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Political Roundup for November 29, 2017

Last night, the GOP scored its first contested legislative special pickup of the year as Neil Whaley (R) won MS-SD-10. Kevin Ford (R) held MS-LD-54, and businesswoman and 2014 US Senate candidate Nancy Mace (R) won the GOP nomination for SC-LD-99 and will face businesswoman Cindy Boatwright (D) in January.

Governor:

CT-Gov: He’s back! Democrat Ned Lamont is gauging interest in running for Governor next year. Lamont beat Sen. Joe Lieberman in the 2006 Democrat primary only to lose to Lieberman in the general election. He also lost the 2010 Democrat primary to Gov. Dan Malloy in 2010. Lamont spent over $26 million of his own money on his two unsuccessful campaigns and Lamont still has a lot of money to burn.

IL-Gov: Two top Democratic gubernatorial candidates released tax return information on Monday. Billionaire J.B. Pritzker showed he was a “man of the people” and only earned $14.95 million last year while Kennedy scion Chris Kennedy earned a modest $1.2 million.

MN-Gov: Mayor Giuliani (R) is running for governor! Mayor Mary Giuliani Stephens of Woodbury Minnesota that is. She may not be America’s Mayor but she is a Mayor near the Mall of America. Giuliani-Stephens joins a field of about a dozen candidates looking at running for the GOP nomination.

OH-Gov: The publicity stunt Richard Cordray (D) used to launch his gubernatorial campaign seems to be coming to an end as a federal judge ruled that Mick Mulvaney is the rightful director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The kurtuffle Cordray created should help him raise a ton of online cash from the Democrat #Resistance base across the country and should help him secure the Democrat nomination for governor of Ohio. Hopefully it has also exposed what a constitutionally dubious, politically partisan, fraud of an agency the CFPB is and will help build momentum for dismantling it and the business killing regulations King Cordray was trying to impose on the banking industry.

TX-Gov: Andrew White, son of Mark White, is set to announce his bid for the Democrat nomination for the right to lose to Gov. Greg Abbott (R) next November. The Texas filing deadline in December 11th and so far Mr. Leather International Jeffrey Payne is the only other “major” Democrat running.

Senate: 

AL-Sen: Change Research has new poll showing Roy Moore (R-Gadsden Mall) leading Doug Jones (D-Planned Parenthood) 49% to 44% with 7% of voters saying they plan to cast a write-in vote. Change Research was one of the few pollsters to show Moore leading after the charges against him initially surfaced. The 5 point lead they show now is similar to the 4 point lead they gave Moore on November 11th. Change Research is not included in the RCP polling average which has Jones leading by 0.8%.

AL-Sen: Doug Jones (D) is outspending Roy Moore (R) by a 10-1 margin and is blanketing Alabama with TV ads. Jones’ campaign has spent $5.6 million on television and radio ads during the general election while Roy Moore has only spent about $600,000.

MA-Sen: Elizabeth Warren is still pretending to be an Native American by cybersquatting the the domain pocahontas.com

VA-Sen: The Virginia GOP may have found someone to stop the embarrassment that is Corey Stewart from winning the GOP nomination for Senate. State Del. Nick Freitas (R) is about to enter the GOP primary for the right to face Yo soy Sen. Tim Kaine (D) next November. Fretias is an Iraq War combat veteran who was first elected to the Virginia General Assembly in 2015.

House:

AZ-3: Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Rep. Raul Grijalva (D)  paid out a $48,395 taxpayer-funded settlement to hush up a top staffer who claimed he was frequently drunk and created a hostile work place environment. Grijalva holds a D+13 district.

CA-48: A plethora of Democrat congressional candidates could create problems for Democrats hoping to take on Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R). So far seven Democrats are running in the top two jungle primary in this R+4 district. One Republican, Stelian Onufrei, is also challenging Rohrabacher and has pledged to spend half a million dollars of his own money in the campaign. Because of the seven way Democrat split it is quite possible for Republican Onufrei to end up in a top two with Rohrabacher.

IL-03: A who’s who of wackjob progressive groups have endorsed Marie Newman (D) in her primary against Rep. Dan Lipinski (D). NARAL Pro-Choice America, MoveOn.org, Human Rights Campaign, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America have joined the Daily Kos in wanting to make an example of Lipinski for his heretical views on the Right to Life. IL-3 is a D+6 district that Hillary Clinton won 55% to 40%.

IL-04: Retiring Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D) has ruled out running for mayor of Chicago or Governor of Puerto Rico and has endorsed Cook County Commissioner Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D) to be his replacement. Gutiérrez said he only retired because Garcia had agreed to run to be his replacement.

