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Political Roundup for November 20th, 2017

Over the weekend, ex-State Rep. John Schroder (R) won LA-Treasurer as expected, councilwoman LaToya Cantrell (D) won New Orleans Mayor, Covington Councilman Mark Wright (R) won LA-LD-77, and ex-federal prosecutor Conor Lamb (D) won the right to take on State Rep. Rick Saccone (R) in PA-18. In Chile, ex-President Sebastian Pinera of the center right will face Senator Alejandro Guillier of the center-left in a December runoff.

Congress

MI-Sen/MI-06: Well, I think that this turned out for the best. Rep. Fred Upton (R) has backed off of his Senate campaign and is running for reelection to his Southwest Michigan congressional seat.  Not having his district open next year can only help House Republicans, and he just wasn’t catching on in the primary for Senate.

MI-Sen Continued: With Upton out of the race, all eyes are now on frontrunner veteran/businessman John James (R). James still has a few notable primary opponents, including ex-State Supreme Court Justice Bob Young (R) and newly-entered businessman Sandy Pensler (R), but he’s polling ahead of them. He’s also African-American, so expect a bit more coverage than your run-of-the-mill Republican Senate candidate would get. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is a tough candidate to beat in any year, so James has his work cut out for him if he makes it out of the primary.

MN-Sen: If this opinion piece is at all representative of progressive opinion on the matter, we won’t be seeing any special Senate election fun in Minnesota. Sen. Al Franken (D) has been caught up in the wave of allegations of sexual misconduct that is currently sweeping the upper echelons of American public society. However, it seems like many are willing to close ranks around him not necessarily because he might be innocent, but because he votes the right way. This woman is just more honest about it than most.

TX-Sen: Some Dude Bruce Jacobson (R) is challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in the Republican senatorial primary next year. Jacobson doesn’t seem to have much of a platform aside from criticizing gridlock. Jacobson may be a Some Dude, but I expect he might actually might have a bit of funding because he’s a television producer for a Christian outlet.

IL-03: Off the Sidelines, a PAC linked to New York Sen. Kirsten Gellibrand (D) has endorsed Some Dude Marie Newman (D) in her bid to oust Blue Dog Rep. Dan Lipinski (D) in the Democratic primary for his seat, based in Chicago’s southwestern inner suburbs. This has fueled speculation that Gellibrand, who’s been an ideological chameleon since entering elected office, may be trying to burnish her progressive credentials ahead of the 2020 Democratic Presidential primary.

MD-07: This is from Gateway Pundit, so take it with a grain of salt. However, it’s fascinating if true. Rep. Elijah Cummings (D) may have colluded with elements of the IRS to suppress some Republican-friendly outside groups. It’s still early, but Cummings has been contemplating leaving the House in one way or another for a while now. This could be the push that finallyopens up his Baltimore-based seat.

NJ-05: Well-connected lawyer John McCann (R) has joined perennial candidate Steve Lonegan (R) in the race to take on freshman Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D). Trump actually narrowly won this district based in suburban, exurban, and rural North Jersey, so the moderate McCann might have a decent shot even in a good year for Democrats. First, though, he has to get by Lonegan, who rarely wins races, but does have high name recognition.

PA=15: Well, State Rep. Ryan Mackenzie’s (R) life just got a bit easier. Fellow State Rep. Justin Simmons (R), Mackenzie’s biggest stumbling block on the way to winning the Republican primary for this swingy open seat based in the Lehigh Valley, has dropped out of the race. Mackenzie isn’t out of the woods yet, though. He still has, at the least, a tough general election campaign ahead of him.

State/Local

CO-SD-27: In the current wave of sexual harassment allegations, at least a few are likely false or not representative of the person’s general behavior. It seems that this may be the case with the allegations against Colorado State Sen. Jack Tate (R). Multiple women who work alongside him have spoken out in defense of his conduct. It looks like Democrats will have to wait until 2020 if they want to try and take Tate’s Centennial-based seat.

FL-Leg: I think that Ryan may be right in his oft-repeated prediction that the tsunami still has yet to rush in on the sexual misconduct allegation phenomenon. 97% of Florida political insiders surveyed by the Tampa Bay Times seem to agree with both of us. What’s interesting is that it’s so nearly unanimous. They can’t all know about the same single offender. Expect more open legislative seats in next year’s election than are currently forecast.

VA-Leg: Democrats in the Old Dominion are still trying to flip the House of Delegates. They plan to file for recounts in HD-28, HD-40, and HD-94. All three races were extremely narrow Republican victories. If Democrats get one more seat, they can tie the chamber. Two more seats get them the majority. There was an earlier report that hundreds of voters in HD-28 had bee given the wrong ballots, but that appears to have been erroneous.

TX-HD-134: In a move that has surprised many, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) is backing a challenger to a fellow Republican. Susanna Dokupil (R) is challenging State Rep. Sarah Davis (R) for her seat on Houston’s wealthy west side, and has the Governor’s backing in her endeavor. Abbott’s move may have something to do with an ethics reform that Davis proposed that would bar donors to governors from serving on state boards and commissions.

Louisiana Runoff, PA-18 Dem Convention, & Chile Preview & Liveblog

PA-18 D Liveblog:

2:30 ET- Lamb has won.
1:53 ET- Only Lamb, Cerilli, and Iovino move on as the rules state that candidates below 10% are out. Ultimately it will be a shock at this point if Lamb doesn’t win, though it may take two more rounds rather than one.
1:51 ET- First round results: Lamb: 225 (41%) Cerilli: 153 (28%) Iovino: 90 (16%) Crossey: 47 Brock: 21 Solomon: 18 Seewald: 0.
1:30 ET- The first round is being counted now.
12:40 ET- Speeches are beginning. #PA18 on twitter is a decent place for updates.
12:00 ET- The convention is now open.

Louisiana Liveblog:

10:15 ET- With 73% in and a 20-point lead, Louisiana media is calling it for Schroder and Cantrell. Mark Wright (R) has won LD-77. And that will end our Louisiana liveblog for tonight. We will pick up with PA-18 coverage at Noon tomorrow.
10:10 ET- 69% in, Schroder 60%.
9:59 ET- 52% in, Schroder 57%. 29% in for Orleans and I think we can call Mayor for Cantrell who has 61%.
9:46 ET- 24% in, Schroder 59%.
9:39 ET- Orleans dropped its Early Votes. Schroder is now at 57% with 11% in. Cantrell up 58-42 for Mayor.
9:35 ET- 7% + 61/64 parishes EV, 67% Schroder/79K votes.
9:28 ET- 1% in + 58/64 EV, 68% Schroder/67K total votes.
9:17 ET- 53/64 parishes EV are in, Schroder up 69-31, 57K total votes. Obviously zero Orleans though.
9:05 ET- Absentee votes are in from 26 parishes and Schroder is up 70-30 (but only 18K total votes)
9:00 ET- Polls have closed in Louisiana.

Results: LA SoS

Preview:

This weekend is an unusually busy one for elections. Louisiana is holding its runoff on Saturday for Treasurer and New Orleans Mayor; we will begin liveblogging at 9p ET. Then on Sunday, PA-18 Democrats will hold their special nominating convention; we will liveblog that as well starting at Noon ET. Finally, Chile is also holding its general election on Sunday.

Derrick Edwards

LA-Treas: The lone statewide election this year is the special election for Treasurer, to replace now-Sen. John Kennedy (R). Appointed incumbent Ron Henson (R), who was Kennedy’s deputy and took over for the interim, is not seeking the seat. Attorney Derrick Edwards (D) came in first in the October preliminary round with 31% by virtue of being the only serious Democrat. Edwards is an interesting candidate; he is a quadriplegic who overcame his disability to get a law degree. However, Edwards has not shown any signs of fundraising or running a serious campaign – his campaign is so inept that he has even been unable to submit the required financial paperwork on time. The state’s Democratic establishment is giving him essentially no real support, though he did, however, pick up the official party endorsement ahead of the runoff. Given that he is still not running a particularly serious campaign and the three GOP candidates took 2/3 of the vote in the primary, it would be a shock if Edwards came anywhere close to winning.

