Election Schedule Changes Continue

March 30, 2020

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

Key Takeaways

  • MI-Sen: New poll posts Sen. Gary Peters (D) to bigger lead
  • SC-Sen: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) race tightening
  • CA-25: May 12th special election goes to all-mail
  • MI-13: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D) draws primary re-match
  • SC-2: Local mayor to challenge Rep. Joe Wilson (R)
  • Gov/States: Re-cap of election changes


Michigan:  In what is thought to be one of the most competitive US Senate races in the country next year, a new poll finds Michigan Sen. Gary Peters (D) expanding his small lead over consensus Republican challenger John James (R). The Marketing Resource Group, a regular Michigan pollster (3/16-20; 600 MI likely voters), posts Sen. Peters to a 42-35% lead over Mr. James. Three other polls conducted between January and March found Sen. Peters leading Mr. James within a range of four to ten points. The Firehouse Optimus poll conducted in early March, however, forecast Mr. James to be holding a one-point edge.

South Carolina:  Former South Carolina Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison had already raised over $7.6 million by the end of 2019 for his race this year against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), and now a new poll finds him closing the spread. The Brilliant Corners survey research company (3/3-11; 804 SC registered voters) just released their results from a poll conducted two weeks ago that projects Mr. Harrison trailing Sen. Graham by just a 47-44% margin.

If this survey proves accurate, the race has significantly changed since NBC News/ Marist College released their poll taken in mid-February. Their online poll of slightly under 2,400 registered voters found Sen. Graham holding a substantial 54-37% edge over Mr. Harrison. Democrats believe this is a sleeper race for them, nationally, and with a strong fundraising operation already in place, the contest could turn competitive despite South Carolina’s strong Republican voting history.


CA-25:  The special primary election to replace resigned Rep. Katie Hill (D) was held on Super Tuesday, March 3rd, but questions were being posed as to what Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) might do with the May 12th special general election in reference to COVID-19 virus precautions. Some other states voting that day have already postponed. Mr. Newsom, on the other hand, has decided that all CA-25 registered voters would receive a mail ballot and a small number of polling places will be operational for those who want to vote in person. Therefore, the May 12th special election between state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) and retired Navy fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R) will proceed as scheduled.

MI-13:  When controversial Michigan freshman Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) won her seat in the 2018 Democratic primary to succeed 27-term Rep. John Conyers (D-Detroit), she did so by defeating Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, 38-36%, in a crowded field. In the same election, however, a special election was held to fill the unexpired portion of Mr. Conyers’ final term. Ms. Jones, within a slightly different field of candidates, defeated Ms. Tlaib, 31-30%, and would then serve two months in the House.

Though the end of the Michigan candidate filing period is still almost a month away, Ms. Jones this week announced that she will force a re-match with Rep. Tlaib. Therefore, we will see another competitive Democratic primary between these two, this time on August 4th.

NC-11:  Though North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Buncombe County) has been named incoming White House Chief of Staff for President Trump, he reminded reporters earlier this week that he is still a member of the House. Mr. Meadows says that he will resign from Congress at the end of this month in order to accept his new position. In the meantime, Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney remains in place.

Whether or not a special election will be called to replace Mr. Meadows is an open question once an official vacancy occurs. The situation is now muddled even further since the 11th District Republican runoff election – necessary because no candidate in the crowded field to replace Rep. Meadows, who chose not to see re-election, received 30% of the vote – has been moved to June 23rd. The vote was originally scheduled for May 12th. Apparently, North Carolina election law may give Gov. Roy Cooper (D) some leeway in whether to hold a special to fill the balance of the remaining term.

SC-2:  Term-limited Springdale, SC Mayor Michael Bishop announced yesterday that he will challenge veteran Rep. Joe Wilson in the June 9th Republican primary. Springdale, a Columbia suburb in Lexington County, is a town of fewer than 3,000 people and is also Rep. Wilson’s hometown. Mr. Bishop indicates, however, that he will challenge Mr. Wilson over local issues and if elected will focus only on district concerns. Rep. Wilson remains a heavy favorite for re-nomination and re-election.

