While late race polling suggested that Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) had a chance to win re-election outright, he was instead sent into a November 16th run-off election with Republican businessman Eddie Rispone. In the jungle primary contest, Mr. Edwards finished with 46.6% of the vote, ahead of Mr. Rispone’s 27.4% and US Rep. Ralph Abraham’s (R-Alto/Monroe) 23.6%.
Turnout exceeded 1.35 million voters, a 20.6% increase over the 2015 jungle primary. We can now expect a highly competitive run-off campaign. No Governor forced into a run-off has previously won re-election in Louisiana history.
Saying she has no path to victory after former Gov. John Hickenlooper entered the Democratic Senatorial primary, former state House Majority Leader Alice Madden announced over the weekend that she is ending her statewide campaign. She joins ex-state Sen. Mike Johnston and former diplomat Dan Baer in departing from the contest since Mr. Hickenlooper emerged after exiting the presidential campaign.
Though eleven candidates remain in the Democratic primary, it appears obvious that the general election will feature Mr. Hickenlooper and Sen. Cory Gardner (R) in a campaign that will draw a great deal of national attention.
Former Illinois Lt. Gov. Evelyn Sanguinetti (R) this weekend announced that she will end her 2020 congressional bid. She had entered the race to attempt to unseat freshman Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) but faced a Republican primary opposite conservative former state Rep. Jeanne Ives, the gubernatorial candidate who held incumbent Bruce Rauner to just a 51% primary victory that left him in a politically weakened state. He would go onto lose the 2018 general election to current Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) in a 55-39% landslide. Ms. Ives will now almost assuredly square off against Rep. Casten in a seat that Republicans formerly held in the person of then-Rep. Peter Roskam.
Attorney Nolan Reidhead became the fourth Republican to declare his candidacy in the swing and expansive 1st District located in eastern Arizona. All eyes, however, are actually on former Major League Baseball pitcher Curt Schilling (R) who has confirmed that he is considering the race. While he made public comments two weeks ago suggesting his entry into the race was imminent, he is also now reportedly telling baseball officials and insiders that he would like to get back into the game either as a manager or coach. Therefore, his status remains fluid.
In addition to Mr. Reidhead, Safford City Councilman Chris Taylor, attorney and former congressional candidate Tiffany Shedd, and Williams Mayor John Moore are announced GOP candidates. Former state Senator Barbara McGuire and ex-Flagstaff City Councilwoman Eva Putzova are challenging Rep. O’Halleran in the Democratic primary.
Former Denver state House Speaker Crisanta Duran (D-Denver) over the weekend dropped her Democratic primary challenge to veteran US Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Denver). Ms. Duran suffered a burst appendix less than a month ago, and said she came to the conclusion that she can “be more effective in pursuing transformational change through other means.” Absent a strong primary challenge, Rep. DeGette again looks like a sure bet for re-election and should easily win a 13th term from this heavily Democratic urban seat.
House Appropriations Committee chair Nita Lowey (D-NY) announced yesterday that she will retire from her Westchester County anchored congressional seat at the end of this Congress. Rep. Lowey was originally elected in 1988 and will serve 32 years in the House when her current term concludes. The Congresswoman, 82 years of age, thanked her constituents in the retirement statement, but did not cite any particular reason for her decision not to seek re-election. The open 17th District will remain under Democratic control (Trump ’16: 38.4%). Ms. Lowey is the sixth House Democrat voluntarily leaving Congress. The total number of House open seats now grows to 25.
Retired Marine Corps helicopter pilot Amy McGrath (D), who raised over $8.6 million for a congressional race in 2018, logged an enormous 3rd Quarter in fundraising for her new Senate race. Ms. McGrath, challenging Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R), attracted a whopping $10.7 million for her campaign just in the last twelve weeks. Mega millions will be spent in this race, but Sen. McConnell, first elected in 1984, will continue to be the favorite to win again regardless of the amounts raised and spent against him.
State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) continues to demonstrate political strength in running for retiring Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner’s (R-Menominee Falls) open congressional seat. Yesterday, another potentially viable contender yesterday announced that he would not run for the seat. State Rep. Adam Neylon (D-Pewaukee) made public his decision not to become a congressional candidate. With a safe Republican seat and little in the way of early opposition, Sen. Fitzgerald is quickly becoming a consensus candidate and clearly has the inside track for replacing Mr. Sensenbrenner.
Though polling is in agreement that Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) will finish first in Saturday’s jungle primary and could potentially win outright, the early voting returns suggest that the Republicans are demonstrating under-stated strength. Looking at the early voting returns, which are already much higher than in any previous Bayou State election, Republicans may be running almost even with the Governor. At this point, 381,669 ballots have been returned according to the Secretary of State and Democrats have only a 43.6 – 41.4% edge in returned votes. In 2015, the grand total early vote number was 270,144, and the Democratic edge in that election was a strong 52.3 – 34.4%. These numbers give the GOP hope that their candidates can force Gov. Edwards into a November 16th run-off election by keeping him under 50% support.
The National Republican Congressional Committee leadership scored a recruitment victory in the Allentown/Bethlehem seat to oppose freshman Pennsylvania Rep. Susan Wild (D-Allentown). Former Lehigh County Commissioner and corporate CEO Lisa Scheller (R) announced that she will challenge the freshman lawmaker next year. Ms. Scheller was the Committee’s top recruitment prospect.
First, however, she will have to get past former Lehigh County Commissioner Dean Browning, who announced his candidacy quickly after the November general election. The new 7th District, crafted in the court-mandated redistricting plan instituted before the 2018 election, is a politically marginal district that leans slightly Democratic.
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