MI-13: Another former staffer has come forward and accused Rep. John Conyers (D) of making unwanted sexual advances toward her when she worked for him from 1997 to 2005. As a result of the widening scandal the Congressional Black Caucus is in talks with Conyers (and his keepers) in order to get him to resign.

NJ-2: Damnit! State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D) is running for Congress. Van Drew will formally announce his campaign today for the R+1 seat of retiring Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R). Between Van Drew’s local popularity and the Congressional GOP’s plan to raise taxes on many swing voters in this it could be one of the harder seats for the GOP to hold next year.

TX-5: Retiring Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s (R) former campaign manager Bunni Pounds (R) has filed to run to replace her boss. So far former state Rep. Kenneth Sheets (R) is the only major Republican candidate running in this R+16 seat.

TX-6: File this one under “Just in Case”. With the December 11th Texas filing deadline fast approaching Texas Veterans Commission member Jake Ellzey (R) has filed to run in Republican primary. Rep. Joe Barton (R) has been in an uncomfortable position after pictures of him in an all too comfortable position he sent to an ex-girlfriend were released without his authorization over the internet. Ellzey hasn’t said if he is actually running or not but by filing now he can launch a campaign if things gets worse for Barton or if Barton bows out.

State, Local & Other:

MA-SoS: 33 year old Boston City Councilor Josh Zakim (D) will primary longtime Massachusetts Secretary of State William Galvin (D) who is seeking his 7th term in office. The Zakim Bridge across the Charles River in Boston is named after Josh Zakim’s father.

Political Roundup for November 28, 2017

There are three special election runoffs today, two in Mississippi and one in South Carolina. MS-SD-10 is a D-held ~R+2 rural seat around Senatobia and Holly Springs, just beyond the edge of the Memphis exurbs. This area tends to be far more Dem-friendly downballot and contains one of the few remaining Dixiecrat concentrations. Businessman Neil Whaley (R) led the first round 36-31 over Holly Springs Councilwoman Sharon Gipson (D); however, as three other Democrats took the remainder of the vote, Gipson looks like a moderately strong favorite in the second round. MS-LD-54 is an ~R+22 seat covering eastern Vicksburg and rural areas to the north. Insurance agent Kevin Ford (R) led physician Randy Easterling (R) 37-33; there is no clear favorite in the runoff. The third is a primary runoff, for SC-LD-99, an R+12 seat connecting upscale Charleston suburbs along the northeast part of I-526 from Hanahan to northern Mt. Pleasant. Businesswoman Nancy Mace (R) took 49.5% in the first election, missing an outright win by just 35 votes. She is now the clear favorite over Mt. Pleasant councilman Mark Smith (R), who took second with 27%. The winner will face businesswoman Cindy Boatwright (D) in the general.

Now as we try to sort out who is the real Antipope of the CFPB, it is time for the day’s news…

Senate:

AL-Sen: Republicans have a write-in candidate for this seat, but it’s not exactly a big name. Retired Marine Lee Busby (R), who served as vice-chief of staff to John Kelly when he was a general and has worked as a sculptor since leaving the service, is running as a write-in against ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) and ex-State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R). Busby could be a vehicle for Moore-skeptical Republicans, but with his lack of any political experience and zero name recognition it’s hard to see him getting more than a few points. It’s unclear who he would draw more from as I would guess there may be as many soft Rs that have already defected to Jones as have been sticking with Moore. Trump announced yesterday he would not campaign with Moore.

MN-Sen: Sen. Al Franken (D) is resisting calls to step down, and said he is returning to his Senate work in a painfully awkward press conference yesterday.

Governor:

CT-Gov: Trumbull Mayor Tim Herbst (R) is at the center of a messy family lawsuit. Herbst’s mother Deborah is suing Tim’s sister Amanda and her husband, alleging the two hacked into Deborah’s phone to look for evidence to use in a lawsuit against Tim. Amanda’s then-boyfriend, now-husband, Jesse Jablon, alleges he was fired as Trumbull’s interim city manager because of his relationship with Amanda. Jablon also accuses Tim of later spreading rumors that Jablon was a drug dealer. Tim does not deny that the relationship was problematic for Jablon’s prospects, saying that Jablon’s relationship with Amanda could have opened Tim up to charges of nepotism. Herbst is one of around 8 credible Republicans competing in this epic clown-car primary.

MI-Gov: LG Brian Calley (R) is expected to launch his gubernatorial campaign today. Calley will likely join front-running AG Bill Schuette (R), State Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R), and physician Jim Hines (R) in the GOP primary. Democrats have a crowded primary field as well with ex-State Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D) as the front-runner.

