TagState executive

Five states to hold statewide primaries

Five states are holding statewide primaries on August 4, 2020: Arizona, Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington. Candidates are competing to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3.

Candidates in Arizona are running in elections for the following state offices:
• Corporation Commission (3 seats)
• Arizona State Senate (30 seats)

• Arizona House of Representatives (60 seats)

Candidates in Kansas are running in elections for the following state offices:
• State Board of Education (5 seats)
• Kansas State Senate (40 seats)

• Kansas House of Representatives (125 seats)

Candidates in Michigan are running in elections for the following state offices:
• State Board of Education (2 seats)
• University of Michigan Board of Regents (2 seats)
• Michigan State University Board of Trustees (2 seats)
• Wayne State University Board of Governors (2 seats)

• Michigan House of Representatives (110 seats)

Candidates in Missouri are running in elections for the following state offices:
• Governor
• Lieutenant Governor
• Attorney General
• Secretary of State
• Treasurer
• Missouri State Senate (17 seats)

• Missouri House of Representatives (163 seats)

Candidates in Washington are running in elections for the following state offices:
• Governor
• Lieutenant Governor
• Attorney General
• Secretary of State
• Superintendent of Public Instruction
• Commissioner of Public Lands
• Treasurer
• Auditor
• Commissioner of Insurance
• Washington State Senate (25 seats)

• Washington House of Representatives (98 seats)

Washington holds top-two primaries, in which all candidates are listed on the same primary ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election.

Alabama is also holding a special state legislative primary on August 4. If no candidate receives a majority of votes, the top two vote recipients will advance to a primary runoff scheduled for September 1. The special general election is scheduled for November 17.

The primaries are the 32nd to 36th to take place in the 2020 election cycle. August 4 is the 13th uniform statewide election date. The next primary is on August 6 in Tennessee.

Additional reading:


Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Sen. Pat Roberts endorses Roger Marshall, Hagerty and Sethi line up support in Tennessee Senate contest, and Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

On the news

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

On the Silent Majority

“Trump announced that Bill Stepien, a longtime aide, would be his new reelection campaign manager and that his outgoing campaign manager, Parscale, would remain a senior adviser to the campaign focused on digital and data strategies.

 

“I think we can take this as affirmation that the Trump campaign does not believe that it is on track to win in a landslide, and that all of the public polling is wildly wrong.

 

“Are there ‘secret Trump voters’ out there, Americans who are certain to vote for him but unwilling to say so to a pollster? Sure. I don’t know how many there are, and what percentage of the electorate they are. If they’re not close to ten percent, Trump’s in deep trouble. The available polling shows Trump down by a lot in states he won last time around — Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, Florida. When you say this, Trump supporters scoff that their man won states he was trailing last time, which is true — but he didn’t jump ten points on Election Day. Pollsters have attempted to correct their errors in sampling from the 2016 cycle. It’s worth noting that Nate Silver crunched the numbers and concluded, ‘the 2017-19 cycle was one of the most accurate on record for polling.’”

Jim Geraghty, National Review, July 16, 2020

“As we saw in 2016 … the reluctance of right-of-center voters to argue with puffed-up progressives simply meant they wanted to avoid shaming and social ostracism. They kept their peace until it really mattered — when they reached the voting booth. That’s the beauty of the secret ballot — people who decline to be bullied by ‘strong liberals’ can make their voices heard loud and clear in November. According to the [July 22] Cato survey, the number of people choosing this path is far larger than it was in 2016. Moreover, they span the entire demographic spectrum …

“Trump’s silent majority is real, and it is much larger than it was four years ago. What should scare the pants off any sentient Democrat is the number of Latinos (65 percent) and black Americans (49 percent) who self-censor. For them, there is no risk of social ostracism for supporting Biden or any other Democrat. The only plausible reason for their reticence is support for Trump. The president is about to make history with the magnitude of his victory and, more importantly, who will vote for him.”

David Catron, The American Spectator, July 24, 2020

U.S. Congress

Roberts endorses, groups spend, in Senate primary in Kansas

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) endorsed Roger Marshall in the Senate primary in Kansas. Roberts was first elected to the seat in 1996 and is retiring.

Marshall’s other endorsers include National Right to Life and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach has endorsements from the National Association for Gun Rights, the National Border Patrol Council, and former Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.).

Open Secrets reports $9.3 million in satellite spending on the race. More than half has come in recent weeks. Kelly Arnold, a former Kansas Republican Party chairman, said, “I am just shocked about the amount of outside money. … These are numbers that you normally would see in a general election where it’s very competitive, and the national Democrats and national Republicans are battling it out in the state.”

Of the $9.3 million spent, $4.4 million went to activities opposing Marshall and $2.5 million went to activities opposing Kobach. Some recent expenditures:

  • The super PAC Sunflower State is spending more than $4 million on ads. Media outlets wrote that the group has Democratic connections. Politico’s James Arkin wrote that one of the group’s ads was “engineered to drive conservative voters toward Kobach. A narrator in the ad calls Kobach ‘too conservative’ because he ‘won’t compromise’ on building President Donald Trump’s border wall or on taking a harsher stance on relations with China. By contrast, the ad labels Marshall a ‘phony politician’ who is ‘soft on Trump.'” 
  • Plains PAC said it would spend $3 million on a television, radio, and online ad campaign criticizing Kobach.
  • The Senate Leadership Fund booked $1.2 million in airtime for an ad campaign supporting Marshall.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce began a $400,000 ad campaign supporting Marshall on July 13.
  • Free Forever PAC spent $365,000 on an ad supporting Kobach.

Click here for a compilation of satellite group ads.

Click here for a compilation of candidates’ campaign ads.

Eleven candidates are running in the Aug. 4 primary. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean Republican or Likely Republican.

Charges against Watkins a focal point of KS-02 primary

On July 14, Rep. Steve Watkins (R) of Kansas’ 2nd Congressional District was charged with three felony counts and one misdemeanor count related to using an incorrect address on his voter registration form.

Watkins said he accidentally listed his mailing address as opposed to his residential address and corrected the error when he realized it. On July 17, Watkins said he was temporarily resigning his House committee memberships. House Republicans require any member charged with a felony carrying a sentence of two or more years to resign committee membership pending the charges.

Watkins, state Treasurer Jacob LaTurner, and former Kansas Secretary of Labor Dennis Taylor are running in the Aug. 4 primary.

LaTurner released an ad in which a narrator calls Watkins a fraud and calls LaTurner an honest conservative. The narrator says LaTurner would “bring integrity back to Congress.”

Watkins released an ad in which a narrator refers to the charges as a witch hunt and LaTurner as a swamp creature. The ad compares the charges against Watkins to the impeachment effort against President Donald Trump (R). It also says the district attorney who filed the charges shares a consultant with LaTurner. 

Kansas for Life switched from endorsing both Watkins and LaTurner to only endorsing LaTurner. Rep. Ron Estes (R-Kans.) endorsed LaTurner, saying, “Kansans deserve the best representation in Congress and Steve Watkins’ actions have unfortunately put this seat in danger of being handed over to a Nancy Pelosi liberal who doesn’t represent our Kansas values.”

Watkins’ endorsers include the National Rifle Association, National Right to Life, and the National Federation of Independent Business. The Kansas Farm Bureau endorsed LaTurner.

The Cook Political Report changed its general election race rating from Likely Republican to Lean Republican following the charges. Two other outlets see the contest as Solid Republican or Likely Republican. In 2018, Watkins defeated Paul Davis (D) 47.6% to 46.8%.

Blackburn endorses Hagerty, Paul appears in pro-Sethi ad in Senate race in TN

Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) endorsed Bill Hagerty for the Senate seat held by Lamar Alexander (R). Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) appeared in an ad supporting Manni Sethi. 

Alexander was first elected in 2002 and is retiring. 

Blackburn said, “I need a true Tennessee conservative to stand with me to protect our Tennessee values.” She said Sethi had defended Obamacare and donated to ActBlue, an online fundraising platform for Democratic campaigns and progressive groups.

A Protect Freedom PAC ad features Paul saying, “Tennessee is too conservative a state to keep sending Democrats in Republican clothing to represent Tennessee. Manni Sethi is the real deal.” 

Other satellite groups and the candidates themselves have released ads recently. The group Standing with Conservatives released an ad criticizing Sethi’s donations and saying he isn’t a Tennessee conservative. Conservative Outsider PAC released an ad saying Hagerty backs Romney, who, according to the ad, betrayed conservatives by supporting Trump’s impeachment.

A recent Hagerty ad criticizes Sethi by saying he is friends with Tom Perriello, a Democrat who ran for governor of Virginia in 2017. A Sethi ad features his wife defending Sethi against the Democratic donation line of criticism, saying she donated $50 12 years ago. She says Hagerty gave Romney and Al Gore over $100,000.

Hagerty served as ambassador to Japan from 2017 to 2019. Sethi is an orthopedic trauma surgeon. 

