Lancaster, PA based Franklin & Marshall College just released their new survey of the Pennsylvania statewide races (6/4-10; 472 PA registered voters; 224 Democrats, 185 Republicans, 63 Independents) and Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), seeking his third term since his original election in 2006, leads Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) by a 44-27% count. This is similar to the 43-25% projection derived from their March survey. Sen. Casey’s combined personal favorability is 44:23% positive to negative.
As reported above (see Pennsylvania Senate) Franklin & Marshall College also asked respondents questions about the gubernatorial race in their new statewide poll. Similar to the Senate responses, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) leads former state Sen. Scott Wagner (R) 48-29%. In March, Mr. Wolf led 38-21%, meaning both candidates have gained support. But, the March polling segment was significantly smaller than in the current poll. Gov. Wolf’s combined personal favorability registered 49:33% positive to negative.
The very tight outcome in the Allentown-Bethlehem Republican primary has been resolved. Former Olympic Gold Medalist (cycling) and Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein has won the Republican nomination and advances to the general election against new Democratic nominee Susan Wild. Mr. Nothstein’s 308-vote margin from more than 31,000 ballots cast has been confirmed. Former County Commissioner Dean Browning conceded the race and endorsed Mr. Nothstein against Ms. Wild. The winner of what is likely to be a toss-up contest will succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown).
The major Pennsylvania primary was held last night and voters determined the political match-ups for the fall campaigns. In the Governor’s race, state Senator and York business owner Scott Wagner won the Republican nomination and will now challenge incumbent Gov. Tom Wolf (D) who is seeking a second term. In the Senate race, as expected, Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) convincingly won the Republican primary with 63% of the vote and advances into a race against two-term incumbent Bob Casey Jr. (D). Both Democratic office holders begin the general election in the favorite’s position.
In House races, Democratic state Rep. Madeleine Dean won a huge primary victory in the new Montgomery County 4th District. She captured 73% of the vote and caused former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel (D) to finish last in the primary with just 11% support. Ms. Dean now becomes the prohibitive favorite to win in the general election. Same for the neighboring new 5th District where former local school board member Mary Gay Scanlon also won convincingly in the Democratic nomination battle. She will convert this district to the Democratic column in the fall.
In western PA, state Rep. Rick Saccone, who lost the March 13th special election to Democrat Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), again went down to defeat. This time, he lost the new open 14th CD, a district containing 57% of the territory where he previously ran. State Sen. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Township) easily defeated Saccone, 55-45%, and will win the seat in November.
Outside the Philadelphia area, former Revenue Commissioner Joe Meuser won the new 9th District Republican primary, and Altoona dermatologist John Joyce topped a large field in the new 13th CD GOP vote. Both men will head to Washington in the fall.
A tight race occurred in the Allentown-Bethlehem district. Former Olympic Gold Medalist (cycling) and Lehigh County Commissioner Marty Nothstein appears to have won the Republican nomination. He has a 308-vote margin from more than 31,000 ballots cast. Former County Commissioner Dean Browning wants to verify the count today, and says he will concede if the numbers fall beyond the automatic re-count range. He pledges to support Nothstein against the new Democratic winner, Allentown Solicitor Susan Ellis Wild, who defeated long-time Northampton County District Attorney John Morganelli and Allentown Episcopal pastor Greg Edwards, also in a close contest. This will be a toss-up race in the fall. The winner will succeed retiring Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown).
Competitive races are now on tap in the Bucks County 1st District, where freshman Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) will defend his seat against investment fund CEO Scott Wallace, the grandson of former US Vice President Henry Wallace.
Businesswoman and retired Air Force officer Chrissy Houlahan is favored to capture the 6th District against attorney Greg McCauley after Rep. Ryan Costello (R-West Chester) decided to withdraw from the primary after the filing deadline.
Businessman John Chrin won the Republican primary and now will become a competitive opponent to Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-Moosic/Scranton) in the new 8th District. Finally, in the new Pittsburgh area 17th CD, an incumbent pairing between Reps. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) and Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) will occur and is expected to be in toss-up mode all the way to Election Day.
The Pennsylvania House primaries and general elections will be so active because court-mandated redistricting earlier this year ordered major changes to the state’s congressional map.
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.
Of the four states holding primary elections tomorrow, two feature US Senate nomination contests.
In Nebraska, Sen. Deb Fischer (R) stands for re-nomination. She faces only minor opposition in the Republican primary, and is expected to sail through tomorrow’s vote. On the Democratic side, Lincoln City Councilwoman Jane Raybould is expected to win the party nomination. She has three opponents in tomorrow’s contest; the most significant of whom is retired state circuit judge Frank Svoboda. Sen. Fischer is a heavy favorite to win re-election to a second term in this reliably Republican state.
Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) has no Democratic opposition in the big Keystone State primary. Four-term US Rep. Lou Barletta (R-Hazelton) is a heavy favorite to defeat state Rep. Jim Christiana (R-Beaver/Washington Counties) in the GOP contest. While Sen. Casey begins the general election as the favorite to win a third term, Rep. Barletta will be a competitive Republican nominee.
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.
Keystone State Gov. Tom Wolf (D) yesterday set the special election schedule for the state’s two impending vacant seats. Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) resigned from Congress last Friday, ending his congressional career that began in January of 2011. In the next few days, Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) will follow suit and depart for the private sector. Gov. Wolf had ten days from the vacancy becoming official to call a replacement election(s) for purposes of choosing a successor(s) for the balance of the current term.
As we know, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court re-drew the boundaries earlier this year for the regular 2018 election cycle, but these special elections will be held in the previous districts. The state political parties will convene to choose nominees, presumably after the May 15th primary.
Mr. Wolf announced that the special elections, as expected, will run concurrently with the regular election cycle, meaning November 6th. The winners will begin their congressional service upon election and could be the individuals who will be chosen in the corresponding districts for the new 116th Congress.
On Friday, Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) resigned his seat effective immediately. Rep. Meehan had already announced he is not seeking re-election after it became public that a severance settlement was made from the controversial taxpayer funded congressional account. The House Ethics Committee was about to begin an investigation, which now becomes moot considering that Mr. Meehan is no longer in Congress. He said he will refund the $39,000 settlement within 30 days.
Now that the old 7th District is vacant, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will be forced to call a special election even though this district will largely dissipate under the new court-mandated congressional boundaries. While Gov. Wolf has no latitude about calling the election within ten days after the vacancy becomes official (last Friday), he does have wide ranging authority about when such a vote will occur. Therefore, he could schedule the contest concurrent with the regular general election. This will likely be his course of action for the 15th District special election that will also be required when Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) resigns in May.
It is clear local Montgomery County Democratic politics is moving well beyond former US Rep. Joe Hoeffel. The ex-Congressman served in the House for three terms, from 1999-2005. He was the Democratic US Senate nominee in 2004, losing to then-incumbent Arlen Specter (R), 53-42%. Now, he is attempting a political comeback in the new open 4th CD, but finds rough going. Raising only $20,000 in the last reporting period, Mr. Hoeffel is lagging well behind state Rep. Madeleine Dean (D-Jenkintown).
Already endorsing Ms. Dean is former Governor and Democratic National Committee chairman Ed Rendell, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, ex-Montgomery County US Rep. Allyson Schwartz, four top unions, and 12 current local Montgomery County elected officials. Ironically, Ms. Dean’s first political experience came as a teenager when she volunteered for a state Representative’s re-election effort…a state legislator named Joe Hoeffel.
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