TX-Gov: With under two weeks before the filing deadline, Texas Democrats continue to cast about for a sacrificial lamb to challenge Gov. Greg Abbott (R). The latest little-known name to consider the race is Houston city councilman Dwight Boykins (D), who is officially exploring. Investor Andrew White (D), son of 80s-era ex-Gov. Mark (D), is the most serious candidate in the race so far, but another low “C” list Dem, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (D), is also considering.

House:

ID-1: The Club for Growth has endorsed ex-State Sen. and 2014 Gubernatorial candidate Russ Fulcher (R) in the primary for this open seat. Fulcher, an antiestablishment conservative, is facing 80s-era ex-LG David Leroy (R) and State Reps. Luke Malek (R) and Christy Perry (R) in the primary for the safely Republican seat covering the libertarian-leaning western half of the state and northern panhandle.

IL-4: ICYMI, last night Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D) announced he would not run for a fourteenth term; Cook County commissioner and 2015 Mayoral candidate Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D) and Chicago councilman and abortive LG candidate Carlos Ramirez-Rosa (D) are already thought to be preparing bids to succeed him. Click through for our full Great Mentioner and analysis of this ultra-Safe-D Chicago seat.

MT-AL: Reporter Ben Jacobs has sent a Cease and Desist letter to Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) accusing Gianforte of publicly misrepresenting the events of Gianforte’s May assault of Jacobs.

NH-2: Josh McElveen (R), a prominent former political reporter at the state’s largest TV station, is the latest Republican into the race to take on Rep. Annie Kuster (D). McElveen will face State Rep. Steve Negron (R) and physician Stewart Levenson (R); he likely starts with the highest name recognition and probably starts as the slight front-runner in the primary. Any Republican will face an uphill race against Kuster, a strong incumbent in the light-blue seat.

NJ-2: Democrats are about to land a major recruiting coup for this open R-held South Jersey purple seat, as State Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D), who has easily held down a red State Senate seat, is set to kick off his campaign tomorrow. Van Drew is a truly “A” list recruit for Dems here, and his entry makes this race among the toughest holds for the GOP in 2018. Newly-elected State Sen. Chris Brown (R) is probably the GOP’s best prospect here after his surprisingly strong legislative win last month, though there is not yet indication he’s considering a bid.

SC-6: Ex-State Rep. and 2014 LG nominee Bakari Sellers (D) has announced he will run for the seat of Rep. James Clyburn “at some point.” Sellers, who is considered a rising star, stopped short of saying he would not challenge Clyburn in a primary. Clyburn, the third-ranking Dem in the House, is 77 but has given no indication of wanting to leave Congress by any means other than a stretcher. Should the seat come open, Sellers would likely be a strong candidate but potentially face a crowded primary.

TX-2: Two new candidates have entered the race for this suburban Houston open seat. Daniel Crenshaw (R), a former Navy SEAL who lost an eye in Afghanistan, has joined the race and would seem to have the story to be a serious contender.  Healthcare executive David Balat (R) was originally planning a primary challenge to Rep. John Culberson (R) in TX-7 next door, but has decided to shift to the open seat as well. The two join State Rep. Kevin Roberts (R) and businessman Rick Walker (R) in the race.

TX-9: Rep. Al Green (D), who represents southern Houston and some multiracial southwest suburbs, is getting some fresh attention over a 2008 case of harassment allegations. Green had sex with a former staffer, Lucinda Daniels, who later filed suit for sexual harassment after Green began confronting her about her drug use. The two issued a rather cryptic statement yesterday saying that they “remain friends” and that no money was paid in the case.

TX-29: State Rep. Armando Walle (D) has aborted his run for Congress days after beginning it. It is looking more like State Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D) is the prohibitive favorite to take this heavily Hispanic deep-blue Houston seat.

State Offices:

AL-AG: Ex-AG Troy King (R) is running to get his old job back. King lost a re-election primary in 2010 to now-outgoing Sen. Luther Strange (R). He joins appointed incumbent Steve Marshall (R), ex-US Attorney Alice Martin (R), and 2006 State Auditor candidate Chess Bedsole (R) in the primary.

CT-AG: AG George Jepsen (D) announced yesterday he would not seek a third term. The low-key Jepsen would have been a prohibitive favorite for re-election. State Rep. William Tong (D) and prosecutor and gubernatorial candidate Chris Mattei (D) have been mentioned as potential candidates for the open seat. Republicans may seriously contest this race as Connecticut looks likely to be more-fertile-than-average ground for Republicans next year due to toxic Gov. Dan Malloy (D).