Fifteen candidates are running in the Aug. 6 primary.

State executives

Vermont Republicans hold first gubernatorial debate

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and all four primary challengers participated in their first debate July 22, discussing Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and his style of governance.

Scott, who is seeking election to a third two-year term, said he had led an effective pandemic response and was seeking re-election in order to continue to manage Vermont’s economic recovery.

Each of Scott’s challengers said his response to the coronavirus pandemic was too drastic and damaged the state’s economy. Scott said he was proud of Vermont’s response to the pandemic, saying it had a low number of positive cases both in absolute terms and as a proportion of the population.

Douglas Cavett, a former educator, said he was running to correct what he described as injustices in Vermont’s criminal justice system, using his conviction on a charge of aggravated assault of a minor as an example. He said the charges against him were fabricated and evidence of a broader problem in the system.

John Klar, an attorney and farmer who is running alongside a slate of candidates for other state offices, including the state legislature. Klar says he is running because Scott supports policies he says are out of touch with Vermont Republicans, mentioning firearms regulations and abortion as areas of specific disagreement.

Bernard Peters, a former employee of the Vermont Agency of Transportation, said he was concerned about Scott’s stance on firearms. Peters said Scott’s decision to sign a bill imposing new regulations on firearms in 2018 amounted to signing away Vermonters’ constitutional rights. Scott said as a gun owner, he did not feel as if his constitutional rights had been infringed and he preferred action to inaction.

Emily Peyton, a hemp farmer who earlier ran for governor in 2012, 2014, and 2018, said she was running to limit the state government’s power. She said Scott’s response to the coronavirus pandemic represented an overextension of the state government’s power.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters.

Race recap: Governor of Utah

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

Utah Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox (R) won the Republican nomination for governor of Utah in a primary on June 30, receiving 36.1% of the vote to second-place candidate Jon Huntsman’s (R) 34.9%. Huntsman earlier served as governor for four years before resigning to serve as ambassador to China under President Barack Obama (D).

Two other candidates advanced to the primary: former state House Speaker Greg Hughes (R) and former state GOP chairman Thomas Wright (R). Up to two candidates could earn a spot on the ballot if they were among the top finishers at the state party convention’s nominating vote. An unlimited number of candidates could win a spot on the ballot by submitting nominating petitions containing the signatures of 28,000 registered Republicans. Four additional candidates did not make it onto the ballot.

Cox, who has served as lieutenant governor since 2013, said he was running because he believes Utah has a bright future and that he would focus on managing the state’s economic recovery. Huntsman said his past experience as governor would make him a better leader in a time of crisis.

Cox faces University of Utah law professor Chris Peterson (D) as well as Gregory Duerden (Independent American Party of Utah), Daniel Rhead Cottam (L), and Richard Whitney (I) in the general election. Republicans have won each of the past 10 gubernatorial elections in Utah, the GOP’s longest ongoing winning streak nationwide.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Alaska Family Action announces it will not endorse in House District 24 primary featuring incumbent citing power-sharing agreement

On July 25, Alaska Family Action (AFA) announced it would not endorse incumbent Rep. Chuck Kopp (R-24) in the 2020 primary. 

AFA is a branch of the Alaska Family Council, which operates to “inspire biblical leadership” and “to see an Alaska where families thrive, religious freedom flourishes, life is cherished, and God is honored,” according to the group’s website.

AFA’s decision not to endorse Kopp is a break from 2018, when it supported his candidacy in that year’s Republican primary. 

Kopp was first elected in 2016. Following the 2018 elections, Republicans held a 23-16-1 majority in the House of Representatives. They were unable to form a majority coalition after Kopp and seven other Republican representatives created a power-sharing agreement with Democratic members to establish a bipartisan majority. 

The AFA wrote, “This bi-partisan majority is dominated by progressive liberals, and they have successfully blocked virtually all attempts to advance pro-life and pro-family legislation.” The announcement went on to say, “The policy issues that are most crucial to Alaska Family Action are routinely assigned to FOUR key committees: Health & Social Services, Education, Judiciary, and State Affairs. What do all these committees have in common? They’re all chaired by progressive lawmakers who are endorsed and bankrolled by Planned Parenthood.”

As part of the power-sharing agreement, Democrats were to lead six of the ten standing committees, including the four listed above. Three committees have bipartisan co-chairs. Kopp chairs the Rules Committee, which controls the flow of legislation to the floor.

On his campaign website, Kopp says he is “a proven and effective leader who values all Alaskans and will keep our legislature focused on issues that matter.” He won the 2018 primary with 70.5% of the vote. AFA has not endorsed his Aug. 18 primary opponent Thomas McKay (R).

Gila County GOP launches rare opposition ads against challenger in Arizona’s Senate District 6 primary

On July 24, the White Mountain Independent’s Peter Aleshire reported that the Gila County GOP launched ads and messaging opposing Wendy Rogers (R) and supporting incumbent Sen. Sylvia Allen (R-06) in Arizona’s Senate District 6 Republican primary. Aleshire wrote, “The Gila County Republicans normally don’t take a position in a party primary. However, … the committee considered Rogers such a flawed candidate that she might lose in the general election.” 

Rogers, an Air Force veteran and owner of a home inspection business, is the only candidate challenging Allen in the primary. 

The Gila County GOP ads claim, in part, that Rogers lives at a home owned in Tempe outside of the district rather than the Flagstaff mobile home listed as her address. In a Facebook post, Allen wrote, “That’s a direct violation of tax law and residency requirements,” adding, “She doesn’t even go here! So how can she accurately represent our district and our issues?”

Eric Frizzell, Rogers’ Fake News Response Director, said, “This is nothing but a bunch of losers trying to dig up fake dirt on Wendy,” adding that Rogers only visits her Tempe home to be with grandchildren.

Rogers leads Allen in fundraising, reporting $551,000 raised with $100,000 cash on hand. Allen has raised $127,000 with $16,000 available. Both candidates have been targeted and supported by satellite spending. Arizona’s campaign finance reports show that groups have spent $118,000 supporting Rogers and $86,000 in opposition. $93,000 has been spent supporting Allen with $131,000 spent in opposition.

Rogers has sought elected office five times, including four runs for U.S. House, twice in District 9 and twice in District 1. Most recently, Rogers ran against incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-01), receiving 46% of the vote to O’Halleran’s 54%. Allen currently serves as President Pro Tempore of the Senate. She was first elected to represent District 6 in 2014. She previously represented Senate District 5 from 2008 to 2013.

Kansas City Star endorses incumbent Skubal in Kansas Senate District 11 primary

On July 24, the Kansas City Star endorsed Sen. John Skubal (R-11) in the Kansas Senate District 11 primary, calling him “a solid, moderate voice in the Kansas Senate.” Skubal, first elected to the seat in 2016, faces a primary challenge from state Rep. Kellie Warren (R-28) on Aug. 4. The editorial board wrote, “the policy differences between the candidates are not subtle. But the starkest contrast between them is in how they see COVID-19, and what they think we should do about it.”

On the usage of masks, Skubal said “The science says that we should wear a mask … We’re not just protecting ourselves, we’re protecting others.” Warren said, “the science really hasn’t even been that clear,” adding, “the [Center for Disease Control] first said, don’t wear masks, you don’t need them.” The candidates vary on other issues like Medicaid expansion, which Skubal supports and Warren opposes. 

We previously covered this primary on April 8 following Warren’s announcement of her candidacy. This will be Warren’s second contested primary against an incumbent Republican. She was first elected to the state House in 2018 after defeating incumbent Rep. Joy Koesten 58-42% in the Republican primary. After her primary defeat but before leaving office, Koesten changed her party affiliation from Republican to Democrat.

The winner of the August primary will advance to the general election and will likely face Koesten, who is the only candidate running on the Democratic side.

Power players

“As an independent Super PAC, the Senate Leadership Fund has one goal: to protect and expand the Republican Senate Majority when Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Chuck Schumer, together with their army of left-wing activists, try to take it back in 2020.” – Senate Leadership Fund website

Founded in 2015 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the Senate Leadership Fund is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the fund has raised $102 million this cycle compared to $134 million for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Senate Republicans’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund reported more than $95.5 million in satellite spending, spending more than $10 million each to oppose four Democratic Senate candidates: Claire McCaskill in Missouri ($20.5 million), Jacky Rosen in Nevada ($15.9 million), Joe Donnelly in Indiana ($15.0 million), and Phil Bredesen in Tennessee ($13.3 million). Rosen was the only candidate among the four to win her race.

So far this cycle, the Senate Leadership Fund has reported spending more than $500,000 in two races. The group has spent $1.3 million in support of Roger Marshall (R) ahead of his Aug. 4 primary for Kansas’ open Senate seat. It has also spent $770,000 opposing Rep. Doug Collins’ (R) campaign challenging incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in Georgia’s upcoming Senate special election.



