Primaries: Super June Begins
A total of 24 states will host nomination elections in June, ten of which are postponed from earlier dates. Tomorrow is the biggest day, with ten states holding elections. Eight will vote in their presidential primaries (Iowa and Idaho held their presidential nominating votes earlier in the year).
June 2nd hosts regular state primaries on their originally scheduled date in Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and South Dakota. New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has postponed the presidential and state primary to July 7th, thus opting out of its traditional early June nomination date because of Coronavirus precautions.
A presidential stand-alone event is occurring in Rhode Island tomorrow, necessary since their regular state primary is scheduled as one of the latest in the country on September 15th. Postponed state primaries from earlier in the year are happening in the District of Columbia, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.
For the first time since his original election in 2008, Sen. Jim Risch (R) looks to have a general election opponent who will at least run a significant campaign. Former state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D) attracted some early national political attention in 2018 with her opposition to then-Lt. Governor Brad Little (R) in the open gubernatorial contest. Mr. Little, however, easily won the race with a convincing 60-38% victory margin.
Yesterday, Ms. Jordan announced that she will now challenge Sen. Risch. It is unlikely the Democratic challenger will upend the two-term incumbent, but we will at least see some money spent in an Idaho Senate race for the first time in more than a decade.
Idaho: Gov and House
The two races of note were the primary campaigns to nominate candidates who will eventually succeed retiring three-term Gov. Butch Otter (R). For the favored Republicans, Lt. Gov. Brad Little scored a 37-32-27% primary victory over US Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) and physician Tommy Ahlquist. Mr. Little now becomes the favorite against state Rep. Paulette Jordan (D-Moscow) who registered a big victory over 2014 gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff.
In the open 1st District, as expected, former state Senator and gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher easily won the Republican primary against a former Lt. Governor and two state Representatives. Mr. Fulcher has virtually punched his ticket to Washington with his victory last night.
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.
House Primaries: Tomorrow
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.
ID-1: Gov. Candidate Switches
Former state Sen. Russ Fulcher (R), who last August declared his gubernatorial candidacy, has decided to re-direct his political quest away from the statewide race and toward an open congressional campaign. After Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) joined the highly competitive Governor’s contest to replace retiring incumbent Butch Otter (R), the open western state 1st District, Fulcher believes, gives him a better chance for victory. There he will face former Lt. Gov. David LeRoy and ex-Idaho County Commissioner James Rockwell in the forming Republican primary. The 1st District is a safe Republican seat.
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