John Schroder

Edwards’s rival and the prohibitive favorite in the general is State Rep. John Schroder (R). Schroder, who came in second in the primary with 24%, has represented a conservative district on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Schroder has fundraised well and run a competent campaign, narrowly edging out two serious rivals in the primary. Schroder’s big possible problem here could be voter overconfidence in the outcome – he is considered such a strong favorite that turnout is likely to be incredibly low, meaning that high New Orleans turnout for the mayoral race could theoretically throw the race to Edwards if turnout is low enough. Assuming Schroder is competent enough to stimulate even a modest GOP turnout across the rest of the state, he should prevail easily though. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

New Orleans Mayor: New Orleans is coextensive with Orleans Parish (County); it has a population of 400K that breaks down as roughly 60% Black and 30% White. It has a PVI of D+32 (2016). New Orleans has three major socioeconomic groups: upper-income whites, particularly in the city’s northwest and around Tulane, low-income blacks in the central part of the city, and middle-class blacks in the suburban New Orleans East and Algiers neighborhoods. City councilwoman Latoya Cantrell (D) placed first in the primary with 39%. Cantrell is a mainstream liberal, with some mild progressive tendencies. She has strong name recognition from representing a fifth of the city on the council. Cantrell did significantly better than expected in the first round, and also secured the endorsements of both the third and fouth-place finishers. As such, Cantrell looks like a fairly strong favorite to prevail this weekend. Her rival is a fellow mainstream liberal, retired judge Desiree Charbonnet (D), who came in second in the primary with 30%. Charbonnet is a longtime local pol who received national buzz on the bench as one of the first judges to try sentencing-reform initiatives. Her second-place showing in the primary was something of a disappointment, as Charbonnet had the strongest fundraising and establishment support in the first round, including endorsements from Rep. Cedric Richmond (D) and DA Leon Cannizzaro (D) as well as the bulk of the city’s labor organizations. The runoff has become quite nasty, with both Cantrell and Charbonnet hitting the other on questionable spending of taxpayer dollars for personal expenses. The tit-for-tat accusations have left neither candidate looking good, but probably even out in the wash. And thus Cantrell’s stronger first-round performance and endorsements probably leave her a moderate favorite.

There is also a single legislative special this Saturday. LA-LD-77 is an R+30 (2016) seat in exurbs around Covington on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain vacated by Schroder to focus on his Treasurer run. Antiestablishment-leaning 2014/16 US Senate candidate Rob Maness (R) took first place in the primary with 37% and is facing a runoff with Covington councilman Mark Wright (R), who came in second with 25%. Maness’s strong first-round lead and name rec are strong advantages, but Wright has the endorsements of both eliminated first-round candidates and the local GOP organization. Overall there is no clear favorite in the runoff.

PA-18 Dem Convention: Then on Sunday, Democrats in PA-18 are holding their special nominating convention for a nominee to replace Rep. Tim Murphy (R). The seat is based in and largely coextensive with the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh; it has a PVI of R+11. While this seat is a long-shot for Dems, they may have a small chance for an upset. Dems have a seven-way field with what seem to be four serious contenders. Our liveblog will begin at Noon ET.

Conor Lamb

Federal prosecutor Conor Lamb (D) looks like the slight but noticeable front-runner. Lamb is in his early 30s, serving a tour in the Marines before a stint as a federal prosecutor. He is also something of an Heir Force candidate as the nephew of Pittsburgh City Comptroller Michael Lamb (D); while none of Pittsburgh is in the seat, that is still a connection that is likely to net him valuable Dem establishment ties at the convention. Unlike his three most serious rivals, Lamb did not enter the race before Murphy resigned, but that may actually be a positive, as all three of his major rivals have had poor fundraising. (my odds – 35%)

Pam Iovino

Bush 43 Admin official Pam Iovino (D) has an interesting biography as a career Naval officer who later served in a high-level VA post under W. Iovino has also held veterans’ affairs positions in state and Allegheny county government, so she could have some connections. She has also produced a slick webvid to sway delegates. However, Iovino doesn’t have the typical establishment pedigree that is an asset in this type of format. (my odds – 25%)

Mike Crossey

Ex-Allegheny County commissioner Mike Crossey (D) has strong labor connections as a former head of the state teachers’ union. Crossey seems to be toward the liberal side of the field, which could endear him to activists. However, Crossey’s elective service was over a decade ago, which ended in him losing a State House race by a large margin in 2002. He has also been in the race for some time without raising much cash. (my odds – 22%)

Bob Solomon

Physician Bob Solomon (D) is also running a serious campaign. He seems to be staking out a niche as the most socially progressive of the major candidates, which could be a good fit for the activist vote at the convention (though probably not great for the general). Solomon’s main problem here is his lack of establishment ties, which will likely be a major handicap for him in the insider-dominated convention format. (my odds – 15%)

Gina Cerilli

A fifth candidate, Westmoreland County commissioner Gina Cerilli (D), has the strongest political pedigree, but is a decided longshot. Cerilli is a DINO who describes herself as pro-life and pro-gun, and won her county commission seat independent of the local machine in 2015. In this district, that’s a profile that would make her a significant force in a primary, but given the strong left turn socially among the party’s activist base, that means her odds of winning a convention are quite slim. Cerilli hasn’t helped her case by suing her county Democratic party alleging they improperly kept delegates favorable to her off the committee. While Cerilli would probably be the strongest general election contender, it would be a true shock if she emerged with the nomination. (my odds – 2%)

Two Some Dudes, psychologist Randy Brock (D) and consultant Keith Seewald (D), are both running on a liberal platforms and don’t seem too serious, but could potentially shock by giving a great speech at the convention. (my odds – 0.5% each) The winner will go on to face State Rep. Rick Saccone (R) in the general. RRH Elections last rated this general election as Safe R, but that was before Murphy’s scandal and resignation, so that rating may require re-evaluation.

Chile: On Sunday, there is also a Presidential election in Chile. Chile has a population of 18M and a land area slightly larger than Texas, hugging a roughly 2000-mile long by 50-mile wide strip between the Pacific and the Andes on the southwest coast of South America. Chile’s politics are still defined by its late-20th century dictatorship history under Augusto Pinochet, who ruled the country for most of the 70s and 80s. Pinochet’s legacy is a more mixed one than most dictators. Pinochet made the nation from a copper-dependent middle-income resource extraction state into South America’s only bona-fide first world country and an economic dynamo with his free market policies, but he was also responsible for myriad abuses of power, most notably “disappearances” of regime rivals. Since the fall of the dictatorship in the late 80s, the center-left has generally been Chile’s dominant power due to memories of Pinochet being a problem for the center-right but the country’s embrace of largely free-market economics being a problem for the far-left. Chile’s presidential election uses the French two-round system (50% is required to win, otherwise there will be a runoff between the top two.) Chile’s president serves a four-year term and is not eligible for immediate re-election, but can return after sitting out a term, and that looks like what is most likely to happen here. Incumbent Michelle Bachelet is deeply unpopular for a series of corruption scandals as well as economic mismanagement. She is likely to be succeeded by her predecessor, ex-President Sebastian Pinera, who is mounting a comeback bid. Pinera’s 2009 win was the only time the center-right (known as “Chile Vamos”, or Let’s Go) has captured the Presidency since the fall of Pinochet. Pinera was a wealthy businessman before winning the presidency on a moderately conservative platform. Ideologically and personality wise, a very apt analogy for Pinera might be Romney; he has been known as a competent administrator if somewhat awkward personality-wise. Pinera has been polling in the mid-40s, meaning he has a small chance to win outright, but is more likely to head to a runoff with one of two other major candidates. Center-left Senator Alejandro Guillier (of the “New Majority” Party) is likely to join Pinera, while a far-left candidate, Beatriz Sanchez of the neo-communist Broad Front, is also polling competitively enough to potentially snag the second spot. Polling of the runoff shows Pinera leading either rival by a significant margin. There is also a legislative election. Chile has a bicameral legislature that uses a somewhat strange form of semi-proportional representation: both chambers of the legislature are divided into two-member districts, which generally return one candidate from each of the two largest parties unless the winner polls a 2/3 majority to take both seats. The New Majority has a majority in parliament, but the far-left Broad Front has decided to split (it had previously run as part of New Majority) and run its own parliamentary lists, meaning that Chile Vamos is likely to take at least a plurality.

Political Roundup for November 14, 2017

Governor:

CO-Gov: Arapahoe District Attorney George Brauchler (R) is dropping out of the race for governor and will instead run for the open Attorney General spot. Brauchler was once considered one of the favorites for the Republican nomination but the GOP primary has gotten especially crowed with the entry of former Rep. Tom Tancredo, Attorney General Cynthia Coffman, Walker Stapleton and Victor Mitchell. Brauchler should have a clear shot at the Attorney General position.

RI-Gov: We want the Fung, gotta have that Fung! A TargetPoint Consulting internal poll for Allan Fung (R) shows him leading the GOP primary by more than 20 points; Fung 45%, Patricia Morgan 24%, Joseph Trillo 10% and unsure at 20% and Fung beating incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) 46% to 41%.

WI-Gov: The field of Democrats seeking their party’s gubernatorial nomination has grown even larger. Firefighter union chief Mahlon Mitchell announced he will run for Governor. Mitchel, who is African American, was the Democrat nominee for Lt Governor in the 2012 recall elections. Other Democrats that are running or actively exploring a run include Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, former state Rep. Kelda Roys, state superintendent of public instruction Tony Evers, former Democratic Party chairman Matt Flynn, Milwaukee businessman Andy Gronik, former Wisconsin Democracy Campaign executive director Mike McCabe, Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, Rep. Dana Wachs, Michelle Doolan, Bob Harlow, Dave Heaster, Brett Hulsey, Kurt Kober, Jared Landry, Andrew Lust, Jeffrey Rumbaugh and Ramona Whiteaker. Candidates have until June 1 to submit all paperwork to appear on the Aug. 14 gubernatorial primary ballot. The winner of the Democrat primary will face Gov. Scott Walker who will have his 4th statewide run for Governor in 8 years.

