Weekend Open Thread for August 18-20, 2017

Happy Friday everyone. Here are this week’s questions:

1. Now that it seems more-or-less proven that the Republican base’s attachment to ideological conservatism is tenuous at best, what is the best strategy for ideological conservatives to win GOP primaries?

2. Is the statues issue a net political winner for Democrats or just a distraction?

And because it’s eclipse weekend…


Political Roundup for August 18, 2017


NV-Sen/NV-AG: Clark County DA Steve Wolfson (D) announced on Wednesday that he will run for re-election to his current office. Wolfson had been approached to run for US Senate, or possibly for Nevada Attorney General.

ND-Sen: State Sen. Tom Campbell (R) on Wednesday became the first Republican to enter the US Senate race. Although Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) has not yet announced her intentions, she is expected to run for re-election and has said she will announce her plans before Labor Day. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) is still considering whether to run for Senate or run for re-election, but he did not discourage Campbell from running, saying that he wasn’t going to wait for anyone else to get in, so he didn’t expect Campbell to wait for his decision.


ID-1: State Rep. Luke Malek (R) is joining the race for this open seat. Malek, from Coeur d’Alene is considered a moderate by Idaho GOP standards in the wing of the state party represented by Gov. Butch Otter (R). Also in the GOP primary are former state Sen. Russ Fulcher (R) and 80s era LG David Leroy (R). Fulcher is in the more conservative, Raul Labrador wing of the state party-he challenged Otter from the right in the 2014 gubernatorial primary. Leroy was considered pretty establishment-oriented when he was in office in the 1980s, but has sounded solidly conservative themes in his campaign.

IN-6: Greg Pence, older brother of VP Mike Pence, is currently the finance chairman for the US Senate campaign of Rep. Luke Messer (R). But persistent rumors indicate Pence may be running to succeed Messer in the House, although he has refused to talk publicly about his plans. Pence may be the favorite if he decides to run-the district is the same one that Mike Pence represented for 12 years before being elected governor in 2012. State Sen. Mike Crider (R) is currently the only candidate in the race.

KS-2: State Rep. Kevin Jones (R) is entering the race for this open seat. He is the second candidate to join the race in the last two days, joining former state Rep. and unsuccessful 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis. Jones is in his 3rd term in the state House. He joins state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald and Basehor councilman Vernon Davis in the Republican primary.

ND-AL: Former state Rep. Ben Hanson (D) announced yesterday he is running for Congress. Hanson served a Fargo area district in the state House from 2013-2017 and lost his bid for re-election last year. He is the first Democrat to join the race. Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) is still deciding whether to run for re-election or run for the US Senate.


AL-Gov/AL-LG: Public Service Commission President Twinkle Cavanaugh (R) is dropping out of the governor’s race and instead running for Lieutenant Governor. The move comes as it appears that Gov. Kay Ivey (R) will run for election to a full term; for her part, she says she is “strongly considering”. Cavanaugh stated that she does not want to run against Ivey. Many other Republicans are currently running or considering running for governor-others are expected to drop out if and when Ivey officially announces she is running.

CO-Gov: LG Donna Lynne (D) is officially in the race for governor. Lynne had stated when she was appointed Lieutenant Governor last year that she did not intend to run for governor, and seemed intent on sticking to that pledge. However, some were encouraging her to rethink the race after Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D) dropped out, seeing the need for a moderate in a race that otherwise is filled with liberals. Rep. Jared Polis, former state Sen. Mike Johnston, former State Treasurer Cary Kennedy and businessman Noel Ginsburg are also running in the Democratic primary.

IA-Gov: State Rep. Todd Prichard (D) is dropping out of the race for governor and running for re-election instead. Prichard is the 2nd Democrat to drop out of the race-Polk County Conservation Director Rich Leopold was the first Democrat in the race, but was also the first to drop out. 7 Democrats are still in the race, including Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn (D) who entered earlier this week.

WI-Gov: Businessman Kurt Kober is considering joining the Democratic nomination for governor and has registered a campaign committee to begin raising money for a possible bid. Businessman Andy Gronik and state Rep. Dana Wachs (D) are the only announced Democratic candidates for governor. State School Superintendent Tony Evers has also filed to run, but has not decided for sure yet whether he will actually run. Several others are considering runs as well.

State & Local:

IL-AG: Attorney and former Miss America Erika Harold (R) is running for Attorney General against current AG Lisa Madigan (D). Harold has previously run twice for the IL-13 House seat-she was passed over in favor of now Rep. Rodney Davis (R) by Republican county chairmen in the district for the 2012 nomination to replace Rep. Tim Johnson (R) on the ballot after he dropped out, and lost to Davis 55-41% in a 2014 primary bid.

IL-SOS: Secretary of State Jesse White (D) is running for a 6th term. White, who is 83 had said that he planned to retire this year, but he had been pressured by people in the Democratic Party to run again to keep an open Secretary of State race from shifting focus and campaign money away from the governor’s race.


