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Political Roundup for December 6th, 2017

Well, the President of the United States and the RNC have both officially endorsed a sexual predator for a US Senate seat. Political participation these days feels like a game of Russian Roulette in which every chamber of the revolver is loaded.

Last Night, Keisha Lance-Bottoms (D) won the Atlanta Mayor’s race by 1% (759 votes), Brad Hart (R) held Cedar Rapids Mayor for the GOP, and Robb Pitts (D) was elected Fulton County, GA Executive. Republicans picked up a State Senate seat in MA-SD-Worcester & Middlesex with Dean Tran (R), Wendy Carillo (D) took CA-LD-51, and the Dems easily held PA-LD-133. Margaret Good (D) won the nomination in FL-LD-72. Georgia Democrats elected in D-on-D runoffs Jen Jordan (D) in SD-6, Nikema Williams (D) in SD-39, Kim Schofield (D) in LD-60, and Bee Nguyen (D) in LD-89.

President/the Bigger Picture

The Great Sort (or not?): The Economist analyzes recent data regarding American political attitudes from Pew Research. It finds that, while the partisan gap regarding the role of government has widened, Americans broadly agree at an unprecedented level on two electorally influential notions: 1) homosexuality should be accepted, and 2) immigration is a positive force. The magazine also claims that, despite many theses to the contrary, Americans have not been moving to certain areas to be around fellow members of their political party.

Blame Canada (or at least Eastern Europe): ICYMI, President Trump re-tweeted anti-Muslim videos last week (surprise!). Fittingly, ABC‘s Nightline was inspired to take a look at the alarming popularity of white nationalism among the European youth (particularly within the former USSR). With Generation Y being split between the alt-right and Corbynism, our children and grandchildren are all screwed.

The Donald and the GOP: Totally loyal lifelong conservative Republican Donald Trump will definitely be loyal to the GOP. He won’t try destroying it, even if it doesn’t do whatever he wants, whenever he wants.

The President’s Taxes (no, not like that): Lyin’ Quinnipiac finds that 53% of Americans disapprove of the GOP’s efforts to update the tax code. Just 29% support them. For context, the pollster notes that those numbers are more dreadful than both Obamacare and Clinton’s tax hikes upon their first times being polled.

Congress

AL-Sen: The RNC has decided to go on a second date with God’s Gift to the World Roy Moore (R-His Selective Conceptions of Morality) after daddy lowered his shotgun barrel.

More AL-Sen: Clearly not attracted the idea of having a child predator in the Senate, Republican Senator Jeff Flake (R-Mesa) did the only thing he could do when Steve Bannon (“R”-his Alt Reich) decided to “gift” a trojan horse to the party: he donated to Democrat Doug Jones (D-Birmingham).

#LockHimUp: Doug Jones told a crowd at a Mobile rally that False Prophet Roy Moore (R-Gadsden Mall) belongs in jail, not the US Senate.

MI-13: US Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit) is retiring to spend more time creeping on nurses at the old folks home. Accordingly, his Detroit West Side/Downriver/Western Wayne County seat is open for the first time since the court-ordered 1964 redistricting.

TX-05/TX HD-04: State Rep Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) has thrown his ten-gallon hat into the ring in the race to replace outgoing Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas).

The States

CA-Gov: Looking to shore up the moonbat vote, bold progressive State Treasurer John Chiang (D-Los Angeles) is attacking Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-San Francisco). Why? Obviously because Newt Gingrich praised his his 2013 book, Citizenville, for advocating the improvement of government through technology. Of course, Chiang neglected that several prominent Democrats, including former President Bill Clinton, also praised Newsom’s book.

CT-Gov: Connecticut Democrats will need to find a new governor next year; incumbent Dannel Malloy (D-Stamford) has realized that the only election he would win these days is a Bob Saget look-alike contest. Accordingly, Nutmeg State Democrats held a symposium at which bold progressives were able to quiz prospective candidates. What purpose did the gathering serve? Attendees used it to discern which contender is the most #woke on pressing issues: the #fightfor15 and hosing the rich.

IL-Gov: Courtesy of pro-life warrior and Madigan stooge Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton), Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner (R-Winnetka) is currently locked in a war on two fronts: his social right and his fiscal left. Rauner did not mince words in blasting his primary opponent as a “fringe candidate who betrayed our party.”

The F—ing Golden Governor: Ostensibly to settle questions about campaign finance law, several prominent Democrats in Illinois’ congressional delegation have asked SCOTUS to look into the sentence of disgraced ex-governor Rod Blagojevich (D-Federal Prison).

Harry Lewis and the News: ICYMI, PA State Rep. Harry Lewis (R) will retire from his Coatesville-based, Clinton +24 State House seat at the end of his term. The seat moves to Safe D.

Atlanta Mayoral Preview & Liveblog

Results: AP (GA) || Cedar Rapids Gazette

11:50 ET-Bottoms has a 759 vote lead with 100% of precincts counted. The margin is close enough however that she has not been declared the winner

11:15 ET-A huge vote dump in Atlanta puts Bottoms ahead 51-49 with 90% counted.

10:38 ET-Results for Atlanta are starting to come in-Norwood leads 52-48 with 13% of precincts counted.

10:00 ET- I’m going to cut bait on Atlanta as there is literally nothing coming in. If other mods are around later the post may be updated, otherwise check back for results in tomorrow’s roundup.

9:55 ET- And Cedar Rapids has been called for Hart.

9:50 ET- 38/45 in for Cedar Rapids, Hart is up to a 54-46 lead.

9:45 ET- Still basically zilch from Atlanta. In Cedar Rapids, Brad Hart (R) is leading Monica Vernon (D) 53-47 with 28/45 precincts in.

