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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 13, 2017

Over the weekend in PA-18, State Rep. Rick Saccone (R) took the GOP nomination. Democrats will nominate their contender this coming Sunday. Also check below for our preview of today’s election in Somaliland (where and/or what the heck is that, you ask?… read on).

Now, after a week in which I am reduced to not giving a f* about what happens to the broader GOP while resolving to spend the next year hoping and praying that Larry Hogan will not be doomed by a massive wave, it is time for today’s Roundup…

Briefing: New Nominees for our Anthony Weiner Award for Pervert of the Year:

AL-Sen: A former Roy Moore colleague said that it was “common knowledge” he was interested in high school girls when they worked together as prosecutors. Over the weekend, multiple polls have come out showing the race between Moore and ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) is a dead heat; in particular, one from JMC Analytics has Jones up 46-42.

CO-Treas: State Rep. Steve Lebsock (D) is under fire for allegedly sexually harassing a fellow lawmaker, State Rep. Faith Winter (D). Lebsock had looked like the Dem front-runner for the open Treasurer seat, but fellow State Rep. Dave Young (D) entered the race last week (perhaps getting tipped off about the allegations?) and now looks likely to be the Dems’ consensus pick. Democratic leaders are now calling for Lebsock’s resignation.

CA-SD-32: State Sen. Tony Mendoza (D) repeatedly attempted to get a young woman interviewing for a staffer job to come home with him to “review her resume”. Mendoza is the roommate of fellow State Sen. and US Senate candidate Kevin DeLeon (D).

CA-LD-26: State Rep. Devon Mathis (R) is under investigation by police for allegedly digitally penetrating a staffer.

MN-SD-54, MN-LD-22B: Two Minnesota legislators are also under fire for harassment. State Rep. Erin Maye-Quade (D) claims she was harassed by both State Sen. Dan Schoen (D) and State Rep. Tony Cornish (R). Allegations against Schoen were also leveld by multiple other women, and allegations against Cornish have been brought by a lobbyist.

Now, in non-perversion news:

Governor:

CA-Gov, CA-Sen: Ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R), who served three terms representing suburban Sacramento in the 90s and 2000s before a failed comeback bid in CA-7 in 2014, is now considering a run for Governor. Ose’s entry as a third Republican would likely completely ensure that two Democrats (and neither of the other two Rs, businessman John Cox (R) and State Rep. Travis Allen (R)) make the general election. But Ose may not need to enter to ensure that: a new USC/LA Times Poll shows LG Gavin Newsom (D) leading the gubernatorial race with 31%, with ex-LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) taking the second slot with 21%. Allen and Cox are banging heads to split the GOP vote with 15% and 11% respectively. Two longer-shot Dems, State Treasurer John Chiang (D) and ex-Superintendent Delaine Eastin (D), are at 12% and 4% respectively. For the Senate race, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) holds a strong lead over State Sen. Kevin DeLeon (D), who is challenging her from the left. Feinstein leads 58-31 in the two-way race.

MN-Gov: Woodbury (pop. 68K) Mayor Mary Guiluiani-Stevens (R) has reserved domain names pertaining to a gubernatorial run, but is so far tight-lipped on her intentions. The mayor of the large eastern Twin Cities suburb would join a crowded field of Hennepin County commissioner and 2014 nominee Jeff Johnson (R), State Sen. David Osmek (R), State Rep. Matt Dean (R), and ex-State Rep. and ex-MNGOP chair Keith Downey (R). State House Speaker Kurt Daudt (R) and ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) are also thought to be considering.

TX-Gov: Democrats continue to cast about for a sacrificial lamb to take on Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The latest name considering making a late entry here is Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D). Valdez is little-known outside of her county, but seems a significantly more credible candidate than investor Andrew White (D), who is the current Dem front-runner on little other than being the son of 80s-era ex-Gov. Mark (D).

Senate:

MA-Sen: Businessman, self-proclaimed “inventor of e-mail”, and Fran Drescher’s ex Shiva Ayyadurai is leaving the crowded GOP primary to take on Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D) and running as an Independent. Ayyadurai, a firebrand conservative, was an amusing sideshow in the race but had little institutional support as the primary field filled up with three more connected and traditional candidates, Romney aide Beth Lindstrom (R), State Rep. Geoff Diehl (R), and businessman John Kingston (R). Needless to say, none of these candidates pose a threat to Warren in the general.

