps. Mary Jo Daley (D-Narbeth) and Madeleine Dean (D-Abington), along with gun control activist Shira Goodman.



A new Burton Research & Strategies survey (3/4-8; 10-11; 600 MD registered voters) finds Gov. Larry Hogan (R) expanding his previously published polling leads over Democrats Rushern Baker and Kevin Kamenetz. When paired with Mr. Baker, the Prince Georges County Executive, Gov. Hogan scores a 50-29% major advantage. If Mr. Kamenetz, the Baltimore County Executive, were his opponent the Governor's margin grows to an even larger 57-26%. Though Mr. Hogan's approval numbers are among the strongest of all state chief executives, Maryland's Democratic voting legacy will eventually make the general election a close affair. While seven other Democrats are in the gubernatorial race, including former NAACP President Ben Jealous, the Burton group only released numbers associated with Messrs. Baker and Kamenetz.

March 9, 2018
Texas Primary Results, Mississippi Senator To Resign and Close Pennsylvania 18 Special Election
by Jim Ellis


Mississippi:Sen. Thad Cochran (R) originally elected in 1978, and the 10th longest serving Senator in American history, announced that he will resign his seat on or about April 1st and retire from the Senate. Mr. Cochran issued a statement saying, "I regret my health has become an ongoing challenge. I intend to fulfill my responsibilities and commitments to the people of Mississippi...after which I will formally retire from the U.S. Senate." Upon the resignation becoming final, Gov. Phil Bryant (R) will appoint a replacement. This means another Senate seat will be added to the 2018 election cycle. Like Minnesota, Mississippi will have both of its Senators standing for election this year. The eventual election winner will then serve the balance of the current term. The seat next comes before the voters to decide a full six-year term in 2020.

Gov. Bryant unequivocally removed himself from consideration for the Senate seat, saying that there is "something nefarious" about making a move to appoint himself.   There is yet no indication about who the Governor is definitively leaning toward, but Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann are rumored to be at the top of the prospective appointments list.

Texas Primary:Texas Republicans and Democrats went to the polls on Tuesday to conclude the first-in-the-nation midterm primary, and the incumbents in both parties had good nights. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R) both won re-nomination with victory percentages of 90 and 85, respectively. The Democratic gubernatorial candidates, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and businessman Andrew White, will advance to a May 22nd run-off election. Sen. Cruz will face Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-El Paso) in the general election as the latter man also scored an outright victory in his Democratic primary.

Virginia:According to a new Christopher Newport University survey (2/5-28; 1,562 VA registered voters), one US Senate state the Democrats won't have to worry about defending is Virginia. From their data, which appears to undercount minorities and seemingly fails to even segment the state's significant Asian population (6.6%), Sen. Tim Kaine (D) leads all prospective opponents with a 56-33 or 56-32% margin spread. Looking to the Republican field, Prince William County Board chairman Corey Stewart has a small 16-7-6% lead over former Lt. Governor nominee and pastor E.W. Jackson and state Delegate Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper).


CA-44:In 2016, then-Hermosa Beach City Councilwoman Nanette Barragan's victory over state Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton) in a double-Democratic general election was one of the top upsets of the last election cycle. Now, US Rep. Barragan seeks her second term. Previously, actress Stacey Dash had announced her candidacy as a Republican and is building a campaign in the heavily Democratic seat. Just before the candidate filing deadline, Compton Mayor Aja Brown (D) filed a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday and announced her candidacy, making for an interesting June 5th qualifying election.

CA-48: California's top-two primary system that allows members of the same party to advance into the general election may prove a major factor in Rep. Dana Rohrabacher's (R-Costa Mesa) Orange County coastal congressional district. Yesterday, former state Assemblyman and Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh (R) pulled nomination papers in order to qualify before today's candidate filing deadline. Mr. Baugh's presence in the race, assuming he completes the filing process, could create a situation where both Rep. Rohrabacher and he qualify for the general election. With the Democratic field split among ten candidates, none of who have ever successfully run for office, the state's primary system could conceivably deny the Democrats a potential target.

FL-27: The open South Florida district that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) is vacating drew two new candidates during the week. Former television news anchor Maria Elvira Salazar (R) joins songwriter and non-profit organization executive Angela Chirinos, Miami-Dade County Commissioner Bruno Barreiro, and former Doral City Councilwoman Bettina Rodriguez-Aguilera, among others vying for the GOP nomination. On the Democratic side, former Health and Human Services Secretary and ex-University of Miami president Donna Shalala announced that she will enter the Democratic primary. Should she be elected, Ms. Shalala, at 77 years of age, will become the second oldest freshman House member in history and is the ninth Democrat to enter the open seat race. The Florida primary is not until August 28th, so both sides have months of campaigning ahead of them.

IL-3: Public Policy Polling, surveying for NARAL Pro Choice America (2/27-28; 648 IL-3 likely Democratic primary voters) finds Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Western Springs) leading his primary challenger, media consultant Marie Newman, but by only a slim 43-41% margin.

Ms. Newman enjoys support from most of the national liberal ideological groups, and local Reps. Luis Gutierrez (D-Chicago) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston), but Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) backs the incumbent. Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders also announced his support of the Democratic challenger. An outside organization supporting Lipinski, called United for Progress, just opened with a six-figure negative ad campaign against Newman. The tactics used in this race could be a microcosm of what is to come in major Democratic primaries throughout the country. The primary is March 20th.

NV-4:Rumors are rampant that freshman Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas), who announced he would not seek a second term because of sexual harassment allegations, is seriously contemplating changing his mind. With the Nevada candidate filing deadline fast approaching on March 16th, we will soon know if such conjecture has any basis. Rep. Kihuen is not confirming nor denying that he may yet enter the race. Even if he does, however, neither his re-nomination nor re-election would be a given. Already, former US Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) has announced his candidacy, meaning a major Democratic primary would ensue if the tainted freshman decides to reverse course. Also in the race are Democratic state Senator Pat Spearman (D-Las Vegas) and two minor candidates.

In the general election, former US Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite) has also decided to run again, ostensibly setting up a re-match of the 2014 Hardy-Horsford campaign that the Republican won. The 4th District was created in 2012 as a result of reapportionment awarding Nevada a new district, but the CD has yet to re-elect an incumbent. The electorate here will again see major political action regardless of Mr. Kihuen's political status.

NJ-2: Though GOP Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-Ventnor/Atlantic City) has held the southern New Jersey 2nd District for 24 consecutive years, the Republican leadership has had a difficult time recruiting a candidate. Moderate Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May) currently appears to be in the driver's seat for both the party primary and the general election. This week, former state Assemblyman Sam Fiocchi announced he would seek the Republican nomination. Mr. Fiocchi was elected to the legislature in 2013, but defeated after one term in office. Therefore, it is unclear how strong he will be in this congressional race.

PA-8:Former federal prosecutor Jon Peters (R), who had been running to succeed Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) in the 11th District under the former congressional map, announced that he will run in the new northeastern 8th District. The new plan places his home in new District 12, but Mr. Peters said he would not oppose incumbent Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) in that CD. Assuming the new court-mandated plan will be the footprint for the 2018 elections, Mr. Peters will challenge businessman John Chrin in the Republican primary. Late last week, Mr. Chrin indicated he would also run in the 8th District instead of the new open 7th District. The eventual GOP nominee will challenge Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in a district that appears more favorably Republican than the open 7th. The 8th District general election will likely become hotly contested.