9:00 ET- Can’t find results yet but people are saying on twitter that Dean Tran (R) has picked up MA-SD-Worcester & Middlesex. In less exciting legislative news, Democrats have easily held PA-LD-133 and Good (D) has won the primary in FL-LD-72.

8:45 ET- Norwood has won the early vote in DeKalb, covering a little under half the white-liberal east side, 62-38.

7:00 ET- Polls have closed in Georgia.

Today there is an election for Mayor of Atlanta as well as for county executive in Fulton County, which covers most of the city. Plus there is a mayoral election in Cedar Rapids, Iowa and a few legislative specials. Atlanta polls close at 7p ET and we will have a brief liveblog in this thread.

Atlanta Mayor: Atlanta’s mayoral race is the big contest today, and a highly competitive one. The city has a population of 475K, roughly 50% Black and 40% White, and a PVI of D+29. Atlanta has four major socioeconomic areas, which are conveniently clustered around the north, south, east, and west parts of the city. The northern part of the city is known as Buckhead, a wealthy urban to inner suburban neighborhood that has historically been the origin and piggybank of the Georgia GOP, though it has been trending left recently. The eastern part of the city, which includes the downtown area, is a historically-black area that has become gentrified in recent years and is now largely upscale liberal whites. The western part of the city is overwhelmingly black and largely poor, though it does have some middle-class areas near the western edge. Finally, the southern part of the city is also overwhelmingly black, but more middle-class, though it does have some poor areas closer to downtown. Councilwoman Keisha Lance-Bottoms (D) came in first in the preliminary round with 27% and was initially thought the clear favorite in the runoff. Lance-Bottoms is a mainstream black establishment liberal, and she came in surprisingly strong in the primary despite a highly fractured field with many ideologically-similar candidates. In particular, she was dramatically boosted by the endorsement of outgoing incumbent Kasim Reed (D) and the support of his network, which allowed her to dominate the first-round vote on the south and west sides. In the runoff, she has casting herself as the true Democrat in the race and the champion of the city’s black vote, a playbook that worked for Reed 8 years ago, and she has like Reed received strong state and national Dem establishment support. Lance-Bottoms’s runoff opponent is the same as Reed’s was, councilwoman and 2009 candidate Mary Norwood (I). Norwood lost the 2009 runoff to Reed in a squeaker by 714 votes. That 2009 campaign featured extensive campaigning from the state Democratic party on Reed’s behalf, casting the white Norwood as a closet Republican. That characterization is sincerely overblown; to the extent Norwood’s ideology can be identified, it’s probably best described as Bloombergish pro-business centrism. But directly opposite Bloomberg, Norwood is unapologetically small-ball in focus, eschewing major initiatives of any type in favor of a focus on local and neighborhood concerns. In a city where right-of-center candidates don’t have any real shot, that means Norwood is a natural fit for the city’s GOP minority and upscale Buckhead residents. But she came in second in November with a somewhat weaker than expected 21%, and there weren’t obvious reservoirs of Norwood voters among the eliminated candidates, who were generally more liberal. Thus, Lance-Bottoms had been pegged as a very strong favorite. However, Norwood’s campaign has had a very good few weeks since the primary. While Lance-Bottoms has been endorsed by just one of the six eliminated candidates (who got 4%), Norwood has picked up three major endorsements: from white liberals Cathy Woolard (D) and Peter Aman (D) and black mainstream liberal city council president Caesar Mitchell (D). Their three vote shares together total 37% in addition to Norwood’s own 21%. Norwood also got an important endorsement from black 2000s-era ex-Mayor Shirley Franklin (D). It seems as though Lance-Bottoms’s ties to Reed are proving a double-edged sword, as the runoff has pushed many anti-Reed Democrats out of the woodwork and into the Norwood camp. To pull the upset, Norwood will likely need white liberals on the east side to move to her, and some crossover appeal from middle-class blacks; the Woolard, Aman, and Mitchell endorsements suggest that route is significantly more viable than it seemed just a couple weeks ago. Polls have been very close and it now seems like either could win.

Fulton, GA-CE: The other big election is also in the Atlanta area, for the Fulton County Exec post. Fulton County is an oddly-shaped snake that covers almost all of the city of Atlanta (except a small part of the east side) as well as two large chunks of suburbs in the north-central and southwest parts of the metro. It has a black plurality and a PVI of D+19. Two Dems are contesting the runoff. The slight front-runner looks like ex-county commissioner and 2014 CE candidate Robb Pitts (D). A longtime local pol, Pitts, who is black, served on the Atlanta council before losing a 2001 mayoral bid. He then won a swingy white-majority commission seat and held it through several competitive races. Pitts is a somewhat moderate liberal with mavericky tendencies; he has habitually voted against county budgets on the commission. Pitts’s intraparty rival is State Rep. Keisha Waites (D). Waites is also a mainstream liberal with some moderate tendencies. Her main difference with Pitts is generally style, as she is a much more easygoing type of pol. Pitts led the first round 38-34 with the remainder of the vote going to a Republican, so he looks like a very slight favorite in the second round; however, Waites could easily surprise.

Cedar Rapids, IA-Mayor: I’ll also say a few words about the mayoral runoff in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Cedar Rapids, Iowa’s second largest city, is smaller city than we normally cover (130K), but today’s race is interesting enough to mention. The city, which is 90% white and has an agribusiness-based economy, has a PVI of D+10. The Mayor’s seat is open as incumbent Ron Corbett (R) is running for Governor, and today there is a D vs. R runoff. Councilwoman and 2016 IA-1 nominee Monica Vernon (D) led the 8-way first round in November with 30%. She is squaring off against attorney Brad Hart (R), who took 20%, taking second place by just 64 votes. Both Vernon and Hart are attempting to run as moderates; the race is hotly contested and could go either way. Because of the lean of the city and energized D base I would call Vernon a slight favorite, but Hart has strong establishment support and could prevail as well.

