New Zealand & Germany Election Preview & Open Thread

Saturday Update: The Nationals have retained the lead, with 46% to 42% for the combined Labour and Green vote. NZ First will be in position to play kingmaker.

Two nations are holding elections this weekend. Here are our previews and an open thread to discuss the results:

New Zealand:

On Saturday, New Zealand will go to the polls to elect its parliament. New Zealand has a population of about 4.7 million, about the same as Ireland(about the size of the state of Louisiana) on two islands, North Island and South Island, that combined are similar in area to the state of Colorado. Since the Legislative Council (upper house) was abolished in 1951, the New Zealand Parliament has been unicameral, consisting of a 120 member (since 1996) House of Representatives (although extra seats can be created-description to follow below). Prior to the 1996 election, the size of the Parliament grew as the population grew. As part of a major electoral reform passed in 1993 and first used in 1996, the size was fixed at 120, and the method of election changed from all seats being elected by constituency (or electorate as they are called in New Zealand), to a mixed-member proportional system, where some seats are filled by electorate (elected by first past the post) and some by party list by proportional representation. Now the proportion of seats filled by electorate changes by population, with 71 of the seats being filled by electorate in this election.

64 of the 71 seats cover the general population (with the more populous North Island having 3/4 of the seats). The other 7 seats are seats reserved for the indigenous Maori people. People of Maori descent (about 18% of the population) may register either on the general electoral roll or a special electoral roll which allows them to vote for the Maori electorates. The 7 Maori electorates are overlayed over the general electorates, with 6 of them on the North Island, and the other covering the entire South Island.

Each voter gets two votes-a vote for their constituency member and a vote for a party that is used for proportional representation. Parties may achieve representation in one of two ways-either by winning an electorate seat, or by gaining 5% of the national vote. The number of seats a party is entitled to is determined by their overall vote share, with the party given list seats to add to the number of electorate seats they win to give them their total number. Often, a situation arises where the number of electorate seats a party wins is more than what they would be entitled to with their share of the national vote. In that case, 1 or more overhang seats are added to the total number of seats (the previous parliament had 1 overhang seat, so there were 121 total seats).

With the country’s move to a mixed-member proportional system, the influence of smaller parties has greatly increased, and it becomes difficult for any party to win a majority of the seats. No party has won a majority since the move to the system in 1996 (although National fell just one seat short in 2014). Thus the major parties need the support of minor parties to form government, whether in informal confidence and supply or formal coalition agreements. The parties can be broken down into 3 groups-the two major parties, the two significant minor parties that usually win multiple seats, and other minor parties that usually win 1 or 2 seats.

Bill English

The two major parties are the center-right National Party and the center-left Labour Party. The National Party is led by Prime Minister Bill English. English was chosen to replace John Key as prime minister last December when Key resigned after he decided 8 years as prime minister was enough. English is getting a second chance as National Party leader-he led the party to a disastrous electoral defeat in 2002, but worked his way back and served as Minister of Finance (traditionally the 2nd highest position in government) under Key. Key was highly popular as prime minister, and led the party to three electoral wins. Where Key was very much a centrist (a style emulated by Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull), English is somewhat more conservative, particularly on social issues-as a Catholic he opposes abortion and also voted against the same-sex marriage bill supported by Key and passed by his government (National Party members were given a free vote on the issue), although English now says he supports same-sex marriage.

Jacinda Ardern

The Labour Party is led by Jacinda Ardern. Ardern, previously deputy leader, took over as the party’s leader last month when then-leader Andrew Little resigned after the party had been performing poorly in polls under his leadership. The change in leadership from the middle-aged Little to the young Ardern has given Labour a boost in polling, actually taking a lead in polls for a few weeks until recently (more on that below).

Winston Peters

The two significant minor parties are the Greens and NZ First. The Greens and NZ First both usually win enough seats to be a significant player in any government (the Greens had 14 seats and NZ First 12 seats in the last parliament). The Greens, being on the left, are a natural potential coalition partner with Labour. A scandal involving former co-leader Metiria Turei and the popularity of Labour’s Jacinda Ardern however has cost the party support in polls, and some polls have them coming close to the 5% threshold, important for the party as they are not expected to win any electorate seats. NZ First is a populist/nationalist party known for its anti-immigrant stance. The party is led by Winston Peters, a former National MP who founded the party in 1993 and has led it ever since and is very much the face of the party. Peters could very well end up as a kingmaker as it appears there is a good chance either National or Labour may need its support to form a government. NZ First has supported both parties in the past-in a formal coalition with National in 1996 and in a confidence and supply agreement with Labour in 2005. NZ First seemed to have gotten along better with Labour in their two deals, which has some speculating that they are more likely to support Labour than National, although that is far from certain. However, a minor scandal involving Peters has hurt them in the polls, and one recent poll has them flirting with the 5% cutoff as well, and they may have to rely on Peters winning his current electorate seat to remain in Parliament. NZ First has been shut out before-failing to make the 5% cutoff in 2008.