Political Roundup for August 17, 2017

First off, huge congratulations are in order to our hardworking friends at Decision Desk HQ on their new deal to provide election data to BuzzFeed!


AK-Gov: 2006 candidate and businessman John Binkley (R) is exploring another run for Governor. Binkley, who was a State Senator in the 80s before coming in second to Palin in the 2006 primary, would join State Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) if he entered the race. Gov. Bill Walker (I) is expected to have Democratic support in his bid for a second term.

HI-Gov: Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D) has acknowledged that rumors that she is considering a gubernatorial bid are true. Hanabusa criticized Ige’s lack of major initiatives during his tenure, but such a bid would still be surprising as both Hanabusa and Ige are considered to hail from the Asian-dominated machine faction of the HIDP.

IL-Gov, IL-LG: A pair of Democratic Illinois gubernatorial candidates have announced running mates for the team primary to take on Gov. Bruce Rauner (R). Uber-wealthy businessman and establishment (read: Mike Madigan) favorite JB Pritzker (D) has chosen State Rep. Juliana Stratton (D) of Chicago’s South Side as his #2, while bold progressive Chicago councilman Ameya Pawar (D) has chosen Cairo (pop. 2K) Mayor Tyrone Coleman (D) as his running mate. Four others, Heir Force Col. Chris Kennedy (D), State Sen. Daniel Biss (D), State Rep. Scott Drury (D), and local superintendent Bob Daiber (D), have not chosen running mates.


MO-Sen: State Rep. Marsha Haefner (R) of the southern St. Louis suburbs is considering a run for the Senate seat of Claire McCaskill (D), joining fellow termed-out State Rep. Paul Curtman (R) as declaring interest in the race. Both Haefner and Curtman, who have said that they would have run for MO-2 had Rep. Ann Wagner (R) entered the Senate race, seem unlikely to have much chance at the nomination if AG Josh Hawley (R), who is being heavily recruited, enters. Hawley got a preemptive endorsement this week from another prospective rival, State Treasurer Eric Schmitt (R).

CA-50: The FBI has raided the offices of Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr.’s (R) campaign consultants and treasurer amid an investigation into Hunter. There are insinuations that Hunter illegally used campaign money for personal purposes, which led to him repaying $60K to his campaign fund.

IA-4: Spencer (pop. 11K) councilwoman Leann Jacobsen (D) will run against Rep. Steve King (R). King, a polarizing conservative, sits in a seat that was formerly light-red but stampeded right in 2016. King has also beaten back several strong challengers.

MA-3: State Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D) is the first person considering a bid for the open seat of Rep. Niki Tsongas (D). This strongly-Dem Merrimack Valley and MetroWest seat is expected to draw a crowded Dem primary.

NJ-11: Woodland Park (pop. 12K) Mayor Keith Kazmark (D) has announced his candidacy for the seat of Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R), joining Passaic County commissioner John Bartlett (D) and former federal prosecutor Mike Sherrill (D) in the primary. This historically-red exurban seat trended strongly left in 2016.

NY-11: Ex-Rep. Michael Grimm (R) may try to run against Rep. Dan Donovan (R) as a third-party candidate on the conservative line. Grimm, who was forced out of office due to an indictment over tax issues, is a favorite of one of Staten Island’s two warring GOP machines, that of ex-Rep. Guy Molinari (R). Donovan is not strongly identified with either the Molinari faction or its rival, that of ex-Rep. Vito Fossella (R), and that combined with his strong personal popularity makes him likely a prohibitive favorite in the GOP primary. However, a third-party Grimm bid could make this light-red seat more competitive in the general.

TN-2: State GOP official Ken Gross (R) will run for this open Knoxville-area seat. Gross says he intends to run on a “shoestring budget”, which likely means he will be a long-shot. Knox CE Tim Burchett (R) is considered the clear front-runner here, while State Rep. Jimmy Matlock (R) and businessman Brad Fullington (R) are also in the race.

State Offices:

CO-AG: Former state and federal prosecutor Amy Padden (D) is the latest candidate into this crowded primary. Padden joins State Rep. Joe Salazar (D), law school dean Phil Weiser (D), prosecutor Michael Dougherty (D), and attorney Brad Levin (D) in the primary. AG Cynthia Coffman (R) may seek re-election or run for Governor; Rep. Ken Buck (R) has been considered a possible candidate if Coffman chooses to vacate the seat.

CO-Treas: Routt County DA Brett Barkey (R) is the latest candidate into this crowded GOP primary. Interestingly, Barkey is the second candidate from his tiny remote county in the state’s northwest in this race, joining Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn (R). They join State Sen. Kevin Lundberg (R) and State Reps. Justin Everett (R) and Polly Lawrence (R) in the contest; State Rep. Steve Lebsock (D) is considered the likely Dem nominee.

GA-Ins Comm: Jim Beck (R), former CoS to retiring incumbent Ralph Hudgens (R), has filed to seek his old boss’s seat. Nonprofit exec Cindy Zeldin (D) is in the race on the Dem side.

