Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Virginia’s “Firehouse” Primary Tomorrow; Other Primary Developments

In Election Analysis on April 25, 2014 at 11:09 am

A congressional nomination will be decided tomorrow in the Washington, DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. Expectations suggest a limited number of Republican voters will participate in what is termed a “firehouse” primary.

The characteristics of such a voting event are unique. First, only 11 polling places will be open throughout the entire district: just one apiece in Clarke, Frederick, and Prince William Counties, and in the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester. Fairfax County will feature two polling locations, and Loudoun County, a locality housing more than 350,000 residents, will have only three. Instead of voting in one’s own neighborhood as is normally the case, individuals will have to travel, in some instances more than 20 miles, and stand in what could be a long line because there are so few polling places. Thus, participating in this election will take a much greater commitment from every voter than in normal primaries.

Second, no absentee or early voting is permitted.

A third unusual requirement, as a condition of being presented a ballot, demands that the voter sign what is being termed a “loyalty oath.” The text of the official statement of intent follows:

I am a legal and qualified voter, registered in the 10th Congressional District of Virginia.

I am in accord with the principles of the Republican Party and I intend to support the 10th District Republican nominee for Member, House of Representatives in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election.

The candidate field includes the favorite expected to prevail, state Delegate and former Republican National Committee official Barbara Comstock; State Delegate Bob Marshall; former small business trade association president Marc Savitt; businessman and frequent candidate Howie Lind; businessman and father of 13 children Stephen Hollingshead; and Rob Wasinger, the former Kansas congressional candidate and chief of staff to Michigan Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI-11), round out the group.

Comstock has most of the key local and national support and certainly has outdistanced everyone in terms of fundraising. At the end of March, her receipt total exceeded $761,000. Del. Marshall, by contrast, had only raised $55,000 during the same period.

The 10th District of Virginia begins in the McLean area of Fairfax County, encompasses Loudoun county and then extends all the way to West Virginia. It is a marginal Republican seat and can become competitive in an open seat context, particularly if the national trends swing toward the Democrats. Rep. Frank Wolf (R) is retiring after 17 terms in office. Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust is unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

North Carolina Senate

The first poll that shows anything but a tight bunching of the Republican senatorial candidates vying to challenge first-term Sen. Kay Hagan (D) has been made public.

The Civitas Institute, a prominent North Carolina-based conservative think tank, commissioned a Survey USA poll of the GOP Senate primary (April 16-22; 396 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters) and finds state House Speaker Thom Tillis breaking away from the pack of candidates, closing in on the 40 percent mark needed to secure outright nomination on May 6. Tillis scores 39 percent of the polling respondents’ support, versus 20 percent for conservative physician Greg Brannon, while Charlotte pastor Mark Harris trails the two with 15 percent. All other candidates record single digits. In the previous S-USA poll, Tillis led with only a 23-15 percent margin over Brannon.

If no candidate reaches 40 percent of the vote in the primary election, the top two Republican finishers will then run-off in a secondary July 15 vote. It would be advantageous for the GOP to nominate a standard bearer as soon as possible in order to neutralize any advantage Sen. Hagan will enjoy from a protracted Republican intra-party battle. Hagan continues to languish as one of the most vulnerable senators in the country seeking re-election.

MN-6

Last week, the 6th Congressional District Republican convention officially endorsed former state Representative and 2010 gubernatorial nominee Tom Emmer as the official party candidate to replace retiring Rep. Michele Bachmann (R). Normally, in Minnesota politics, the state convention delegates determine the nominees because most candidates refrain from carrying their race to a primary. Normally, the state delegates adopt as the nominee the person the district convention activists endorse. In this case, Emmer received an overwhelming 76 percent of the local delegate vote on the first ballot.

Both former state Rep. Phil Krinkie and Anoka County Commissioner Rhonda Sivarajah say they will force the primary vote on Aug. 12, however. Attempting to change their minds, the Emmer camp released a new poll giving their candidate what appears to be an insurmountable advantage. According to the Public Opinion Strategies poll (April 16-17; 300 MN-6 registered Republican voters), Emmer has a commanding 79-4-3 percent lead over Sivarajah and Krinkie, respectively.

It is likely that Emmer will win the GOP nomination, which will provide him the inside track for the general election in what is a decidedly Republican district.

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