Democratic Challengers Start to Announce for 2018

October 6, 2017

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

  • Roy Moore (R) leads in Alabama Senate polling
  • Phoenix Mayor (D) to run for open AZ-9
  • Gov. Rick Scott (R) leads Sen. Bill Nelson (D) in polling for Florida Senate seat
  • Rhode Island GOP gets two strong candidates for Governor
  • Rep. Mia Love (R) may be challenged by Salt Lake City Mayor (D)

Senate

The first special Alabama Senate general election poll was published this week, and former state Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore (R) begins with a small but discernible 50-45% lead over ex-US Attorney Doug Jones (D). These results come from the Opinion Savvy research firm (9/27-28; 590 likely and possible special general election voters), which conducted the first special general election survey.

It also appears that each candidate benefits from a polling skew. The survey sample contains more women than the electorate as a whole, a group with whom Mr. Jones fares better, while Judge Moore is credited with getting 24% support within the African American community, a percentage that clearly won't stand. The evangelical vote will again be critical. Judge Moore gets close to 70% support within this religious segment, while Mr. Jones attracts the same gaudy total from non-evangelicals. The special general is scheduled for December 12th, and this first poll suggests that Jones is in position to run a competitive campaign.

Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix), who had already raised more than $3 million at the end of June ostensibly for her re-election campaign in what is now a safe district for her, announced that she will enter the Democratic US Senate primary to challenge vulnerable Republican first-term Sen. Jeff Flake (R).

Immediately, Democrats began coalescing around her statewide candidacy. Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton who, along with state Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson) was considering running for the Senate, fell in line behind Rep. Sinema. Mayor Stanton is expected to run for the Congresswoman's open House seat, and Dr. Friese says he will seek re-election to the state House. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee quickly jumped into the race to announce its endorsement of Ms. Sinema. With a united Democratic Party behind Sinema, and Sen. Flake having trouble in his own Republican primary, this Senate race is now a legitimate toss-up campaign.

Cherry Communications, the regular pollster for the Florida Chamber of Commerce, went into the field after Hurricane Irma passed to test the potential Sunshine State Senate race between three-term incumbent Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R). For the first time, and possibly due to receiving high marks for his handling of the Hurricane Irma catastrophe, Gov. Scott is now leading Sen. Nelson. According to the Cherry poll (9/17-24; 615 FL likely voters via telephone interviews), Gov. Scott now maintains a small 47-45% edge. In previous polls, it was the veteran Senator Nelson who consistently posted a similarly small lead.

House

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) announcing for the Senate means her Maricopa County US House district will be open next year. As mentioned above, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) appears a sure bet to enter the race, but he won't do so until next year. Arizona has a "resign to run" law, meaning he would have to leave his current position if he announces for another office more than a year in advance of the election. Former state House Minority Leader Chad Campbell is another potential Democratic candidate.

Republicans won't concede this seat, even though the district has trended Democratic since its creation in 2012. Physician Steve Ferrara, a retired Navy captain, is already in the race, anticipating that Rep. Sinema would run for the Senate. Even before the June campaign filing disclosure period, Dr. Ferrara had exceeded the $250,000 mark in dollars raised. So, this open seat campaign could develop into one to watch.

Georgia Democratic former House member John Barrow (D-Savannah) served five terms in Congress before his defeat at the hands of Rep. Rick Allen (R-Augusta) in 2014. While it was believed that he would return to elective politics, he had yet to make a play for a new political position. Now, the former Representative has decided upon his political comeback. He announced that he will enter Georgia's open Secretary of State race next year.

Utah US Rep. Mia Love (R-Saratoga Springs) may draw a serious challenger next year. Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams (D) confirms that he is considering opposing the two-term House member. Utah's overwhelming Republican voting history continues to make Rep. Love is the favorite to win but, should McAdams enter the race, this could become a campaign worthy of attention.

Governor

It appears the Rhode Island GOP will field at least two strong gubernatorial candidates, each vying to challenge first-term incumbent Gina Raimondo (D) next November. Cranston Mayor Allen Fung, who lost to Raimondo 41-36% with three Independents splitting the remaining votes, will soon make a formal candidate declaration announcement. State House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan officially announced her candidacy, meaning a significant primary will commence. Gov. Raimondo has poor favorability ratings and, with only a 41% victory percentage four years ago, this could become a competitive campaign despite Rhode Island's strong Democratic voting history.

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