NM-Lands Comm: State Sen. George Munoz (D) will run for the open Lands Commissioner seat. Munoz joins what is becoming a crowded primary of ex-Lands Commissioner Ray Powell (D) and nonprofit exec Garrett VeneKlasen (D), who has the backing of Sen. Martin Heinrich (D). Incumbent Aubrey Dunn (R) is running for NM-2 and no Republicans have as yet declared interest in the seat.

NV-Treas: Ex-Las Vegas Councilman Bob Beers (R), who lost his bid for re-election earlier this year over parochial land-use issues, will run for State Treasurer. Beers is the first candidate into the race, which is expected to be open; incumbent Dan Schwartz (R) is considered likely to run for Governor.

OK-Lab Comm: A pair of candidates have entered the race for Oklahoma Labor Commissioner, as Cathy Costello (R) announced she would seek the seat. Costello is the widow of ex-Labor Commissioner Mark (R), who was killed by their mentally disturbed son in 2015, and sought the interim appointment that went to placeholder Melissa McLawhorn-Houston (R). She joins State Rep. Leslie Osborn (R), who upgraded her candidacy from “considering” to “in” last week.

OK-Supt: Campaign finance charges against Superintendent Joy Hoffmeister (R) that were filed last fall have been abruptly dropped without explanation. Hoffmeister was alleged to have improperly coordinated with outside groups to run attack ads against then-incumbent Janet Barresi (R), whom she defeated in the 2014 primary.

SC-AG: South Carolina AG Alan Wilson (R) is in hot water after emails from 2014 surfaced in connection with the ongoing scandal around lobbyist Richard Quinn (R). Wilson allegedly consulted Quinn on how to remove a special prosecutor from the corruption investigation as the course of the investigation was beginning to target some of Wilson’s close allies.

TX-Supreme Court: This is a worthwhile long read on Texas State Supreme Court Justice Don Willett (R), who is a far bigger star than his low-profile position would indicate because of his mix of strong political skills (exemplified by his very popular @justicewillett twitter) and solid legal scholarship. Willett is rumored to be in the running for a federal court seat (possibly even a long-shot SCOTUS pick) or for the Texas AG job if indicted incumbent Ken Paxton (R) leaves it.

Local Races:

Jersey City-Mayor: Ex-State Rep. Charles Mainor (D) will not run for Jersey City Mayor and is dropping down to a city council race. The decision leaves the race a two-man affair between incumbent Steve Fulop (D) and attorney Bill Matsikoudis (D); Fulop is considered a potential US Senate candidate should he win re-election.

Raleigh-Mayor: The Wake County Democratic Party has given its official endorsement to attorney Charles Francis (D) in his bid to unseat mayor Nancy McFarlane (I). McFarlane, a left-of-center Indie, has received the endorsement in her prior re-election bids; she still has significant Dem establishment support against Francis in the October race.

Anne Arundel, MD-CE: County Commissioner John Grasso (R) will challenge incumbent Anne Arundel CE Steve Schuh (R) in next year’s primary. Grasso is upset about an appointment to the county’s liquor board…a decision that Schuh had no control over. Thus, this primary challenge seems likely to be somewhat quixotic. The decision also takes Grasso out of a (likely equally quixotic) primary run against popular Gov. Larry Hogan (R).


Political Roundup for August 16th, 2017

Last Night’s Results

AL-Sen: Former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore cruised to a first-place finish in a low turnout Senate Republican primary race, and he will face appointed Senator Luther Strange in a runoff. Meanwhile, Democrats avoided a Some Dude beating their preferred nominee, former US Attorney Doug Jones.

UT-3: Provo Mayor and former Democrat John Curtis won the Republican primary here over former state Rep. Chris Herrod, who had received a lot of conservative endorsements. He will face physician Kathie Allen (D) and Jim Bennett, son of the former US Senator, in the next round.

In FL-LD-44, Winter Garden councilman Bobby Olszewski (R) will face businessman Paul Chandler (D) in an October general for this purple seat.


Trump: Another poll with upside-down national approval ratings, this time at 35%-55% from Marist.


AL-Sen: Rep. Mo Brooks, the third place finisher in last night’s special Senate primary, will not endorse either Strange or Moore.

NV-Sen: Facing a primary challenge from Danny Tarkanian, Sen. Dean Heller (R) finally admitted he did, in fact, vote for Trump last November. Maybe that will help in the primary, but hard to see Jacky Rosen stifling a grin about this admission.


TX-27,35: A federal court panel has thrown out two Texas congressional districts. One of them, Corpus Christi’s TX-27 represented by the salacious Rep. Blake Farenthold (R), was said to underrepresent Hispanic voters. Another, Rep. Lloyd Doggett’s TX-35, was said to be designed with race as the primary determinant of its boundaries, which happened to pack Democratic voters into the Austin-based district. The lines must be redrawn for 2018, and the Texas Attorney General’s office has 3 days to inform the court if the Texas legislature will try to tackle the task. The particularly surprising thing to me is that they did not order any more changes for TX-23, where Rep. Will Hurd (R) holds a very carefully crafted swing seat.

