Election News

Rep. Shea-Porter to Retire; One of Only 12 Dems. Holding Districts Won by Trump in '16

October 9, 2017

Carol Shea-Porter, a Democrat representing New Hampshire's very competitive first congressional district, announced she will not seek reelection in 2018. The move was unexpected. According to the Boston Globe:

"Her decision is a political bombshell with national implications. At a time when Democrats are looking to win back a majority in the House, Shea-Porter is one of [only 12] Democrats holding office in a district that Republican Donald Trump won last year."

This is one one of the most competitive House districts in New England, which can be seen by looking at the results here since 2006, when Shea-Porter first ran:

While Shea-Porter is now serving her 4th term in the House, the seat has rotated between parties since 2010. Shea-Porter has faced Republican Frank Guinta in all four of those elections. Guinta earlier announced he will not run again in 2018.

2016 was the closest of those four races. Shea-Porter defeated Guinta by one point, while Donald Trump won the District over Hillary Clinton by roughly the same amount.

There are now 28 House members retiring or seeking another office in 2018. This excludes Republican Tim Murphy (PA-18) who will now resign from Congress effective October 21st.



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Tennessee Rep. Blackburn Announces Bid for Senate; Gov. Bill Haslam Declines to Run

October 5, 2017

Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn announced her bid for U.S. Senate, becoming the front-runner to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker in Tennessee. The move came just after termed-out incumbent Gov. Bill Haslam passed on a run for the office.  

Blackburn is in her 8th term. She represents a safe Republican district in west-central Tennessee, winning reelection by nearly 49 points this past November. She (or whomever emerges as the Republican nominee) will start out as a large favorite in the 2018 Senate race. The Volunteer State last elected a Democratic Senator in 1990 (former VP Al Gore).

Blackburn becomes the 28th House member to pass on reelection in 2018. Included in that are now three of Tennessee's nine Representatives.


Rep. Murphy Will Not Seek Reelection After Abortion Controversy

October 4, 2017

10/5 UPDATE: Murphy has resigned from Congress effective October 21st.

Republican Tim Murphy, in his 8th term representing southwestern Pennsylvania in the U.S. House, will not seek reelection in 2018. The pro-life congressman ran into trouble earlier this week when text messages surfaced of him urging a woman with whom he was having an affair to seek an abortion

Murphy met with Republican leadership who apparently told him that he either had to resign or announce his retirement at the end of the current term.

Murphy is the 27th Member to announce they are not seeking reelection in 2018. There are 18 Republicans and 9 Democrats. Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee is expected to join this list in the days ahead. She is expected to run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Bob Corker.


Poll: Moore Leads Jones by 8 in Alabama Senate Race

October 3, 2017

Republican Roy Moore leads Democrat Doug Jones by 8 points in Alabama's upcoming U.S. Senate special election, a new poll finds. The vote, to be held December 12th, is to elect a replacement for former Sen. Jeff Sessions, who vacated the seat earlier this year to become U.S. Attorney General. Moore became the Republican nominee by defeating incumbent Sen. Luther Strange in a party runoff last Tuesday.

This topline result is similar to the first post-runoff poll released late last week. That survey gave Moore a 5 point margin over Jones.

The New York Times provides a nice overview of the party dynamics of the unfolding campaign, which has echoes of the Georgia U.S. House special election from earlier this year.

“It’s a very tricky pass for national Democrats,” said David Axelrod, the Democratic strategist and former adviser to President Barack Obama. “Jones is a very, very good candidate, but Alabama is a very, very tough state, maybe the toughest state. And you want to avoid the trap that you fell into in Georgia by building expectations for a race that’s going to be difficult to win.” 

Recent statewide elections highlight the long odds facing Jones: The last Democrat to win a U.S. Senate election in Alabama was Richard Shelby, who was reelected to a 2nd term in 1992. Shelby, now in his 6th term, switched to the Republican party in 1994. The state has also voted Republican in the past 10 presidential races, with that party's nominee winning by more than 20 points in the most recent four elections. The last Democrat to win here was Jimmy Carter in 1976.

The winner of the special election will face the voters again in November, 2020, coinciding with the next presidential election.