Today is also a busy day for legislative specials, with eight seats up in five states, a trio of generals in California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, a primary in Florida, and four D-on-D runoffs in Georgia.
CA-LD-51 is a D+36 seat covering the northeast part of LA proper, including the middle-class Hispanic Eagle Rock and Mount Washington areas, along with some poorer heavily Hispanic areas around Dodger Stadium and the monolithically Hispanic slumburb of East LA. This is the seat vacated by now-US Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D). 2017 CA-34 candidate Wendy Carillo (D) is the front-runner. Carillo got some buzz for her story of being a former illegal immigrant, and has some far-left support in this race. She led the first round 22-19 over 2012 candidate and zoning board member Luis Lopez (D), who took 40% in the 2012 general against Gomez. Both candidates have significant establishment support, but the fault lines are somewhat interesting. Carillo’s backing seems to come from unions (she got a key early endorsement from the SEIU) and the network around State Senate Pres. Kevin DeLeon (D), who represents the area. Carillo secured big endorsements from DeLeon and Gomez. Lopez’s backing, conversely, seems to come from the more socially-liberal and moderate elements in the party, including several LA city councilors and social liberal groups like Planned Parenthood and the Sierra Club. As Carillo’s side of the party would seem to be stronger in this poor, heavily Hispanic district, I’d peg her as a slight favorite, but Lopez could surprise, especially if white turnout is high.
MA-SD-Worcester & Middlesex is a D+3 seat around Fitchburg and Leominster along with some nearby exurban and rural areas. Leominster councilwoman Sue Chalifoux-Zephir (D), an establishment liberal, looks like a moderate favorite over Fitchburg councilman Dean Tran (R), who narrowly lost a House special in 2016, and a credible centrist Indie in Leominster councilwoman Claire Freda (I), though an upset by either Tran or Freda is within the realm of possibility.
PA-LD-133 is a D+4 seat covering inner suburbs immediately north and east of Allentown as well as the western (Lehigh County) part of Bethlehem. Jeanne McNeill (D), widow of the prior incumbent, is the strong favorite over perennial candidate David Molony (R), who was the nominee for this seat in the last 4 general elections.
FL-LD-72 is the lone primary, for an R+3 seat covering eastern Sarasota proper and most of its suburbs. Attorney Margaret Good (D) has the strongest establishment support and looks like a moderate favorite over businesswoman Ruta Jounari (D), who is attempting to run to the left on a BernieBro platform. The winner will face James Buchanan (R), not the President but the son of Rep. Vern (R), in a competitive February general.
GA-SD-6 is a formerly R-held D+7 seat (though Romney carried it) covering the wealthy Buckhead neighborhood of northern Atlanta and parts of the mostly-upscale suburbs of Sandy Springs to the north and Vinings and Smyrna to the west. The race is a guaranteed Dem pickup as five Republicans split the vote and allowed two Dems to advance. Attorney Jen Jordan (D) has the strongest Dem establishment support, including endorsements from Daily Kos and Jon Ossoff, and took first place in November with 24%. She faces dentist and 2016 nominee Jaha Howard (D), who lost this seat by a much smaller than expected 4-point margin last year and took second with 22% in November. Howard is slightly more moderate and probably picks up a majority of the GOP vote, so he is probably the slight favorite in the runoff.
GA-SD-39 is a black-majority D+36 seat stretching an absurd bacon strip from upscale black-majority suburbs west of Hartsfield Airport (among the nation’s wealthiest black-majority areas) through poor urban ghettoes west of downtown Atlanta, and finishing in upscale white liberal areas of Buckhead. State Dem official Nikema Williams (D), a member of the GADP’s top leadership, led legislative staffer Linda Pritchett (D), who lost a State House primary by 60 votes in 2016, by a 35-32 margin in November. There is no clear favorite in the runoff.
GA-LD-60 is a D+42 seat covering black-majority inner suburban areas immediately east of Hartsfield airport. Nonprofit exec Kim Schofield (D) led charter school exec and former school board candidate Deandre Pickett (D) 36-35 in the first round; there is no clear favorite in the runoff.
GA-LD-89 is a D+43 seat covering the black-majority inner suburban southwest corner of DeKalb County near Gresham Park. Strangely enough, the runoff is between two Asian-American candidates. Nonprofit exec Bee Nguyen (D) surprisingly led the first round 40-34 over attorney Sachin Vargese (D), who had stronger  establishment support. I would peg Nguyen as a slight favorite.

2017 General Election Previews, Part 1: Legislatures & Miscellany

Today we are kicking off our 3-part general election preview series, with legislative races and miscellaneous other contests (mostly at the county level, but also the NYC Council). Part 2 tomorrow will cover Mayors and Part 3 on Monday will cover marquee races in NJ, VA, and NYC.

VA State House: The Virginia House of Delegates is generally considered to be the highest-profile chamber up this year. Republicans hold a whopping 66-34 majority in the House, but the map is starting to look like something of a dummymander as Hillary carried 51 of the 100 seats. That situation combined with the energized Dem base has led Democrats to be very hopeful for gains here, and a large number of races are seriously contested. There are around 25-30 seats that are at least somewhat competitive, almost all of them R-held. However, given the huge GOP advantage you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone other than the most optimistic Dem partisan who thinks Dems have more than a tiny chance of taking the chamber. CW seems to be betting on a high single-digit D gain as the most likely outcome, with D+5 or less a good night for Republicans and D+10 or more a good night for Democrats. Because not one but two other truly excellent previews of these races have been written already, I’m not going to duplicate them, but rather I will simply link to Geoffrey Skelley’s writeup from UVA as well as Miles Coleman’s 6-part series at DDHQ. FWIW, they’re both worth a read for comparison purposes, as Skelley seems to forecast somewhat smoother sailing for Republicans than Coleman.