PA-18:A new Emerson College poll (3/1-3; 474 PA-18 likely special election voters) finds Democrat Conor Lamb leading Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg) by a 48-45% margin in a district that President Trump carried 58-39%, and for which resigned Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) ran unopposed in the last two elections. But, Gravis Marketing (3/1-5; 911 PA-18 likely special election voters) finds Saccone leading 45-42%.

Regardless of who wins this election, a much different district will present itself if the new Pennsylvania district lines survive a Republican stay motion to the US Supreme Court. Less than 60% of the current territory will transfer to new district 14, with the remainder going to different southwestern Pennsylvania districts. A Democratic victory here would give the party a major boost in its bid to re-claim the House majority, while a loss in what normally performs as a safe seat would be devastating to the GOP.

Texas Primary:All 28 House members from both parties seeking re-election easily won re-nomination, with the lowest recorded incumbent winning percentage being Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson's (D-Dallas) 63.6%. The Congresswoman previously announced that the upcoming term will be her last. In the eight open House seats, all but three of the campaigns are advancing to a run-off election.

State Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano) easily won outright the GOP nomination in the seat from which veteran Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Plano) is retiring. Turning to El Paso, County Judge (Executive) Veronica Escobar (D) also won outright the Democratic nomination to replace Rep. O'Rourke. She will have little trouble holding the seat for her party in the fall. Going southeast to Houston, state Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D) won the Democratic primary in the 29th CD, and she will come to Washington next year to replace retiring Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston).

Open seat run-offs will occur in Districts 2 (Houston; Rep. Ted Poe-R), 5 (Dallas; Rep. Jeb Hensarling-R), 6 (Arlington; Rep. Joe Barton-R), 21 (San Antonio; Rep. Lamar Smith-R), and 27 (Corpus Christi; Rep. Blake Farenthold-R). Same for Democratic challengers opposing Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston), Will Hurd (R-San Antonio), and Rules Committee chairman Pete Sessions (R-Dallas).


Colorado:Magellan Strategies, conducting an independent poll of the Colorado Republican gubernatorial primary (2/26-27; 647 likely Republican primary voters via automated telephonic device), finds state Treasurer Walker Stapleton taking the lead over Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and two others. According to the results, Mr. Stapleton holds 26% of the Republican primary vote, followed by AG Coffman's 13%. Investment banker Doug Robinson, nephew of former presidential nominee and current US Senate candidate Mitt Romney, has 8%, while former state Rep. Victor Mitchell (R-Castle Rock) registers 5% preference.

Rhode Island: Polling is suggesting that first-term Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) is facing a more difficult re-election campaign than a Rhode Island Democratic incumbent should expect. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R), who lost to Raimondo, 41-36% in 2014, looks to be drawing even closer in the early going of what is likely to be a re-match campaign. Making things even more difficult for the Governor, former Democratic Secretary of State Matt Brown filed papers to run for Governor, and may do so as an Independent. Considering Mr. Brown still may have some semblance of a political base within the Democratic Party, running as an Independent would draw some votes away from Raimondo and could help put her in serious political jeopardy, ironically in one of the country's strongest Democratic states. 

March 2, 2018
Polling Updates and Election Contests Shape Up  
by Jim Ellis


Florida:Quinnipiac University surveyed the Florida electorate (2/23-26; 1,156 FL registered voters) and found consistent results with other firms who have recently asked ballot test questions for the impending US Senate contest between Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R). According to the results, Sen. Nelson claims a 46-42% advantage. Gov. Scott has not announced a campaign for the Senate, but an unconnected political action committee has been running extensive media spots in an effort to promote the Governor's agenda and accomplishments in office. He is expected to soon become an official candidate.

Mississippi:State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville) announced his primary challenge to Sen. Roger Wicker (R) this week. Mr. McDaniel, who came close to upending Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in the 2014 nomination process, faces an uphill battle as he enters the race with just over three months remaining. If time is not his biggest problem, the resource imbalance may well be the greater obstacle. Sen. Wicker already had over $4.12 million in the bank at the end of 2017, while Mr. McDaniel is just getting going and the likelihood of outside conservative Super PACs lending strong support to the challenger's effort is much less now that former presidential advisor Steve Bannon is no longer much of an influential factor in active campaign circles. The primary election is scheduled for June 5th.

North Dakota:A new Tarrance Group poll (2/18-20; 500 ND likely registered voters) finds at-large US Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) taking a lead over Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) by a 49-44% margin, a spread large enough to be just beyond the polling margin of error. Mr. Cramer, after originally saying he would not run for the Senate and instead seek re-election, two weeks ago changed his mind and entered the race. The Tarrance poll is the first publicly released data that shows Sen. Heitkamp in a state of vulnerability to this degree. We can expect this race to now be rated as a pure toss-up campaign.

Tennessee:Sen. Bob Corker (R) reiterated his retirement decision this week, and will leave office when his current terms ends. With former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) withdrawing earlier, US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) appeared unopposed for the Republican nomination until businessman Darrell Lynn came forward pledging to spend $5 million to become the party standard bearer. The eventual nominee faces former two-term Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) in the general election to replace the retiring Sen. Corker.


AZ-8:Former state Senate President Pro Tempore Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) won the GOP special primary last night and now becomes the heavy favorite to replace resigned Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria) in the April 24th special general election. Ms. Lesko attracted 36% of the closed Republican primary vote. Ex-state Rep. Phil Lovas (R-Glendale) and former state Sen. Steve Montenegro (R-Surprise) both finished with 24% of the vote.   Former Public Service Commissioner Bob Stump, no relation to the late US Rep. Bob Stump (R-AZ) who served 26 years in the House, finished with just 5% of the vote.

Democrats easily nominated physician Hiral Tipirneni to advance into the special general. She scored a 60-40% victory over auto sales manager and LGBT activist Brianna Westbrook.   Over 36,000 people voted in the Democratic primary, a large increase over past similar elections. But, Republican turnout topped 71,000, thus reflecting the majority party's large advantage here.

GA-6:Jon Ossoff (D), who made history in being the candidate for the country's most expensive-ever congressional race (over $30 million through his campaign alone, not counting several more million in outside organization expenditures on his behalf) only to lose the June special election to current Rep. Karen Handel (R-Roswell), announced on Friday that he will not become a candidate in the regular election later this year. With the candidate filing deadline approaching on March 9th, it appears that former Atlanta TV anchorman Bobby Kaple, businessman Kevin Abel, and attorney Sam Levine will comprise the Democratic field. Considering the regular election voting history in this district, Ms. Handel begins her first re-election campaign as the favorite.

MN-1:Republican Jim Hagedorn (R) lost the second-closest congressional race of 2016, falling to Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), 50.3 - 49.6%. He returns for his third consecutive congressional run, but this time in an open seat campaign. Harper Polling, surveying for the Hagedorn Campaign (2/19-20; 412 MN-1 likely Republican primary voters), finds the previous Republican nominee leading state Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester), 54-21%, in a hypothetical GOP primary vote. Though Minnesota candidates typically abide by the state party endorsement convention results, Sen. Nelson recently said that she would take the race to an August 14th primary should the convention delegates side with Mr. Hagedorn. The seat is open because Rep. Walz is running for Governor.

NH-1:Levi Sanders, the 48-year old son of Vermont Senator and former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I-VT), declared his candidacy for the eastern New Hampshire congressional seat from which Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-Rochester) is retiring after four non-consecutive terms.

