First off today, there are a pair of elections to preview, one domestic and one international. There is just a single legislative special of note today, a primary for RI-SD-13, a D+17 (2016) seat covering most of Newport and all of Jamestown, on the next island to the west. Four Dems are facing off. School board member David Hanos (D) looks like the slight front-runner, as he has establishment support and the endorsement of the prior incumbent. but well-funded Newport councilman John Florez (D), attorney Dawn Euer (D), and state official David Allard (D) are all running serious campaigns and any could come out on top. The D primary winner should be favored in the 3-way August general over 2014 nominee Michael Smith (R), who lost by a respectable 10 points three years ago to the powerful prior incumbent (the then-Senate President), and center-left Gov. Chaffee admin official Kim Ripoli (I). There is also an NH House primary and a general, which we don’t cover as a quiet protest against the NH House’s insane size.
Today is also the general election in Bermuda. Bermuda is an island 650 miles east of the Carolina coast, with a total land area roughly 2/3 the size of Manhattan. It is a British territory, but has home rule powers that are in practice absolute in domestic policy, and even some foreign policy functions. Its population of 65K is roughly 60% black and 35% white. Offshore finance and tourism are the only economic drivers of significance; while Bermuda is extremely wealthy, that prosperity comes with an astronomically high cost of living (the average house price is $1M, for example). Bermuda has a 36-member parliament elected in the standard British first-past-the-post system. It has a two-party system of the incumbent center-right One Bermuda Alliance and the center-left Progressive Labor Party. The two parties tend to be quite evenly matched; 1985 was the last time either took more than 55% of the vote.The OBA had just a 19-17 majority in the outgoing parliament, and the election was triggered by two renegade OBA MPs breaking with the government and bringing it down. Reporting on the election is sparse, but the one recent poll of the election showed the OBA likely strengthening its hand. Now the (huge list of) the rest of the day’s news:
AZ-Sen: Trumpist forces, possibly including the White House itself, are seeking to target Sen. Jeff Flake (R) in the GOP primary. There are apparently two recruiting targets: State Treasurer Jeff DeWit (R) and ex-AZGOP chair Robert Graham (R), with ex-State Sen. and 2016 candidate Kelli Ward (R), who is already in the race, as a backup option. A bruising primary against Flake would likely be good news for Dems targeting this seat as a pickup opportunity; Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) are thought to be interested in bids.
MO-Sen: Rep. Vicki Hartzler (R) will not seek the Senate seat of Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). AG Josh Hawley (R) remains the GOP’s clear recruiting target for this race.
MT-Sen: State Auditor (Insurance Commissioner) Matt Rosendale (R) is “95 percent there” on a decision to challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D) and will likely decide within the month, according to unnamed insiders. Rosendale is clearly the GOP’s third option for the race against Tester after Rep. Ryan Zinke (R) was appointed interior secretary and AG Tim Fox (R) declined a bid. Rosendale, who has some self-funding ability, would likely be the front-runner in the primary if he entered, joining State Sen. Al Olszewski (R), judge Russ Fagg (R), and storage company owner Troy Downing (R).
WV-Sen: Former mining executive Don Blankenship (R), recently released from prison after serving a year for safety violations during his tenure, is considering a Senate run. Blankenship would join AG Patrick Morrisey (R) and Rep. Evan Jenkins (R) in the GOP primary; needless to say, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) would likely relish making the race a referendum on Blankenship’s polarizing nature in the state.
AL-Gov: At this point we need to start making lists of who isn’t running for Governor of Alabama. State Sen. Paul Sanford (R) says he has been receiving encouragement to run, as he is stepping down from the Senate due to self-imposed term limits. Sanford doesn’t sound too enthusiastic about the idea though, as he says he hasn’t raised any money and probably won’t enter the race. Should he enter the primary he could join the following candidates who are in or exploring the race: Ag Commissioner John McMillan (R), Auditor Jim Zeigler (R), PSC Chair Twinkle Cavanaugh (R), Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R), State Sen. Bill Hightower (R), businessman Josh Jones (R), and minister Scott Dawson (R). ex-State Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb (D) and Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D) are exploring runs on the D side. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) has not indicated her plans.
AK-Gov: State Sen. Mike Dunleavy (R) will run for Governor, becoming the first major candidate into the race. Centrist Gov. Bill Walker (I) has not indicated if he will seek re-election, and it is unclear whether either or both parties will seek to go after him aggressively should he seek a second term.
FL-Gov: State Sen. Jack Latvala (R) will presumably announce a run for Governor on August 16. Latvala, a moderate who is considered a kingmaker among insiders in Tallahassee but has little name recognition outside his Pinellas County base, would be a credible but long-shot primary contender against front-running Ag Commissioner Adam Putnam (R). State House Speaker Rich Corcoran (R) is also considering a run; Dems have a primary between ex-Rep. Gwen Graham (D), Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), and potentially multiple others.