There are three other minor parties who had representation in the last parliament. The Maori Party had 2 seats-one Maori electorate seat and one list seat. Although the Maori Party has a center-left orientation, it has had a confidence and supply agreement with National in the last 3 parliaments. The conservative ACT Party held 1 seat (an electorate seat) in the last parliament and has a confidence and supply agreement with National. The centrist United Future Party had one seat in the last parliament(an electorate seat, although as their national vote was not enough to give them any seats, they were the source of the overhang seat). United Future has had confidence and supply agreements with both parties, however as their leader is retiring, they are not expected to have representation in the next parliament.

National had a consistent lead of 20+ points in the polls until Jacinda Ardern took over as Labour leader, her personal popularity (called Jacindamania) caused them to steadily rise in the polls throughout August until Labour took their first lead in early September. But as Jacindamania has worn off and National’s attacks on Labour’s policies have taken hold, National has taken back the lead in the last week, with a polling average of 45% to Labour’s 37%. The Greens are polling at 7% in the average of polls-putting Labour and the Greens together essentially at the same level as National. One seat projection has National at 55, Labour with 46,the Greens 9 and NZ First with 8. Maori and ACT would get 1 seat each. This would mean likely either a National/NZ First or a Labour/Green/NZ First government. Although the possibility has been talked about at least some in the media, the chances of a National/Labour grand coalition is considered highly unlikely, if not impossible. Polls close at 7 PM local time on Saturday (3 AM EDT in the US).


Germany: (thanks to shamlet for writing the Germany preview)

Then on Sunday, Germany will be holding its parliamentary election. Germany has a population of about 83M and a land area slightly larger than New Mexico. The parliament (Bundestag) contains a variable number of members set by a complex formula, but is usually slightly larger than 600. The German electoral system is in practice a pure party-list proportional system with a 5% threshold. Voters get to vote for a constituency rep and a party preference, but each constituency seat costs the winning party a proportional seat, and the ultimate composition of seats is determined solely by the relative vote shares of the parties that cross 5% (or who don’t get 5% but win 3 constituency seats, but that provision is essentially never triggered).

Angela Merkel

Germany’s government is a grand coalition of its two largest parties. But for the last 12 years one party, the Christian Democrats (CDU/CSU) has been in the lead of government in the personage of Chancellor Angela Merkel. The CDU/CSU is a notionally center-right conservative party, but in recent years it and Merkel have generally behaved more like a liberal centrist party of a Bloombergish nature. Indeed, the CDU’s defining position is not really anything typically conservative or Christian-Democratic, but rather its staunch defense of the European Project and open immigration. The CDU has been polling well in the lead at around 35-40%, and there is essentially no doubt that Merkel will be re-elected as chancellor for another term. However, because of the CDU’s centrist nature, there is wide latitude for its coalition partners to pull governance left or right, and who ultimately joins the CDU in government will have a major impact on policy.

Martin Schulz

The junior coalition partner is the Social Democrats (SPD), a standard-issue European socialist party (indeed, it is generally considered the model for most first-world social-democratic parties) that is about in line with American BernieBros. The SPD, led by the former President of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz, has been in an uneasy Grand Coalition with the CDU two times, which has caused it some issues on its left flank. The SPD is polling around 25% and has essentially no chance to form government, but may once again join a Grand Coalition if more ideologically-coherent pairings don’t work out.

Four other parties are expected to enter parliament; all are polling in the high single digits. Two small parties are key to government calculations. The German Green Party, arguably the world’s most successful Green Party, is probably best thought of as a more fiscally moderate version of America’s Greens, which puts it within the mainstream center-left of the German spectrum. The Free Democrats (FDP) are a libertarian (by European standards) party that would be close to moderate establishment Republicans in the US, though its socially libertarian bent has been growing stronger in recent years. The FDP is expected to re-enter parliament this year after just falling just short in 2013. Then there are two other parties that are not expected to be a part of government calculations. On the far left, there is Linke, a descendant of the former communist eastern party that preaches a fairly typical form of European neo-communism. Its radical nature and personality tensions have historically made it an unacceptable coalition partner for even the SPD. On the far right, there is a new party, the Alternative (AfD), that is set to enter parliament. The AfD is still finding its legs ideologically, and its short history has featured ongoing battles between its hefty number of factions. For a small party, it’s a home for an incredible ideological diversity of opinions outside the German mainstream: old-UKIP style upscale euroskeptics, Americanesque social conservatives, LePen style working-class nationalists, and even some Jobbik style borderline neo-Nazis. It’s unclear which of the various ideologies of the party will emerge dominant, but unsavory characters are prominent enough for all other parties to flat-out exclude working with the AfD in coalition.

