Ohio 12 Special Election and August 7 Primary Highlight Week

August 10, 2018

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

Primary Results

The August 7th primaries featured several key nomination races.

Republican state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) appears to have defeated Franklin County Recorder Danny O'Connor (D) in the central Ohio special congressional election by a scant 50.1% of the vote, meaning a 1,754 unofficial vote margin. Mr. Balderson will take the seat once the vote is officially certified. Approximately 3,300 provisional ballots remain to be counted, and absentee ballots postmarked Election Day could still be a factor. It is likely the Balderson margin will hold, and then the two candidates will return to again do battle in the general election since both won the Ohio regular primary back in May.

Kansas Gov. Jeff Colyer and Secretary of State Kris Kobach are still locked in a virtual tie for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. Mr. Kobach leads by just 91 votes statewide with several thousand provisional ballots remaining to be counted. Remaining are between 8,000 and 10,000 provisional and absentee ballots, with more post-election ballots likely on the way. Election officials were scheduled to accept absentee ballots postmarked on Election Day through close of business today. Not all of the uncounted ballots are for the Republican primary, so it is difficult to say just how many votes remain in political overtime. The eventual winner will face new Democratic nominee Laura Kelly, a Topeka state Senator, and credible Independent candidate Greg Orman in the general election.

The open Kansas 2nd District produced nominees for what will likely be a toss-up general election. Former state House Minority Leader and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis was unopposed in the Democratic primary. The Republican winner is defense contractor and Afghan War veteran Steve Watkins, who placed first in a field of seven candidates with just 26.2% of the vote. He defeated three state Senators, a state Representative, and a former state House Speaker. Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R-Topeka) is retiring.

In the 3rd District, Democrat Sharice Davids, a former White House Fellow and Mixed Martial Arts professional, defeated Bernie Sanders' backed attorney Brent Welder and four others, including 2016 nominee Jay Sidie who finished dead last. Ms. Davids advances to face four-term Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-Overland Park) in the general election.

Michigan Republicans chose retired Army Ranger and manufacturing company owner John James, who earned President Trump's endorsement, over venture capitalist Sandy Pensler, 55-45%. He now faces three-term Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D). The incumbent begins the general election as a strong favorite for re-election.

In addition to nominating candidates for the open Detroit-area 13th Congressional District seat in the coming Congress, choosing someone to fill the current vacancy for the remaining portion of the term was also virtually decided last Tuesday night. The unusual saga ended with two different people winning the regular election Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to victory in November, and the special election party nod. Former state Rep. Rashida Tlaib won the regular Democratic primary, which makes it a certainty that she will represent the 13th District in the next Congress. But, Detroit City Council president Brenda Jones won the Democratic special election primary. Therefore, when the special general is held on November 6th, she will undoubtedly be elected, but for only the two-month term.

It will likely be a few more days before we know who advances into the general election against Republican Dino Rossi from Washington's 8th District. Physician Kim Shrier (D) and attorney Jason Rittereiser (D) are locked in a tight battle for second place. In the jungle primary format, the top two finishers advance to the general election. Because Washington uses an all-mail voting system and allows ballots to be postmarked on Election Day, it can take many days to count all of the ballots. Regardless of the final primary result, this will be a close general election battle.


New Mexico: Just days after the New Mexico Libertarian Party officially asked former Republican Governor and Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson to assume the party's US Senate nomination after the man who won the June 5th primary, Aubrey Dunn, withdrew, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) released his internal polling numbers. Mr. Johnson says he is considering whether to accept and may take several days before rendering a decision.

Seeing Johnson's potential move, Sen. Heinrich then quickly released his GBA Strategies survey (8/1-5; 800 NM likely voters) that suggests the former Governor entering the race would virtually seal the incumbent's re-election. According to the poll results, Sen. Heinrich would register 47% support if Republican Mick Rich and Mr. Johnson were both on the ballot opposing him. In this configuration, Rich would score 29%, and Johnson 22%. Therefore, even though Sen. Heinrich would likely drop below 50%, the split vote would make him a lock for re-election.


FL-9: A new Survey USA poll conducted for Spectrum News 13 in Kissimmee (released 8/9/18; 875 FL-9 registered voters) finds freshman Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) leading former Rep. Alan Grayson by a relatively slim 45-38% margin as the two move toward the August 28th Democratic primary. Rep. Grayson represented the 9th District since its creation before the 2012 election. He left in 2016 to unsuccessfully enter the Democratic Senatorial primary. Mr. Grayson fell to then-Rep. Patrick Murphy, who would lose the subsequent general election to Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Rep. Soto, a former multi-term state legislator, is running in his first congressional re-election campaign. He defeated three other Democrats, including Mr. Grayson's wife, in the 2016 Democratic primary, and then easily carried the general election.