IA-Gov: Retired businessman Fred Hubbell (D), a major Dem donor, is the latest Democrat into this primary, which is becoming ridiculously crowded. Hubbell joins State Sen. Nate Boulton (D), State Rep. Todd Prichard (D), ex-IADP chair Andy McGuire (D), former Gov. Vilsack CoS John Norris (D) ex-Iowa City Mayor Ross Wilburn (D), and 2014 State Auditor nominee Jon Neiderbach (D). If none of the candidates cross 35% of the vote, the nomination goes to a convention, and that is looking increasingly likely here.
ME-Gov: Ex-State House Speaker Mark Eves (D) has become the latest Democrat to enter this increasingly crowded primary. Eves joins appointed AG Janet Mills (D), 2008 ME-1 candidate Adam Cote (D), lobbyist Betsy Sweet (D), and veteran Patrick Eisenhart (D) in the Dem primary; LePage admin official Mary Mayhew (R) and appointed State Treasurer Teresea Hayes (I) are also in the race.
MD-Gov: As expected, left-wing State Sen. Rich Maladeno (D) is the latest Democrat to officially declare a run for the chance to take on Gov. Larry Hogan (D). Maladeno joins Prince George’s CE Rushern Baker (D), ex-NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous (D), attorney Jim Shea (D), and Hillary aide Alec Ross (D) in the primary.
NE-Gov: Moderate State Sen. Bob Krist will leave the Republican party and run against Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) as an independent, or more precisely, under a vanity third-party banner, which has lower signature requirements. The odds seem decent that Krist could become the de facto Democrat in this race, as no credible Dem has publicly indicated any interest in taking on the relatively popular Ricketts.
RI-Gov: State House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan (R) is considering a run for Governor. Should she enter, Morgan would face Trumpist ex-State Rep. Joe Trillo (R) in the primary; Cranston Mayor and 2014 nominee Allan Fung (R) is also thought to be considering a run. Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) may face Dem primary opposition as well.
WI-Gov: Nonprofit exec Mike McCabe (D) has become the second little-known Democrat to declare a run against Gov. Scott Walker (R), joining businessman Andy Gronik (D) in the primary. State Superintendent Tony Evers (D), Madison Mayor Paul Soglin (D), and State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D) are all considering runs as well.
WY-Gov: Businessman Bill Dahlin (R) is the first candidate to declare for Wyoming’s open-seat gubernatorial race. It’s still too early to speculate how serious a candidate Dahlin might be, as several bigger names such as ex-Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R), SoS Ed Murray (R), and Treasurer Mark Gordon (R) are all considering this race.
CA-39: Veteran and lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D), who won a $266M lottery jackpot in 2010, is running against Rep. Ed Royce (R). Cisneros’s presumable self-funding ability may make him an attractive candidate for this hitorically-Republican Orange County seat that Hillary carried.
CA-52: Republicans look set to at least have an interesting candidate to take on Rep. Scott Peters (D). Omar Qudrat (R), a former Guantamo prosecutor and Muslim of Afghani descent, will run for this seat covering much of San Diego proper. Qudrat faces long odds in a seat that was purple but has trended strongly left in recent years.
CO-4, CO-AG: Rep. Ken Buck (R) may run for Colorado AG if AG Cynthia Coffman (R) gives up her seat to run for Governor, citing a desire to return to Colorado and his background as a former DA. Buck would likely be the favorite for the GOP nomination for AG (and trigger a competitive primary for his deep-red House seat) if he ran.
FL-6: Bill Clinton admin official Nancy Soderberg (D) has filed to run for this fairly red Daytona Beach area seat, giving Dems a credible candidate. The seat is expected to be open as Rep. Ron DeSantis (R) has pledged a three-term limit; DeSantis is speculated to be interested in either a bid for Governor or Florida AG.
MI-11: Detroit city official Fayrouz Saad (D), who previously worked in the Obama administration, will run against Rep. David Trott (R). This light-red suburban Detroit seat is likely to be relatively high on Dems’ radars as a pickup opportunity, but it’s unclear if Saad is their choice recruit here.
NM-1: Immigration attorney Michael Hendricks (R) has become the second Republican to enter the race for this medium-blue Albuquerque seat, joining ex-State Rep. and 2012 nominee Janice Arnold-Jones (R). Democrats have a crowded primary for this open seat with ex-NMDP chair Deb Haaland (D), Albuquerque councilman Pat Davis (D), and ex-US Attorney Damon Martinez (D) seem the top candidates.