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 28 (July 29, 2020)

This week: Ilhan Omar challenger raises $3.2 million in second quarter, Working Families Party spends in support of Rashida Tlaib, and Bernie Sanders endorses in Vermont gubernatorial primary

On the news

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

On Medicare for All in the Democratic Party platform

“The platform does nod to ‘Medicare for All,’ the policy backed by Sanders, saying: ‘We are proud our party welcomes advocates who want to build on and strengthen the Affordable Care Act and those who support a Medicare for All approach.’

“Platform committee co-chair Denis McDonough, who served as former President Barack Obama’s chief of staff, called it the ‘boldest Democratic platform in American history.’

“Still, anticipating virtual floor fights and frustration from progressive activists who want the party to set an even more aggressive policy course, Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez said at the top of the committee meeting that ‘we should never confuse unity with unanimity, nor should we confuse debate with division.’”

Denis McDonough, Tom Perez, quoted by Scott Detrow, NPR, July 27, 2020

“History teaches a clear lesson: The fact that our nation is the only advanced industrial country without universal healthcare cannot be blamed on Republican obstruction alone. It was also caused by Democratic leaders who’ve spent decades catering to corporate interests (while collecting their campaign donations)—and refusing to fight for universal coverage. 

“This history of Democratic obstruction and vacillation is why hundreds of elected delegates to next month’s Democratic convention have put their foot down. They’ve signed a petition pledging to vote down the party platform if it ‘does not include a plank supporting universal, single-payer Medicare for All.’ The petition’s initiator is Judith Whitmer, chair of the convention’s Nevada delegation. She told Politico: ‘This pandemic has shown us that our private health insurance system does not work for the American people. Millions of people have lost their jobs and their healthcare at the same time.’

“By demanding of the party leadership what Harry Truman called for 72 years ago, Whitmer and other Democratic activists are indeed ‘giving ’em hell.’” 

Jeff Cohen, Common Dreams, July 28, 2020

U.S. Congress

MN-05: Melton-Meaux raises $3.2 million in second quarter

Antone Melton-Meaux raised $3.2 million to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s $480,000 in the second quarter of 2020. They and three others are running in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary on Aug. 11.

As of June 30, Omar raised $3.9 million to Melton-Meaux’s $3.7 million. 

The Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Torey Van Oot wrote, “Much of the money on both sides comes from out of the state, reflecting Omar’s national profile as one of the first Muslim women in Congress and an outspoken critic of President Donald Trump.”

Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party Chairman Ken Martin and Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison—who previously represented the 5th District—held a press conference July 20 in which Martin said contributions to Melton-Meaux’s campaign were efforts to “silence a progressive champion rooted in xenophobia.” Martin said the average ActBlue contribution Melton-Meaux received in May was $650 compared to Omar’s average of $18. Melton-Meaux said he received five times the amount of contributions Omar did from within the 5th District. Omar said her campaign received more individual contributions from within the state than Melton-Meaux’s.

Omar is among four House members often referred to as the squad, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.).

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) recently endorsed Omar. Pelosi said in September 2019 that she has a policy of only endorsing incumbents. 

Working Families Party spends in support of Tlaib in MI-13

The Working Families Party and Detroit Action are spending $100,000 in support of Rep. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan’s 13th Congressional District primary. Tlaib faces Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones.

Politico’s Holly Otterbein reported that the independent expenditure campaign “will be focused on young Black and Latino voters, and is expected to highlight [Tlaib’s] record on racial justice, including her promotion of the BREATHE Act, which seeks to eliminate federal programs ‘used to finance and expand’ law enforcement.”

The Detroit News’ Melissa Nann Burke and Christine Ferretti wrote:

Tlaib, the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, made history as one of the two first Muslim women elected to Congress. But Jones’ surrogates are pitching their candidate, who is African American, as a better choice to lead the majority-Black district amid a national movement for racial justice. Blacks comprise nearly 54% of the district’s population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The primary is a rematch. Tlaib and Jones ran against one another in both the regular and special election primaries in 2018. Jones defeated Tlaib in the special primary election 37.7% to 35.9%, while Tlaib defeated Jones in the regular primary 31.2% to 30.2%. Jones completed the term to which John Conyers Jr. had been elected in 2016. Tlaib assumed office in January 2019.

The Michigan AFL-CIO recently endorsed Tlaib. In 2018, the group endorsed Jones. Jones’ 2020 endorsers include several local elected officials and Black pastors.

The primary is Aug. 4.

AG commissioner endorses Vazquez in FL-18

Nikki Fried, Florida’s agriculture commissioner and the only Democrat to win statewide office in 2018, endorsed Oz Vazquez in Florida’s 18th Congressional District primary.

Fried said in her endorsement, “Florida’s 18th Congressional District deserves a Congressperson who will fight to protect Social Security and Medicare, will be a champion for clean water, and will work to get things done for the Treasure Coast and Palm Beaches.”

Vasquez is a lawyer and former Americorps volunteer. He faces Pam Keith, a lawyer and Navy veteran.

The Florida AFL-CIO endorsed Vasquez in June. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) endorsed Keith.

Both Keith and Vazquez completed Ballotpedia’s Candidate Connection survey. The survey questions are designed to elicit insightful and thoughtful responses from candidates on what they care about, what they stand for, and what they hope to achieve. Read Keith’s responses here and Vazquez’s responses here.

Incumbent Rep. Brian Mast (R), first elected in 2016, is seeking re-election and faces a primary challenger. Three election forecasters rate the general election Safe or Solid Republican. The primary election is Aug. 18.

State executives

Candidates prepare runs for Virginia lieutenant governor, attorney general

Candidate fields have begun to emerge for two top-level executive offices in Virginia ahead of next year’s primaries. This month, five Democrats, including three members of the legislative class of 2017, announced their intention to run for executive office.

Although there are no term limits on the offices of attorney general or lieutenant governor, Virginia is the only state where governors are prohibited from serving back-to-back terms. Both Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) have suggested they will run to succeed Gov. Ralph Northam (D).

Delegate Jay Jones (D), who was elected to the Norfolk-area district his father represented during the 1990s, became the first member of either major party to declare his intention to run for state attorney general on July 13. Jones, who is Black, would be Virginia’s first nonwhite attorney general. He said in his campaign kickoff video that challenging efforts to limit the Affordable Care Act would be among his priorities.

On July 14, Del. Hala Ayala (D), who defeated incumbent Rich Anderson (R) to win a district representing Prince William County, said she would run for lieutenant governor in 2021, becoming the first candidate to officially enter the race. She said she was running to ensure Virginia was better-prepared for future public health emergencies, including expanding Medicaid coverage.

State Del. Elizabeth Guzman (D), who defeated incumbent Scott Lingamfelter (R) in another Prince William County contest, said she was exploring a run for lieutenant governor. 

On July 22, Norfolk city Councillor Andria McClellan (D) announced she was also exploring a run for lieutenant governor. McClellan was first elected to the city council in 2016, defeating incumbent Barclay Winn. Ayala, Guzman, or McClellan would each be the first woman elected to the office.

Sean Perryman said on July 27 that he was exploring a run. Perryman, a former counsel to the House Oversight Committee under Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), is the president of the Fairfax branch of the NAACP, Virginia’s largest.

Other Democrats who have indicated they are considering a run for lieutenant governor include former Virginia Democratic Party Chairman Paul Goldman and Mike Pudhorodsky.

Bernie Sanders endorses David Zuckerman for governor of Vermont

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) endorsed Vermont Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s (D) run for governor Monday. The announcement came as Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D) aired their first television ads ahead of the Aug. 11 primary.

Holcombe’s ad, titled “Believe”, first aired July 16. The ad introduces Holcombe as a former educator and says she believes Vermont can emerge from the coronavirus pandemic in a stronger position than when the pandemic started if it takes the opportunity to expand healthcare and education and attract high-paying jobs.

Zuckerman’s ad, titled “Building our Future”, displays clips of Zuckerman working on his farm. The ad says that while daily life has been disrupted by the pandemic, farm work needs to continue.

A third candidate, attorney Pat Winburn, began running television ads when he entered the race in March. Winburn, who has not previously held elected office, says he is running to bring a new perspective to state government.

Legislatures

The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Preliminary New York legislative results show progressive challengers defeated five incumbents

New York’s primaries occurred on June 23, but due to the coronavirus, results have been delayed as absentee ballots continue to be counted. Within the past week, additional votes counted show at least five progressive challengers defeating incumbent state Assembly members.

The New York Times’ Jesse McKinley and Luis Ferre-Sadurni wrote, “A slew of progressive challengers upset entrenched incumbents in the New York Legislature … cementing their movement’s influence in Albany and making it likely that the state government will become one of the most liberal in the nation.”

