Author and businessman Steve Pemberton, who announced his US Senate candidacy back in July, has withdrawn from the Bay State race, citing a “rigged political system.” Mr. Pemberton on leaving the contest said that he, “ran into an impenetrable wall of legacy and birthright — of incumbency and connections” thus denying him the ability to construct a viable campaign.
Rep. Joseph P. Kennedy III (D-Newton) entering the race to challenge incumbent Sen. Ed Markey in the Democratic primary makes this campaign very difficult for any other candidate. Attorney Sharon Liss-Riordan remains, but it is already clear that she will continue as a minor candidate.
The Massachusetts primary is not scheduled until September 15th, so what appears to be evolving into a Markey-Kennedy race will develop over a long campaign cycle. Early polling suggests that Rep. Kennedy has a strong chance of denying Sen. Markey re-nomination, but the long-serving Representative and Senator is sending signals that he will wage an aggressive campaign to keep his position.
Siena College surveyed the New York electorate (10/6-10; 742 NY registered voters; 340 NY registered Democratic voters) and found former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) locked in a flat tie at 21% apiece. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is a close third with 16%. New York has 273 first ballot delegates after gaining 49 more in a recent Democratic National Committee nomination process adjustment. The addition makes New York the second largest contingent at the Democratic National Convention. The largest state, California with 416 first ballot votes, is almost equally split among the three candidates according to the most recent primary polling.
Raleigh’s Meredith College (9/29-10/7; 998 NC registered voters) finds a typically close race developing for the North Carolina Senate seat. Here, Sen. Thom Tillis (R) is in a dogfight with both state Sen. Erika Smith (D-Gaston) and former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D). When each is paired with the Senator, both candidates received 33% support. Not surprisingly, we will again see a close US Senate race emerge here in 2020.
North Carolina voters also like to change Senators. Since 1974, only two Senate incumbents seeking re-election, Sens. Jesse Helms (R) and Richard Burr (R), won. This contrasts to eight Senators, four Democrats and four Republicans, who did not serve a second term, six of whom were defeated for re-election.
While Gov. Tony Evers (D) has not yet re-scheduled the special election for the open 7th Congressional District (Rep. Sean Duffy (R) resigned for family reasons) after his original election dates did not comply with the federal MOVE Act, two Democrats have finally entered the campaign contest. Wausau School Board member Tricia Zunker and businessman and Vietnam War veteran Lawrence Dale (D) have both announced that they will enter this race. Republicans have more candidates, but the race is essentially between state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) and disabled Afghan War veteran and Jason Church, also an ex-aide to Sen. Ron Johnson (R).
Mike Collier, the 2018 Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor who was reported to be considering challenging freshman Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston), says he will not run for Congress in 2020. This leaves educator Elisa Cardnell (D) as the Congressman’s only political opponent. The candidate filing deadline, December 9th, is fast approaching. The development means that Mr. Crenshaw will likely sail to re-election next year.
The aforementioned Meredith College North Carolina survey (9/29-10/7; 998 NC registered voters) reports a positive result for first-term Governor Roy Cooper (D) who will stand for a second term next year. The Meredith data yields a 46-33% margin in the Governor’s favor. In this poll, he was paired with the likely GOP 2020 gubernatorial nominee, Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R).
Unlike North Carolina Senators who have a high political mortality rate, the Governors fare much better. Since 1980, when NC Governors were first allowed to run for more than one term, just one state chief executive, Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in 2016, was denied a second term.
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.
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