Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

No Surprises In Florida; Russell “Gets It” in Oklahoma; Arizona Results Roundup

In Governor, House on August 27, 2014 at 6:12 pm

Florida

The Florida primary proceeded as expected. Gov. Rick Scott won an 88 percent Republican victory; former Gov. Charlie Crist scored 74 percent on the Democratic side. With no US Senate race on the ballot this year, all of the contested federal action is in US House races. The eight challenged incumbents all broke 70 percent of the vote.

In the two congressional races of note, Miami Dade School Board member and former US Senate state director for interim Sen. George LeMieux (R), Carlos Curbelo, was an easy winner in the Miami-based 26th District. He earns the right to challenge freshman Rep. Joe Garcia (D) in what will be a highly competitive campaign.

Curbelo defeated four other Republicans, including former Rep. David Rivera who was attempting a comeback after being defeated in 2012, a result of several simultaneous scandals involving the freshman congressman and former state representative. Rivera managed to attract only eight percent of the vote last night. Curbelo topped the field with 47 percent, followed by Cutler Bay Mayor Ed MacDougall (25 percent), ex-Miami-Dade County Commission chairman Joe Martinez, who scored a weak 14 percent, and then Rivera, with three percent going to attorney Lorenzo Palomares-Starbuck. The 26th was designed as a Republican seat, and performed as such until Rivera lost all credibility and fell to Garcia, 53-43 percent.

Up the Atlantic coast toward the Palm Beach area, 70-year-old former state Rep. and businessman Carl Domino topped five other Republican candidates with 38 percent of the vote. Though this is another nominally Republican seat, freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), who defeated Rep. Allen West (R) 50.3 – 49.7 percent two years ago, appears strongly positioned for re-election. This will be a competitive battle, but is a possible GOP conversion only if a major Republican wave forms.

Oklahoma

It is highly likely that the Oklahoma City Republican run-off voters selected a new congressman last night. Former Army Lt. Col. Steve Russell, who led the military mission that captured Saddam Hussein, and then wrote the book “We Got Him” to describe the details, easily defeated state Corporations Commissioner Patrice Douglas (59-41 percent).

Despite raising three times the money that Russell accumulated, Douglas was never able to compete with the former’s strong personal appeal and grassroots organization. Col. Russell will be the prohibitive favorite against state Sen. Al McAffrey, the Democratic run-off winner, and three independent candidates.

In the Senate race, as expected, state Sen. Connie Johnson clinched the Democratic senatorial run-off but has more than likely won the right to lose to Rep. James Lankford (R-OK-5) in the fall. The two are vying to replace resigning Sen. Tom Coburn (R).

Arizona

Though Republican primary polling has been suspect all year, it certainly wasn’t last night in Arizona. For weeks, surveys had indicated that state Treasurer and former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey would win the Republican nomination, and that he did with 37 percent of the vote against five GOP opponents. In second, also as predicted, was former Mesa Mayor Scott Smith (23 percent). Attorney Christine Jones, originally thought to be a strong contender, fell well back into third place. Secretary of State Ken Bennett and former California Congressman Frank Riggs (R-CA-1) brought up the rear.

Ducey will now face former Clinton Administration official and frequent statewide candidate Fred DuVal in the general election. DuVal was unopposed on the Democratic side of last night’s primary. The trends suggest a more Republican-oriented swing in the fall, meaning that Ducey should be considered at least a slight favorite against DuVal in the general election.

The 1st Congressional District race may take some time to sort out. As predicted, the 1st District Republican primary proved to be extremely close though the two candidates locked in a virtual tie were not the projected combination. State House Speaker Andy Tobin and rancher Gary Kiehne are within 100 votes of each other. State Rep. Adam Kwasman, who pollsters posted into a virtual tie with Tobin is about five percentage points behind. The eventual winner will challenge Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D), which will become a highly competitive campaign. Expect a recount and a court presence in this campaign before an official winner is determined.

In the 2nd CD, former Air Force officer and 2012 Republican nominee Martha McSally (R) made her re-match with Rep. Ron Barber (D) official. She easily defeated two Republican opponents, topping 68 percent of the vote. McSally lost by less than one percent of the vote in 2012, and this campaign may see her move to the favorite’s position before long. The Arizona border situation, in a mid-term election, could give McSally all the boost she needs to win in November.

Seventh District Democrats have chosen a new congressman. State Rep. Ruben Gallego defeated former Maricopa County Commissioner Mary Rose Wilcox and two others. Gallego garnered 48 percent of the local Phoenix Democratic vote, versus Wilcox’s 36 percent. Without a Republican on the ballot, Gallego has for all intents and purposes won the right to succeed retiring Rep. Ed Pastor (D-AZ-7).

In the 9th CD, former military veteran Wendy Rogers defeated ex-Oakland Raiders and Arizona State University football quarterback Andrew Walter in the GOP primary. Rogers will now challenge freshman Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) in a campaign that could become interesting in light of the immigration situation, and should a Republican wave develop.

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