The NYC Democratic Socialists of America, for example, endorsed one incumbent, Sen. Julia Salazar (D-18), and four others—Jabari Brisport (D), Phara Souffrant Forrest (D), Zohran Mamdani (D), and Marcela Mitaynes (D)—in the primaries. Of those five, Salazar, Forrest, Mamdani, and Mitaynes won their primaries. Brisport’s primary for the open Senate District 25 seat remains uncalled, but he has claimed victory.

Below is a list of races where challengers defeated incumbents. Vote totals have not been finalized, but in each instance the incumbents have either conceded or the challenger’s victory has been widely reported:

  • AD-34: Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, an immigrant and healthcare activist, defeated Assm. Michael DenDekker, who first assumed office in 2009.
  • AD-36: Mamdani defeated Assm. Aravella Simotas. Simotas was first elected in 2010. She ran unopposed that year. Before Mamdani’s 2020 primary challenge, her only other contested election, general or primary, happened in 2012.
  • AD-50: Emily Gallagher defeated Assm. Joseph Lentol. Lentol was first elected in 1972. The NYC DSA did not endorse Gallagher, but she says she is a democratic socialist.
  • AD-51: Mitaynes defeated Assm. Felix Ortiz. Ortiz was first elected in 1994 and served as Assistant Speaker of the Assembly.
  • AD-57: Souffrant Forrest defeated Assm. Walter Mosley, who was first elected in 2012. Mosley will appear on the general election ballot on the Working Families Party ticket.

12 primaries featuring Democratic incumbents in the state Assembly remain uncalled. In the Senate, one such race remains uncalled.

Candidates participate in primary forum for Hawaii’s House District 20

On July 20, the four candidates running in the Democratic primary for Hawaii’s House District 20 participated in a virtual forum hosted by the Oahu County Democratic Party. 

This is the first election since 1976 when Rep. Calvin Say (D-21) will not appear on the ballot. The longtime incumbent and former House Speaker announced in May he would run instead for Honolulu City Council in 2020.

House District 20 encompasses the Honolulu neighborhoods of St. Louis Heights, Palolo, Maunalani Heights, Wilhelmina Rise, and Kaimuki.

The candidates are Kaimuki Neighborhood Board member Becky Gardner (D), state Department of Labor program specialist Jay Ishibashi (D), St. Louis Heights Neighborhood Board member Jackson Sayama (D), and attorney Derek Turbin (D).

The candidates were asked to speak about the intersection of economic and public health amid the coronavirus outbreak. All four candidates said public health should be the top priority while acknowledging the influence tourism has on the local economy. Ishibashi and Turbin suggested Hawaii begin marketing to tourists in countries with less severe coronavirus outbreaks. 

Sayama, Turbin, and Gardner also said they would prioritize creating jobs in industries distinct from tourism. Sayama mentioned growing the state’s renewable energy and cybersecurity sectors. Turbin said he would direct federal funds towards the local agriculture industry and develop a remote-worker economy. Gardner supported the Green New Deal as a means to recover from the economic downturn. 

The winner of the primary will face Julia Allen (R) in the general election.

St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorses Sherod in six-way primary for Missouri’s open Senate District 5 seat

On July 25, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch endorsed former deputy State Auditor Michelle Sherod (D) in the six-person Democratic primary for the open seat in Missouri’s Senate District 5. The paper said: “Sherod, 58, has the maturity and broad-based experience to advance [an urban-centric] agenda without brow-beating or lecturing conservatives about causes and concerns they don’t necessarily prioritize.” 

The editorial board also mentioned state Rep. Steven Roberts (D-77), another candidate in the primary, saying, “it’s important for voters to know that they have a strong alternative candidate in [Roberts], 32, … a former prosecutor,” adding, “Although Roberts has more legislative experience, Sherod clearly has more life experience.” Roberts was first elected to represent House District 77 in 2016.

Of the six candidates running, three have raised more than $10,000 according to pre-primary campaign finance reports. Sherod, Roberts, and St. Louis Alderwoman Megan Green (D) raised $138,000, $273,000, and $101,000, respectively. Each candidate reported at least $20,000 cash on hand. 

Incumbent Sen. Jamilah Nasheed (D) is not running for re-election. She was first elected to represent District 5 in 2012.

Former St. Louis Public Schools Board member Bill Haas (D), non-profit consultant McFarlane Duncan (D), and property manager Jeremiah Church (D) are also running in the primary. The winner of the Aug. 4 primary will face Michael J. Hebron Sr. (R).

Power players

“In 2019-2020, we will work to elect Democratic senators who are committed to an economy that provides opportunity and security for America’s working families and who stand up to protect the rights of all Americans.” – Senate Majority PAC website

Founded in 2010 by supporters of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Senate Majority PAC is a super PAC with the goal of supporting Democratic candidates for the U.S. Senate. As of June 30, the PAC has raised $148 million this cycle compared to $125 million for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, Senate Democrats’ official campaign PAC.

During the 2018 campaign cycle, the Senate Majority PAC reported more than $111.6 million in satellite spending, spending over $10 million each to oppose four Republican Senate candidates: Josh Hawley in Missouri ($18.0 million), Rick Scott in Florida ($15.8 million), Dean Heller in Nevada ($14.4 million), and Mike Braun in Indiana ($14.2 million). Other than Heller, each of the four won their races.

So far this cycle, the Senate Majority PAC has reported spending more than $1 million in three races, having already spent $5.2 million to oppose John James in Michigan, $3.6 million to oppose Susan Collins in Maine, and $1.9 million to oppose Steve Daines in Montana.



Kansas education board blocks governor’s order delaying school start date

The Kansas State Board of Education on July 22 voted to block an executive order issued by Governor Laura Kelly (D) that would have delayed the start of public and private school instruction in the state until after Labor Day.

Kelly issued the executive order on July 20 in light of Kansas’ recent spike in coronavirus cases. The order would have barred public and private schools in the state from holding classes from August 10 through September 8 with the goal of providing school personnel with “the opportunity to prepare for safe and effective student instruction.”

Republican lawmakers passed legislation in June that required Kelly to gain approval from the State Board of Education in order to change school opening dates. The State Board of Education is a constitutionally created board that functions as part of the executive branch. However, the board’s 10 members are elected by the public and, therefore, are not subject to direct control by the governor. The board voted 5-5 to block the order—one vote shy of the six votes that would have been required for approval.

“Our decisions must be informed by public health experts not politics,” said Kelly in a statement following the board’s decision. “This vote puts our students, faculty, their families and our economy at risk.”

Board members opposed to the executive order disagreed with the governor’s statewide approach, arguing that school opening decisions should be made at the local level. “This virus is not the same across the state,” said board member Jean Clifford.

Additional reading:



Louisiana state executive and judicial filing deadline ends July 24

On July 24, 2020, the filing deadline passed to run for state executive and judicial offices in Louisiana. Candidates filed for the following offices:

  • Louisiana Public Service Commission (two seats)
  • Louisiana Supreme Court (two seats)
  • Louisiana Circuit Courts of Appeal (13 seats)

The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election will be held on December 5. Louisiana is under a divided government and does not have a state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:
https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_Public_Service_Commission_election,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_Supreme_Court_elections,_2020
https://ballotpedia.org/Louisiana_intermediate_appellate_court_elections,_2020



Illinois Gov. Pritzker has contributed $56.5 million to campaign behind graduate income tax ballot measure

Through June 30, 2020, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) contributed $56.5 million to the campaign Vote Yes For Fairness. The campaign is backing a ballot measure to repeal the state’s constitutional requirement that the state personal income tax be a flat rate. It would, instead, allow the state to enact legislation for a graduated income tax.
Quentin Fulks, a former campaign staffer for Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s (D) 2018 gubernatorial campaign and the leader of the 501(c)(4) nonprofit Think Big Illinois, is chairperson of Vote Yes for Fairness. He said, “We’re grateful for the contribution [from Gov. Pritzker]… and we hope other individuals who have the means will step up and contribute to our effort to get the fair tax passed.”
Pritzker advocated for a graduated income tax during his campaign for governor in 2018. He defeated incumbent Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), giving Democrats control of the state Legislature and governor’s office in Illinois. In May 2019, legislative Democrats voted to pass the constitutional amendment. Legislative Republicans opposed the constitutional amendment. Legislators also passed a statute, which would go into effect upon voter approval of the constitutional amendment, to change the state’s income tax from a flat rate to six graduated rates beginning on January 1, 2021.
Opponents of the ballot measure have organized two PACs—Vote No On The Blank Check Amendment and the Coalition to Stop the Proposed Tax Hike. Vote No has not reported contributions, and the Coalition registered as a committee on July 14. Greg Baise, former president of the Illinois Manufacturers’ Association and the leader of the 501(c)(4) nonprofit Ideas Illinois, is the chairperson of Vote No On The Blank Check Amendment. Members of the Coalition include NFIB, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce, and the Illinois Farm Bureau. Todd Maisch, president of the Illinois Chamber, said, “We don’t need to spend dollar for dollar because this is, frankly, an unpopular idea once voters figure out what’s really going on. … If the proponents were certain that they had this in the bag, would they have written a $51 million check? I don’t think so.”
In Illinois, the vote requirement for constitutional amendments is either (a) 60 percent of votes cast on the ballot measure itself or (b) a simple majority of all of those voting in the election. The income tax constitutional amendment is the only ballot measure that has been placed on this year’s statewide ballot in Illinois.


