TagDemocratic primaries

Four Republicans file to run in New Jersey gubernatorial primary, Gov. Murphy draws one primary challenger

Four Republican candidates filed to run for governor of New Jersey ahead of the April 5 filing deadline. Jack Ciattarelli, Brian Levine, Philip Rizzo, and Hirsh Singh will compete in the June 8 primary election for their party’s nomination. The general election will take place on Nov. 2.

Ciattarelli and Singh both ran for governor in 2017. Kim Guadagno, the Republican nominee, received 47% of the vote in the Republican primary. Ciattarelli received 31% and Singh received 10% of the vote.

Governor Phil Murphy (D) faces challenger Roger Bacon in the Democratic primary. Murphy won a six-way Democratic primary with 48% of the vote in 2017. This is Bacon’s second run for governor. In 2009, he ran in a four-way primary against then-Gov. Jon Corzine (D) and received 6% of the vote.

New Jersey is currently a Democratic trifecta, with a Democratic governor and Democratic majorities in both chambers of the state legislature. New Jersey was last under divided government in 2017, when Democrats controlled the legislature and Chris Christie (R) was governor.

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Delaware holds congressional primaries

Delaware held its statewide primary election on September 15. Races for two congressional seats were on the ballot—one for a U.S. Senate seat and one for Delaware’s at-large U.S. House seat. Both incumbents filed for re-election and won their respective primaries, advancing to the general election on November 3.

In the race for Delaware’s Class II Senate seat, incumbent Chris Coons (D) advanced from the Democratic primary over challenger Jessica Scarane with 73% of the vote, according to unofficial results. Republican Lauren Witzke won the Republican primary, beating James DeMartino with 57% of the vote.

Incumbent Lisa Blunt Rochester was unopposed in the Democratic primary for Delaware’s at-large U.S. House seat. The primary was canceled and Rochester advanced automatically to the general election. In the Republican primary, Lee Murphy secured 74% of the vote to advance to the general over Matthew Morris.

Delaware’s primary was the 49th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. The next and last congressional primary is on November 3 in Louisiana.

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Incumbent Neal wins Democratic nomination in Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Neal defeated Alex Morse in the Democratic primary in Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District. With 87% of precincts reporting, Neal received 59.1% of the vote to Morse’s 40.9%.

Neal was first elected in 1988 and has served as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee since 2019. He cited addressing coronavirus and its impact on the economy as key issues in the race. Morse is the mayor of Holyoke. He was first elected in 2012. In a Candidate Connection survey he submitted to Ballotpedia, he said, “For too long, our government has worked for the rich and the well-connected, and not so well for everyday people.”

Neal received endorsements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the late Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), and the American Federation of Teachers during the primary.

No Republicans are running for the seat, meaning Neal will face independent Frederick Mayock in the general election. Neal previously faced Mayock in 2016, receiving 73% of the vote to Mayock’s 18%.



Markey defeats Kennedy in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts

Incumbent U.S. Sen. Ed Markey defeated U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts. With 82% of the precincts reporting, Markey had received 55.6% of the vote to Kennedy’s 44.5%.

Markey served in the U.S. House from 1976 until he was elected to the Senate in a 2013 special election after John Kerry was confirmed as Secretary of State. Markey went on to win a full term in 2014. Throughout the campaign, he highlighted his legislative record such as his co-sponsorship of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All bill and co-authorship of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-N.Y.) Green New Deal.

Markey received endorsements from Ocasio-Cortez, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and the Working Families Party.

Markey will face Kevin O’Connor (R) in the general election. Markey was most recently re-elected in 2014 with 59% of the vote. The most recent time Massachusetts elected a Republican to the U.S. Senate was 2010 when Scott Brown (R) won a special election with 52% of the vote.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 33 (September 2, 2020)

This week: Results from last night’s primaries in Massachusetts and a preview of the top primaries in New Hampshire

With Labor Day just around the corner and general election season in full swing, this will be the last regular edition of 2020’s Heart of the Primaries. Notable election results from the primaries in New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Delaware will be featured in Ballotpedia’s Daily Brew. We hope you have enjoyed our reporting on 2020’s primaries as much as we have enjoyed bringing you this newsletter. Heart of the Primaries will return ahead of the 2022 midterms.

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On whether the presidential race is tightening:

In a powerful speech in Pittsburgh on Monday, Joe Biden nestled into his comfort zone. The Democratic presidential nominee is never more clear, direct or impassioned than when the disaster that is President Trump and the moral authority of the office are the focus of his attention. What’s stunning is that the president happily feeds Biden’s fire. …

“…I believe Biden has an upper hand against Trump. Forget about the president’s lame attempts to question Biden’s mental acuity or his ability to do the job. Those are projections meant to distract and to stoke fear among easily panicked Democrats. No, pay attention to what Biden has done. He’s laid a trap that everyone can see and Trump fails to avoid. Every time he opens his mouth, Trump forays into racism and white grievance that give Biden another chance to stand in stark contrast to him. Another chance to show humanity and leadership to a nation in desperate need of it.

“But I am also mindful of this: A cornered animal will fight its way out of it. And Trump is using fear to fight his way out, even if it means exacerbating racial tensions. That’s why he went to Kenosha to visit law enforcement. That’s why he can’t see fit to denounce right-wing militias who support him. That’s why he absolutely must be defeated in November.”