UVA Crystal Ball || DDHQ1 || DDHQ2 || DDHQ3 || DDHQ4 || DDHQ5 || DDHQ6

County Races: There are also 10 miscellaneous county-level races worth a mention, most of them county executive races across New York State.

Nassau, NY-CE: Nassau County covers a swath of central Long Island and remains the archetypal microcosm of American suburbia. While mostly middle-class suburbs, it does have some poorer pockets, particularly in Hempstead and Freeport, and some very wealthy pockets along the North Shore. Nassau has a population of 1.3M and a PVI of D+2 (2016), though one can not talk about Nassau without mentioning its legendary Republican Machine (side note: THIS is among the best pieces of political writing ever. If you haven’t read it do so.) For generations Nassau County has been dominated by a machine of hackish RINOs who have held onto power at all (figurative and literal) cost. The County Executive’s job is open this year after incumbent Ed Mangano (R), as archetypal a Nassau machine hack as they come, was indicted on corruption charges. Democrats are enthusiastic about their chances to take the seat back (though, it should be said that they were also enthusiastic about beating Mangano in 2013, which ended in a surprisingly easy Mangano victory). Attempting to hold the seat for the GOP is ex-State Sen. and 2016 NY-3 nominee Jack Martins (R). Martins, a well-regarded former Mineola mayor and State Senator from a purple seat, is considered a strong nominee for the GOP, though his congressional run last year fell flat amid anti-Trump sentiment in his upscale district. At the local level though, Martins has proved adept at using his machine backing. Martins has picked up a number of surprising endorsements, including from many labor groups – not only the more conservative public safety unions, but several typically liberal civil service unions as well. Martins’s rival is county commissioner Laura Curran (D). Curran has been a mainstream liberal on the commission, but has been on mediocre terms with the local machine. That profile seemed a good one for Democrats this year hoping to cast the race as a referendum on Trump and Mangano. The big question in this race is whether Martins’s local establishment support and crossover appeal can counterbalance the greater trends in favor of Curran, and right now there is no obvious answer. The two have fundraised essentially equally, and each has released an internal with themselves in the lead by roughly 5 points, with the one public poll showing a 2-point edge for Martins. Needless to say, overall there appears to be no clear favorite.

Fulton, GA-CE: Fulton County is an oddly-shaped snake that covers the city of Atlanta as well as two large chunks of suburbs in the north-central and southwest parts of the metro. It has a black plurality and a PVI of D+19 (2016). Three candidates are squaring off in a special election to fill the seat of John Eaves (D), who resigned to run for Atlanta Mayor; it is in a Louisiana Rules Top Two format. The slight front-runner looks like ex-county commissioner and 2014 CE candidate Robb Pitts (D). A longtime local pol, Pitts, who is black, served on the Atlanta council before losing a 2001 mayoral bid. He then won a swingy white-majority commission seat and held it through several competitive races. Pitts is a somewhat moderate liberal with mavericky tendencies; he has habitually voted against county budgets on the commission. Pitts’s intraparty rival is State Rep. Keisha Waites (D). Waites is also a mainstream liberal with some moderate tendencies. Her main difference with Pitts is generally style, as she is a much more easygoing type of pol. Republicans are also seriously contesting this seat, with a credible contender in Sandy Springs councilman and former congressional staffer Gabriel Sterling (R). Sterling is a moderate conservative and considered a rising star in the party. Though he is facing tough terrain, Republicans held this seat as recently as 2006. Turnout differences and crossover support thus mean Sterling’s chances should not be discounted. There is no clear favorite in this race; a runoff seems likely and any two could advance.

Westchester, NY-CE: Westchester County covers NYC’s northern suburbs between the Hudson River and Long Island Sound. It is wealthy for the most part and the bulk of the county consists of some of the nation’s most upscale suburbs. However, it also includes some poor urban areas in Yonkers, New Rochelle, and Mount Vernon, among others, and a few scattered more lower-middle-class pockets. It has a population of 975K and has been trending left for some time, reaching a PVI of D+16 (2016). Incumbent Rob Astorino (R) won this seat in a considerable upset in 2009. Astorino is a staunch conservative by the standards of the NYC suburbs, but his tenure as county executive has proven successful, especially in his favorable resolution of a long-running fight between the county and HUD over affordable housing options. Astorino has also been successful at not raising property taxes (though they are still by far the highest in the nation). Unsurprisingly, he has been considered a rising star in broader GOP circles, especially after an easy win over a credible rival in 2013. He received the GOP nomination for Governor in 2014 and is seen as certain to consider a second bid against Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) in 2018. That position as a potential Cuomo rival, as well as strong anti-Trump sentiment in the county, has led Democrats to become more enthusiastic about taking him out this year. State Sen. George Latimer (D) is the Democratic choice to take on Astorino. Latimer, a mainstream liberal, was considered a strong candidate, as he has won several tough elections and locked down a purple State Senate seat. This year, Latimer’s biggest help is from the deep-blue lean of the county and the highly energized state of the upscale liberal base (which comprises a huge portion of the Westchester electorate.) However, Latimer’s campaign has suffered a string of embarrassing headlines in recent weeks. First, it came out that Latimer owes $48K in back property taxes. Then it came out that Latimer missed a key Senate vote for a vacation… with his mistress, a local judge with whom the married Latimer has been having a longtime (and not so secret) affair. And if that wasn’t enough, Latimer’s car registration has also been revoked over unpaid parking tickets (and yeah, he’s still driving the car anyway). These embarassing issues for Latimer have gotten plenty of exposure, as Astornio has dramatically outspent Latimer. With the deep-blue lean of the county and energized liberal base counteracting Astorino’s strong personal brand and Latimer’s weak campaign, overall there appears to be no clear favorite.

