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Political Roundup for June 21st, 2017

In case you missed it yesterday, Republican Karen Handel worked out an unexpectedly strong win in GA-6, and Republican Ralph Norman had an unexpectedly close win in SC-5. Republicans and Democrats each held a seat in the SC State House as well. What does it say about politics that the Democrats did better in the seat Clinton lost by close to 20 points that they basically ignored than the one she lost by 1 that they poured over $30 Million in? Maybe that going all-in on a political nobody who looks like he’s just finishing up his freshman year of college isn’t a good idea? Or perhaps,(more seriously) that the higher the special election turnout, the worse the result for the already-fired-up Democrats, as SC-5 saw something like 1/3rd as many votes as GA-6 did. Regardless, expect a day of Democrats spinning about how GA-6 didn’t really matter and Republicans spinning about how GA-6 meant everything.

Now, on to the news:

President:

CBS-Poll: A CBS poll has Trump down to his lowest numbers yet at 36% approval. His handling of the Russia probe seems to be his weakest point so far, as he’s not doing too bad on the other major issues tested. Also, Americans believe Comey over Trump by about 2:1, and slightly favor believing that the probe is a grave matter of national security over it being a political hatchet job.

2020: Morning Consultant did a poll of the favorability #s of just about every candidate seriously suggested for the 2020-Dem Nomination. The vast majority of them are unknown right now, with the exceptions being Warren (Slightly Positive) and Biden (Very positive). The only notable exceptions here are Sanders and of course Clinton 2020, because as they say the third time’s the charm!

Holder: Eric Holder, probably best remembered as the AG Obama replaced with Loretta Lynch, is apparently “re-entering the political fray” and is talking about running for President in 2020. Because at this point I think the Democrats saw the 17-candidate pileup of the 2016-GOP race and said “Hold my kale-smoothie–watch this”.

Congress:

MI-Sen: Former Michigan Chief SC Justice Bob Young all but formally announced his intent to run against Debbie Stabenow for Senate in 2018 at a local Republican event. Young, who is Black, sounded off on a very Constitutional-originalist note, and stressed his record of reducing the size of the judiciary in Michigan. He joins fellow Republican Lana Epstein in the GOP primary for this 2nd-tier GOP Senate target next year.

NV-3: GOP State Senator Scott Hammond has announced that he is running for this Suburban Vegas district that the GOP lost last year. The current freshman Democratic Incumbent Jackie Rosen is already running for Senate (Because the early bird gets the Senate Seat I guess?), and the seat was narrowly carried by Trump, making it a top GOP target for 2018. Hammond was a famous advocate for Nevada’s charter school bills, and gets a free shot at this seat since his State Senate seat isn’t up until 2020.

Other:

CO-alot: Mike and Cynthia Coffman, probably the closest thing the county has had to a political power couple since the Clintons limped off the national stage last year, are getting a divorce. While it’s not quite known why they are getting divorced (and kind of rude to pry), the couple was widely seen as the GOP’s best potential candidates for statewide office. We’ve got no idea what this means for Cynthia’s rumored Governor bid, or Coffman’s house seat, but we’ll hopefully find out relatively soon.

HI-St-House: In what has become commonplace for America’s weakest political party, the Hawaii GOP has lost another one of its members to the Democrats, this time former State House Minority Leader Beth Fukomoto, who was ousted from her leadership post for calling Trump racist and a Bully at the Hawaii Women’s March back in January. This is amazingly not the first time the GOP has lost its chamber leader to the Democrats, but since the state house is now 76D-5R, let’s hope we can manage to hold onto our 6% of the seats there.

Immigration: The Atlantic of all places has a good article detailing how the Democrats went from being sort of pro-immigration with major reservations to being absolutely 100% no-exceptions pro-immigration, and how it probably cost them the presidency. Remember a time when Obama felt a “Flush of patriotic resentment” at the idea of Mexican immigrants waving around Mexican flags at demonstrations?

Political Division: Here’s some interesting, if arguably flawed data. The voter study group commissioned a poll detailing the political ideology of the average Trump & Clinton voter. To summarize, Clinton’s supporters are pretty ideologically homogeneous Liberals, whereas Trump’s were split between Economic Conservatives and Populists. Notably, this poll also suggests that Libertarianism as an ideology is basically dead in the water in the US right now, which will come as no surprise to anyone paying attention to the political trends of both parties in the last 2.5 years or so.