Jonathan Capehart, The Washington Post, Sept. 1, 2020

 

“In mid-August, a Pew Research Center poll found that the issue of violent crime ranks fifth in importance to registered voters—behind the economy, health care, the Supreme Court, and the pandemic, but ahead of foreign policy, guns, race, immigration, and climate change. The poll found a large partisan gap on the issue: three-quarters of Trump voters rated violent crime “very important,” second behind only the economy. Nonetheless, nearly half of Biden voters also rated it “very important.” Other polls show that, over the summer, Biden has lost some of the support he gained among older white Americans in the first months of the coronavirus pandemic. …

“On Tuesday night, the CNN host Don Lemon warned his colleague Chris Cuomo that riots were hurting Biden and the Democrats: ‘Chris, as you know and I know, it’s showing up in the polls, it’s showing up in focus groups. It’s the only thing right now that’s sticking.’ Lemon urged Biden to speak out about both police reform and violence. With Kenosha and the political conventions, the coverage seems to be changing. On Thursday, the Times ran a piece headlined ‘How Chaos in Kenosha Is Already Swaying Some Voters in Wisconsin.’ … 

“Nothing will harm a campaign like the wishful thinking, fearful hesitation, or sheer complacency that fails to address what voters can plainly see. Kenosha gives Biden a chance to help himself and the country. Ordinarily it’s the incumbent president’s job to show up at the scene of a national tragedy and give a unifying speech. But Trump is temperamentally incapable of doing so and, in fact, has a political interest in America’s open wounds and burning cities.

George Packer, The Atlantic, Aug. 28, 2020

Election results

  • Massachusetts U.S. Senate primary: Incumbent Ed Markey defeated Joe Kennedy III. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, Markey had 55% of the vote to Kennedy’s 45%. Markey, who was first elected in 2013, had endorsements from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Kennedy, who has served in the U.S. House since 2013, had endorsements from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.). Election forecasters say Markey is a solid bet to win re-election in November.
  • Massachusetts’ 1st Congressional District primary: Incumbent Richard Neal defeated Alex Morse. As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, Neal had 59% of the vote to Morse’s 41%. Neal, who was first elected in 1988, is the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. 
  • Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District primary: As of 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time on September 2, this primary was too close to call. Nine Democrats were on the ballot for the seat currently held by Joe Kennedy III. Jake Auchincloss led with 23% of the vote, followed by Jesse Mermell with 22% and Becky Grossman with 18%.

State executives

Previewing New Hampshire’s gubernatorial primary

Two of New Hampshire’s top elected Democrats are seeking the party’s nomination to challenge Gov. Chris Sununu (R), who was first elected in 2016. State Senate Majority Leader Dan Feltes will face Executive Councilor Andru Volinsky in the Sept. 8 primary.

According to WMUR’s John DiStaso, “While Volinsky is viewed as a bit further to the left philosophically than Feltes, in fact the two are similar on many other issues and point to their experiences representing for middle- and low-income people among their chief qualifications to go up against the popular Republican incumbent.”

Feltes and Volinsky differ on a broad-based tax. Since 2002, every New Hampshire Democratic gubernatorial nominee has pledged to veto any broad-based tax increase. Feltes has made a similar pledge, while Volinsky says such a promise is outdated, instead committing to reducing local property taxes for the majority of citizens.

Feltes, who has served in the state senate since 2015, has endorsements from End Citizens United, Let America Vote, and the Voter Protection Project. Volinsky, who has been a member of the Executive Council since 2016, is backed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the Sierra Club, and Blue America.

As of the August campaign finance reports, Feltes led in fundraising with $1.0 million to Volinsky’s $590,000.

The winner will face the Republican nominee and Libertarian Darryl Perry in the November general election. Incumbent Chris Sununu (R) was first elected 49% to 47% in 2016 and was re-elected 53% to 46% in 2018. Two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win the November election and one says it leans towards Republicans.

Previewing New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2 primary

Six Democrats are seeking the nomination for one of five seats on the New Hampshire Executive Council. The five-member executive board is responsible for approving state expenditures, overseeing spending, and approving gubernatorial appointments. Incumbent Andru Volinsky (D), who has held the District 2 seat since the 2016 election, is running for governor.

Four candidates—Leah Plunkett, Emmett Soldati, Craig Thompson, and Cinde Warmington—completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. One of the questions on the survey asked candidates what areas of public policy they are personally passionate about. An abridged version of each candidate’s response follows.

Plunkett said: “Leah has demonstrated proven progressive courage through her board service on Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and the ACLU. She has stood up and spoke out to make real, proven change even when it was unpopular. With Leah, it’s an important combination: a proven skill set, plus the perspective of a young working mom of two.”

Soldati said: “The Executive Council represents a larger opportunity to expand access to others who have been left out of the conversation – to appoint leaders to agencies and commissions with diverse perspectives on what life is like for Granite Staters, with lived experience that relates to the complex issues we are working to solve, to ensure that the businesses we engage with have strong anti-discrimination policies and pay fair wages, and to safeguard our courts against corporate, partisan, and conservative interests.”

Thompson said: “People of every age, gender, race, national origin, faith background, marital status and family structure, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, mental and physical ability, economic and social status, and educational background should feel welcome to make New Hampshire their home…We place the highest value on public service of all kinds, civilian and military, and encourage all to engage and serve their communities.”

Warmington said: “We’re facing the most dire public health crisis of our lifetime. Yet, no one on our Executive Council has a health care background. Having an Executive Councilor who understands both the complexities of the health care system and how those are presented in state contracts will be of great benefit. I know what’s in our state contracts. I know what to ask. I know where we can hold state contractors accountable to lower costs and expand access.”