Rockland, NY-CE: Rockland is a D+2 (2016) county of 325K in the northwest NYC suburbs. Rockland is mostly middle-class suburban areas with two major exceptions: Spring Valley and Haverstraw are poor slumburbs, while the west-central part of the county is the center of a huge and rapidly growing Orthodox Jewish enclave. Said Orthodox community has caused a number of contentious issues in the county with its rapid growth, insular ways, and strong political influence by bloc voting for chosen candidates. Incumbent Ed Day (R) is seeking a second term. Day has been more adversarial toward the Orthodox community than most pols, which meant his 2013 victory in spite of their opposition was a significant upset. But conversely, that means Day was able to get a significant amount of Dem crossover support. His tenure as County Executive has been regarded as generally successful, and Democrats only recruited a “C” lister into this race in prosecutor Maureen Porette (D). Porette is a relatively standard-issue liberal who seems an unpolished candidate for the relatively high-profile race. Day is a fairly strong favorite, but there is a possibility Porette could build an unlikely coalition of the bloc vote and high liberal turnout to pull the upset.

Orange, NY-CE: Orange County is an R+4 (2016) county of 375K in the mid-Hudson valley. It stretches from Newburgh and West Point to Middletown and Port Jervis, covering a mix of small towns and exurbs. Incumbent Steve Neuhaus (R), a fairly typical establishment moderate-conservative, is seeking a second term. Democrats are running business consultant and veteran Pat Davis (D), who seems “C” list. As this area, like almost all of Upstate NY, tends to be more Republican down-ballot and large portions of the Dem base here are lower-turnout minorities, Neuhaus looks like a fairly substantial favorite. However, there is a chance high liberal enthusiasm this year could lead to an upset.

Rensselaer, NY-CE: Rensselaer County covers the city of Troy and the middle-class eastern suburbs of the Albany metro area; it has a population of 160K and a PVI of R+2 (2016); however, the county has a strong Republican heritage and Democrats have rarely mounted serious campaigns for this seat. As such, State Rep. Steve McLaughlin (R) is the front-runner for the open seat. A firebrand conservative, McLaughlin explored runs for multiple offices in the last few years without pulling the trigger. He has also used his powerless State House minority seat as a bully pulpit for scathing criticism of Gov. Cuomo (If you are not following Steve McLaughlin on Twitter you are really missing out). Needless to say, this profile has not endeared him to the moderate and transactional local Republican machine. However, he narrowly won a hard-fought and nasty primary against the machine choice, and has since received grudging support from the machine; he thus looks like a moderate favorite. Dems are running  nonprofit exec Andrea Smyth (D), who seems rather “C” list, but might have a slight chance to pull the upset if leftover wounds from the primary and high liberal enthusiasm combine.

King, WA-CE: King County, covering Seattle and most of its suburbs, is the 13th-largest county in the US, with a population just a hair over 2M. It has a PVI of D+23 (2016). This race is fairly boring; incumbent Dow Constantine (D), a mainstream liberal who is considered likely to run for Governor in 2020, is seeking a third term. Constantine took 78% in the primary and faces only token opposition from perennial candidate Bill Hirt (R), who has run non-serious campaigns for the State House twice and for Governor in 2016.

Philly-DA: Philadelphia also has a DA election. Philadelphia has a population of 1.5M and a PVI of D+33 (2016). Public Defender Larry Krasner (D) won a plurality victory with heavy Soros backing in the primary. Krasner is a favorite of the SJW set and promises to pursue left-wing soft-on-crime initiatives as DA. He remains the strong favorite to take the office; however, he is facing a credible Republican in prosecutor Beth Grossman (R). Grossman has had some notable crossover support from moderates as well as the endorsement of the police union, which gives her a small but not totally zero chance of pulling an upset — notably, though Philly hasn’t elected a GOP mayor in 70 years, it elected Republican DAs as recently as the 80s and DINOs have occupied the DA’s office since. However, due to Philly’s deep-blue lean and the energized liberal base Krasner looks like a very strong favorite. Philly City Comptroller is also up; mayoral aide Rebecca Rynhart (D) looks like a prohibitive favorite.

Suffolk, NY- DA & Sheriff: Suffolk County covers the eastern half of Long Island; it has a population of around 1.5M and a PVI of R+4 (2016). Both the DA and Sheriff seats are open; the county D and R machines have typically been on very amiable terms and divided the seats between them – since 2001, Republicans haven’t mounted a serious run for DA and Democrats have not mounted a serious campaign for Sheriff. The pattern looks set to repeat this year, though to not quite the same extent. For DA, Police Commissioner Tim Sini (D) had looked like a very strong favorite over former prosecutor Ray Perini (R), though the indictment of the outgoing Dem incumbent could give Perini a narrow opening. For Sheriff, University police chief Larry Zacarese (R) won a shocking upset in the GOP primary over a machine-backed State Senator and now looks like the favorite in the general election. Zacarese is now the favorite over Errol Touolon (D), an official in New York City’s NYPD who has lost races for a State Senate and a county commission seat by large margins. Toulon was a last-minute entry for Dems after their prior nominee dropped out and doesn’t look particularly serious, but could have a tiny chance with high liberal turnout.

