Democrats lead in the first independent poll since Virginia’s gubernatorial primary

The Daily Kos Elections Morning Digest is compiled by David Nir, Jeff Singer, Stephen Wolf, and Carolyn Fiddler, with additional contributions from David Jarman, Steve Singiser, Daniel Donner, James Lambert, and David Beard.


VA-Gov: Quinnipiac is out with their first post-primary poll of the Virginia governor’s race, and they have Democratic nominee Ralph Northam leading Republican Ed Gillespie 47-39. Back in April, Quinnipiac gave Northam a larger 44-33 edge in what was then a hypothetical matchup. This poll gives Democratic incumbent Terry McAuliffe, who is termed out of office, a 47-37 approval rating, though that’s also a drop from his 52-32 score two months ago.

We’ve only seen a few polls here recently. The only other independent poll we’ve seen in months, an Abt Associates poll for the Washington Post in May, gave Northam a 49-38 lead. Shortly after the primary, Gillespie’s team released a Public Opinion Strategies poll giving him a 46-45 lead over Northam. Days later Harper Polling, a GOP group that doesn’t seem to have been polling for a client, showed a 46-46 tie.

Democrats have plenty of reasons for optimism, especially with Trump likely to be a drag on Gillespie in a state that backed Clinton 50-44. However, we still have relatively little data to work with, and both parties are certain to spend heavily here. And no matter what, wary Democrats should remember that polls gave Team Blue clear leads in the 2013 gubernatorial race and the 2014 Senate race, but the Democrats only narrowly won each race. It’s far from guaranteed anything like that will happen this fall, but it’s a good incentive for Democrats not to take anything for granted.


PA-Sen: The GOP field to face Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is still taking shape, and Republicans are waiting to see if either Reps. Lou Barletta or Mike Kelly get in. However, it doesn’t look like we’ll see a primary between both congressmen. Several GOP sources tell the National Journal’s Kimberly Railey that Barletta and Kelly wouldn’t run against one another, though it’s unclear which House member is more likely to get in; it’s also very possible both decide to sit the contest out. For his part, Kelly says he’ll decide by the end of this summer, while Barletta has yet to lay out a timeline.

Four Republicans are currently in, and state GOP sources tell Railey that real-estate developer Jeff Bartos “has so far waged the most professional and aggressive campaign.” Ex-energy executive Paul Addis, who has highlighted his opposition to Trump, is also in, but Republicans aren’t sure if either Bartos or Addis will do any significant self-funding. State Reps. Rick Saccone and Jim Christiana are also seeking this seat, but neither appears to have made much of an impression so far.

NV-Sen, NV-03: Following unexpected news reports earlier in the week that she would run for Senate in 2018, Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen confirmed on Wednesday in an email to the Associated Press that she is indeed planning on a campaign and would officially announce soon, although we still don’t have a direct quote yet. Rosen’s entry into the race would give Democrats a major recruit against GOP Sen. Dean Heller, who is likely the most vulnerable Senate Republican in the nation since he’s the only one facing re-election next year in a Clinton state. She would leave behind the swingy 3rd Congressional District in Las Vegas’ southern suburbs, which will likely be hotly contested regardless after it favored Trump just 48-47 and Obama only 50-49.

Fellow Democratic Rep. Dina Titus had previously said she was thinking about a Senate bid of her own, but her anemic first quarter fundraising suggested her heart wasn’t in it. With Rosen reportedly having the support of key national Democratic leaders, Titus might simply find it more enticing to seek re-election to her safely Democratic downtown Las Vegas district, but she has yet to clarify her plans in light of these latest developments.


AL-Gov: GOP state Auditor Jim Zeigler has said that he won’t decide on a bid until after this September’s likely GOP Senate runoff, but that didn’t stop him from forming an exploratory committee this week. Zeigler was one of Gov. Robert Bentley’s loudest intra-party critics before Bentley resigned in disgrace in April, and he has a reputation for picking fights with powerful Alabamians.

Earlier this year, Zeigler also self-published a novel titled, “The Making of the People’s Governor 2018.” The tome’s description states that, “Several of the usual suspects ran for governor with no track records of having stood up against the abuses of the Bentley administration. But one candidate had stood up in the Bentley years and, in 2018, stood out from the rest.” Republican Kay Ivey, who became governor after Bentley left, has yet to announce her 2018 plans, but a number of other Republicans are already running.