KS-2, KS-Gov: Former Minority Leader and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis (D) will run for the open 2nd congressional district. That also means Davis is out for a gubernatorial bid in this open seat. We currently rate this seat as Lean Republican.

AL-5: Coming off his defeat last night in the special US Senate election, Rep. Mo Brooks (R) announced he will run for reelection last night. He took about 43% in the 3-way race in his own seat, so he should be fine in a primary.

WI-1: Paul Ryan’s primary opponent, Paul Nehlen, apparently believes PizzaGate was a real thing. I’m sure we will see a similar massive blowout in this primary as we did in 2016, when Ryan won by 68 points.


AL-Sen & UT-3 Primary Liveblog

10:57 ET:  We are going to call it a night with Utah results continuing to trickle in, but here is where we stand:  Former State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore won the Republican primary in AL-Sen.  He is the odds on favorite to win the runoff against Senator Luther Strange (R-Trump).  The Democrats avoided another Alvin Greene style fiasco by nominating serious candidate Doug Jones.  In UT-3, Provo Mayor John Curtis (R) leads the Republican primary pretty comfortably.

10:53 ET:  Does the anti-Trump Republican vote go for Moore or just stays home in AL-Sen Republican Runoff?

10:48 ET: UT3 appears to be pretty steady with little over half in: Curtis 43, Herrod 30, and Ainge 27.

10:33 ET:  Brooks came as close as you can to endorsing someone without endorsing Moore.  Strange is DOA.

10:28 ET: Mo Brooks will run for reelection in 2018.

10:23 ET: We will have a runoff in ALSen on the Republican side, but we are calling the first round for Moore.

10:18 ET:  We have a large dump in from Utah… Curtis 44%, Herrod 29%, and Ainge 27%.

10:13 ET:  AP and NYT join RRHElections and calling a Moore Strange runoff.  It looks like Moore will win the most votes, but there is a chance Strange wins still.

9:53 ET:  How much does Strange need to narrow the margin to have a realistic chance against Moore in the runoff?

9:50 ET:  Not sure what is going on, but DDHQ shows a slightly tighter race than AP/NYT.

9:42 ET: Less than 20 minutes until Utah-3 closes.

9:30 ET: With 1/3 of the vote in, Moore is at 41.4% with Strange at 31.3%.  Brooks is at 19.1%.  We can probably rule out Brooks making the runoff as well.

9:10 ET: With 15% and it being disproportionately from Representative Mo Brooks’ 5th CD, it looks like we can rule out a Brooks victory and most likely can call a Moore / Strange runoff.  We will wait to see more before calling the latter as their is a slim chance that Moore could clear 50%.

9:05 ET: DDHQ has called the Democrat primary for Jones. Democrats will avoid having the embarrassment of fake RFK Jr as their senate candidate.

8:59 ET:  The first place Democrat, Jones, is getting fewer votes than Brooks.

8:44 ET: The results are slowing coming in and Roy Moore’s lead continues to shrink while we are settling into a 38-30-22 spread between Moore, Strange, and Brooks.

8:24 ET: Alabama does not have early voting so approximately 95% of the vote was likely cast today.

8:19 ET:  Roy Moore and Robert Kennedy are in the lead in the first results.

8:00 ET: Polls have just closed in Alabama. As we wait for results to come in please enjoy this musical prelude HERE

Results: AP (AL) | NYT (AL) | DDHQ (AL-GOP) DDHQ (AL-Dem)|| AP (UT) DDHQ(UT)


Political Roundup for August 15, 2017

Programming Update:  Tonight at 8pm Eastern Time, we will have our live blog coverage of the Alabama US Senate and UT-3 primaries.

As Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un has backed off his threat to tip Guam over and Trump gave his most composed address ever, it is time for today’s roundup:


Pardon:  President Trump (R?) is pondering a pardon of former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio (R-Border Wall).  Arpaio was recently convicted of criminal contempt for failing to follow a state court judge’s order barring his deputies from making traffic stops specifically to enforce immigration laws.

France:  French President Emmanuel Macron (Corporate Center-Left) continues to lose support as his approval ratings are in the mid-30s.  Macron seems to be suffering due to voters realizing that behind the hype that very few voters actually want a socially liberal fiscal moderate to conservative.


AL-Sen: Leading up to today’s special election primary, President Trump (R?) is making robocalls for Senator Luther Strange (R).  Trump originally tried to stay out of the race, but has increasingly getting behind Strange.

MI-Sen:  My name is Kid Rock… I mean Robert Ritchie.  Rockstar Kid Rock (R) would most likely not be able to run under his stage name, but some variation of his legal name.  That said, if Kid Rock cannot get voters to know who Robert Ritchie is by election day, he deserves to lose.

CO-7:  Representative Earl Perlmutter (D) is reconsidering his decision to not seek reelection.  Perlmutter recently dropped out of the Democratic nomination race for Governor and announced he was not seeking reelection as well.  If Perlmutter decides to run for Congress again, he would be the strong favorite to win the primary and general.