Douglas County, CO School Board: There are also key school board elections in Douglas County, an R+10 county of 300K covering wealthy exurbs and rural areas south of Denver. The main issue is an attempt to establish a school choice voucher program, which was struck down by the State Supreme Court as violating the state’s Blaine Amendment prohibiting public spending on religious schools. The school board appealed to SCOTUS and the case has been remanded to the state in light of the recent Trinity Lutheran ruling that invalidated certain restrictions on religious groups receiving state funds. Here’s where the election comes in: the current board has a 4-3 majority in favor of continuing to pursue the voucher program. The current majority has all decided to stand down and they are backing a slate of new candidates known as “Elevate Douglas County”. Conversely, the anti-voucher side (branding itself “Community Matters”) says it will end the lawsuit if it gets a majority. The three anti-voucher incumbents are not up this year, meaning that if one of the four seats up flips the program will end. The race has attracted national attention and money and there is no clear favorite between the slates. Note: RRH Elections strongly supports the Elevate Douglas County slate.

Flip over for the NJ Legislature, NYC Council Races, and Legislative Specials!

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Political Roundup for May 17, 2017

Election Results:  Ralph Norman won the Republican primary runoff in SC-5 by a razor-thin margin, which will lead to a recount. Kay Kirkpatrick won the Georgia SD 32 runoff with a healthy 58% of the vote.   Wendy Brawley won the South Carolina HD 70 Democratic runoff.  Two non-machine candidates won the Democratic nominations in Philadelphia for District Attorney and Controller.  Lawrence Krasner (D-Bold Progressive) and Rebecca Rhyhart (D) will likely be the next District Attorney and Controller respectively.  Bill Peduto (D-Bike Lanes) is on his way to a second term as Mayor of Pittsburgh after winning the Democratic primary easily. Finally, in Los Angeles, councilman Gil Cedillo (D) won re-election and Monica Rodriguez (D) won an open seat.

The news a bit light as President Trump is sucking the oxygen out of our political circus with his growing dumpster.

President/National

Governed by a Child:  David Brooks (Scarsdale Republican) articulated what I have been saying for months about Trump in a recent NY Times piece… Trump is not an authoritarian, Nixon, populist or corporatist, but is nothing more than an infant leading the most powerful nation in human history incapable of exercising any form of self-control.  While I think Brooks comes off as a smug elitist at times, he is on point.

Watergate:  Senator John McCain (R-War Hero) is calling the level of “odd behavior” to put it mildly coming from the White House as reaching Watergate levels.  You need 2/3 to convict a president in an impeachment trial.  The Democrats have at least one Republican flirting with the idea.

Comey:  With an alleged memo floating around where former FBI Director James Comey noted that President Trump asked him to stop investigating  former DNI Director Flynn’s love affair with Mother Russia, House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R) is going to subpoena said memo if it exists.

Democrats:  While the current occupants of the White House resemble a burning ship adrift, Democrats with presidential ambitions were dancing around down the street trying to appease potential decisionmakers in the anointing of a new Democratic champion if Hillary Clinton gives up her death grip on the Democratic Party.

Congress

Obamacare/Trumpcare/Moderatecare:  A bipartisan group of moderate senators is pushing a proposal to keep Obamacare afloat despite the respective caucus leaders engaging in taunts of the other saying their caucus is united.  It is not clear what the compromise bill will look like or whether it would ever make it to the floor for a vote.

NY-27:  Representative Chris Collins (R) faces an ethics inquiry into investments he made in an Australian biotech firm.  The Office of Congressional Ethics did not comment, but allegedly they are investigating Collins.

International

UK-Labour:  While the new Rome burns, the Labour Party wants to tax the British people at levels not seen since the time Clement Attlee was Prime Minister.

 

SC-5 & Pennsylvania Liveblog

Results: SC-5  (AP) || SC-5 (DDHQ)  || PA (AP)  || GA-Senate 32(Cobb)  GA-Senate 32(Fulton)

10:15 ET – I am going to call it an evening as the only outstanding races of interest are PA-Superior Court (Republican Primary) and PA-Commonwealth Court (Democratic Primary).   We will have an open thread from here on regarding the Los Angeles races.

9:47 ET – Philly machine death watch… Krasner gets the check for DA and Rhynhart gets the check for Controller.

9:45 ET – With another dump in GA Senate 32, I am going to call it for Kilpatrick (R) with 89% in from Cobb and 100% in from Fulton.

9:37 ET – We might be seeing the first signs of the death of the Philadelphia Democratic machine as two candidates not considered machine candidates are winning DA and Controller with 57% in.

9:33 ET – Cobb has dumped 50% of the precincts as Kilpatrick remains up 58-42 in Cobb, which means that Kilpatrick is up by approximately 56% to 44%.  This looks like Kilpatrick will hold this for the Republicans.

9:30 ET – All of Fulton has been counted in GA-Senate 32 and Kilpatrick remains up by about 10%.  Cobb still has 72% of its precincts to report.

9:30 ET – Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto (D-Bike Lane) has received the check with 66% of the vote with 50% counted.

9:25 ET – Bold Progressive Philly DA candidate Lawrence Krasner (D) is out to a 16 point lead with 42% in.

9:10 ET – Back to GA Senate 32… Kilpatrick remains up with 28% in from Cobb and only early votes in Fulton.

9:08 ET – Norman has won the SC-5 Republican runoff.

9:06 ET – In Pennsylvania, it appears the Democratic endorsed candidate for Commonwealth Court, Todd Eagen, is polling 4th right now.

8:48 ET – Norman is up by approximately 400 votes with 51 precincts remaining.

8:42 ET – Norman is down to 1% lead over Pope, but the remaining precincts are in Pope favoring York County.

8:40 ET – Pope and Norman are within 10 votes of each other with 2/3 in.

8:27 ET – Norman has taken the lead in SC-5 according to DDHQ.

8:15 ET – There appears to be a glimmer of hope for Norman in SC-5 as the results continue to narrow and his areas are just starting to heavily report.