Senate: Sinema to Challenge Flake in Arizona; Blackburn Likely to Run in Tennessee

September 29, 2017

Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-09) announced she will run for U.S. Senate in 2018. This gives the party a high-profile candidate in their efforts to unseat incumbent Republican Jeff Flake. While Arizona hasn't had a Democratic Senator in over 20 years, next year's race is expected to be highly competitive. The Democratic nominee may even be favored if Flake loses a primary to former State Senator Kelli Ward. A recent poll by GBA Strategies showed him losing to Ward by a 58-31% margin.  

Flake's national visibility was raised earlier this summer with the publication of his book "Conscience of a Conservative", which harshly critiqued President Trump and his own party. Needless to say, this hasn't helped his standing with Arizona Republicans. The GBA Strategies poll gave Flake just a 25% approval rating among Republican primary voters in the state.

In her first run at U.S. Senate, Ward lost the Republican primary to Sen. John McCain in 2016. 

Sinema becomes the 26th House member to pass on running for reelection to the House in 2018. The next such announcement is likely to come from Tennessee, where Republican Marsha Blackburn is likely to run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Bob Corker. 

The Arizona Senate race is currently considered a toss-up, while Tennessee is very likely to remain in Republican hands.


Roy Moore Wins Alabama Runoff, Defeating Incumbent Supported by Trump

September 26, 2017

Roy Moore has defeated Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama's Republican Senate runoff.  With 53% of the vote in, Moore leads by about 13.5%, and has been declared the winner by the Associated Press.

The vote as of this writing (about 9:45 Eastern Time on Tuesday night) is below; click or tap the image to see the latest vote:

 

Strange was supported by the Republican establishment, including President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell. However, polls continually showed Moore ahead, with the most recent ones all showing him up by double digits. Those polls appear to have been validtated by tonight's results.

Moore will face the Democratic nominee Doug Jones, in the special general election on December 12th. The winner will complete the term of former Senator Jeff Sessions, now U.S. Attorney General. The seat is next up for election in 2020.


Bob Corker Not Seeking Reelection to Senate in 2018

September 26, 2017

Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee will not seek reelection to a third term next year, he announced Tuesday afternoon. Corker is the first incumbent in the 2018 Senate election cycle to announce his retirement.

 

Looking ahead to 2018, most of the action may be in the Republican primary, as the seat is likely to stay in Republican hands. Trump won here by 26 points last November. While we don't know who will run yet, Kyle Kondik of Sabato's Crystal Ball made an interesting point about the race on the Republican side:

The Tennessee primary for Federal and state offices is scheduled for August 2, 2018.


Late Polls Give Moore Large Lead in Tuesday Alabama Senate Runoff

September 25, 2017

Four polls released Sunday/Monday give Roy Moore a double-digit lead over Sen. Luther Strange in Tuesday's runoff for the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate race in Alabama. 

Alabama-based Cygnal, in conjunction with L2, gives Moore a 52 to 41 lead over Strange. Emerson college has it 50-40 Moore. Data analytics firm Optimus has Moore at 55%, with Strange at 45%. Finally, Trafalgar Group, who did an especially good job predicting Donald Trump's win last November, gives Moore a 16 point lead, 57% to 41%. Despite Mr. Trump's support of the appointed Senator, these margins indicate a Moore victory is likely on Tuesday.

Polls are open Tuesday from 7AM to 7PM local time, meaning results should be available starting at 8PM Eastern Time. The winner will face Democratic nominee Doug Jones in the December 12th special general election. The winner there will complete the term of former Sen. Jeff Sessions, now U.S. Attorney General.  This seat is next up for its regular election cycle in 2020.


Alabama Senate Runoff Next Week; Update on Other Fall Elections

September 20, 2017

While 2017 is an off-year in the political cycle, there are still a few seats being contested this fall.

(9/26) Alabama U.S. Senate Republican Runoff:  With no candidate achieving a majority, the top two vote getters from last month's Republican primary will meet next Tuesday, with the winner moving on to the special election in December. Roy Moore, former Chief Justice of Alabama's Supreme Court won that primary, with the incumbent Senator, Luther Strange finishing 6 points back.  Moore has led in the polling conducted since the primary, sometimes by double-digits, although some polls have been much closer.  The most recent poll has him up by a 50-42% margin. Strange has the endorsement of President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; both Trump and Vice President Pence will campaign for the incumbent prior to the runoff.

