AAN Weekly Political Synopsis

  • 08/17/2017
  • Source: AAN
  • by: Jim Ellis
Alabama:  As polling predicted, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore placed first in the Republican primary earlier this week, but came well short of majority support.  He now advances to a September 26th run-off against appointed Sen. Luther Strange.  US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) finished a distant third.  Judge Moore captured 39% of the GOP primary vote versus Sen. Strange’s 33%, while Mr. Brooks notched 20%.  Judge Moore performed best in the rural areas and in southern Alabama, particularly in the Mobile, Montgomery, and Dothan areas.  Sen. Strange placed first in the Birmingham region, the state’s most populous metro area.  Rep. Brooks carried his home county of Madison with over 50% of the vote.
The survey research badly missed the Democratic result, however.  Most were suggesting a run-off would occur between retired Navy officer Robert Kennedy Jr. and ex-US Attorney Doug Jones, but the latter easily won.  Mr. Jones secured a 66-18% landslide victory over Mr. Kennedy and six others, thus earning him a ballot position in the December 12th general election.  More than 72% of the 588,288 participants chose to vote in the Republican primary, which does not bode well for the Democrats in the upcoming special general.
Arizona:  Political news is breaking in the Grand Canyon State.  The local NBC News affiliate is reporting that Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) will soon announce a challenge to Sen. Jeff Flake (R).  For her part, the Congresswoman admits to only be “seriously considering” entering the campaign.  Ms. Sinema has been raising large amounts of money during all of 2017 and possesses more than $3 million in her campaign account, actions consistent with preparing for a statewide run.  Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D), who is also publicly considering his own Senate campaign, would instead reportedly run for Sinema’s open House seat if she ultimately decides to challenge Flake.  The Arizona Senate campaign is becoming one of the nation’s most important 2018 contests.
Missouri:  Reports indicate that state Treasurer Eric Schmitt (R) has decided not to pursue a US Senate campaign in 2018.  This is one more indication that Attorney General Josh Hawley (R), who has formed an exploratory committee that is raising large amounts of money, will enter the race.  Mr. Hawley is the Republican hierarchy’s top prospect.  Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) is commonly viewed as the most vulnerable Democrat standing for re-election in 2018.
Nevada:  Clark County District Attorney Steve Wolfson (D), at one time considered as a potential Senate challenger to incumbent Republican Dean Heller, yesterday officially said he will not run statewide next year.  Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is already an announced candidate.  Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) is considering declaring her candidacy.  Sen. Heller is drawing Republican primary opposition from perennial candidate Danny Tarkanian.  Nevada is the top Democratic national conversion target.
North Dakota:  The first Republican to announce a Senate challenge to North Dakota first-term incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D) came forward yesterday to publicly declare his statewide bid.  State Sen. Tom Campbell (R-Grafton), active in the financial services, real estate, and agriculture industries, officially entered the statewide campaign.  Most of the pre-campaign attention had been centered upon at-large US Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck), but as more time progresses the less likely it appears that the Congressman will make the challenge.  This race will be viewed as competitive, but Sen. Heitkamp must be rated as the favorite to win a second term.
AL-5:  Fresh from losing the special Senate Republican primary, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) yesterday announced that he will seek re-election to the north Alabama congressional seat he originally won in 2010.  Mr. Brooks already faces primary opposition from businessman Clayton Hinchman who is connected to political consultants associated with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.  Though the 5th District is safely Republican, a GOP primary battle here could turn competitive even though Mr. Brooks demonstrated geographical strength in the Senate primary.  He placed first in the 5th District portion of the state with 41%, more than 20 points higher than his statewide percentage, and carried his home county, Madison, with majority support.
CO-7:  Reports are coming from the Denver area that Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden), who had announced he was running for Governor and then changed his mind, may again be having conflicting thoughts about his political career.  When holding an event to make public his withdrawal from the Governor’s race last month, Mr. Perlmutter also said he would not seek re-election in 2018.  Now, he may again be reversing course.  Apparently, the Congressman is testing the political waters about seeking re-election after all, and may make a new announcement as soon as early next week.  Democrats would likely hold an open 7th District, but Perlmutter re-entering the race would undoubtedly remove all serious competition.
