Alec Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guardsman who helped stop a terrorist attack on a Paris-bound train in 2015 and later played himself in a Clint Eastwood directed movie depicting the event, has announced a bid for Congress. This won’t be Mr. Skarlatos first political run, however. Last year, he ran for Douglas County Commissioner, and while placing second in a field of eight candidates for the non-partisan position, still came just under 1,300 votes of winning.
Mr. Skarlatos will be running in the Republican primary to eventually challenge House Transportation and Infrastructure chairman Peter DeFazio (D-Springfield/ Eugene) who has held the politically marginal district since the beginning of 1987.
Before having the opportunity of challenging the Congressman, Skarlatos must first get past former Oregon Republican Party chairman Art Robinson who has been the 4th District GOP congressional nominee in every election of this decade. Also in the race is former congressional candidate Jo Rae Perkins who lost the nomination to Robinson in 2018. OR-4 was one of the closest CDs in the 2016 presidential election. Hillary Clinton nipped President Trump here, 46.1 – 46.0%, so the 2020 general election has the potential of becoming competitive.
Milwaukie (OR) Mayor and National Geographic magazine photographer Mark Gamba yesterday filed a Federal Election Commission committee, the first official step toward launching a Democratic primary challenge campaign to six-term veteran Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby/Salem). If Mr. Gamba can raise substantial resources, the race could become viable. Rep. Schrader tends to be more moderate than his electorate, which could open the door to stiff competition especially in context with the concurrent presidential campaign atmospherics.
Yesterday, two-term Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) announced that he will seek re-election next year. His declaration also means that he will not be a presidential candidate, which he acknowledged, because the Oregon political leadership would not adhere to his request to change election law so individuals could simultaneously seek more than one office. Sen. Merkley is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.
Yesterday, Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson (R) lost his long battle with brain cancer and passed away at age 69. With no Lt. Governor, the Secretary of State assumes the Governorship in case of a vacancy. The office also has strong power with regard to redistricting, thus filling the position could render national implications. Oregon looks to be gaining a new congressional seat, so this redistricting cycle will likely be an important one in the Beaver State.
Gov. Kate Brown (D) has the authority to appoint a replacement for the late Mr. Richardson. The Governor indicated that she would consider naming a Republican provided the individual promised not to seek election to a full term in 2020.
Attempting to follow Sen. Cory Booker’s (D-NJ) lead in changing state law to allow an individual to run simultaneously for different offices, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) is not finding the same reception among Oregon political leaders as Mr. Booker did in New Jersey. Asked whether the state legislature will move on legislation to, in this case, allow Mr. Merkley to run for President as he seeks re-election to the Senate, the state Senate President and House Speaker, according to local publication Willamette Week, respectively did not respond to inquiries and said that she doesn’t currently have a position on the issue.
But, Gov. Kate Brown’s (D) spokesperson was a bit more definitive saying, “Gov. Brown’s current focus is on helping Oregon families thrive and working with legislators, stakeholders, and community members on her budget and policy agenda, which does not include a proposal for legislation on this topic.”
A new DHM poll for the Oregon Public Broadcasting network (10/4-11; 500 OR likely voters) again finds only a small margin separating Gov. Kate Brown (D) and state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). Oregon, however, is a state where polling seems to favor Republican candidates in better margins than historical voting patterns would suggest.
That being the case, the DHM numbers find Gov. Brown’s lead at only 40-35%. Her favorability index is dead even at 45:45% positive to negative. Mr. Buehler’s is 36:29%. Sen. Ron Wyden (D) scores best among those tested at 54:29%. President Trump is worst at 41:55%. Regardless of the current poll results, Gov. Brown is still favored to win re-election to a full four-year term.
Ms. Brown ascended to the office from her Secretary of State position when then-Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigned in 2015. She stood for a special election in 2016 and won 51-43%, with polling again showing a closer race than actual results.
Gravis Marketing released the results of their Oregon gubernatorial poll (7/16-17; 770 OR likely general election voters) and surprisingly find Gov. Kate Brown (D) and state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) tied at 45%, apiece. The sampling group contains 33% registered Democrats, 23% registered Republicans, with the remainder (44%) being Independent or unaffiliated voters. But, the major party respondents are a bit light in each party. The actual Oregon voter registration roles show the Democrats at 35.6%, Republicans claiming 26.1%, and the combined Independent and unaffiliated total reaching 35.9%.
A skew could be present here, but the other questionnaire responses seem consistent with Oregon voters’ typical predispositions. Therefore, though this Gravis poll may well be an outlier, it also could be showing us a new trend for this particular race. More data will need examining to begin providing an answer.
With little competition in the US House races and no Senate race for 2018, all attention was focused on the Republican gubernatorial primary. There, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) defeated former statewide candidate Sam Carpenter and Blue Angels former commander Greg Wooldridge by a 47-29-19% count. Mr. Buehler now challenges Gov. Kate Brown (D) who stands for her first full term after winning a 2016 special election. Gov. Brown is favored for re-election.
All four states feature gubernatorial primaries. In Idaho, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) and Lt. Gov. Brad Little appear to be the strongest Republican candidates. The winner will likely face former gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff (D) in the general election.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) faces only minor Republican opposition. The Democratic nominee is expected to be Republican-turned Democrat state Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha.
The Oregon Republican gubernatorial primary features a three-way race among state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), former US Senate candidate and businessman Sam Carpenter, and retired Blue Angels commander Greg Wooldridge. Polling gives Rep. Buehler an advantage in tomorrow’s nomination contest. The winner faces Gov. Kate Brown (D) in the general election.
Polling also finds state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) leading the Republican nomination battle in Pennsylvania. His chief opponents are businessman Paul Mango and former Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Laura Ellsworth. The winner faces Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf who is seeking a second term in office.
Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania choose congressional nominees tomorrow, setting the stage for several competitive general election contests.
In Idaho, former state Sen. Russ Fulcher is expected to defeat former Lt. Gov. David Leroy in the 1st District Republican primary. Mr. Fulcher, a former gubernatorial candidate, immediately becomes the clear favorite to replace Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) who is running for Governor.
Nebraska’s 2nd District Democratic primary is worth watching. There, former Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), who current Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) defeated in the 2016 election, is attempting a political comeback. He is facing more significant primary opposition than expected, however, from non-profit executive Kara Eastman who is attracting Democratic support from the former Congressman’s ideological left. The general election against Rep. Bacon will be competitive.
Little is happening at the US House level in Oregon, but the Pennsylvania primary, running in the new court-ordered districts for the first time, will dominate the political coverage tomorrow night. We can expect competitive primaries in ten of the state’s 18 new districts.
Some of the more interesting primaries include the open 5th District where a crowded Democratic primary will determine which Democrat succeeds resigned Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) in the new Delaware County seat. Resigned Rep. Charlie Dent’s (R-Allentown) new open 7th District features competitive primaries in both parties as a prelude to a toss-up general election campaign.
Crowded Republican primaries are on tap for open Districts 9 (Rep. Lou Barletta-R running for Senate) and 13 (Rep. Bill Shuster-R retiring). Tomorrow’s Republican winner will win the respective seats in November. The new open District 14, which contains 60% of the territory covered in the March special election that attracted national attention, is also worth watching. There, state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg), who lost the special general to Democrat Conor Lamb, may win the Republican primary tomorrow night. He faces state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Robinson Township) in what is now a safe Republican seat. Rep. Lamb has chosen to run for re-election in District 17 where he will face three-term Republican incumbent Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) in what will be a toss-up general election campaign.
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