The first votes of the new special election campaign season will be cast today in a race featuring 17 Republican candidates and six Democrats. There is a good chance both parties advance to a two-person run-off election. Such will occur if no candidate reaches 30% of the vote tomorrow.
Of the 17 Republicans, seven appear alive to capture one of the two run-off slots, unless the first-place finisher makes a strong move today to surge beyond the 30% mark. Former Greenville Mayor Allen Thomas looks to be the leading Democrat, but it is unclear at this writing whether he can break through the 30% threshold. If a run-off is required, it will be held on July 9th. If both parties nominate outright, the special general will be held on 7/9. Should at least one run-off occur, the general election would then be conducted on September 10th.
The special election is necessitated to replace the late Congressman Walter Jones (R-Farmville) who passed away in February. The NC-9 special election cycle begins with its primary election on May 14th. The special general to replace resigned Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) is scheduled for May 21st.
Five-term Michigan Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) has been a thorn in the side of his party’s leadership because of his intransigence over most issue positions that leads him to vote against virtually every bill.
Now, he will have a Republican primary challenger, possibly his first of any substance since his 2014 campaign. Yesterday, Iraq War veteran Tom Norton announced that he will oppose Rep. Amash for the GOP nomination. Assuming Norton can raise some early money to become credible, mounting a primary challenge here could catch some fire since the Congressman has alienated many in his own party.
Over the weekend, state Rep. Brenda Lopez (D-Norcross), who originally indicated she wouldn’t run for Congress, has changed her mind and announced her candidacy. She becomes the sixth Democrat to enter the open seat race. The field includes 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux who lost the general election by a scant 419 votes, the closest raw vote election in the country.
Aside from Ms. Bourdeaux, former Fulton County Commission chairman John Eaves and now Rep. Lopez look to comprise the Democratic primary’s top tier. Chain business owner David Kim, who lost a close primary to Ms. Bourdeaux two years ago, is also returning to run again.
Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) is retiring. A large Republican field is also expected, but so far only one person, businesswoman Lynne Homrich, has announced.
Late last week, 2018 congressional candidate Hirsh Singh announced his intention to oppose Sen. Cory Booker (D) next year, as we reported yesterday. Now, healthcare business consultant Tricia Flanagan has also declared her intention to seek the Republican nomination.
Largely, the Republican nomination here is not a particular prize. Sen. Booker, though he probably won’t become the Democratic presidential nominee, will be a lock in his Senate re-election bid from one of the nation’s more Democratic and expensive states (in which to campaign). Sen. Booker will be safe for re-election regardless of who the Republicans ultimately nominate.
So far, most of the attention paid to who will oppose Sen. Doug Jones (D) has centered around former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore and members of the congressional delegation, naturally including announced candidate Bradley Byrne, the Mobile area Congressman. On Friday, Secretary of State John Merrill (R) came forward to declare his interest in becoming a candidate.
Mr. Merrill would be the second statewide contender. Just before the first of the year, state Auditor Jim Zeigler (R) declared that he was exploring the Senate race but has not shown much in the way of activity, since.
A large field means a secondary run-off election is likely and increases Judge Moore’s chance of advancing, should he decide to run. The Alabama race is a must win for the GOP if the party is to cushion its 53-47 US Senate majority.
Having to defend ten more seats than the Democrats in the 2020 election, the Republicans need this conversion race to potentially put the majority out of reach. The Alabama primary will be in early June 2020, with a run-off if no candidate reaches majority support scheduled for some point in mid-July.
GBAO Strategy & Research conducted the first poll of the open seat Democratic primary (4/15-18; 600 NM likely Democratic primary voters) and finds Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/ Santa Fe) jumping out to a huge 64-25% lead over just-announced Senate candidate Maggie Toulouse Oliver, the New Mexico Secretary of State.
Rep. Lujan has already attracted major endorsements including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, but this did not dissuade Ms. Oliver from entering. No Republican has yet announced. Sen. Tom Udall (D) is retiring.
2018 candidate Hirsh Singh, who originally was in the 2nd Congressional District but lost the Republican primary, on Friday announced his intention to oppose Sen. Cory Booker (D) next year.
The Senate campaign will be a political suicide run for Singh, since Sen. Booker will be re-elected regardless of how his presidential campaign unfolds. But, in a way, his move to the Senate likely helps the Republicans clear the way in order to recruit a more credible consensus opponent to freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Cape May).
Now that Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) has announced for the presidency, and even though he says he may return to the congressional primary, several politicos are already beginning to make moves.
Last week, we covered that Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Swampscott) announced her candidacy and will remain in the race even if Moulton returns. Now, it’s being reported that former Rep. John Tierney (D), the man Mr. Moulton defeated in the 2014 Democratic primary, might also have interest in launching a new congressional campaign. Others, including former state Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D), are also publicly confirming that they are considering forming candidacies.
We’ll have to wait quite a while to see what actually happens, however. The Massachusetts regular election primary isn’t until early September of 2020.
One of the biggest 2018 upsets occurred in Oklahoma City, where upstart Democrat Kendra Horn unseated two-term Republican Congressman Steve Russell (R). Since OK-5 is one of the more reliable Republican districts that switched to the Democrats last year, we can expect this seat will be a top tier GOP conversion target for the entire election cycle.
Yesterday, state Senator Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City) announced that she will challenge Rep. Horn. Ms. Bice chairs the Senate Finance Committee, so it is clear that she is an accomplished legislator who should be able to run a credible challenge campaign.
Three-term Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) entered the presidential campaign last week but has already drawn announced Democratic primary opposition if he chooses to retreat into the congressional primary. State Rep. Lori Ehrlich (D-Swampscott) announced that she will run for the US House next year and plans to stay in the race even if Mr. Moulton returns to the congressional campaign.
Additionally, local health advocate Jamie Zahlaway Belsito also filed a congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission to pave the way for her to enter the 6th District Democratic primary. Former state Sen. Barbara L’Italien, who lost the open 3rd District Democratic primary in 2018, says she, too, is considering launching a challenge to Rep. Moulton.
The Massachusetts primary is not held until early September of the election year, so much will happen to potentially change the political picture in the many campaign months that lie ahead.
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