PA-LG: Lancaster County commissioner Craig Lehman (D) is the third significant candidate to take on LG Mike Stack (D) in the shotgun-wedding primary to run with Gov. Tom Wolf (D). You may recall that Stack is in hot water for abusing staffers at his state residence. Lehman joins Braddock Mayor and 2016 Senate candidate John Fetterman (D) and Chester County commissioner Kathy Cozzone (D) in the race.

MN-SD-54, MN-LD-23B: State Sen. Dan Schoen (D) and State Rep. Tony Cornish (R) have both resigned after being accused of sexual harassment. Schoen’s southeast exurban Twin Cities seat will likely be hotly-contested, while Cornish’s rural south-central MN seat should stay Republican barring something unexpected.

CA-LD-39: Following them out the door is another pervnado member, State Rep. Raul Bocanegra (D) of the heavily Hispanic eastern San Fernando Valley. Bocanegra’s seat is safely Democratic but could draw a crowded field of Dems.

Local Offices:

Atlanta-Mayor: Ahead of next week’s runoff, councilwoman Mary Norwood (I) has scored two significant endorsements. Businessman Peter Aman (D), the other white moderate in the first round, is backing Norwood, giving her two endorsements from defeated rivals who totaled 20% of the first-round vote. But the bigger deal is an endorsement from 2000s-era ex-Mayor Shirley Franklin (D), Norwood’s most prominent black endorser to date. Norwood is considered the underdog in the runoff after trailing 27-21 to councilwoman Keisha Lance-Bottoms (D), a black establishment liberal who has the support of outgoing incumbent Kasim Reed (D) and a majority of the state’s Dem establishment.

Philly-Mayor ’19: Outgoing City Comptroller Alan Butkovitz (D) is hinting at a run against Mayor Jim Kenney (D) in 2019. Butkovitz is something of a maverick whose mediocre relationship with the local machine cost him his re-election bid this year, so he would likely face an uphill fight against Kenney.

Cook, IL-CE: Ex-Cook CE Todd Stroger (D) is running to get his old job back. Stroger was booted in the 2010 primary by now-incumbent Toni Preckwinkle (D). Stroger, who took under 14% in his re-election primary after a term marred by multiple sandals, is not likely to be a particularly strong challenger to Preckwinkle, who is unpopular due to her advocacy for a soda tax, which was so loathed that public outrage forced its repeal. Gadflyish ex-Chicago councilman Bob Fioretti (D) is also challenging Preckwinkle.

Political Roundup for November 15, 2017

Last night, Tim Keller (D) won easily in Albuquerque, Democrats picked up the deep-red OK-SD-37 while the GOP held two other seats, and Ashley Trantham (R) won SC-LD-28 outright while SC-LD-99 will head to a runoff in two weeks.

As Roy Moore is plotting how to go after younger women with this level of media scrutiny to take Australia legalizing gay marriage off his mind, it is time for today’s political roundup:

Alabama Senate

FOX 10 News / Strategy Research:  The latest poll finds that Alabama voters have been mildly impacted by finding out that their “divine” hero former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R-Pedophile) maintains a 49-43 lead over former US Attorney Doug Jones (D-Lucky).  We can only hope that the poll is overestimating Moore’s support and underestimating the decency of Alabama voters.

RNC:  The RNC cut “Dirty Roy” off by terminating its joint fundraising agreement.  The RNC is evaluating what to do to salvage this race.

Trump:  President Trump (Himself) faces an interesting dilemma regarding Dirty Roy.  Does he push Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R) to run as a write-in?  Does he even get involved?

Sessions:  Speaking of Trump’s Attorney General (are they on good or bad terms?), Sessions says he has no reason to doubt Dirty Roy’s accusers.

Senate:  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) said that if Alabama decides to send Dirty Roy to Washington the Senate will promptly expel Dirty Roy.  Arguably expelling Alabama from the Union should be up for debate if they send Dirty Roy to Washington.

Congress/National

IN-Sen:  Businessman Terry Henderson (R) quit the Republican primary for US Senate.  Henderson deserves props for being honesty and admitting he could not raise money.

OH-16:  State Representative Tom Patton (RINO) dropped out of the race to replace Representative John Renacci (R), whose running for Governor.  Patton says he is dropping out due to a family emergency.

NJ-Sen:  The jury in the trial of Senator Robert Menendez (D) for corruption is deadlocked.  It is not clear if the jury is really deadlocked or just trying to drag this out as long as possible to stop Governor Chris Christie (R) from appointing a replacement.