Unless polls are off by a wide margin or one of the four smaller parties fails to make the 5% threshold, you can say definitively that no coalition is possible that excludes the CDU. (A SPD+FDP+Greens+Linke combination could still theoretically occur, but Linke and FDP together in coalition is so improbable as to be absurd). So the coalition negotiations are really between the CDU and three potential partners: SPD, FDP, and Greens. Merkel’s first choice is likely a return of the CDU-FDP coalition that she led until the FDP lost parliamentary representation in 2013. That pairing would form with no issues if the seats are there; however, it seems likely the two will fall short of a majority. The second choice for Merkel is likely a “Jamaica” coalition of CDU, FDP, and Greens, which will likely clear the majority mark. However, ideological tension between the FDP and Greens may make this trio hard to form, which would likely put the CDU and SDP back together in another Grand Coalition.


Weekend Open Thread for September 22-24, 2017

Programming Note:  We will have an open thread to discuss the elections in New Zealand and Germany.

As the Rocket Man threatens the Dotard with destruction, it is time for this weekend’s open thread:

(1) What is leading to President Trump’s rising approval ratings?  Does he need war drums beating and disasters happening to gain okay approval ratings?

(2) Who do you think will win the German federal election this weekend?

And since its the weekend, its time to watch Rocket Man looking at things!


Political Roundup for September 22, 2017


MI-Sen: Businessman and Iraq War Veteran John James has joined the race for the GOP nomination for US Senate. James, who identifies himself as a “conservative Republican” joins former State Supreme Court Justice Bob Young in the Republican primary. Musician Kid Rock and Sandy Pensler are considering joining the race as well.

MD-6: One Democratic candidate is taking himself out of the race. State House Majority Leader Bill Frick (D), who had been exploring a run for Congress will instead run for Montgomery County Executive. Wealthy businessman and unsuccessful 2016 MD-8 candidate David Trone, Del. Aruna Miller (D), state Sen. Roger Manno (D) and unsuccessful 2006 and 2010 MD-6 nominee Andrew Duck are all still running in the Democratic primary.

MI-11/MI-SOS: State Sen. Mike Kowall (R) is dropping out of the race for Secretary of State. Speculation is that he plans to run for Congress instead to replace Rep. Dave Trott (R), which he called an “unexpected opportunity”. Former state Rep. Rocky Raczkowski (R), state Rep. Klint Kesto (R) and businesswoman Lena Epstein are already running for the House seat, and others are considering joining the race. Shelby Township Clerk Stan Grot, Michigan State University professor Joseph Guzman, and businesswoman Mary Trader Lang are running for the Republican nomination for Secretary of State.

PA-11/PA-Sen: Berwick Councilman Andrew Shecktor (R) is dropping a mostly unnoticed campaign for US Senate, and instead running for the House seat Rep. Lou Barletta (R) is giving up to run for US Senate himself. Shecktor was a delegate to the Republican National Convention last year and considers himself a strong supporter of President Trump. Former state Revenue secretary Dan Meuser and state Rep. Steve Bloom (R) are also currently running for the GOP nomination.


IA-Gov: Nurse and SEIU local president Cathy Glasson officially entered the Democratic nomination for governor this week. Glasson had been exploring a run for several months. She is establishing herself firmly on the left of the 7 Democratic candidates and has been endorsed by the liberal Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

WI-Gov: State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D) will make an announcement next Monday as to whether she will run for governor or run for re-election. She has given no clues as to which way she is planning to go. If she runs, she would likely join the top tier of candidates along with State School Superintendent Tony Evers, businessman Andy Gronik and state Rep. Dana Wachs.

WY-Gov: Former Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) has confirmed that she will not run for governor next year. She had once been considered likely to run, and had been lining up supporters earlier this year, but in recent weeks it seemed unlikely she would run, and she apparently told supporters a few weeks ago she was out. Lummis would have been a formidable candidate had she chosen to run, having run statewide before. State Treasurer Mark Gordon (R) and Secretary of State Ed Murray (R) are considered the potential frontrunners, although neither has decided yet to enter the race.

State offices:

AK-LG: Edie Grunwald, the mother of a teenager who was killed in a high-profile murder case, is running for LG as a Republican. She is criticizing a criminal justice overhaul bill approved last year, which was supported by the other 3 Republican candidates-former state Senate Presidents Kevin Meyer (R) and Gary Stevens (R), and former state Rep. Lynn Gattis (R). Grunwald said she was hoping to partner with the gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R), but Dunleavy recently suspended his campaign.