GA-6 & SC-5 Special Elections Preview

As you’re most likely aware, tomorrow is the runoff for two key House elections. Polls close at 7p ET in both Georgia and South Carolina and our liveblog will start at that time.

GA-6: By far the most hotly-contested special election of the year is for this R+2 (2016) seat in the northern Atlanta suburbs. The seat covers the wealthy eastern quarter of Cobb County east of I-75, wealthy suburbs of Fulton County north of the Perimeter (which also have some isolated lower-middle-class minority pockets) and the northern quarter of DeKalb County, which is a mixture of upper-middle-class suburbs bisected by a corridor of poor, heavily Hispanic slumburbs along I-85. This was once Newt’s seat and the most Republican in Georgia (a prior version of this seat was a GOP vote sink as recently as the 90s) but it trended hard-left last year, and that has led Democrats to go all-in on this race in looking for a way to defeat Trump. Spending on this race has reached astronomical levels on both sides.

Jon Ossoff

Former congressional staffer Jon Ossoff (D) took 48% in the first round. Ossoff quickly coalesced national liberal support and raised a ridiculous amount for this race from national liberal donors. In the first round, he ran a stridently anti-Trump campaign and sought to cast himself as the vanguard of the bold progressive “Resistance.” However, his incredibly thin resume, which consists of a low-level staffing job with five months of security clearance and running a small video production company, and his stridently anti-Trump liberal campaign limited his ability to take crossover support. Many Democrats saw his failure to win in the first round, despite coming closer than expected to 50%, as something of a disappointment. As Republicans took a majority of the first-round vote, Ossoff has made a quiet but significant change in tone for the second round, toning down his anti-Trump rhetoric and trying to strike a less partisan tone. Some commentators have gone as far as saying his most recent TV ads and debate appearances would have rhetoric more fitting of a moderate Republican.

Karen Handel

Ossoff’s rival in this contest is ex-SoS Karen Handel (R), who came in second in the primary, taking just shy of 20%. Handel is well-known from a long political career, including as Fulton County Exec, a term as SoS in the 2000s, and runs for Governor in 2010 and Senate in 2014. Handel is a fairly typical suburban conservative on both social and fiscal matters. While Democrats were firmly behind Ossoff in the first round, the GOP field was split, leading to the possibility that sour grapes among her rivals might prevent Handel, who is far from a hardcore Trumpist, from coalescing the GOP base. However, those predictions have not panned out, and Handel seems to be enjoying near-unanimous GOP support and a massive amount of outside cash. In a district that looks increasingly purple, polls have shown the two very close, though more have tilted toward Ossoff. To say that this race has become a partisan slugfest and nationally-watched test of partisan strength is an understatement, and it would be a shock if either Ossoff or Handel won by more than a 5-point margin. However, we at RRH feel obliged to take a firm stand on races as they approach their general election, and we have ever-so-slightly come down on the side of predicting an Ossoff victory. Thus, RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Lean D.

SC-5: The other special election today has gotten significantly less attention and money. SC-5 is the former seat of OMB director Mick Mulvaney (R) and covers the north-central part of the state. The biggest bulk of the population is in the Charlotte suburbs, but the seat also contains a swath of rural areas from Sumter to the outskirts of the Columbia and Spartanburg metros. The seat has a PVI of R+10 (2016).

Ralph Norman

The clear front-runner for the seat is State Rep. Ralph Norman (R), who narrowly prevailed in a closely-contested GOP primary and runoff. The 2006 nominee for this seat, Norman has high name recognition from his prior run against then-Rep. John Spratt (D), and self-funding ability from his construction business. Norman is a relatively generic Chamber-of-Commerce conservative, with some slight antiestablishment tendencies (he has said he may join the Freedom Caucus if elected). The strongly conservative and inelastic nature of the district and Norman’s mainstream Republican profile should be enough for him to prevail tomorrow barring a very unexpected event.

