TagState executive

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 10 (March 18, 2020)

This week: Ohio, Kentucky, and Maryland postpone primaries, Newman defeats incumbent Lipinski in IL-03, and Tzintzún Ramirez endorses West in Texas Senate runoff

Election update

Ohio among three states to postpone primaries—decision made less than 24 hours before polls open 

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) announced Monday night that polls would be closed on Tuesday by the order of the state health director. Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) postponed in-person voting to June 2.

Ohio was scheduled to hold primaries for president, the state’s 16 U.S. House seats, both chambers of the state legislature, the Ohio Supreme Court, and local elections Tuesday. 

DeWine said:

During this time when we face an unprecedented public health crisis, to conduct an election tomorrow would force poll workers and voters to place themselves at an unacceptable health risk of contracting coronavirus.

Later Monday, Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams (R) announced that he and Gov. Andy Beshear (D) had agreed to postpone the state’s primary from May 19 to June 23. 

On Tuesday, Gov. Larry Hogan (R) postponed Maryland’s primary from April 28 to June 2. The special election for Elijah Cummings’ U.S. House seat will still take place April 28 but will be conducted via mail-in ballot only.

For an account of events related to the postponements, and for details on changes to the election calendar in other states, click here.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from March 17.

Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District: With 99% of precincts reporting, Marie Newman defeated incumbent Rep. Daniel Lipinski 47.1% to 44.8%. 

Lipinski, who was first elected in 2004, said he was “the common-sense Democrat” and criticized what he called Newman’s socialist ideology and leftist fantasies. Newman said Lipinski was not a real Democrat. She said, “Since 2004, my opponent has ignored the concerns of wide swaths of his constituency. He voted against the Affordable Care Act, against the Dream Act, and has repeatedly stood with the Republican party to attack workers, women and the LGBTQ community.” Lipinski and Newman faced off in the district’s 2018 Democratic primary. Lipinski won that contest, 51.1% to 48.9%. 

A Democrat has represented the district since 1975, and major race rating outlets view the general election as Solid Democratic or Safe Democratic.

Illinois’ 7th Congressional District: Incumbent Danny Davis won Illinois’ 7th Congressional District Democratic primary. With 95% of precincts reporting, Davis had 61% of the vote. Davis was first elected in 1996. The Chicago Tribune, U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Lt. Gov. Juliana Stratton (D) endorsed Davis.

Cook County state’s attorney: Incumbent Kim Foxx won the Cook County state’s attorney Democratic primary. With 97% of precincts reporting, Foxx received 50% of the vote. Bill Conway followed with 31%. Four candidates ran. 

The election occurred against the backdrop of the case of former Empire actor Jussie Smollett, who filed a police report January 2019 alleging he was attacked. Smollett was later charged with multiple counts related to filing a false police report. Foxx dropped the charges against Smollett in March 2019 in favor of an alternative prosecution program. Foxx’s 2020 Democratic primary challengers criticized her handling of the case, while she defended it.

Conway raised $11.4 million to Foxx’s $3.6 million as of March 7.

On the news

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

“America’s catastrophically inadequate response to the coronavirus can be attributed largely to bad short-term decisions by one man. And I do mean short-term: At every stage, Donald Trump minimized the threat and blocked helpful action because he wanted to look good for the next news cycle or two, ignoring and intimidating anyone who tried to give him good advice. …

[T]here are only two potential loci of intelligent economic policymaking left in Washington. One is the Federal Reserve; the other is the congressional Democratic leadership. At this point, in other words, it’s pretty much up to Jay Powell, the Fed chairman, and Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House; the question is whether Trump and Senate Republicans will let them save the economy. … 

It’s now up to Powell and Pelosi to rescue the economy, and Trump and company need to get out of their way.”

Paul Krugman, The New York Times, March 16, 2020

“There’s an easy way to tell that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi negotiated a bad deal on the bipartisan coronavirus response bill that Congress is expected to pass this week. It’s not the liberal complaints that she let the White House limit paid sick leave to about one-fifth of U.S. workers. It’s not the Republican complaints that the bill doesn’t provide tax relief and cash for businesses and individuals hurt by the pandemic. It’s not even the general consensus that this initial legislation will need to be followed up by a much more aggressive economic stimulus bill.

No, the easy way to tell Pelosi negotiated a bad deal for Democrats is that she negotiated a deal at all—rather than dictating the terms and telling President Donald Trump to take them or leave them.

The lesson of the last congressional response to an economic emergency, President Barack Obama’s 2009 stimulus bill, is that when a president desperately needs legislation to address a crisis, anyone with the power to stop him can decide what’s in it.” 

Michael Grunwald, Politico, March 17, 2020

U.S. Congress

Tzintzún Ramirez endorses West in Senate primary runoff in Texas

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez, the third-place finisher in the March 3 primary for Senate in Texas, endorsed Royce West in the May 26 primary runoff. West faces M.J. Hegar in that contest. 

Hegar received 22.3% of the primary vote, and West received 14.5%. Tzintzún Ramirez got 13.2%.

Michael Cooper, who received 5% of the vote, also endorsed West.

National groups including the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, End Citizens United, and Giffords PAC endorsed Hegar ahead of the primary. West’s endorsers include four of his state Senate colleagues and 16 members of the state House. 

Tzintzún Ramirez’s backers included Reps. Joaquin Castro (D) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D) and the Working Families Party. 

The runoff winner faces incumbent John Cornyn (R) in the November general election.

Kennedy campaign says DSCC blocked joint fundraising effort

Joseph Kennedy’s campaign said the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has blocked his effort to form a joint fundraising committee with other Democratic candidates for U.S. Senate. Kennedy, who represents the state’s 4th congressional district, is challenging Sen. Ed Markey in Massachusetts’ Sept. 1 primary.

Kennedy’s campaign said he tried to enter a joint fundraising agreement with four Democratic Senate candidates running for seats currently held by Republicans: Barbara Bollier in Kansas, Cal Cunningham in North Carolina, Sara Gideon in Maine, and Jamie Harrison in South Carolina.

Victoria McGrane of The Boston Globe reported of Kennedy’s offer, 

The candidates were receptive, and everything appeared to be moving forward smoothly until the Kennedy team got a call from one of the other campaigns saying the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee had told them they could not enter into an agreement with the Newton Democrat, according to a Kennedy campaign aide.

McGrane wrote, 

Joint fund-raising arrangements, which are federally regulated, allow participants to share the overhead costs of raising cash. They also mean wealthy donors can write one big check to the fund, which then splits the money among participants.

McGrane reported the DSCC and the Bollier, Cunningham, Gideon, and Harrison campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.

The DSCC supports Markey in the primary. The group has a policy of supporting incumbent Democratic senators. 

Kennedy reported raising $4 million by the end of 2019 to Markey’s $4.6 million.

State executives

Rebecca Holcombe leads Vermont gubernatorial candidates in fundraising, wins endorsement from former Gov. Kunin

According to financial reports filed Sunday, former Vermont education secretary  Rebecca Holcombe leads the field of Democratic gubernatorial candidates in fundraising.

Since launching her campaign, Holcombe has raised $380,000 to Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman’s $160,000 and attorney Patrick Winburn’s $110,000. Holcombe has reported contributions from 1,210 individual donors to Zuckerman’s 1,126 and Winburn’s nine.

Former Gov. Madeleine Kunin (D), who was elected in 1984 and served through 1991, endorsed Holcombe March 11.

The candidate filing deadline is May 28. The August 11 primary is open to all registered voters.

Joe Manchin, AFL-CIO endorse Ben Salango for West Virginia Democratic gubernatorial nomination

Kanawha County Commissioner Ben Salango (D) won the endorsements of Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and the state branch of the AFL-CIO in his bid for West Virginia’s Democratic gubernatorial nomination. 