Senate:

AL-Sen: At a press conference yesterday Beverly Young Nelson accused Roy Moore (R) of sexually assaulting her when she was 16 years old. Nelson produced a copy of her High School yearbook which Moore signed “To a sweeter more beautiful girl I could not say ‘Merry Christmas, Love, Roy Moore, D.A.”. As the scandal widens and polls show Democrat Doug Jones leading the election calls have increase for Roy Moore to step aside. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) became the latest to call on Moore to “step aside” and NRSC Chair Cory Gardner said Roy Moore is “unfit to serve in the United States Senate and he should not run for office. If he refuses to withdraw and wins, the Senate should vote to expel him, because he does not meet the ethical and moral requirements of the … Senate.” It is becoming clear that the only shot the GOP has at keeping this seat would be through some sort of organized write-in campaign.

MI-Sen: A new poll shows Detroit businessman John James in the lead for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. John James is at 24%, Rep. Fred Upton (who is currently seeking re-election to the House) is at 19% and former Chief Justice Robert Young trails with 7%. The winner of the GOP primary will face Sen. Debbie Spenditnow Stabenow (D) who is probably breathing a heavy sigh of relief that her GOP opponent won’t have a nickname with the words “Kid” and “Rock” in it.

NJ-Sen: Jurors in the trial of Sen. Bob Menendez (D) seems to be deadlocked. They sent the judge a note on Monday saying they “can’t reach a unanimous verdict on any of the charges” and the judge ordered them deliberating to try and reach a verdict.

House:

MA-3: Former ambassador to Denmark Rufus Gifford (D) announced his candidacy for the open  D+9 seat Rep. Niki Tsongas (D) is retiring from. Gifford, who is gay, has not lived in Massachusetts in 20 years but is originally from Manchester-by-the-Sea which is well outside the district. Gifford gained some notoriety in 2012 as one of Obama’s top fundraisers. He sent over 10 million emails to people on Obama’s email list asking for money and was even called the “Spam King” by BuzzFeed.

NJ-5: Our friend Miles Coleman has plugged the New Jersey gubernatorial numbers into the New Jersey congressional districts and finds that in NJ-5 was a virtual tie with Murphy edging out Guadagno by a mere 231 votes. Freshman Rep. Josh Gottheimer won this district last year despite Trump winning the district by 1.3%.

OH-16: Former NFL wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez (R) picked up the endorsement of neighboring OH-7 Rep. Bob Gibbs (R) for this open R+8 district. Gibbs will headline a fundraiser for Gonzalez at the Brookside Country Club in Canton, OH which is the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

PA-10: After several on again off again nominations for Drug Czar Rep. Tom Marino will seek re-election in 2018 to this fairly safe R+16 seat.

TX-29: In case you missed it, Rep. Gene Green (D) is retiring. Scroll down for our full write up and great mentioner on possible replacements for this D+19 seat.

SALT: The repeal of the state and local tax exemption could be the kiss of death for congressional Republicans in states like California, New York and New Jersey. Seven California Reps. Darrell Issa, Dana Rohrabacher, Mimi Walters, Ed Royce, Steve Knight, David Valadao and Jeff Denham could all face major blowback if the Republican “tax cuts” end up raising taxes on their constituents.

State, Local & Other:

PA-Lt Gov: I guess when you are living in a former Chevy dealership and off of the trust fund your parents set up for you an official residence in Harrisburg with a full staff of state workers waiting on you hand and foot must sound pretty good. With that in mind Braddock Mayor and former US Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) has announced he will challenge incumbent Lt. Gov (and friend to state troopers and household staff) Mike Stack III (D).

Albuquerque, NM-Mayor: Today is election day in Albuquerque. The latest Journal Poll published before the election had state Auditor Tim Keller (D) with a 16 point lead over City Councilman Dan Lewis (R). We will have a preview and open thread at Noon ET; our liveblog will start at 9PM.

New Orleans, LA-Mayor: The latest University of New Orleans Poll has Latoya Cantrell posting a 11 point lead over Desiree Charbonnet ahead of Saturday’s runoff election.

Political Roundup for October 26th, 2017

Lots of gubernatorial news in today’s roundup.

Senate

AZ-Sen: Sen. Flake’s retirement yesterday is one of those situations where the incumbent stepping down may actually help Republicans, considering Flake’s eternally soft numbers and more recent loathing by Republican primary voters. Whereas Democrats before would have counted on either a bruised incumbent or far-right primary challenger, now they get to face a fresh face. This news is particularly bad for former State Sen. Kelli Ward, his would-be primary challenger who will now have to face viable conservatives in the primary. See our retirement announcement for a short Great Mentioner. One candidate, Rep. Paul Gosar (R), is already out.

Speaking of Ward, the McConnell-allied Senate Leadership Fund has announced a Counter-Reformation against Steve Bannon’s crusade to purge establishment Senators. They fired their first shots by calling Ward a “conspiracy theorist” and planning to tar Bannon as tied to white nationalists. The group’s social media also recently targeted Danny Tarkanian in NV-Sen, who is primarying vulnerable Sen. Dean Heller (R).

Governor

TX-Gov: Democrats may finally have a viable gubernatorial candidate in the form of Andrew White, son of former (and recently deceased) Governor Mark White (D). White, a Houston investor, called himself a “very conservative Democrat” and opposed bathroom bills in his first comments to media and said he will announce a decision officially in three to four weeks. Some Democrats are also courting Paul Quinn College (in southern Dallas) President Michael Sorrell.

TX-Gov / Leg: A bombshell for Texas politics dropped last night when Speaker Joe Straus (R) announced he would not run for reelection. Straus served as speaker for five terms, tying the record for length of time in that post. While Straus’ San Antonio seat nowadays should stay Republican, the real interest is twofold. First: will Straus choose to primary a statewide incumbent, particularly Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick or Gov. Greg Abbott? While Straus said he is “not one to close doors,” and failed to demur on a gubernatorial bid, he also said he is unlikely to appear on a ballot in 2018. If Straus’ name did appear this cycle, it would open up the chance that next March’s Republican primaries might not be as low turnout as expected. Second, who runs for Speaker? Straus filled a moderate void in Texas politics, and there will surely be more conservative candidates for Speaker than State Reps. Phil King and John Zerwas. Leaving with Straus is the powerful committee chairman Byron Cook, so we may see a flood of conservative legislation pass the 2019 legislative session.

UT-Gov: We have a poll for a 2020 gubernatorial race from Dan Jones with an odd format. They test something like a jungle primary with a bunch of Republicans and a Democratic candidate, presumably to save money on a series of ballot tests between the Democrat and differenet Republicans. Anyway, former Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) leads the pack with 24% over Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D), who recently elected to run against Rep. Mia Love (R) in Ut-4, with 20%; Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox with 11%; and Josh Romney, son of Mitt, at 9%. Chaffetz has said a decision on whether to run is years away for him but called it “a definite maybe.”

MN-Gov: After helming his successful Minnesota campaign last cycle, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) returns the favor by endorsing Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson’s gubernatorial bid. The Republican side of this open seat race is kind of on hold as people wait and watch if Speaker Kurt Daudt or former Gov. Tim Pawlenty toss their hat into the ring. One candidate, former MNGOP Chairman Keith Downey, chose the interesting decision to attack Rubio in response in his continuing efforts to make himself sound Trumpian or something (interesting because Minnesotans picked Rubio and tend to like their politics bland / Minnesota Nice- see Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Erik Paulsen, and former Gov. Tim Pawlenty for examples).

VA-Gov: In a pretty heated pitch to juice up their base’s turnout, Virginia Democrats’ latest mailer ties Gillespie to Trump and overlays both men’s pictures over a bunch of white nationalists in Charlottesville carrying tiki torches. The message? “Virginia gets to stand up to hate.”

RI-Gov: Former jewelry company CEO Giovanni Feroce is considering a Republican gubernatorial run. Meanwhile, former Cranston Mayor Allen Fung will run for Governor a second time this cycle after losing to Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) by four points in 2014.

State and Local

NC-Leg: State Rep. Bill Brisson of Bladen County switches from the Dems to the Republican Party. Brisson was a DINO but he held a very conservative seat in rural areas south and east of Fayetteville. His decision moves this seat from Tossup or Lean D to Likely or Safe R.

New Orleans-Mayor: After finishing in third place in the first round, Michael Bagneris (D) has endorsed City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell (D) in the Nov. 18th runoff for New Orleans Mayor over former municipal court judge Desiree Charbonnet (D). Cantrell led the first round despite being outspent and now looks like a fairly strong favorite in the runoff.