Archie Parnell

Former Goldman Sachs tax attorney Archie Parnell (D) is Norman’s rival. Parnell has received some minor buzz from national Democrats, but ultimately was a “C” list choice here when bigger names such as State Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D) decided not to run. Parnell has released an internal with him down by 10 points, which was enough to prompt some minor investments from the DCCC. However, Democrats have basically always seen this race as a far longer-shot than GA-6 or even last month’s Montana race, and Parnell seems unlikely to win or even make the race particularly close barring a seriously unexpected surge of liberal enthusiasm. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

There are also two legislative specials today in South Carolina, but they look unexciting. SC-LD-48 is an R+13 (2016) seat around Tega Cay in the Charlotte suburbs, left open by the previously mentioned Ralph Norman, who is the nominee for SC-5. Ex-York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant (R) is favored over retired nonprofit exec Bebs Barron-Chorak (D), though there may be a tiny chance of an upset with abnormal turnout patterns. SC-LD-70 is a D+20 (2016) majority-black seat covering rural areas between Columbia and Sumter and a small piece of southeastern Columbia proper. School board member and 2016 State Senate candidate Wendy Brawley (D) is heavily favored over a GOP Some Dude.

Weekend Open Thread for May 26-29, 2017

Happy Memorial Day weekend. We will have a preview of Tuesday’s Nova Scotia Election coming tomorrow, as well as our traditional policy thread on Monday. But first a couple legislative previews. Tomorrow, there is a runoff for LA-SD-2, a D+12 (2012) black-majority seat stretching from Port Allen, a suburb just across the river from Baton Rouge, south through a long string of small towns along the Mississippi River to Laplace in the western New Orleans exurbs. State Rep. Ed Price (D), an establishment black liberal, looks like the clear favorite over rancher Warren Harang (D), a white conservadem. UPDATE: Price has won 63-37. I will also throw in a preview of the one election Tuesday (May 30) so I don’t forget it over the weekend – on Tuesday there is a legislative special general for SC-LD-84, an R+17 (2012) seat between North Augusta and Aiken in the Augusta suburbs. Aiken County commission chair Ronnie Young (R) should be strongly favored over businesswoman Jennifer Lariscey (D) barring something seriously unexpected.

Now this week’s questions:

1. What do yesterday’s Montana results mean for the broader 2018 landscape?

2. Outside of self-delusion, why do you think Democrats are so eager to talk about impeachment?

And because it’s the weekend….Hey

Political Roundup for May 24, 2017

Yesterday in New York, Democrat Christine Pelligrino picked up the deep red LD-9 by a large margin in a significant upset. Dems easily held SD-30.

Senate:

HI-Sen: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D) announced last week that she has kidney cancer, which will be treated with removal of her left kidney and a mass (I’m guessing a metastasis) on her rib. Our thoughts are with her and her family.

OH-Sen: ICYMI last week, Rep. Pat Tiberi (R) announced he would not run for the Senate seat of Sen. Sherrod Brown (D). The move is somewhat surprising as Tiberi had been ramping up his fundraising. The decision likely leaves State Treasurer and 2012 nominee Josh Mandel (R) as the clear primary favorite here.

RI-Sen: State Rep. Bobby Nardolillo (R) announced he would run against Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D). Why he would want to give up his seat for such an obviously suicidal run against an entrenched incumbent in a blue state is beyond me.

Governor:

FL-Gov: Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine (D) has been thought likely to enter the Democratic primary, but he announced that he is also considering a run as an Independent. If he pulled the trigger on that, peeling off some upscale moderate-liberals from the D column would go a long way to keeping this seat in the GOP fold. But my best guess is that this is more an attention play to try and get him statewide visibility against his likely primary rivals, ex-Rep. Gwen Graham (D), Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), businessman Chris King (D), and ambulance-chaser extraordinaire John Morgan (D).

GA-Gov: A pair of big-name Democrats have recently declared they will not run for Georgia Governor. Former Obama DoJ official and liberal flavor of the week Sally Yates (D) and Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson (D) have bowed out of the race in the last few days. State Reps. Stacey Evans (D) and Stacey Abrams (D) look like Dems’ most likely prospects here now.