The AFL-CIO endorsed Salango Monday, saying he was committed to the state’s working people. In the 2016 election, the group declined to endorse in the Democratic primary and backed Democratic nominee Jim Justice in the general election. Justice, who is running for re-election this year, joined the Republican Party in August 2017.

Manchin, who was elected governor in 2004 and re-elected in 2008, is one of two Democrats to hold a statewide elected partisan office in West Virginia.

Five candidates, including Salango, activist Stephen Smith, and state Sen. Ron Stollings, are running in the May 12 Democratic primary. The winner will face the Republican nominee in the November general election. Democrats have won each of the past six West Virginia gubernatorial elections.

Terry Van Duyn declines to seek runoff in North Carolina lieutenant gubernatorial race

Second-place finisher Terry Van Duyn announced March 10 that she would not pursue a runoff in the Democratic primary for lieutenant governor of North Carolina. Van Duyn’s decision means that Yvonne Lewis Holley wins the Democratic nomination outright. North Carolina law allows the second-place candidate to request a runoff if no candidate receives more than 30% of the vote. Lewis Holley will face Mark Robinson (R) in the general election.


Oregon state Rep. Mitchell does not file for re-election following a recall effort

The filing deadline for state legislative candidates in Oregon passed last week and incumbent state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell (D-32) decided not to seek re-election. Mitchell was first elected to Oregon’s 32nd House District in 2018, defeating Vineeta Lower (R) 49-32. In September 2019, an effort to recall Mitchell from her position was launched. Supporters of the recall effort failed to gather the required 4,883 signatures within 90 days.

Two candidates are currently filed to run for the Democratic nomination: Debbie Booth-Schmidt and George Kiepke. A Democrat has represented the district, which covers much of Clatsop County in northwestern Oregon, for nearly two decades.

Candidate drops out of Kentucky House race over concerns about age requirements

The Democratic primary for Kentucky’s open 56th House District narrowed to two candidates last week after Ben Nolan (D) withdrew his candidacy. Nolan cited ambiguities surrounding his age as a major reason for the withdrawal. 

In Kentucky, a state representative must be at least 24 years old. Nolan, 23, will not turn 24 until fifteen days after the general election. 

In a statement regarding his withdrawal, Nolan said, “I cannot spend contributors’ money or ask for contributions when the favorable result could very well lead us into an unknown territory of complications.”

Lamar Allen and Bob Gibson remain in the primary for the Democratic nomination to represent House District 56. The current incumbent, Rep. Joe Graviss (D-56), is not seeking re-election.

New Mexico state senator faces primary in first election after being appointed to seat formerly held by her grandfather

Incumbent State Sen. Shannon Pinto (D-3) could face a three-way primary to be the Democratic nominee for Senate District 3 in New Mexico. Dineh Benally and Shawn Nelson have both filed to run in the Democratic primary.

This will be Pinto’s first election. In 2018, her grandfather, John Pinto (D), ran unopposed in the district. He passed away in May 2019 after serving in the New Mexico State Senate since 1977. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) appointed Shannon Pinto to the seat in July 2019.

Power players

“We influence policy, hold politicians accountable, and win elections. This is how we fight to build a world with clean air, clean water, public lands, and a safe climate that are protected by a just and equitable democracy.” – League of Conservation Voters website

The League of Conservation Voters (LCV) is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization that describes itself as a “potent political force for protecting our planet and everyone who inhabits it.” LCV says it has “built a powerful national movement with more than 2 million members, 30 state affiliates, and grassroots and community organizing programs across the country.” 

LCV released its 2019 National Environmental Scorecard on March 12.  According to The Hill, “Republicans and Democrats both saw improvements on a conservation group’s annual assessment of environmental voting records last year, though the new report largely praised Democrats while criticizing Republicans. … Republicans in both chambers had an average score of less than 13 percent, according to an LCV spokesperson, compared to an 8-percent average in 2018.” 

The LCV Action Fund endorses candidates it deems “environmental champions who will address the climate crisis and advance a more equitable clean energy future.” To view candidates endorsed by the LCV Action Fund, click here.

In addition to the LCV Action Fund, other groups affiliated with LCV are the LCV Education Fund, the LCV Victory Fund, and the LCV Political Engagement Fund.

Seven candidates file to run for governor of Montana

The statewide filing deadline to run for elected office in Montana passed on March 9, 2020. Seven candidates filed to run for governor of the state. Steve Bullock (D), Montana’s current governor, was prohibited from running for re-election due to state term limits that restrict a governor to two four-year terms within a 16-year period. Bullock was first elected to the office in 2012 and won re-election in 2016.

Candidates from the Democratic, Republican, Green, and Libertarian parties filed for the 2020 governor’s race.

Democratic Party:
• Mike Cooney
• Whitney Williams

Republican Party:
• Tim Fox
• Greg Gainforte
• Albert Olszewski

Green Party:
• Robert Barb

Libertarian Party:
• Lyman Bishop

Each candidate must participate in his or her party’s respective primary scheduled for June 2, 2020. The primary winners will advance to the general election on November 3, 2020.

Candidates for Montana governor run on a joint ticket with their chosen lieutenant governor running mate. This means that voters select the governor and lieutenant governor together as one unit, rather than voting separately for the two offices.

Montana is one of 11 states holding gubernatorial elections in 2020. Of those 11 seats up for election, Democrats hold four and Republicans hold seven.

Montana has a divided government, and no political party holds a state government trifecta. A trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and majorities in both state legislative chambers. As of March 13, 2020, there are 21 Republican trifectas, 15 Democratic trifectas, and 14 divided governments where neither party holds trifecta control.

Additional reading:
Governor of Montana
Montana elections, 2020
Gubernatorial elections, 2020

Recall petition targeting California Attorney General Xavier Becerra approved for circulation

A petition seeking the recall of California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (D) was approved for circulation by the California Secretary of State on March 11, 2020. Supporters of the recall have until August 18 to collect 1,470,760 signatures to force a recall election.

The recall petition alleges that Becerra mismanaged the state’s legal system, wasted public money and resources, lacks leadership, and has been hostile with his policy oversight. The recall against Becerra is being led by Erin Cruz and 10 others. Cruz filed an unsuccessful recall against Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) in 2019. Cruz turned in 281,917 valid signatures in that recall effort on February 13, 2020. Supporters of that recall needed 1,495,709 signatures to force a recall election.

In response to the recall effort, Becerra said that he has “… protected the air you breathe, the water you drink…your right to privacy…and your children from sexual predators. I’ve been fighting for California values all my life. That’s my job now as AG: to protect the safety, well-being and future of our families. I will never back down.”

Becerra was appointed to be California’s attorney general in 2017 by Gov. Jerry Brown (D) after Kamala Harris (D) was sworn into the U.S. Senate. He was elected to the position in 2018 with 64% of the vote.

California became a Democratic trifecta in 2011. A state government trifecta exists when one political party simultaneously holds the governor’s office and both state legislative chambers. Democrats control the state Assembly by a 61-18 margin with one vacancy and the state Senate by a 29-10 margin with one vacancy. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) succeeded Jerry Brown (D) as governor in 2019.

Additional reading:
Xavier Becerra
Political recall efforts, 2020

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 9 (March 11, 2020)

This week: Susan B. Anthony List partner announces pro-Lipinski spending in IL-03, McDowell endorses Valenzuela in TX-24 runoff, and PA Rep. draws primary challenge for first time in two decades

On the news

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

“According to Broockman and Kalla’s figures, Sanders loses a significant number of swing votes to Trump, but he makes up for them in support from young people who say they won’t vote, or will vote third party, unless Sanders is the nominee. On the surface, these Bernie-or-bust voters might seem like an argument for Sanders. After all, Sanders partisans sometimes insist that Democrats have no choice but to nominate their candidate because they’ll stay home otherwise, a sneering imitation of traditional centrist demands for progressive compromise.