States / International

Australia:  Over 60% of Australians who took part in a non-binding survey voted for same-sex marriage.   Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (Coalition), who called the survey to pressure conservatives in the Coalition, said that same sex marriage will be legalized by Christmas.  Almost 80 percent of voters took part including the Prime Minister, who voted YES.

PA-Gov:  State House Speaker Mike Turzai (R) confirmed he will run against Governor Tom Wolf (D).  Turzai’s entry into the race is a bit of a surprise at this point.  State Senator Scott Wagner (R), the de facto leader of Senate Republicans, has been viewed as the only serious candidate.  Turzai’s entry will complicate Wagner’s run except to the extent Turzai is splitting the vote with 2 other candidates from Allegheny County, consultant Paul Mango and attorney Laura Ellsworth.

Albuquerque Mayoral Runoff Preview & Liveblog

10:01 ET- Apparently via twitter ground reports are saying that Ikley-Freeman has won.

9:59 ET- With 3 precincts left, Ikley-Freeman (D) is up by 7 votes (!!!)

9:55 ET- Ikley-Freeman (D) up 75 votes with 80% in.

9:51 ET- 75% in and the Dem is up 22 votes.

9:47 ET- 65% in, O’Hara’s lead has expanded to 14 votes.

9:35 ET- And Albuquerque is even more of a snoozer than we expected. Keller is up 63-37 in the early vote and I don’t even feel the need to continue to liveblog. In Oklahoma, the GOP has held SD-45 and LD-76, while Brian O’Hara (R) is up by 13 votes in SD-37 with half reporting.

9:30 ET- Legislative results: Ashley Trantham (R) has won SC-LD-28 outright. Nancy Mace (R) appears to have missed 50% by 35 votes and will head to a runoff with Mark Smith (R) in SC-LD-99. All 3 Oklahoma races are close and not fully reported.

Albuquerque Results

Today there is a mayoral election in Albuquerque as well as a few legislative specials. Polls close at 9 ET and we will have a liveblog for Albuqerque in this thread.

Albuquerque Mayor: Albuquerque, America’s 32nd-largest city, has a population of 550K which is roughly 50% Hispanic and 45% White. Albuquerque covers the bulk of its metro area, including poor, largely Hispanic urban areas in the central and southeastern parts of the city, middle-class Hispanic areas in the southwest, and middle-class white areas in the northwest and northeast. Some wealthier suburbs sit outside the city limits; as a result, Albuquerque proper is medium-blue with a PVI of D+8 as of 2008. This year, the mayoral seat is open as two-term incumbent Richard Berry (R) is stepping down. While Berry had generally been popular as mayor for most of his term, there is some consensus that the city has taken a turn for the worse in recent years, particularly with a spiking crime rate. State Auditor Tim Keller (D) came in first in the October primary with 39%. Previously a legislator from the central part of the city, Keller has high name recognition of the candidates and strong Dem establishment support. Keller, a mainstream liberal, has a strong support base among the high-turnout white progressive community that allowed him to slightly outperform expectations in the primary. Another Democrat, who was more moderate but endorsed Keller for the runoff, took 16% in the primary, meaning that Keller essentially just has to coalesce Democrats to win. Keller’s rival is city councilman Dan Lewis (R) came in second in the primary with 23%. Lewis is a mainstream establishment conservative; he has significant support among establishment Republicans and a base in his middle-class council district on the northwest side. However, Lewis is fighting against relatively tough terrain, Keller’s higher name recognition, and Berry’s declining popularity. Lewis has also been hurt by an internecine rivalry with Gov. Susana Martinez’s (R) network, who is opposed to Lewis for personal reasons. Keller has led in polls by a margin of around 10 points (a margin that has even been growing in recent weeks) and thus looks like close to a prohibitive favorite.