Sunrise Movement:  The Sunrise Movement, described by some as a left-wing extremist environmental group, announced it is targeting two major Democratic US House committee chairmen in their respective party primaries. Both Reps. Richard Neal (D-MA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) have announced primary opposition. So far, Sunrise backed Democratic primary challengers have won one race, Marie Newman over Rep. Dan Lipinski in Illinois, but failed against both Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and Bobby Rush (D-IL).

Sunrise Movement is backing Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse against Mr. Neal, chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee, in the state’s September 1st Democratic primary, so this race has some time to develop. Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Engel’s top opponent is local Bronx middle school principal Jamaal Bowman who, in addition to Sunrise Movement’s support, also has the Working Families Party endorsement. The WFP backing is significant because this could give Mr. Bowman the option of advancing into the general election even if he loses the Democratic primary.

Governor / States

Utah:  A total of 17 candidates have qualified to participate in their respective political party conventions for the Utah open Governor’s race. A total of eight Republicans, six Democrats, and three Independent or minor party contenders have filed their paperwork. The biggest names are former Governor and US Ambassador Jon Huntsman and Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox, both on the Republican side. Presumably the state GOP nominating convention will send the two of them to the June 23rd primary. Among the six Democrats are former state Rep. Neil Hansen and law professor Chris Peterson. The eventual Republican nominee becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring three-term Gov. Gary Herbert (R).

Election Schedule Changes:  Several Governors or state election officials made decisions this week to either move their state’s primary or run-off election or change their respective voting system. All of the moves are in relation to adopting COVID-19 precautions.

The Alaska presidential primary will now be an all-mail operation. Therefore, the deadline for sending in ballots has been moved from April 4th to April 10th. The state primary remains scheduled for August 18th.

Governor John Carney (D) announced this week that the Delaware presidential primary will transfer from April 28th to June 2nd, joining a cavalcade of states that have changed an election date or process.

Hawaii officials have cancelled the in-person option for the April 4th presidential primary. Instead, the election will be conducted solely through the mail. The state primary remains on August 8th.

The Indiana Elections Board moved its May 5th primary to June 2nd, which will now be a very significant primary day as many states are moving to what was an already crowded election day.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves (R) transferred the state’s runoff election from March 31st to June 23rd. There is only one federal runoff in Mississippi, in the 2nd Congressional District, and the outcome will have no effect upon the general election as Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton/ Mississippi Delta) is the prohibitive favorite to defeat whichever Republican becomes the party nominee.

The New York Attorney General has recommended to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) that the state’s presidential primary remain on April 28th but be conducted through the mail. No action has yet occurred regarding changing the June 23rd state primary election date.

The North Carolina Board of Elections has moved the state’s lone congressional runoff, in the open Republican 11th District (Rep. Mark Meadows-R), from May 12th to June 23rd. The winner of the secondary GOP election will clam the seat in the November election.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), who postponed the March 17th presidential and state primary, is considering changing to an all-mail system. This is largely because thousands of votes were already cast through the mail in anticipation of the originally scheduled primary.

Oregon Secretary of State Bev Clarno (D) announced that the May 19th state primary will remain in place. Ms. Clarno indicated that because the state uses a universal mail system for its regular elections there is no increased risk of spreading the Coronavirus. Therefore, the Oregon primary will proceed as scheduled.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has reached an agreement with Republican legislative leaders to move the April 28th presidential and state primary to June 2nd.

The Puerto Rico presidential primary has been transferred from March 29th to April 26th.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) also signed an executive order moving the state’s presidential primary from April 28th to June 2nd. The state primary will remain set for September 1st.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a letter over the weekend that indicated he is moving the state’s May 26th runoff that features 16 federal and state secondary elections to July 14th.