Political Musical Chairs

June 21, 2019

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

Key Takeaways

  • Presidential Polls: FL; MN: US - Elizabeth Warren gaining
  • AL-Sen: Ex-Judge Roy Moore (R) declares                                           
  • GA-Sen: Lt. Gov. Nominee Sarah Amico (D) to run
  • WY-Sen: Ex-Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) makes move
  • CA-21: Ex-Rep. David Valadao (R) may return
  • IN-5: Rep. Susan Brooks (R) to retire
  • MT-AL: Rep. Greg Gianforte (R) to run for Governor


National Polls:  Both Suffolk and Monmouth Universities conducted national Democratic presidential primary polls, and largely came to the same conclusions, though with some differences.  Suffolk (6/11-15; 1,000 US registered voters) finds former Vice President Joe Biden posting 30% support, with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) following with half that number, 15 percent.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is next with 10%, followed by South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg at 9%, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) registering 6% preference.

But, Monmouth U (6/12-17; 301 US self-identified Democratic voters) sees a slightly different order.  They, too, project Mr. Biden first with a similar 32%, but Sen. Warren slips into second place with 15%, just ahead of Sen. Sanders' 14%.  Sen. Harris picks up 8%, and Mayor Buttigieg pulls 5% support.  The Monmouth poll is likely less reliable since their national sample (301 respondents) is so small.

Florida Poll:  The new Quinnipiac University national poll (6/6-10; 1,214 US registered voters; 503 likely Democratic primary voters) returns a poll that delivers particularly negative numbers for President Trump.  The survey shows all major Democratic candidates leading the President in isolated ballot test questions, with anywhere from 13 (Joe Biden) to five (Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Cory Booker) point margins.  It also projects Independents breaking away from Mr. Trump in the Biden pairing by a whopping 58-28% margin.  These results are more extreme than any other poll recently seen, however.

Minnesota Poll:  Detecting a surge for Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in several states and national presidential polling, she now has captured an outright lead in at least one state. Change Research polled the Minnesota Democratic electorate (6/8-12; 772 MN likely Democratic primary voters) in anticipation of the state's presidential primary scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 3rd, and finds her atop the large field.  According to the Change data, Sen. Warren is projected to hold a slight 21-20-19-16-11% edge over former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), home state Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, respectively.  Minnesota carries 75 first ballot delegates to the Democratic National Convention, ranking it as the 17th largest voting entity.


Alabama:  Former state Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore returned to elective politics yesterday in announcing his second bid for the US Senate.  We will remember that Judge Moore lost the special Senate election to current incumbent Doug Jones (D) in late 2017.  For the 2020 election cycle, Judge Moore's chances are poor.  While he may have enough support to slip into a run-off, in a one-on-one contest he will likely not have enough political strength to upend either Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville, or Secretary of State John Merrill.

Georgia:  Sarah Briggs Amico, who was the Democratic nominee for Lt. Governor last November and lost 48-52%, is indicating that she will soon enter the 2020 Senate primary.  In that contest she will face former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, and likely several others. The eventual party nominee faces an uphill campaign against first-term Sen. David Perdue (R). In late April 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams said that she would not run for Senate.

North Carolina:  After declaring for Lt. Governor at the end of last year, former state Sen. Cal Cunningham (D) yesterday announced that he is switching into the US Senate race and hopes to challenge Sen. Thom Tillis (R).  Mr. Cunningham served one two-year term in the state Senate, lost the 2010 US Senate Democratic primary, and completed Army JAG Corps tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Already in the Democratic primary are state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston), former state Sen. Eric Mansfield, and Mecklenburg County Commissioner Trevor Fuller. Sen. Tillis draws opposition from wealthy retired venture capitalist Garland Tucker in the Republican primary. North Carolina Senate campaigns are always highly competitive, and this one will be no exception.

Tennessee:  Earlier this week, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke (D) said he will not pursue the Democratic nomination in next year's August Senate primary election.  Meanwhile, Republicans are still awaiting former Gov. Bill Haslam's decision about whether he will again become a statewide candidate.  After postponing publicizing his decision for now a third time, Mr. Haslam promises a candidate decision "within two or three weeks."