Also on the ballot are John Shea and Jay Surdukowski. Two Republicans are also in the running: Jim Beard and Stewart Levenson. New Hampshire’s Executive Council District 2 is located in the southern part of the state and has elected a Democrat in every election since the last round of redistricting took place following the 2010 census.

Power players

“Officially affiliated with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Courage to Change seeks to reward challengers and incumbents who display political courage — people who refuse to bow to establishment pressure, who advocate ferociously for working-class families, and who have lived the same struggles as the people they seek to represent.” – Courage to Change PAC website

Courage to Change PAC is a political action committee affiliated with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). The PAC was established in 2019, the same year Ocasio-Cortez assumed office. In addition to financial support, it also endorses candidates, with its most recent endorsement being Alex Morse (D) in the Massachusetts 1st Congressional District primary.

During the 2020 election cycle, Courage to Change PAC has spent a total of $217,386. Its top contributions include $10,000 to the campaign of Samelys López who ran in the Democratic primary in New York’s 15th Congressional District and nine $7,500 contributions to Democratic primary campaigns in New York.

Click the following link to see Courage to Change PAC’s 2020 endorsements.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 32 (August 26, 2020)

This week: Pelosi endorses Kennedy against Markey, Reeves endorses Strickland over Doglio in WA-10, New Hampshire Youth Movement endorses challenger to 42-year incumbent in Rockingham’s House District 25

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On former Kansas House candidate, Aaron Coleman (D)

“The unexpected primary victory on Monday in Kansas by progressive Democratic challenger Aaron Coleman should have been a political fairy tale. Coleman is a first-time candidate at the age of 19, and was outspent by more than 10-1 by his entrenched, corporatist incumbent-opponent, seven-term state Rep. Stan Frownfelter. …

“But far from a fairy tale, a dark cloud has quickly descended over Coleman’s improbable victory. The Kansas State Democratic Party has vowed to heavily finance an organized write-in campaign on behalf of Frownfelter. …

“Democratic leaders deny that their contempt for Coleman is due to his unseating of their longtime friend or his progressive agenda. Instead, they insist, they find him appalling because of serious misconduct in which he engaged when he was 12 and 13 years old as a middle school student. …

“That middle school behavior is horrific, and several of the the [sic] girls say, credibly, that they suffered greatly. During the campaign, Coleman, when confronted with the accusations, immediately acknowledged that they were true … and says that as an adult he has reformed and evolved past the pathologies he suffered …

“All of this raises profound and important questions about whether adults should be judged by the actions they undertook when they were a child, particularly when they have apologized and expressed remorse. It has long been a staple of liberal philosophy that humans can and should be rehabilitated …

“Just this week, the Democratic National Convention hosted as a speaker a convicted murderer named Donna Hylton, who committed one of the most gruesome crimes imaginable not as a junior high student but as an adult … She spent her prison time becoming a criminal justice advocate, and the DNC gave her a platform at their convention based on the belief that we should affirm the right of human beings to be rehabilitated …

“It is vital to have consistently applied principles to ensure that these serious issues are not exploited and weaponized for partisan gain or other petty forms of of [sic] self-interest. And it is very difficult to locate such principles in the reaction to Coleman’s candidacy, to put it mildly.”

Glenn Greenwald, The Intercept, Aug. 21, 2020

 

“On Sunday, Coleman announced that given the uproar … he would be ending his campaign. He blamed his departure on the ‘progressive circular firing squad’ that ‘has done more to uphold the status quo than conservatives could have ever dreamed of.’ He framed it, too, as a parable about the excesses of feminism. In truth, Aaron Coleman’s short-lived campaign was a parable for the opposite. It was a testament to how readily, still, conversations about abuse will focus on what is owed to the abuser.

“For [The Intercept’s Glenn] Greenwald, a crucial element of the story is the fact that Coleman was young—12 or 13 years old—when he did that damage. …

“The girls were very young too, though. They will be, in their own way, eternally condemned for the choices Coleman made on their behalf. In the interview with Greenwald, Coleman mentions one reason his victims have not responded to his attempts at contact: They have him blocked on Facebook. But can the apology Coleman has offered be considered a full atonement if it has not been accepted? Is remorse a matter of statements or of actions? …

“Coleman’s bid for the state House struck the nerve that it did in part because, just as Greenwald and many others suggested, these are open questions. … Remorse, rehabilitation, restorative justice—they are matters of debate, and rightfully so. But if the discussions are to have any hope of realizing meaningful accountability, they must respect the needs—and the expressed desires—of not only the people who have done the damage, but the people who have borne the harm. …

“The women, in the statements they gave on the matter, were not talking about Coleman’s right to employment or even to a generalized form of forgiveness. They were arguing merely that Coleman, a 19-year-old who committed his wrongs only six years ago, should not represent the people of Kansas in its state legislature. They were citing their abuse as their evidence. ‘He’s an awful person,’ as one of them put it, ‘and he should not be allowed to run for anything.’

 

“If you’re talking about atonement, those public rejections of Coleman’s apologies would seem to be crucial. But the women’s comments have been notably absent from much of the weekend’s discussions about what Aaron Coleman deserves.”