Special Elections:  There are also five special elections today. Three are special general elections in Oklahoma. All are for deep-red seats and all three Republicans should be favored, but given Democrats’ absurdly strong overperformances in multiple Oklahoma specials this year, upsets are possible in all three races. OK-SD-37 is an R+21 seat covering the suburban southwestern part of Tulsa west of the Arkansas River and the suburbs of Jenks and Sand Springs. Ex-Jenks councilman and congressional staffer Brian O’Hara (R) should be favored over activist Allison Ikley-Freeman (D). OK-SD-45 is another R+21 seat covering some poor neighborhoods south of downtown OKC and wrapping southwest around the Airport to deep-red southwestern exurbs near Mustang. Realtor Paul Rosino (R) should be favored over police dispatcher Steven Vincent (D). Finally, OK-LD-76 is an R+18 seat covering most of the western half of Broken Arrow in the Tulsa suburbs. Retired cop Ross Ford (R) should be favored over teacher Chris Vanlandingham (D). The other two are special primaries in South Carolina. SC-LD-28 is an R+16 seat covering Greenville’s outer southern suburbs, at the southern tip of Greenville County. Four Republicans are facing off: realtor Ashley Thrantham (R), hospital administrator Krystal Blume (R), farmer Bill Welch (R), and firefighter Jonathan Smith (R). Trantham looks like the very slight front-runner to me, but any of the four could move on to a runoff or even win outright. No Democrats are running. The other seat is SC-LD-99, an R+12 seat connecting upscale Charleston suburbs along the northeast part of I-526 from Hanahan to northern Mt. Pleasant. The clear front-runner is businesswoman and 2014 US Senate candidate Nancy Mace (R). Mace, the first woman to graduate from The Citadel military college, fell flat in her 2014 run against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R); however, she seems to be having better luck in this race as she has lapped the field in fundraising. She will likely finish a comfortable first, but will probably be held to a runoff. Mace’s three rivals are all running serious campaigns and could join her in a runoff. They are Mt. Pleasant councilman Mark Smith (R), congressional staffer Shawn Pinkston (R), and businessman Jarrod Brooks (R). Any could advance to a second round if one occurs. Democrats are running businesswoman Cindy Boatwright (D).

2017 General Election Previews, Part 1: Legislatures & Miscellany

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Political Roundup for October 25th, 2017

Last night, Tim McGinnis (R) won SC-LD-56 outright, no runoff necessary.

Anyway, as the GOP continues to Flake on reason, I bring you yet more disheartening news.

National/POTUS

Where did the GOP go?: The Economist warns of the rapid deterioration of the GOP’s already tenuous commitment to the tenets of fiscal conservatism. To wit, over the last half-century, Republican administrations have added more to the national debt than have those of Democrats. The problem? Republicans have, over the past four decades, become reliant on the votes of those disinterested in entitlement reform. Why? You guessed it! The GOP continually chases voters who feed on the trough of said entitlements. But, but… *dog whistle about welfare and The Inner Cities*!

Evangelicals: A striking generational divide has emerged among self-described evangelicals. Unsurprisingly, younger evangelicals did not overwhelmingly accept Cheeto Jesus as their lord and savior in 2016. Why? According to The Economist, unlike their Trumpier older counterparts, they have no loss of majority status to lament in an increasingly diverse and secular America. More interestingly, young evangelicals don’t seem as committed to the GOP as their older counterparts. But, of course, there’s nothing to see here…

Democrats: The liberal losers at the failing New York Times are pushing Medicare for all. Oh, wait, no, it actually noted that Bernie(care?) is both bad policy and electoral poison. Yet, as the Times explains, many Democrats are so afraid of the bold progressives that they’re afraid to admit their opposition. Both parties are burning.

Congress

AZ-Sen: One of the good ones, AZ US Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Mesa), has chosen to retire. Instead of becoming “complicit and silent,” Flake says, he will continue to serve as a watchdog to POTUS.

FL-Sen: A University of North Florida poll finds US Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Melbourne) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R-Naples) by a hair, 37-36%.

The States

MO-Sen: Air Claire must be racking up her frequent flyer miles. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Kirkwood) is raising money from states other than Missouri—58% of her funds so far. It should be noted, however, that it is not unusual for a Senator seeking re-election. Yet, the GOP will take a good sign these days.

CA-Sen: Speaking of US Sen. Bernie Sanders (“I”-Burlington)’ Medicare-for-All plan, the least surprising news ever has broken; State Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), currently seeking to remove ‘State’ from his title, has come out in favor of the ponzi-scheme proposal.

WATN: In slightly schocking news, a federal judge threw out two of the twenty-two corruption charges against disgraced ex-boy wonder and US Rep. Aaron Schock (R-Peoria).

The Donald’s Taxes (no, not like that): In news that must be fake, crooked Reuters reports that fewer than one-third of Americans support the President’s rumored tax plan. The poll further found that 63% believe that deficit reduction is more important than tax reform.

IL-Gov: Have you heard the bad news? IL State Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton) believes that she should primary Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Winnetka). Ives claims that the Harley-riding governor can’t win.

Illinois’ Broke, Dysfunctional State Government: WMAQ has an excellent primer on the looming series of showdowns between IL Gov. Bruce Rauner (R-Winnetka) and the state’s legislative Madiganicrats. Rauner has, for the first time as governor, declared the state’s budget to be out of balance. The governor’s move sets up a fight over which expenditures should be cut.