FL-19:  Representative Francis Rooney (R) could not get enough of battling slimy characters during Congressional sessions so he spent the summer recess catching invasive pythons in the Everglades.  Rooney killed 5 during the hunt.

VA-6: Peter Volosin (D), a political novice, will challenge Representative Bob Goodlatte (R).  Volosin appears to be running on the same generic “politics isn’t working” so lets be Bold Progressives despite having 8 years of a Democratic president recently shtick that many others are doing.


AL-Gov:  Governor Kay Ivey (R) will likely run for a full term as Governor.  Ivey became Governor when former Governor Robert Bentley (R) was ran out town for being a crook.

PA-LG: State Senator David Argall (R) wants to take part in a shotgun wedding… I mean he wants to run for Lt. Governor of Pennsylvania.  Argall is one of three candidates considering a run for the Republican nomination. The other two are former state Representative Gordon Denlinger (R) and former Revenue Secretary Dan Meuser (R).


AL-Sen & UT-3 Primary Preview

Two congressional seats are up for primaries this week, one Senate and one House. Polls close at 8ET in Alabama and 10ET in Utah; our liveblog starts at 8.

AL-Sen (R, D): Alabama is the lone Senate seat up for election this year; Gov. Kay Ivey (R) moved the special election for this seat up from 2018. Essentially all the action for this race is on the GOP side, where nine candidates are facing off, five of them serious. Click HERE for our poll of the race from last week if you haven’t seen it already.

Luther Strange

Appointed incumbent Luther Strange (R) made a somewhat, well, strange, decision in regards to this race. Despite the fact that as AG his office was investigating then-Gov. Robert Bentley (R) for covering up a sex scandal, Strange accepted an appointment to the Senate from Bentley. The appointment decision was in spite of the fact that Strange had statewide name recognition that would have made him the prohibitive favorite for an open seat race. Strange’s handling of the appointment, which raised blindlingly obvious questions of impropriety, has become a major liability for him in this race. And with the race moved up from 2018, he doesn’t have a lot of Senate service record to distract from the appointment mess. Indeed, Strange has been in a tight 3-way race; he is polling well below 50%, taking second place with 29% in our poll. There is even a small chance he could be boxed out of the runoff, as some polls have shown him dropping in recent days. However, Strange does have some significant advantages; he retains strong establishment support, which has enabled him to swamp his rivals in both his own and outside fundraising. In particular, McConnell-aligned forces have been boosting Strange with saturation advertising portraying him as the most loyal Trumpist in the race. Trump also gave Strange a late endorsement, but it’s unclear if that has gotten enough play to make a major difference in the race.

Roy Moore

Ex-State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R) is Strange’s most likely runoff rival. If Strange has baggage of a typical political-insider nature, Moore has equal baggage in his out-of-the-mainstream ideology. You may remember the “Ten Commanments Judge” episode last decade, when Moore’s first stint on the state Supreme Court ended with his removal after he refused to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse. After being re-elected to the court in 2012, Moore was removed again over ordering state officials to disregard SCOTUS’s Obergefell decision. Moore has a dedicated base of social conservatives, but is something of a one-note character on religious issues, making him a tough sell to less-devout Republicans. His incredibly polarizing nature means his odds of winning a runoff are probably fairly long; Strange would likely prefer to face him in the second round, and thus Moore has largely been spared attacks in advertising to date. In our poll, he held a small lead with 31% on the backs of his strong evangelical base, which will probably be enough to get him to a runoff. Were Moore to emerge with the nomination, that may be the only way this general election in deep-red Alabama becomes competitive; while Moore has won statewide before, he has run well behind Generic R.

Mo Brooks

If Moore is the candidate of the social conservative anti-establishment, the fiscal conservative anti-establishment has its standard-bearer in Rep. Mo Brooks (R). Brooks is in his fourth term representing the Huntsville area; he is a staunchly antiestablishment conservative who won his congressional seat by primarying out a party-switching Rep. Additionally, Brooks has been aligned with the Tea Party faction in the House and an antagonist of leadership. Leadership has returned the enmity by hitting Brooks hard in a lot of their spending on Strange’s behalf. Most notably, Brooks has been hit relentlessly for his support of Ted Cruz in last year’s primary over Trump and skepticism (like many conservatives) of Trump’s conservative and personal bona fides. The adds seem to have had the desired effect: Brooks’s poll numbers are relatively weak and he has been polling well behind Moore for the second spot. He is likely to have a strong base in his north Alabama district, but may struggle with name recognition across the rest of the state. Overall Brooks has a very slight chance to make the runoff (probably by boxing out Strange) but seems more likely than not to come in third, as he was at 18% in our poll and around ten points behind both Strange and Moore.