FL-AG: Rep. Matt Gaetz (R) will not run for AG next year, and has endorsed former state Circuit Court judge Ashley Moody (R). Despite Gaetz only being in his first term in Congress, he had been mentioned as a possible candidate, and one who could have been a formidable candidate had he decided to run. Former state Rep. Jay Fant (R) is also running in the Republican primary.

IL-AG: State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D) has announced he is running for Attorney General. He is the second state legislator to announce a run since current AG Lisa Madigan (D) announced her retirement, joining state Rep. Scott Drury (D). Raoul was appointed to the state Senate in 2004, filling the seat vacated by Barack Obama when he was elected to the US Senate. Other Democrats, including state Rep. Elaine Nekritz, are considering getting in. Former Miss America and unsuccessful IL-13 candidate Erika Harold is running on the Republican side.

MI-AG: State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker (R) is the first Republican to announce a bid for AG. Current AG Bill Schuette (R) is term limited and running for governor. Schuitmaker is term limited out of her state Senate seat as well after serving two terms. Two Democrats are running-former US Attorney Patrick Miles and attorney Dana Nessel.

RI-LG: State Rep. Aaron Regunberg (D) is exploring a run for lieutenant governor. Current LG Dan McKee (D) is planning to run for re-election, which would mean a primary challenge for the incumbent. Regunberg, who is only 27, says he hasn’t made any decisions yet whether to run.


Political Roundup for September 21, 2017

As our thoughts are with our hurricane and debt ravaged unincorporated territory, it is time for today’s roundup:

President / National

Trump Job Approval Numbers:  In case you missed it, President Trump’s terrible approval numbers are starting to inch their way back into the low 40s.  Not great by any stretch, but not bad for Trump.

Manafort/Kurdistan:  While the Feds are closing in on Paul Manafort related to his shady political dealings with the Russians and their prodigy, Manafort is busy helping the Kurds plan an independence referendum.  Manafort has been doing things like this for years, but you have to wonder if the Kurds will give him citizenship if he makes their centuries long struggle a reality.


AL-Sen:  President Trump (R?-MAGA) appears to be waging battle for an underdog, Senator Luther Strange (R), in the US Senate runoff against former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R-Ten Commandments), but the race is tightening and Trump’s involvement is seen as someone with an ear to Trump believing Strange has a strong change of winning.

WV-Sen:  Governor Jim Justice (?) has completed his transition from being a DINO to a RINO by backing Senator Joe Manchin (D-Coal) in his reelection bid.  To quote Roguemapper, DINO+RINO = MAGA.

WATN:  Former Congressman and multi-time RRH Turkey of the Year winner Anthony Weiner (D-Sexting) is facing approximately 2 years in prison if the government gets its way.  A federal judge will sentence Weiner on Monday.

PA-19 (Defunct):  Former Congressman Bill Goodling (R) has died.  Goodling served 13 terms on Congress representing central Pennsylvania.


CT-Gov:  David Stemerman (R) is winding down his hedge fund, Conatus Capital Management LP, to explore a run for Governor in 2018.

NJ-Assembly:  Speaker Vincent Prieto (D) is pushing Democrats to pursue a supermajority in the NJ’s lower house in an effort to undermine the leadership aspirations of Assemblyman Craig Coughlin (D-South Jersey faction) whose recently received the backing of the majority of the existing Democratic lower house caucus.  Prieto’s long shot bid is targeting very unfriendly territory for the Democrats history in an effort to bring in new blood and save his Speakership.

PA-Voter Registration: A glitch in PennDOT’s motor voter system let non-citizens register to vote.  Al Schmidt (R) of the Philadelphia City Commission, which oversees elections in the city, announced that at least 168 non-citizens registered to vote in Philadelphia through the program that have been discovered.

More PA-Voter Registration:  While Republicans have made some gains in Philadelphia, independents and third parties now outnumber Republicans in the city.


Political Roundup for September 20th, 2017

As evidenced by the fact that someone in my North Philadelphia neighborhood actually took a minute out of their day yesterday to scrape and peel the John Kasich sticker off of my car, reality really has become stranger than an episode of Showtime’s Shameless.

Last night, Foxborough councilman Paul Feeney (D) and legislative staffer Jacob Ventura (R) won primaries for MA-SD-Bristol & Norfolk. The two will head to a general next month with retired investigative reporter Joe Shortsleeve (I).


2020: Democrats are clearly ready to defeat the Donald (R?) at all costs ahead of their 2020 presidential primary pileup. The succeeding failing New York Times reports that, while Bernie Sanders (“I”) plans a “very far left” approach, potential frontrunner Elizabeth Warren (D) will merely run a “far left” campaign.