IA-Gov: Today is the end of an era as Gov. Terry Branstad (R) resigns after holding the job for 8,169 days, making him the nation’s longest-serving Governor ever. Branstad beat the prior record of 21 years held by 18th-century NY Gov. George Clinton (DR). Kim Reynolds (R) will be sworn in as Governor today to succeed him. Somewhat ironically, Branstad’s prior #2, 90s-era ex-LG Joy Corning, just passed away this week at 84.

MA-Gov: Newton Mayor Setti Warren (D) announced a bid for Governor over the weekend, becoming the most notable candidate into the race to take on popular Gov. Charlie Baker (R). Warren joins Gov. Patrick admin official Jay Gonzalez (D) and 1994 LG nominee Bob Massie (D) in the primary. There hasn’t been a whole lot of interest from “A” list Dems in this race, so Warren may wind up becoming the primary front-runner.

NM-Gov: In something of a surprise, AG Hector Balderas (D) announced last week he would not run for Governor and would instead seek a second term as AG. His decision likely leaves Rep. Michele Lujan-Grisham (D) as the clear front-runner in the Dem primary, though several other candidates are still considering.

WI-Gov: As Democrats continue to cast about for a challenger to Gov. Scott Walker (R), one candidate seems to be eager to run. Mike McCabe (D), former director of a liberal nonprofit, is actively considering a run, but strangely says he may run as either a Democrat or an Independent. State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D), who is more moderate, is the only other Democrat actively considering a run here.

House:

AL-5: Rep. Mo Brooks (R) doesn’t have to give up his House seat to run for Senate, but that isn’t stopping one candidate from laying the groundwork to follow Brooks in the House should his bid succeed. Clayton Hinchman (R), a veteran who lost a leg in Iraq, announced his campaign last week.

NY-22: Binghamton University professor Patrick Madden (D) is running against Rep. Claudia Tenney (R). Tenney was elected with 44% in a three-way race last year in this medium-red seat stretching from Binghamton to Utica.

PA-7: Bold Progressive State Sen. Daylin Leach (D) is the latest Democrat to consider a run against Rep. Pat Meehan (R). Leach seems a cut above the miscellaneous carpetbaggers in the race already and would probably be the primary front-runner if he ran. However, his rabid progressivism may be a tough sell in what is still a purple seat.

UT-3: The race to succeed Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R) has already gotten extremely crowded, as four candidates have already declared: State Sens. Diedre Henderson (R) and Margaret Dayton (R) and State Rep. Brad Daw (R) have announced their entry into the race, along with investment adviser Tanner Ainge (R), son of Boston Celtics president Danny. Provo Mayor John Curtis (R) is openly considering.

State Offices:

ME-All: The state’s Ranked-Choice Voting system, implemented by initiative in 2016, has been unanimously struck down by the state’s supreme court, declaring it in conflict with a provision in the state constitution that says that the candidate who receives a plurality of votes must be elected.

AR-Lands Comm: Manager Alex Ray (R) will run for the open Lands Commissioner seat, joining a fellow political novice, Tommy Land (R), in the GOP primary.

AR-SoS: State Rep. Trevor Drown (R) will run for Secretary of State; he will face state Lands Commissioner John Thurston (R), and potentially others, in the GOP primary. Incumbent Mark Martin (R) is termed out.

AZ-Supt, WATN: In addition to her high profile challenge from ex-State Sen. David Schapira (D), state Superintendent Diane Douglas (R) is getting a primary challenge. Douglas’s primary challenger may be a familiar name: 90s-era ex-California Rep. Frank Riggs (R). Riggs represented the Santa Rosa and Northern Coastal regions for three non-consecutive terms from 1990-98 before a little-noticed Senate run. Riggs then moved to Arizona and has since become something of a perennial candidate.

CT-Comp: State Sen. Terry Gerratana (D) is exploring a run for Comptroller, becoming the first Democrat into the race to replace incumbent Kevin Lembo (D), should he follow through on his expected run for Governor. Former congressional candidate Mark Greenberg (R) is in the race on the GOP side.

CT-Treas: Greenwich town board member John Blankney (D) is considering a run for State Treasurer, joining State Rep. William Tong (D) in staking out the post. Five-term incumbent Denise Nappier (D) has not announced her intentions, but is thought to be considering a run for Governor.