IA-Gov: On Tuesday, Cedar Rapids Mayor Ron Corbett announced that he would seek the GOP nomination for governor of Iowa next year. Thankfully, Corbett does not appear to have broken out into song this time, but we have a long campaign ahead of us. Corbett will face incumbent Kim Reynolds, who became governor last month when incumbent Terry Branstad resigned to become ambassador to China, in the GOP primary.

Corbett, who served as speaker of the state House in the 1990s, is arguing that there has been a “lack of leadership” in state government, a shot at both Branstad and Reynolds. While Reynolds recently became Iowa’s first GOP governor not named Terry Branstad since 1983, the former lieutenant governor has Branstad’s support for 2018, and Corbett’s allies hope that what they’ve termed as “Branstad fatigue” extends to her. However, it’s unclear if enough GOP primary voters are actually exhausted with Branstad and Reynolds. As mayor, Corbett has pushed for union-friendly agreements, which also could be a huge liability with conservatives.

KS-Gov: GOP Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer has been flirting with a bid to replace his unpopular boss, termed-out incumbent Sam Brownback, for a while. Colyer is hinting that he’ll announce his plans soon, telling KMBZ, “On July 8, I would be the longest-serving lieutenant governor in Kansas history—there may be some hints and things coming up around then.”

It’s very possible that Colyer will actually be governor when the 2018 primary rolls around. There have been persistent reports for months that Brownback is in line for a job with the Trump administration, and last week, the Kansas City Star reported that he was being vetted. However, even if Colyer gets an early promotion, it’s unlikely that he’ll have a clear path through the primary. Several Republicans, most notably Secretary of State Kris Kobach, have already entered the race.

MD-Gov: On Wednesday, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker announced that he would seek the Democratic nod to face GOP Gov. Larry Hogan. Baker, who leads a large suburban D.C. county, is well-connected, though he doesn’t start out with much name recognition in the Baltimore area. Several Democrats are already running, and the field could get much larger.


LA-01: On Wednesday, Republican House Majority Whip Steve Scalise’s condition was upgraded from serious to fair. Last week, Scalise was badly wounded when he was shot by a man named James Hodgkinson at a batting practice session being held by the congressional Republicans’ baseball team, and Scalise underwent several surgeries over the following few days. Four others—two Capitol Police officers, a congressional staffer, and a lobbyist—were also injured.

MN-01: Democratic Businessman Colin Minehart announced on Tuesday that he will run for the open 1st District next year, making him the latest candidate to mount a campaign to replace outgoing Democratic Rep. Tim Walz after the latter launched his bid for governor. Mineheart has never held office before and unsuccessfully ran for state House three times during the 1970s and 1980s, so it’s unclear just how formidable of a campaign he’ll be capable of running, but he could have some useful connections from his past tenure leading the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association. Minehart wouldn’t commit to abiding by the party convention endorsement process ahead of next year’s primary, but stated he was leaning toward doing so.

The southern Minnesota-based 1st District has long been swingy at the presidential level, but it lurched from 50-48 Obama to 53-38 Trump in 2016, potentially making it one of the toughest Democrat holds next year. Former state Sen. Vicki Jensen is already running for Team Blue, while state Sen. Nick Frentz has previously said that he’s considering it.


Special Elections: Via Johnny Longtorso:

South Carolina HD-48: This was a Republican hold. Bruce Bryant defeated Democrat Bebs Barron Chorak by a 61-39 margin. This seat went 59-35 for Donald Trump in 2016, and 63-36 for Mitt Romney in 2012.

South Carolina HD-70: This was a Democratic hold. Wendy Brawley beat Republican Bill Strickland by a 78-22 margin. This seat went 70-27 for Hillary Clinton in 2016, and 74-25 for Barack Obama in 2012.


Charlotte, NC Mayor: After a rough first year in office, Mayor Jennifer Roberts faces two prominent challengers, Mayor Pro Tem Vi Lyles and state Sen. Joel Ford, in this September’s Democratic primary. Roberts’ campaign is out with an early June survey from Lake Research Partners giving her a 35-21 lead over Lyles, with Ford at 15. In Charlotte primaries, a candidate needs to take more than 40 percent of the vote to win the nomination without a runoff. The poll gives Roberts a 64-25 favorable image with primary votes, while results were not released for Lyles and Ford. The campaign also says they did not poll hypothetical general election matchups with GOP City Councilor Kenny Smith.

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