Mr. Sanders, however, lives in the state's 2nd District, which could become an issue in parochial New Hampshire. Seven Democrats are already in the race, including Executive Councilor Chris Pappas, former NH state AFL-CIO president and state Rep. Mark MacKenzie (D-Bedford), and Rochester City Attorney Terence O'Rourke.   The general election is likely to become yet another toss-up campaign in a district that has unseated more incumbents than any CD in the nation.

NM-2:The open 2nd District (Rep. Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) running for Governor) now has an official party endorsed candidate. Republicans met in convention and awarded the New Mexico Republican Party primary endorsement to state Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo). The move was a bit of a surprise because the convention delegates eschewed their former state chairman, Marty Newman. Rep. Herrell received a whopping 69% of the GOP delegates' support. Candidate filing closed on February 6th, which yielded only two Democrats declaring themselves, surprising for an open seat. College professor Madeline Hildebrandt and attorney Xochitl Torres-Small will square off for the party nomination. This race begins as a Lean R campaign.

PA-8:Venture capitalist John Chrin (R) announced that he will continue to challenge Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in the upcoming election. Since the new Pennsylvania redistricting plan radically changed Rep. Cartwright's 17th District, there had been some question as to whether Mr. Chrin, who has over $914,000 in his campaign account thanks largely to his $700,000 personal loan, would remain in the new 8th District or battle for the open 7th CD. The latter seat houses the Lehigh Valley area where Mr. Chrin was raised, but the new 8th's Republican numbers are stronger. The new PA-8 is the only current Democratic district that now becomes competitive under the new plan.

UT-4:Local Salt Lake City pollster Dan Jones & Associates (2/9-21; 404 UT-4 registered voters) released another survey in their ongoing testing of the impending campaign between Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) and Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D). As has been the case in previous polls, Rep. Love maintains a lead but the results are close. According to their February release, the Congresswoman leads Mr. McAdams, 49-43%, which is almost identical to the group's January survey that found Rep. Love up 47-42%.


California:In early January, former US Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento) announced that he would enter the open 2018 Governor's campaign. Now, less than two months later, he's dropping out. Republicans need a strong candidate just to qualify for the November ballot in the state's top-two jungle primary format and Mr. Ose was thought to be such. Again having two Democrats run against each other in the Governor's general election will ostensibly make it more difficult for Republicans to turn out their voters for the down ballot campaigns, especially when not fielding a Senate candidate, either.

Georgia:A new Georgia statewide poll from Mason-Dixon Polling & Research (2/20-23; 625 GA registered voters with an over-sample of 500 GA likely Republican primary voters and 500 GA likely Democratic primary voters) tested both the open GOP and Democratic gubernatorial primaries. According to the survey results, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle has a 27-13-12-11% Republican primary advantage over Secretary of State Brian Kemp, Iraq War veteran Clay Tippins, and former state Sen. Hunter Hill, respectively. For the Democrats, in a battle of Stacey's, former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams leads ex-state Rep. Stacey Evans, 29-17%.

Illinois:The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute of Southern Illinois University conducted a survey for the state's upcoming March 20th primary election. According to the data (2/19-25; 1,001 IL registered voters; 472 likely Democratic voters; 259 likely Republican primary voters), the results appear consistent with other recent research studies. The Simon Poll finds venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker, who has already spent $56 million for his campaign, leading state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Chicago) and businessman Chris Kennedy, son of the late Attorney General and US Senator Robert F. Kennedy, 31-21-17%, respectively.

Maine:Two Democrats announced yesterday that they are withdrawing from the open Governor's race, even before the campaign officially begins. Former Bangor Mayor Sean Faircloth, who contemplated for a long while before announcing his candidacy, has quickly backtracked and will exit. The same for ex-state Sen. James Boyle (D-Scarborough). The departing pair still leaves the Democrats with a dozen candidates including Attorney General Janet Mills, former state House Speaker Mark Eves (D-North Berwick), and state Sen. Mark Dion (D-Westbrook). The candidate filing deadline is March 15th for the June 12th primary. Gov. Paul LePage (R) is ineligible to run for a third term.

Maryland:Mason-Dixon Polling & Research looked at the developing Maryland gubernatorial campaign. Here, despite representing one of the most loyal of Democratic states, Republican Gov. Larry Hogan maintains excellent job approval ratings. According to this latest poll (2/20-22; 625 MD registered voters), the Governor's favorability index is 63:26% positive to negative.

The approval rating also translates into substantial leads for him in the ballot test. Against Prince George's County Executive Rushern Baker, who leads in Democratic primary polling, Gov. Hogan scores a 51-36% margin. If Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz were the Democratic nominee, the Governor's margin would be a similar 49-34%. Should NAACP president Ben Jealous advance to the general election, Gov. Hogan's preference rating is 50-33%.

Michigan:Public Opinion Strategies, surveying for the Bill Schuette for Governor campaign (2/10-13; 800 MI previous Republican primary voters), finds the Attorney General in strong shape to capture the open GOP gubernatorial nomination. According to the results, Mr. Schuette leads Lt. Gov. Brian Calley, 42-15%, with state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R-East Lansing) tallying only 5% support. The Michigan primary isn't until August 7th, so much time remains for change. Former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer appears to be the leading Democratic candidate. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

February 23, 2018
Pennsylvania Court Map Released, More Open Seats and Latest Polling Updates  
by Jim Ellis


Maryland: A new Goucher Poll (2/12-17; 800 MD adults; 658 MD registered voters) finds Sen. Ben Cardin (D) crushing convicted US spy Chelsea Manning in the upcoming June 26th Democratic primary. According to the Goucher data, Sen. Cardin begins the race with a 61-17% advantage, which is likely an insurmountable margin for the challenger to overcome. Sen. Cardin is seen as a sure bet to be re-nominated and win a third term in the general election.

Mississippi: JMC Analytics & Polling surveyed the Mississippi Republican electorate to determine Sen. Roger Wicker's (R) strength for re-nomination. State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), who came close to upending Sen. Thad Cochran (R) in the 2014 nomination process, still has not ruled out running this year. JMC tested the Senator and Mr. McDaniel in their latest survey (2/15-17; 500 MS potential Republican primary voters) and found the incumbent leading his potential challenger, 38-20%. Though Sen. Wicker has a large lead among those decided, 42% reporting that they are undecided is a large number for a race involving a multi-term incumbent. Time, however, is running out. The candidate filing deadline is March 1st, in preparation for the June 5th primary election.

Tennessee: With early polling showing him faring poorly against Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) in the August Republican primary, former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) decided to end his statewide effort. In doing so, Mr. Fincher publicly encouraged Sen. Bob Corker (R) to run for re-election. The Senator, publicly reconsidering whether to reverse his retirement decision, promises to make an announcement about his future political plans very shortly.

WPA Intelligence, polling for the Defend the President PAC (2/13-15; 500 TN likely voters; 400 over-sample of Republican likely primary voters) finds Rep. Blackburn crushing Sen. Corker, 55-26%, in a head-to-head GOP contest. In terms of favorability, Sen. Corker scored an upside down 43:47% positive to negative rating among Republicans, while Rep. Blackburn recorded a 40:26% ratio. In an early general election pairing with presumed Democratic nominee Phil Bredesen (D), the state's former Governor and Nashville ex-Mayor, Ms. Blackburn seizes a 44-39% edge.


