Preview: The August 14th Primaries

- Agustus 12, 2018

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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On August 14th,  four more states go to the polls in primary elections.

VERMONT

In the Governor’s race (Vermont, like New Hampshire, has a gubernatorial term of two years), Republican incumbent Phil Scott faces token opposition in his primary.  Once rated 4th among all Governors in terms of approval, his signing of three gun control bills has hurt him.  He now ranks 29th and his approval rating fell from 62% to 47% since.  The one thing that favors him: token GOP opposition.

On the Democratic side, the only candidate of interest is 13-year-old Ethan Sonneborn since Vermont does not have an age limit for candidacy.  Interesting…

Bernie Sanders is up for reelection and will run as a Democrat this time instead of an independent stoking belief he will launch another presidential run come 2020.  With the highest approval rating of any Senator in the country, the GOP primary has attracted an assortment of oddballs.

Democrat Peter Welch faces no opposition in his primary and will likely face Brooke Paige of the GOP in the fall UNLESS Paige wins the GOP Senatorial primary.  Yes- Vermont allows that also.

CONNECTICUT

The House delegation favors the Democrats 5-0 and that should not change come November.  Under their convention system, both party’s candidates are set for the general election in four of the five districts.  The exception is the 5th where Elizabeth Esty is retiring.  If the GOP has any chance, it would be in this district.  The Democrats have endorsed Mary Glassman over Jahana Hayes while the GOP has endorsed Manny Santos over two political newcomers.

The gun-grabbing Democratic incumbent Senator Chris Murphy faces reelection.  With a 49% approval rating, he should breeze along against either Matthew Corey or Dan Rapini for the GOP.  The latter was inspired by Trump which may not be a good idea in a state where Trump sports a 37% approval rating.

Democratic Governor Dan Malloy, once touted as a prospective presidential candidate, is not running for reelection although eligible.  He ranks next to last among current Governors in approval with 21%.  If there is any hope for the GOP in Connecticut, it is in this race.  For the GOP, Danbury mayor Mark Boughton is opposed by four others with only Tim Herbst a possibility.  The Democrats have endorsed Ned Lamont over Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim in their primary.

WISCONSIN

In the Senate race, Democratic incumbent Tammy Baldwin is up for reelection.  With a 44% approval rating against 39% disapproval, she is somewhat vulnerable.  She faces no primary opposition.  For the GOP, there are five candidates, but the top two are businessman Kevin Nicholson and political operative Lee Vukmir.  He has the backing of the Wisconsin Republican establishment while Nicholson has the backing of Steve Bannon, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, the Club for Growth and Tea Party Patriots.  Scant polling shows Nicholson in the lead.  In further scant general election polling, Baldwin leads Nicholson by about 14 points at this early stage of the game.

Scott Walker seeks a third term as Governor and faces token primary opposition.  On the Democratic side, state public education official Tony Evers leads a field of seven, many of whom are backed by either feminist groups, or unions.  All polls indicate a Walker-Evers match up come November.  General election polling at this point shows Walker winning by at least four points over any of the seven Democrats, but weakest with a 2 point lead over activist Mike McCabe who many believe will finish third or lower in the primary.  A race to watch in November since Walker has only a 42% approval rating in the state.  But, he’s won two elections and a recall.

The House delegation is 5-3 Republican with one GOP retirement this cycle- House Speaker Paul Ryan in the First District (rated +3 GOP by Cook).  The likely GOP candidate will be Bryan Steil, with the racist Paul Nehlen on the ballot with the endorsement of David Duke.  A recent poll conducted on behalf of a Paul Ryan associated PAC shows that Cathy Myers has a slight edge on iron worker Randy Bryce in the Democratic primary.  The Democratic Party is behind Bryce given his blue collar appeal and the DCCC named him a top candidate.

Except for a Democratic candidate in the GOP-held Seventh District, all the general election match ups are set.  In fact, there will be no GOP opposition to Democrat Marc Pocan in the Second District.

Minnesota

Besides a Governor’s race, eight House seats including two being vacated, there are two Senate races this year, one being to fill out the term of serial groper Al Franken.  In that race, the appointed Tina Smith is running and has the backing of the Democratic establishment.  However, a Bernie supporter- Nick Leonard- is in the race so keep an eye on it.  Additionally, the presence of former Bush administration official Richard Painter in the Democratic primary could pull votes from either Smith or Leonard.  For the GOP, the likely winner is Karin Housley, a state senator, who has the endorsement of Norm Coleman.

In the other Senate race, Democratic incumbent Amy Klobuchar will seek another term.  The likely GOP candidate will be state senator Jim Newberger who won the backing of the party at the state convention.  The only general election poll shows a Democratic blowout which is understandable given Klobuchar’s 60% approval rating in the state.

Although eligible, Democratic incumbent Governor Mark Dayton is not seeking another term.  For a person with a 51% approval rating, it seems strange, but he made the decision when that rating was considerably lower.  Six of the last ten gubernatorial elections have changed party hands with 1946 being the last year the outgoing party won a general election.

For the Democrats, it is a two-horse race between Congressman Tim Walz and state attorney general Lori Swanson despite Erin Murphy having most of the state Democratic Party, some unions, and Dayton endorsing her.

On the GOP side, Tim Pawlenty seeks his old office foregoing a Senate run as many desired.  He does have opposition in the primary against Jeff Johnson who received the endorsement of Marco Rubio.  Most general election polling shows a slight lead for any Democrat against Pawlenty.

The House delegation favors the Democrats 5-3, but Minnesota presents some opportunities for the GOP.  In the First (Cook rated +1 GOP ), Tim Walz is running for Governor.  Dan Feehan will likely be the Democratic candidate while Jim Hagedorn is back for a third attempt at this seat for the GOP.

Races are basically set in the Democratic strongholds of the Fourth and Fifth Districts.  The good news out of the 5th is Keith Ellison vacating the seat to run for state attorney general so we won’t see his mug in Congress come 2019.

Cook rates the 7th GOP +6, but Democrat Colin Peterson represents it.  For some reason, this is not on the GOP’s radar.  Instead, they seem to be looking to the 8th where Democrat Rick Nolan is retiring.  He has endorsed Joe Radinovich while his opponent, Jason Metsa, has amassed union support.  On the GOP side, the likely candidate will be St. Louis County commissioner, Pete Stauber.

Erik Paulsen, the Republican incumbent in the Second, is targeted every two years, but he keeps winning.  In a possible inkling of things to come, Paulsen is running ads touting his distance from Trump.  The President has a 40% approval rating in the state.

Minnesota, like Wisconsin and New Hampshire, are difficult states to politically predict, so anything is possible come November.

Next up: the August 28th primaries in Arizona and Florida.

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