TX-23: Ex-Rep. Pete Gallego (D) has filed for a third matchup with Rep. Will Hurd (R) after coming up short in both 2014 and 2016. Gallego says that the outcome of upcoming re-redistricting that may affect this purple district in either direction will not have an effect on his decision on entering the race.
WV-2: Former congressional staffer and Hillary campaign operative Talley Sergent (D) will run against Rep. Alex Mooney (R). Mooney has underperformed in his two prior races but this very Trumpist district is tough terrain for any Democrat, particularly one tied to Hillary. However, Mooney made another strange decision recently by tapping sitting Maryland State Sen. Michael Hough (R) as his CoS, highlighting Mooney’s own craven carpetbagging across the Potomac. Hough will not resign his legislative seat to take the job with Mooney.
WV-3: Physician Ayne Amjad (R) is the latest candidate into this open-seat race covering southern West Virginia. Amjad will face ex-State Rep. and 2012 nominee Rick Snuffer (R), and potentially others, in the primary; State Sen. Richard Ojeda (D) is in the race on the Dem side.
State & Local:
CO-SoS: Jena Griswold (D), Gov. John Hickenlooper’s (D) DC liason, will run for Secretary of State next year. Griswold looks like the top Democratic choice to take on incumbent Wayne Williams (R) as she is receiving most establishment support. In tangentially related news, the Williamses may be on their way to replacing the divorcing Rep. Mike and AG Cynthia Coffman as the COGOP’s power couple, as Williams’s wife Holly (R) will run for a safely Republican seat on the El Paso County commission.
CO-Treas: State Rep. Polly Lawrence (R), who represents a deep-red seat in the Denver exurbs, will run for the open State Treasurer seat. Lawrence joins fellow State Rep. Justin Everett (R) and Routt County Treasurer Brita Horn (R) in the GOP primary. State Rep. Steve Lebsock (D) is considered the most likely Dem nominee for this open seat; incumbent Walker Stapleton (R) is termed-out and likely to run for Governor.
GA-Ins Comm: Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens (R) won’t seek a third term in 2018. Hudgens’s decision leaves a third Row Officer seat open in addition to the LG and SoS posts vacated by gubernatorial candidates. Hudgens’s top deputy, Jay Florence (R), quickly filed to seek the seat.
ID-Treas: Ada County Treasurer Vicky McIntyre (R) will run for the open State Treasurer seat, joining investor Kevin Jones (R) in this primary. Five-term incumbent Ron Crane (R) is retiring.
LA-Treas, LA-PSC-2: Qualifying closed for the Louisiana Treasurer special on Friday of last week, and there appear to be three major candidates: State Sen. Neil Riser (R), State Rep. John Schroeder (R), and Gov. Jindal admin official Angele Davis (R). One Some Dude Democrat also filed, and may be able to make the runoff on Dem votes but probably stands zero chance of winning. Qualifying also closed for the PSC-2 seat, a heavily Republican seat around Baton Rouge and Lafayette. Three Republicans signed up, Edwards-appointed incumbent Damon Baldone (R), who was a D State Rep. but filed as a “Republican”, ex-State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R), and physician Craig Greene (R).
MO-Aud: State House Speaker Todd Richardson (R) is preparing to run for State Auditor against appointed incumbent Nicole Galloway (D). Galloway is the only Democrat holding a Row Office in Missouri, a post she was appointed to after her Republican predecessor committed suicide. Richardson looks likely to be the front-runner for the GOP nomination.
OR-Lab Comm: Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian (D) announced last week that he would not seek a third full term in the nominally non-partisan post. Avakian has been known as one of the most aggressive Social-Justice-Warriors in high office, which led him to be polarizing even in his blue state and lose his bid to move up to SoS in 2016. Avakian’s most likely successor is probably one of his erstwhile rivals for the SoS post, ex-State Rep. Val Hoyle (D). Hoyle, a more mainstream liberal, already announced her intent to run, though she may face opposition from ex-State Sen. Diane Rosenbaum (D).
SC-LG: The South Carolina state ethics board has interestingly announced that it will allow LG Kevin Bryant (R) to continue to raise money for an election that won’t happen. Bryant is fundraising under a campaign for the LG job – but the state is transitioning in 2018 from a separately-elected LG to a presidential-style system where gubernatorial candidates pick their running mates. Apparently there is a legal fiction-slash-loophole that the money can be raised for Bryant to persuade someone to pick him as their running mate. More likely of course is that Bryant is planning to run for an office that has a real election (such as a primary challenge to Gov. Henry McMaster (R)) but doesn’t want to admit it yet.
CA-San Diego County-3: R-turned-I-turned-D ex-State Rep. Nathan Fletcher (D) will run for county supervisor next year in a seat covering central San Diego. Fletcher will likely face ex-DA Bonnie Dumanis (R) in what could be a high-profile contest.