Heart of the Primaries 2022, Democrats-Issue 31

July 14, 2022

In this issue: Oregon’s three-way gubernatorial race and super PAC spending in MD-04

Oregon’s three-way gubernatorial race

Oregon’s gubernatorial election features three former state legislators, with two running as major party candidates and one, a former Democrat, running as unaffiliated. Recent polls show a competitive three-way race.

The Republican State Leadership Committee commissioned a poll of likely voters showing Christine Drazan (R) with 32%, Tina Kotek (D) with 31%, and Betsy Johnson (unaffiliated) with 24%. The margin of error (MOE) was +/- 3.9 percentage points. 

An internal poll of likely voters from Johnson’s campaign showed Kotek with 33%, Johnson with 30%, and Drazan at 23%, with a +/- 4 percentage point MOE.

The only independent poll that FiveThirtyEight reports is from May, showing Drazan with 30%, Kotek with 28%, and Johnson with 19% among likely voters. The MOE was +/- 4.3 percentage points. 

Kotek was first elected to the state House in 2006 and served as speaker from 2013 until she resigned in January. Johnson, who served in the legislature as a Democrat, was first elected to the Senate in 2006 and resigned in December 2021. Drazan was elected to the state House in 2018 and served as minority leader from 2019 to 2021. Drazan resigned in January. 

Guns and homelessness are two issues in the race. Willamette Week wrote about the candidates’ responses to a question about gun policy:

When WW asked last week what policies the candidates would support to prevent mass shootings, they offered different proposals. Kotek said she’d advocate “common-sense gun safety, including banning ghost guns, preventing teenagers from purchasing assault weapons, and requiring completed background checks for all firearm purchases.” Drazan said she supported “dedicated funding to strengthen school safety measures and fully fund mental health services.”

Johnson’s answer was the surprise—she wanted “stronger background checks and raising the age to purchase certain firearms to 21.” 

According to Willamette Week, this was “the first time in her [Johnson’s] political career” that she said “she would support some gun control.”

In a campaign ad about homelessness, Johnson said, “Democrats are right. We need compassion, services, and housing. But Republicans are also right. We should expect personal responsibility and no more tent cities.” 

Kotek emphasizes creating housing and shelters. Kotek’s campaign website also calls for “[cleaning] up trash that accumulates at camps by partnering with local governments and people experiencing homelessness to provide sanitation services to these temporary camps.”

R. Leon Noble (L) is also running in the general election. Three race forecasters view the Nov. 8 election as either Lean or Likely Democratic.

Endorsement updates: Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton weigh in on House primaries

We wrote last week that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Andy Levin over Haley Stevens in Michigan’s 11th Congressional District incumbent-vs.-incumbent primary. On July 7, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed Stevens. 

In Michigan’s 2016 Democratic presidential primary, Sanders defeated Clinton 49.8% to 48.3%.

We also wrote last week about endorsements in Vermont’s U.S. House primary. On July 6, Sanders endorsed Becca Balint. 

Super PACs focused on Israel spend for Edwards, Ivey in MD-04

Two super PACs focused on Israel policy are spending for different candidates in Maryland’s 4th Congressional District primary. 

The United Democracy Project, affiliated with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), has spent $3 million supporting former Prince George’s County state attorney Glenn Ivey and opposing former U.S. Rep. Donna Edwards. J Street Action Fund will spend $600,000 supporting Edwards and opposing Ivey.

A United Democracy Project ad said, “Donna Edwards had a poor reputation for constituent services.” It cited an Inside Gov rating: “Edwards was rated one of the least effective members of Congress. Dead last among all Democrats.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) responded to the ad in a video last month, saying Edwards “was one of the most effective members in Congress” and that she “fought … for jobs and investments in her community, to help constituents in need, and to deliver results.” The video became an Edwards campaign ad.

Edwards represented the 4th Congressional District from 2008 to 2017.

A J Street ad criticizes Ivey’s AIPAC support, saying, “he’s taking cash from a group supporting 109 Republicans who tried to overturn Biden’s election.”