NJ-Sen: A juror was dismissed from the corruption trial of Sen. Bob Mendendez (D) last week for a previously-planned vacation; jury deliberations will now start from scratch today. The excused juror, Evelyn Arroyo-Maultsby, said (quite colorfully) that she was a firm “not guilty” vote, but the jury was deadlocked and she expected an ultimate hung jury.

KY-Sen ’22: Sen. Rand Paul (R) has apparently been told that federal charges will be filed against Rene Boucher, a neighbor who attacked Paul and broke four of his ribs last week. Prosecutors likely believe the attack was politically motivated, while Boucher’s attorney says that it was due to a non-sepcific “trivial dispute”.

House:

KY-6: Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D) is considering a run against Rep. Andy Barr (R). Gray would likely be Democrats’ top recruit for the medium-red seat, as he carried the district in his 2016 Senate run against Sen. Rand Paul (R). However, Gray’s profile as a well-known liberal may make the race more difficult.

TX-21: State Rep. Jason Isaac (R) is the first candidate into the race for Rep. Lamar Smith’s (R) open San Antonio to Austin seat. Isaac represents about 20% of the district and could be a front-runner, but the field for this red seat that swung against Trump could grow significantly.

VA-6: Andy Parker (D), father of Alison Parker, a journalist who was murdered on live TV, is considering a run for this open congressional seat. Alison’s boyfriend Chris Hurst (D) was elected last week to a purple State House seat in the Blacksburg area. Parker would face a much tougher bid for the very conservative district; State Rep. Ben Cline (R) and RNC official Cynthia Dunbar (R) are already in what is expected to be a crowded GOP primary.

State & Local:

FL-AG: State Rep. Ross Spano (R) of suburban Tampa is the latest Republican considering an entry into this primary. Spano would join front-running retired judge Ashley Moody (R), who also hails from Tampa Bay, and fellow State Reps. Jay Fant (R) and Frank White (R). Little-known attorney Ryan Torrens (D) is the only Dem in the race.

GA-PSC: Deal Admin official Tricia Pridemore (R), who lost the 2014 primary for the congressional GA-11, is now running for an open seat on the Public Service Commission. The 5-member, all-GOP board is elected statewide for staggered 6-year terms.

IL-Comp, IL-Treas: Illinois Republicans have found two “C” list candidates to fill out their Row Officer ticket. Ex-State Rep. and 2014 IL-11 nominee Darlene Senger (R) will challenge Comptroller Susana Mendoza (R) and Orland Park councilman Jim Dodge (R) will challenge Treasurer Mike Frerichs (D). Both incumbent Democrats are heavy favorites for re-election in the blue state. They join former congressional candidate Erika Harold (R) for the open AG seat and Grundy DA Jason Helland (R) for SoS as the ILGOP’s presumptive Row Officer slate.

MS-LG: Vicksburg (pop. 23K) Mayor George Flaggs (D) is considering a run for LG in 2019. The moderate Flaggs says he may run as a Democrat or switch parties and run as a Republican. Incumbent Tate Reeves (R) is widely expected to either run for Governor or score an appointment to the Senate seat of Sen. Thad Cochran (R) should the latter resign soon, as expected; SoS Delbert Hosemann (R) and State Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) have also been connected with LG runs, but much will depend on how the Cochran musical chairs play out.

NV-Treas: Financial planner Derek Uehara (R) is running for State Treasurer, joining ex-Las Vegas councilman Bob Beers (R) in the primary. No Democrats have as of yet declared for this seat, which is open as incumbent Dan Schwartz (R) is running for Governor.

Howard, MD-CE: County Commissioner Calvin Ball (D) is running for County Executive in my home county against incumbent Allan Kittleman (R). Ball is a top-tier recruit for Dems in this blue suburban Baltimore county, heavy with upscale liberals, that continues to trend left despite my best efforts. (sigh)

PA-Redistrict: The State Supreme Court has agreed to fast-track a Democratic challenge to the state’s congressional map, placing it on a timeline that could lead to new maps in time for the 2018 elections. A new map would likely flip at least one of three competitive GOP-held districts in the Philly suburbs, PA-6, 7, and 8, and potentially make a couple other districts, most likely the open GOP-held PA-15 and the Dem held Trump-voting PA-17, more competitive.