Political Roundup for October 16, 2017

Over the weekend, for LA-Treasurer, Derrick Edwards (D) and John Schroeder (R) advanced. As Republicans took ~2/3 of the vote and Edwards is not running a serious campaign, Schroeder is the prohibitive favorite in the mid-November runoff (as an aside, check out Miles Coleman’s MAP of the results) For LA-PSC-2, RINO surgeon Craig Greene won outright. In New Orleans, Cantrell (D) and Charbonnet (D) advanced. Finally, for LA-LD-58, Brass (D) won outright, while in LA-LD-77, Manness (R) and Wright (R) advanced. In Austria, Sebastian Kurz of the center-right OVP won about a third of the vote, outpacing the nationalist FPO and social-democratic SPO. It’s uncertain which of the FPO or SPO will join the OVP in coalition. In Kyrgyzstan, the candidate of the incumbent government, Soroonbai Jeenbekov, won the presidency without a runoff.

Senate:

CA-Sen: State Senate President Kevin DeLeon (D) will challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) from the left.  DeLeon and Feinstein are well-positioned to advance to the general election, but defeating the popular and long-serving incumbent from the left in a general election among all voters (including Republicans) seems quite the tall order.

MO-Sen, MO-Aud: State Rep. Paul Curtman (R), who had been running a little-noticed Senate campaign, will instead drop out and explore a run for Auditor. AG Josh Hawley (R) entered the race last week and looks like the prohibitive GOP primary favorite to take on vulnerable Sen. Claire McCaskill (D). Appointed incumbent Auditor Nicole Galloway (D) has somewhat strangely so far not attracted serious GOP opposition.

MT-Sen: Judge Russell Fagg (R) has become the latest candidate into the primary to take on Sen. Jon Tester (D). Fagg joins front-running State Auditor (Insurance Commissioner) Matt Rosendale (R), State Sen. Al Olzewski (R), and storage company exec Troy Downing (R).

ND-Sen: Ex-Rep. and 2012 nominee Rick Berg (R) is considering a rematch with Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), who upset him for the open seat in 2012. As Berg’s last campaign was considered deeply subpar there isn’t a whole lot of enthusiasm for a comeback bid. State Sen. Tom Campbell (R) is in the race, while Rep. Kevin Cramer (R) and State Treasurer Kelly Schmidt (R) are thought to still be considering runs.

Governor:

AL-Gov: As expected, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox (D) will enter the primary for Governor. Maddox, who is considered a rising star, will face opposition from ex-State Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb (D) in the Dem primary. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is facing a crowded field of primary opponents, most notably Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R), who raised over $1M in the month of September.

AZ-Gov: In what looks like as clear-cut a case of sour grapes as it gets, former Ducey administration official Tim Jeffries (R) is considering a primary run against his former boss, Gov. Doug Ducey (R). Jeffries was ousted from his state cabinet post last year amid reports of improper firing of employees and misuse of state resources. Jeffries seems unlikely to be a serious threat to Ducey in the primary.

ID-Gov: The Kootenai County GOP committee has passed a resolution blasting developer and gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist (R) for his donations to Democrats. Ahlquist notably donated to 2014 Dem gubernatorial nominee AJ Balukoff (D); he says the donation was because Balukoff was a personal friend but he voted for his rival, Gov. Butch Otter (R). Ahlquist is running as something of a moderate third wheel in this primary between LG Brad Little (R), the candidate of the IDGOP’s establishment, socially-conservative faction, and Rep. Raul Labrador (R), the candidate of the IDGOP’s antiestablishment, fiscally-conservative faction. Ironically, Ahlquist could wind up facing Balukoff if he wins the GOP primary, as Balukoff is thought to be considering a second run.

IL-Gov, IL-LG: State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R), of DuPage County in the Chicago suburbs, is considering a challenge to Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) in the GOP primary after Rauner signed an abortion-funding bill. Ives would be at a massive fundraising disadvantage to Rauner but could win the primary on grassroots enthusiasm. Should she make it to the general though, the conservative Ives would have little chance in the general in the deep-blue state. Across the aisle, local superintendent Bob Daiber (D) announced his LG choice, social worker Jonathan Todd (D). Daiber is the last of the four serious Dem contenders to pick a running mate.

KS-Gov: 2014 Senate candidate Greg Orman (I) is considering a run for Governor, once again as an Independent. The decision would be very good news for Republicans. Orman did surprisingly well in 2014 as the de facto Democrat in the Senate race. But running as an Indie in a race where there is likely to be a credible Democrat would likely mean a split in the center and center-left vote that would hand an easy win to the GOP nominee by way of the state’s large conservative base. Both Republicans and Democrats have crowded fields here.

ME-Gov: Sen. Susan Collins (R) will not run for Governor. Though Collins would have likely been a strong front-runner for the Governorship, she is likely to stay a more key national figure as a swing vote in the Senate. This decision also removes (for now) the prospect of a difficult GOP hold for this Senate seat in 2020 without Collins, though it does lower Republicans’ odds of retaining the Governorship. The GOP primary currently consists of State Sen. Garrett Mason (R), State Rep. Ken Fredette (R), and LePage administration official Mary Mayhew (R). A fourth candidate may enter soon, as businessman and 2010 Indie candidate Shawn Moody (R) has joined the GOP and is exploring a run as well. Democrats have an even more crowded field and three credible Indies are also running.

MN-Gov, MN-LG: Rep. Tim Walz (D) has picked State Rep. Peggy Flanagan (D) as his running mate. Walz is so far considered the slight front-runner for the DFL endorsement, but he faces a crowded field of Auditor Rebecca Otto (D), St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman (D), and State Reps. Erin Murphy (D), Tina Leibling (D), and Paul Thissen (D). Walz is the first candidate on either side to commit to an LG pick.

OR-Gov: Happy Valley mayor Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R), who narrowly lost a State House race last year, will not run for Governor. Chavez-DeRemer was the last major GOP candidate still exploring the race. Her exit likely means that State Rep. Knute Buehler (R) will not face serious primary opposition for the right to take on Gov. Kate Brown (D).

PA-Gov: Well-connected attorney Laura Ellsworth (R) will seek the GOP nomination to take on Gov. Tom Wolf (R). Ellsworth, a partner at the high-powered Jones Day mega-law firm, could potentially be an establishment choice in the primary against antiestablishment-leaning State Sen. Scott Wagner (R), though she will likely have to contend for that niche with businessman Paul Mango (R).

SC-Gov: A second Democrat has entered this race. Consultant and nonprofit exec Phil Noble (D), who ran a Democratic primary campaign for LG in 1994, will take on State Rep. James Smith (D) in the Democratic primary. Incumbent Gov. Henry McMaster (R) faces Haley admin official Catherine Templeton (R), LG Kevin Bryant (R), and ex-LG Yancey McGill (R) in the GOP primary.

TX-Gov: Democrats have a slightly more credible prospect to take on popular Gov. Greg Abbott (R), as ex-Balch Springs (pop. 25K) mayor Cedrick Davis (D) will run for Governor. Former mayor of a smallish Dallas slumburb would ordinarily not be a credible candidate resume in a state as big as Texas. However, Democrats are running out of options in this race with the filing deadline under two months away, so there’s a chance Davis may get a serious look. The only other candidate in the race besides Davis is gay-bar owner Jeffrey Payne (D).

WI-Gov: Ex-WIDP chair Matt Flynn (D) is the latest candidate into this increasingly crowded primary to take on Gov. Scott Walker (R). Flynn joins State Superintendent Tony Evers (D), State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D), State Rep. Dana Wachs (D), businessman Andy Gronik (D), and nonprofit exec Mike McCabe (D) in the race.

House:

CA-7: Physician Yona Barash (R), a Holocaust survivor as an infant who later immigrated to the US from Israel, is running against Rep. Ami Bera (D). Bera has won a string of hard-fought victories over credible GOP candidates in this light-blue suburban Sacramento seat.

IN-2: Healthcare executive Mel Hall (D) will run for this medium-red seat, giving Democrats a credible candidate to take on Rep. Jackie Walorski (R). This seat has trended strongly right in the last decade but might be still be in play in a Democratic wave.

MA-9: Convenience store executive Peter Tedeschi (R), who ran the large regional Tedeschi’s convenience store chain before selling it to 7-eleven, is running for Congress and will announce later this month. The district isn’t specified but it’s almost certainly the light-blue Cape Cod and South Shore/South Coast MA-9 of Rep. Bill Keating (D). Tedeschi seems a solid candidate and Gov. Charlie Baker (R) will almost certainly carry the seat, but defeating an incumbent Democrat in Massachusetts (for any office) is all but impossible, so this is likely to be an uphill race.

