Elections 2020: Rounding Up House & Senate Nomination Battles


  • June 21, 2020
  • 6 min read

Focus: Senate

Arizona: The Civiqs polling organization, surveying for the Daily Kos Elections website (6/13-15; 1,368 AZ previously selected respondents from a larger sampling pool; online), again finds retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D) holding a substantial lead over appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R).The numbers break 51-42% in Kelly’s favor, which is actually a slight improvement for McSally. This compares to the poll’s 49-45% split for Joe Biden over President Trump, which is a more reasonable spread as compared to some recent surveys of the Arizona electorate.

Colorado: After the Colorado Ethics Commission found former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) in violation of two ethics provisions during his tenure as the state’s Governor, trends have taken a downturn in his US Senate campaign. Apparently, internal polling must be showing Mr. Hickenlooper falling into a close race for Tuesday’s Democratic primary against former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff. The progressive left Senate Majority PAC just purchased a $1 million media buy in order to improve Mr. Hickenlooper’s image after the Ethics Commission ruling. Suddenly, what was a mundane primary affair coming this Tuesday is beginning to draw more attention.

Georgia: Public Policy Polling tested the Georgia electorate soon after the June 9th primary (6/12-13; 661 GA registered) that included four push questions designed to favor the Democratic position. The advocacy questions were ostensibly asked after the original ballot test query was posed. The results find new Democratic nominee Jon Ossoff pushing past Sen. David Perdue (R) by a slight 45-44% margin.

Kentucky: The Kentucky primary culminates next week on June 23rd, and Senate Democratic candidate Charles Booker, a Louisville state Representative, has just released an internal poll showing him doing much better than expected against presumptive nominee Amy McGrath.

According to Booker’s YouGovBlue survey (6/8-12; 314 KY likely Democratic primary voters, or individuals who have already cast their ballot through the early voting system), Ms. McGrath, who has already raised an eye-popping $41 million and spent half of that amount, leads her Democratic challenger by only a 49-39% margin.

A new Civiqs poll of the Kentucky electorate, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (6/13-15; 898 KY registered voters), finds Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) opening up substantial leads over both of his potential general election opponents. This Civiqs poll produces even better numbers for Rep. Booker. The poll projects him now taking a 44-36% lead over Ms. McGrath. The Civiqs general election data is also unfavorable for McGrath. Looking at individual ballot test results, Sen. McConnell would destroy her 57-37%, while he leads Rep. Booker, 52-38%.

New Mexico: Public Policy Polling, surveying for the New Mexico Political Report (6/12-13; 740 NM registered voters) and this time using no push questions, finds Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe) establishing his expected strong lead over new Republican nominee Mark Ronchetti, a former Albuquerque television weatherman. The ballot test breaks 48-34% for Rep. Lujan, who was unopposed in the Democratic statewide primary held June 2nd. The November Senate winner succeeds retiring two-term incumbent Tom Udall (D).Focus: House

Focus: House

Races Called: After a week of counting mail and post-election ballots in Georgia and Nevada produced nomination winners.

In what will be a hotly contested open Atlanta suburban GA-7 race another reversal from the original Associated Press projection has occurred. Now, 2018 Democratic nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux has been declared the outright winner, avoiding the runoff campaign to which she was originally headed. The latest returns push her well over 51%, enough to mathematically clinch victory. Ms. Bourdeaux, who came within 420 votes of upsetting Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) in 2018, will face Republican physician and retired Navy veteran Rich McCormick, who garnered more than 55% of the vote in last Tuesday’s Republican primary. This will be a toss-up campaign in the Fall.

Continuing the post-election reporting pattern, the Associated Press has again reversed a projection after post-election ballots were received. Though declaring that Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) had been forced into an unlikely runoff election, additional votes pushed the Congressman’s aggregate percentage over 51. The Congressman again becomes a lock to win a tenth term in the general election from this safely Democratic suburban district.