International:

Today, continuing our commitment to bringing you coverage of elections in places you didn’t even know existed, there is an election in Somaliland, which might be best characterized as an accident of diplomacy. Calling it a de facto nation would be selling it short: in every arena but international status, Somaliland is a more of a nation than a sizeable fraction of the world’s recognized nations. It has a population of 3.5M, occupying what is internationally recognized as (theoretically) the northwest part of Somalia along the south shore of the Gulf of Aden. However, that international recognition is a diplomatic fiction, as the dysfunctional-at-best Somali government hasn’t had the slightest bit of control (or even influence) over the area for over 25 years. Somaliland broke off when the nation’s central government disintegrated in 1991 and hasn’t looked back, but the desire to not further hurt the legitimacy of the fledgling-to-nonexistent Mogadishu government has led all other countries to hold back from recognizing Somaliland’s obvious independence. Making its lack of international recognition even stranger is that Somaliland would under normal circumstances be one of both Africa’s and the Islamic World’s biggest success stories. It is a relatively stable and democratic nation (at least by the global region’s low standards), with a functioning central government and economy, and a free politics and civil society that easily surpass a majority of Africa’s recognized nations. Today, the presidential election is open as the incumbent is peacefully standing down, and there is a lively competition between the country’s three strong parties, which are well-developed enough to even have rudimentary ideologies instead of being mere personality or clan vehicles. All of the three parties have large caucuses in parliament and are running credible candidates, who even had a televised debate last month. Furthermore, all three candidates at least appear to be relatively pro-Western and within democratic norms. The candidate of the incumbent party is Musa Behi, who serves as the party’s chair. He is facing public works minister Faysal Warabe and parliament speaker Abdiraman Irro. It’s hard to handicap this race, but Behi seems to be the candidate of the capital’s establishment and military, Irro seems to have the strongest ties to rural traditional clan leaders, and Warabe seems to be closest to a Western-style social democrat. Behi seems to be the front-runner, but it’s hard to say for sure.

PA-18 GOP Convention Preview & Liveblog

11:30 ET- Rick Saccone is the GOP nominee, prevailing 123-91 over Reschenthaler.

11:00 ET- In a surprise, Kim Ward has been eliminated in the first round of balloting by a very narrow margin. It is now a one-on-one between Reschenthaler and Saccone; Reschenthaler has a one vote (75-74) lead. Ward was eliminated with 66 votes.

10:55 ET- Unfortunately reporting from the convention is nonexistent, so I don’t know what’s happening, but it appears Ortitay has dropped out.

10:00 ET- The convention is open. If anyone has any twitter links please share them because I’m finding squat.

Elections keep churning on: this Saturday, Republicans are holding their special convention for Tim Murphy’s (R) open PA-18. The convention will open at 9AM ET on Saturday, and our liveblog will start at that time in this thread (though actual voting will probably not be starting until around 11 or noon given how these things generally go). The seat is based in and largely coextensive with the southern suburbs of Pittsburgh; it has a PVI of R+11 and is likely, though not quite certain, to stay in GOP hands. A quartet of serious Republican candidates, all of them state legislators, are facing off at Saturday’s GOP Convention. 200-some insiders will pick the nominee and thus the favorite to take the seat in the March 13 general election. The quick timing of the convention means that none of these four have yet had the chance to coalesce widespread support, meaning this nomination is significantly more open than you might expect for machine-dominated Pennsylvania. (Also, we often speak of Pennsylvania as a machine politics state, but the western half of the state tends to have significantly weaker machines than the eastern half). That situation means this race is even harder than a typical convention to handicap, which is really saying something considering that conventions are hard to analyze to begin with. This race uses a typical iterative convention ballot system, where the lowest candidate is eliminated and the others advance to another round until someone gets over 50%. There are 215 delegates at the convention, apportioned as follows: 80 from Westmoreland, 79 from Allegheny, 50 from Washington, and 6 from Greene. The main quirk of this convention seems to be not in the voting, but the candidate presentations: just 5 minutes are allowed for speeches, but candidates will have up to 20 minutes for Q&A, making the pre-voting part of the convention essentially a Town Hall Meeting format.

