Primary Recap – Important Developments
*A specific piece focusing solely on the implications of the special election in Nebraska’s 1st will be published tomorrow*
The Colorado GOP had an excellent night in statewide primaries on Tuesday. Extreme candidates Ron Hanks, Greg Lopez, and Tina Peters all lost to mainstream challengers who are perceived as more electable in November. National Democrats had pushed Hanks particularly hard in the Senate primary, believing Michael Bennet would rather face him than Joe O’Dea. Both O’Dea and Ganahl won their nominations with similar populated-county coalitions. Split Ticket will be keeping the Senate and Gubernatorial elections on the board at Likely Democratic.
Republicans also overcame Democratic interference in the 8th district, based in Weld and Adams counties. The NRCC’s preferred candidate, state Senator Barbara Kirkmeyer, defeated far-right challenger Lori Saine. Most of the vote in this district is cast in blue Adams County, home to Democratic nominee Yadira Caraveo, but Split Ticket believes that a strong candidate like Kirkmeyer will be able to outrun fundamentals in this Biden +4.6 seat. Leans Republican
The anti-establishment wing of the GOP claimed one important victory in the 3rd district, a Trump +8 seat. In that race, freshman Congresswoman Lauren Boebert defeated Montrose state Senator Don Coram 65-35%. Boebert performed worst in the bluest sections of her seat like Pitkin County (Aspen) but won comfortably around Grand Junction, Pueblo, and the Hispano region. She faces Democrat Adam Frisch in an uncompetitive race this fall. Safe Republican
- In CO-04 and CO-05, incumbent Republicans Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn won renomination. Lamborn led Dave Williams just 48-33%, another weak primary performance to add to his record. The El Paso County-based 5th is trending leftward but remains Safe R.
- In CO-07, a Biden +14 seat stretching from JeffCo down to Cañon City in the Arkansas Valley, Erik Aadland defeated Tim Reichert and far-right candidate Laurel Imer. He faces state Sen. Brittany Pettersen in a race to succeed Ed Perlmutter that is currently Likely D.
Democratic attempts to interfere in GOP primaries may have failed in Colorado, but they succeeded wonderfully in Illinois, where one-term Governor J.B. Pritzker will face far-right Republican Darren Bailey. The downstate legislator swept businessman Jesse Sullivan and moderate Mayor Richard Irvin with 57% of the vote on the back of a broad statewide coalition. Bailey’s platform is far too conservative for the median voter in the Land of Lincoln, so Split Ticket finds it hard to see the new GOP path to victory against a popular Governor with a large warchest. Likely Democratic to Safe Democratic
Illinois was also the scene of a political oddity: two simultaneous double-bunkings occurring in opposite parts of the state. One occurred in the Cook/DuPage-based 6th district, where two-term Congressman Sean Casten defeated freshman Marie Newman 68-29% despite being geographically-disadvantaged. Casten won the DuPage portion 85-14 while simultaneously carrying the more-populated Cook section 53-42. The last Democratic double-bunking happened in Georgia’s 7th, where Lucy McBath beat Carolyn Bourdeaux by a similarly-lopsided margin.
Perhaps the more closely-watched of these two races was the 15th district, where Trump-endorsed freshman Mary Miller defeated Rodney Davis 58-42%. Davis, elected 2012, was in line to chair House Administration and had the support of Kevin McCarthy and the House Leadership. He performed best in the counties hugging the boundary of his old 13th district, but struggled against Miller in the northwestern section of the 15th that is currently represented by Darin LaHood – a Davis supporter.
Interestingly, Miller seemed to run better in parts of the newly-added territory than she did in her 31% of the seat down south. Adams County, where the pre-election Trump rally was held, gave Miller 80% compared to just 60% that she drew from her home in Coles County. One other interesting feature of this race was turnout: over 100,000 ballots have been cast in this leviathan seat.
Progressives put up a tough fight against Danny Davis in the plurality-black 7th district, which combines metro Chicago with whiter communities in suburban Cook like Oak Park. As of this writing, the incumbent leads rematch challenger Kina Collins just 52-45%. That’s a measured improvement from two years ago, when Collins lost 62-16%. This time around she managed to outraise Davis and run a close race, though she ultimately came up short.
If this primary fits the MO-01 example at all, precinct results should show Davis running better in traditionally-black wards and Collins posting impressive margins with left-leaning white Democrats. It is unclear whether Collins will run again in 2024, but a potential Davis retirement seems like it could motivate her to make a third bid.
- 24 year Secretary of State Jesse White retired this year, but he will remain a household name thanks to the scope of his official duties. The favorite to succeed him is failed 2010 Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias, who won the Democratic primary with 52.7% of the vote in an interesting political comeback.
- In majority-black IL-01, Jonathan Jackson won the primary to replace retiring Congressman Bobby Rush with 28%. His large lead in the Cook portion of the seat allowed him to beat credible opponents like Pat Dowell, Rush-endorsed Karin Norington-Reaves, and state Sen. Jacqueline Collins. He is the son of Jesse Jackson.
- In the new majority-Hispanic IL-03, progressive state Rep. Delia Ramirez won her primary against Alderman Gilbert Villegas 66-24%. Villegas was considered the more mainstream candidate, but Ramirez had stronger state and local connections.
- In the 6th district (Biden +11), Village President Keith Pekau defeated Mayor Gary Grasso for the GOP nomination 39-27%. He will face Democrat Sean Casten in a Leans Democratic race this fall.
- In the 8th district (Biden +15), Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi defeated progressive challenger Junaid Ahmed by 40 points. His Republican opponent in this Likely Democratic race is Chris Dargis, the most credible member of the little-known GOP field.