Filing deadline passes for state executive and legislative candidates in Delaware

On July 14, 2020, the candidate filing period ended to run for state executive and legislative offices in Delaware. Candidates filed for the following state executive offices:
• Governor
• Lieutenant Governor

• Insurance Commissioner

All three incumbents—Governor John Carney (D), Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long (D), and Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro (D)—filed for re-election.

Candidates also filed for the following state legislative offices:
• Delaware State Senate (11 of 21 seats)

• Delaware House of Representatives (all 41 seats)

The primary is scheduled for September 15, 2020, and the general election will be held on November 3, 2020.

The next and final statewide filing deadline in the 2020 election cycle is on July 24 in Louisiana.

Delaware has a Democratic state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:


Candidate filing period for state executive candidates to end in Louisiana

The filing deadline to run for elected office in Louisiana is on July 24, 2020. In Louisiana, prospective candidates may file for two seats on the Public Service Commission.

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in the following areas:
• Baton Rouge (Mayor, city council, and other municipal seats)

• New Orleans (District attorney and judicial seats)

Louisiana does not conduct true primary elections. Instead, all candidates running for a local, state, or federal office appear on the same ballot regardless of their partisan affiliations. If a candidate wins a simple majority of all votes cast for the office (i.e., 50 percent, plus one vote), he or she wins the election outright. If no candidate meets that threshold, the top two finishers, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to a second election. In that election, the candidate who receives the greatest number of votes wins. The primary is scheduled for November 3, and the general election, if needed, is scheduled for December 5, 2020.

Louisiana’s statewide filing deadline is the last to take place in the 2020 election cycle.

Louisiana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers.

Additional reading:


Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 27 (July 15, 2020)

This week: M.J. Hegar wins Senate nomination in Texas, Super PAC spends $900,000 to support Ed Markey in Massachusetts, and Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics policy

On the news

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

On ‘cancel culture’

“A specter is haunting Western democracies. No, it is not the surging pandemic, mass death or catastrophic unemployment. It is, if you believe Donald Trump and some of his critics, the end of free speech and the advent of ‘cancel culture.’ … 

“… free speech has never been more widely available than it is today. So much so that the cacophony of voices liberated by digital media too frequently drowns out well-informed and sensible opinion. Trump, who blurts out several hot takes every day, is himself an example of the verbal incontinence enabled by Twitter in recent years. … 

“… the picture that Trump and highly prominent writers draw of narrowed and darkened intellectual horizons seems wholly unrecognizable, even paranoid.

“Could it be that increasingly diverse voices and rich conversations are a threat to their free speech — more accurately, the prerogative of famous and powerful people to speak at length on all sorts of things without interruption or disagreement? … 

“No doubt this networked minority will continue to protect its privileges by invoking various dangers to free speech. But no one should mistake its fear of obsolescence and irrelevance for any kind of liberalism.”

Pankaj Mishra, Bloomberg Opinion, July 14, 2020

 

“In recent years, there has been a marked and disquieting increase in the willingness of a raft of actors left, center, and right, both in government and in civil society, to engage in a practice and attitude of censorship and to abandon due process, presumption of innocence, and other core civil liberties.

“There have been some attempts from different quarters at a pushback against this, but the most recent such effort at a course correction is an open letter decrying the phenomenon appearing in Harper’s magazine. …

“What is true is that to limit this discussion to the acts of the extremely online mob, to, say, British author Jon Ronson’s concerns about Twitter public shaming, or to the ill-defined term ‘cancel culture,’  entirely misses the far wider atmosphere of an aggressive and accelerating threat to civil liberties.

“It is understandable that a brief open letter would not offer a catalog of episodes, but this is nevertheless unfortunate, as it allows Robinson and others to maintain a ‘nothing to see here, please move along’ stance.

“When we do in fact consider such a catalog, we find that to deny that this is happening, or to diminish it as inconsequential is untenable. There are simply too many examples.”

Leigh Phillips, Jacobin, July 12, 2020

Election results

U.S. Senate in Maine: Sara Gideon defeated Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Maine. As of 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time on July 15, Gideon had received 70%of the vote followed by Sweet and Kidman with 23% and 7% of the vote, respectively, with 87% of precincts reporting. Gideon was endorsed by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the official Senate campaign wing of the national Democratic Party. According to pre-primary campaign finance reports, she had raised $23,001,088, more than all but four other Senate candidates across the country so far in 2020. Gideon will face incumbent U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R) in the general election. Collins is one of two incumbent Republican senators running for re-election in a state that Hillary Clinton (D) won during the 2016 presidential election. Clinton received 48% of the vote in Maine to Donald Trump’s (R) 45%.

U.S. Senate in Texas:  M.J. Hegar defeated Royce West in the Democratic primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Texas. Hegar received 52% of the vote to West’s 48%. Hegar’s endorsers included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and End Citizens United. She is a former U.S. Army search and rescue and medevac pilot. Hegar ran for the U.S. House in Texas’ 31st District in 2018, losing to incumbent John Carter (R) 51% to 48%. The Texas Working Families Party and several state House members endorsed West. West has served in the state House since 1992. Incumbent Sen. John Cornyn (R) is running for re-election. Democrats last won a statewide election in Texas in 1994. In the most recent U.S. Senate election, incumbent Ted Cruz (R) defeated then-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) 51% to 48%.

Texas’ 10th Congressional District: Mike Siegel defeated Pritesh Gandhi in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 10th Congressional District. Siegel received 54% of the vote to Gandhi’s 46%. The candidates split on healthcare and climate policy, with Siegel supporting a single-payer healthcare plan and the Green New Deal and Gandhi backing a plan he described as Medicare for All who want it and a carbon fee structure to reduce emissions. The Austin American-Statesman endorsed Gandhi, while the Austin Chronicle and Houston Chronicle endorsed Siegel.

Texas’ 24th Congressional District: Candace Valenzuela defeated Kim Olson in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 24th Congressional District. Valenzuela received 60% of the vote to Olson’s 40%. Former U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro (D), U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), several members of the U.S. House, and multiple congressional caucus PACs endorsed Valenzuela, who served on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board. The Dallas Morning News, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and multiple organizations supporting military veterans in politics endorsed Olson, a retired Air Force colonel. In 2018, retiring incumbent Kenny Marchant (R) won re-election by three percentage points.

Texas’ 31st Congressional District: Donna Imam defeated Christine Eady Mann in the Democratic primary runoff for Texas’ 31st Congressional District. Imam received 57% of the vote to Eady Mann’s 43%. Imam, a computer engineer, received an endorsement from former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D), who said, “Imam is one of the most solutions-oriented candidates I’ve ever spoken to, which is no surprise as she’s an engineer and entrepreneur.” Imam will face incumbent Rep. John Carter (R) in the general election. Carter has represented the 31st District since its creation in 2003. He most recently won re-election in 2018 over M.J. Hegar (D), receiving 51 percent of the vote to Hegar’s 48 percent, the first time a Democratic candidate had won over 40 percent of the vote in the district.

U.S. Congress

Super PAC spends $900,000 supporting Markey in Mass.

The super PAC United for Massachusetts spent $900,000 on TV and digital ads saying Sen. Ed Markey was progressive on healthcare and the environment before crises developed in these areas. The Sunrise Movement and Environment America Action Fund formed the PAC. 

Markey faces U.S. Rep. Joe Kennedy in the Sept. 1 primary. Kennedy has pledged to disavow satellite spending in the race and called on Markey to do the same. Markey says he wants to allow progressive voices to be heard.

Former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer endorsed Markey on June 29, saying he’s “been leading the fight in Congress to tackle our climate crisis.”

Markey introduced a Green New Deal resolution into Congress with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) in 2019. Kennedy says he supports the Green New Deal and that Markey hasn’t done enough to implement it.

Kennedy released an ad last week saying America has left people behind and, “If you think this is as good as we can possibly be, then great, vote for the status quo. But if you believe that we actually can do better, this has to be the moment where we finally reject the policies of the past and we build something better, something stronger for the future.”

Markey has been in the Senate since 2013. He served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy has been in the U.S. House since 2013. 

Groups focused on Israel policy fundraise for Omar challenger Melton-Meaux

Antone Melton-Meaux, who is challenging Rep. Ilhan Omar (D) in Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District primary, raised $1.5 million in May. Some of his contributors cite policy differences between him and Omar on Israel as the reason for their support.