FL-AG: Two more candidates are considering runs for Florida AG. Former judge Simone Marstiller (R), who served as a top legal advisor to Jeb and ex-AG Bill McCollum (R), is considering and could be a credible candidate. Attorney and 2016 State House candidate Ryan Yadav (D) is considering a run on the Dem side. State Rep. Jay Fant (R) is the only candidate in the race, but the contest may be upended if AG Pam Bondi (R) leaves for a Trump admin job and Gov. Scott (R) can appoint her replacement.

MI-SoS: State Sen. Mike Kowall (R) is considering a run for the open SoS seat. The GOP nominee, which will be decided at a convention next year, will likely face law school dean and 2010 nominee Jocelyn Benson (D) in the general.

SC-LD-69: State Rep. Rick Quinn (R), son of one of South Carolina’s most high-powered GOP consultants, has been indicted in a complex embezzlement and pay-to-play scandal with roots that stretch back decades. Quinn’s saga may wind up implicating some of his family’s clients, who include Gov. Henry McMaster (R) and multiple key figures in the SCGOP.

Local Offices:

San Antonio-Mayor: Ex-Mayor and ex-HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D) has endorsed councilman Ron Nirenberg (I) over the woman who succeeded him as mayor, incumbent Ivy Taylor (D). Nirenberg, an upscale liberal is running to the left of Taylor, a moderate-to-conservative borderline DINO, in the runoff on June 10.

New Orleans-Mayor: Judge Desiree Charbonet (D) has announced her candidacy for Mayor, joining councilwoman LaToya Cantrell (D) and retired judge and 2013 candidate Michael Bagneris (D) in this fall’s open-seat race.

St. Petersburg-Mayor: A new St. Pete Polls survey has 2000s-era ex-Mayor Rick Baker (R) continuing to post a wide lead for a mayoral comeback this fall. Baker leads incumbent Rick Kriseman (D) by a 46-33 margin, similar to a 10-point margin in a prior survey.

Kansas City-Mayor ’19: Two city councilors are already running to succeed mayor Sly James (I) when he is termed out in 2019. Jermaine Reed (D) and Scott Taylor (D) have announced their entry into the race.

NY-Westchester-CE: Westchester County Dems have given their official endorsement to State Sen. George Latimer (D) in the race to take on incumbent Rob Astorino (R). Latimer topped county commissioner Ken Jenkins (D) in the poll, but will still face him in a primary. Astorino is seeking a third term in the deep-blue county that has been trending left in recent years.

Political Roundup for May 17, 2017

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

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

President/National

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

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

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

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

Congress

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

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

International

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

 

SC-5 & Pennsylvania Liveblog

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8:00 ET – Pennsylvania has closed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SC-5 Runoff & Pennsylvania Primary Preview

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

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

Tommy Pope

Ralph Norman

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks to Ryan_in_SEPA for the Pennsylvania previews below:

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

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

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

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

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

Political Roundup for May 3, 2017

Election Results from Last Night:  In SC-5, State House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope and former State Representative Ralph Norman will square off in a runoff for the Republican nomination to face Democratic nominee former Goldman Sachs banker Archie Parnell in June.  In Cincinnati, Mayor John Cranley (D-Moderate) and challenger Yvette Simpson (D-Bold Progressive) will advance to the general election. For the SC State House, Bryant (R) won in LD-48 while Brawley (D) and Hill (D) advance to a runoff in LD-70.

Also, please check back this afternoon for our preview of tomorrow’s UK local elections.

As we are still trying to figure out what alternative universe President Trump is from based on his take of the Civil War, it is time for today’s roundup:

President/National

SEC:  Jay Clayton was confirmed by the Senate to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission by a 61-37 vote.

Filibuster:  Senate Republicans have shot down President Trump’s push for a crisis to eliminate the Senate filibuster completely.

Jackson:  The Atlantic looks at how Democrats have lost their ties to arguably their founder former President Andrew Jackson (Scots Irish) and how President Trump understands some of the tenants of Jacksonian Democracy.

Clinton:  Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton (DLC?) has climbed out of her Westchester County hole once again and ranting about the election being stolen by the FBI and Russians.

