With little competition in the US House races and no Senate race for 2018, all attention was focused on the Republican gubernatorial primary. There, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) defeated former statewide candidate Sam Carpenter and Blue Angels former commander Greg Wooldridge by a 47-29-19% count. Mr. Buehler now challenges Gov. Kate Brown (D) who stands for her first full term after winning a 2016 special election. Gov. Brown is favored for re-election.
Voters in Idaho, Nebraska, Oregon, and Pennsylvania choose congressional nominees tomorrow, setting the stage for several competitive general election contests.
In Idaho, former state Sen. Russ Fulcher is expected to defeat former Lt. Gov. David Leroy in the 1st District Republican primary. Mr. Fulcher, a former gubernatorial candidate, immediately becomes the clear favorite to replace Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) who is running for Governor.
Nebraska’s 2nd District Democratic primary is worth watching. There, former Rep. Brad Ashford (D-Omaha), who current Rep. Don Bacon (R-Papillion) defeated in the 2016 election, is attempting a political comeback. He is facing more significant primary opposition than expected, however, from non-profit executive Kara Eastman who is attracting Democratic support from the former Congressman’s ideological left. The general election against Rep. Bacon will be competitive.
Little is happening at the US House level in Oregon, but the Pennsylvania primary, running in the new court-ordered districts for the first time, will dominate the political coverage tomorrow night. We can expect competitive primaries in ten of the state’s 18 new districts.
Some of the more interesting primaries include the open 5th District where a crowded Democratic primary will determine which Democrat succeeds resigned Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) in the new Delaware County seat. Resigned Rep. Charlie Dent’s (R-Allentown) new open 7th District features competitive primaries in both parties as a prelude to a toss-up general election campaign.
Crowded Republican primaries are on tap for open Districts 9 (Rep. Lou Barletta-R running for Senate) and 13 (Rep. Bill Shuster-R retiring). Tomorrow’s Republican winner will win the respective seats in November. The new open District 14, which contains 60% of the territory covered in the March special election that attracted national attention, is also worth watching. There, state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg), who lost the special general to Democrat Conor Lamb, may win the Republican primary tomorrow night. He faces state Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Robinson Township) in what is now a safe Republican seat. Rep. Lamb has chosen to run for re-election in District 17 where he will face three-term Republican incumbent Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) in what will be a toss-up general election campaign.
All four states feature gubernatorial primaries. In Idaho, Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) and Lt. Gov. Brad Little appear to be the strongest Republican candidates. The winner will likely face former gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff (D) in the general election.
Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) faces only minor Republican opposition. The Democratic nominee is expected to be Republican-turned Democrat state Sen. Bob Krist of Omaha.
The Oregon Republican gubernatorial primary features a three-way race among state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), former US Senate candidate and businessman Sam Carpenter, and retired Blue Angels commander Greg Wooldridge. Polling gives Rep. Buehler an advantage in tomorrow’s nomination contest. The winner faces Gov. Kate Brown (D) in the general election.
Polling also finds state Sen. Scott Wagner (R-York) leading the Republican nomination battle in Pennsylvania. His chief opponents are businessman Paul Mango and former Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce president Laura Ellsworth. The winner faces Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf who is seeking a second term in office.
State Rep. Knute Buehler, who has been raising money in a gubernatorial exploratory committee for many weeks, announced that he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor. If successful, he will undoubtedly again oppose Gov. Kate Brown (D). The two ran against each other for Secretary of State in 2012, a re-election campaign that Ms. Brown won, 51-43%. Gov. Brown ascended to her position when Gov. John Kitzhaber (D) resigned over a budding ethics scandal. Oregon has no Lt. Governor, so the Secretary of State becomes the acting Governor if a vacancy occurs in the state’s top elected position. Ms. Brown was then elected in 2016 to serve the balance of the current term. She will be heavily favored for re-election to a full four-year term, next year.
Republicans had hoped that Secretary of State and former gubernatorial candidate Dennis Richardson would challenge Gov. Kate Brown (D) next year, but such will not be the case. Mr. Richardson announced yesterday that he would continue in his present position and not run for Governor, even though he would not have to risk his statewide office to do so. In Oregon, the Governor and state Labor Commissioner run in the midterm election, while the Secretary of State, Attorney General, and state Treasurer run in presidential years.
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