CA-25:A new ALG Research survey (2/11-15; 500 CA-25 likely jungle primary voters) finds Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) placing first in the upcoming June 5th jungle primary with 43% voter preference. Attorney Bryan Caforio (D), who lost to Mr. Knight 53-47% in the 2016 general election despite Hillary Clinton carrying the seat by almost seven percentage points, places second with 19%. Non-profit group executive Katie Hill (D) is next with 10%, followed by geologist Jess Phoenix (D) at 7 percent. Under California election law, the top two finishers regardless of political party affiliation advance to the general election.

CA-50:With Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine/San Diego County) under an FBI investigation for misuse of campaign funds, a new Republican candidate announced that he is entering the congressional campaign and will compete in the June jungle primary. El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells (R) is now in the race, obviously attempting to position himself in case the legal system soon strikes at Rep. Hunter. Four Democrats have declared, two of whom have raised more than $450,000. The 50th District is safely Republican, but that could change if Rep. Hunter soon faces a federal indictment. Retiring Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is a possible GOP candidate here, should Mr. Hunter not file. So is former San Diego City Councilman and ex-Mayoral and congressional candidate Carl DeMaio.

FL-17:On the heels of Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND-AL) eschewing re-election to challenge Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) and becoming the 55th House member not to run for another term, Florida Rep. Tom Rooney (R-Okeechobee) added his name to the burgeoning retirement list with his announcement that he won't run for a sixth term.   President Trump carried this district, 62-35% in the 2016 campaign, and Mr. Rooney has averaged 61.2% of the vote since the expansive central-south district was reconfigured in its present form. The Florida candidate filing deadline is not until May 4th in preparation for the August 28th primary election, so much time remains for political maneuvering in what should be a safe Republican district.

NJ-11:State Assemblyman Tony Bucco (R-Boonton Township) announced this week that he will not enter the open northern New Jersey congressional race that House Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Morristown) is vacating. Instead, Mr. Bucco endorsed fellow Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Parsippany). In another part of the district, however, investment banker Antony Ghee, with the support of key Republican Party leaders in Passaic and Essex County, announced that he would run. The 11th District race is expected to be hotly contested in November. Two Democrats appear as the leading candidates in their party primary. Attorney Mikie Sherrill and businesswoman Tamara Harris have each amassed a sizable campaign treasury.

ND-AL:With at-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) reversing course and joining the Senate race, state Sen. Tom Campbell (R-Grafton) has now also changed political direction. As expected, Mr. Campbell, who had been campaigning for the Senate nomination for the better part of a year, will now enter the open at-large House campaign, attempting to succeed Rep. Cramer. Former state Republican Party chairman Gary Emineth, who briefly became a Senate candidate before receiving information that Rep. Cramer would himself run, will not enter the open House race.   The April state party endorsement convention will go a long way toward deciding who competes in the November open seat campaign.

Pennsylvania:The Pennsylvania state Supreme Court released its new congressional map and, as expected, legal challenges are already emerging. The Republicans are launching a federal lawsuit against this new draw in an attempt to attract the US Supreme Court's involvement. The high court failed to previously involve itself because the Democrats' lawsuit was filed against the Pennsylvania Constitution. Now that a different map has been set in place, a new set of legal challenges can begin. The Supreme Court has stayed similar recent redistricting cases in Michigan, North Carolina, and Texas, all awaiting a decision on the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case, so Pennsylvania Republicans are launching a similar appeal in hopes of receiving similar consideration.

Ironically, two organizations that were prominent in urging the state Supreme Court to overturn the Pennsylvania congressional districts now also may file lawsuits over the replacement map. Representatives from both Common Cause and the NAACP are objecting to minorities being packed into one Philadelphia district when they currently have majority minority status in two under the invalidated plan.

The new map appears to have eight safe Republican and five clear Democratic districts. The remaining five seats are highly competitive, and each could become toss-up campaigns. The incumbents with the most difficult draws are Reps. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown), Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley), and Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/ Scranton). The new 7th District of retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) is also a pure toss-up.


Kansas:Prominent oil businessman and former congressional candidate Wink Hartman (R) withdrew from the Republican gubernatorial primary yesterday and endorsed Secretary of State Kris Kobach. The two, and several others, are opposing new Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), who replaced former Gov. Sam Brownback (R) who accepted a federal appointment. Mr. Hartman said he is leaving the race in order to help avoid splitting the primary vote that would allow Gov. Colyer to win the nomination with only plurality support.

Illinois:The Global Strategy Group conducted a new poll for venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker (2/9-13; 802 IL likely Democratic primary voters), who has already invested a reported $56 million into his gubernatorial campaign. According to these results, Mr. Pritzker holds a 37-23-21% lead over businessman Chris Kennedy, son of former Attorney General and US Senator Robert F. Kennedy, and state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Chicago).

Afterward, Sen. Biss released his ALG Research survey (2/6-11; 500 IL likely Democratic primary voters), which presents results that aren't too different from Pritzker's release. According to ALG, Mr. Pritzker leads Sen. Biss and Mr. Kennedy, 32-24-24%. Thus, we have two candidate polls both showing the race getting tighter despite heavy spending from Pritzker, but with the leader maintaining a significant edge. The Illinois primary is March 20th, so this campaign is just entering the prime time phase.

Maryland:The same Goucher Poll cited above in the Maryland Senate section also tested the upcoming Governor's race. Incumbent Republican Larry Hogan, despite representing one of America's most Democratic states, still enjoys a strong 61% positive favorability rating. In the race for the Democratic nomination, three candidates are bunched near the top, but no one with clear strong support.

Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker is first with 19%, followed by Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz who registers 12% backing. Trailing both is former NAACP president Ben Jealous at 10 percent. No other candidate even reaches the 4% plateau. Clearly, this Democratic primary contest is wide open.

Missouri:Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted on one felony count of invasion of privacy in relation to transmitting via a computer a non-consented upon photo of a partially nude woman with whom he was engaged in an extra-marital affair. If convicted, the Class E felony could carry a maximum four-year prison sentence. Gov. Greitens vows to fight the charge. His next court appearance is March 16th. If convicted or forced to resign as part of a plea bargain, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson (R) will assume the office. He would serve the balance of the term that will extend through 2020.

Texas:The Texas Tribune sponsored a primary election poll in anticipation of the state's first-in-the-nation midterm primary scheduled for March 6th.   According to the survey (YouGov; 2/1-12; 1,200 TX adults; 633 modeled Republican primary voters; 517 modeled Democratic primary voters; an over-sample of 424 confirmed primary voters were added to the respective party samples; weighted sampling universe), Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez has opened a 43-24% lead over businessman Andrew White, son of former Gov. Mark White, in the Democratic gubernatorial primary. The winner faces an uphill battle against first-term incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott (R).

February 16, 2018
Weekly Rundown - Polls, Campaigns and Candidates Emerge  
by Jim Ellis



The Public Policy Institute of California released the results of their statewide voter poll (1/21-30; 1,705 CA adults; 1,367 CA registered voters; 1,042 CA likely voters) and tested only Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) and state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) in the upcoming US Senate race as part of their extensive questionnaire. According to the ballot test question asked to the self-described likely voters, Sen. Feinstein would lead the Los Angeles state legislative leader, by a commanding 46-17%. Additionally, recent year-end cash-on-hand figures find Sen. Feinstein holding $9.8 million in her campaign account as compared to state Sen. de Leon's $359,000.