GA-LG: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution profiles ex-State Rep. Geoff Duncan (R-Cumming), who is running for Lieutenant Governor on a platform of draining the Atlanta swamp.

WA SD-45: Seattle’s KING-TV reports that the special election to fill the vacancy caused by the death of the late, truly great State Sen. Andy Hill (R-Heaven) has become the most expensive race in Washington State history. The election in the medium-blue Eastside district will determine partisan control of the chamber.

TX HD-46: Travis County prosecutors have dropped all thirteen criminal corruptions charges against State Rep. Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin).

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.

AL-Sen Runoff Preview

Tomorrow, there are two major elections: a special Senate runoff in Alabama and a mayoral primary in Boston, as well as a key legislative special in Florida. Polls close at 8p ET in both Alabama and Boston (7p ET in Florida) and we will be liveblogging.

AL-Sen Runoff: The big race tomorrow is a GOP primary runoff for Alabama’s Senate seat. The special election was moved up to this year by now-Gov. Kay Ivey (R) after she ascended to the top job. The August primary narrowed the field down from four major Republican candidates to two for this runoff.

Luther Strange

Appointed incumbent Luther Strange (R) made a somewhat, well, strange, decision in regards to this race. Despite the fact that as AG his office was investigating then-Gov. Robert Bentley (R) for covering up a sex scandal, Strange accepted an appointment to the Senate from Bentley. The appointment decision was in spite of the fact that Strange had statewide name recognition that would have made him the prohibitive favorite for an open seat race. Strange’s handling of the appointment, which raised blindlingly obvious questions of impropriety, has become a major liability for him in this race. And with the race moved up from 2018, he doesn’t have a lot of Senate service record to distract from the appointment mess. Strange came in second in the preliminary round with 33%; while that is a poor showing for an incumbent, it was something of a victory for Strange as some polls had shown him in danger of missing the runoff entirely. Strange’s biggest asset in this race has been his close establishment ties, particularly to Mitch McConnell; McConnell and his associated forces have not hesitated to use every card at their disposal for Strange. Thus, he has been the beneficiary of a sustained negative ad barrage against his opponents. Strange has also been able to land Trump’s endorsement and a rally from the president last Friday. But it may not matter in the end; all polls of the runoff have shown him down, though by varying margins. CW is that Strange is still ultimately a mild to moderate underdog tomorrow. However, Strange does seem to have been narrowing the gap in polling in recent weeks and there is a chance the Trump rally could give him a late boost to surprise.

Roy Moore

Strange’s rival, and the front-runner for the seat, is ex-State Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore (R). If Strange has baggage of a typical political-insider nature, Moore has equal baggage in his out-of-the-mainstream ideology. Moore’s first stint on the state Supreme Court ended with his removal after he refused to take down a statue of the Ten Commandments in front of the courthouse. After being re-elected to the court in 2012, Moore was removed again over ordering state officials to disregard SCOTUS’s Obergefell decision. Moore has a dedicated base of social conservatives, but is something of a one-note character on religious issues. Indeed, Moore made a notable gaffe in the runoff campaign when he appeared to have no idea what the DACA program was. That single-minded focus on religious social conservatism could make him a tough sell to less-devout Republicans. That said, Alabama is still among the most religious states in the nation, and his evangelical base was still enough to put Moore in a comfortable first in the primary with 39%. Moore is also an easy fit for antiestablishment voters, due to his quixotic nature and Strange’s establishment ties. Indeed, Strange’s establishment backing (and negative ads) have pushed the two antiestablishment-leaning major eliminated candidates, Rep. Mo Brooks (R) and State Sen. Trip Pittman (R), to endorse Moore. Moore held wide leads in polls of the runoff after the primary, and has led in every released poll since the first round. However, his margins have been narrowing in recent weeks, and Strange does seem to have some momentum. If Strange is successful at selling himself as the stronger Trumpist, it’s likely Alabamans will gravitate to that message over Moore’s theocratic one. That said, Moore is still (at the very least) a moderate favorite to prevail tomorrow, and it would be at least somewhat surprising if he didn’t ultimately pull out a win. A Moore nomination would be a quite bitter pill to swallow for McConnell and establishment Republicans after their extensive involvement in the race; Moore is about as good a bet as any to be a difficult-to-work-with loose cannon in the Senate.