Melton-Meaux has received about $450,000 from Pro-Israel America and NORPAC. NORPAC says it supports candidates who “demonstrate a genuine commitment to the strength, security, and survival of Israel.” Pro-Israel America collected about $300,000 in individual donations for Melton-Meaux, and NORPAC collected about $150,000.

Omar has supported the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement’s approach of using economic pressure in an effort to change Israel’s policies regarding Palestine. Melton-Meaux opposes BDS. Both candidates say they support a two-state solution.

Omar has apologized for a 2012 tweet in which she said Israel “has hypnotized the world.” In 2019, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) said he would take action against Omar and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for their statements on Israel and BDS. Democratic and Republican members of Congress criticized Omar for responding that McCarthy’s statement was “all about the Benjamins,” saying she was playing on anti-Semitic tropes. Omar said she was referring to lobbying money from groups supporting Israel and apologized for her comment. 

Through March 31, Omar reported raising $3.4 million to Melton-Meaux’s $484,000. John Mason had raised $108,000. Data was unavailable for the remaining two primary candidates.

Omar was first elected in 2018. She is part of a progressive group of representatives of color known as the Squad, including Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.).

The primary is Aug. 11.

State executives

Vermont gubernatorial candidates differ on ethics regulations

Former Vermont Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe’s (D) proposed ethics rules have split two of her opponents in the Democratic gubernatorial primary.

Holcombe’s proposal, released July 9, calls for expanding the Vermont Ethics Commission’s powers as well as a five-year lobbying ban on former governors and administration officials and a two-year lobbying ban on former state legislators.

Attorney Pat Winburn said he backed Holcombe’s proposal and that lobbyists should have less influence in state politics. Holcombe’s other opponent, Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman, said her proposal went too far. 

Zuckerman said Vermont’s two-year gubernatorial terms already put the state at a disadvantage when attempting to hire top administration officials from the private sector and that a five-year lobbying ban was a step in the wrong direction. 

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Phil Scott (R), who was first elected in 2016, is running for a third term this year. Two election forecasters say Scott is likely to win and a third says he is a solid bet to win.

Vermont Auditor, challenger clash over state audit release

Vermont Auditor Doug Hoffer and primary challenger Linda Sullivan released dueling statements following Hoffer’s release of an audit of Vermont’s healthcare system. 

Sullivan, a member of the state House, criticized the timing of the report’s release. Sullivan said the report had been deliberately timed to coincide with the start of early voting in the primary. She said Hoffer’s campaign had sent a message to supporters touting the audit the same day it was published. 

Sullivan also criticized the substance of the audit, saying it did little beyond state known risk factors and describe existing problems without offering any suggestions for improvement. Sullivan campaign manager Jim Salsgiver said the report was evidence that Hoffer did not have the technical knowledge necessary to oversee an office of auditors since he was not a licensed accountant or auditor.

Hoffer, who was first elected in 2012, said Sullivan’s criticisms were politically motivated and contained multiple factual errors. He said the report was intended to be a first step in a larger audit process and that it was appropriate for his campaign to promote it since it was directly related to the responsibilities of the office. He described Sullivan’s criticism as an attempt to gain voters’ attention ahead of the primary.

The Aug. 11 primary is open to all registered voters. The winner of the Democratic nomination will face Progressive nominee Cris Ericson in the general election. No Republican candidate filed for state auditor in Vermont this year.

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Minn. state Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party warns incumbent to stop implying he received the party’s endorsement

Minnesota Democratic-Famer-Labor Party (DFL) Chairman Ken Martin wrote a letter to state Sen. Erik Simonson (D-07) last week warning him over his campaign practices. The letter requested that Simonson stop implying the party has endorsed him in the Aug. 11 primary.

In a now-inactive Facebook ad, Simonson wrote, “As a Senate DFL assistant leader, public servant and fierce advocate of Duluth, it comes as no surprise that labor and local DFL organizations are standing by Senator Simonson.”

In his letter to Simonson, Martin wrote, “I … request that you cease and desist the manner in which you reference your affiliation with the ‘DFL.’” He added, “An unendorsed candidate like you wishing to identify himself as a member of the DFL Party must use words such as ‘member of’ or ‘affiliated with’ in conjunction with the party name.” 

On May 13, we reported that challenger Jen McEwen (D) received the party’s endorsement over Simonson at a virtual convention with 70 percent of the delegate vote to Simonson’s 29 percent. McEwen’s campaign manager, Bridget Holcomb, said, “While it must be difficult for Sen. Simonson to have lost the support of local Democrats, it’s important that we all play by the rules.”

Simonson said he addressed the issues on July 9: “I wasn’t trying to be sneaky, I get it … I am an assistant minority leader of the DFL caucus in the state Senate.”

Campaign finance reports show challenger outraising incumbent in Hawaii’s House District 13

Campaign spending reports covering the period from January 1 to June 30 showed Walter Ritte (D) outraising incumbent Rep. Lynn DeCoite (D-13) in Hawaii’s House District 13. 

According to The Maui News Colleen Uechi, reports from across the state showed that “incumbent candidates unsurprisingly led the field in total campaign funds,” but that “Ritte was one of the few challengers to stay financially competitive with his opponent.” During the first half of the year, Ritte raised $39,076.83, giving him $23,127.60 cash on hand. DeCoite raised $16,050, bringing her cash total to $29,872.95.

Ritte is a Native Hawaiian activist who helped form Hui Alaloa, a group focused on water and land access rights, in the 1970s. Since then, he has been involved in a number of movements on the island of Molokai. He received endorsements from Our Revolution Hawaii, the Sierra Club, and the Hawaii State Teachers Association.

DeCoite owns and operates L&R Farms Enterprises on Molokai. She was appointed to District 13 in 2015 following the resignation of Rep. Mele Carroll (D). She won election to a full term in 2016 and was re-elected in 2018. DeCoite received contributions from the campaigns of state Sens. J. Kalani English (D-07), Michelle Kidani (D-18), Donna Kim (D-14), and Gil Keith-Agaran (D-05).

The winner of the Aug. 11 primary will face Republican Robin Vanderpool and Aloha Aina Party candidate Theresa Kapaku in the general election.

Power players

“BOLD PAC is the fastest growing Democratic Political Action Committee dedicated to increasing the diversity of our leadership in the House and Senate. It champions progressive Democrats fighting for change.” – BOLD PAC website 

BOLD PAC was founded in 2001 as the fundraising arm of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. The group says it supports “strong Hispanic candidates and candidates who embrace BOLD policies.” As of May 2020, the group said it was spending $2.75 million on 2020 congressional primaries. 

BOLD PAC Chairman Tony Cárdenas said, “BOLD PAC is proud to support Latino candidates to help hold the Democratic House majority and expand the Hispanic Caucus. Democrats made historic gains in 2018 and secured the majority in the House with the most diverse Congress in our nation’s history. With so much at stake, BOLD PAC is fully committed to building on the success of 2018 and helping elect a new wave of Latino leaders to Congress.”

Click the following links to view the group’s endorsed Hispanic candidates, endorsed candidates, and BOLD members



Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 27 (July 15, 2020)

This week: Tuberville defeats Jeff Sessions in Alabama Senate runoff, PAC spends $3 million to oppose Kobach in Kansas Senate primary, and Washington gubernatorial candidates hold debate

On the news

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

On Roger Stone

“Bill Clinton pardoned his own brother for felony distribution of cocaine. And a key witness in the Whitewater scandal for which he and Hillary Clinton were under investigation. And three others convicted in independent counsel Ken Starr’s probe. And Marc Rich, in what was a straight up political payoff. And his CIA director. And his HUD secretary. And eight people convicted in an investigation of his Agriculture Department. …

“Clinton also commuted the sentences of convicted terrorists, some of whom hadn’t even asked for clemency. Shameless as he was, though, even he couldn’t bring himself to pardon Oscar Lopez Rivera, the defiantly unrepentant FALN leader.

“President Obama took care of that.

“Obama also commuted the sentence of a U.S. soldier who passed top-secret information to WikiLeaks. He pardoned his former Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman, who’d been convicted of making false statements about a leak of classified information to the New York Times. And when he couldn’t get Congress to amend federal drug laws the way he wanted them amended, Obama used the pardon power to slash hundreds of sentences, under an executive initiative later sharply criticized by the Obama-appointed DOJ inspector general. …

“So, as abuses of the pardon power go — and they do go — I can’t get too whipped up over President Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s 40-month sentence for non-violent criminal obstruction of a bogusly based and ridiculously over-prosecuted investigation.”

Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, July 11, 2020

 

“The fact that Obama and Clinton ‘got away with it’ does not make Trump’s commutation of the sentence of his longtime political dirty trickster, Roger Stone, less of an affront to the system. …

 

“There is no defensible excuse for eliminating Stone’s sentence. Stone tried to enable a hostile foreign power to influence an election, in ways illicit and bordering on illegal, and then illegally and unambiguously lied about it. For this, he should serve jail time.