Kim Ward

State Sen. Kim Ward (R) is the most politically-experienced candidate. Ward is well-known from her decade in the legislature, and has strong connections from her prior service in a former state administration and Rick Santorum’s US Senate campaign. Ward was recruited to run for the US Senate in 2012, but declined. For this race, Ward is the only candidate from Westmoreland County (in fact, the only candidate of the four living outside Allegheny), giving her a strong geographic base. That may be quite important as tea leaves suggest that the Allegheny delegation has strong supporters of all 3 other candidates; a relatively united Westmoreland and a split Allegheny could get Ward very close to victory by itself. Additionally, Ward’s longer political history and broader connections are big assets in this insider dominated format, and thus she looks like a slight front-runner here. However, Ward is facing three serious rivals. (my odds – 40%)

Guy Reschenthaler

State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R) was the first candidate into the race, jumping in hours after Murphy retired. In contrast to Ward’s profile as a veteran pol, Reschenthaler is considered a fast-rising star; in his early 30s, he previously served in Iraq as a JAG corps member before winning election to a local judicial seat. Reschenthaler is also experienced at conventions, winning his State Senate nomination at a 2015 convention against better-known candidates. He seems to have solid establishment support in this race as well, and thus also likely has a strong chance to win. (my odds – 30%)

Rick Saccone

State Rep. Rick Saccone (R) is the most antiestablishment leaning of the major candidates. Saccone was previously running for the US Senate seat, but his odds of receiving that nomination went to near zero when Rep. Lou Barletta (R) declared, so he dropped down to this race. Saccone is known as a staunch social conservative, particularly on religion and Second Amendment issues. This district is far from a bad place for that kind of Republican, but the GOP establishment and activist community in the seat is more upscale in sensibilities, so Saccone may have a tough time getting crossover support from the party’s more moderate wing. But if the convention is more antiestablishment dominated he could have a good chance. (my odds – 18%)

Jason Ortitay

State Rep. Jason Ortitay (R) is the final serious candidate in the race. Ortitay, who like Reschenthaler is in his early 30s, is also considered a rising star, as he won two seriously-contested races for a historically Dem seat. Ortitay is the only candidate who represents a large part of Washington County (though Reschenthaler and Saccone represent smallish bits of it), potentially giving him a geographic base there. But overall he is the least politically-experienced of the candidates and, at least going in, looks like the longest shot. However, Ortitay giving a great speech and surprising is far from out of the question. (my odds – 12%)

A total Some Dude, postal worker George Karpacs (R), is also running, but should have zero chance. (my odds – 0.01%) Overall, any four of the serious candidates coming out on top would not be a surprise, though right now CW seems to be pegging Ward as the slightest of favorites. Five Democrats are facing off at their convention a week from Sunday (11/19). RRH Elections last rated this general election as Safe R, though that was before Murphy’s scandal and resignation.

Political Roundup for October 31, 2017

Happy Halloween Everyone!  We are one week away from the biggest election day in 2017.  May the odds ever be in your favorite candidate’s favor!

President / National

Republican Wing of United Russia:  Former Trump campaign chairman and international political consultant Paul Manafort, together with business associate Richard Gates, have been charged by Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller (R-House of Bush) in a money laundering scheme involving the use of banks in Cyprus (another place frequented by friends of United Russia) to hide receipt of funds for services rendered to Ukrainians working to restore the glory days of the Russian Empire or Soviet Union.  No word if the Spetsnaz GRU plans on extracting Manafort or if the Russians would accept him in a prisoner swap.

Democratic Wing of United Russia:  Cold Warrior Mueller is also going after Democrats who had no issues getting in bed with the Ukrainian lackeys of United Russia.  Tony Podesta has resigned from his namesake lobbying firm due to the pending perp walk he will be making.  Maybe the Trump administration and Clinton clan can get together and blame Mueller’s Cold Warrior prosecutions on him being an establishment Republican.

Obamacare/Tax Reform:  Senator Orrin Hatch (R) says that an Obamacare individual mandate repeal might be include in the yet to be presented tax reform bill.  Ironically this is the only thing holding Obamacare up from completely collapsing.

ABA/Trump:  One of President Trump’s judicial nominees has run afoul of a certain left-wing legal group known as the American Bar Association.  Leonard Steven Grasz, former Deputy Chief Attorney General for Nebraska, is an experienced litigator who has fought numerous cases at the Circuit Court of Appeals and Supreme Court level during his 11 year tenure, but it appears that is not good enough for the ABA whose deemed him not qualified for the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals.  Grasz’s offense appears to supporting pro-life legislation (oh the horror).