In Nevada, also from a June 9th primary contest, Republican former state Assemblyman Jim Marchant has been declared the winner over insurance agency owner Sam Peters by a 34-29% margin in the 4th Congressional District, a result where the totals remained close but did not fundamentally change as votes counting continued. Mr. Marchant will now challenge Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) in a general election campaign that has the potential of becoming competitive. Rep. Horsford is favored, but the 4th CD, since its original inception in the 2011 redistricting plan, has yet to re-elect an incumbent Representative.

KY-4: Northern Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Garrison/ Covington), who attracted headlines when he questioned the size of the Coronavirus bailout legislation and demanded a roll call vote in the House, appears to be headed for a landslide victory in his June 23rd re-nomination battle. According to a WPA Intelligence survey for the Club for Growth (6/10-11; 411 KY-4 likely Republican primary voters), the Congressman destroys GOP attorney Todd McMurtry 77-11%, even up from the 70-13% split the research organization found in late April.

NY-16: More evidence is coming from New York City that former middle school principal Jamaal Bowman is a serious Democratic primary threat to 16-term veteran Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx). The pre-primary filing period that closed June 3rd shows Mr. Bowman actually bringing in more money than Rep. Engel during the period, $431,000 to $389,000. Congressman Engel, however, still dominates the cash-on-hand column $826,000 to $345,000.

In a Democratic primary race that is becoming more competitive everyday, two familiar Democratic foes made recent endorsements and, not surprisingly, chose different sides. Former Secretary of State and 2016 presidential nominee Hillary Clinton yesterday announced her support for Rep. Engel, while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), as we know a two-time presidential candidate, publicly backs Mr. Bowman. The New York primary is next Tuesday, June 23rd.

Additionally, a new Data for Progress survey reveals a surprising result. The poll, conducted for the Bowman campaign (released 6/17; 525 NY-16 likely Democratic primary voters) gives the challenger a 41-31% lead over Rep. Engel, and a whopping 52-36% advantage when leaners are added. The Engel campaign spokesperson responded that the poll was flawed because it did not list the other two Democratic candidates in the primary race, while their own internal Global Strategy Group survey posts the Congressman to an eight-point lead. The Engel campaign, however, refused to make their poll public.

NY-17: Public Policy Polling, surveying for the Greenburgh Town Democratic Committee (6/15-16; 1,141 likely NY-17 Democratic primary voters via interactive response device) finds attorney Mondaire Jones taking the lead for Tuesday’s open seat Democratic primary that features a field of eight Democratic candidates.

According to PPP, Mr. Jones takes 25% of the congressional primary vote followed by self-funding attorney Adam Schleifer and ex-Defense Department official Evelyn Farkas trailing with 14% apiece. Another poll’s previous leader, state Sen. David Carlucci (D-New City/Ossining) drops to 11% support. Last week’s Data for Progress survey found Carlucci leading the pack with 15%, followed by Schleifer and Farkas at 13%, and Jones closely trailing with 12 percent. Tuesday promises to yield a close finish. The Democratic winner will become to prohibitive favorite to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-Harrison) in the general election.

PA-1: Public Policy Polling surveyed Pennsylvania’s swing 1st Congressional District (6/10-11; 753 PA-1 registered voters, half through live phone interviews and half through text messages to cell phones) in order to test two-term Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) and Ivyland Borough Councilmember Christina Finello (D). The poll comes after the June 2nd Pennsylvania primary that found Rep. Fitzpatrick scoring a disappointing 58% against a Republican opponent who exerted little in the way of campaign effort. The PPP result breaks 40-38% in Rep. Fitzpatrick’s favor, not unlike his 51-49% re-election victory margin in 2018.

VA-5: Freshman Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas) was defeated for re-nomination last weekend, losing a unique “drive-through convention” that the 5th District Republican Party leaders contrived in response to COVID-19 precautions. In a mock convention nomination process that was conceived to favor him, even to the point of having the lone voting site at the candidate’s church, Campbell County Supervisor and Liberty University athletic official Bob Good won the party’s congressional nomination with a 58-42% margin among the 2,537 5th District GOP delegates casting their ballots.

Mr. Riggleman is the third incumbent House member to lose re-nomination in this election cycle.He joins Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and Steve King (R-IA) as incumbents who failed to obtain their party’s backing for re-election.

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