MI-6: George Franklin (D), a former university regent and lobbyist for Kellogg’s cereal, will run for this light-red southwest Michigan seat. Longtime incumbent Fred Upton (R) has been popular in the district, but he is currently considering a run for Senate, which would make this race a high-level Dem pickup opportunity if open.

MI-11: Plymouth Twp. supervisor and ex-State Rep. Kurt Heise (R) has announced a bid for this light-red suburban Detroit open seat. Heise joins State Rep. Klint Kesto (R), ex-State Rep. Rocky Raczkowski (R), and businesswoman Lena Epstein (R) in the GOP primary; Dems also have a crowded field.

NY-1: Suffolk County commissioner Kate Browning (D) is running for the House seat of Rep. Lee Zeldin (R). Browning, an Irish immigrant with ties to the union-backed Working Families party, is likely to be the Dem establishment choice for this light-red eastern Long Island seat.

PA-18: Westmoreland County commissioner Gina Cerilli (D) has thrown her hat into the ring, joining ex-Allegheny County commissioner Mike Crossey (D) and Bush 43 admin official Pam Iovino (D) (yes, you read that right – it was a cross-party appointment) in the race for the Dem endorsement. The GOP also has a trio of candidates, State Sens. Kim Ward (R) and Guy Reschenthaler (R) and State Rep. Rick Saccone (R). The special election to replace Rep. Tim Murphy (R) in this medium-red south suburban Pittsburgh seat has not been scheduled but is likely to be early next year.

TN-7: Songwriter Lee Thomas Miller (R) is considering a run for this deep-red open seat. Miller has written songs for country stars Garth Brooks and Brad Paisley, among others. He also hails from the wealthy and high-turnout suburban Williamson County portion of the district. Miller is the first candidate to express interest in taking on the only declared candidate for this seat, State Sen. Mark Green (R). For his part, Green received an endorsement from the Club for Growth, potentially giving him a fundraising boost.

State Offices:

CT-Treas: Investor Thad Gray (R) is running for State Treasurer, becoming the first candidate into this race. Incumbent Denise Nappier (D) has not indicated her plans but is thought to be considering retirement; she won by a smaller-than-expected margin in 2014.

DE-Aud: Ex-State Rep. Dennis Williams (D), who lost primaries for his seat in 2014 and 2016, will run for State Auditor. 7-term incumbent Tom Wagner (R), one of two statewide elected Rs in Delaware, has not yet declared whether he will run again.

FL-AG: In what might be a record for shortest exploratory phase of a campaign, State Rep. Frank White (R) of Pensacola filed to run for AG last Friday – less than 24 hours after publicly declaring he was exploring the race. White joins front-running retired judge Ashley Moody (R) and State Rep. Jay Fant (R) in the primary. Little-known attorney Ryan Torrens (D) is to date the only Dem in the race.

ID-LG: State Sen. Bob Nonini (R) is the latest candidate into this supremely crowded open-seat primary field. Nonini, who hails from the northern panhandle, joins fellow State Sen. Marv Hagedorn (R), State Rep. Kelley Packer (R), ex-State Rep. Janice McGeachin (R), and ex-IDGOP Chairman Steve Yates (R). Incumbent Brad Little (R) is running for Governor.

IL-AG: Kane County DA Joe McMahon (R) is considering a run for AG. McMahon has name recognition from his tenure as DA in a large suburban county and his serving as a special prosecutor in the Lacquan Macdonald police shooting incident. However, he would likely face an uphill run in the GOP primary, as former congressional candidate Erika Harold (R) has already sewn up most of the GOP establishment’s support. Across the aisle, parks commissioner Jesse Ruiz (D) is seen as likely to become the fourth candidate in this field, joining State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D), State Rep. Scott Drury (D), and Chicago city official Sharon Fairley (D).

IL-SoS: Grundy County DA Jason Helland (R) will run for Secretary of State, giving Republicans a credible candidate for this seat. Popular incumbent Jesse White (D) has said he will be seeking a sixth term and would be a prohibitive favorite if he runs, but there are rumors that White may pull a late retirement to try and clear the field for a hand-picked successor.

KS-Ins Comm: Ex-State Sen. and 2014 candidate Clark Shultz (R), who currently serves as the department’s #2 official, is preparing to make a second run for Insurance Commissioner. Shultz came in a very close third (by 4%) in the 2014 primary and would likely start a second bid as the front-runner for the seat. However, he left the door open to dropping out of the race should his boss, incumbent Ken Selzer (R), drop his bid for Governor and seek re-election. No other candidates have as yet declared interest in this seat.

NE-Treas: 2017 Omaha Mayoral candidate Taylor Royal (R), a twenty-something accountant who ran a quixotic self-funded bid based on bringing an NFL team to Omaha, will run for State Treasurer. Royal also notched a surprising endorsement from the woman he unsuccessfully tried to oust, Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert (R). He joins State Sen. John Murante (R), who has the endorsement of Gov. Pete Ricketts (R), in the primary for this open seat.

Local Races:

Atlanta-Mayor: City councilwoman Keisha Lance-Bottoms (D) has notched a big endorsement from incumbent Kasim Reed (D). Lance-Bottoms is the closest candidate in the crowded field to Reed, so the move is no surprise; however, Reed’s support could help her stand out. Lance-Bottoms is in a tight race for the second runoff spot in this race; a number of liberal candidates are vying to advance to a December runoff with moderate councilwoman and 2009 candidate Mary Norwood (I).

Phoenix-Mayor: A pair of city councilors have thrown their hats into the ring for next year’s special election. Daniel Valenzuela (D) and Kate Gallego (D), ex-wife of US Rep. Ruben (D), have both declared their candidacies. Incumbent Greg Stanton (D) will need to resign next year to run for the AZ-9 seat of Rep. and Senate candidate Kyrsten Sinema (D).

Prince George’s, MD-CE: Ex-Rep. Donna Edwards (D), who lost a US Senate primary in 2016, is trying for a comeback in a run for the open PG County Executive seat. Edwards starts with the highest name recognition in a field including DA Angela Alsobrooks (D), DINO State Sen. Anthony Muse (D), and Obama Admin official Paul Monteiro (D). However, Edwards has never been on great terms with the area’s Democratic establishment, which could be problematic if they coalesce around one of her rivals.

Shelby, TN-CE: State Sen. Lee Harris (D) is running for the County Executive post in Shelby County, covering Memphis. He joins ex-county commissioner Sidney Chism (D) in the primary. Shelby County is deep-blue but the GOP has had high levels of success countywide;  Three credible Republicans are running in County Trustee David Lenoir (R), Court Clerk Joy Touliatos (R), and County Commissioner Terry Roland (R).

2017 LA Primary Liveblog & Austria Open Thread

Results: LA SoS

11:25 ET- And that’s a wrap… with 98% in, Edwards (D) and Schroeder (R) have advanced for Treasurer with 31 and 24 respectively, besting Davis at 22 and Riser at 18. For New Orleans, Cantrell (D) and Charbonnet (D) have advanced. Feel free to use this as an open thread to discuss Austrian results as well.

10:55 ET- I’m about ready to wrap things up and call it for Schroeder. Davis has cut the margin to 5000 votes with 90% in, but 2/3 of what remains is New Orleans where she can’t make up much ground. For NO Mayor, I think Cantrell and Charbonnet are set to advance; Cantrell 42 Charbonnet 30 Bagneris 17 with a third in.

10:37 ET- 86% in, Edwards 26 Schroeder 26 Davis 24 Riser 19. 6300 votes separate Schroeder and Davis. For New Orleans, 34% is in, Cantrell 42 Charbonnet 30 Bagneris 17

10:29 ET- Results are in for the two legislative races. Ken Brass (D) won LD-58 outright, while Manness (R) and Wright (R) advance in LD-77 with 37% and 25% respectively.

10:25 ET- Orleans is starting to roll in. 72% in total: Schroeder 26 Edwards 26 Davis 23 Riser 20. Orleans is 20% in, and Mayor is Cantrell 39 Charbonnet 33 Bagneris 15.

10:22 ET- I think we can call PSC-2 for Greene outright. Greene is at 54.

10:15 ET- 59% in, and finally some Orleans. Overall Schroeder 26 Edwards 25 Davis 24 Riser 20. I think we can just about declare Riser out of the running but the second spot between Schroeder and Davis is still very much up in the air. For NO Mayor, 5% is in, Cantrell is at 38 and Charbonnet at 36, with Bagneris way back at 14.

10:00 ET- 36% in (still no Orleans) – Edwards 26 Schroeder 26 Davis 24 Riser 20.

9:45 ET- 14% in, Schroeder 27 Edwards 26 Davis 22 Riser 20. Greene is at 55% for PSC. Importantly, Orleans is not in at all.

9:33 ET- St. Tammany dumped its early vote and Schroeder is now in first with 28. Edwards 25 Davis 22 Riser 20. 2% of the election day vote is in.

9:25 ET- 54 parishes have absentees in: Edwards 26 Schroeder 24 Davis 23 Riser 22. Bossier, Orleans, Ouachita, and St. Tammany are the major parishes without any absentees in.