Congress

AL-Sen:  Representative Mo Brooks (R) is seriously considering a run for US Senate later this year during the special election to replace now Attorney General Jeff Sessions.  Brooks would be at least facing appointed Senator Luther Strange (R) and possibly Alabama Senate president Del Marsh (R) for the Republican nomination.  Other contenders for the Republican nomination include disgraced former state Supreme Court Justice Ray Moore (R-Crazytown), state Representative Ed Henry, and Christian Coalition of Alabama President Randy Brinson (R).

WV-Sen:  Coal miner and Clinton antagonist Bo Copley announced his campaign for the Republican nomination to face Senator Joe Manchin (D-Mylan).  Copley had 15 minutes of fame for attacking former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton over her embracing the alleged “War on Coal”.

ID-1:  As Representative Raul Labrador (R) examines a run for Governor, we have a candidate interested in replacing him: businessman and former county commissioner James Rockwell (R).  Rockwell announced his attentions while wearing a MAGA hat last week.

Adapting to Trump:  Republicans in swing districts are finding it very odd to navigate the Trump administration and unpredictability.   Some are using the erratic behavior of the administration as a means of further differentiating themselves.

States

NM-Gov:  Former television executive Jeff Apodaca (D) will seek the Democratic nomination for Governor next year.  Apodaca’s father Jerry (D) served as Governor in the 1970s.  Repsentative Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is also running to replace term-limited Governor Susana Martinez (R).

International

UK General Election – Northern Ireland:  The most irrelevant poll of the UK General Election was released highlighting how the sectarian divide continues to play out in Northern Ireland.  It looks like only one seat is really in play in Ulster with Brexit dominating the concerns of voters with the respective support and opposition to Brexit falling on sectarian lines.

UK General Election – Germany:  Speaking of foreign electoral interference, it appears the Germans in the name of the preservation of the Fourth Reich are attempting to undermine UK Prime Minister Theresa May (Conservative).  Polling wise it appears to be very ineffective.

Canada – Conservative Party:  A poll of the Conservative Party leadership race shows that former cabinet minister Maxine Bernier (Quebec) has a nearly double-digit lead over former Speaker Andrew Scheer (Saskatchewan) in first ballot preferences.

SC-5 & Cincinnati Mayor Primary Preview

Tomorrow we kick off a very busy stretch of elections, with a true grab-bag of congressional, local, and international races over the next week and a half. First up is the SC-5 primaries and a mayoral primary in Cincinnati, plus two special elections. Polls close at 7p ET in SC and 7:30p ET in Cincinnati; our liveblog will start at 7 tomorrow night.

SC-5 (R, D): Tomorrow’s big events are the primaries for the SC-5 special election. SC-5 is the former seat of OMB director Mick Mulvaney (R) and covers the north-central part of the state. The biggest bulk of the population is in the Charlotte suburbs, but the seat also contains a swath of rural areas from Sumter to the outskirts of the Columbia and Spartanburg metros. The seat has a PVI of R+10 (2016). Democrats have not considered this seat a priority (though that may change given the energized nature of the liberal base right now). But for now, basically all the action here is in the GOP primary.

Tommy Pope

For Republicans, seven candidates are facing off, five of them serious, and the race is considered all but certain to head on to a runoff in two weeks. By CW, State Rep. Tommy Pope (R), who dropped down to this race after aborting a run for Governor, is thought the front-runner. Pope, the third-ranking Republican in the State House, is probably the best-known candidate in the race from his longtime tenure as a prominent DA. He has fundraised credibly and has strong establishment connections; however, he is not the best-funded candidate.

Ralph Norman

The top spot in fundraising goes to Pope’s fellow State Rep. Ralph Norman (R), the 2006 nominee for this seat (there is a special tonight for Norman’s seat, as he resigned to focus on this race). Norman has high name recognition from his prior run against then-Rep. John Spratt (D), and self-funding ability from his construction business that has allowed him to double up his nearest competitor in funds. Both Pope and Norman are relatively generic Chamber-of-Commerce conservatives, with the main difference being that Pope emphasizes public safety instead of Norman’s economic focus. Pope and Norman are strongly favored to advance to the runoff, but three other candidates could squeeze one or both out.