Democrats’ Lurch off the Left Coast: Politico reports that many Democrats are now wondering if the recent wave of virtue signaling support of Bernie Sanders’ “Medicare for All” plan could distract from their efforts to fight another attempt at repealing Obamacare.


AL-Sen: Senate candidate and God’s Gift to the World Roy Moore (R) doubled down on his “red and yellow” comments from earlier in the week in a presidential series of tweets.

More AL-Sen: Both Mike Pence (R) and the Donald (R?) will be campaigning for Luther Strange in Alabama.

TN-Sen: Despite recent friction between the two men, Roll Call reports that the Donald (R?) has urged Senator Bob Corker (R) to seek a third term.

MI-6/MI-Senate: Ahead of a likely US Senate bid, everyone’s second-favorite Upton and Whirlpool heir Fred (R) was named a Michigander of the Year by the generally-conservative Detroit News for his bipartisan dealmaking in the midst of the bipartisan opening of the seventh seal.


Democrats/State Attorneys General: Still smarting from the Duchess of Chappaqua’s 2016 loss, some leaders of the ever-strategic Democrats have yet another plan to “avenge” the would-have-been First Woman President™’s defeat by… recruiting as many female attorney general candidates as possible. Yes, really.

IL-Gov/IL-AG: North Shore State Rep. Scott Drury (D-Highwood) has dropped his gubernatorial bid to pursue the state AG position after the surprise retirement of incumbent Dictator Heiress and Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D). Drury was the only State Rep to oppose Fearless Leader Mike Madigan’s re-election bid to the speakership, and he earns major kudos from this Illinois expat for that stand.

More IL-AG: In addition to Drury, the Chicago Tribune has a Great Mentioner on others considering this now open race.

NJ-Gov: Highlighting their desperation for any victory in the age of the Donald, the Democrats are going all out in this Safe D race by sending in top fundraiser Barack Obama to stump for Phil Murphy (D), according to The Hill.

More NJ-Gov: The RGA has released a 15-second ad attacking Phil Murphy by implying that he wants to raise New Jersey’s already-high taxes, a development sure to shock Garden State voters.

TX-Gov: While Governor Greg Abbott (R) lacked a signature issue, Texas Tribune explains that Hurricane Harvey gave him the political cover to move away from the hard right direction he had reluctantly taken on the urging of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R). If this sounds strange, remember that the Texas Lieutenant Governor is arguably more powerful than the Governor.

More TX-Gov/TX-20: Congressman Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) reiterated yesterday that he has no plans to run for governor. Castro (not that one, as far as we know…) will seek re-election to the US House.

Local Races:

Urban Renewal/Detroit-Mayor: The Economist lays out Detroit’s improvements under Mike Duggan as a case study of tough love. It’s shocking what happens when voters elect a leader who tells them things that they don’t want to hear after decades of electing politicians who said anything to gain power.

Seattle-Mayor: Interim Mayor Bruce Harrell, clearly not touched, says that he does not intend to serve the rest of his disgraced predecessor’s term.


RRH Elections September 2017 Gubernatorial Rankings

Today we are taking another look at the gubernatorial landscape. Our RRH Elections Race Rankings evaluate all the gubernatorial elections in likelihood of flipping, in the overall gestalt opinion of the moderators. Here is this month’s map:

Safe D Likely D Lean D Tossup Lean R Likely R Safe R
HI (Ige)
NY (Cuomo)
OR (K. Brown)
RI (Raimondo)
PA (Wolf)
Lean I:
AK (B. Walker)
IL (Rauner)
IA (Reynolds)
MD (Hogan)
WI (S. Walker)
AL (Ivey)
AZ (Ducey)
MA (Baker)
NH (Sununu)
SC (McMaster)
VT (P. Scott)
AR (Hutchinson)
NE (Ricketts)
TX (Abbott)

Bold denotes a seat we expect to flip; Italics denotes a Dem-held Tossup seat.

RRH Elections has made the following eight changes to our gubernatorial ratings since our last post in May, four in Republicans’ Favor:

Massachusetts Likely R from Lean R || New Hampshire Likely R from Lean R || New Mexico Tossup from Lean D || South Dakota Safe R from Likely R

And four in favor of Democrats:

Iowa Lean R from Likely R || New Jersey Safe D from Likely D || New York Safe D from Likely D || Virginia Lean D from Tossup

These changes mean RRH Elections is currently projecting a net shift in gubernatorial seats of between R+1 and D+7.

Flip over for recaps of all the races!

