Diary

June 5th Primaries- Part 1

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Promoted from the diaries by streiff. Promotion does not imply endorsement.
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Eight states go to the polls on Tuesday.  This is part 1 of a two part series on those races.  Today, we look at races in Alabama, California, Montana and South Dakota.

Alabama

Seven House seats and a Governor’s race are on tap.  In a state where Trump enjoys a 63% approval rating, one can confidently state that the GOP will do well here.  With six Republicans in the House and all running for reelection their only impediment will be from primary opponents.  And even there only Martha Roby in the 2nd has drawn four primary opponents.

In the Governor’s race, GOP incumbent Kay Ivey will face three primary opponents.  However, with a 67% approval rating (third highest in the country), even the thought of a runoff does not seem likely.  On the Democratic side, six candidates have entered the fray with Sue Bell Cobb the most well-known.  In scant polling, she trails former state rep James Fields.  This one most likely will go to a runoff come July 17th.

California

With a Governor’s race, a Senate race and 53 House seats, California politics will be interesting this year.  California uses a non-partisan primary system where the top two vote receivers, regardless of party, advance to the general election in November.

In the Governor’s race, there are 12 declared Democrats and 5 Republicans plus third party candidates on the ballot.  It is possible that a Republican can slip through as Democrats fight over votes.  But, most pundits have this race coming down to Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom against former LA mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in November.  In overall nonpartisan polling, that was the consensus until recently.  Since March, Republican businessman John Cox has actually moved into the second spot as the star of Villaraigosa has waned somewhat.  Regardless of primary outcomes, it appears this is Gavin Newsom’s race to lose in November.

In the Senate race, Democratic incumbent Diane Feinstein is up for another term although there were rumors of an impending retirement.  That has not stopped 9 other Democrats and 11 Republicans from entering the primary for a total of 20 candidates.  California state senator Kevin de Leon seems to be Feinstein’s biggest primary opponent (a fellow Democrat).  If Republicans can unite behind a consensus choice, there is a good chance one can get more votes than de Leon forcing Feinstein to face a Republican in November.  If anyone, it would likely be businessman James Bradley.  However, it appears that Feinstein is headed for another six years in the Senate.

Given the number of Democrats crawling out of the woodwork in House races, it is obvious they are flooding the field in many districts.  At least four Democrats are running in nine of the 14 districts currently held by Republicans.  Of particular interest are the seats held by Jeff Denham in the 10th, Devin Nunes in the 22nd, Steven Knight in the 25th, and Mimi Walters in the 45th.  Throw in open GOP-held seats in the 39th (Ed Royce) and the 49th (Darrel Issa) and one can see why Democratic hopes are high here.  Although it is very likely that there will be a partisan match-up in the open districts and that all GOP incumbents will be on the November ballot, there is no guarantee of their victory in a state where Trump enjoys a 34% approval rating.

Montana

Democratic incumbent Senator Jon Tester is up for reelection and faces no opposition in his party.  On the GOP side, five people are in the primary with the front runner being state auditor Matt Rosendale.  Tester presents an interesting dynamic.  He enjoys a 56% approval rating which all but guarantees a trip back to the Senate.  Yet in hypothetical general election polling, he ends up on the short end of the stick against a generic Republican.  This is like the dynamic seen in West Virginia where Manchin loses to “generic Republican,” but beats Republicans with a name.  Unlike Manchin, Tester has a considerably higher approval rating.  Likewise, Trump’s approval rating in Montana stands at a healthy 50%.  With the right candidate espousing the right message, Tester can be taken down.

In the lone House seat race, Republican incumbent Greg Gianforte has no primary opposition while five Democrats have entered their primary.  Despite punches thrown by Gianforte and the Democrat’s best efforts, it will be difficult for the Democrats to take this House seat in November.

South Dakota

In the Governor’s race, Republican incumbent US House member Kristi Noem leaves Washington to seek the Governor’s office.  Once considered a rising star in GOP/DC circles, she’s opted to return to her home state instead to succeed popular term-limited Governor Daugaard (62% approval).  She faces three primary opponents with the most formidable being state attorney general Marty Jackley who actually leads Noem in some polls.  There is no drama on the Democratic side as state house minority leader Billie Sutton faces no opposition in their primary.

In the open House seat race, former state court judge Timothy Bjorkman faces no opposition in the Democratic primary.  The GOP primary will face Daugaard’s former chief of staff and businessman Dusty Johnson, state secretary of state Shantel Krebs, and state senator and Trump supporter Neal Tapio (he was Trump’s state campaign manager in 2016) who is running as an anti-establishment candidate.  With Trump himself having a 50% approval rating in the state, this one is anyone’s guess at this point.

Tomorrow: Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey and New Mexico