Chad Connelly

One thing that might hurt both Pope and Norman is that both are from the Charlotte suburbs; while populous, they only make up a little under half the seat, and that could open up the race to candidates from the rural south of the seat. Ex-SCGOP chair Chad Connelly (R) has received some establishment support, including an endorsement from Rep. Jeff Duncan (R), and is the only serious candidate from the rural southwestern part of the district. Connelly’s fundraising has been on par with Pope’s, though not enough to match Norman’s. He also has some ties in the high-turnout Social Conservative movement.

Tom Mullikin

Similarly, attorney and State Guard commander Tom Mulikin (R) is the only serious candidate from the rural southeastern part of the district. Mullikin also has some self-funding ability (though not as much as Norman’s). He has raised less than Connelly or Pope, but spent about as much thanks to his self-funding.

Sheri Few

Finally, one candidate with an ideological lane of her own is 2014 State Superintendent candidate Sheri Few (R), who is running by far the most antiestablishment campaign of the bunch. Few has made national headlines for criticizing Pope and Norman for voting to remove the Confederate Flag from the State Capitol grounds following the Charleston church massacre, and she has released an ad of her clutching an AR-15. While Few will likely have some significant base support, her fundraising has been relatively poor; if she makes the runoff, she will likely have a tough time getting to 50%.

Two other Some Dudes seem non-serious (raising under $5K each) but might draw a point or two each. Overall, while Norman and Pope look clearly like the two most likely to advance, each of the other three do have some chance to box one or both of them out, as the odds are good that only a few points will separate first from third.

Archie Parnell

Across the aisle, three little-known Democrats are competing in this race. The clear front-runner in the primary is former Goldman Sachs tax attorney Archie Parnell (D), who has received nearly unanimous Democratic establishment support and has been the only Dem candidate to fundraise credibly (and has also self-funded some). Parnell should wrap this up in one round, but there is a slight chance he could be embarrassed and head to a runoff with one of two non-serious Some Dudes. As for the general, this seat doesn’t seem to be a priority for Democrats after their highly-touted 2016 nominee fell flat, though there is a slight chance that may change before the June 20 general election. Right now, Few seems like the only potential GOP nominee that would entice Democrats to go all-in for Parnell, unless Trump’s approval rating erodes further. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

Cincinnati Mayor: The other major election tomorrow is the primary for Mayor of Cincinnati. Cincinnati has a population of 300K, which breaks down as roughly 50W/40B. It had a PVI of D+22 in 2008. Three candidates are running for Mayor in a California-Rules Top Two format; the top two candidates will advance on to a November general. Incumbent John Cranley (D), a moderate Democrat who came into office four years ago campaigning against a new streetcar system, is seeking a second term. The system has been built over his objections, but Cranley is still making it an issue, pledging to resist expansion. Cranley’s term as Mayor has generally been well-regarded, but he still faces two challengers from his left. Cranley has outraised his rivals and should be guaranteed to come in first by a large margin, but how large a victory may determine the level of enthusiasm for his rival ahead of the November vote. Most likely to advance with the incumbent is councilwoman Yvette Simpson (D), a streetcar proponent who is running to Cranley’s left on a variety of issues and has some base in the city’s black community. She is very likely to come in second tomorrow on that base. The third candidate in the race, university regent Rob Richardson (D), will most likely be eliminated; he strikes similar notes to Simpson on the streetcar and liberal ideology but lacks her name recognition, degree of establishment connections, or campaign experience. However, he has pulled in decent fundraising and has some labor support, so there is a slight chance he may be able to upset Simpson for the second spot. All in all this looks very much like Cranley’s race to lose, and it would be a surprise if he did not take a majority of the vote tomorrow. But an unexpectedly narrow win could energize liberal forces for his rival over the next six months.