But if Broockman and Kalla are right, by nominating Sanders, Democrats would be trading some of the electorate’s most reliable voters for some of its least. To prevail, Democrats would need unheard-of rates of youth turnout. That doesn’t necessarily mean Sanders would be a worse candidate than Joe Biden, given all of Biden’s baggage. It does mean polls might be underestimating how hard it will be for Sanders to beat Trump. …

In our age of extreme polarization, a widespread school of thought holds that swing voters are nearly extinct, and that turnout is everything. But that’s an exaggeration. While there seem to be fewer swing voters than in the past, they can still be decisive.

Michelle Goldberg, The New York Times, March 2, 2020


“In a recent piece in The New York Times, Michelle Goldberg describes academic research arguing that persuasion rather than higher turnout will be the critical factor in the upcoming presidential election. According to a piece of academic research she cites, electing a Democrat based on higher turnout would require a surge, especially among young voters, that would have to exceed the Obama surge among black voters in 2008.

These researchers think that is improbable. In fact, increasing turnout is the most likely path to Democratic victory. That is true whoever is the ultimate Democratic nominee. … 

More than anything, Democrats need a candidate—and campaign messaging—that inspires people. Inspiration addresses many of the most profound reasons people don’t vote. It makes potential voters feel empowered, and it makes voting seem important because it makes the outcome of the election a result that affects them and their personal aspirations as part of the campaign team—not just something that they observe as a spectator.”

Robert Creamer, The American Prospect, March 5, 2020

U.S. Congress

Susan B. Anthony List partner announces pro-Lipinski spending in IL-03

Women Speak Out PAC, a group affiliated with Susan B. Anthony List, announced a five-figure campaign supporting Rep. Daniel Lipinski in Illinois’ 3rd Congressional District primary. The campaign will include digital ads, direct mail, and phone calls. 

Mallory Quigley, national spokeswoman for Women Speak Out PAC, said, “Congressman Lipinski has been a champion of commonsense, compassionate, and popular legislation to stop taxpayer funding of abortion, to end late-term abortion, and to protect babies born-alive after failed abortions. The current Democratic leadership may say there is no room for voices like Dan’s in their party, but we need him now more than ever.

Quigley called candidate Marie Newman, who also challenged Lipinski in 2018, “an abortion extremist who supports a radical agenda of abortion on demand through birth, and even beyond.”

Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL endorsed Newman. A line of her platform reads, “Reproductive health care for all, including access to birth control and abortion.”

Lipinski, Newman, Rush Darwish, and Charles Hughes are running in the March 17 primary.

Susan B. Anthony List reported six-figure spending on digital ads supporting Lipinksi in the 2018 Democratic primary against Newman. Lipinski won that race 51.1% to Newman’s 48.9%.

Also last week, Newman released an ad highlighting Lipinski’s vote against Obamacare, saying he would deny coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Lipinski’s campaign has called Newman’s healthcare position extreme and said her plan would take away people’s healthcare, put them on government plans, and raise taxes.

Romanoff wins Colorado caucus Senate preference poll

As of Monday night, preliminary results from the Colorado caucus Senate preference poll showed former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff with 55% support to former Governor and former presidential candidate John Hickenlooper’s 30%. None of the three other candidates reached 10%. The caucuses took place Saturday.

The caucus preference poll is part of the process for determining who makes the June 30 primary election ballot. Denver’s 5280 magazine explains the process:There are two ways to get on the primary ballot in Colorado. First, candidates can petition for signatures. … Candidates can also choose to go through the caucus and assembly process. The ultimate goal for Senate candidates is to get enough support at the caucus (15 percent in the preference poll) to move on to the county and state assemblies. If a candidate gets at least 30 percent of the vote at the state assembly, he or she will make the June ballot.

Worth noting: Candidates can gather signatures and go through the caucus process, they don’t have to choose one or the other. However, there is some risk to doing that. If a candidate gathers enough valid signatures but fails to get at least 10 percent of the vote at the state assembly, he or she will not make the ballot.

Romanoff is going through the caucus process to reach the ballot. Hickenlooper is going through the caucus and signature process.

John Frank and Jesse Paul of The Colorado Sun wrote, “The results from the Saturday caucuses are expected to give Romanoff’s overlooked campaign a jolt of momentum, but the preference poll is not a reliable predictor of which candidate will win the Democratic nomination in the June primary.” 

Turnout was around 1% of registered Democrats in the state.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Hickenlooper shortly after he announced his Senate bid in August 2019. Former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.), founder of Giffords: Courage to Fight Gun Violence, endorsed Hickenlooper Monday. He also has support from NARAL.Romanoff’s list of endorsers includes several current and former state and local elected officials.

The Democratic primary winner will face Sen. Cory Gardner (R) in November. Gardner is one of two Republican senators up for re-election in a state Hillary Clinton (D) won in 2016. Three ratings outlets view the race as either Toss-up or Lean Democratic. 

McDowell endorses Valenzuela in TX-24 runoff

Jan McDowell, who placed third in the March 3 primary for Texas’ 24th Congressional District with 10% of the vote, endorsed Candace Valenzuela in the May 26 runoff. Kim Olson and Valenzuela advanced to the runoff after Olson received 40.9% of the vote to Valenzuela’s 30.4%.

McDowell was the 2018 Democratic nominee for the district. She lost to Kenny Marchant (R) 50.6% to 47.5%. Marchant is not seeking re-election.

Olson is an Air Force veteran and former member of the Weatherford school board. Valenzuela serves on the Carrollton-Farmers Branch school board and has worked as a teacher.

State executives

Smith ends secretary of state campaign while Hass gets labor endorsement

Former Oregon Director of Consumer and Business Services Cameron Smith ended his campaign for secretary of state Tuesday. Smith, who resigned his state government post in order to focus on his campaign, said his path to victory had narrowed since launching his campaign in November. His withdrawal leaves three Democrats in the running: state Sens. Shemia Fagan and Mark Hass, and 2018 congressional candidate Jamie McLeod-Skinner.

The Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37, which represents 23,000 employees across Oregon, announced its endorsement of Hass Wednesday. The announcement followed the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees’ endorsement of Fagan the previous weekend.

Unlike in most states, Oregon’s secretary of state is first in line to the governorship. There is no lieutenant governor of Oregon. Four governors, including incumbent Kate Brown (D), were originally secretaries of state who succeeded to the office after a governor left office early.

The current secretary of state is Republican Bev Clarno, meaning that if Brown were to leave office, Republicans would gain Oregon’s governorship and break the state’s Democratic trifecta. Clarno, who was appointed to the office following the death of Dennis Richardson (R) in February 2019, will not seek a full term in 2020. 

The May 19 primary is open to registered Democrats only. Additional candidates have until March 10 to file.

Attorney Patrick Winburn files for governor of Vermont while Holcombe announces legislative endorsements

Bennington attorney Patrick Winburn became the third Democrat to enter Vermont’s gubernatorial election Wednesday, joining Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe

Winburn, who is running for his first elected office, says he has self-funded $100,000 since launching his campaign and that he plans to use the funds to boost his name recognition. Winburn said he considered opioids and climate change to be the biggest threats facing the state.

On Thursday, Holcombe announced endorsements from five current and six former members of the state legislature, including state Sen. Ann Cummings, chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee. Twelve current or former members of the state legislature previously endorsed Holcombe.

The candidate filing deadline is May 28. The August 11 primary is open to all registered voters.


PA Rep. draws primary challenge for first time in two decades

Jennifer Leith, a nonprofit executive from Haverford, filed to run against 14-term incumbent Rep. Greg Vitali (D) in the Democratic primary for Pennsylvania’s 166th House District. Leith filed to run for the same seat in 2018 when Vitali initially announced a U.S. House bid, though his decision to run for re-election instead led her to drop out.