9:17 ET- It’s pretty amazing how close the Treasurer race is – with 50K votes cast, 2100 votes is all that separates first from fourth.

9:15 ET- 44 parishes absentee: Edwards 26 Davis 24 Riser 24 Schroeder 22. Greene is currently running away with PSC-2 with 61%.

9:08 ET- Absentee results are in for 18 parishes and it’s tight as a tick for Treasurer: Edwards 26 Schroeder 26 Davis 23 Riser 20

9:00 ET- Polls have closed in Louisiana.

2017 LA Primary Preview

Louisiana has its off-year primary election on Saturday; of course, all races use the Louisiana Rules Top Two jungle primary format, with a runoff scheduled for mid-November if no one crosses 50%. At stake is a special election for the Treasurer seat and one of five districts on the Public Service Commission, as well as the mayoral race in New Orleans. There are also elections abroad this weekend in Austria and Kyrgyzstan. Polls in Louisiana close at 9ET Saturday and we will have a brief liveblog.

LA-Treasurer: The big election this week is the special election for Treasurer, to replace now-Sen. John Kennedy (R). Appointed incumbent Ron Henson (R), who was Kennedy’s deputy and took over for the interim, is not seeking the seat. Four notable candidates, one Democrat and three Republicans, are running in this year’s special.

Derrick Edwards

Attorney Derrick Edwards (D) is certain to come in first, by virtue of being the only serious Democrat. Edwards is an interesting candidate; he is a quadriplegic who overcame his disability to get a law degree. However, Edwards has not shown any signs of fundraising (he had a total of $667 in his most recent campaign report) or running a serious campaign, meaning that the state’s Democratic establishment is giving him essentially no real support. CW is that he will come in first by a large margin – and then lose the runoff by a large margin to any of the three serious Republicans. Thus, the real contest is which Republican will advance to the second round with Edwards. And though the race is looking close to a three-way tossup, it’s one of the less interesting competitive statewide elections we’ve seen, as the three Republicans are more similar than different. All three would qualify as experienced, well-funded, relatively establishment-leaning mainstream conservatives, meaning this race is mainly differentiated on personality and geography. The three Republicans did not help themselves by hoarding their cash until the last moment, meaning all three are still little-known and turnout is likely to be rock-bottom.

John Schroder

State Rep. John Schroeder (R) represents a conservative district on the North Shore of Lake Ponchartrain and looks like the very nominal front-runner. He has led the field in fundraising by a significant margin, aided by his resigning his seat to focus on the campaign. Schroeder is a mainstream conservative and likely to have a base in the high-turnout New Orleans suburbs. He placed second in the only independent poll of the race, though that was back in August before all three candidates went up with TV ads, and has more recently released an internal showing him in second to Edwards as well. However, it’s an open question how much use polling is in this race, as all polls have shown the three Republicans taking low vote shares and tightly bunched.

Angele Davis

Jindal Admin official Angele Davis (R) is second in fundraising. Davis is attempting to cast herself as the most vocal Trumpist in the field. (In a sign of how toxic Jindal still is, Davis takes great pains to hide her involvement in his administration in her campaign material.) Davis, the only candidate from the Baton rouge area, has put out internals showing her in second to Edwards just as Schroeder has. She has also put out an ad with the endorsement of popular former Gov. Mike Foster (R), whom she also worked for.

Neil Riser

Finally, State Sen. Neil Riser (R) represents a rural seat in the northeast part of the state; he is likely to run up the margin in rural northern areas. Riser has also made an unorthodox but potentially good choice strategically; he has put in more attention to flipping Democrats in New Orleans (who are likely to be high-turnout because of the mayoral race) than his rivals, meaning he may be able to make the runoff on crossover votes. All three candidates are well-funded and have been trading barbs, and overall this race for second looks like something close to a 3-way Tossup. Two non-serious candidates, one Republican and one Libertarian, are also in the race. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

LA-PSC-2: Louisiana’s Public Service Commission is a 5-member body that currently breaks down as 3R-2D. The 2nd district is up for a special election this year. The seat looks like a larger version of the congressional LA-6, covering essentially the entire Baton Rouge area save the black-majority north side of Baton Rouge proper, plus most of Lafayette and the Houma area to the south. It has a PVI of ~R+23 (2008). This year, three Republicans are running for the seat, but they are of very different persuasions. The seat is up this year as prior incumbent Scott Angelle (R) was tapped for a Trump administration job, and three Republicans are facing off. This field looks depressingly weak, as evidenced by the fact that the front-runner for the seat is a former legislator who was embarrassed in a State House race just two years ago.

Lenar Whitney

Ex-State Rep. Lenar Whitney (R) has the official GOP endorsement and looks like the overall front-runner, though she has generally been regarded as a political lightweight. She won a State House seat in 2011 and ran an underwhelming campaign for LA-6 in 2014, before losing her re-election bid in 2015 by a large margin to a more centrist Republican. Whitney is a staunch antiestablishment conservative who relishes casting herself in the Palin/Bachmann bomb-thrower mold; pundit David Wasserman once called her “the most frightening candidate” he ever interviewed. Of course, having media against her is an asset in this district, especially when Whitney’s conservative credentials run laps around her two rivals.

Damon Baldone

If Whitney’s brew of conservatism is distinctly on the strong side, her rivals err on the opposite side; both of them can quite reasonably be described as RINOs. Gov. Jon Bel Edwards (D) tapped ex-State Rep. Damon Baldone (R) as the appointed interim incumbent. Baldone served as a Democratic State Rep, and was Whitney’s predecessor. Like Whitney, he is generally regarded as a weak candidate and political leightweight. Baldone once notably tried to get himself listed on the ballot as both a Democrat and a Republican; he also was acknowledged to have participated in the affair-setup site Ashley Madison, and has had a $4M judgement against him in a business deal. This year, Baldone apparently got the appointment by misleading Edwards into thinking he wouldn’t run for election, but then filed to run, switching to the GOP in the process. Edwards pointedly withheld an endorsement of Baldone.

Craig Greene

As Edwards has not been hesitant to support RINOs for various offices, it seems possible that his real choice in the race is surgeon Craig Greene (R). Greene, whose father was a legislator a generation ago, is closely tied to ex-LG and Edwards admin official Jay Dardenne (R). Greene is a Dardenne-style moderate who publicly endorsed Edwards in 2015. By resume Greene seems to be stronger than his rivals, but the Edwards endorsement is a big stone around his neck in such a conservative district. Additionally, Baldone’s name recognition may usurp Greene’s claim on the more moderate vote and box Greene out of the runoff. Overall, Whitney looks like the clear front-runner; it would be shocking if Whitney did not come in first and she may have a chance to win without a runoff. If Whitney comes in below 50, either Greene or Baldone has a chance to advance with her, and the results in the first round (specifically, how far below 50 Whitney comes in) could be informative as to who has the advantage in the second round. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

New Orleans-Mayor: New Orleans is coextensive with Orleans Parish (County); it has a population of 400K that breaks down as roughly 60% Black and 30% White. It has a PVI of D+32 (2016). New Orleans has three major socioeconomic groups: upper-income whites, particularly in the city’s northwest and around Tulane, low-income blacks in the central part of the city, and middle-class blacks in the suburban New Orleans East and Algiers neighborhoods. 18(!) candidates are in the race this year, but only five are notable, all Dems. There are three front-runners in the race, all of whom are well-known black establishment liberals who have split establishment support. Retired judge Desiree Charbonnet (D) has led the race in fundraising. Charbonnet is a longtime local pol who received national buzz on the bench as one of the first judges to try sentencing-reform initiatives. She is running as a mainstream liberal, and probably has the strongest establishment support, particularly from unions. Charbonnet also has a big endorsement from US Rep. Cedric Richmond (D), who represents the bulk of the city. City councilwoman LaToya Cantrell (D) is probably the most left-wing major candidate in this field, though she is still a mainstream liberal and not all that far left of her rivals. She has strong name recognition from representing a fifth of the city on the council, as well as some establishment support. Retired judge and 2014 candidate Michael Bagneris (D) is the most moderate of the three major candidates, though again the differences are quite slight. He has name recognition from his run against incumbent Mitch Landrieu (D) four years ago as well as significant establishment support. Two other candidates are worth a mention; while both are long-shots to make a runoff they will probably draw a few points each. Businessman and 2010 candidate Troy Henry (D) is also running a serious campaign; like the three other candidates he is a mainstream liberal. Though he may get a few points, he trails his three rivals in establishment support and doesn’t have an obvious point of differentiation; as a result, most polls have him in single-digits. Conversely, there is also a sideshow in businessman Frank Scurlock (D), the only major white candidate in the race and the only one with his own ideological lane. A former Republican, Sculock is now running as a DINO and his signature issue is a staunch defense of Confederate monuments. Scurlock has self-funded considerably (he owns a national moon-bounce business) and he may get a few points with his conservative platform. However, he has major liabilities (including being charged for masturbating in an Uber) that mean he is unlikely to get more than a couple points.. Overall, this race looks like close to a pure 3-way Tossup between Cantrell, Charbonnet, and Bagneris, with any two able to advance to a runoff. Because the three are so similar, any pairing will be competitive in the runoff.