FL-27: Former Health & Human Services Secretary and University of Miami President Donna Shalala's open congressional Democratic primary lead is receding according to one of her opponents who has released his own survey data. Non-profit organization executive Matt Haggman's RABA Research poll (8/2-5; 433 FL-27 likely Democratic primary voters) found Ms. Shalala leading the crowded group of five candidates with only 26% of the vote. Mr. Haggman was second at 16%, followed by state Rep. David Richardson (D-Miami), who posted 15% and Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez who trails with 11%. Therefore, it appears this race is tightening as the candidates head toward the August 28th Florida primary. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Miami) is retiring.

NY-27: News was released earlier in the week that Upstate New York Rep. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) is now under federal indictment for securities fraud. Therefore, how might this effect the political situation in the 27th Congressional District? Rep. Collins has already said he will stay on the ballot. Currently, he is facing Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray who will appear on the Democratic, Working Families, and Women's Equality Party ballot lines. Rep. Collins is on the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Party lines. A third candidate, businessman Larry Piegza, is representing the Reform Party.

At this point, the race does not look competitive. Mr. McMurray has raised only $133,000 for the campaign, with $81,772 in the bank according to the June 30th Federal Election Commission financial disclosure report. Until the indictment, the seat was rated as safe Republican. Should Mr. Collins decide not to continue the campaign, the various party county chairmen would convene to choose a new nominee. In the 2016 election, President Trump carried NY-27 by 25 percentage points, 60-35%. Obviously, this situation will further develop.


Florida: The Florida Republican Governor's campaign has been an interesting one because of the juxtaposition between the two main candidates. Early, it appeared that Agriculture Commissioner and former US Congressman Adam Putnam was the clear favorite, but now US Rep. Ron DeSantis, (R-Palm Coast/Daytona Beach) is putting his campaign into overdrive. Thus, the race's transformation appears complete as the two candidates draw ever nearer to the August 28th Florida primary election. A new North Star Opinion Research poll (8/5-7; 600 FL likely GOP primary voters) sees DeSantis' lead now approaching landslide proportion, 50-30%.

Last week, gubernatorial candidate Gwen Graham released her Anzalone Liszt Grove Research Democratic primary poll that projected her building a strong 33-17-13-10-3% lead over Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine, billionaire Jeff Greene, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, and businessman Chris King. This week, Mayor Levine released his Public Policy Polling survey (8/5-6; 572 FL likely Democratic primary voters) that finds a considerably closer race. According to the PPP results, Ms. Graham continues to lead, but with a much closer 26-22-16-13-4% margin over Levine, Greene, Gillum, and King, respectively. The race is open because term-limited Gov. Rick Scott (R) is running for the Senate.

Georgia: Two national polling firms tested the Georgia electorate soon before or right after the July 24th Republican run-off election, and both find a 46-44% split between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp. But, each pollster sees a different leader. Survey USA, polling for WXIA television in Atlanta (7/15-19; 1,199 GA likely voters), found Mr. Kemp with the 46-44% advantage. Gravis Marketing, just releasing their new survey (7/27-29; 650 GA likely voters), projects Ms. Abrams to be holding the same margin and finding. Obviously, this general election contest is beginning on an even footing.

Maine: Suffolk University tested the Maine electorate now that the open general election contest between Democratic Attorney General Janet Mills and Republican businessman Shawn Moody is well underway. The poll (8/2-6; 500 ME likely voters) finds the two candidates deadlocked at 39% apiece. President Trump's job approval rating in Maine, according to this survey, is 41:54% positive to negative. In the general election, Hillary Clinton carried the state, 46-43%.

Maryland: Former NAACP president Ben Jealous, the Maryland Democratic nominee for Governor, just released the results of his Garin Hart Yang Research poll taken in mid-July (7/10-14; 601 MD likely general election voters) that finds him trailing Gov. Larry Hogan (R), 49-40%.

Also, a key labor union that strongly backed losing 2014 Democratic nominee Anthony Brown, the Laborer's Union of North America, just announced their support for Gov. Hogan. The Jealous move to release a dated poll in which he is behind on the heels of what should be an allied group defecting to his opponent is a sign the campaign is trying to inject some life into its effort. While nine points is a significant deficit, such a marginal can still be overcome, hence the belated effort to stem the building tide against the Jealous gubernatorial effort.

Rhode Island: In 2014, then-state Treasurer Gina Raimondo (D) won a tight 41-36-21% victory over Cranston Mayor Allan Fung (R) and Independent Bob Healey to become Rhode Island's governor. A new WPRI 12 News/Roger Williams University survey (7/28-31; 407 RI likely general election voters) finds the Governor leading Mr. Fung by only a 39-37% margin for the 2018 re-match. Therefore, despite Rhode Island's strong Democratic voting history, the 2018 Governor's race again looks to be highly competitive.