- In the 11th district (Biden +15), Republicans nominated Catalina Lauf to take on Democrat Bill Foster in a Likely Democratic race. Formerly involved with the Trump campaign, Lauf lost the GOP primary for the 14th district in 2020.
- In the 13th district (Biden +11), the Republican primary is too close to call as of this writing. Frontrunner Jesse Reising, an ex-federal prosecutor, is trailing Regan Deering. Regardless of the nominee, this race remains Leans Democratic (flip) because A-tier recruit Nikki Budzinski has made all of the right moves thus far.
- In the 14th district (Biden +11), Democrat Lauren Underwood is still expected to have a close race despite getting a boost in redistricting. Her opponent is Kendall County Board Chairman Scott Gryder. This race is Leans Democratic.
- In the 17th district (Biden +8), Republicans have their best pick-up opportunity among the Illinois seats. 2020 nominee Esther Joy King will face erstwhile meteorologist Eric Sorensen in a Tossup race. Sorensen defeated progressive state Rep. Litesa Wallace by running up large margins in Rock Island County. This seat is still rightward-trending despite its ostensible Democratic lean.
In the Empire State, frontrunning Democrats Kathy Hochul and Antonio Delgado both won their primaries with ease. Hochul, who became Governor last fall after disgraced incumbent Andrew Cuomo resigned, beat challengers from the right (Tom Suozzi) and left (Jumaane Williams). Delgado, who was appointed Lt. Governor following Brian Benjamin’s withdrawal due to corruption, secured renomination by similarly-large margins.
The GOP primary has attracted some extra attention this year because of the national environment, but Split Ticket still views the general election as Safe Democratic. That said, Congressman Lee Zeldin is an excellent Republican nominee who is perfectly capable of waging an uphill battle against a formidable incumbent. Above all, the state GOP is certainly glad that Rudy Giuliani’s son, Andrew, failed to come close to winning.
In the primary for the Oklahoma Senate special to replace retiring incumbent Jim Inhofe, 2nd district Congressman Markwayne Mullin finished first with 44% of the vote. He forged a broad statewide coalition, but still fell short of the 50% threshold to win outright. Because of that, he must beat TW Shannon in the August runoff. Shannon, who last ran for Senate in 2014, received 18% of the vote on Tuesday. The winner of the GOP runoff will face former 5th district Democrat Kendra Horn in November. Safe Republican
The GOP primary to determine Mullin’s replacement in the 2nd district was the most interesting race in Sooner State by far. An extremely-fractitious, regionalized contest in every sense, the upcoming Little Dixie runoff will be a face-off between state Rep. Avery Frix from the Muskogee area and former state Sen. Josh Brecheen, who ran well in the district’s southeastern corner. If preliminary coalitions are any indication, the 2nd round of voting should break down on a north/south divide. Safe Republican
- Governor Kevin Stitt and Senator James Lankford both won renomination with over 65% of the vote. The regular Senate primary was particularly interesting, as some had predicted that far-right hopeful Jackson Lahmeyer would force Lankford into a runoff. Safe Republican
- In the Oklahoma City-based 5th district, freshman Republican Stephanie Bice beat back a challenge from Subrina Banks 68-32%. Bice had previously been targeted by the GOP’s anti-establishment wing for backing the initial Jan. 6th Committee. Safe Republican
- The GOP primary for Attorney General produced a fascinating result. Incumbent John O’Connor ran well in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, but tanked in the state’s rural counties. Challenger & 2018 candidate Gentner Drummond won narrowly 51-49%. Safe Republican
In Utah, Senator Mike Lee was renominated 62-30% over challenger Becky Edwards. His margin was weakest in Salt Lake County, where Edwards trails by just 8 points as of this writing. Lee’s somewhat-underwhelming performance suggests that independent Evan McMullin, running as the de facto Democratic nominee, might be able to put a little extra heat on the incumbent. Republicans are still heavily-favored to hold this Senate seat, and Lee should win easily, but Split Ticket still feels that this race deserves more attention than it has so far received. Safe Republican to Likely Republican
Congressmen Blake Moore (UT-01) and John Curtis (UT-03) both won renomination easily on Tuesday despite voting for the initial Jan. 6th Committee. Of the two members, Moore had the slimmer margin. He took just 59% of the vote, defeating Andrew Badger and Tina Cannon. Ironically, it was vocally anti-establishment incumbent Burgess Owens (UT-04) who had the closest race. He beat moderate challenger Jake Hunsaker 62-38%. Safe Republican
Another strange political situation played out in Mississippi, where two Republican incumbents found themselves in competitive runoff elections for drastically different reasons. Perhaps a sign that voters place more weight on certain faults than others (more on that later) the two districts yielded opposite results.
The 3rd district, connecting Rankin (Brandon) and Lauderdale (Meridien) counties, broke easily for incumbent Michael Guest, who defeated right-wing challenger Michael Cassidy with 67% of the vote. Cassidy, who was attacked badly for unconventional tenets of his economic platform, only won in Lauderdale and Jones counties. National Republicans invested a lot of money into this contest after Guest’s weak finish in the initial vote, widely attributed to negative attacks levied against him for his Jan. 6th Committee vote. Safe Republican
In the 4th district, Steve Palazzo became the fourth incumbent of the cycle to lose renomination to a non-incumbent challenger. That gentleman was Mike Ezell, the Sheriff of Jackson County. Palazzo, who has been the subject of numerous ethical inquests over his 12 year career, had finished with just 36% of the vote in the initial round earlier this month. He ran well in Forrest County (Hattiesburg) but struggled along the Gulf Coast, ultimately losing 54-46%. Safe Republican