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Political Roundup for September 19th, 2017

First off, there is a single legislative special primary today. MA-SD-Bristol & Norfolk is a D+5 (2016) seat stretching from Seekonk in suburban Providence to Medfield in Boston’s southwest suburbs. Two Democrats and Four Republicans are running. For Dems, Foxborough councilman and Sanders campaign operative Paul Feeney (D) and legislative staffer Ted Phillips (D) are facing off. Feeney is more of a blue-collar liberal while Phillips is a bit more upscale in sensibilities; there is no clear favorite. For Republicans, Baker admin official Mike Berry (R) has the most GOP establishment support and looks like the front-runner. Berry faces three other credible candidates in Chamber of Commerce official Harry Brousaides (R), legislative staffer Jacob Venura (R), and 2014/16 State House candidate Tim Hempton (R), who could each pull the upset. Waiting in the general is well-known retired TV investigative reporter Joe Shortsleeve (I), a former DINO who could have enough name recognition to make it an authentic three-way race or even pull an upset win.


AL-Sen: A JMC Analytics poll of likely voters shows Roy Moore keeping his large lead over Attorney General and Trump endorsee Luther Strange 47%-39%. This is actually an improvement for Strange, who trailed in the last JMC poll 51%-32%.


VA-Gov: Two new polls in the Virginia gubernatorial race. One survey shows Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) leading Ed Gillespie 44%-39% with Libertarian Cliff Hyra at 3%. However, the Princeton Survey Research Associates International poll surveys “Virginia adults,” without even a voter screen. Meanwhile, a Suffolk University poll of likely voters shows the race tied between Northam and Gillespie at 42% with Hyra at 3% again. We rate this seat Lean Democrat.

MD-Gov: Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz has joined the Democratic field to take on Gov. Larry Hogan (R). The list of other Democratic candidates, lazily grabbed from the article: “Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP leader Ben Jealous, state Sen. Richard Madaleno, technology entrepreneur and author Alec Ross, lawyer Jim Shea and Krish Vignarajah, a former policy director for first lady Michelle Obama.” We rate this seat Lean Republican.


MN-1: 2014 and 2016 Republican nominee Jim Hagedorn won the endorsement of two notable former congressmen: Reps. John Kline and Gil Gutknecht. The endorsements continue a continuous run of former Minnesota Republican officeholders backing Hagedorn this cycle. State Sen. Carla Nelson (R) has also been rumored to be strongly considering a run, and her Facebook page’s name recently changed from “Carla Nelson for State Senate” to just “Carla Nelson.”

UT-3: Dan Jones is re-running their poll of UT-3 mentioned in yesterday’s roundup with a full sample from the district instead of a subset from their statewide poll. The reasoning was complaints from third party candidate Jim Bennett, who barely missed the threshold for debate participation with his 6% showing in the survey.

VA-10: One of Rep. Barbara Comstock’s 1,000 opponents is sticking out. Democrat and veteran Dan Helmer sticks out for a terrible ad where he sings bad karaoke to Comstock about not holding town hall meetings. Pretty sure he won’t be her opponent.

MI-11: A lot of movement in Rep. Dave Trott (R)’s suddenly open seat. First off, State Rep. Rocky Raczkowski (R). Second, Lena Epstein (R) dropped down from the Senate race to this House bid. State Rep. Klint Kesto also plans to run. The article has a Great Mentioner of other candidates on both sides of the aisle. We previously ranked this seat Lean R when Trott was still in the race. Click here for some of yesterday’s discussion of the candidates on RRH Elections.

NY-24: Syracuse professor Dana Balter (R) is in the race against Rep. John Katko (R). While several other Democrats are considering runs in this swing seat that Katko surprisingly locked down over the last two cycles, Onondaga Community College board chair Anne Messenger is already in.

NY-27: Veteran Erin Cole (D) is out after a short-lived campaign. While Rep. Chris Collins is one of the least threatened Republican congressmen in New York, county Democratic leaders have still interviewed a number of potential candidates.

RIP: Longtime former congressman Bill Goodling (R) of Pennsylvania has passed away at the age of 89.

State and Local

TX-leg: Former State Rep. Steve Toth has the support of 30 former and current Republican State Representatives in his comeback bid. Toth left the chamber after a failed primary challenge to Rep. Kevin Brady, the Ways & Means Committee Chairman in Congress. While Toth would be expected to receive significant Freedom Caucus and allied endorsements, there are a few Straus allies that surprisingly make the list like State Reps. JM Lozano and Jason Isaac.

TX-leg: On the other side of the aisle, State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D) gains another reprieve as the Travis County DA holds off on felony charges of fraud with new information in the case. She still faces two misdemeanor charges.