Doug Jones

The winner will face ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D) in a December general. Jones, who sewed up his primary against token opposition in the first round, is a relatively generic moderate Democrat, but he is still the most credible contender than Democrats have put up for an Alabama Senate seat since 2002. It’s hard to tell which of the two Republicans would be a stronger general election candidate against Jones; while Moore has very well-defined vulnerabilities, Strange has not come out of this campaign looking good himself. And Strange’s corruption stink may have more salience than Moore’s extreme social conservatism in a very socially conservative state that has just seen corruption scandals. All in all though it may not matter who Republicans nominate; Alabama is still a very red, very inelastic state, and it’s hard to think such a Trump-friendly area will hand a seat to a Democrat. For now Jones has been flying under the radar and hoping to spark some interest after the GOP settles on a nominee, but we continue to consider either GOP nominee an extremely strong favorite in the general. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

Boston-Mayor: The other election of the day is the California-Rules Top Two primary for Mayor of Boston, which is basically a straw poll as there are only two major candidates. Boston has a population of 675K and a PVI D+33 (2016), which breaks down as roughly 45% White, 25% Black, 20% Hispanic, and 10% Asian. In spite of Boston’s reputation as a student/hipster/upscale liberal town, most of those sit outside the city limits in Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline, and those within Boston are low-turnout and largely irrelevant in local elections. Instead, elections are dominated by moderate white ethnics: the city includes a huge section of high-turnout middle-class-white suburban territory in the southwest (West Roxbury) and some urban poor white ethnic neighborhoods. The only other real bloc in municipal elections is the minority community: Boston has a large Black community in the south-central part of the city, and a Hispanic community in East Boston. This year, incumbent Mayor Marty Walsh (D) is seeking a second term. Walsh is a union-backed white ethnic Dem who won a close race in 2013 and has been a mainstream to slightly moderate liberal in office. Walsh has been relatively popular and has long been considered a strong favorite for re-election; indeed, it was something of an open question whether he would get a serious challenger at all. Walsh did draw a serious rival, however, in councilman (not that) Tito Jackson (D), who represents the African-American heavy Roxbury neighborhood. Jackson is attempting to run to Walsh’s left, but he remains little-known outside his district and there isn’t an obvious reservoir of discontent with Walsh to tap into. A third non-serious candidate, insurance agent Joe Wiley (D), triggered the preliminary round. Rumor is that Walsh put Wiley up as a plant to trigger the preliminary round (it would have been canceled with only two candidates) and give Jackson an embarrassing preliminary result to keep him from gaining momentum. CW is that the gamble will work, as Walsh has been leading in polls by around 2:1 and it would be a surprise if the results tomorrow will look much different than that. However, if Jackson did better than expected it could give him momentum ahead of the real thing in November.

Legislative Specials: There are also three notable legislative specials this week. Two are hotly-contested generals in Dade County, Florida. The biggest race is for FL-SD-40, an R-held Hispanic-Majority D+8 (2016) seat around Kendall in the southwest suburbs of Miami. This seat shifted strongly for Clinton last year, but it is Cuban machine territory to its core. More importantly for the current national climate, the Dem base here is mostly minorities (blacks and non-Cuban Hispanics), who are likely to be low-turnout, with super-energized white liberals basically a non-entity here. State Rep. Jose Felix Diaz (R) is facing off tomorrow with perennial candidate Annette Taddeo-Goldstein (D). Diaz is considered a credible candidate and has strong machine backing. Likewise, Taddeo-Goldstein, who has run for office 5 times in the last 10 years (and come close multiple times but never won), is getting major outside support. In spite of the blue top-of-the-ticket lean of the seat, this race looks like a pure Tossup. Additionally, with Irma having just impacted the area and shut off power for several days this month to almost all the district’s residents, low turnout is likely. It’s unclear who that might help; Dems are super-energized nationally, but the Cuban GOP machine is excellent at rustling up votes for low-turnout races (with an army of absentee-ballot-rustlers called boleteros). Overall there is no clear favorite here tomorrow. In the same area, FL-LD-116 is an R-held D+1 (2016) seat covering southwest Miami suburbs around Kendall. This is the seat that Diaz gave up to run for SD-40, and overlaps with the central part of the Senate district. Attorney Daniel Perez (R), who won a closely-contested and nasty primary, looks to be favored over former anti-Chavista Venezuelan legislator Gabriela Mayaudon (D), as Mayaudon doesn’t seem to be running a serious campaign. However, in this purple a seat with the current national climate an upset can’t be counted out. The least interesting special to cover is in SC-LD-31, a D+23 (2016) seat covering central and western Spartanburg. Spartanburg councilwoman Rosalyn Henderson-Meyers (D) is the prohibitive favorite over 2016 nominee Michael Fowler (R).

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