KS-2:  Former state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D-Topeka) announced yesterday that he will enter the 2018 open seat primary for the seat that retiring GOP Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) is relinquishing.  Mr. Davis was the party’s gubernatorial nominee in 2014, losing a 50-46% race to Gov. Sam Brownback (R).  Though the 2nd CD is Republican in nature, a Democrat could have a chance under the right circumstances.  In 2006, Democrat Nancy Boyda upset veteran GOP Rep. Jim Ryun, but would then lose to Ms. Jenkins two years later.  So far, on the Republican side, state Sen. Steve Fitzgerald (R-Leavenworth) and Bashor City Councilman Vernon Fields have announced their candidacies.  Attorney General Derek Schmidt, however, remains a potential GOP candidate. 
Texas:  In a court ruling that engendered only one major surprise, the special three-judge federal panel long considering the Texas redistricting case, issued a ruling that intends for a new map to be in place before the 2018 election.  The legislature could re-draw the lines to comply with the ruling, but it appears Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will not call a special session to deal with the issue saying he is confident the US Supreme Court will reverse the ruling.  If not, the two districts most affected will be those of Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) and Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin/San Antonio).  The lone surprise is that the ruling does not appear to directly affect Rep. Will Hurd’s (R-San Antonio/El Paso) CD, but predicting how a re-draw will affect specific districts is difficult to do at this early juncture.
TX-30:  Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas), at age 81 considered a retirement possibility, announced this week that she will seek a 14th term in the House next year.  Ms. Johnson was originally elected to the state House of Representatives in 1972, and served two terms.  After a ten-year hiatus from the legislature, she returned in 1986 to win a seat in the Texas Senate before running for Congress in 1992.  The Congresswoman appears as a sure bet for re-election. 
UT-3:  Provo Mayor John Curtis scored a 41-31-28% victory in the August 15th UT-3 special congressional Republican primary, earning him a ballot position in the November 7th special general election.  He defeated the party endorsed candidate, former state Rep. Chris Herrod, and marketing executive Tanner Ainge to secure the GOP nomination.  Mayor Curtis will face physician Kathryn Allen (D) in the final round of voting.  Dr. Allen was nominated in convention back in March and has so far raised just under $1 million for the race, thus ensuring that she will run a credible general election campaign.  Mayor Curtis now becomes a heavy favorite to succeed resigned Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Alpine/Sandy) in an eastern Utah district where Hillary Clinton failed to even finish second last November. 
Alabama:  State Public Service Commission chair Twinkle Cavanaugh (R), who had formed an exploratory committee for Governor, has now decided to run for Lt. Governor.  The latter position is open since the original incumbent, Kay Ivey (R), is now Governor.  Since it is becoming clear Gov. Ivey will run for a full term, others in the crowded GOP gubernatorial primary may begin to make other moves.  Ms. Cavanaugh is the first to decide on an alternative political course.
Hawaii:   Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) is refusing to deny reports that she is mulling a Democratic primary challenge to Gov. David Ige.  Ms. Hanabusa was first elected to the House in 2010, defeating short-term Republican incumbent Charles Djou.  In 2014, she decided to challenge appointed Sen. Brian Schatz in the Democratic primary, but failed to unseat him.  When her successor in the House, Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea), tragically passed away from pancreatic cancer before his first re-election, Ms. Hanabusa returned to win the 2016 concurrent special and general elections to re-claim the congressional seat.  Now, she may be on the move again.
In 2014, Mr. Ige, then a long-time state Senator, challenged Gov. Neil Abercrombie in the Democratic primary in a state that rarely defeats incumbents.  Ige would defy all odds and go onto score an incredible 69-31% victory over the Governor, soundly denying him re-nomination in his own primary.  Now, Rep. Hanabusa may attempt to ironically follow the same course against Ige, himself. 
Illinois:  US Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson/Chicago), who was considered to be a potential gubernatorial candidate, removed such doubt with her announcement this week.  Instead of declaring for Governor, Ms. Kelly publicly endorsed state Sen. Daniel Biss (D) for the statewide position.  It is now presumed that Rep. Kelly will seek re-election to the House.
 Source: AAN
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