Legislative Specials: There are also two legislative seats up. LA-LD-58 is a D+21 (2016) rural seat along the Mississippi River near Donaldsonville. St. James Parish commissioner Ken Brass (D), 2015 candidate Miguel Aubert (D), businesswoman Adrienne Ricard-Cornish (D), and engineer Alsie Dunbar (D) are running; all seem serious and any two could advance to a runoff. LA-LD-77 is an R+30 (2016) seat in exurbs around Covington on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Three Republicans, antiestablishment-leaning 2014/16 US Senate candidate Rob Manness (R), Covington councilman Mark Wright (R), and judge Casey Revere (R), are in the race. One “Independent” (really a Dem in all but name), attorney Lisa Condrey-Ward (I), is also in the race. CW is that Manness is the strong favorite due to his name recognition, and could even wrap it up today. But any of the other three (particularly Wright, who has some local establishment support and name rec) may be able to join him in a runoff.

International Races:

Austria: Austria has its general election on Sunday; the Alpine nation has a population of 8.8M and a land area roughly the size of South Carolina. Austria has one of the first world’s more complicated electoral systems: the 183 members of the legislature are elected by proportional representation in two layers: one set of multi-member constituencies based on the 9 states, and another set of 39 smaller districts. The constituencies are multi-member and there is a threshhold of 4% for representation from a given constituency. Austria has a complicated multi-party system that belies how stable the country’s politics are: the two largest parties habitually form Grand Coalitions and have historically amiably divided the spoils of government between them, more often than not rendering elections all but irrelevant. The current government is headed by the Socialists (SPO), a fairly standard social-democratic party. Polling suggests that they are around 25% and will lose their position as the top party to their coalition partners, the center-right People’s Party (OVP), a pro-business, pro-Europe centrist-to-mildly-conservative group similar to Germany’s CDU. The OVP is currently polling around 33%. Historically, the main opposition has been the Freedom Party (FPO). The FPO is arguably the most mainstream and most successful of Western Europe’s nationalist-populist parties, being a junior partner in an OVP government in the early 2000s and getting 46% in last year’s presidential election. The FPO is polling around 25% and may be able to beat out the SPO for the second spot. Ideologically, it is probably one of the worlds Trumpiest parties, combining relatively free-market (for Europe) fiscal policies with moderate nationalism. While the SPO and OVP have not been eager to work with the FPO per se, they have not ruled it out. Importantly, after a recent change in leadership, the OVP in particular seems to be more keen to form a coalition with the FPO than the SPO. The fourth-largest party is the Greens, who are more moderate than most Green Parties and of a distinctly mainstream center-left nature on non-environmental issues. The Greens scored a major victory last year with the election of President Alexander Vanderbellen. However, they are in no position to capitalize on that, as a leadership dispute has caused the party to split in two, with the competing Pilz List taking about half the Greens’ votes; both are polling around 5%. There are also two more parties who will likely get parliamentary representation: the Economist-style liberal NEOS, who are polling around 5%, and the Freedom Party of Salzburg (FLO), a splinter group of the FPO based in Salzburg, who may take a few seats there. Overall, the OVP is set to take over as the largest party, and CW seems to be betting on them shaking things up by forming a coalition with the FPO rather than the SPO this time. However, another grand coalition (with the OVP in the lead rather than the SPO) should not be discounted as a possibility.

Kyrgyzstan: The central Asian nation of Kyrgyzstan is holding a presidential election on Sunday as well. Kyrgyzstan is a post-soviet nation of 5.7M, largely ethnic Kyrgyz and Muslim. By the low standards of its global neighborhood, Kyrgyzstan is a fairly democratic nation, with seriously-contested elections. I am totally unqualified to discuss the dynamics of this race, but the two front-runners appear to be Sooronbay Jeenbekov, who is backed by the incumbent government, and Omurbek Banbanov, who is backed by the government of neighboring Kazakhstan.

Political Roundup for October 4, 2017

Last night, Randall Woodfin (D) ousted incumbent Birmingham Mayor William Bell (D) by a shocking 20-point spread, Albuquerque proceeded to a runoff between State Auditor Tim Keller (D) at 39% and councilman Dan Lewis (R) at 23%.  Missy McGee (R) held the purple MS-LD-102 by an impressive 2:1 margin, while CA-LD-51 heads to a runoff between Wendy Carillo (D) and Luis Lopez (D).

Senate:

AL-Sen: JMC Analytics has Roy Moore (R) leading Doug Jones (D) 48-40. Generic R beats Generic D by a surprisingly small 49-45 margin.

TN-Sen: Gov. Bill Haslam (R) re-iterated that he is considering a run for the open US Senate seat of Sen. Bob Corker (R). Should Haslam enter, he would likely be a favorite over all comers in the primary and general election. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) is thought to be ready to run, and would be the favorite in a Haslam-less race, but she may be delaying her decision until Haslam’s intentions are known.

Governor:

CT-Gov: Add another “B” list name to the Democratic mix for this race: Malloy admin official Sean Connolly (D) is stepping down and rumored to be considering a gubernatorial run. Connolly would join Middletown Mayor Dan Drew (D), fellow Malloy admin official Jonathan Harris (D), and prosecutor Chris Mattei (D) in the race. LG Nancy Wyman (D) is also thought to be exploring a run and would be the primary front-runner if she entered. Republicans have an even more crowded field.

IL-Gov: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) somewhat surprisingly signed a controversial bill last week enabling public funding of abortion through Medicaid. As you might expect, socially conservative Republicans are up in arms and there is talk of a primary challenge to the Governor. State Rep. Peter Breen (R) delivered a particularly stinging critique, saying “I’ve had a front-row seat to a governor that is unable to adequately and competently administer Illinois government. He is now lying to us. And so at that point, I can’t support someone like that.” It’s widely believed that State Dictator House Speaker Mike Madigan (D) pushed the bill to put Rauner in an impossible position, with signing it giving him a primary headache and vetoing it being a major problem in the socially liberal state for the general. Should Rauner lose the primary, Republicans’ odds of holding this seat likely to near zero, and likely Dem nominee and Madigan sugar daddy businessman JB Pritzker (D) will likely be the favorite to take the seat. Rauner appears to be betting the general election optics of this move are worth the primary headache.

ME-Gov: Sen. Susan Collins (R) will announce next week if she will run for Governor. The popular Collins would be a near-prohibitive favorite in a general election if she ran, but she may face difficulties getting through a GOP primary for her moderation. LePage admin official Mary Mayhew (R), State Sen. Garrett Mason (R), and State Rep. Ken Fredette (R) are in the GOP primary already; over a half-dozen Dems and three credible Indies are also in the race.

NJ-Gov: Emerson has Goldman Sachs exec Phil Murphy (D) up 46-35 on LG Kim Guadagno (R), a smaller margin than most recent surveys. Monmouth has a pretty similar 51-37 lead for Murphy. New Jersey is a fairly inelastic state and Murphy is unlikely to have crossover appeal, so some tightening of this race from the gaudy 30-point Murphy leads of prior polls is probably in the cards.

RI-Gov: Moderate Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) has her first primary challenger, Paul Roselli (D), head of a nonprofit local park group. Roselli has gained notoriety for his opposition to a proposed powerplant in his hometown, but seems like a “C” list opponent for Raimondo. Unpopular liberal ex-Gov. Lincoln Chaffee (D) is also considering a run against Raimondo in the primary. Three Republicans, 2014 nominee and Cranston Mayor Alan Fung (R), State Rep. Patricia Morgan (R), and ex-State Rep. Joe Trillo (R), are in the race.

SD-Gov: AG Marty Jackley (R) launched his expected gubernatorial campaign yesterday. Jackley joins Rep. Krsti Noem (R) in what is expected to be a hard-fought titanic primary collision. State Sen. Billie Sutton (D) is the likely Dem nominee.

TN-Gov: Sen. Bob Corker (R) says he “can’t imagine” running for Tennessee Governor, a statement that is not quite Shermanesque but pretty close to it. Republicans have a crowded primary field of Rep. Diane Black (R), State House Speaker Beth Harwell (R), State Sen. Mae Beavers (R), and businessmen Randy Boyd (R) and Bill Lee (R); Corker, however, would likely be the front-runner if he were to enter.

House:

FL-18: Obama admin official Lauren Baer (D) is running against first-term Rep. Brian Mast (R). Baer would be the second person in a same-sex marriage in Congress if elected; this light-red Treasure Coast seat trended right last year while Mast picked it up for the GOP.

