Iowa Caucus Results: Iowa Made America Great Again by delivering a victory in the Republican primary to Senator Ted Cruz (R) over Donald Trump (Himself) with Senator Marco Rubio (R) coming in a close third. The Democrats are still trying to figure out who won, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) has declared victory over Senator Bernie Sanders (Socialist) even though Sanders is disputing it.
Dropouts: Mike Huckabee and Martin O’Malley are both dropping out today. But #Gilmentum rolls on with a better-than-expected 12 votes last night.
FL-Sen: The fundraising numbers from Q4 are in, and it looks like Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) is cementing his status as the front-runner by default in this shadow-primary. DeSantis raised a respectable (if not particularly amazing) $772K, while his two rivals, LG Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R) and Rep. David Jolly (R) turned in utterly pathetic hauls of $318K and $112K respectively. If the latter two want to have any hope of being taken seriously in a state as expensive as Florida they’re going to need to seriously step it up on the money front.
MD-Sen: After some nine months of drawn-out consideration, just two days ahead of the filing deadline, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) finally decided not to run for the Senate and to seek re-election in MD-7. The winner of the competitive primary between Reps. Chris Van Hollen (D) and Donna Edwards (D) will be the prohibitive favorite to take the open seat.
IN-3: Ex-Allen County commissioner Kevin Howell (R), a former staffer to Rep. Marlin Stutzman (R), is entering this race. Howell joins State Sens. Jim Banks (R) and Liz Brown (R), farmer Kip Tom (R), and ex-WI State Sen. Pam Galloway (R) in the primary for this safe seat.
IN-9: Businessman Trey Hollingsworth (R) wasn’t considered much of a factor in this open-seat race, but that is probably going to change as he has dumped just under $700K into his campaign. The cash could be useful in getting him traction in a field with three much bigger names, AG Greg Zoeller (R) and State Sens. Erin Houchin (R) and Brent Waltz (R).
NY-19: Livingston (pop. 4K) councilman Will Yandik (D) is officially running for this open seat. Yandik is an underdog in the primary to bold progressive favorite and 2014 gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout (D). Ex-State Rep. John Faso (R) and businessman Andrew Heaney (R) are in the race on the GOP side.
NY-22: State Sen. Joe Griffo (R) has announced he won’t run for Congress. Ex-State Sen. Ray Meier (R) looks like the only major candidate who has yet to decide on whether to join front-running State Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) and Broome County commissioner George Phillips (R) in the primary. Democrats are still searching for a credible candidate for this light-red seat.
TN-8: Now this has to set some sort of record for fastest-developing congressional race of all time. Within six hours of Rep. Stephen Fincher’s (R) retirement announcement yesterday, not one, not two, but five (!) credible Republicans had already entered the race to succeed him. They are (deep breath) State Sen. Brian Kelsey (R), ex-US Attorney David Kustoff (R), Shelby County register of deeds Tom Leatherwood (R), Shelby County commissioner Steve Basar (R), and wealthy radiologist and 2010 candidate George Flinn (R). All are likely to be heavyweight contenders, and the field is likely to grow from there. All of the current five come from Shelby County, which could provide a major opening for a rural candidate to sneak through. On the D side, ex-State Sen. and 2010 nominee Roy Herron (D) is apparently considering the race, but he would face very tough odds in a district that has become significantly more Republican than the one he lost by 20 points to Fincher in 2010.
TX-15: EMILY’s List has endorsed realtor and Dem official Dolly Elizondo (D) in this crowded primary. The endorsement could be even more meaningful than usual as the entire six-person Dem field is little-known and has struggled with fundraising in this Rio Grande Valley seat, one of the nation’s poorest. Republicans are likely to nominate ex-Rio Grande City Mayor Ruben Villareal (R) for the long-shot (but on the edge of the playing field) race.