8:07 ET – Pope’s lead is narrowing as 1/3 of the results are in. Pope leads by 4%.

8:03 ET – In Georgia State Senate District 32, Kilpatrick (R) leads Triebsch (D) 58% to 42% as the first results roll in.

8:00 ET – Pennsylvania has closed.

7:50 ET – With 7% in, Pope leads Norman 58% to 42% in SC-5.

7:41 ET – Turnout is supposedly low in the Pennsylvania primaries today, which close at 8pm Eastern.  I was the 14th Republican to vote and 25 voter overall in my ward at 915 AM.

7:33 ET – Ryan_in_SEPA here for the liveblog.  Pope still has a 60 vote lead as the early vote starts being counted.

7:30 ET- I will be turning this over to Ryan_in_SEPA for the rest of the night.

7:19 ET- Pope is now up 54-46 with York early votes coming in.

7:13 ET- Norman leads pope 69-66 in the first early votes.

7:00 ET- Polls have now closed in SC-5 and Georgia.

SC-5 Runoff & Pennsylvania Primary Preview

Tomorrow there is a congressional runoff in South Carolina as well as a mayoral race in Pittsburgh and assorted other contests across Pennsylvania, along with a pair of LA City Council runoffs. Poll closing times are as follows in ET: 7- SC-5 & Georgia || 8- Pennsylvania || 11 – Los Angeles. Our liveblog will start at 7ET tomorrow, but first we are previewing the races here:

SC-5 Runoff (R): Today there is a GOP primary runoff in SC-5; This seat is the former seat of OMB director Mick Mulvaney (R) and covers the north-central part of the state. The biggest bulk of the population is in the Charlotte suburbs, but the seat also contains a swath of rural areas from Sumter to the outskirts of the Charlotte and Spartanburg metros. The seat has a PVI of R+10 (2016). Facing off this week are a pair of state Reps who basically tied in the first round, being separated by just 0.3%, or a little over 100 votes. As you might guess, that means that the runoff is set to be highly competitive.

Tommy Pope

Ralph Norman

State Rep. Tommy Pope (R) narrowly took first place over his rival, fellow State Rep. Ralph Norman (R), who unlike Pope resigned to run. Pope and Norman have generally been regarded as far more alike than different: they have represented districts a few miles away from each other in the Charlotte suburbs and have generally been mainstream conservatives in the State House. The differences in the first round mostly came down to emphasis; Pope tends to focus more on public safety while Norman is more focused on economics.

However, in the runoff, an ideological fissure seems to have opened, with Pope becoming the establishment choice and Norman taking up the anti-establishment mantle. Pope is the third-ranking Republican in the State House and has received outside support from the Chamber of Commerce. Conversely, Norman has said he would consider joining the Freedom Caucus and has received support from the Club for Growth and Erick Erickson. But don’t let the newfound buzz around this race from both sides cause you make a mountain out of that difference; both would overall qualify as mainstream conservatives and I would expect their hypothetical House records to be substantively identical.

There is no clear favorite in the runoff and most observers expect it to be very close. Norman has been better-funded (thanks to self-funding), and did better than expected in the first round. He has also picked up the endorsement of fourth-place finisher Chad Connelly (R), while the third-place candidate has not endorsed. So CW is that Norman may have a bit of momentum, and most observers would probably tilt the race to him ever-so-slightly. However, a victory for Pope would be wholly unsurprising as well. The winner will face Goldman Sachs tax attorney Archie Parnell (D) in the general; the seat has been a low priority for Dems but there is a chance that may change ahead of the June 20 general. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

Legislative Specials: Also in SC, there is also one special election this week. SC-LD-70 is a D+22 (2012) majority-black seat covering rural areas between Columbia and Sumter and a small piece of southeastern Columbia proper. School board member and 2016 State Senate candidate Wendy Brawley (D), who has the support of the late former incumbent’s family, led farmer Heath Hill (D), the only serious white candidate, 40-24 in the first round. Thus Brawley looks like the clear favorite in the runoff. Another state legislative special going on today is the runoff for GA-SD-32, an R+20 (2012), but likely much D-friendlier by 2016 numbers, seat in eastern Cobb County in the northern Atlanta suburbs. Attorney Christine Treibsch (D) led Physician Kay Kirkpatrick (R) 24-21 in April (when the election was consolidated with the high turnout GA-6 race). But Republicans took 60% of the vote in the preliminary, so Kirkpatrick should be favored unless Democrats are exceptionally motivated. The unusual date (even I thought this runoff was going to be with the GA-6 runoff on 6/20) may benefit Treibsch by lowering turnout and giving more weight to energized Dems.

Pittsburgh-Mayor: Pennsylvania is also holding its primary election tomorrow; in addition to the local and judicial races Ryan_in_SEPA will preview below, there is a Democratic primary for mayor of Pittsburgh. No Republicans are running so the winner will have a free ride. Pittsburgh is a city of 305K that is roughly 70% White and 25% Black; it had a PVI of D+22 in 2008. Incumbent Bill Peduto (D) is a bold progressive, and a favorite of that growing and high-turnout constituency. He has had a generally successful tenure as mayor, continuing the city’s transformation into a bona-fide urban cultural center from a gritty steel town. As a result, he looks like a very strong favorite for a second term against two challengers – it would be surprising if he did not take a strong majority of the vote tomorrow. Peduto’s main rival, city councilwoman Darlene Harris (D), is a somewhat more moderate Democrat, but she does have some real establishment support; surprisingly, Harris came closer than expected to beating Peduto for the county Dem party’s endorsement. However, Harris is known as a bit of a gadfly (posting photos of herself riding an elephant, and once accosting a bicyclist she says was not in the right lane). She also hasn’t been running a particularly professional campaign, as she doesn’t even have a website; thus, she looks likely to finish a distant second. Seminary dean John Welch (D) has been trying to get to Peduto’s left on economics; while he has a base in the black community, there isn’t a lot of room to Peduto’s left flank, and Welch’s conservative social positions make poaching white progressive support a long-shot. Thus, CW is that he is likely to come in third. Overall, anything besides an easy Peduto win would probably be shocking.

