Three states had approved ballot referendums to change their primary system to the unique “Top Four” system that would allow the first four finishing candidates in a jungle primary advance into the general election. The four candidates would then be ranked 1-4 in the general in order to determine a winner.
It now appears that only one state, Alaska, will have the referendum on the ballot. Judges in North Dakota and Arkansas have nullified their respective election referendums because of qualification process technical flaws. Therefore, the primary system in these two latter states will remain constant for at least another election cycle.
Referendums in Alaska and North Dakota have qualified for the general election ballot in which voters will decide if they want to change their nominating process from a traditional partisan primary into a unique four-way system. The idea is a hybrid between the top-two and Ranked Choice Voting procedures.
The proposal suggests all candidates be placed on the same primary ballot regardless of political party affiliation, as is the case in the top-two jungle primary format. Instead of two candidates advancing into the general election, four would. In the general, voters would then rank the four candidates from 1-4, with the general election winner obtaining the most first place votes.
It appears the Georgia Senate race is likely headed to a runoff, though front runner Jon Ossoff (D) came very close to securing majority support (49%). Apparently, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, after trailing most of the night, slipped past ex-Lt. Governor nominee Sarah Riggs Amico who out-performed expectations. The Georgia count has been delayed due to possible irregularities in the Atlanta area, which means second position may still be undecided. A runoff could be avoided if Ms. Tomlinson chooses to not contest the nomination any further.
In the competitive House races, Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) will face former Rep. Karen Handel (R) in the Atlanta suburban 6th District. This race finished 50-49% in 2018.
In the 7th, 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux, who came within 420 votes of winning the seat in that election, place first but fell short of winning last night’s Democratic nomination outright. She will face state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross) in the August 11th runoff. On the Republican side, retired Navy officer and physician Rich McCormick claimed his party’s nomination outright with over 55% of the vote, an impressive total in a field of seven candidates. In a distant second place was state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Gwinnett County). The general election will again be a toss-up contest in the Fall.
Runoffs are occurring in the safe Republican open 9th and 14th Districts. In Rep. Doug Collins’ (R-Gainesville) open 9th CD, state Rep. Matt Gurtler (R-Tiger) and retired Navy officer Andrew Clyde advance to the August 11th runoff. Rep. Collins is not seeking re-election in order to run in the special US Senate election.
In the 14th, CD from where veteran Rep. Tom Graves (R-Ranger/Rome) is retiring, conservative activist Margorie Greene and surgeon John Cowan advance to the second round. Both seats will be decided in the August runoff, as the Republican nominee in each of these northern Georgia districts will win in November.
Long voting lines in Nevada and the decision to allow mail ballots to be postmarked on Election Day mean the results of these primaries, most particularly in the 3rd and 4th Congressional District Republican races to face Reps. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) and Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas), respectively, likely won’t be known for several days.
Early vote returns from most of the district give former professional wrestler Dan Rodimer a ten-point lead over ex-state Treasurer and frequent candidate Dan Schwartz in the 3rd, while former state Assemblyman Jim Marchant has opened a small early lead over insurance agency owner Sam Peters in District 4.
In South Carolina, state Rep. Nancy Mace (R-Daniel Island), despite released polling that forecast a toss-up race, easily defeating Mt. Pleasant City Councilwoman Kathy Landing with over 57% of the vote. Ms. Mace will now challenge freshman Democrat Joe Cunningham (D-Charleston) in a district that should elect a Republican. Expect this to be a national campaign that is a must-win contest for the GOP.
No surprises in the North Dakota and West Virginia races. All incumbents in both states appear secure for re-election. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, in his first Republican primary since he was originally elected as a Democrat before switching parties, easily won nomination with more than 63% of the vote against two opponents.
Another five states will either nominate or begin the nomination process for their statewide ballots. Two of the five, Georgia and West Virginia, host presidential primaries that will assuredly put former Vice President Joe Biden over the top for the official first ballot delegate count when the Democratic National Convention meets in August. Additionally, two of the states will advance to runoff elections if the leading candidates fail to receive majority support in the various campaigns.
Senate nominations will get underway in Georgia, South Carolina, and West Virginia. All five states, the aforementioned along with Nevada and North Dakota, will nominate their US House candidates and those for state legislature along with some local offices. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) and North Dakota’s Doug Burgum (R) are the only gubernatorial incumbents on today’s ballot.
If candidates do not secure majority support in Georgia and South Carolina, the aforementioned runoff contests will occur on August 11th and June 23rd, respectively.
Previously, Gov. Doug Burgum (R) issued an executive order allowing each county to decide if they wanted to convert to an all-mail June 9th primary. Like in Montana, which was operating under a similar order, all 53 North Dakota county clerks have opted for the all-mail format. Therefore, Montana and North Dakota will join the all-mail states at least for the upcoming primary election.
More Governors and election officials are keeping their primary calendars intact but are changing their voting systems. As a precaution for COVID-19, a significant number of states are now implementing procedural changes from in-person voting to casting their votes by mail.
At the end of last week, political leaders in the following entities are the latest to take such action in relation to their upcoming primaries: Massachusetts (May 30 local elections), Minnesota (Aug 11 statewide primary), Nebraska (May 12), New Jersey (June 2), North Dakota (June 9), Ohio (ballots must be post-marked on or before April 27), and West Virginia (May 12).
Election officials in Louisiana announced on Friday that the April 4th presidential primary has been postponed to a future date in response to the COVID-19 virus. No subsequent date has yet been decided. The North Dakota Democratic Party has also announced that next weekend’s state party convention has also been postponed to an uncertain future date. At this point, the Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio primaries, scheduled for Tuesday, are still moving forward as planned.
Former Vice President Joe Biden placed a strong first in Michigan, Mississippi, and Missouri last night, and ran just over six points ahead of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) in Idaho, but looks to have fallen short in North Dakota, and possibly Washington.
Still, the delegate totals accumulated from last night and on Super Tuesday suggest that Mr. Biden is building an insurmountable lead and should effectively wrap up the presidential nomination next week when voters in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio go to the polls. The former VP has strong polling leads in each of those places.
Gov. Doug Burgum (R) released an internal 1892 polling firm survey from mid-July (7/15-17; 500 ND likely voters) that gives him a very strong 62-33% lead over former US Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D). The same poll finds President Trump topping former Vice President Joe Biden, 60-34%. Since the survey’s release, Ms. Heitkamp has said she will not be a gubernatorial candidate, while Gov. Burgum indicates that he will “likely” seek re-election.
Earlier in the month, former Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) was peppered with reporters’ questions about whether she would challenge Gov. Doug Burgum (R) in the 2020 election. While denying interest, she did indicate that an announcement would soon be forthcoming about her professional future.
Yesterday, she informed the North Dakota public that she has accepted a position with the CNBC Financial News Network as a regular contributor. Therefore, it is highly unlikely that she will return to North Dakota in order to challenge a first-term GOP Governor with high approval ratings.
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