AIPAC said earlier this year, “We have friends who are pro-choice and pro-life, those who are liberal on immigration and those who want to tighten our borders, and yes, those who disagree strongly on issues surrounding the 2020 presidential election. … This is no moment for the pro-Israel movement to become selective about its friends.”

According to Open Secrets data, United Democracy Project has spent $15.8 million this cycle, all of which went toward supporting or opposing Democratic candidates. Open Secrets has recorded $349,000 in spending from J Street Action Fund so far.

United Democracy Project says it is “comprised of American citizens—Democrats, Republicans and Independents—united in the belief that America’s partnership with our democratic ally Israel benefits both countries.”

J Street says it “organizes pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans to promote US policies that embody our deeply held Jewish and democratic values and that help secure the State of Israel as a democratic homeland for the Jewish people.”

The primary is July 19.

Iwamoto challenging Hawaii House Speaker Saiki in rematch

Kim Coco Iwamoto is challenging state House Speaker Scott Saiki in the Hawaii House of Representatives District 25 primary. This is a rematch from last cycle—in the 2020 Democratic primary for District 26, Saiki defeated Iwamoto 51% to 49%.

Saiki was first elected to the state House in 1994. Iwamoto was a member of the state Board of Education from 2006 to 2011.

Development has been a major issue in the race. Hawaii News Now wrote that the district, which includes downtown Honolulu, “has grown from a semi-industrial area to a growing high rise residential area.”

Saiki said, “Some of my greatest accomplishments were actually projects that were initiated by residents in our community. … Going … as far back as seven years ago when we took on a private company that had claimed ownership of roads in our community.”

Iwamoto said Saiki hadn’t done enough for the community in his 28 years in office. Iwamoto proposes a surcharge on vacant homes and “[using] that revenue to actually subsidize emergency housing vouchers so that we can house our unsheltered neighbors and also use that resource to … build more affordable housing.”

The primary is Aug. 13.

Dane County Democratic Party Chair Sabor challenges incumbent La Follette for Wisconsin secretary of state

Dane County Democratic Party Chair Alexia Sabor is challenging incumbent Doug La Follette in the Wisconsin secretary of state primary on Aug. 9. 

La Follette was first elected in 1974 and served one term before unsuccessfully running for lieutenant governor in 1978. He was re-elected secretary of state in 1982 and has held the office since. Sabor has chaired the Dane County Democratic Party since 2019. 

According to the Associated Press’ Todd Richmond, “The stakes are high for the sleepy office because Republicans want to shift election oversight from the state elections commission to the secretary of state, following the model of more than 30 other states. Democrats fear that could allow Republicans to improperly influence certification of Wisconsin elections, particularly the 2024 presidential contest.”

La Follette said, “People know who [I am]. The issues are simple. Who has the best chance of winning in November? I am that candidate.” According to Richmond, La Follette also “not[ed] he was the only Democrat to retain a statewide office in 2010 and 2014.” La Follette’s campaign website says he “has fought against the corrupting influence of big money on politics.”

Sabor said, “We are really missing an opportunity with the seat to push back on things the Republican Legislature was doing that I think harm Wisconsin voters. … The current secretary of state isn’t really doing any communication around the issues that affect Wisconsin voters.” Sabor says she would “help Wisconsinites better understand their rights and duties as citizens and how they can become more engaged in civic life.”

During the June 25–26 Democratic Party convention, WisPolitics.com conducted a straw poll on various races. Of the 373 delegates who cast ballots, 68% voted for Sabor, and 32% voted for La Follette. 

Competitiveness data: Kansas and Missouri

Kansas and Missouri hold primaries on Aug. 2. We’ve crunched some numbers to see how competitive the primaries will be compared to recent election cycles.



Notes on how these figures were calculated:

  • Candidates per district: divides the total number of candidates by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Open districts: divides the number of districts without an incumbent running by the number of districts holding elections.
  • Contested primaries: divides the number of major party primaries by the number of possible primaries.
  • Incumbents in contested primaries: divides the number of incumbents in primaries by the number seeking re-election in the given election cycle.