Alabama GOP Runoff Polling and Governor Announcements in AL & HI

September 14, 2017

This article originally appeared on BIPAC's blog. Written by BIPAC Political Analyst Jim Ellis.

Top Lines

  • Alabama polling shows runoff troubles for Strange
  • Rep. Hanabusa (D) to run for Hawaii Governor
  • Retirements in MI-11, PA-15, & WA-8
  • Lt. Gov. Brian Calley (R) announces Governor run in Michigan

Senate

Several new Alabama Senate Republican run-off polls were released in the past few days, all of them bringing bad news for appointed Sen. Luther Strange as the campaign gets closer to the September 26th run-off election date. Southeast Research (8/29-31; 401 AL likely GOP run-off voters) sees former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore continuing to lead. In this particular instance, the advantage is 52-36%. Again, however, we see an overly large number of evangelical voters comprising the sampling universe. In this poll, over 79% of the respondents self-identify as evangelical. Those voters heavily favor Judge Moore. Though Alabama is heavily evangelical, and particularly among those who would vote in a Republican run-off, this particular segment may be too high.

Two other polls both featuring potentially more representative statewide voting samples were also published. Strategic National (9/6-7; 800 AL registered voters) finds Judge Moore leading 51-35%. The Emerson College Polling Society (9/8-9; 416 AL registered voters) sees a 34-22% Moore advantage. Therefore, even with the more representative samples, Sen. Strange continues to trail by double-digit deficits.

House

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) failed to qualify for the special US Senate run-off election, and now faces two credible Republican opponents for his congressional seat. A new poll was just released from WT&S Consulting (8/28-31; 863 self-identified Republican respondents via live telephone interview). The results find the Congressman attracting 56% followed by state Sen. Bill Holtzclaw (R-Madison) at 22%, and businessman Clayton Hinchman trailing with five percent support. Though finishing third in the statewide contest, Mr. Brooks placed first in the 5th District portion of the race (41%), and captured a majority vote in the district's dominant population center, Madison County.

Last week, Hawaii Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) declared her Democratic primary challenge against Gov. David Ige. This week, the Congresswoman confirmed that she will not resign her US House seat in order to campaign for the statewide post. In 2010, then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Honolulu) left Congress mid-term to return to Hawaii full-time in order to concentrate on his political campaign. The move worked, as Abercrombie was elected but the 1st District went to Republican Charles Djou in a jungle primary-style special election. Ms. Hanabusa then won the regular term six months later. The move not to resign secures the seat in the Democratic column for the remainder of the term, but may hamper her efforts to topple Gov. Ige since she will be forced to make the long trip back and forth to Washington.

In Michigan, two-term Rep. David Trott (R-Birmingham/Livonia) announced that he will not seek re-election, expressing a desire to return to the private sector. Before coming to Congress, Mr. Trott built a highly successful real estate and foreclosure legal practice. This is a "lean Republican" seat that will be in play next year.

Seven-term Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown), just shortly after state Rep. Justin Simmons (R-Coopersburg) announced a Republican primary challenge, also declared that he will not seek re-election next year. We can expect vigorous primaries in both parties. The general election will likely be competitive, but Republicans will have the edge. President Trump carried the district 52-44% last November.

Washington Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Auburn), also serving his seventh term, announced that he, too, will retire at the end of the current Congress. The Evergreen State's 8th District is politically marginal, so we can be assured this open seat will be a top Democratic conversion target. Republicans have two potentially strong candidates waiting in the wings, however, former gubernatorial nominee Dino Rossi and King County Councilman Reagan Dunn. The latter is the son of the late former Rep. Jennifer Dunn (R-WA). This open race will be considered a toss-up.

Governor

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey announced that she will seek a full term in office next year. Her candidacy creates a nine-way Republican primary. Gov. Ivey, elected as Lt. Gov. in 2014, ascended to the Governorship when incumbent Robert Bentley (R) resigned as part of a plea bargain agreement over state campaign finance charges. Prominent Republicans already in the race include state Agriculture Commissioner John McMillan, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, and state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile).

As long expected, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette (R), a former US Congressman, officially announced that he will enter the open gubernatorial race. He is expected to face Lt. Gov. Brian Calley in the Republican primary. Mr. Calley will be soon announcing his own gubernatorial effort. The leading Democrat appears to be former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer, but this candidate field is in flux, as well. Because of its importance in the national redistricting picture, the Michigan Governor's race becomes one of the most crucial in the nation. Incumbent Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.