Leith criticized Vitali’s vote against a bill that would have expanded the statute of limitations for childhood victims of sexual assault. Vitali defended his vote, saying, “If you could just tailor the elimination of statutes of limitations to guilty Roman Catholic priests, I’d be all for that. But the reality is that statutes of limitations protect every person in our society.”

The primary challenge will be Vitali’s first since 2000. He was elected to the Pennsylvania House in 1992. District 166 includes portions of Philadelphia.

Scanlon endorses Kane in PA Senate primary

U.S. Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-5) endorsed John Kane in the Democratic primary for District 9 in the Pennsylvania state Senate. Scanlon is the second member of Congress to endorse Kane, joining Chrissy Houlahan. Kane faces Brett Burman in the Democratic primary, with the two competing to face Sen. Tom Killion (R) in the general election.

The two candidates have split endorsements from local party officials. District 9 covers portions of Chester and Delaware counties. The Delaware County Democratic Committee endorsed Kane, while the Chester County Democratic Committee endorsed Burman.

Killion was first elected to the Senate in an April 2016 special election, which he won 57-43. He then won re-election in November of that year 51-49. 

Hagenow retirement announcement sets up contest between college students for seat

Iowa Rep. Chris Hagenow (R-19), first elected in 2008, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020. Carter Nordman (R), a senior at Northern Iowa University, announced his intention to run for the seat. Already in the race was Nick Miller (D), a student at Drake University. Hagenow won re-election 56-41 in 2018.

Power players

“Our vision is a government that reflects the people it serves, and decision makers who genuinely and enthusiastically fight for greater opportunity and better lives for the Americans they represent. We will work for larger leadership roles for pro-choice Democratic women in our legislative bodies and executive seats so that our families can benefit from the open-minded, productive contributions that women have consistently made in office.” – EMILY’s List website 

Founded in 1985, EMILY’s List is a political action committee dedicated to electing Democratic women who support legalized abortion. “EMILY” was originally an acronym for the phrase “Early money is like yeast; it makes the dough rise,” and the organization’s first logo was based on a Fleischmann’s yeast packet. Today, the organization says, “Now we know EMILY is more than a slogan — she’s a candidate, a voter, an operative, a member.” 

EMILY’s List says it works to “recruit the strongest candidates, support campaigns that can win, study the electorate, and turn out the vote.” Click the following links to view candidates endorsed by EMILY’s List in each category:  state and local, gubernatorial, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate.

In July 2019, EMILY’s List announced its Focus 2020 initiative, a $20 million effort to target over 500 state legislative races. The organization said, “This historic investment will focus on building a pipeline of future women leaders and flipping state legislative chambers in 2020 with an eye toward redistricting in 2021, by electing pro-choice Democratic women who will pass policies that support women and families and fight back against Republican efforts to roll back women’s access to health care.” 

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Republicans-Issue 9 (March 11, 2020)

This week: Trump endorses Tuberville in Senate primary runoff in Alabama, Redistricting becomes issue in LA-05 race, and ballot set for Georgia’s special Senate election

On the news

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

“There is still a chance that state and local efforts to contain the virus can succeed, and there are still ways in which the White House could exert strong leadership to help that happen. But right now we are headed for a scenario of rising death rates and overwhelmed hospitals, shuttered schools and empty stadiums and cancellations everywhere.

Combine this scenario’s inevitable economic consequences with the optics of the president’s blundering and solipsistic response, and the coronavirus seems very likely to doom Trump’s re-election effort, no matter where he casts the blame.

And how ironic that would be. In 2016 we elected a China hawk who promised a ‘complete shutdown’ in response to foreign threats, a germaphobic critic of globalization who promised to privilege the national interest above all.

Now he is in danger of losing his presidency because when the great test came, in the form of a virus carried by global trade routes from Communist China, he didn’t take the danger seriously enough.”

Ross Douthat, The New York Times, March 7, 2020

“Trump’s opponents have taken to the media to predict that he will no doubt mishandle America’s coronavirus response and are predicting this will become the scandal that leads to his defeat in the November election. …

But Trump’s opponents – including their left-wing media allies – don’t realize that the president was made for this crisis. There is nothing he loves more, or is as good at, as taking personal charge of a crisis and bulldozing his way through the bureaucracy to a solution. …

Unlike most professional politicians, Trump isn’t afraid of crises. I honestly think he relishes them. There is nothing he likes more than personally taking charge of a seemingly insurmountable challenge, especially when others are wringing their hands.

Plus, who better to deal with a pandemic than someone who believes in border security, doesn’t mind ruffling the feathers of political correctness and is a germophobe? …

Americans don’t cower in a crisis, but they do want a leader to get them through it. Rather than being Trump’s ‘Katrina hour’ the coronavirus crisis could prove to be his finest hour.”

K.T. McFarland, Fox News, March 8, 2020

U.S. Congress

Ballot set for Georgia’s special Senate election

Twenty-one candidates qualified for Georgia’s Nov. 3 special Senate election. The race includes eight Democrats, six Republicans, five independents, one Green Party candidate, and one Libertarian. The qualifying deadline was Friday. 

Candidates of all affiliations will compete in the election. If no candidate receives a majority of the vote, a runoff between the top two will be Jan. 5, 2021.

A recent University of Georgia poll found Republicans Doug Collins and Kelly Loeffler, the appointed incumbent, tied within the margin of error at 21% and 19%, respectively. Matt Lieberman (D) was third with 11% and Raphael Warnock (D), who the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed, had 6%. Thirty-one percent said they were undecided.

The poll was conducted Feb. 24-March 2—ahead of the qualifying deadline—and included eight candidates: three Republicans, four Democrats, and one independent.  

Gov. Brian Kemp appointed Loeffler to the seat after Sen. Johnny Isakson resigned in December. 

Trump endorses Tuberville in Senate primary runoff in Alabama

On Tuesday, President Donald Trump endorsed Tommy Tuberville in the Republican primary runoff for Senate in Alabama. Trump tweeted the following:

“Tommy Tuberville (@TTuberville) is running for the U.S. Senate from the Great State of Alabama. Tommy was a terrific head football coach at Auburn University. He is a REAL LEADER who will never let MAGA/KAG, or our Country, down! Tommy will protect your Second Amendment (which is under siege), is strong on Crime and the Border, and truly LOVES our Military and our Vets. He will be a great Senator for the people of Alabama. Coach Tommy Tuberville, a winner, has my Complete and Total Endorsement. I love Alabama!”

Sessions responded to Trump’s endorsement with the following:

“Of course, President Trump can endorse anyone he chooses for the U.S. Senate election in Alabama. But the Constitution expressly empowers the people of Alabama, and only them, to select their Senator. I intend to take my case directly to the people of Alabama. Even before he declared for the presidency, I fought for the principles that Donald Trump so effectively advocated in the campaign and has advanced as President. I believed in those principles then, I have always fought for them, and I will continue to do so.”

Sessions held the Senate seat for 20 years before the president appointed him U.S. attorney general in 2017. Sessions resigned in 2018 at Trump’s request. 

Tuberville received 33.4% of the vote to Sessions’ 31.6% in the March 3 primary

Sessions and Tuberville have both campaigned on their allegiance to the president and their criticisms of one another. Sessions says Tuberville is a Floridian and supports immigration amnesty. Sessions campaign ads feature audio of Tuberville saying he was mad at the president on the issue of veterans’ health care. 

Tuberville has criticized Sessions for recusing himself from the investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election. His campaign ads have featured Trump saying he regretted appointing Sessions as attorney general. 

Two polls following the primary showed Tuberville leading Sessions—one by 7 percentage points and the other by 12. In the latter poll, 34% said they would definitely vote for Tuberville and 24% said they’d definitely vote for Sessions. An additional 18% said they’d probably vote for Tuberville, and 16% would probably vote for Sessions.

The primary runoff is March 31.