Trip Pittman

Two other candidates are unlikely to make the runoff but are serious enough to draw a significant number of votes. State Sen. Trip Pittman (R) is the final established pol in the field. He hails from the Mobile area, a unique geographical base. Pittman has fundraised credibly; however, his low name recognition and the short time frame have largely prevented him from being a real threat to advance. Pittman is a relatively antiestablishment conservative, so his votes (8% in our poll) will probably come out of Brooks’s base. That combined with his complementary geographical base on the opposite side of the state likely means his major effect in the race is to spoil Brooks’s chances of making a runoff.

Randy Brinson

The final serious candidate appears to be physician and evangelical activist Randy Brinson (R). Brinson has some social conservative support as he formerly led the state’s chapter of the Christian Coalition; he is as staunch a social conservative as Moore, but takes a less combative approach to the same priorities. While Brinson likely has no chance to make the runoff or even break out of low single-digits, polling at the asterisk-level 2% in our poll, he may get a small number of votes out of Moore’s pocket.

Doug Jones

Across the aisle, Clinton-era ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) is the only serious Democratic candidate, though he does face 6 non-serious Some Dudes. Unlike other Dem special election candidates this year, Jones so far hasn’t attracted much national enthusiasm as Alabama’s deep-red and inelastic nature has tempered any Dem enthusiasm for a pickup here – and that lack of enthusiasm could even create problems for Jones in the primary. It would be embarrassing for him to be held to a runoff, let alone not come in first. But the limited polling of the Dem side suggests that is very possible.

Robert Kennedy

Jones’s main complication in this primary is the fortunately-named but otherwise totally non-serious Some Dude Robert Kennedy (D). Polling has even shown Kennedy, who is not running a serious campaign by any measure, within striking distance of even avoiding a runoff, which would be an Alvin Greene-level embarrassment to the state’s Dems. Assuming Jones ultimately emerges with the nomination, Democrats are searching for any wins wherever they can find them and enthusiasm for him may increase. And thus there is a chance the race could heat up before the December general, particularly if the polarizing Moore is nominated – though even Moore’s statewide base has been enough for him to narrowly but consistently prevail in his judicial races. Of course that all assumes Jones doesn’t blow this race before it even begins. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

UT-3 (R): UT-3 is a very Republican (but Trump-unfriendly) seat around Provo vacated by Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R). It covers the southeast quarter of the state, but substantially all the population is in the Provo area and its suburbs, along with a small slice of southern Salt Lake City exurbs. Three Republicans are facing off in the primary for this seat, and it seems like all have a chance to win.

John Curtis

Provo Mayor John Curtis (R) is generally considered the nominal front-runner. As Mayor of Provo since 2009, Curtis is probably the candidate with the highest name recognition. He has also placed first in both fundraising and the one recent poll of the race. However, he has liabilities; Curtis was a Democrat from 2000 until 2006, during which time he ran for State Senate and was even County chair for a period. If that’s not enough to throw suspicion on his conservatism, his two terms as Mayor has meant that he’s had to compromise on ideological purity many times. That said, this district, while conservative, is far from firebrand in its sensibilities, and Curtis’s moderate profile may not be the albatross here it is in similarly red seats. Curtis has also led his rivals by a large margin in funding.

Chris Herrod

From the other side of the party ideologically, antiestablishment-leaning ex-State Rep. Chris Herrod (R) won the endorsement at the convention. Herrod was appointed to the House in 2007, when he beat out none other than John Curtis for the job. Herrod ran against Sen. Orin Hatch (R) in 2012, but was eliminated at the convention. In 2016 he ran and lost against incumbent GOP State Sen. Curt Bramble – the man Curtis lost against as a Democrat in 2000. Politically, Herrod is perhaps the most antiestablishment candidate, very critical of illegal immigration of the major candidates and in manner and choice of words. He is probably also the one closest to Donald Trump. Herrod’s fundraising has been mediocre, but his antiestablishment leanings and official party support could be major assets in a low-turnout race, as he is likely to be a favorite of the engaged activist community.

Tanner Ainge

Attorney Tanner Ainge (R) is the third candidate in the race and something of a wild card. Ainge, the son of Boston Celtics manager Danny, gathered signatures to avoid the convention and has partially self-funded his bid. Ainge seems to be striking a middle ground between Curtis’s moderate profile and Herrod’s antiestablishment conservatism, selling hismelf as both a mainstream conservative and a political outsider – a profile that has been very successful in Utah, which has an unusual predilection for selecting pols with no prior experience. Ainge has also had some outside advertising support and a somewhat surprising endorsement from Sarah Palin. Overall, Curtis is probably a nominal front-runner, but it would be very easy to see any of these three candidates coming out on top.