Megan Garber, The Atlantic, Aug. 25, 2020

U.S. Congress

Pelosi endorses Kennedy against Markey

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Rep. Joe Kennedy in his primary bid against Sen. Ed Markey in Massachusetts. Pelosi said Kennedy “knows that, to achieve progressive change, you must be on the front lines leading movements of people.” 

Pelosi also said Kennedy helped Democrats win a majority in the House in 2018 and cited Markey’s criticisms of the Kennedy family as reasons for her endorsement.

Kennedy has served in the House since 2013. Markey served in the House from 1976 until his election to the Senate in 2013.

Kennedy tweeted, “Nancy Pelosi is a force. No one has done more to take on Donald Trump and build our Party’s future. Proud and humbled to have her with me in this fight.”

Markey tweeted, “Speaker Pelosi is an effective leader who has shattered glass ceilings throughout her career. I had the privilege to work alongside Nancy in the House for decades and any candidate would be proud to have her endorsement. I congratulate Joe Kennedy on securing her support.”

Pelosi has a policy of only endorsing incumbents in House races. She said of her Kennedy endorsement, “I support my members when they run for reelection and when they run for other office.” She also said, “I would probably not be getting engaged in a primary in an election where it could impact whether a Democrat or a Republican could win. … But this will be a Democratic seat, and I feel at peace with the decision.”

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who endorsed Markey, said: “No one gets to complain about primary challenges again.” Ocasio-Cortez has criticized the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s policy of not doing business with consultants who work with primary challengers to House incumbents. 

Justice Democrats said Pelosi’s endorsement was hypocritical and the “party is setting one standard for progressives and one entirely different standard for the establishment.”

Markey has called Kennedy a “progressive in name only,” while Kennedy says the state and country need new leadership to achieve progressive change. Markey co-authored the Green New Deal resolution with Ocasio-Cortez and was an original co-sponsor of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) Medicare for All bill. Kennedy was an original co-sponsor of the Green New Deal and supports Medicare for All. 

The primary is Sept. 1.

See the Power Players section below for a profile of Pelosi.

Reeves endorses Strickland over Doglio in WA-10

Third-place finisher Kristine Reeves endorsed Marilyn Strickland in Washington’s 10th Congressional District general election on Nov. 3. Reeves said Strickland has “the right life experience and leadership skills to deliver real results for struggling families across this district.” Strickland and Beth Doglio (D) advanced from the top-two primary on Aug. 4. 

Strickland received 20% of the primary vote to Doglio’s 15%. Reeves received 13%. 

Strickland is CEO of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce and was mayor of Tacoma from 2010 to 2017. Doglio has served in the state House since 2017.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang and former Washington Govs. Gary Locke (D) and Christine Gregoire (D) endorsed Strickland in the primary. Doglio had support from Sen. Bernie Sanders and Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.). Reeves’ backers included the Washington Education Association and the Laborers International Union of North America.

Nineteen candidates ran in the top-two primary: eight Democrats, eight Republicans, one independent, one Essential Workers Party candidate, and one Congress Sucks Party candidate. Denny Heck (D), in office since 2013, sought election as lieutenant governor, creating an open seat race in the 10th.

Of 10 House races taking place in Washington in November, the 10th District race is the only one with two candidates from the same party. Between 2014 and 2018, there were three U.S. House general elections in Washington with candidates from the same party. In both 2014 and 2016, Republicans Dan Newhouse and Clint Didier advanced from Washington’s 4th Congressional District primaries. In 2018, D. Adam Smith (D) and Sarah Smith (D) advanced from Washington’s 9th District primary. 

State executives

New Hampshire campaign finance reports show Volinsky ahead in summer fundraising while Feltes retains overall lead

Andru Volinsky was the top fundraiser among New Hampshire’s Democratic gubernatorial candidate. His opponent, Dan Feltes, remains the overall fundraising leader, according to reports filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State Aug. 19.

Volinsky, a member of the New Hampshire Executive Council, raised $119,000 since June to Feltes’ $117,000. Since the beginning of the campaign, Feltes has raised $1.0 million to Volinsky’s $590,000. With less than three weeks remaining before the primary, Feltes reported $330,000 cash on hand to Volinsky’s $86,000.

A St. Anselm College poll released Aug. 21 found Feltes and Volinsky about even among likely Democratic primary voters, with 22% saying they would support Feltes, 19% saying they would support Volinsky, and 46% undecided. The poll reported a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points.

The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will advance to the general election, which two election forecasters say Republicans are likely to win. A third forecaster says the race leans towards Republicans.

Race recap: Governor of Vermont

In this series, we look back at recent state executive primaries and ahead to the general election.

Vermont Democrats are seeking to win back the state’s governorship from Republican Phil Scott (R), who is running for a third two-year term this year. 

David Zuckerman defeated Rebecca Holcombe, Pat Winburn, and Ralph Corbo to win the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in the Aug. 11 primary. Zuckerman received 48% of the vote to Holcombe’s 37%. Winburn followed with 8% and Corbo received 1%.

Zuckerman, Vermont’s current lieutenant governor, had endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) and People for the American Way. Holcombe, a former state secretary of education, had endorsements from former Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D) and EMILY’s List. 

Zuckerman and Holcombe clashed over Zuckerman’s previous opposition to vaccine mandates. Zuckerman said he was a supporter of vaccines and would follow the recommendation of health professionals when determining whether to make a coronavirus vaccine mandatory. Holcombe said Zuckerman’s past skepticism towards vaccines made him a poor leader on public health.

