BIPAC Election Insights - Hardy Out for 2018 NV Run and Clearing Up Virginia Polling

July 26, 2017

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


The early-year speculation that actor and California former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was considering a Senate campaign has finally been quelled. In typical Schwarzenegger fashion, he indicated to a Politico reporter that being one of one hundred is "not his style," and that he will not run. The idea of Mr. Schwarzenegger becoming a Senate candidate was generally considered a lark. It would only have occurred if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) decided to retire and he entered the campaign as an Independent. With his relationship to the Republican base all but shattered, the outside approach would have been Schwarzenegger's only realistic scenario of securing an outside chance to win.

Hawaii US Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) will not launch a primary challenge to Sen. Mazie Hirono (D). Despite having more than $2.1 million in the bank, Ms. Gabbard signaled that the speculation about her seeking higher office will cease. Over the past weekend, she publicly endorsed Sen. Hirono for re-election. The Gabbard challenge talk died rapidly once it became public that Sen. Hirono is fighting kidney cancer. The 69-year old first-term lawmaker says her prognosis is positive and the disease is not stopping her from seeking re-election.

A new Indiana poll suggests that not only will next year's US Senate general election will be a toss-up affair. The OnMessage consulting firm's new survey (7/10-12; 400 IN GOP likely primary voters) for Rep. Luke Messer's (R-Greensburg/ Muncie) potential campaign finds their client and Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) tied at 23% in the Republican primary ballot test preference. Both are unannounced Senate candidates, but the two appear headed to the statewide contest with an equal share of campaign resources. Each has just over $2 million in their federal bank accounts. The eventual GOP nominee faces vulnerable Sen. Joe Donnelly (D).

The recently often-cited poll credited to Delphi Analytica that posts rock star Robert Ritchie (Kid Rock) to a 30-26% lead over Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) appears to be bogus. No trace of the poll can be found on any website, and a three-term Senator with generally favorable approval scores having only a 26% preference figure is suspect to say the least.


Arizona former US Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) completed her political move to Tucson. During a weekend event, Ms. Kirkpatrick confirmed speculation that she will join the growing field of Democrats vying to challenge two-term Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson). In addition to the former Congresswoman, 2016 nominee Matt Heinz, ex-state Rep. Bruce Wheeler (D-Tucson), a former Assistant US Army Secretary, and three businessmen are already in the Democratic primary. Ms. Kirkpatrick represented the sprawling 1st District for three non-consecutive terms, leaving in the 2016 election cycle to challenge Sen. John McCain (R). She would fall to the veteran Senator, 54-40%, and, with a Democrat succeeding her in the 1st District, moving to the southeastern CD seemed to be her best political option. She is not a lock, however, even to win the Democratic primary in her new district, as the other candidates are substantial and at least two of them have at least a small voting base from which to begin.

Nevada Former US Rep. Cresent Hardy (R-Mesquite), who had toyed with running for his former 4th District or even moving to the state's open southern 3rd District, says he will not be on the ballot for any race in 2018. Mr. Hardy won his Democrat-leaning seat in 2014, but lost to current Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D-Las Vegas) in the subsequent high turnout presidential election year.


Appointed South Carolina Lt. Gov. Kevin Bryant (R) appears ready to challenge new Gov. Henry McMaster (R) in next year's GOP primary. At the end of last week, Mr. Bryant filed a financial committee in preparation for the gubernatorial run. Mr. McMaster was the elected Lt. Governor, but ascended to the Governor's office once incumbent Nikki Haley (R) was appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations. Mr. Bryant, then a state Senator, was subsequently chosen by the legislature to replace McMaster as Lt. Governor.

If a Cleveland Plain Dealer columnist is correct, the already crowded Ohio Governor's race will soon get another participant. Federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau director Richard Cordray, the state's former Attorney General, will reportedly resign his position and return to Ohio for purposes of entering the Governor's race. The move is expected by September. Already in the Democratic primary are former Rep. Betty Sutton (D-Copley), Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley, state Senator and former Minority Leader Joe Schiavoni, and ex-state Rep. Connie Pillich. Republicans feature an all-star political list: Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Attorney General and former US Senator Mike DeWine, Secretary of State Jon Husted, and US Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). Gov. John Kasich (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

A Monmouth University poll (7/20-23; 502 VA likely voters) for the 2017 Virginia Governor's race is attracting a great deal of attention around the state because the ballot test shows Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and former Republican National Committee chairman Ed Gillespie deadlocked with 44% apiece. In looking at the polling methodology it appears the polling sample skews slightly Republican, however; therefore, Gillespie trailing by a small margin is likely the more accurate projection.