Wyoming:  Regardless of what at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) might do regarding retiring Sen. Mike Enzi's (R) Senate seat, it appears that former US Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) is moving forward.  This week, the ex-Congresswoman took the step of changing the name of the federal campaign committee she still has from her days in the House.  Instead of "Lummis for Congress," her campaign committee is now called, "Lummis for Wyoming."


CA-21:  The Daily Kos Elections site is reporting that sources close to former Congressman David Valadao say the defeated Representative is seriously considering mounting a comeback campaign in 2020.  Freshman Rep. T.J. Cox (D-Fresno) unseated Mr. Valadao by 862 votes in California's closest congressional race.  A turnout of only 113,616 voters made the 21st the lowest turnout district in the entire state.   It is abundantly clear that the Republicans' only serious chance of making this race competitive in 2020 is to again field Mr. Valadao.

IN-5:  Four-term GOP Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) announced on Friday that she will not seek re-election in 2020, saying she wants to devote the next part of her life to interests outside of elective politics.  Her decision means the open seat count grows to ten, including the two North Carolina seats that will be decided in special elections on September 10th.  The 5th District is reliably Republican but could become competitive in an open seat situation in a strong Democratic year.

MI-3:  It's unclear whether Rep. Justin Amash (R-Cascade Township/Grand Rapids) will run for re-election after calling for President Trump's impeachment, but several individuals in both parties have already declared their candidacies against him.  We already know that state Rep. James Lower (R-Greenville) and local official and Iraq War veteran Tom Norton are challenging Mr. Amash in the Republican primary.  Yesterday, attorney Nick Colvin declared for the Democratic nomination joining two other Democrats in a district that is quickly becoming a hotbed of political activity.  Speculation continues to grow that Rep. Amash may jettison the House to run for the Libertarian presidential nomination.

MT-AL:  With at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) now officially running for Governor, it didn't take long for the Montana political musical chairs to start moving.  Early in the week, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton confirmed that he will exit the open Governor's race and enter the newly open Republican primary for the at-large US House seat.  Additionally, state Auditor Matt Rosendale, who lost the US Senate race to incumbent Jon Tester (D) in November, says he will also again become a congressional candidate.

The seat hadn't even been open for a week and the Club for Growth hit the airwaves running attack ads against Mr. Stapleton who was met with the paid opposition media just two days after he decided to swing into the at-large House seat from the Governor's campaign.  The CfG is supporting Mr. Rosendale for the open House seat, as they did in his Senate race last year against incumbent Jon Tester (D). Democrats already have two congressional candidates, each announcing against Mr. Gianforte.  Former state Representative and 2018 congressional nominee Kathleen Williams and state Rep. Tom Winter (D-Missoula) launched their respective campaigns weeks ago.

TX-32:  Former Florida Congressman Allen West (R) is about to re-enter politics, but in Texas and not the Sunshine State.  Yesterday, the former House member said he will decide in the next couple of weeks whether he will seek the Republican nomination in the 32nd Congressional District and possibly oppose former Rep. Pete Sessions, the incumbent that freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) unseated in November.  Or, Mr. West claims he might challenge Sen. John Cornyn (R).  And, weighing still another political option, the former Congressman and retired military officer says he may instead decide to run for Texas Republican Party chairman.


North Carolina:  Two Republican-based polls finds very different results from their data testing GOP Lt. Gov. Dan Forest versus first-term Gov. Roy Cooper (D).  The conservative Civitas Institute contracted with Harper Polling to gauge Gov. Cooper's strength.  Their poll (6/8-10; 500 NC likely voters) found the incumbent holding a ten-point lead over Mr. Forest, 47-37%. But, Spry Strategies, polling for the North Carolina Republican Party (conducted in May but released 6/18; 730 NC registered voters) actually draws the opposite conclusion.  They find Lt. Gov. Forest capturing a 44-40% lead even though the Governor's job approval rating is a whopping 60:38% positive to negative.

At the end of the week, Public Policy Polling entered the picture with their data (6/17-18; 610 NC registered voters) posting Gov. Cooper to a 45-41% advantage.  But, this PPP survey could be skewed a bit in Cooper's favor.  The poll overstates the Democratic sample by 6.1% as compared to the actual state count.  They boost the Republican total by three percentage points but downgrade the Unaffiliateds by more than eight points.  Considering this skew, the ballot test numbers could actually be much closer.