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South Carolina state Rep. Ralph Norman has released two ads in the increasingly contested 5th Congressional District race to replace new OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. Norman's ads are geared towards introducing him and also positioning his agenda of term limits and a balanced budget. Norman is also promoting his outsider business image in the vein of successful recent political campaigns like President Donald Trump and Senator David Perdue (R-GA).
South Carolina Speaker pro tempore Tommy Pope launched the first television ad of the campaign for the GOP nomination in the South Carolina 5th Congressional District. Pope touts his law enforcement background and commits to a tough on crime agenda. Pope is seen by many Palmetto State observers as the front runner to win the Congressional seat vacated by OMB Director Mick Mulvaney. This ad will no doubt cause other candidates to invest in getting their own T.V. time in the run up to the May 2 Republican primary.
Former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel has been the clear leader of the Republicans looking to replace HHS Secretary Tom Price in Congress in recent polling. The race for the Georgia 6th features a crowded field and a run off seems to be in the offing. With former Democratic Congressional staffer seeming assured of one of those run off spots fellow Republicans are turning their aim to Handel to keep her from securing the second. Handel does have favorable name ID in the district, but her record on winning elections has shown diminishing returns for her since she left the Secretary of State position to run for Governor in 2010.
Two weeks ago, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) made it clear that he is considering running for an eighth term next year. The Senator, first elected in 1976, is the second longest-serving Republican Senator in US history. The overall seniority record holder, with more than 51 years in office, is the late Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV). According to an article published in the local Salt Lake City Tribune, Sen. Hatch outlined a scenario under which he might retire. The Senator celebrated his 83rd birthday last week.
Responding to an interview question, Sen. Hatch said that he might step aside if “(I) could get an outstanding person to run for my position…” He indicated that such a person would be former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, and further said that the two have discussed the idea. Mr. Romney, the former Governor of Massachusetts, now resides in Utah. This developing situation merits further attention.
Two new surveys were released in both states where Governor’s elections are underway for this year. First, Christopher Newport University (3/16-26; 831 VA registered voters) finds Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and former US Rep. Tom Perriello tied in the Democratic primary cell group. Both men command 26% support according to the survey. Each has growth potential, Perriello among liberals and northern Virginia residents, while Northam has the opportunity to expand his support base in southwestern VA and with moderates. This race is cutting along the Clinton vs. Sanders presidential battle lines. The establishment Dems are lining up behind Northam while the outsider liberal base is gravitating toward Perriello.
For the Republicans, ex-Republican National Committee Chairman Ed Gillespie has opened up a large lead over Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chair Corey Stewart and State Sen. Frank Wagner. Gillespie leads the pair, 38-11-10%, respectively. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is ineligible to seek re-election. Virginia is the only state in the Union that limits its chief executive to one term in office.
In New Jersey, Fairleigh Dickinson University surveyed the projected primary electorates from their March 22-26 poll that questioned 758 NJ registered voters. Former Ambassador Phil Murphy and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno have sizable leads in the Democratic and Republican primaries, respectively. For Murphy, the former diplomat leads state Assemblyman John Wisniewski and former US Treasury Under Secretary Jim Johnson, 23-4-4%, with State Sen. Raymond Lesniak drawing 3 percent.
For the GOP, Lt. Gov. Guadagno draws 24% support over Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli who gets 4%. Attorney Dana Wefer is at 2%, with Nutley Town Commissioner Steven Rogers and businessman Joseph Rullo each pulling only 1% support. Both Murphy and Guadagno are now prohibitive favorites for their party nominations. Mr. Murphy has the inside track toward capturing the Governor’s mansion in November. Gov. Chris Christie (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.
U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) endorsed former state Senator Dan Moody (R) in the crowded Georgia 6th Congressional race. Moody is backed and staffed by many of the same people who helped both Senator Perdue and his cousin former Governor Sonny Perdue (R) win elected office. The endorsement does defy traditional politicla logic, but both Perudes have made their careers making such decisions. Look for Moody to contend for a spot in the June 20th runoff in the closing days till the April 18th vote in Georgia.
Six-term US Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), fresh from a nail-biting 50.3% re-election victory in his southern Minnesota 1st Congressional District, as expected announced that he will enter the open Governor’s race next year. Mr. Walz has hinted broadly for the past couple of weeks that he was moving toward launching the statewide campaign.
The Congressman joins state Auditor Rebecca Otto, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman, and state Rep. Erin Murphy in the Democratic Farm Labor Party primary. Other Democrats who may become gubernatorial candidates are Attorney General Lori Swanson, US Rep. Rick Nolan (D-Crosby), and Minneapolis former Mayor R.T. Rybak, among others. No Republicans have yet announced, but Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) and Tom Emmer (R-Delano) are both possible candidates. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.
State Rep. Ted Kennedy Jr. (D) says he is “90% sure that he will run for Governor” next year. Gov. Dan Malloy (D), who has some of the worst job approval ratings of any state chief executive, has not yet said whether he will seek a third term. In 2014, his ratings were also low but managed to win a 51-48% re-election victory. It is unclear whether Mr. Kennedy was speaking only if the Governor’s job is open, or if he is actually considering running a primary effort against Gov. Malloy.
Middletown Mayor Dan Drew (D) has already filed an exploratory committee to test his gubernatorial office chances, but says he is only filing at this early stage because of Connecticut’s stringent financial reporting and fundraising requirements. He is so far not suggesting that he will challenge Gov. Malloy.
Republicans are expected to again contest this race. Former Ambassador Tom Foley (R) held Mr. Malloy to a pair of close election victories. Seven GOP candidates have already announced their intentions, including three state legislators and two mayors.
A new pollster joined the group surveying the GA-6 special election. Atlanta-based Opinion Savvy (3/23-24; 462 specially chosen GA-6 registered voters) recently tested the coming special election. The pollsters selected the sampling group from the Georgia registered voters list, but screened them before completing the process to find the most likely special election voters. The polling analysis did not detail how the screening was implemented.
The results found Democratic investigative filmmaker and ex-congressional aide Jon Ossoff leading the pack of candidates, posting 40% support. Former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) was second with 20%, while businessman and local councilman Bob Gray (R) recorded 10% preference. Former state Sen. Dan Moody (R) was fourth with 9 percent.
The poll then ran ballot test questions for the eventual run-off election, pairing Ossoff with several Republicans in one-on-one hypothetical contests. It is here where the pollsters “weighted” the results to reflect demographics, voting history, and turnout propensity, thus drawing questions about the conclusions. In each situation, Ossoff and his individual Republican opponent came within one point of each other.
The GA-6 campaign is clearly the most competitive of the five concurrent special elections. Democrats look to pull an upset here, in what has typically been a reliably Republican district. While is it becoming very likely that Mr. Ossoff will make the run-off, he is far from assured of winning the seat. The jungle primary election is scheduled for April 18th, with the run-off slated for June 20th.
Dane County (Madison) Executive Joe Parisi (D) confirms that he is considering entering the 2018 Governor’s race. It is widely believed that Gov. Scott Walker (R) will soon announce his intention to seek a third term. Mr. Parisi indicated he will make a decision about running “within a month.”
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