Kathie Allen

The primary winner will face physician Kathie Allen (D), a bold progressive who briefly gained some netroots enthusiasm (and cash) when she was running against Chaffetz, in November. Allen seems a poor fit for the district and shouldn’t present any of Herrod, Curtis, or Ainge much trouble. However, a third party candidate, Jim Bennett (I), son of ex-US Sen. Bob (R), might present somewhat more of a challenge if his campaign gains momentum. Bennett would likely have the best odds against Herrod, the Republican who seems most likely to entice moderates to defect. But even then the odds of swimming against the deep-red tide of the seat would still be very long for Bennett. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

There is also one legislative special tomorrow. FL-LD-44 is an R+6 (2012) seat covering southwest Orlando suburbs between Disney World and the Florida’s Turnpike. Four Republicans are facing off; three have a chance to win. Chamber of Commerce official John Newstreet (R), a former US Senate staffer, has raised the most, while former Winter Garden councilman Bobby Olszewski (R) has more local establishment support. Businessman Bruno Portigliatti (R) also has a strong chance to win as he has self-funded a significant amount. The fourth candidate, physician and former county commission candidate Usha Jain (R), seems less serious. The primary winner will face businessman Paul Chandler (D) in an October general.


Political Roundup for August 14th, 2017

Check back at 3pm today for our AL-Sen and UT-3 previews!

Big Picture

Third Party: I really want to figure out which consultants are about to make a lot of money on this pipe-dream, though I already have a few suspects. To explain, a bunch of Never Trumpers and a few Democrats are trying to organize a third party around Alaska Governor Bill Walker (I). As with all other such efforts, this one will prove futile, but will employ a few people for long enough that they can get that new BMW or pay their ridiculous mortgage until they can find another job because Jeb! didn’t get elected President. If this sounds like a No Labels redux to you, you’re on the right track. Oh, and if any actual politicians come out of this, they’ll likely run as Democrats, just like those that came out of No Labels did.


AL-Sen: Trafalgar is out with a poll of the Alabama special Senate election Republican primary, and they show a 35-23-20 Moore-Strange-Brooks race. That’s a much closer race for the second runoff spot than had previously been shown by most other pollsters.

AZ-Sen/AZ-09: It looks like we have a classic switcheroo in progress; this time it’s between Rep. Kirsten Sinema (D) and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D). Sinema will likely run against Sen. Jeff Flake (R) and Stanton, who was previously thought to be in the Senate race, will drop down and run for Sinema’s likely-to-be-vacated House seat.

ME-Sen: We all know that PPP likes to cause as much trouble for Republicans as possible with their poll questions, so of course they polled Sen. Susan Collins (R) against ‘Someone Else’ in a hypothetical primary. Collins trails 28-62 in the impossible match-up, which makes for a catchy headline. However, it doesn’t really mean much unless someone decides to run against her. Making that situation happen is I’m sure what PPP wanted to do.

MI-Sen: Well, I can’t believe I’m writing this sentence, but it seems that if Kid Rock (R) decides to enter the race for Senate in Michigan, he’ll have establishment backing. Senate Leadership Fund, which is a McConnell-backed group, has been making approving noises about a Rock run. What’s even crazier is, I think that’s the smart move. Politics is strange, folks.

WV-Sen: Rumors are swirling about a plan to flip a Senate seat by giving the Secretary of Energy position to Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and have newly-minted Republican Gov. Jim Justice appoint a Republican in his place. The only problem that I see with this plan is that they’ll have to find current Sec. of Energy Rick Perry another job.

CO-07: I smell a rat. Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D), who dropped out of the gubernatorial race and announced his retirement at the same time, is now looking at running again for his current seat. I’m guessing that someone else wants to be set up for the seat and can’t do it in 2018, so they’re somehow convincing him to stay one more term to give them time to get ready. They’d also likely be someone involved with his gubernatorial campaign, or they would have already been running. Maybe he just changed his mind, but I doubt it.

PA-07/PA-08: This one is pretty funny. The DCCC has set up websites denouncing Reps. Patrick Meehan (R) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R) for not holding town halls. I don’t know about you guys, but setting up attack websites is such a waste of time and money that I consider any campaign that does it (and promotes it with Google text ads!) to be losing almost by default. They can’t find great candidates, so they’re flushing away donor money trying to drive up Meehan’s and Fitzpatrick’s negatives.

DCCC: Pop the popcorn, folks! This is a good one. After D-Trip Chairman Rep, Ben Ray Lujan (D) stated that the party would not rule-out backing pro-life candidates, a brush-fire broke out among the left-wing commentariat. This one isn’t over. I’m fully expecting Lujan to eventually cave.


FL-Gov: State Sen. Jack Latvala (R) has officially announced his long-rumored gubernatorial campaign. Latvala is known as something of an independent wildcard (some would say RINO) in the legislature. If nothing else, his primary against State House Speaker Richard Corcoran and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam won’t be boring now that he’s involved.


FL-HD-44: The FLDP has got to be one of the worse state parties in the country relative to its state’s PVI on either side of the aisle. Here’s a case in point: A state representative got a judgeship, so his seat is open. It’s Republican-held, but Hillary won it by 6,000 votes. However, several credible Republicans are raising large sums and campaigning hard for it, while one Democrat has gotten in and raised less than $4,000. Read the article. It’s a great rant on this point.