Congress

PA-18:  It appears the insider driven primary process is causing more headaches for the Democrats than the Republicans in the race to replaced disgraced former Congressman Tim Murphy (R-Abortions for Mistresses Only).  The Westmoreland Democratic Party and its leadership is being sued by Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli (D) because she wants them to appoint several dozen committee members who will support her nomination while the Westmoreland Democratic Party along with the other county parties in PA-18 don’t want to have a pro-life, pro-gun, pro-coal candidate to challenge the Republicans.

FL-27:  Speaking of disgusting behavior, Miami Beach City Commissioner and Democratic congressional candidate Kristen Rosen Gonzalez (D) has accused Rafael Velasquez (D), a progressive activist and city commission candidate endorsed by Gonzalez, of “Harvey Weinsteining” her two weeks ago.  Velasquez refutes the claims and has provided text messages of the two being friendly last week.  This is after the Florida Democratic Party chairman resigned last week because of an affair and this seat featuring a Republican candidate claiming to have been abducted by space aliens.

States

PA-Lt. Governor:  Braddock Mayor John Fetterman (D-Bold Progressive!) is in the final stages of planning a run against Lt. Governor Mike Stack (D – Unendorsed).  Fetterman, possibly the most covered small city mayor on RRHElections, is essentially the Bernie Sanders of the Mon Valley and would be a formidable challenger to the ethically-challenged state trooper abusing Stack in the shotgun primary.

PA-Election Fraud:  PA Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D-What office is open next?) and Philadelphia District Attorney Kelley Hodge (D?) charged four elections officials for misbehaving in the 197th House District special election.  Sounds like the standard shady behavior we would expect in the poorest part of Philadelphia when the Democratic candidate got thrown off the ballot and had to run as a write-in.  The fact that Shapiro went after the Philly machine speaks volumes to how weak the machine has become.

Political Roundup for October 24, 2017

First, there is a single legislative special primary today. SC-LD-56 is an R+17 (2016) seat covering most of the inland suburbs of Myrtle Beach along State Route 31. Retired TV news anchor Tim McGinnis (R) looks like the front-runner for the seat due to his high name recognition, but chiropractor Dwyer Scott (R) has self-funded and also seems serious. College student Adam Miller (R) seems less serious. Either McGinnis or Scott could win, or the two could advance to a runoff in two weeks if Miller holds both below 50. No Democrats are running.

President:

Cuban: Billionaire businessman Mark Cuban has stated that if he runs for president in 2020 he would “probably” do so as a Republican. However, this is probably not the “Cuban” presidential candidate most Republicans were hoping for.

Governor:

IL-Gov: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) rode a Harley and criticized state Boss House Speaker Michael Madigan (D) as he officially announced his run for a second term. Rauner released a two-minute video with him riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and promising to fight for Illinois.

NY-Gov: NY Mets owner and Ponzi scheme magnet Fred Wilpon has donated $65,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) re-election campaign as he lobbies the state for approval of an arena for the NY Islanders at the Belmont Race track because this is how business is done in New York State.

RI-Gov: State Rep. Patricia Morgan becomes the first Republican to enter the race to challenge incumbent Gov. Gina Raimondo  (D) in 2018. Morgan is one of eleven GOP members of the 75 member Rhode Island state House and enters the race for governor with about $90,000 in her campaign account. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and former Rep. Joseph Trillo are also considering a run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.

VA-Gov: Republican Ed Gillespie’s new ad hits Democrat Ralph Northam for supporting the automatic restoration of voting rights to felons that would make it easier for them to get guns and serve on juries. The ad is part of Gillespie’s tough on crime message that seems straight out of old GOP playbooks.

Senate:

CA-Sen: State Senate leader Kevin de León (D) has $3.8 million in his state campaign account that cannot be rolled into his federal account as he seeks to take on Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D). Political strategists Maclen Zilber and Dave Jacobson have created a super PAC called A Progressive California to help support De León but it is unclear if he can transfer money from his state committees to the PAC. The legal issue may have to be resolved by federal authorities or courts as federal law restricts contributions by candidates to super PACs that support them.