WPA Intelligence just completed a Montana Senate Republican primary survey (2/5-6; 401 MT likely GOP primary voters) and finds state Auditor Matt Rosendale jumping out to a double-digit lead over businessman Troy Downing, retired state judge Russell Fagg, and state Sen. Al Olszewski. According to the WPA data, Mr. Rosendale has a 28-12-11-5% advantage over the other three in the listed order. Other also-ran candidates record less than 4 percent. The winner of the June Republican primary faces two-term Sen. Jon Tester (D) in what is forecast as a difficult challenger campaign.


Signs are clearly growing that Sen. Bob Corker (R) is considering reversing his retirement decision. Staff is now confirming that the Senator is conducting meetings to assess his re-election chances, and he is even going so far as attempting to repair his broken relationship with President Trump after the two exchanged heated words during the past few months.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) already has amassed a little over $4.6 million and led Mr. Corker substantially in the Senate Conservatives Fund poll (2/12-13; 600 TN likely Republican primary voters) that tested them in a hypothetical one-on-one match-up. According to the results, Ms. Blackburn has a 49-26% advantage over the two-term incumbent. The third Republican candidate, former US Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) posted only 9% support. The candidate filing deadline is April 5, with the Tennessee primary occurring August 2.

West Virginia:

In a Harper Polling survey released on Friday (2/5-6; 500 WV likely Republican primary voters via automated device for the Jenkins campaign), Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) leads Attorney General Patrick Morrisey 33-25%, with Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship still having 12% preference. So far, Mr. Morrisey has a slight combined edge in fundraising.   The two-term Attorney General has raised $1.4 million, while an unconnected Super PAC supporting his candidacy banked an additional $470,000.  The campaign's cash-on-hand total is $1.1 million. Rep. Jenkins raised $1.1 million and has $1.4 million in the bank counting a transfer from his House campaign account. The primary race will be decided May 8th and promises to be a highly competitive campaign.   The winner will then challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the general election.


AZ-2:With Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) leaving this politically marginal district to run for the Senate, Democratic conversion chances are enhanced. Former state Rep. Matt Heinz (D), who lost 57-43% to Rep. McSally in 2016, is running again and brandishes a Public Policy Polling survey that suggests he would fare better in an open general election than former 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff). According to Heinz's data (2/8-10; 841 AZ-2 registered voters), he would lead Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Lea Marquez Peterson (R), by a 45-31% margin. In comparison, Ms. Kirkpatrick's advantage over the lone announced Republican candidate would be 43-34%. But, the former nominee is considerably behind ex-Rep. Kirkpatrick in campaign resources, and he did not release early Democratic primary numbers from the survey. The latest FEC report finds the former Congresswoman holding $463,977 in her campaign account, versus only $193,117 for Mr. Heinz.

FL-9/11:Irascible former Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) confirmed yesterday he will again run for the House of Representatives. The ex-Congressman originally won his seat in 2008 when he scored a 52-48% victory over then-Rep. Ric Keller (R-Orlando) in the first Obama year. Two years later, current Rep. Dan Webster (R-Clermont) unseated Rep. Grayson in the Republican wave election. After Florida gained two seats in reapportionment, one of which went to the central part of the state, Mr. Grayson returned in 2012 to the new 9th District. He departed in 2016 to run unsuccessfully for Senate, losing to then-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Jupiter) in the Democratic primary. Several weeks ago, Mr. Grayson filed a new congressional committee for the 11th CD, which would again pit him against Rep. Webster in a Republican district, but the conventional wisdom is suggesting that he will actually challenge freshman Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) for the seat he formerly represented.

HI-1:Former one-term US Rep. Charles Djou (R-Honolulu) was one of the individuals looking to enter the open 1st Congressional District race now that incumbent Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) is challenging Gov. David Ige in the Democratic primary. In an announcement earlier this week, Mr. Djou said he will not become a congressional candidate in 2018, preferring to launch another run for Mayor of Honolulu in the 2020 election.

MA-7:Last month, Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley launched her Democratic primary challenge to veteran Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville). The MassInc Polling Group, surveying the 7th District Democratic primary electorate for WBUR Public Radio in Boston (2/9-11; 402 MA-7 registered voters) found Rep. Capuano jumping out to an early 47-35% advantage when counting respondents who support and lean toward each candidate. Both individuals are highly rated. Rep. Capuano has a 60:7% favorability ratio, while Ms. Pressley scores a solid 42:7%. Ms. Pressley is carrying the Boston precincts, while the Congressman is overwhelming her outside of the state's largest city. But, this race has a long way to go. The primary won't happen until September 4th.

MN-8: Minnesota Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth) became the 54th US Representative to not seek re-election in the next special or regular election. The impending 2018 campaign was already viewed as a toss-up because the last two contests between Rep. Nolan and businessman Stewart Mills (R) were decided by a percentage point or less. With Mr. Mills not in the 2018 race, Republicans were looking to St. Louis County Commissioner Pete Stauber, a former professional hockey player. Now, however, Mr. Mills may return, and both parties can expect crowded nomination competition for an open seat that either side has a strong chance to win.

PA-18:Monmouth University released their latest study of the western Pennsylvania electorate with a month remaining in the 18th District special election campaign. According to the poll (2/12-14; 320 PA-18 likely special election voters), state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth) would lead Democrat Conor Lamb across the turnout spectrum. His worst numbers based upon various turnout models was a 49-46% spread. In a separate occurrence, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) remained silent as to whether his committee will be supplying Lamb with further financial support. The special election is scheduled for March 13th.

UT-2:John Sittner, who founded the nationally known Ancestry.com company, has filed a congressional campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission. Though he has not yet announced as an official candidate, he has certainly taken the first step toward becoming one. Mr. Sittner, registered as an Independent, hopes to challenge three-term Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Farmington/Salt Lake City) in the general election. President Trump carried the expansive 2nd District, 46-27% with Independent Evan McMillan receiving a substantial 21.5% of the vote.


Alabama: When the Alabama candidate filing closed at the end of last week, local political observers were surprised that state Sen. Slade Blackwell (R-Birmingham) did not file for re-election and instead hopped into the Governor's primary at the last moment. Then, he apparently had second thoughts. Just four days after entering the Governor's campaign, Sen. Blackwell announced he is ending his fledgling effort. Therefore, the state legislator will be out of elective politics beginning next year.

Kansas:Jeff Colyer (R), recently sworn in as Governor after former incumbent Sam Brownback (R) was confirmed to his federal position, this week replaced himself as Lt. Governor. Mr. Colyer named businessman Tracey Mann (R) as the state's new LG, and further announced that the latter man will join him on the Republican ticket as his running mate for the fall election. The pair must first clinch the GOP nomination in an August 7th campaign when they will face Secretary of State Kris Kobach, state Insurance Commissioner Ken Selzer, ex-state Sen. Jim Barnett, and oil businessman Wink Hartman among others. Democrats are looking to former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer, ex-state Agriculture Secretary Josh Svaty, state House Minority Leader Jim Ward (D-Wichita), or state Sen. Laura Kelly (D-Topeka) to become their standard bearer.

Minnesota:Both former state House Speaker Paul Thissen and ex-St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman announced that they are dropping their respective bids for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. The move means five candidates are left in the field, led by US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), and state Auditor Rebecca Otto. Local Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the 2014 Republican nominee, appears to be the GOP early leader, but that could quickly change if former Gov. Tim Pawlenty decides to enter this race.   As previously reported, Mr. Pawlenty is holding meetings to assess his chances in a new statewide race. The former Governor and short-term presidential candidate served as Minnesota's chief executive from 2003-2011.