Legislative Specials: There are also two legislative special primaries this week in South Carolina. SC-LD-48 is an R+15 (2012) seat around Tega Cay in the Charlotte suburbs, left open by the previously mentioned Ralph Norman, who is seeking SC-5. Ex-York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant (R) is favored over retired businessman Tom Nichols (R). The GOP nominee will be favored over retired nonprofit exec Bebs Barron-Chorak (D) in the general. SC-LD-70 is a D+22 (2012) majority-black seat covering rural areas between Columbia and Sumter and a small piece of southeastern Columbia proper. 9 Democrats are running and the race is all but certain to head to a runoff in two weeks. School board member and 2016 State Senate candidate Wendy Brawley (D) has the support of the late former incumbent’s family and looks like the very slight front-runner. Farmer Heath Hill (D) is the only serious white candidate in the race and seems to be running the most serious campaign. Pastor Jermaine Walker (D) seems to be the only black candidate from the more rural eastern part of the district. 90s-era ex-State Rep. Levola Taylor (D) and gospel radio host Erin Vance-Brown (D) could have outside name recognition. George Wilson Jr. (D) and Norman Jackson Jr. (D) are both sons of prominent local pols but don’t seem to be running very serious campaigns themselves. Two other Some Dudes seem totally non-serious. I don’t really know how to handicap this one so I’ll just say that any two could move on, though just as a guess based on what little I can find online Brawley and Hill look like the most serious contenders. The Dem nominee will be the prohibitive favorite over a GOP Some Dude in the general.

Political Roundup for April 26, 2017

Hello, again, from my safe space: a Metro-North quiet car barrelling through a string of leafy, Wall Street Journal-reading, Romney-won Super ZIPs. 2012 lives on in my heart.

Anyway, from last night:
SC-SD-3: Richard Cash (R) wins the runoff 54-46.
CT-LD-7: Joshua Hall (D running on WFP line) wins.
CT-LD-68: Joe Poletta (R) wins with 78%.

National:

State Trends: According to RCP, 2016 ACS data suggests that purple suburbs will be the future’s most important electoral battlegrounds.

Social Classes and Politics: If you needed any further signals of the future of our partisan coalitions, look no further. Whereas most college-educated Americans see the political climate as a tremendous threat to the economy, only 1/5 of Americans with a high school diploma or less agree.

Democrats:  According to Politico, while Democrats have seen a yuge burst in enthusiasm in the Trump era, they currently lack the infrastructure and organization to channel that into electoral success.

Labor: Six years after Republican Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker delivered its biggest defeat since the Wagner Act, organized labor is cozying up to… Republican President Donald Trump.

Congress:

Democratic House Recruitment: Cardboard and marker manufacturers be damned, 408 Democrats have already decided to take a break from bitching over brunch and run for Congress.

CA-39: Long-term Rep. Ed Royce (R), one of 23 Republicans sitting in a Clinton-won district, will be challenged in 2018 by former Cal State Fullerton Chemistry Professor Phil Janowicz (D). While Janowicz is certainly a C-list candidate, then-Cornell College Political Science Professor Dave Loebsack earned laughter when he challenged popular IA Rep. Jim Leach in 2006.

GA-06: An estimated 15-20% of 2016 GA-06 Republican presidential primary voters who voted in round one chose Democrat Jon Ossoff, but, of course, all is, and forever will be, well in TX-07, TX-32, VA-10…

GA-06 (2): In a risky move ahead of an election in a twice-divided district, President Trump will headline an Atlanta Karen Handel (R) fundraiser—just a mile-and-a-half down the street from GA-06.

TX-23: To learn about a Republican Congressman doing things well, read this puff piece about Rep. Will Hurd.

VA-10: First Lady McAwful (D) may challenge Rep. Barbara Comstock (R).

State & Local:

PA-Gov: State Sen. Scott Wagner’s internal polling shows him with a large lead in the GOP primary over State Rep. Mike Turzai (R) and businessman Paul Mango (R), who has just told Republican officials that he will enter in May.

NYC-Mayor: Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R) has filed to run for Mayor. Half Greek, half Cuban, and from an Outer Borough, Malliotakis may resonate better with GOP primary voters than will Larchmont, Westchester County’s Paul Massey (R). Take this as a sign that John Catsimatidis (R), a Malliotakis friend, will not run again (although, now that I think of it, Catsimatidis running would be a pretty funny sight…).

Other:

Polarization: Damn lazy millennials and their social media! Wait… Challenging conventional wisdom, The Economist finds that political polarization has increased most among… the elderly.