MA-Sen: Republican John Kingston allegedly asked Beth Lindstrom to drop out of the Republican primary during a meeting they had last month. Kingston claimed he would be a better senate candidate against incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Faux Cherokee Nation) and allegedly offered to help Lindstrom with a congressional campaign for the MA-3 seat that Niki Tsongas is vacating or a challenge to US Senator Edward Markey’s re-election in 2020. Massachusetts state law prohibits a candidate for elected office to give another candidate anything of value in exchange for not running in the same race and Lindstrom clearly leaked this story to the Boston Globe as a way of ratf**king Kingston’s campaign. Conservative state Representative Geoff Diehl, self-promoter Shiva Ayyadurai and 2013 senate candidate Gabriel Gomez are also seeking the GOP nomination for the uphill task of unseating Warren.

MI-Sen: Former Trump White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon is in regular contact with musician Kid Rock (R) about a potential Senate run.

MS-Sen:  If Sen. Thad Cochran (R) resigns from the Senate early who would Gov. Phil Bryant (R) would appoint a temporary replacement? Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R) is believed to be the most likely option but Rep. Gregg Harper (R) and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann (R) could also be possibilities. Reeves has been planning a run for Governor in 2019 so taking a Senate appointment could shake up that race. If Cochran leaves office before Nov. 6 it would prompt a special, nonpartisan election within 100 days and if he leaves office after Nov 6th it would trigger a special, nonpartisan election in November 2018 to serve out the remainder of his term which will expire at the end of 2020.

OH-Sen: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) says the White House is full of “Goldman Sachs executives” and “white supremacists” which if true is probably just as bad as a US Senate full of wife beaters.

House:

CA-24: Republican Justin Fareed is back and will make his third run for this congressional seat. Fareed lost to Rep. Salud Carbajal (D) by 7 points in 2016 and did not make it to the top two in 2014. Fareed has raised more than $215,000 for his campaign.

MS-4: Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes (R) is “strongly considering” a primary challenge of Rep. Steven Palazzo (R). Hewes, 55, has been mayor of Gulfport since 2013 and formerly served in the state Senate from 1992 to 2012 and was president pro tem, the second-ranking position in the Senate, from 2008-2012. Hewes also ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2011.

NH-1: Illinois native Obama administration official Maura Sullivan (D), who was originally recruited to run in IL-6, is exploring a run for Congress from her new home of New Hampshire. I guess there is no better way to see a state for the first time than by travelling around it campaigning for public office.

OH-12: Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien (R) has become the first Republican candidate to announce a run for the seat Rep.  Pat Tiberi (R) intents to resign from in January.

PA-18: Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has set Tuesday March 13th as the date for the special election to replace ex-Rep. Tim Murphy (R). Under Pennsylvania law nominees will be picked through party conventions rather than primaries. Donald Trump won this seat 58% to 39% in 2016.

VA-10: Dumb viral videos work! Some dude Army vet Dan Helmer’s (D) campaign for Congress has taken off after he released a painfully bad to watch “Top Gun” themed ad in September. Helmer’s campaign account has $397,941 cash on hand which is a a lot more than Democrat rivals state Sen. Jennifer Wexton ($255,075) or former Obama administration official Alison Friedman ($241,857) have on hand. The winner of the Democrat primary will face Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) who has a history as a strong campaigner and winning elections in a swing district.

WI-3: Retired Army veteran Steve Toft (R) announced he will challenge Rep. Ron Kind next year. Kind had the good fortune to run unopposed in 2016 when his district swung from 55-44 for Obama in 2012 to 49-45 for Trump.

State, Local & Other:

Houston-Bond Measure: Lift Up Houston plans on running $250,000 worth of broadcast TV ads supporting the five bond measures on the ballot this November. The 30 second ads features Mayor Sylvester Turner urging Houstonians to go into debt to pay for pension reforms and “public improvements”.

CO-Broomfield Ballot issue 301: The Vote No on 301 supporters have raised more than $344,000 to fight this November’s ballot issue 301 which would restrict the presence of oil and gas industrial operations in Broomfield, CO.

NY-Westchester County Executive: Democrat George Latimer has released an internal poll showing him with a 1-percentage point lead over Republican incumbent Rob Astorino. If a 1 point lead is the best Latimer can show in his press release/poll there is a good chance Astorino is leading this race.

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