New Hampshire:In the 2016 open seat gubernatorial campaign, Republican Chris Sununu defeated Democrat Colin Van Ostern, 49-47%. Both men were members of the state's five-member Executive Council that, among other duties, exercises a check over the Governor's veto authority. Late this week, Mr. Van Ostern announced that he will not challenge Gov. Sununu in 2018. According to the latest survey from the University of New Hampshire, the first-term Governor was leading his former opponent, 41-31%.

New York:State Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Geneva) ended his campaign for Governor. This leaves state Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) and Erie County Executive Joel Giambra as the lone contenders for the Republican nomination. Sen. DeFrancisco now becomes the favorite to advance into the general election, but an upset of two-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) appears highly unlikely.

South Dakota:A budding primary contest between at-large US Rep. Kristi Noem (R-Castlewood) and Attorney General Marty Jackley is underway culminating in a June 5th election, and Moore Information went into the Republican field to test the gubernatorial candidates. The survey (2/8; 300 SD likely Republican primary voters) found Ms. Noem opening with a 40-35% edge over the Attorney General. Two other candidates were tested, but neither could surpass 5% support. This first public data release suggests what most political observers have been saying: that the primary race will be close and hard fought. The eventual Republican nominee will become a prohibitive favorite to succeed Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) in the November election. Mr. Daugaard is ineligible to seek a third term.

February 9, 2018
Key Election Updates and Pennsylvania Redistricting Upheaval Continues 
by Jim Ellis

Key Takeaways:

  • Recent polling shows tight Florida Senate race between Sen. Bill Nelson and Gov. Rick Scott
  • Citing constitutional violations of articles relating to separation of powers, Pennsylvania majority state House Republicans may soon consider motion to impeach state Supreme Court Justices over redraw of state congressional districts 
  • Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D) currently leading in California Governors race 
  • Rep. Martha Roby (R) vs. former Rep. Bobby Bright (D) again, but now in Alabama GOP primary


Florida:  A trio of polls was released during the week, all showing a close contest between incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R).  Florida Atlantic University (2/1-4; 750 FL registered voters; 375 on-line; 375 via automated telephone system) surprisingly finds Gov. Scott leading Sen. Nelson by ten percentage points, 44-34%, but this result seems unsubstantiated.  The University of North Florida's survey (1/29-2/4; 619 FL registered voters via live telephone interview) draws almost the opposite conclusion in finding Sen. Nelson ahead, 48-42%.  Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy (1/30-2/1; 625 FL registered voters) places the two in a virtual dead heat, 45-44% in Nelson's favor.  Gov. Scott has not yet announced his candidacy, but it is clear that he will enter the race.  This could become the nation's premier Senate race.


AL-2: One-term Democratic US Rep. Bobby Bright, also a former Mayor of Montgomery, announced yesterday that he will challenge the woman who unseated him eight years ago, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery).  This time, however, the two will do battle in the Republican primary.  Mr. Bright, who had been an Independent prior to becoming a Democratic congressional candidate in 2008, has now switched to the Republicans as he attempts to make a political comeback eight years since his defeat for re-election.  The state primary is June 5th.  If no candidate secures a majority vote, the top two finishers will run-off on July 17th.  The seat will remain Republican.

AZ-8:  OH Predictive Insights again went into the field in Arizona, this time testing the AZ-8 special election.  The poll (1/29; 400 AZ-8 likely Republican special primary election voters) finds the race largely developing into a two-way contest.  According to the results, state Senate President Pro Tempore Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) and state Senator Steve Montenegro (R-Litchfield Park) are tied at 21% apiece.  Former state Rep. Phil Lovas places third with 12%, followed by former state Corporation Commissioner Bob Stump at 10 percent.  The special primary election is February 27th, with the related general vote scheduled for April 24th.  Republicans are heavy favorites to retain the seat.

HI-1:  Several weeks ago, Attorney General Doug Chin announced that he would enter the open 1st District Democratic primary and that he would resign his appointed position in March.  Now, he accepts the Lt. Governor's appointment since incumbent Shan Tsutsui (D) resigned to take a position in the private sector.  But, Mr. Chin will only serve on an interim basis and continue in his campaign for Congress.  Gov. David Ige (D) first offered the Lt. Governor's office to both state Senate President Ron Kouchi (D), and then state House Speaker Scott Saiki (D) but each declined to accept. 
MN-1:  Though Minnesota is not technically a convention state, most candidates abide by the pre-primary delegate endorsement process.  State Sen. Carla Nelson (R-Rochester) said yesterday, however, that she will take the campaign to a primary regardless of the convention outcome.  The action suggests she believes the party regulars will back 2016 nominee Jim Hagedorn, who scored 49.7% of the vote against Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato).  The state conventions will occur in June.  Any succeeding primary campaign will be decided on August 14th.
NE-2:  Democrat Brad Ashford was elected to the US House in 2014, but Republican Don Bacon (R-Papillion) ousted him two years later.  This year, Mr. Ashford is attempting his own political comeback.  But, him winning the Democratic nomination may be more difficult than first thought.  Non-profit executive Kara Eastman is showing some political strength.  This week she received endorsements from Omaha City Council President Ben Gray and Douglas County Democratic County chair Crystal Rhodes, who is also a Nebraska Public Service Commissioner.  The Nebraska primary is May 15th, and this one may be one to watch.
NJ-11:  Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Parsippany) announced his congressional candidacy this week, in the seat from which House Appropriations Committee chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Morristown) is retiring.  Mr. Webber is quickly rounding up key party endorsements and support to the point that state Sen. Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville) was forced to the political sidelines.  Now, it remains unclear as to whether state Assemblyman Tony Bucco (R-Randolph) will enter the race.  Late this week, rumors were beginning to swirl that former New York Jets' Center Nick Mangold was about to become an 11th District candidate, but then he quickly announced that he would not run.  Democrats feature two candidates who have done well on the fundraising circuit: attorney Mikie Sherrill and businesswoman Tamara Harris. 
NY-19:  Television actress Diane Neal, best known for her recurring appearances on the "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" program, announced that she will challenge freshman Rep. John Faso (R-Kinderhook) this year, but not as a Democrat.  With six Democrats already in the race for the party nomination, Ms. Neal says she will run as an Independent, and could certainly compete for one of the many party ballot lines that New York features.  The move could actually help Rep. Faso.  Ms. Neal comes from the left of the ideological spectrum; therefore, a potential three-way race would likely split some of the liberal/libertarian/anti-Faso vote, which could allow him to win re-election with only a plurality.

NC-10: Chief Deputy Majority Whip Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman) is no stranger to repelling Republican primary challenges.  He has defended himself in three consecutive primaries and will do so again this May.  Anti-Trump activist Gina Collias announced her candidacy this week, joining two other Republicans as intra-party challengers to the veteran Congressman.  With a total of three Republicans on the ballot, Rep. McHenry should have an easy run for re-nomination.  Under North Carolina election law, a candidate is nominated once he or she reaches just 40% of the vote in the first nomination election.  The Tar Heel State primary is May 8th.  If a run-off becomes necessary, it will occur on July 18th.