Zuckerman will face incumbent Phil Scott (R) in the November general election. Two election forecasters say Scott is likely to win and one says he is a solid bet to win.

Vermont is one of 17 states where the governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and one of three states—alongside Louisiana and North Carolina—where the two offices are currently held by members of different parties. This year’s gubernatorial election in North Carolina also features a lieutenant governor challenging the incumbent, as Gov. Roy Cooper (D) faces Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R).

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did not seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 39 states that had held state legislative primaries as of Aug. 25, 2020.

New Hampshire Youth Movement endorses challenger to 42-year incumbent in Rockingham’s House District 25

On Aug. 17, the New Hampshire Youth Movement endorsed Robin Vogt over 42-year incumbent Rep. Laura Pantelakos in the Rockingham House District 25 Democratic primary. The group said Vogt and other endorsees “have all committed to fighting with us on climate, healthcare, student debt, and racial justice, all of which are top priorities for young people.”

Vogt, a special education paraprofessional, submitted a Candidate Connection survey to Ballotpedia. In it, he said: “New Hampshire has young families who are looking for the next generation of legislators to step up. We must prompt young policies, and make wholesale changes to the status-quo practices that have made no differences to life [sic] here in the state.”

Pantelakos was first elected to the House in 1978. Before that, Pantelakos served on the Portsmouth City Council for 16 years. As the longest-serving member in the chamber, she serves as the House Dean. In a Patch questionnaire, Pantelakos said, “I have been a Rep. for a long time and have learned how the legislature works. You have to learn to work with people that thinks different [sic] than you do.”

There are no other candidates filed to run in the district, meaning the winner of the Sept. 8 primary will likely win the seat.

Retiring incumbent Sen. Fuller Clark endorses Kwoka in New Hampshire’s Senate District 21 primary

On Aug. 22, Rebecca Perkins Kwoka, a candidate for New Hampshire’s Senate District 21, received an endorsement from the district’s retiring incumbent Sen. Martha Fuller Clark (D). Perkins Kwoka faces Deaglan McEachern in the District’s Sept. 8 Democratic primary. McEachern currently serves on the Portsmouth City Council. Perkins Kwoka served in the body from 2016 to 2019.

In addition to Fuller Clark, Perkins Kwoka, an attorney, received endorsements from Emily’s List, LPAC, and three incumbent Democratic representatives. In a Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Perkins Kwoka listed affordable housing, climate change, and an equitable economy as three of her campaign’s key messages.

McEachern, a software executive, received endorsements from the National Education Association-N.H., the local branch of the Service Employees International Union, and former District 21 Sens. Katie Wheeler (D) and Amanda Merrill (D). On his campaign website, McEachern lists education, the N.H. economy, and healthcare as three of his priorities.

The winner of the primary will face Sue Polidura (R) in the general election. 

Power players

“My responsibility is to protect the incumbents, protect the majority that we have. They have been courageous, they’ve taken votes they have to answer for in places where it may not be as obvious as to why, and my goal is to protect them. We will have a Democratic majority.” – Nancy Pelosi on The Axe Files

House Majority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) assumed office in 1987 and has led Democrats in the House since 2002. According to Open Secrets, she is the fourth-highest fundraiser in Congress and first among congressional Democrats for the 2020 election cycle at $14,231,299. Pelosi also ranks fourth in Congress and second among congressional Democrats in candidate-to-candidate giving from both her leadership PAC, PAC to the Future, and her campaign committee at $940,000.

Among the top disbursements reported to the Federal Election Commission from Pelosi’s campaign committee, Nancy Pelosi for Congress, are: $1,195,000 to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, $100,000 to Hold the House Victory Fund, and $35,500 to the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee, along with 11 $5,000 donations to individual Democratic congressional campaigns. PAC to the Future’s top congressional campaign contributions include $20,000 to Rep. Gil Cisneros (D-Calif.) and $20,000 to Rep. Christy Smith (D-Calif.).



Pam Keith, Oz Vazquez complete Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey

Pam Keith defeated Oz Vazquez in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 18th Congressional District on August 18. Keith received 79.9% of the vote to Vazquez’s 20.1%. Keith will face incumbent Brian Mast (R) and K.W. Miller (independent) in the general election.

Before the election, both Keith and Vazquez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. Ballotpedia asks all federal, state, and local candidates to complete a survey so voters can discover what motivates them on political and personal levels.

We asked the candidates, “What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?”

Keith: “Protecting and defending the Constitution
Protecting voting rights and fair elections
Ensuring every American has lifelong portable health care
Ensuring that Americans not only have jobs but that their work is able to sustain themselves and their families
Address the existential threat of global climate change
Obtaining federal funding to fix the water management infrastructure in our district
Protecting and improving Social Security and Medicare for our seniors

Ensuring that our veterans get everything they need, including speedy, quality, comprehensive healthcare”

Vazquez: “I am personally passionate about making sure that working and middle class families have the same shot at the American dream I had, which includes fighting to make sure that retirees have the benefits they’ve been promised, protecting our access to quality, affordable healthcare, and ensuring our kids and grandkids have access to the education and opportunities they need to get ahead.”

In 2018, 1,957 candidates completed a Candidate Connection survey. This number represents 6.9% of all 28,315 candidates Ballotpedia covered during that cycle. Out of the 1,957 respondents, 477 (24.4%) won their elections.