(11/7) Virginia Gubernatorial Election: One of two regularly scheduled gubernatorial races on Election Day. Incumbent Democrat Terry McAuliffe is term-limited. Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam will represent the Democrats, while former Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie is the Republican nominee. Gillespie lost a 2014 race for U.S. Senator from Virginia, although the race against incumbent Mark Warner was much closer than expected. Warner prevailed by less than 1%. There have been quite a few polls in recent days. While Northam leads in most, all show a very competitive race. Sabato's Crystal Ball, The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections all rate the race as 'Leans Democratic'.

(11/7) New Jersey Gubernatorial Election: Term-limited Republican Chris Christie will be replaced by Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno (R) or businessman and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy (D). The incumbent is highly unpopular, complicating Guadagno's efforts to prevail in this traditionally blue state. The only recent poll here, from Quinnipiac, gives Murphy a substantial lead of 25%. This week, Sabato's Crystal ball changed their rating to 'Safe Democratic', while Cook and Inside Elections are at 'Likely Democratic'.

(11/7) Utah's 3rd Congressional District Special Election: The race is to fill the open seat created by the departure of former Rep. Jason Chaffetz. It will be contested again in 2018 as part of the midterm elections. The Republican nominee is the Mayor of Provo, John Curtis. The Democratic nominee is a physician, Kathie Allen. Curtis led by 30 points in a recent poll. This race is 'Safe Republican'.

(12/12) Alabama Senate Special Election: The winner of next Tuesday's runoff will face off against Democrat Doug Jones in mid-December. The special election was necessitated after former Senator Jeff Sessions resigned to become U.S. Attorney General; the next regular election for the seat is in 2020. Jones is a former U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Regardless of whether Strange or Moore wins the runoff, they will have the advantage in this deep red state, which last elected a Democratic Senator in 1992. (That Democrat, Richard Shelby, became a Republican two years later.) However, a victory by the controversial Moore could lead to a more competitive general election*. As Nathan Gonzales wrote last month

"Democrats can only win a Senate seat in Alabama under extraordinary circumstances, and facing Roy Moore, the twice-barred chief justice, might be one of those circumstances.

According to party strategists tracking the race, Jones needs approximately a third of the white vote in the general election to win. For a reference point, statewide Democratic candidates tend to receive 16 percent to 19 percent. Potentially doubling that will be difficult for Jones, and he’ll need a batch of Republicans who are simply turned off by Moore’s focus on social issues or are uncomfortable with him after the attacks from the runoff.

National Democratic operatives have not hyped the race. But if Moore wins the GOP nomination, Jones could become the latest cause celebre for grass-roots Democrats across the country." 

Looking ahead, 2018 will see the midterm congressional elections, including all 435 House seats and 33 Senate seats. In addition, there are 36 gubernatorial elections next year.

* An upset by Jones in December would slightly improve the extremely long odds facing Democrats as they look to take control of the Senate in the 2018 midterms.


California Legislature Approves Earlier 2020 Primary; Awaits Gov. Signature

September 16, 2017

Seeking a more active role for the state in choosing the next Democratic presidential nominee, The California Legislature has approved a bill to move the presidential primary from June 2nd to March 3rd in 2020. The bill has been sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature. 

The state controlled over 11% of Democratic delegates in 2016, but Hillary Clinton was already the presumptive nominee by the time the state voted that year. If the move becomes law and assuming the same roster of Super Tuesday states - and delegate distribution - in 2020, approximately 1/3 of all delegates will be awarded that day, up from about 20% in 2016. 

This is not the first time California has moved up its primary.  According to Politico: "In 2008, the state tried to change that by holding a February primary. But more than 20 other states also moved up their contests in response, and while California drew a competitive race, the outcome was not decisive — Hillary Clinton won the primary here but lost the nomination." If something similar happens in 2020, it could mean a much shorter primary season than 2016, despite the likelihood of a much larger Democratic field.

The real beneficiaries of the move might be the prospective 2020 Democratic candidates from the state.  These include Sen. Kamala Harris, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti and the aforementioned Gov. Brown. (The latter will be leaving office in 2018 and will be age 82 in 2020, so he seems less likely to run than the other two). Any of these individuals would start with good name recognition in the state, meaning less introductory-type advertising in the state's expensive media markets. They would also be well-known to the large number of wealthy Democratic donors in the state.

The state's Republican primary will also be moved up. As New York Magazine noted: "The change would affect the Republican as well as the Democratic presidential primary in 2020, which could spell trouble for any potential challenger to Donald Trump. The president is not very popular in California generally, but has a strong following among Republicans, and under current party rules, the GOP presidential primary in California is closed to independents."



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