Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Major Primary Week Begins Tomorrow

In Governor, House, Primary, Senate on August 4, 2014 at 2:17 pm

Voters in six states go the polls this week to choose their fall nominees. Most of the primary action is on the Republican side, but that all changes as the weekend approaches in the Aloha State of Hawaii. There, Democrats may deny a sitting governor re-nomination, will settle a tough Senate primary, and choose a fall candidate for the open Honolulu House seat. More on this state later in the week. Same for the Senate and House situation in Tennessee, which holds its primary on Thursday.

Four primaries, in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri and Washington are scheduled for tomorrow, and all but the Show Me State feature important contests. Missouri has neither a Senate nor a governor’s race this year, and no House incumbent faces serious nomination competition.

But, the climate is much different in Kansas, where the Republican split between moderates and conservatives is more pronounced than in virtually any state, and Michigan where establishment Republicans are running top tier candidates against two Tea Party incumbents. Democrats will choose a successor to Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14) who is running for Senate. In his open Detroit congressional district, three different candidates, including former Rep. Hansen Clark (D-MI-13), have each led in polls. In Washington, a key Republican open seat will take a major step toward being decided.

Kansas

Poll after poll has shown Gov. Sam Brownback (R) to be in trouble for re-election. He is a heavy favorite to win re-nomination against landscape contractor Jennifer Winn, but his real battle lies ahead in November against state House Minority Leader Paul Davis (D). His primary percentage tomorrow will be interesting.

Sen. Pat Roberts (R) faces a challenge from Dr. Milton Wolf, but late polling continues to post the incumbent to a double-digit lead. Several Roberts’ gaffes could have made this race interesting, but Wolf is far from a top-tier opponent.

The main House primary pits two-term Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS-4) against his predecessor, former Rep. Todd Tiahrt. The former House member is a late entry into the race, and Pompeo was well-prepared for a tough challenge. The current congressman is the clear favorite.

Michigan

Though the Senate and gubernatorial nominations have long been decided, five congressional districts host important primary elections.

In the Grand Rapids-anchored 3rd District, Rep. Justin Amash (R) faces a major challenge from local businessman Brian Ellis. Though Ellis has a list of endorsements and a cadre of supporters that would make a casual observer think that he is the incumbent, polling still shows a wide gap in favor of Rep. Amash. Ellis has the stronger ground presence and, in a low turnout election, this can allow a candidate to close rapidly.

The open 4th District (retiring House Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp, R) could provide the closest result. At least two polls project Republican candidates John Moolenaar, a state senator, and businessman Paul Mitchell in a flat tie.

The open Lansing area district, being vacated by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) departure from Congress, appears to be yielding toward former state Senate Majority Leader Mike Bishop becoming the Republican nominee. He will likely defeat state Rep. Tom McMillan (R), and then face Ingham County Clerk Eric Schertzing (D) in the general election.

It is the Wayne/Oakland County 11th District where the incumbent, Tea Party freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R) is the decided underdog heading into voting. Attorney David Trott (R), who also has the key establishment endorsements, strong district-wide support, and very strong financial support is poised to unseat Bentivolio and win election to the House in November.

In the Detroit-anchored 14th CD, ex-Rep. Clarke, Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence, and state Rep. Rudy Hobbs have all seen public polls pronounce them with Democratic primary leads. Tomorrow’s decision will almost assuredly choose the next House member, because the 14th District is heavily Democratic.

Washington

The Evergreen State has no governor or Senate race, and the nine incumbents seeking re-election are all headed to the general election. Like Louisiana and California, Washington employs a “top-two” primary system, meaning the top two vote-getters in each contest, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to the general election.

The open 4th District, Rep. Doc Hastings (R) retiring, hosts all of the action tomorrow. Eight Republicans, two Democrats, and two Independents are fighting for the two general election positions. The big question is whether one of the two Democrats, former congressional aide Estakio Beltran, or businessman Tony Sandoval can capture enough of the smaller Democratic base to clinch second place against a badly fractured Republican field. The GOP is favored to hold the seat in November, but will they qualify two Republicans for the general or only one?

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