Spain: Spanish federal government authorities are attempting to stifle campaigning in the Catalonian-led independence referendum on October 1st. Besides seizing campaign materials from the pro-independence side, the government is also threatening to arrest Carles Puigdemont, the regional government head, and other government officials supporting the referendum.

Iceland: Iceland’s Parliament has been set to dissolve October 27th; elections will be held October 28th.



Political Roundup for September 18, 2017


AL-Sen: Plenty of movement over the weekend in this race, a week ahead of the primary runoff. Trump has announced he will go to Alabama to do a rally for appointed incumbent Luther Strange (R), a big get for Strange in a race where both candidates have been fighting to be tied as closely as possible to the President. Strange also picked up the endorsement of his senior colleague, Sen. Richard Shelby (R). However, Strange’s rival, ex-State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R), nabbed a big get of his own in Rep. Mo Brooks (R). Brooks, who came in third in the primary, was largely expected to endorse Moore after his own bid was derailed by Strange’s sustained negative ad barrage. This now means that both major eliminated candidates from the first round, Brooks and State Sen. Trip Pittman (R), have picked Moore for the runoff; the three combined to take some 2/3 of the vote in the first round. Moore has led in all polls of this race, though by dramatically varying margins; the primary winner will face ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) in a December general.

CA-Sen: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) is non-committal on running for a fifth full term in 2018. Feinstein has previously indicated she will run again, so the new statement could be opening the door to a retirement. AG Xavier Becerra (D) and LA Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) have been mentioned as potential candidates for an open seat.

FL-Sen: Gov. Rick Scott (R) has received praise for his handling of Hurricane Irma, which could be a positive in his likely run against Sen. Bill Nelson (D). The article has a good recap of Scott’s efforts at Hurricane relief and their potential political impact.

OH-Sen: Author JD Vance (R) will not run for Senate. Vance wrote a well-received tome about his childhood in a lower-middle-class Cincinnati exurb as a reflection on Appalachian culture; he has been working the rubber-chicken circuit for several months and could have been a formidable contender if he entered. Front-running State Treasurer Josh Mandel (R) and Kasich-backed investor Mike Gibbons (R) look likely to be the only major candidates in the primary to take on Sen. Sherrod Brown (D).


GA-Gov: Consulting company executive and former SEAL Clay Tippins (R) has filed to enter the race. It’s too early to tell how serious Tippins will be, but he could have the profile to be a credible contender in the crowded primary field. LG Casey Cagle (R), SoS Brian Kemp (R), and State Sens. Hunter Hill (R) and Michael Williams (R) are already in the race. State Reps. Stacey Abrams (D) and Stacey Evans (D) are in the race on the D side.

MA-Gov: Barnstable County Commissioner (side note: this is an office with far less power in MA than in other states, as some MA counties have no government at all and the rest have very limited functions) Ronald Beaty Jr. (R) is considering a primary challenge against Gov. Charlie Baker (R). Beaty served time in the early 90s for making death threats to prominent elected officials and has been notable in office for a plan to kill sharks – needless to say, he doesn’t seem like a very serious candidate.

MI-Gov: Trump dropped a somewhat unexpected endorsement in this race over the weekend, quickly endorsing AG Bill Schuette’s (R) bid (and spelling his name wrong in the process). The endorsement could be a major boost to Schuette as he faces a crowded primary; State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R) and physician Jim Hines (R) are already in the race, and LG Brian Calley (who rescinded his Trump endorsement in the fall of 2016) is expected to enter as well.

NJ-Gov: Another Q poll shows this race as a total snoozer, with former Goldman Sachs exec and ambassador Phil Murphy (D) leading LG Kim Guadagno (R) by a whopping 58-33 margin.


CA-24: Michael Woody (R), who served one term as a Fresno councilman in the 90s before an unsuccessful mayoral run, is running for this medium-blue Central Coast seat against Rep. Salud Carbajal (D). 2016 nominee Justin Fareed (R) is considering another run and would likely be the front-runner on the GOP side if he ran.

CO-4, CO-AG: Rep. Ken Buck (R) has said he will likely not give up his seat to run for AG if incumbent Cynthia Coffman (R) vacates the office. Coffman has still not decided whether to run for a second term or give up her seat to try for the gubernatorial office; Buck would have likely been the strong front-runner for the GOP nomination if he ran for an open seat.

IL-11: STEL-LA! Nick Stella (R), a cardiologist who narrowly lost the 2016 primary, is mounting a second bid for the seat of Rep. Bill Foster (D). This Joliet and Aurora based seat is deep-blue, but its Democrats here have been low turnout in midterms. Stella looks likely to be the primary front-runner this time.