WI-8: Unlike the TN-8 race which developed with absurd speed yesterday, this open-seat race is unfolding at a normal pace after Rep. Reid Ribble (R) retired. Three GOP legislators are on the record as considering runs: State Sen. Roger Roth (R) and State Reps. John Nygren (R) and David Steffen (R). On the D side, Outagamie CE Tom Nelson (D) is considering, while ex-Rep. Steve Kagen (D) took his name out of the running. State Sen. Dave Hansen (D) denied any current interest but seems to be standing by as a backup option if Nelson declines.
VA-Redistrict: The SCOTUS has declined to issue a stay of the new congressional map ahead of this year’s elections. That means this year’s elections, at least for the primary, will proceed under the blatantly Bartlett vs. Strickland-violating plan a special master drew up that retrogresses VA-3 and makes a new Safe D VA-4. The incumbent Rep. from that seat, Randy Forbes (R), is now almost certain to run for the open R-leaning VA-2 instead. Forbes, who currently represents none of the new VA-2 but has strong name rec in the Hampton Roads media market, would likely face primary opposition from State Rep. Scott Taylor (R) and others, but he would start out with the endorsements of retiring Rep. Scott Rigell (R) and many local establishment figures.
Today’s Elections: Today we have an important municipal election and four legislative specials.
The first municipal election of the year is a runoff for mayor of Modesto. Modesto is easily overlooked as it sometimes gets lost in the vastness of California, being far from major media centers. But it’s a major city in its own right, with a population just shy of 200K. It is also an EVEN PVI city (though Democrats have historically been dominant in the region) and today’s mayoral election is likely to be highly competitive. This is an all-mail election, so results may not come quickly tonight. Incumbent Garrad Marsh (D) is a mainstream liberal seeking his second term. Marsh has become unpopular due to his push for a sales tax increase and a prickly leadership style, and was held to 39% in the first round by a field of three other candidates. Today he faces architect and zoning board member Ted Brandvold (R), who appears to be a fairly generic mainstream Republican and came in second with 29%. Most of the remainder of the vote went to a conservadem ideologically between the two. Since the first round, Brandvold has received the endorsements of the Chamber of Commerce as well as the police and fire unions, all mostly due to disagreements with Marsh rather than affinity for the somewhat unexciting Brandvold. There has been something of a dearth of information available on the race, but the dynamic of the race being a referendum on Marsh suggests Brandvold is a slight favorite.
We also have four legislative specials today, a general election in Connecticut and three primaries in Massachusetts. CT-LD-121 is a D+18 seat covering the southern half of Stratford. Stratford councilman Joe Gesko (D) should be a prohibitive favorite over school board member Susan Barksdale (R). However, Republicans are making a serious play for this seat and given the string of special election upsets we’ve seen over the last year or so I won’t count out the possibility of an upset. There are also three primaries in Massachusetts ahead of March 1 generals. MA-LD-12th Essex is a D+7 but formerly GOP-held seat covering most of Peabody; it seems like a D pickup is a strong possibility. Two Republicans are running, legislative staffer Stephanie Peach (R) and city council aide Jaclyn Corriveau (R); neither has a clear advantage. Dems have three candidates in their primary and no clear favorite between Peabody councilman and 80s-era ex-State Rep. Thomas Walsh (D), councilman James Moutsolas (D), and nonprofit exec Craig Welton (D). MA-LD-9th Plymouth is a D+30 seat in poor, heavily minority areas of Brockton. Three Brockton councilors, Shirley Asack (D), Shayna Barnes (D), and Gerard Cassidy (D), are all seeking the nomination. From what I can see there is no clear favorite. MA-LD-3rd Worcester is a D+7 seat in Fitchburg. Three Democrats are running. Fitchburg councilman Stephan Hay (D) has most labor support and is favored against social worker Kimatra Maxwell (D) and zoning board member Joe Byrne (D). No Republicans filed for the district, though councilman Dean Tran (R) has mounted a late write-in campaign; he needs 150 votes to make it to the general election ballot.