Voter Fraud: As a wise man once said ‘when you play stupid games, you get stupid prizes.’ That’s definitely true for the subject of this article. In order to meet his quota for registering voters on behalf of the Virginia Democratic party, a college student at James Madison University in Harrisonburg decided to just register everyone on a walk sheet. He made up many of the details, including Social Security Numbers. He also didn’t check to make sure that the voters were still alive, so he ended up registering 18 dead people. The local registrar’s office caught one of the forgeries and ran with it. The forger has been given 100-120 days in jail after a plea agreement. It’s worth noting, though, that if the registrar hadn’t recognized the name of someone she knew was dead, these dead people would have been newly registered and ready to vote.


Weekend Open Thread for August 11-13

As the US and North Korea glare at each other and hurl threats for 1,000th time, here’s some questions to ponder over the weekend:

  1. Of the current swing states, which one are you most sure will be solidly Republican in 20 years? Which one will be solidly Democratic? Which state that’s currently not a swing state will be one in 20 years?
  2. Which House recruit for each side has impressed you the most so far this cycle? Which race has each side whiffed on the most in terms of recruiting so far?

And because it’s the weekend, here’s some musical accompaniment.


Political Roundup for August 11, 2017


TN-Sen/TN-6: State Sen. Mark Green (R) will not run for any higher office next year. Green had previously announced a run for governor earlier this year, but suspended that bid while he was under consideration to be Secretary of the Army. He later withdrew his name from consideration, but did not restart his campaign for governor. Sen. Bob Corker (R) has not yet said whether he is seeking re-election, but some had hoped Green would challenge him or run for the open seat if Corker does not run fro re-election. There was also some speculation Green might run for TN-6, which Rep. Diane Black (R) is giving up to run for governor.

TX-Sen: Former Corpus Christi Mayor Dan McQueen (R) is challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the Republican primary. Running for Senate seems like a curious choice for McQueen after he resigned from his job as Corpus Christi Mayor earlier this year after spending just 37 days on the job. Among other things, McQueen is running on reducing the size of Congress to about one representative per 1 million people(the current average is about 1 per 711,000).


FL-6: Former state Rep. Fred Costello (R) is planning to run for Congress, but only if Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) decides to run for governor. Costello has run for Congress twice before, losing to DeSantis in the 2012 and 2016 Republican primaries.

IN-4: Diego Morales, an Army veteran and a senior advisor to VP Mike Pence when Pence was governor is running for this now open seat. Morales is the first candidate to announce plans to run since Rep. Todd Rokita announced on Tuesday he is running for US Senate.  Also, state Sen. Brandt Hershman (R) announced on Facebook he is not running.

MA-3: Dan Koh, chief of staff to Boston Mayor Marty Walsh (D) hasn’t said anything publicly yet about running for this newly open seat, but of he does, he has the full support of his current boss. Walsh says he is “100 percent behind” Koh running for the seat. Koh, whose name was mentioned in connection with the seat after Rep. Niki Tsongas (D) announced her retirement Wednesday has said in the past that he has considered running for Congress or another elected office.

TN-6: Former Tennessee Agriculture Commissioner John Rose (R) has announced he will run for Congress next year. Rose served as Ag Commissioner from 2002-2003 and also has been involved with the Tennessee State Fair Association and owns a business that trains IT professionals. Rose joins state Rep. Judd Matheny (R) in the GOP primary. Political strategist Scottie Nell Hughes, an ardent supporter of President Trump has also expressed interest in the race.


AL-Gov: State Senate President Del Marsh (R) will run for re-election to the state Senate and not run for governor. Marsh had been considering getting into the governor’s race, but said he wanted to wait until Gov. Kay Ivey (R) decided whether or not to run. Ivey says she is close to making a decision.

CO-Gov: Former Colorado State athletic director Jack Graham is considering running for governor, but wants to be sure he can win the Republican primary. Graham says he is a “different kind of candidate” who favors limited government and a strong defense but who is also pro-choice, pro-gay rights and favors some forms of gun control. He ran for US Senate last year, finishing a distant second behind Darryl Glenn in the Republican primary.

CT-Gov: Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano will not join the crowded GOP primary for governor. A gubernatorial bid by Fasano could have set up an awkward matchup between the Republican leaders of both the House and Senate with House Minority Leader Themis Klarides still deciding on a potential bid. 3 Republicans are already running with 3 others having formed exploratory committees, and others like Klarides could still join the race.

ME-Gov: Former state Rep. Diane Russell (D) is joining the Democratic primary for governor. Russell identifies herself as a “hardcore progressive” and favors single-payer healthcare. She was also a supporter in the Legislature of legalizing recreational marijuana and was also a supporter of the ranked-choice voting initiative. She joins 6 other Democrats in the primary.

MD-Gov: Krish Vignarajah, a former policy director for Michelle Obama, is joining the Democratic nomination for governor. However, questions have been raised about whether she meets Maryland’s residency requirements to run. Candidates must have been a registered voter in the state for 5 years, and while she says she registered to vote in the state as early as she was able, she also registered to vote in the District of Columbia in 2010 and voted there in 2014. She says she never voted in more than one place at a time, and doesn’t think being registered in more than one place precludes her from meeting the requirements.


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