Redistricting becomes issue in LA-05 race

A priority among several current and potential Republican candidates in Louisiana’s open 5th Congressional District race is preserving the district’s existence following the 2020 census. The state legislature will draw new congressional district maps, which will go into effect in the 2022 election cycle.

Retiring Rep. Ralph Abraham’s former chief of staff Luke Letlow joined the race to replace Abraham on Monday. Abraham endorsed Letlow. Letlow joined Ouachita Parish Police Juror Randall Scott Robinson and state Rep. Lance Harris in the race, along with two Democrats. Former state Sen. Mike Walsworth (R) is also considering a bid. 

Greg Hilburn of the Monroe News-Star wrote, “Northern Louisiana currently has two districts — the 5th District represented by Abraham with the population and voting power in northeastern Louisiana and the 4th District represented by Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Benton with Shreveport-Bossier as the hub. During a period in the 1990s northern Louisiana was represented by one district with Shreveport-Bossier as the hub.”

Letlow said a single northern district would harm the agricultural community. 

Harris said, “I certainly think there will be some changes in the lines of every district, but I hope we’re able to keep a semblance of the district.”Robinson said, “We don’t need to be in a district with Shreveport. … Our commonalities and priorities are different, and if it happened Shreveport would clearly have an edge because of its population.”

Walsworth stated, “I think it’s by far the most important issue facing the next person who will represent the 5th District.”

Candidates of all affiliations will run in a Nov. 3 election. If no candidate receives more than 50% of the vote, another election for the top two will be held Dec. 5. Ratings outlets view the race as Safe or Solid Republican.

State executives

Thomas Wright becomes first Utah Republican to qualify for gubernatorial primary

Former state GOP Chairman Thomas Wright qualified for Utah’s gubernatorial primary ballot Thursday, becoming the first of the eight Republicans running to do so. 

Candidates running for governor of Utah have two paths to the June 30 primary ballot. Up to two candidates may qualify for the primary by receiving support from delegates at the state party convention on April 25, while any number of candidates may qualify by submitting petitions containing the verified signatures of 28,000 voters. Only signatures from registered Republicans who have not signed another candidate’s nominating petitions are counted. 

Every Republican candidate other than Jason Christensen, Aimee Winder Newton, and Greg Hughes is seeking to qualify via signatures, although a candidate who is collecting signatures can still win a place on the ballot at the convention. The only candidate to have submitted signatures other than Wright is Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. As of 2:30 p.m. Mountain Time on March 10, 26,120 of Cox’s signatures had been verified, leaving him 1,880 short of the required amount.

A Scott Rasmussen poll conducted Feb. 24-March 1 on behalf of Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute found Jon Huntsman, Jr. had 32% support to Spencer Cox’s 20%, while 30% were undecided. Hughes and Jeff Burningham each had 7%. No other candidate had more than 10% support. In a Scott Rasmussen poll conducted in January, Huntsman had 35% to Cox’s 25% with 25% undecided.

The candidate filing deadline is March 19. The June 30 primary will be open to registered Republicans only. The winner of the primary is likely to also win the general election—no Democrat has won election as governor of Utah since 1980. Incumbent Gary Herbert (R) is not seeking re-election.

Candidates for North Dakota Schools Superintendent seek party support

Incumbent North Dakota Superintendent of Public Instruction Kirsten Baesler and challengers Charles Tuttle and Brandt Dick will each have a chance to make their pitch for the state Republican Party’s letter of support. 

Baesler, who was first elected in 2012, was arrested for drunken driving Feb. 26. Tuttle, who launched his campaign earlier that month, said he intended to focus on education policy rather than criticism of Baesler, while Dick said Baesler’s arrest was not a factor in his decision to run.

Although the office of state superintendent is officially nonpartisan in North Dakota, candidates may seek a letter of support from any of the state’s political parties. Baesler won the GOP letter of support ahead of her successful 2012 and 2016 campaigns. The three were the only candidates to file the required signatures with the state party ahead of a Sunday deadline and will each be allotted speaking time at the state party convention during the final weekend of March. No candidates have filed to seek a letter of support from the state Democratic Party affiliate.

A process change currently under deliberation could mean that the party’s letter of support is published later this year than in previous elections. The 57-member State Committee is scheduled to vote March 19 on a motion that would delay the publication of the party’s letter of support until after the primary in June. 

The candidate filing deadline is April 6. The June 9 primary will be open to all registered voters, with the top two finishers advancing to the general election on November 3.


Ohio House candidates allege speaker is behind negative attack ads

Four candidates for Ohio House of Representatives held a press conference to call for an end to negative campaign ads against them and alleged that Speaker Larry Householder (R) was responsible. Householder had not yet responded.

Joe Dills (District 65), Adam Bird (District 66), Nick Owens (District 66), and Thad Claggett (District 71) accused Householder of coordinating with the group behind the negative ads, the Growth and Opportunity PAC.

According to the FCC, Growth and Opportunity PAC has spent $265,000 on broadcast ads in the Cincinnati television and radio markets in support of Householder’s preferred candidates in Districts 65 and 66. 

Cleveland.com reported the PAC and the House Republican Campaign Committee (HRCC) have also spent $265,000 in the Columbus market in ads opposing Claggett.

Growth and Opportunity is registered as a federal Super PAC, meaning it cannot raise or spend money in coordination with any candidate or candidate committee. A representative for the HRCC denied allegations of coordination with any satellite groups.

Former U.S. Rep. seeking Georgia State Senate seat

Former U.S. Rep. Max Burns (R-12) qualified to run for the District 23 seat in the Georgia State Senate. 

Incumbent Sen. Jesse Stone (R) is not seeking re-election. He was first elected to represent the 23rd District in 2010. Trey Allen (R) is also seeking the Republican nomination.

Burns served in Congress from 2003 to 2005. He won election in 2002 55-45, then lost his re-election campaign in 2004 52-48. He ran again in 2006 but lost by less than 900 votes.

District 23 covers 11 counties along the central Georgia-South Carolina border. Stone last faced a Democratic challenger in 2014, when he won by a 61-39 margin. Republicans hold a 35-21 majority in the chamber.

Hagenow retirement announcement sets up contest between college students for seat

Iowa Rep. Chris Hagenow (R-19), first elected in 2008, announced that he would not seek re-election in 2020. Carter Nordman (R), a senior at Northern Iowa University, announced his intention to run for the seat. Already in the race was Nick Miller (D), a student at Drake University. Hagenow won re-election 56-41 in 2018.

Power players

“[The Susan B. Anthony] List is a nationwide network of more than 700,000 Americans. We combine politics with policy, investing heavily in voter education to ensure that pro-life Americans know where their lawmakers stand on protecting the unborn, and in issue advocacy, advancing pro-life laws through direct lobbying and grassroots campaigns.” – Susan B. Anthony List website 

The Susan B. Anthony List is a political organization that opposes abortion. The organization says its mission is “to end abortion by electing national leaders and advocating for laws that save lives, with a special calling to promote pro-life women leaders.” The Susan B. Anthony List is affiliated with the Life Issues Institute, the National Pro-Life Women’s Caucus, the Charlotte Lozier Institute, the Women Speak Out PAC, the Susan B. Anthony List Candidate Fund, and the Susan B. Anthony List Action PAC.  

The organization says it “fights for the election of women and men who will fight for life. We fight for laws that safeguard the innocent, and we develop research to demonstrate the good that flows from society from their protection.” To view a list of candidates endorsed by the organization, click here.

The Susan B. Anthony List also publishes a “National Pro-Life Scorecard,” which grades members of Congress on votes and other activities, such as bill sponsorship, related to abortion.

South Dakota governor selects new chief of staff

On March 3, 2020, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) appointed Tony Venhuizen to serve as her chief of staff. Venhuizen is Gov. Noem’s third chief of staff in the past year. He succeeds former chief of staff Joshua Shields, who stepped down on January 1, 2020, and Herb Jones, who resigned on October 1, 2019.