To read the candidates’ responses and learn more about the primary, click here: Florida’s 18th Congressional District election, 2020 (August 18 Democratic primary)

To read more about the general election in Florida’s 18th Congressional District, click here:

Florida’s 18th Congressional District election, 2020

To read more about Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey or if you are a candidate who would like to submit a survey, click here: Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection


Pam Keith defeats Oz Vazquez in Florida’s 18th Congressional District Democratic primary

Pam Keith defeated Oz Vazquez in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. At 7:37 p.m. Eastern Time Decision Desk HQ called the race with 16.5% of precincts reporting. Keith received 79.9% of the vote and Vazquez received 20.1%.

Both candidates had received notable primary endorsements leading up to the election, with Keith garnering support from VoteVets and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D). Vazquez led the field in fundraising, with $450,439 to Keith’s $282,370.

The district has been rated by independent outlets as Solid Republican. Incumbent Brian Mast (R) won his 2018 race by 8.6 percentage points.


Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 31 (August 19, 2020)

This week: Cavell drops out and endorses Mermell in MA-04, Two seek Democratic nod for Massachusetts Governor Council’s only open seat, and R.I. National Organization for Women endorses Melanie DuPont over incumbent in Senate District 22 rematch

On the news

Where do Democratic and progressive pundits and commentators disagree? Each week, we bring you excerpts that highlight differing views.

On Biden Republicans

“I understand the impulse to marginalize voters who weren’t with us in 2016—to castigate them for ignoring all the warning signs about Mr. Trump. I’m hardly known for being a ‘forgive and forget’ kind of guy. But vengeance would be shortsighted and self-defeating. Cultivating their support won’t muddle our resolve so much as it will empower us to enact our agenda. While we may not always agree on every item, they’ll be invaluable allies and coalition partners when we’re working to protect the environment, expand economic opportunity to all parts of society, and reform the justice system.

“Much like in 2018, voters in 1978 were disappointed in the sitting president. Two years into President Carter’s only term, Republicans claimed three additional Senate seats, and 15 seats in the House. In 1980, President Reagan turned what could have been a transactional arrangement with Reagan Democrats into a transformational moment. Joe Biden and the Democrats are now poised to do something similar. If in 2028 the Democratic nominee sees Biden Republicans as part of the Democratic Party’s base, we will have made the most of this year’s electoral opportunity.”

Rahm Emanuel, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15, 2020

“After spending an entire primary contest attacking [Vermont Sen. Bernie] Sanders for not being a Democrat, the party has now given prominent speaking roles to five Republicans. …

 

“Even as the party increasingly highlights mere diversity and representation as solutions to the ills plaguing the United States, and contrasts itself to the naked racism of Trump’s GOP, this year’s DNC fails to deliver on this front too. Despite the complaints of both elected officials and advocacy groups, there will only be three Latino speakers and no Muslim speakers, two groups that have been particularly targeted by Trump. …

“Meanwhile, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the thirty-year-old progressive insurgent popular among both Democrats and young people, is being given only sixty seconds to speak, in a prerecorded message. This, despite polling showing Democrats are more excited to hear her speak than to hear [former Ohio Gov. John] Kasich and the Clintons. …

“This is the modern Democratic Party under Joe Biden, a party dominated by figures who have spent their entire careers opposing what they claim to fight for now, and more concerned with building a coalition with well-off conservatives than its own young, progressive, and increasingly diverse voting base.”

Branko Marcetic, Jacobin, Aug. 17, 2020

Election results

Florida’s 15th Congressional District: Alan Cohn defeated Adam Hattersley, Jesse Philippe, and Kel Britvec. Cohn received 41% of the vote followed by Hattersley and Philippe with 33% and 26%, respectively. Cohn will face Scott Franklin (R) in the general election. Scott Franklin (R) defeated incumbent Rep. Ross Spano in the Republican primary.  Three race forecasters rated the general election as Lean Republican.

Florida’s 18th Congressional District: Pam Keith defeated Oz Vazquez in the Democratic primary in Florida’s 18th Congressional District. With 98% of precincts reporting,Keith had received 80% of the vote to Vazquez’s 20%Incumbent Brian Mast (R) won his 2018 race by a margin of 8.6 percentage points.

Orange County Sheriff: Orange County, Florida, Sheriff John Mina (D) defeated four challengers to win the Democratic nomination for his first full term in an Aug. 18 primary. Mina received 54% of the vote, followed by Andrew Darling with 15% and Jose Lopez with 14%. Mina faces independent write-in candidates Tim Lucas Adams and Winston Johnson in the November general election. No Republican candidate filed for the office.

Orange County State Attorney: Monique Worrell won the Democratic nomination for Orange County State Attorney in a primary on Aug. 18. Worrell received 43% of the vote to Belvin Perry Jr.’s 31% and Deborah Barra’s 19%. Worrell had endorsements from vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris (D) and incumbent Aramis Ayala (D), who is not seeking re-election. Worrell will face independent Jose Torroella in the November general election.

U.S. Congress

Cavell drops out, endorses Mermell in MA-04

Dave Cavell, a former speechwriter for President Barack Obama, withdrew from Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District primary and endorsed Jesse Mermell. Mermell served on the Brookline Select Board from 2007 to 2013.

State Attorney General Maura Healey (D) also endorsed Mermell, and a super PAC affiliated with the SEIU and the Massachusetts Teachers Association began airing an ad describing Mermell as a true progressive. 

While endorsing Mermell, Cavell criticized Jake Auchincloss, a Newton city councilor and former Republican also running in the primary. “Jake is the elephant in the room — pun intended. … One thing that has been abundantly clear is there is one candidate in this race who should not represent the Fourth District.”

