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This Tuesday, voters in Arizona and Florida will go to the polls in primary elections.
The House delegation currently favors the GOP 5-4, but changes are in order this year given two incumbents vacating their seats for a Senate run. In the First, Democratic incumbent Tom O’Halleran is running. The GOP primary has Wendy Rogers who has run here before, Tiffany Shedd and state senator Steve Smith. A single poll shows a close race between Rogers and Shedd. Martha McSally, the Republican incumbent in the Second vacates the seat to run for the Senate. For the Democrats, Matt Heinz is back for another run and Ann Kirkpatrick seeks a seat in the House having formerly represented the First. On the GOP side, its anyone’s guess among four candidates in a district rated +3 GOP by Cook. Things got a little testy when Heinz challenged Kirkpatrick’s residency, but a court ruled she had a residence in Tuscon.
Districts Three through Eight are highly partisan districts and none are expected to change hands come November. That leaves the Ninth where Democratic incumbent Krysten Sinema is vacating the seat for a Senate run. This district is nominally rated Republican (+1 by Cook), so there is an opportunity to take this seat. It is expected the November match up will be between Democrat Talia Fuentes and Republican Dave Giles.
One should keep an eye on the Eighth. In the special election to replace Trent Franks, the GOP winner Debbie Lesko had to hold off Democrat Hiral Tipirneni 52-48 in a district Trump won 58-37.
In the Governor’s race, Republican incumbent Doug Ducey seeks another term. He has a precarious 41% approval rating in the state and has drawn former state secretary of state Ken Bennett as a primary opponent. On the Democratic side, it is three candidates with most polls showing a victory for Arizona State University professor David Garcia over state senator Steve Farley. There is some general election polling showing Garcia defeating Ducey in November, but all the margins are extremely close. Against Farley, Ducey comes out on top.
Jeff Flake has opted for retirement rather than another term. This smug, righteous face of the Never Trump camp has a 32% approval rating in the state against 50% disapproval in a state where Trump has a 48% approval rating. For the GOP, it is Martha McSally, Kelli Ward, and former sheriff Joe Arpaio the big names in a field of five. Most polls show McSally winning, but Ward is gaining in the most recent independent poll.
For the Democrats, it is likely that Krysten Sinema will emerge the winner over attorney Deedra Abboud. Every general election poll this year shows Sinema winning the general election with McSally being the closest competitor. However, only in one poll does Sinema break the 50% threshold, so this is not a slam dunk. This will be a hard-fought race and expect money to flow into Arizona for both eventual candidates.
Several House races are of little interest since many incumbents are running in fairly safe partisan districts. The first district of interest is the Sixth being vacated by Republican Ron DeSantis who is running for Governor. Even still, this is a fairly safe GOP district. Republicans believe they stand a chance in the 7th against Democrat Stephanie Murphy with businessman Scott Sturgill the likely GOP winner.
Although likely out of reach for the GOP, the Ninth could get interesting on the Democratic side as incumbent Darren Soto will face former Congressman and certified loud mouth, Alan Grayson. Republican turned independent turned Democrat Charlie Crist would appear vulnerable in the 13th District (rated +1 GOP by Cook), but there is no news out of this district. Republican Dennis Ross is retiring out of the 15th. Three Democrats and six Republicans have entered their respective primaries here. There is polling showing Democrat Kristen Carlson winning with state rep Ross Spano, who has the endorsement of Rubio, winning the GOP primary.
Another retirement- Tom Rooney for the GOP- in the 17th may make this an interesting race to watch come November. Democrats are openly targeting Republican Brian Mast in the 18th. Joe Kaufman is back in the GOP primary in the 23rd hoping to take on Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Two Democrats are in the primary in the 26th and have their eyes set on defeating Republican incumbent Carlos Curbelo.
Finally, in the 27th, Republican incumbent Ileana Ros-Lehtinen is retiring leaving a seat many feel with flip to the Democrats this year. There is some drama given the last minute entry of Obama operative Donna Shalala in the race and she received the endorsement of Hillary herself. That prompted one of her opponents, Matt Haggman, to go on the attack promising to abolish ICE. One poll shows this a runaway for Shalala over not Haggman, but David Richardson. Nine Republicans will fight it out, all Hispanic.
The Senate field is set for November: incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson against outgoing Republican Governor Rick Scott. Scott leaves office with a more-than-respectable approval rating of 54%. Nelson sports a 44% approval rating which may usually be good enough for an entrenched incumbent, but not against a foe like Scott. Perhaps that is why the Senate Majority PAC is reserving $23 million worth of advertisement in Florida for the general election. General election polling is back and forth with neither candidate gaining a large advantage. While many are looking at the Democrats running in traditional red states, this will be a huge battle come November and a race that should go down to the wire.
That leaves the open Governor’s race. On the GOP side, it is likely Ron DeSantis against Adam Putnam who has been groomed for this run for a while now. Putnam originally was leading in the polls over the Trump-endorsed DeSantis until Putnam ran into a mini-controversy where his department failed to properly conduct background checks on concealed carry permits. Gun control is a touchy issue in Florida after the Parkland shootings and Putnam is clearly pro-Second Amendment (as is DeSantis). Putnam has placed the blame on underlings, but it is having an effect on his candidacy as evidenced by recent polling.
The Democrats have their own drama with seven candidates in the mix. Most believe it comes down to Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum, billionaire Jeff Greene, former US House member Gwen Graham and former Miami Beach mayor Philip Levine. Most of the early polls showed a Levine victory until Greene, a late entry, came into the picture. Gillum, struggling in the polls and fundraising, got a boost in an endorsement and need cash from Tom Steyer’s NextGen. However, it may be too little too late against the very wealthy Greene, Levine who is showing staying power in the polls, and Graham whose name means something in Florida politics.
General election polling shows a very close race come November regardless of who the candidates are for either party. This will be a barn burner.
Next: The final four primaries in September.