Pennsylvania: With Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf pledging to veto whatever the legislature presents to comply with the state Supreme Court striking down the PA congressional map as a political gerrymander, while the Justices already appointed a special master from Stanford University to draw the map, it appears the judiciary is successfully usurping the legislature's redistricting role.
Considering the state Supreme Court's action, majority state House Republicans may soon be considering a motion to impeach some of the Justices. Sponsoring state Rep. Cris Dush (R-Punxsutawney) says the court's redistricting ruling violates specific state constitutional articles relating to separation of powers among the judicial, executive, and legislative branches of the Pennsylvania state government.  Since impeachment only requires a majority vote in the House to move to a Senate trial, this move appears more than symbolic.
TN-1:  While nine standing committee chairmen are not seeking re-election to the House this year, one who will is Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City), chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee.  Mr. Roe had been on retirement watch because he originally promised to limit himself to ten years in office, which will occur at the end of the present term.  Yesterday, the veteran lawmaker confirmed, however, that he will seek a sixth term and is in strong political position.  His biggest threat would likely come from another Republican, similar to how he unseated then-Rep. David Davis back in the 2008 GOP primary.  At this point only retired Army Sergeant and Iraq War veteran Todd McKinley is an announced primary challenger.  The candidate filing deadline is April 5th for the August 2nd state primary.
TX-2:  Businesswoman and conservative activist Kathaleen Wall continues to make strides in her quest to succeed retiring Rep. Ted Poe (R-Atascocita/Humble) in the Houston suburbs.  This week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R) announced his endorsement of Ms. Wall's campaign, following Gov. Greg Abbott (R) doing so in late January.  The first-in-the-nation Texas primary is March 6th.  If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers advance to a May 22nd run-off election.  The eventual Republican nominee becomes a prohibitive favorite in the general election.
VA-10:  The Virginia Democratic Party is not short on candidates to challenge two-term Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-McLean), but they now have one fewer.  Former Fairfax County educator and teachers' union leader Kimberly Adams announced that she is ending her campaign.  The Adams decision reduces the Democratic primary field to ten candidates.  Whether others start to follow Ms. Adams' lead because the number of competitors makes it difficult to gain significant political oxygen remains to be seen.  Hillary Clinton carrying this district by almost ten percentage points suggests that this race will become a toss-up campaign once the Democrats settle on a nominee.


California:  The Policy Analysis for California Education organization hired two pollsters, Tulchin Research, a Democratic firm, and Moore Information, a Republican counterpart, to conduct their latest issue and political poll.  Together, the firms surveyed the California electorate (1/21-28; 2,500 CA registered voters) with an extensive online poll that included a ballot test question about the upcoming open Governor's campaign.  According to the results, which were consistent with previous polling, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) leads the field of candidates with 29% of the jungle primary vote.  In second place is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) who secured 11% and is closely followed by Republican businessman John Cox at 10%. 

The Public Policy Institute of California also ran an extensive statewide poll (1/21-30; 1,705 CA adult residents; 1,194 via cell phone, 511 on land lines), and presents a much different picture.  For the jungle primary, the PPIC finds Lt. Gov. Newsom holding only a 23-21% lead over former Mayor Villaraigosa, with state Treasurer John Chiang in third place with 9% and Republican Assemblyman Trent Allen polling 8 percent.  In California, the top two finishers in the primary election, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to the general election.
Florida:  Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy released a new Florida Governor's survey (1/29-2/1; 500 FL Democratic primary voters; 500 FL Republican primary voters) to determine how the two partisan primary campaigns are currently unfolding.  Though the filing deadline is May 4, the candidate fields seem to be relatively set for both parties.  The Florida primary is not until August 28th.
According to the M-D data, a tight early race is forecast for both Democrats and Republicans, as will be the case for the general election.  For the Dems, former US Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), the daughter of ex-Governor and US Senator Bob Graham (D), leads Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, 20-17%.  Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum breaks into double-digits at 10%, and businessman Chris King lags behind with 4% support.  On the GOP side, Agriculture Commissioner and former US Rep. Adam Putnam remains in first place, leading Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) by a 27-23% margin, with House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R-Land O' Lakes/Pasco County) trailing at 7 percent.  Gov. Rick Scott (R), a likely US Senate candidate, is ineligible to seek a third term.
Iowa:  Selzer & Company, Iowa's most prominent political pollster, released the results of their first survey of the upcoming gubernatorial contest featuring new Gov. Kim Reynolds (R).  According to the poll (1/28-31; 801 Iowa adults; 555 likely voters), Gov. Reynolds leads all of her announced opponents, but by small, or relatively small, margins.  Against state Sen. Nate Boulton (D-Des Moines), Ms. Reynolds edge is 41-37%.  Her lead expands to 42-37% over wealthy businessman Fred Hubbell who has already been running television ads.  Against former Obama Administration official John Norris, the margin grows to 41-30%, and 42-30% over former Iowa Democratic Party chairman Andy McGuire.  Gov. Reynolds performs best against local union president Cathy Glasson (44-31%). 
Minnesota:  Former state House Speaker Paul Thissen announced yesterday that he is dropping his bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination.  The move means five candidates are left in the field, led by US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), state Auditor Rebecca Otto, and former St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.  Local Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson, the 2014 Republican nominee, appears to be the GOP early leader, but that could quickly change if former Gov. Tim Pawlenty decides to enter this race.   As previously reported, Mr. Pawlenty is holding meetings to assess his chances in a new statewide race.  The former Governor and short-term presidential candidate served as Minnesota's chief executive from 2003-2011. 

February 2, 2018
House Retirements Continue...
by Jim Ellis


Alabama: Following Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan's lead from earlier this month, state Auditor Jim Ziegler (R) announced that he, too, would end his gubernatorial campaign. Mr. McMillan made public statements as early as last May that he would run for Governor, but reversed course in early January only to re-surface in the state Treasurer's race. Mr. Ziegler's future plans are not clear, but the Governor's campaign is coming down to a battle against an interim incumbent who is demonstrating political prowess.

The Ziegler decision is a boon to new Gov. Kay Ivey (R), but she is not yet home free for the Republican nomination. Still in the race is Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle and state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile). The Democrats are fielding Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb. The state primary is June 5th, with a run-off scheduled for July 17th if no candidate receives an absolute majority in their respective party nomination elections.

New Jersey: After seeing a hung jury result in Sen. Bob Menendez's (D) bribery trial, the US Justice Department originally announced that they would push forward with further court proceedings but have now reversed course. The new judge dismissing 40% of the pending charges apparently gutted the government's case on the remaining indictments. In the meantime, wealthy Republican pharmaceutical CEO Bob Hugin continues to move closer toward entering the race giving the GOP what appears to be a viable candidacy. Whether the Menendez legal situation now turning in his favor changes Mr. Hugin's desire to run remains to be seen.

Tennessee: The Tennessee Star online publication conducted a Triton Research poll for the impending Volunteer State US Senate campaign (1/21-24; 1,003 TN likely general election voters) and found Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) jumping out to a lead beyond the margin of polling error when paired with former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). The results found Ms. Blackburn holding a strong 50-39% advantage, but the partisan division within the sampling universe skews Republican. When former Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Crockett County) was paired with Mr. Bredesen, it was the Democrat who led 41-38%. Considering the polling skew, the former Governor's edge over Mr. Fincher is likely several points greater.

Utah: Former presidential nominee and ex-Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney (R) has scheduled an announcement in Salt Lake City for February 15th. It is highly likely that he will be declaring his candidacy for retiring Sen. Orrin Hatch's (R) seat. Mr. Romney will immediately become the prohibitive favorite to capture the seat, and it's unlikely he will draw major opposition.


AL-5:  With Alabama's candidate filing deadline fast approaching on February 9th, state Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison), who months ago declared a challenge to Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), announced at the end of last week that he will discontinue his primary challenge campaign. This leaves businessman Clayton Hinchman as the only Republican candidate organizing to challenge the four-term Congressman. Mr. Hinchman has proven himself the better challenger candidate, but he, too, is a major underdog to the current incumbent.