The Boston Globe editorial board endorsed Auchincloss. On Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey, Auchincloss listed one of his key messages as, “Results, not revolution.”

Auchincloss and Mermell are among eight candidates vying for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Joe Kennedy is running in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate. Several candidates have released ads ahead of the Sept. 1 primary. A recent spot from Mermell touts her endorsements, including those above and from Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.). 

Newton City Councilor Becky Grossman released an ad discussing prescription drug prices. Reps. Julian Castro (D-Texas) and Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) endorsed her. On Aug. 16, Grossman announced her campaign planned to sue the state of Massachusetts, asking the court to order the state to accept absentee ballots postmarked by Sept. 1 and received within 10 days of the primary.

Ihssane Leckey, a former Federal Reserve system regulator, said in an ad she’s the only woman of color in the race and that “[w]e need leaders who represent our diversity and courage.” Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Our Revolution Massachusetts endorsed her. 

Chris Zannetos, founder of three tech and cybersecurity companies, released an ad saying he supports Joe Biden’s healthcare plan. A narrator says, “Nearly every candidate for Congress in our area would eliminate private health insurance, except Chris Zannetos.”

Also running are Alan Khazei, Natalia Linos, and Ben Sigel. Khazei, founder of the youth service corps City Year, led in fundraising as of June 30 with $1.6 million. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Susan Rice, former national security adviser to Obama, endorsed Khazei.

Auchincloss was second in fundraising with $1.4 million.

All eight candidates submitted responses to Ballotpedia’s candidate survey. Click their names below to see their responses.

The Intercept questions allegations against Morse in MA-01 

As we reported last week, the College Democrats of Massachusetts alleged that Alex Morse, who is challenging Rep. Richard Neal in the 1st Congressional District, had inappropriate relationships with college students. The group published a letter saying Morse was not welcome at the group’s future events. On Aug. 12, The Intercept‘s Ryan Grim and Daniel Boguslaw reported on online communications from members of the group. They wrote:

Timothy Ennis, the chief strategist for the UMass Amherst College Democrats, admitted in the chats that he was a “Neal Stan” and said he felt conflicted about involving the chapter of the College Democrats in a future attack on Morse. “But I need a job,” concluded Ennis. “Neal will give me an internship.” At the time, Ennis was president of the chapter, a post he held from April 2019 to April 2020, when he was term-limited out.

The article also reported on exchanges between member Andrew Abramson and Ennis. Abramson shared a screenshot of an Instagram exchange he had with Morse, and Ennis responded, “This will sink his campaign.”

The College Democrats said its letter to Morse was not politically motivated and had nothing to do with Ennis’ ambitions.

Morse said, “While I truly didn’t think I’d done anything that would cause discomfort, I understand in a new way how my power as mayor and lecturer affects how I am received in social settings.” He said at the first primary debate on Aug. 17 that the accusations were a smear.

Neal said his campaign had no involvement in the accusations, and the issue did not feature prominently at the debate. Neal said Morse, mayor of Holyoke, has missed several municipal meetings, while Morse said Neal has been absent from the district. Neal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, touted the money brought into the district by the CARES Act that he helped author. Morse said the act was insufficient to address people’s financial challenges.

The primary is Sept. 1.

State executives

Two seek Democratic nod for Massachusetts Governor Council’s only open seat

Paul DePalo and Padraic Rafferty are seeking the Democratic nomination for District 7 of the Massachusetts Governor’s Council this year. The position is currently the only vacancy on the eight-member council. In 2018, it was the only council district won by a Republican after incumbent Jennie Caissie (R) defeated DePalo 50-45%. Both DePalo and Rafferty completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connections survey.

The Massachusetts Governor’s Council is responsible for providing advice and consent for gubernatorial appointments, warrants for the state treasury, and pardons and commutations. It is an executive board made up of eight members who are elected to two-year terms in by-district elections, with the lieutenant governor serving as a ninth, ex officio, member.

DePalo was the Democratic nominee for the seat in 2018, losing to incumbent Jennie Caissie (R) 49.6% to 44.9%. Rafferty, an attorney and prosecutor, is making his first run for elected office.

When asked about his priorities, DePalo said: 

“Crime prevention starts in juvenile court: let’s end the trauma-to-prison pipeline … Public safety includes tackling mental health and addiction: evidence-based diversion and rehabilitation saves lives, saves money, and reduces recidivism … Our state judges are only 11% people of color and 44% women.”

In response to the same question, Rafferty said:

“I am personally passionate about ensuring the Court system provides equal justice for all and to continue to combat the Opioid Crisis; Ensuring that individuals in the criminal justice system are treated with compassion, dignity, and have avenues to accessible rehabilitation programs.”

Click here to read DePalo’s full responses and here to read Rafferty’s full responses.

Feltes, Volinsky launch first television ads

Both Democratic candidates for governor of New Hampshire launched their initial television ads last week. Dan Feltes and Andru Volinsky are competing in the Democratic primary on Sept. 8.

Feltes, the State Senate Majority Leader, launched his ad Aug. 11. In the ad, Feltes said essential workers are keeping the country running and that he would focus on policies that help them pay bills.

Volinsky, a member of the executive council, began airing his ad Aug. 14. Volinsky’s ad says he is the only true progressive in the race and that he has endorsements from the American Postal Workers Union and the state branches of the Sierra Club and the National Education Association.