A chief of staff is the lead staff member of an executive administration and is responsible for implementing the governor’s agenda. The role is both a managerial and advisory position, although specific duties vary by each administration. Typically, the gubernatorial chief of staff manages the Governor’s schedule, assists in forming and implementing a policy agenda, and oversees the governor’s staff.

Since 2017, Ballotpedia has aimed to identify and curate profiles on the chief of staff to each governor. To view a list of all gubernatorial chiefs of staff, click here.

Candidate filing period for state offices ends in six states

The major-party filing deadline to run for elected office in Montana passed on March 9. That deadline was followed up on March 10 by filing deadlines in New Mexico and Oregon. Candidates running in Idaho, Iowa, and Nevada have until March 13 to file. Prospective candidates could file for the following offices:

  • U.S. Senate seats in Idaho, Iowa, Montana, New Mexico, and Oregon
  • U.S. House seats in all six states
  • State executive offices in Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon
  • State legislative seats in all six states
  • State supreme court seats in all six states
  • Intermediate appellate court seats in Idaho, Iowa, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon

Ballotpedia is also covering local elections in parts of Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, and Oregon.

Primaries in Idaho and Oregon are being held on May 19. Iowa, Montana, and New Mexico are holding primaries on June 2. Nevada has its primary on June 9.

After these six filing deadlines, 21 states will have held statewide filing deadlines in the 2020 election cycle. The next statewide filing deadline is on March 16 in Maine.

Additional reading:

22 of 149 congressional primaries on Super Tuesday advance to primary runoff

Five states held statewide primaries on March 3, 2020: Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas. In those states, 22 congressional races advanced to primary runoffs. Nine are Democratic primary runoffs, and 13 are Republican primary runoffs.

Alabama saw the highest percentage of primaries advance to primary runoffs. Of the six primaries on the ballot, four advanced to a primary runoff (67%)—three Republican primary runoffs and one Democratic primary runoff. Texas saw the next-highest percentage, with 17 of the 74 primaries advancing to a primary runoff (23%). North Carolina had one of 15 primaries advance to a primary runoff (7%). California does not hold primary runoffs. Arkansas’ congressional primaries were canceled for all four seats after one or fewer Democratic or Republican party candidates filed to run.

Overall, 149 primaries were held across a combined 117 seats up for election in the five states. California’s 25th Congressional District is up for regular and special election, and is counted twice in both figures. Of the primaries on the ballot, 47 were Republican primaries, 48 were Democratic primaries, and 54 were top-two primaries.

Entering the 2020 election, the U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Thirty-five of the 100 Senate seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 197 Republicans, one independent, and five vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

Additional reading:

Signatures verified for Maine ballot initiative designed to void international hydroelectric transmission project

A citizen initiative to void a certificate needed for an international hydroelectric transmission project will go on the ballot unless the state legislature approves it.

The campaign No CMP Corridor filed 75,253 signatures on February 3. Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D) reported that 69,714 signatures were valid. At least 63,067 signatures needed to be verified. As citizen-initiated statutes are indirect in Maine, the state legislature has the option to approve the proposal before the end of this year’s legislative session, which is expected to adjourn on April 15, 2020. Otherwise, the proposal will appear on the ballot for the general election on November 3, 2020.

The ballot measure would require the Maine Public Utilities Commission to reverse an order made on May 3, 2019, that provided the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission project with a certificate of public convenience and necessity. In Maine, a certificate of public convenience and necessity is required before constructing a transmission line capable of operating at 69 kilovolts or more. The NECEC transmission project was designed to cross about 145 miles in Maine, from the state’s border with Quebec to Lewiston, and transmit around 1,200 megawatts from hydroelectric plants in Quebec to electric utilities in Massachusetts.

The State of Massachusetts proposed the NECEC transmission corridor, which is a joint project of Central Maine Power (CMP) and Hydro-Quebec. Massachusetts sought renewable generation and transmission projects to help meet the state’s renewable standards portfolio (RPS). CMP and Hydro-Quebec agreed to an incentives and benefits package worth $258 million, which would include funds for low-income electric consumer projects, rural broadband internet, electric vehicle charging stations, electric heat pumps, education grants, workforce development, and business retention.

The campaign No CMP Corridor, and allied PAC Mainers for Local Power, raised $198,912 through 2019. The largest contribution was $110,287 from Calpine Corp., which owns a natural gas plant in Westbrook, Maine. Clean Energy Matters is leading the campaign in opposition to the ballot initiative. Hydro-Québec Maine Partnership is also funding an effort opposed to the measure. Together, the opposition committees raised $2.41 million, which came from Central Maine Power (CMP) and CMP’s parent firm Avangrid.

The citizen-initiated statute is the only one that may appear on the Maine ballot in 2020. The signature deadline for initiated statutes was February 3, 2020. The campaigns behind veto referendums, including one to overturn a law expanding ranked-choice voting to presidential elections, have until 90 days after the 2020 legislative session adjourns to file signatures. The legislature can also refer constitutional amendments and bond measures to the November ballot.

Additional reading:

Heart of the Primaries 2020, Democrats-Issue 8 (March 4, 2020)

This week: Runoff set in TX-Sen. race, more Super Tuesday results, and polls show close race between Kennedy and Markey in MA-Sen.

Election results

Here are some key primary results from Super Tuesday.

U.S. Senate, North Carolina: Cal Cunningham won with 57.0% of the vote. Erica Smith received 34.8% of the vote. None of the three other candidates received more than 4%. The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee endorsed Cunningham, a member of the Army Reserves and a former state senator. He focused on expanding Medicaid, lowering prescription drug costs, and eliminating corruption in Washington. Smith has been a state senator since 2015. Her platform included healthcare for all and a Green New Deal.

U.S. Senate, Texas: With 95% of precincts reporting, Mary Jennings Hegar was in first place with 23.2%. Because no candidate received 50% or more of the vote, a runoff will take place between the top two finishers. It is not clear who the other runoff participant will be. Four other candidates received 10% or more of the vote: Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez (13.8%), Royce West (13.3%), Annie Garcia (10.3%), and Amanda Edwards (10.0%). 

The winner of the runoff will face incumbent John Cornyn (R), who advanced from the Republican primary with 76.3% of the vote. Cornyn was last elected in 2014, defeating David Alameel (D) 61.6% to 34.4%.

California’s 16th Congressional District: As of 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time on March 4, this race was too close to call. Kevin Cookingham (R) led with 38.5% of the vote, followed by incumbent Jim Costa (D) with 37.5%. The only other candidate with more than 10% of the vote was Esmeralda Soria (D) with 18.4%. Costa’s endorsers included Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D), Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), and Rep. Adam Schiff (D). Soria had been endorsed by civil rights activist Dolores Huerta, the California Labor Federation, and SEIU California.

California’s 22nd Congressional District: As of 6:30 a.m. Pacific Time on March 4, this race was too close to call. Incumbent Devin Nunes (R) led with 59.4% of the vote, followed by Democrats Phil Arballo (23.5%) and Bobby Bliatout (11.5%). The California Labor Federation and Reps. Tony Cárdenas (D), Salud Carbajal (D), and Linda Sánchez (D) endorsed Arballo, along with the district’s 2018 Democratic nominee, Andrew Janz. The California Democratic Party, SEIU California, former Rep. Mike Honda (D.), and state Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D) endorsed Bliatout.

California’s 25th Congressional District: Two elections were held for California’s 25th Congressional District: a special election to fill the vacancy left by Katie Hill (D) and a regular election for a full, two-year term starting Jan. 3, 2021. As of 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time on March 4, both races were too close to call. Christy Smith (D) led the special election field with 34.4% of the vote, followed by Mike Garcia (R) with 28.3% and Steve Knight (R) with 18.9%. In the regular election, Smith led with 30.3%, followed by Garcia’s 26.8% and Knight’s 20.1%.