LA City Council: Two races on the LA City council will head to runoffs this week.
LAX-CD-1 is a heavily Hispanic seat that stretches from MacArthur Park near downtown northeast to the middle-class Hispanic Mount Washington area. Incumbent Gil Cedillo (D) was surprisingly sent to a runoff, falling short of the 50% mark by less than a point. Cedillo was known as “one bill Gil” in the state legislature for his single-minded pursuit of drivers’ licenses for illegal aliens, and unsurprisingly poor Hispanics are his core constituency. It looked like he might have a real fight on his hands with his runoff opponent, bike store owner Joe Bray-Ali (D). Bray-Ali was running on an anti-car hipsterish platform which might have played well with high-turnout white yuppies in the gentrifying district. But Bray-Ali’s campaign was torpedoed when he was unmasked as a racist internet troll, which led to the abrupt withdrawal of all his establishment endorsements. Cedillo now looks like the overwhelming favorite for re-election.
LAX-CD-7 is the only open race on the council this year. The seat is based in the largely poor and heavily Hispanic northeast quarter of the San Fernando Valley around Sylmar and Pacoima, but the remote middle-class white suburban neighborhood of Sunland-Tujunga makes up about a quarter of the district’s population, and will likely punch far above its weight in a low turnout race. City public works board member Monica Rodriguez (D) led city council staffer Karo Torossian (D) 30-17 in the first round. Both candidates have establishment support; Rodriguez is closely tied to Mayor Eric Garcetti (D), while Torossian has support from his boss, a councilor for a neighboring district, and the endorsement of the third-place finisher. Based on the first round results and the seat’s Hispanic majority, Rodriguez is most likely a mild favorite, but there is a decent possibility Torossian could surprise.

Thanks to Ryan_in_SEPA for the Pennsylvania previews below:

Pennsylvania voters will be going to the polls to determine nominees for various statewide judicial positions including Supreme Court, Superior Court and Commonwealth Court and numerous county and municipal races.

Supreme Court: Neither party faces a contested primary for Supreme Court as Republican nominee and interim Justice Sallie Mundy is running for a full term against Democratic challenger Dwayne Woodruff.  Chief Justice Thomas Saylor (R) and Justice Debra Todd (D) are running for retention in November.

Superior Court:  Both parties have five contestants for four nomination slots to move onto the November general election.  The Pennsylvania Republican Party endorsed Lancaster DA Craig Stedman, and Common Pleas Court Judges Paula Patrick (Philadelphia), Wade Kagarise (Blair), and Emil Giordano (Northampton) while Magistrate Judge Mary Murray (Allegheny) is running without the state party endorsement.   The Pennsylvania Democratic Party endorsed interim Superior Court Judge Geoff Moulton, Common Pleas Court Judges Debbie Kunselman (Beaver), Maria McLaughlin (Philadelphia), and Carolyn Nichols (Philadelphia) while former Senior Deputy Attorney General William Caye II is running without the state party endorsement.  Judge Jacqueline Shogan (R) is running for retention in November.  The endorsed candidates are heavily favored to clear the primary and head to the general election.

Commonwealth Court: Each party has two nomination slots being contested today.  The Republicans will not have a contested primary as Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Cannon (Delco) and municipal attorney Paul Lalley (Allegheny) are the only Republican candidates.  The Democrats are having quite the contest as there are 6 candidates running with only one, attorney Tom Eagen (Lackawanna), being the only one to receive the official backing of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.  Interim Judge Joseph Cosgrove (Luzerne), State Representative Bryan Barbin (Cambria), Common Pleas Judge Ellen Ceisler (Philadelphia), and attorneys Timothy Barry and Irene Clark are running without the state party endorsement.  Commonwealth Court is down in the weeds so its anyone’s guess, but I suspect that Eagen and Ceisler win the Democratic nomination.

Municipal Elections:  Voters across the Commonwealth will be voting in various county, municipal and school broad elections.  The most prominent municipal/county race is the primary for Philadelphia District Attorney, which involves the replacing of disgraced Bold Progressive turned DINO turned standard corrupt Democrat District Attorney Anthony Williams.  In a race that has garnered national attention with George Soros dropping significant cash behind attorney Lawrence Krasner (Bold Progressive).  Other prominent candidates on the Democratic side include former Deputy Mayor Rich Negrin (Police), former Deputy District Attorney and AUSA Joe Khan (Rendell-NOW), former Deputy Attorney General Michael Untermeyer (Lots of Advertising), former Deputy DA Tariq El-Shabazz (Tax Cheat), and former Deputy DA John O’Neil (Some Dude) and former Municipal Judge Teresa Carr Deni (Some Dudette) seeking the Democratic nomination.  Former Deputy District Attorney Beth Grossman is running unopposed for the Republican nomination.  Before Soros’ donation to Krasner, I rated this as a 3 way between Negrin, Khan and Untermeyer.  Now it is a 4 way battle for the Democratic nomination as the machine has stayed out of the race.  Philadelphia City Controller is somewhat competitive as Controller Alan Butkovitz, whose seeking a third term, is receiving a spirited challenge from former Philadelphia Chief Administrative Officer Rebecca Rhyhart for the Democratic nomination.  Otherwise this primary season has been surprisingly quiet.

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