 

“There is one way in which Trump’s commutation is worse than some of the outlandish commutations and pardons from Obama and Clinton. Those earlier clemencies included neither crimes directly connected to the sanctity of our elections nor ones involving illicit foreign activities related to elections

 

“The worst of those other presidents’ clemencies also came when they were on their way out the door, leaving office and thus unable to benefit electorally from them. Trump’s action, in the run-up to the next election, sends a signal that foreign shenanigans to benefit his candidacy are likely to go unpunished. …

 

“This is corruption. It is wrong each time any president engages in it. Trump’s commutation of Stone is particularly galling and is one more sign of his unfitness for the presidency.”

Quin Hillyer, Washington Examiner, July 13, 2020 

Election results

U.S. Senate in Alabama: Tommy Tuberville defeated Jeff Sessions in the Republican primary runoff for U.S. Senate in Alabama. Tuberville received 61% of the vote to Sessions’ 39%. President Donald Trump endorsed Tuberville, a former college football coach. Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before Trump appointed him as U.S. attorney general in 2017. Club for Growth PAC and FarmPAC—the political action committee of the Alabama Farmers Federation—were among Tuberville’s other endorsers. Sessions’ endorsers included the National Rifle Association Political Victory Fund, the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council, and several U.S. senators. Tuberville will face incumbent Sen. Doug Jones (D) in November. Roll Call named Jones the most vulnerable incumbent senator up for re-election in 2020.

Alabama’s 1st Congressional District: Jerry Carl defeated Bill Hightower in the Republican primary for Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Carl had 52% of the vote to Hightower’s 48%. Alabama Daily News‘ Todd Stacy described the race as “a battle between the activist and business wings of the Republican Party.” Carl received endorsements from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the outgoing incumbent Rep. Bradly Byrne (R). Hightower received endorsements from the National Right to Life and Club for Growth, which spent over $1 million in the race primarily opposing Carl.

Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District: Barry Moore defeated Jeff Coleman in the Republican primary runoff for Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. Moore received 60% of the vote to Coleman’s 40%. Incumbent Martha Roby (R) did not seek re-election, leaving this safe Republican district open. Moore served in the state House from 2010 to 2018 and is a U.S. Army and Alabama National Guard and Reserves veteran. Club for Growth PAC, the House Freedom Fund, and Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.) were among his endorsers. Coleman is chairman of Coleman Worldwide Moving. His endorsers included Roby, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the Business Council of Alabama.

Maine’s 2nd Congressional District: As of 10:45 a.m. Eastern Time on July 15, the Republican primary in Maine’s 2nd Congressional District remained too close to call. With 86% of precincts reporting, Dale Crafts led with 44.8% of the vote to Adrienne Bennett’s 32.4% and Eric Brakey’s 22.8%. The primary was carried out using ranked-choice voting, in which voters rank candidates from their first to their third choice. Should no candidate receive more than 50% of the vote in the final tally, the last-place candidate will be eliminated and their voters’ votes distributed to their second-choice candidate. The winner will face incumbent Jared Golden (D), who unseated Bruce Poliquin (R) in 2018.

Texas’ 13th Congressional District: Ronny Jackson defeated Josh Winegarner in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 13th Congressional District. Jackson received 56% of the vote to Winegarner’s 44%. President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) endorsed Jackson. Incumbent Rep. Mac Thornberry (R), who did not seek re-election, endorsed Winegarner, along with U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Lance Gooden (R-Texas), and Kenny Marchant (R-Texas). Thornberry, who was first elected in 1994, won his last election in 2018 by a margin of victory of 65 percentage points. 

Texas’ 17th Congressional District: Pete Sessions defeated Renee Swann in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 17th Congressional District. Sessions received 54% of the vote to Swann’s 47%. Sessions was a member of Congress from 1997 to 2019, representing Texas’ 32nd Congressional District (2003-2019) and Texas’ 5th Congressional District (1997-2003). He campaigned on his record and said he voted in support of Trump 98% of the time. Incumbent Rep. Bill Flores (R) endorsed Swann, citing her desire to work with President Trump and her stances on immigration and social issues. Swann’s campaign highlighted her experience in business and healthcare. Flores won re-election by 15 percentage points in 2018. 

Texas’ 22nd Congressional District election: Troy Nehls defeated Kathaleen Wall in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 22nd Congressional District. Nehls received 70% of the vote to Wall’s 30%. The Houston Chronicle, SEAL PAC, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Nehls. U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R), the National Association for Gun Rights, and the Susan B. Anthony List endorsed Wall. According to campaign finance reports, Wall spent $2 million to Nehls’ $98,000 between April 1 and June 24. Incumbent Pete Olson (R), who was first elected in 2008, did not seek re-election. Since 1979, Republicans have represented the district for all but two years, when Nick Lampson held the seat from 2007 to 2009. In 2018, Olson won re-election 51.4% to 46.5%. 

Texas’ 23rd Congressional District: Tony Gonzales and Raul Reyes Jr. ran in the Republican primary runoff for Texas’ 23rd Congressional District. As of 8:30 a.m. Central Time on July 15, the race was too close to call with 100% of precincts reporting. Gonzales and Reyes each had 50.0% of the vote. A margin of seven votes—0.028% of the total votes cast—separated them. Incumbent Will Hurd (R), who was first elected in 2014, did not seek re-election. Both Gonzales and Reyes highlighted their military backgrounds. Gonzales served in the Navy, and Reyes served in the Air Force. President Donald Trump (R), U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and U.S. Reps. Hurd, Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), and Steve Scalise (R-La.) endorsed Gonzales. U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Young Conservatives of Texas, Texas Family Action, and Texas Right to Life endorsed Reyes. Hurd won his last election in 2018 49.2-48.7%.

U.S. Congress

PAC spends $3 million opposing Kobach in Senate primary in KS

Plains PAC announced $3 million in spending opposing Kris Kobach in the Senate primary in Kansas. The group released an ad criticizing Kobach’s 2018 gubernatorial election defeat and says he employed an aide with a history of making racist comments. Kobach’s campaign fired the aide, and Kobach denounced the comments. 

Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state from 2011 to 2019, defeated incumbent Jeff Colyer in the 2018 gubernatorial primary. He lost to Democrat Laura Kelly in the general election 43% to 48%.  

U.S. Chamber Action, affiliated with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, spent $400,000 on an ad campaign supporting U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall in the primary. The group’s ad says Marshall, a veteran, fought for educational and economic opportunities for veterans. Marshall was first elected in 2016. 

As we recently covered, Club for Growth Action suspended its ad campaign opposing Marshall. The group had planned to spend $2.1 million in the primary.

Meanwhile, Marshall released an ad criticizing Bob Hamilton, saying he hired someone in the country illegally to work for his plumbing business and put families in danger. Hamilton’s campaign said the employee in question stole an identity and Hamilton did not know he was in the country illegally.

The primary is Aug. 4. Eleven candidates are on the ballot. Incumbent Pat Roberts (R), first elected in 1996, is not seeking re-election. Three election forecasters rate the general election Lean or Likely Republican.

Club for Growth spends $550,000 supporting Hill in TN-01

Club for Growth Action spent $550,000 on an ad campaign supporting Timothy Hill for Tennessee’s 1st Congressional District. The ad says Hill would support President Donald Trump (R) on term limits for members of Congress and defend law enforcement against defunding efforts. 

Hill has served in the Tennessee House of Representatives since 2012.

Sixteen candidates are running in the Aug. 6 Republican primary. Incumbent Phil Roe (R), first elected in 2008, isn’t seeking re-election. This is a safe Republican district.

Center for Responsive Politics data as of July 14 showed Club for Growth Action had spent to support or oppose 49 candidates in the 2020 election cycle. The group’s expenditures supporting Hill were their eighth-highest on any candidate and their fourth-highest in support of a candidate.

After the Club for Growth endorsed him, Hill said, “The question is not ultimately whether the First Congressional District will be Republican. … It’s will we be conservative, and that’s where those endorsements, that’s where those groups are coming in and saying, ‘hey, we think we can make a difference, Timothy has demonstrated that he’s conservative.'”   

A Spry Strategies poll showed pharmacist Diana Harshbarger leading the primary field with 22% support among likely voters. Rusty Crowe, a state senator, was second with 14%, and Hill was third with 11%. Twenty-one percent of respondents said they were undecided.

The poll included nine of the 16 candidates by name and had a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points.

State executives

Seven Republican candidates for governor of Washington discuss homelessness, pandemic response, in debate

The Clark County Republican Women hosted a debate attended by seven Republican candidates for governor of Washington on July 9. The candidates discussed Washington’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as well as their proposals to address homelessness.

Fundraising leader Loren Culp, the chief of police for the town of Republic, criticized incumbent Jay Inslee (D) for ordering businesses to close and residents to remain in their homes during the pandemic. Culp said Inslee’s order was unconstitutional and that he should have focused on making sure the public was aware of the risks associated with the pandemic instead. Culp said he would offer homeless individuals accused of substance abuse a choice between treatment or prison.