Feltes and Volinsky are the only two candidates on the Sept. 8 Democratic primary ballot. The last Democrat to win the governor’s race was Maggie Hassan (D) in 2014.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did not seek re-election is provided for the 44 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 36 states that had held state legislative primaries as of Aug. 17, 2020.

R.I. National Organization for Women endorses Melanie DuPont over incumbent in Senate District 22 rematch

On Aug. 11, the Rhode Island branch of the National Organization for Women (RI NOW) endorsed Melanie DuPont over incumbent Sen. Steve Archambault in the Senate District 22 Democratic primary. DuPont challenged Archambault in the 2018 primary, which Archambault won, 64-35%.

In 2019, DuPont co-founded the Rhode Island Political Cooperative, which describes itself as “a non-profit corporation that provides campaign services to progressive political candidates.” We previously reported on the group on July 1 after they endorsed 17 state legislative candidates, who, according to the group’s website, “are going to win a governing majority, vote out corrupt leadership, and restore power to the people.”

Archambault, first elected in 2012, said, “My heart is in it. I continue to work hard for the people in the district.” The Johnston Sun Rise’s Jacob Marrocco wrote that Archambault “highlighted his legislative history when asked about the main issues in the race, saying he sticks to crafting and passing bills because ‘that’s what a senator does.’”

In the 2018 general election, Archambault defeated Gregory Tocco (R), 64-35%. The winner of the Sept. 8 primary will face Paul Santucci (R) and Stephen Tocco (I), the only other candidates running in the race. 

Mass. branches of AFL-CIO and Our Revolution split endorsements in 2nd Suffolk District

On Aug. 13, the Massachusetts AFL-CIO endorsed incumbent Rep. Dan Ryan in the 2nd Suffolk District’s Democratic primary. On Aug. 14, Our Revolution Massachusetts endorsed Ryan’s challenger, Damali Vidot. No other candidates are running, meaning the winner of the primary will likely win the general election.

The CommonWealth Magazine’s Michael Jonas said, “Ryan leans toward pragmatic approaches to issues that Vidot says demand bolder, outside-the-box thinking.”

Ryan has represented the 2nd Suffolk District since 2014. In its endorsement, the AFL-CIO said, “We are proud to support candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to the values and principles of the labor movement.” The Massachusetts Nurses Association and local branches of the United Steelworkers and Teamsters have also endorsed Ryan’s campaign.

Vidot currently serves as a city councilor in Chelsea. On its Facebook page, Our Revolution Massachusetts says “We are developing a grassroots-based democratic progressive political organization in Massachusetts.” Additionally, the Sierra Club, Sunrise, and the Democratic Socialists of America have endorsed Vidot.

The primary is Sept. 1.

Aaron Coleman defeats incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter in Kansas’ House District 37

On Aug. 17, The Kansas City Star reported that challenger Aaron Coleman defeated incumbent Rep. Stan Frownfelter in the House District 37 Democratic primary. Coleman won 50.4% of the vote to Frownfelter’s 49.6%, a margin of 14 votes. 

In his Candidate Connection survey submitted to Ballotpedia, Coleman said he was running “because I believe in a Kansas that works for every citizen, and not policies drafted by Statehouse lobbyists.”

The Associated Press’ John Hanna wrote that Coleman “has been disowned by some Democrats for his incendiary social media posts and because he abused girls online when he was 14 years old.”  In response, Coleman said, “I made serious mistakes in middle school and I deeply regret and apologize for them. I’ve grown up a great deal since then.”

Since no other candidates are running, Coleman’s name will be the only one appearing on the general election ballot. On Aug. 18, Frownfelter announced he would conduct a write-in campaign for the general election. 

Power players

“We evaluate the races and seek to be a ‘tipping point’ in close elections. We choose candidates who have solid credentials, a proven record of being able (in these partisan times) to work across the aisle and get things done. We have problem solvers who put the interests of the country first, and firmly believe what Bill Clinton once said: ‘There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right in America.’” – United for a Stronger America website

United for a Stronger America PAC, officially named Frontline USA, is a leadership political action committee sponsored by Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). The PAC’s earliest Federal Election Commission filings date back to 2005, 4 years after Schiff first assumed office. 

United for a Stronger America PAC has reported $2,005,508 in donations this election cycle and has spent $1,900,089. Among its largest campaign contributions were $33,533 to Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D), who is running for reelection in New Mexico’s 2nd Congressional District, $32,575 to Rep. Katie Porter (D), who is running for reelection in California’s 45th Congressional District, and $31,000 to Rep. Lucy McBath (D), who is running for re-election in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

Click the following links to view United for a Stronger America’s endorsed incumbents and new candidates.



Cohn wins Democratic nomination in Florida’s 15th Congressional District

Image of several stickers with the words "I voted"

Alan Cohn defeated Adam Hattersley, Jesse Philippe, and Kel Britvec in the Democratic primary for Florida’s 15th Congressional District on August 18. Cohn received 41% of the vote followed by Hattersley and Philippe with 33% and 26%, respectively.

Cohn, an investigative journalist, said his campaign priorities include expanding access to healthcare, addressing climate change, and increasing the minimum wage. He received endorsements from six unions and La Gaceta.

Cohn will face Scott Franklin (R) in the general election. Incumbent Rep. Ross Spano was defeated in the Republican primary.  At the time of the primary, three race forecasters rated the general election as Lean Republican.