NV-3: Nonprofit exec and 2016 NV-4 candidate Susie Lee (D) is running for this open seat. Lee, a charity executive with self-funding ability, was heavily recruited to run for this seat in 2016. Instead, she made the bad decision to try for the bluer 4th on the other side of the Las Vegas metro area instead. Lee then lost the NV-4 primary to Ruben Kihuen (D), while Democrats’ backup choice for the 3rd, now-Rep. Jacky Rosen (D), prevailed there. Lee looks likely to get a second chance though, as no prominent Democrats have entered the open seat race; thus, Lee could still secure machine backing for this race. State Sen. Scott Hammond (R), ex-State Rep. Victoria Seaman (R), and ex-Clark County GOP chair David McKeon (R) are in the race for this purple southern Las Vegas area seat on the GOP side.

NY-11: Ex-Rep. Michael Grimm (R) really is set to pull the trigger on a run to get his old Staten Island House seat back. Grimm, who was forced out by a conviction on some minor business violations, is set to primary his replacement, Rep. Dan Donovan (R), from the right. Due to his criminal record and Donovan’s strong support in the local establishment, Grimm’s campaign seems unlikely to gain much traction in the primary. However, he could still cause problems for Donovan in the general; Grimm is closely-tied to the leaders of the local Conservative party, meaning he could continue on to the general election and split the Republican vote in this medium-red seat. Democrats thus far do not have any credible candidates exploring this race, as Donovan was considered a good fit for this seat. But Grimm’s challenge may open the door for a more serious Dem to emerge.

PA-15: Northampton DA John Morganelli (D) is considering a run for this light-red open seat. Morganelli, who has lost several runs for AG but is well-known and has strong appeal in the Lehigh Valley, could easily be Democrats’ establishment choice for the race. Two other lesser-known Dems, ex-Lehigh County commissioner Bill Leiner (D) and pastor Greg Edwards (D), are in the race already. State Reps. Justin Simmons (R) and Ryan Mackenzie (R) are running on the GOP side.

TX-27: Ex-Victoria County GOP chair Mike Cloud (R) is exploring a run against Rep. Blake Farenthold (R) in the primary. Farenthold has had some minor issues but has not been seriously challenged for his Corpus Christi area seat since winning it in 2010. Cloud’s bid against Farenthold may be complicated (or, alternatively, may benefit) by a change in the district; this seat may be re-redistricted if SCOTUS affirms a decision striking it down.

UT-3: A Dan Jones poll of this November’s special election shows Provo Mayor John Curtis (R) cruising as expected in this deep-red seat, leading physician Kathie Allen (D) 50-20. Jim Bennett (I), son of ex-US Sen. Bob (R), is polling at 6%, just barely missing the cutoff for a televised debate.

State & Local:

IL-AG: In a major surprise, AG Lisa Madigan (D) will not seek a fifth term; Madigan has also intimated that she is not planning to run for any other office, including Governor or Mayor of Chicago. Madigan long transparently harbored Gubernatorial aspirations, but she declared in 2014 that she would not run so long as her father, State Dictator House Speaker Mike (D), remained as the most powerful man in state Government. It looks like Lisa has gotten tired of waiting and decided to cash out.

MN-AG: One Democrat is in and one is out of this race. State Rep. John Lesch (D) has dropped out of the race, saying that AG Lori Swanson’s (D) continued deliberations on whether or not to run for Governor make the run too much of an uncertain prospect; however, Lesch was also recently fined $20K for campaign finance violations. However, attorney and Dem operative Matt Pelikan (D) has entered the race in his stead. Pelikan, who has worked on several prominent campaigns, joins State Rep. Debra Hillstrom (D) and ex-State Rep. Ryan Winkler (D) in the race – though all have left the door open to dropping out should Swanson run again. Republicans have two candidates in ex-State Rep. Doug Wardlow (R) and attorney Harry Niska (R).

NV-SoS: Reno Councilman Oscar Delgado (D) will not run for SoS against incumbent Barbara Cegavske (R), sending Democrats back to the drawing board in this race.

Buffalo-Mayor: After losing the Democratic primary last week, city comptroller Mark Schroeder (D) is undecided about continuing on to a general election against incumbent Byron Brown (D) on the Reform Party line. Schroeder, a moderate Democrat, could be a credible threat to Brown in the general as he would be a logical home for the votes of the city’s GOP minority – which could form a winning coalition when paired with Schroeder’s roughly third of the Dem primary vote.

FL-SD-40: Gov. Rick Scott (R) has denied Democrats’ request to move the election date for this suburban Miami Senate seat due to widespread power outages in the district following Hurricane Irma. The hotly contested race for the R-held, Dem-leaning, but Cuban-machine-friendly seat, between State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (R) and perennial candidate Annette Taddeo-Goldstein (D), is proceeding as scheduled one week from tomorrow.

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