IL-15: State Sen. Kyle McCarter (R) is not running for re-election and is apparently in contention for Ambassador to Kenya. However, McCarter is keeping his options open to making a second bid against Rep. John Shimkus (R), whom he primaried from a fiscal conservative angle in 2016. McCarter took 40% against Shimkus last cycle in this deep-red rural downstate seat and would be a formidable candidate in a rematch.

ME-2: Heir Lucas St. Clair (D) is carpetbagging from Portland into this rural northern Maine seat to run against Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R). St. Clair is the son of Roxanne Quimby, a co-founder of Burt’s Bees cosmetics. Quimby is also notable for having donated a large estate to the federal government to create a national monument, an effort St. Clair spearheaded. St. Clair joins State Rep. Jared Golden (D) as a major candidate in the primary to take on Poliquin. As a side note, this rural northern Maine seat is exactly the kind of place where a trust fund baby carpetbagging in will play well, right?

MA-3: Cambridge councilman Nadeem Mazen (D) will carpetbag into this deep-blue Merrimack Valley based district to seek the open seat. Mazen, who grew up in the seat, would be the third Muslim member of Congress if elected. He joins a crowded primary of State Sen. Barbara L’Italien (D), 2014 LG nominee Steve Kerrigan (D), Boston Mayor Marty Walsh CoS Daniel Koh (D), and businessman Abhijit Das (D).

NH-1: 2010 gubernatorial nominee John Stephen (R) will not take on Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D) in 2018. State Sen. Andy Sanborn (R) and cop Eddie Edwards (R) appear to be the serious prospects in the race to take on Shea-Porter.

NH-2: Businessman David McConville (R), who heads a prominent local fiscal conservative group and served as campaign manager for a gubernatorial candidate last year, is considering a run against Rep. Annie Kuster (D). McConville, who intends to run as a hard-edged fiscal conservative, would face ex-State Rep. and 2016 candidate Jack Flanagan (R) for the right to take on the popular Kuster in this light-blue seat.

NJ-11: Woodland Park Mayor Keith Kazmark (D) will not run for Congress, and has endorsed prosecutor Mike Sherill (D). Sherill looks like the Democratic front-runner to take on Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R) in this historically-Republican wealthy suburban seat that trended left last year.

NM-2: State Lands Commissioner Aubrey Dunn Jr. (R), who was looking like the front-runner for this seat, has abruptly aborted his bid. It’s unclear why Dunn decided to drop out or whether he will instead seek a second term as Lands Commissioner, though there are rumors that a feud with Gov. Susana Martinez (R) (or her svengali, Jay McCleskey) may have played a role. State Rep. Yvette Herrell (R) and ex-Hobbs Mayor Monty Newman (R) are in the race for this open medium-red southern NM seat; Newman is thought to have the backing of Martinez. State Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R) is also considering.

NY-1: State Rep. Fred Thiele (I), an Independence Party member who is a de facto Democrat, will not seek the D nomination to take on Rep. Lee Zeldin (R). Thiele had been considered Dems’ choice recruit for this race. Suffolk county commissioner Kate Browning (D) looks like Dems’ new top prospect to take on the popular Zeldin in this light-red eastern Long Island seat.

NY-11: Ex-Rep. Michael Grimm (R) officially kicked off his comeback bid this weekend. Grimm’s prior tenure in Congress ended with his resignation on tax charges; now, he is attempting to oust his successor, Rep. Dan Donovan (R) from the right in the primary. Grimm’s criminal record and Donovan’s popularity will likely make that a tough order, though Grimm could still cause significant problems for Donovan by continuing to the general election in this light-red Staten Island based seat on the Conservative third-party line.

NY-23: Running store owner Ian Golden (D) is putting a new-spin on the time-honored “walk across the district” publicity stunt by launching a 450-mile (literal) run across this large Southern Tier seat. The move could help Golden gain name rec in the crowded field of little-known candidates vying to take on Rep. Tom Reed (R) in this medium-red seat.

PA-1: Testimony at the trial of former judge and 2012 Jimmie Moore (D) is pointing a very incriminating finger at Rep. Bob Brady (D). In case you haven’t been following the story, here’s a recap: Moore, who is black, started to run a potentially credible primary challenge in 2012 against Brady, the white boss of the Philly Dem machine, in this racially-mixed district. Moore then later inexplicably dropped his bid, and quickly thereafter received a $90K payment from Brady. The cover story was that the cash was payment for “polling data”, but Moore admitted the obvious in a plea agreement – that it was a thinly-disguised bribe to get him out of the race. Brady has not yet been charged, but it’s hard not to see some charges coming down the pipeline for him.

PA-11: State Sen. John Yudchiak (D) will not run for this conservative Harrisburg-to-Wilkes-Barre open seat, eschewing the uphill race to stay in the State Senate. Four Republicans, State Rep. Steven Bloom (R), Corbett admin official Dan Meuser (R), Berwick councilman Andrew Shecktor (R), and businessman Andrew Lewis (R), are in the race or considering.

PA-15: Appointed Allentown city solicitor Susan Wild (D) will run for this light-red open seat, possibly giving Democrats their first credible candidate here. Several other Dems, including Northampton DA John Morganelli (D), are considering; Republicans are set to have a bloody primary between State Reps. Justin Simmons (R) and Ryan Mackenzie (R).

PA-16: Dentist Gary Wegman (D), who ran an abortive bid for this light-red Lancaster-area seat in 2016, will mount another bid this year for the seat of now-incumbent Rep. Lloyd Smucker (R). 2016 nominee and nonprofit Christina Hartman (D) is also in the primary for a second round.

PA-18: Now this is a bombshell. Texts have been released strongly implying Rep. Tim Murphy (R), who is publicly pro-life, asked his mistress to get an abortion and privately disavowed his own pro-life views. Murphy previously admitted the affair, but this is the first sense that there is more to the story. The abortion issue could be a big problem for Murphy in his socially conservative district; he joins Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) in the pro-life abortion promoters’ caucus. Importantly, unlike DesJarlais, whose transgressions occured several years before his first election to Congress, the texts here are from this summer, meaning Murphy is at least likely to get a serious primary challenger. Ex-Allegheny County commissioner Mike Crossey (D) is running for the Dems in this race.

UT-4: Salt Lake CE Ben McAdams (D) is considering a challenge to Rep. Mia Love (R). Trump did horribly in this suburban seat, scoring below 40%, but Love still won against her touted opponent by a 12-point margin. That said, this is the only House seat in Utah Dems could be competitive in and McAdams would definitely be a top-tier candidate.

State & Local:

AZ-SoS: Attorney and Dem operative Mark Gordon (D) is running for SoS. Gordon, who has not run for office but seems well-connected, joins State Sen. Katie Hobbs (D) in the primary for this seat. Incumbent Michele Reagan (R) is widely considered highly vulnerable due to her mismanagement of the office and is facing a tough primary with State Sen. Steve Montenegro (R).

IL-AG: Former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti (D), who has become a minor celebrity for his twitter commentary on the Russia investigation, is considering a run for AG. Mariotti would join State Sen. Kwame Raoul (D), State Rep. Scott Drury (D), and Chicago Police official Sharon Fairley (D) in this primary, with several other Dems considering. Former congressional candidate and Miss America Erika Harold (R) is the likely GOP nominee for this open seat.

Atlanta-Mayor: Survey USA for WXIA-TV has a poll of this year’s Atlanta Mayoral race, with moderate councilwoman Mary Norwood (D) taking a large lead at 28%. Fellow councilwoman Keisha Lance-Bottoms (D) has moved into second place with 15%, with councilman Ceasar Mitchell (D) at 10% and four other serious candidates in single digits. In the likely event no candidate tops 50% in the November jungle primary, the top two finishers will head on to a December runoff.

New Orleans-Mayor: Clarus for WWL-TV has this race (a week from Saturday) looking close to a 3-way tossup, with City councilwoman Latoya Cantrell (D) at 27% and retired judges Desiree Charbonnet (D) and Michael Bagneris (D) at 26% and 19% respectively. A different poll of the race had Bagneris on top. The top two finishers in the first round will advance to a mid-November runoff.

Louisville-Mayor: Councilwoman Angela Leet (R) will run for mayor next year, taking on incumbent Greg Fischer (D), who is seeking a third term. Leet seems likely to be a credible opponent for Fischer in the light-blue city.

Cook, IL-CE: County commissioner Richard Boykin (D) will not take on County Executive Toni Preckwinkle (D) in the primary. Preckwinkle, who was previously highly popular, is now thought to be at least somewhat vulnerable due to her support of a new soda tax (which Boykin opposed). However, a loss for Boykin would hurt his prospects at the job he really wants (the IL-7 congressional seat when Rep. Danny Davis (D) retires) so the decision makes sense for him. It’s possible that Preckwinkle will not get a serious primary challenger now, though there is still definitely room for one as the soda tax is deeply unpopular even among Dems.

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