Smith’s endorsers included Sens. Dianne Feinstein (D) and Kamala Harris (D), U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D), and the California Democratic Party. The Los Angeles Republican Party and the Ventura County Republican Party endorsed Garcia. U.S. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy endorsed Knight.

California’s 53rd Congressional District: As of 6:00 a.m. Pacific Time on March 4, this race was too close to call. Sara Jacobs (D) led with 29.6%, followed by Georgette Gomez (D) with 18.6% and Chris Stoddard (R) with 14.0%. No other candidate received more than 10% of the vote. If Jacobs and Gomez advance, it would be the first time two candidates from the same party will have advanced from the general election in this district since California adopted top-two primaries in 2012.

Six members of the U.S. House, including Rep. Katie Porter, endorsed Jacobs. Bernie Sanders, 12 members of the U.S. House, and the Democratic Party of California endorsed Gomez. 

Texas’ 10th Congressional District: Mike Siegel and Pritesh Gandhi were the top two finishers and will advance to a runoff on May 26. Siegel had 44.0% of the vote to Gandhi’s 33.1% with 97% of precincts reporting. A third candidate, Shannon Hutcheson, received 22.9% of the vote.

One of the main issues in the race was healthcare. Gandhi said he would support “Medicare for all that want it,” while Siegel said he supported a single-payer, universal healthcare option. The winner of the runoff will face incumbent Michael McCaul (R), who defeated Siegel 51.1% to 46.8% in 2018.

Texas’ 21st Congressional District: Wendy Davis won the Democratic nomination with 86.2% of the vote to Jennie Lou Leeder’s 13.8%. Davis will face incumbent Chip Roy (R) in the general election. Davis is a former member of the Texas state Senate and was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2014, losing the general election to Greg Abbott (R). Leeder, the chairwoman of the Llano County Democratic Party, was the Democratic nominee for Texas’ 11th Congressional District in 2018, losing to incumbent Mike Conaway (R).

Texas’ 22nd Congressional District: Sri Preston Kulkarni advanced to the general election from a four-candidate field. With 96% of precincts reporting, Kulkarni led with 53.2% of the vote, followed by Reed’s 24.6% and Moore’s 14.5%. Incumbent Pete Olson (R) is not running for re-election, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee named the district to its list of 2020 targets.

Texas’ 24th Congressional District: Kim Olson and Candace Valenzuela were the top two finishers and will advance to a May 26 runoff. Olson received 42.8% of the vote to Valenzuela’s 29.8% and Jan McDowell’s 10.0%.  The winner will face Beth Van Duyne (R), who won the Republican primary outright with 64.3% of the vote. Retiring Rep. Kenny Marchant (R) won re-election in 2018 50.6% to 47.5%.

Texas’ 28th Congressional District: Rep. Henry Cuellar defeated Jessica Cisneros 51.8% to 48.2%. Cisneros was endorsed by Justice Democrats and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), while Cuellar was endorsed by U.S. Reps. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.). Cuellar will face Sandra Whitten (R) and Bekah Congdon (L) in the general election. Cuellar won re-election in 2018 84.4% to 15.6%.

North Carolina lieutenant governor: With all precincts reporting, Yvonne Lewis Holley received 26.6% of the vote and Terry Van Duyn had 20.4%. Van Duyn said she would decide on March 4 whether to request a runoff, which occurs if no candidate tops 30%. Term-limited incumbent Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) is running for governor, leaving the office open. North Carolina is one of 17 states where the lieutenant governor is elected independently of the governor. It is one of three states where the governor and the lieutenant governor do not share the same party affiliation, along with Louisiana and Vermont. 

Texas House of Representatives: Three incumbents had primary challenges in our 10 battleground races. There were 19 contested primaries featuring an incumbent. Rep. Harold Dutton (District 142) won his primary outright, receiving 50.0% of the vote while Jerry Davis received 25.0%, Natasha Ruiz 16.3%, and Richard Bonton 8.7%. Both incumbents elected in January 2020 special elections, Lorraine Birabil (District 100) and Anna Eastman (District 148), each advanced to May 26 runoff elections. Candidates won five of the other seven primaries outright, with Districts 26 and 138 resulting in runoff elections.

North Carolina House of Representatives: In the Democratic primary for District 43, Kimberly Hardy defeated five-term incumbent Elmer Floyd 54.1% to 45.9%. Floyd was the only one of 11 Democratic incumbents with a challenger to lose a primary.

Travis County, Texas District Attorney: Incumbent Margaret Moore (D) and challenger José Garza (D) were the top two finishers and advanced to a May 26 runoff. Garza received 44.3% of the vote to Moore’s 41.1%. Garza, who had rooted his challenge to Moore in his criticism of her office’s handling of sexual assault cases, said he was running to fix a broken criminal justice system. Presidential candidates Bernie Sanders (I) and Elizabeth Warren (D) endorsed him, drawing national attention to the race. Moore, who was first elected in 2016, said she was running to continue on the progress made during her first term. Her endorsers included the Austin American-Statesman, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D) and Austin Mayor Stephen Adler.

On the news

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

“The time it took to coalesce around Biden can hardly be comforting for the establishment. …

[T]here’s Biden’s weakness as a campaigner, which managed to escape discussion as a result of a crowded field with plenty of other sources of horse-race drama. David Axelrod, Obama’s former strategist, has noted that Biden seems to be ‘Mr. Magooing’ his way through the primary, and that the campaign has put him in a ‘candidate protection program’ to avoid negative press. He has failed to stand out in any of the debates, and done little to quell worries that his vigor is rapidly fading. Just this Sunday, he forgot the name of the interviewer to whom he was speaking.


These weaknesses are a big part of why the party only came around to Biden at the very last minute. Donors, officials, and media surrogates were all reluctant to commit themselves to a candidate whose campaign seemed one gaffe away from collapse — but Sanders’s victories have forced their hand.


Biden’s campaign, despite his impressive victory in South Carolina, has not fundamentally changed. The party’s consolidation around Biden surely makes Sanders’s task more difficult. But it would be a mistake to think it means that he’s finished. Now that the establishment is unified, the fight has finally begun.”

Paul Heideman, Jacobin, March 3, 2020

“Biden’s biggest coup of the night may have been co-opting Sanders’s core argument in the race for the Democratic nomination: that he can attract new voters, grow the electorate and build a multiracial coalition that can defeat President Donald Trump. Across the U.S. on Tuesday, Biden performed well in swing district suburban communities, like in Northern Virginia and Minnesota’s Twin Cities area, which helped Democrats capture the House in 2018. He also did well with white working-class voters in the South and college-educated white voters in the North. But if Biden ends up winning the nomination, it’ll be largely thanks to Black voters, who helped resuscitate his struggling campaign.

Increased voter participation also boosted Biden’s case on Tuesday. As in South Carolina, Virginia experienced a large increase in voter turnout. Nearly twice as many Virginians came out to the polls this year compared to the 2016 Democratic primary. Biden pointed to his double-digit victory there as evidence that he ― and not his rivals ― was growing the electorate. …

But the race only gets harder for Sanders from here. Coming primaries include Michigan, where he is expected to do well, but also states like Mississippi, Missouri, Georgia, and Florida, where he struggled in 2016 and is currently trailing in the polls.”

Igor Bobic, HuffPost, March 4, 2020

U.S. Congress

Polls show tight primary between Markey, Kennedy for MA Senate

Three recent polls show a tight race in the Senate Democratic primary in Massachusetts, where incumbent Ed Markey faces Rep. Joe Kennedy III. 