FL-5: Freshman Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) has drawn a Democratic primary challenge, ironically a day after the incumbent Lawson himself unseated two years ago, former Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Jacksonville), reported to prison to begin her sentence for public corruption. Now, former Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown made public his intention to challenge Mr. Lawson for re-nomination. The race will again pit the district's anchor population centers and political bases, Tallahassee and Jacksonville, against each other. The Florida primary is not until August 28th, so this budding primary campaign will consume many months.

IL-4:   The Garin-Hart-Yang Research firm released results of their latest poll in this Democratic primary campaign (1/18-21; 400 IL-4 likely Democratic primary voters) and finds Cook County Commissioner Jesus "Chuy" Garcia leading Chicago Alderman Joe Moreno and non-profit executive Sol Flores, 59-8-6%, respectively. After the release, Mr. Moreno decided to end his campaign, virtually conceding the primary nomination to Mr. Garcia. Since, IL-4 is a safely Democratic seat, it appears that he is the Congressman-in-waiting.

MA-3:  With already a dozen Democrats vying to replace retiring Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-Lowell), the field shrunk by a candidate this week. Former Cambridge City Councilman Nadeem Mazen (D) decided to end his congressional campaign. His move entering this particular race never made much sense. Mr. Mazen is from a city that is nowhere near the 3rd District, forcing him to compete with more than ten others who at least live in the central population area. The Massachusetts primary is not scheduled until September 4th, so this nomination campaign is merely beginning.

MA-7:  Boston at-large City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley, the first woman of color to win election to the municipal panel, announced a Democratic primary challenge to 10-term veteran Rep. Mike Capuano (D-Somerville). Ms. Pressley was first elected in 2009 and won re-election in 2013 with more votes than anyone else on the ballot for the city position. The 7th District encompasses a large portion of Boston city, with parts of Cambridge, the towns of Somerville, Everett, and Chelsea, and then stretches beyond South Boston to the town of Randolph. The stage is set for an interesting primary.

NJ-11: House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Morristown) announced this week that he would not seek re-election to a 13th term in the House, thus bringing his 24 year congressional career to an end once the current Congress adjourns. The Congressman's father, Peter Frelinghuysen, served for 18 years in the House and represented a similar northern New Jersey constituency.

New Jersey's 11th District was designed to be a safely Republican district, but the electorate has been changing over the last few elections. President Trump carried the 11th by only one percentage point (49-48%), but lost the state, 41-55%. Four years earlier, Mitt Romney won the seat by a close but more substantial, 52-47%. In the battle to originally challenge Rep. Frelinghuysen, two Democrats have already obtained major funding. Mikie Sherrill, former federal prosecutor, amassed more than $820,000 in her campaign account through September, while businesswoman Tamara Harris had just under $450,000 in spendable funds. But, the two will have to spend a substantial amount of their political capital to win the June Democratic primary. GOP Assemblyman and former New Jersey Republican Party Chairman Jay Webber is moving toward running, among others, so we can expect a hotly contested general election from this region that normally supports the GOP candidate.

Pennsylvania: The state Supreme Court this week struck down the Pennsylvania congressional lines as a political gerrymander under the Pennsylvania Constitution by a 4-3 vote. They have ordered the map re-drawn and enacted by February 15th. But, state Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati (R-Brockway/Wellsboro) says the body will not comply with the order to provide the court with requested data information because the Justices did not state the specific constitutional violations that invalidated the map. US Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito, who has jurisdiction to review petitions from Pennsylvania and several other Mid-Atlantic states, has not rejected a Republican motion to ask the high court to intervene. Therefore, things will get very interesting here in a short amount of time. The contentious issue is highly important to both parties.

PA-1: Veteran US Rep. Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia) announced his retirement this week, becoming the 16th House Democrat to do so. The Congressman has been facing a legal situation from actions involving allegedly paying a previous Brady opponent to exit the race. Several of the Congressman's campaign staff members have already accepted plea bargain agreements. Democrats will keep the 1st District, but the uncertain redistricting situation could change this seat now that there is no incumbent running.

SC-4: On the same day as Pennsylvania Rep. Bob Brady (D-Philadelphia) announced his retirement, four-term South Carolina Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg) also did so. Mr. Gowdy becomes the 53rd House member to not seek re-election, and the 37th Republican. He is also now the ninth standing committee chairman to publicly declare he will not be returning to the House. Mr. Gowdy is in his first term as Government Reform & Oversight committee chairman. Republicans will keep the northwestern South Carolina district, but we are sure to see a run-off campaign result from what will surely be a crowded Republican primary field.

UT-4: A new Dan Jones & Associates survey (1/15-22; 400 UT-4 registered voters) provides more evidence that Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) has a re-election fight on her hands. According to the Jones' organization, Rep. Love would hold only a 47-42% advantage over Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D). A similar poll taken three months ago, also from DJ & A, found an almost identical 48-42% split.


Colorado: Hampered by poor fundraising receipts, former US Representative, gubernatorial, and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R) announced this week that he is ending his 2018 open seat campaign for the Centennial State's top political position. Mr. Tancredo was also faring poorly in hypothetical general election pairings with Rep. Jared Polis (D-Boulder), commonly viewed as the Democratic front-runner. Remaining in the GOP race are Attorney General Cynthia Coffman and state Treasurer Walker Stephenson, among many others. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Ohio: A new Buckeye State survey just produced some surprising results. According to Fallon Research, polling for Ohio's 1984 Society, Attorney General and former US Senator Mike DeWine (R) would open the general election with a huge lead over former Consumer Protection Financial Bureau director and ex-Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray (D). Fallon projects, in a survey that looks to have a reasonable reliability factor, that DeWine holds a whopping 49-28% advantage over Cordray, a highly unexpected margin at this early juncture in the campaign cycle.

But, Public Policy Polling (1/22-23; 585 OH registered voters), conducting a survey for the Ohio Democratic Party, finds DeWine's lead not 19, but a scant one-percentage point, 45-44%.   DeWine's lead expands to 48-37% in this poll if his general election opponent were former US Representative and Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich (D).

Minnesota: Former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) earlier declined to enter the special US Senate race later this year, but apparently he could still be on the ballot. Looking at the rather weak field of Republican candidates lining up for the open Governor's race, Mr. Pawlenty has called a February 12th meeting of his key political supporters. The discussion topic is apparently about the former Governor launching a return campaign this year. If he were to enter the race, Mr. Pawlenty would immediately become the Republican front-runner. The general election would be highly competitive, but the ex-Governor carried the state twice. Democrats are fielding six candidates who are currently battling for the party nomination.

Tennessee: The aforementioned Tennessee Star poll (see Tennessee Senate above) also tested the open gubernatorial race. In this polling exercise, former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean was the only Democrat tested against the Republican field. Again understanding that a slight Republican skew exists within this particular respondent group, Mr. Dean loses to every GOP candidate who is still actively running.

Against US Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin), Mr. Dean trails, 46-35%. If state House Speaker Beth Harwell were the Republican nominee, the GOP margin would be 42-32%. The spread is 43-34% against entrepreneur Randy Boyd, while state Higher Education Commissioner Bill Lee outpaces Mr. Dean by only four points, 38-34%. Former state Sen. Mae Beavers (R-Juliet) was included in the poll but has since announced that she is suspending further efforts for the party nomination. In her pairing, she and Mr. Dean were tied with 36% apiece.