Tim Eyman, an activist and the sponsor of 17 measures that have appeared on Washington’s statewide ballot in the past 22 years, said the issues of homelessness and the coronavirus pandemic were related. Eyman said while homelessness was a problem before the pandemic began, Inslee’s orders shutting down businesses and government services had made the situation worse.

State Sen. Phil Fortunato, the only current elected officeholder among the Republican gubernatorial candidates, said Inslee’s response to the coronavirus had frozen most sectors of the state’s economy. Fortunato said Washington did not have a clear and consistent standard for determining which businesses were essential. He said Washington’s homeless population had grown because cases where homeless individuals were accused of committing a crime were not being prosecuted.

Businessman Joshua Freed, the former Mayor of Bothell, said he had successfully sued the Inslee administration over regulations prohibiting religious gatherings during the pandemic. Freed proposed the state launch a public/private partnership to give homeless addicts the option of undergoing a one-year treatment program or going to jail.

Raul Garcia, a physician, said he was concerned by what he described as a need to control the people on behalf of the state government during the pandemic. Garcia compared the feeling to growing up in his native Cuba under Fidel Castro. He said the best option for reducing Washington’s homeless population would be to create a program offering the homeless addiction treatment and job training.

Businessman Anton Sakharov said Washington should have been better prepared for the coronavirus pandemic. He said all businesses should have been allowed to remain open. Sakharov said he would seek to reduce Washington’s homeless population by 90% within three years of taking office and proposed a partnership between state, city, and county governments to meet that goal.

Businessman Martin Wheeler criticized the economic shutdown Gov. Inslee ordered, saying it had had a particularly strong effect on rural areas. Wheeler said expanding law enforcement’s power to combat drug trafficking while expanding training for mental health professionals would be the most effective way to reduce rates of homelessness.

The seven are among the 36 gubernatorial candidates who will appear on the Aug. 4 top-two primary ballot. The top two finishers, regardless of partisan affiliation, will advance to the November general election. Sakharov will appear on the ballot as a member of the Trump Republican Party while the other six are running as members of the Republican Party. In all, there are 11 Republican Party candidates, three Trump Republican Party candidates, and one Pre-2016 Republican Party candidate among the 36.

Erin Stewart launches PAC to change the direction of the Connecticut GOP, sparking questions about a 2022 gubernatorial run

Fourth-term New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart (R) announced on July 7 she would launch a political action committee supporting what she described as moderate Republican candidates in this year’s state elections. Stewart’s said the PAC is part of an effort to change the ideological direction of the state GOP. It has fuelled speculation among political observers that she is planning a run for governor in 2022.

Stewart’s new effort is a relaunch of STEWPAC, the political action committee supporting her mayoral campaigns. Stewart said the new STEWPAC’s mission would be to promote Republican state legislative candidates who share her policy priorities. In an interview with the Hartford Courant, Stewart said the GOP should emphasize its stances on the role of government and fiscal policy: “We have to elevate our voices even louder to say ‘Here’s why you should vote for Republican ideology — less government, pro-business, not necessarily the things spewing from President Trump.”

Stewart has served as mayor of New Britain, Connecticut’s eighth-largest city, since 2013. She won the 2019 mayoral election 61% to 37%. In the 2016 presidential election, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump in New Britain 69%-27%. Stewart says her brand of politics is the key to the Connecticut GOP’s future success: “I know if the Republican Party wants to survive in this state, they need to change the narrative — they need to start listening to people like me.”

Some political observers have suggested Stewart’s move could foreshadow a run for governor in 2022. Stewart ran for governor briefly in 2018 before switching to the lieutenant gubernatorial primary, where she lost to state Sen. Joe Markley (R) 48% to 33%.

 

Legislatures

*The number of incumbents who did seek re-election is provided for the 41 states whose 2020 filing deadlines have already passed. The number of incumbents defeated in primaries is provided for the 24 states that have already held state legislative primaries in 2020.

Satellite spending opposing incumbent senator in Missouri’s Senate District 23

The Republican primary in Missouri’s Senate District 23 has seen an influx of satellite spending from the Missouri-based political committee Voters for Good Government with mailers opposing incumbent Sen. Bill Eigel (R-23) and supporting one of his primary opponents, attorney Eric Wulff (R). A third candidate, Dan O’Connell (R), is also running in the primary. Earlier this month, the group received a $390,000 donation from the national political committee Americans for Limited Government, a portion of which has been spent in District 23.

Typical of the mailers are images of Eigel with text saying the incumbent supports “de-funding law enforcement … funding Planned Parenthood … [and] raising taxes.”

Eigel is a co-founder of the legislature’s six-member Conservative Caucus, which, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jack Suntrup, “routinely needles GOP leadership and others, pushing an agenda that supports charter schools and opposes income taxes and corporate incentives.” He received endorsements from Gov. Mike Parsons (R), the Missouri Right to Life, and the National Rifle Association.

In response to the mailers, Eigel asked, “Why would Eric Wulff be funded by $390,000 in secret money to lie about me?” He added, “They’re mad that I work for the people, not the establishment.”

William Hardin, treasurer of Voters for Good Government, said, “The word was out there that I wanted to do something in that race and a contribution came.” He said the decision was not based on Eigel’s Conservative Caucus membership, adding that he made a $2,500 contribution to one of the caucus’ members, Sen. Eric Burlison (R-20). Hardin added that the entire $390,000 donation will not be spent in District 23.

Wulff is an attorney and a municipal judge in St. Charles. He previously served on the Orchard Farm School Board. Regarding the mailers, Wulf said Voters for Good Government seemed “very sympathetic to me … They like me a whole lot more than Bill Eigel.” Wulff supports increased funding for public schools and incentives for a local GM plant, positions he described as counter to Eigel’s.

Fiona McFarland receives endorsement from Sarasota County Commissioner in Florida’s House District 72 primary

On July 10, Sarasota County Commissioner Charles Hines (R) endorsed Fiona McFarland (R) in Florida’s House District 72. McFarland faces Donna Barcomb and Jason Miller in the three-way Republican primary. The incumbent, Rep. Margaret Good (D-72), is not seeking re-election.

McFarland is a U.S. Navy reservist and consultant with McKinsey and Company. In his endorsement of her campaign, Hines said, “[McFarland’s] military service to our country combined with her fresh outlook and energy … are characteristics we need right now in government.”

Barcomb is a member of the Sarasota County Charter Review Board, a countywide elected position, and the owner of an outpatient physical therapy clinic. She previously served on the Sarasota Hospital Board. Barcomb received an endorsement from County Commissioner and former state Sen. Nancy Detert (R).

Miller is a U.S. Army reservist and an assistant attorney general with the criminal appeals division of the Florida Attorney General’s office. He previously served as assistant state attorney in the area. Miller received endorsements from fellow assistant attorneys general, Jeffrey Seigal and Clifford Chapman.

As of June 26, McFarland led the field with $175,199 cash on hand followed by Barcomb with $70,952 and Miller with $2,941.

According to Florida Politics’ Jacob Ogles, “District 72 is among a handful of House seats where voters in 2016 favored Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton but are held by Democrats.” The winner of the primary will face attorney Drake Buckman (D) in the general election.

Joseph Orgeron wins special election for Louisiana House District 54 outright

On July 11, voters in Louisiana’s House District 54 cast their ballots in a special primary to fill the remainder of the late Rep. Reggie Bagala’s (R) term. Joseph Orgeron (R) won the election outright after receiving 55 percent of the vote in the six-way primary, more than the 50 percent needed to avoid a later general election. 

Orgeron received endorsements from the Republican parties in Jefferson and Lafourche Parish, both of which make up a bulk of District 54. The special election was open to members of any party, but only Republican challengers filed.

Power players

“Concerned Women for America is the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization with a rich 40-year history of helping our members across the country bring Biblical principles into all levels of public policy.” – Concerned Women for America

Founded in 1979, Concerned Women for America says its mission is to “protect and promote Biblical values among all citizens – first through prayer, then education, and finally by influencing our society – thereby reversing the decline in moral values in our nation.” The group defines its core issues as follows: sanctity of life, defense of family, education, religious liberty, national sovereignty, sexual exploitation, and support for Israel. To view a list of the organization’s concerns and goals related to these issues, click here.

The Concerned Women for America Legislative Action Committee (CWALAC) endorsed the following candidates in 2020, whom it says meet “qualifications required for leadership with regards to CWALAC’s seven core issues:” 

U.S. Senate: Cynthia Lummis (Wyoming) and Daniel Gade (Virginia)

U.S. House: Kathaleen Wall (TX-22), Beth Parlato (NY-27), Amy Phan West (CA-47), Darrell Issa (CA-50), and Tina Ramirez (VA-07).



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