  • A Suffolk University/Boston Globe poll showed Kennedy slightly leading with 42% to Markey’s 36%, with 21% undecided. The poll was conducted Feb. 26-29 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.4 percentage points.
  • A University of Massachusetts Amherst/WCVB poll, conducted Feb. 18-24, showed Markey with 39% and Kennedy with 36%, while 21% were undecided. The margin of error was +/-5.9 percentage points.   
  • A University of Massachusetts Lowell poll showed Kennedy with 35%, Markey with 34%, and “Undecided” with 23%. That poll was conducted Feb. 12-19 with a margin of error of +/- 6.1 percentage points.

Markey has been in the Senate since 2013 and served in the U.S. House from 1976 to 2013. Kennedy has represented Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District since 2013. 

Joey Garrison of USA Today wrote that the race “will test allegiances among Democratic ranks in Massachusetts and in Washington,” referring to Markey’s endorsements from Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (whose Green New Deal Markey backed), and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Kennedy’s endorsers include Congressional Progressive Caucus Co-Chair Mike Pocan and Rep. John Lewis.

The primary is Sept. 1.

Working Families Party backs Harper, End Citizens United backs Beatty in OH-03

The Working Families Party endorsed Morgan Harper’s primary challenge to incumbent Joyce Beatty in Ohio’s 3rd Congressional District Feb. 24. On Feb. 21, End Citizens United backed Beatty. 

End Citizens United President Tiffany Muller said, “The outsized influence of big money in politics is drowning out the voices of everyday Ohioans, but Rep. Beatty works day in, day out to change that.” Beatty has represented Ohio’s 3rd since 2013.

Working Families Party National Strategy Director Nelini Stamp said of Harper, “She’s representing the next generation of people that are the wave of leadership that brought you the Squad, the next generation of youth leaders that are being unapologetic about the issues.”

Beatty says her record includes securing federal funds for the district for such things as Columbus’ Near East Side revitalization project and addressing Columbus’ infant mortality rate. She says she supports expanding on the Affordable Care Act.

Harper’s platform includes Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, and a universal income. She has said she will not accept corporate PAC money or money from employees of payday lenders or gun manufacturers.

Harper has criticized Beatty for receiving donations from financial institutions, while Beatty has said she is tough on those institutions in her role as House Financial Services Committee member.

The primary is March 17.

State executives

Mike Cooney, Whitney Williams select running mates

Both Democratic candidates for governor of Montana announced their running mates last week. Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney will be running alongside state Rep. Casey Schreiner, while consultant Whitney Williams will be running alongside National Barley Growers Association President Buzz Mattelin.

Schreiner was first elected to the state House in 2012 and currently serves as minority leader. He had been a candidate for governor but suspended his run in February, citing troubles fundraising. Mattelin, who has owned and operated a farm since 1976, was named president of the National Barley Growers Association last year after serving two years as vice president.

Additional candidates have until March 9 to file. The June 2 primary is open to all registered voters. Incumbent Steve Bullock (D) is term-limited, leaving the office open. The last Republican to win a gubernatorial election in Montana was Judy Martz in 2000.

Shemia Fagan to run for Oregon Secretary of State

Oregon state Sen. Shemia Fagan (D) announced Thursday she would join the race for secretary of state, becoming the fourth Democrat running for the office. Fagan’s initial endorsers include former Gov. Barbara Roberts (D) and the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees.

The other Democrats in the running are Mark Hass, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, and Cameron Smith.

Unlike in most states, Oregon’s secretary of state is first in line to the governorship. There is no lieutenant governor of Oregon. Four governors, including incumbent Kate Brown (D), were originally secretaries of state who succeeded to the office after a governor left office early.

The current secretary of state is Republican Bev Clarno, meaning that if Brown were to leave office, Republicans would gain Oregon’s governorship and break the state’s Democratic trifecta. Clarno, who was appointed to the office following the death of Dennis Richardson (R) in February 2019, will not seek a full term in 2020. 

The May 19 primary is open to registered Democrats only. Additional candidates have until March 10 to file.

Zuckerman, Holcombe discuss senatorial appointment in the event of a Sanders presidency

Vermont’s Democratic gubernatorial candidates discussed how they would handle appointing a successor to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) if he is elected president.

Under Vermont law, a vacancy in the U.S. Senate must be filled via a special election within six months, although the governor may appoint an interim senator to serve until the election results are certified. The governor of Vermont is sworn in before the president of the United States. This means if Sanders wins the presidency, the winner of the 2020 gubernatorial election would be responsible for appointing an interim senator rather than current Gov. Phil Scott (R). The winner of this year’s gubernatorial election would be responsible for filling a Sanders vacancy.

Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman (Vermont Progressive/D) said that he would lean towards appointing someone who intended to run to complete the term in the special election and that he would only consider a candidate who would commit to caucusing with Senate Democrats, as Sanders does. When asked whether he would prefer to nominate a woman, Zuckerman said, “All else being equal, I would tilt towards a woman over a man — but issues come first.”

Former state Secretary of Education Rebecca Holcombe (D) said she would only consider a Democrat for the position. She said that while she did not have a preference as to whether the interim senator would also run in the special election, she would prefer to nominate a woman: “I think right now, given where we are in the Senate, I think it’s particularly important to make sure we have women’s voices at the table.”

The only other senator still running for president this year is Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)—Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) have each suspended their campaigns. Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) is not up for re-election in 2020. This means that in the event Warren is elected president, Baker would appoint an interim senator. Under Massachusetts law, a special election to fill a senatorial vacancy must take place within 160 days of the vacancy occurring.


IL gov, Chicago mayor spend for opposing candidates in IL House race

In Illinois House District 12, both Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) and Mayor Lori Lightfoot have given money to opposing candidates in the Democratic primary. 

Pritzker’s committee gave $58,000 to the campaign of Margaret Croke, while he and his wife M.K. have each also individually donated $5,800. Lightfoot donated $2,500 to the campaign of Rep. Yoni Pizer (D). Both donations came after the pair offered endorsements of each candidate last week.

Pizer has also attracted support from other area politicians, including state Sen. Sara Feigenholtz ($25,000), who previously held Pizer’s seat, Alderman Tom Tunney ($24,250), and U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley ($25,000).

Pizer was nominated to the district on Feb. 10, 2020. The district covers portions of the Lakeview and Uptown neighborhoods in Chicago’s North Side. The winner of the March 17 primary will be unopposed in the general election.

OR Senate Majority Leader gets primary challenger

Ben Bowman, a member of the Tigard-Tualatin School Board, filed to run against Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (D-18) in the Democratic primary on May 19. Burdick, first elected in 1996, is running for a seventh term. She has served as majority leader since 2015. Bowman, age 27, is the youngest member on the school board and has received endorsements from the Oregon School Employees Association and several local mayors.

Bowman said his campaign would focus on climate change, addiction and mental health, affordable housing, health care costs, and income inequality. Burdick did not comment on Bowman’s announcement.

Power players

“Since 1991, Victory Fund has helped elect thousands of LGBTQ people to positions at all levels of government. These LGBTQ voices have made significant contributions to advancing equality for LGBTQ Americans – from passing non-discrimination laws to defeating amendments to ban marriage equality.” – LGBTQ Victory Fund website

The LGBTQ Victory Fund (formerly named the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund) is a political action committee dedicated to electing LGBTQ leaders to public office. The group’s website describes its mission as follows: “LGBTQ Victory Fund works to change the face and voice of America’s politics and achieve equality for LGBTQ Americans by increasing the number of openly LGBTQ officials at all levels of government.”

The LGBTQ Victory Fund endorses candidates, who must meet the following qualifications to be considered: 


  • be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender;
  • demonstrate community support and a realistic plan to win;
  • demonstrate support of federal, state or local efforts to advance LGBTQ civil rights via the legislative or regulatory process*; and
  • demonstrate support of federal, state or local efforts to safeguard privacy and reproductive freedom.*


*Note: Judicial endorsements are not required to meet these criteria.

As of Feb. 26, the organization had endorsed 168 candidates. To view a list of endorsed candidates, click here.