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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

5/20/14 Primary Roundup(AR, GA, ID, KY, OR PA)

ARKANSAS

Arkansas Governor: Republican Asa Hitchinson and Democrat Mike Ross easily won their respective primaries.

Arkansas Lieutenant Governor: Republican Congressman Tim Griffin easily blew out his opposition and is favoured in November.

AR-2: Republican Businessman French Hill won his Primary by a surprisingly large margin and is favoured in November.

AR-4: Republican State House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman prevailed by a modest margin and will most likely win in November.

GEORGIA

Georgia Senate: As was expected from looking at the polls, Millionaire Businessman and political scion David Perdue and Congressman Jack Kingston will advance to a costly(and, judging by their respective advertisements, a childish and tacky one at that) Runoff which will determine who stares down Democratic political scion Michelle Nunn in November.

Georgia Governor: Incumbent Republican Governor Nathan Deal easily beat back two minor opponents for the right to take on Democratic political scion Jason Carter in November.

Georgia Secretary of State: Democrat Doreen Carter easily won the right to lose to incumbent Republican Brian Kemp in November.

Georgia School Superintendent: In very crowded fields, Republicans Mike Buck and Richard Woods and Democrats Valarie Wilson and Alisha Morgan will advance to a Runoff.

Georgia Insurance Commissioner: Democrat Liz Johnson easily won the right to lose to incumbent Republican Ralph Hudgens in November.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner: Incumbent Republican Lauren 'Bubba' McDonald beat out his nearest Primary opponent by a nearly 3-1 margin, and is the heavy favourite in November.

GA-3, 4, 9, 13, 14-Incumbent Republicans Lynn Westmoreland, Doug Collins, and Tom Graves, as well as incumbent Democrats Hank Johnson and David Scott, easily defeated their Primary opposition. They are all unopposed in November.

GA-1: Republican State Senator Buddy Carter and Physician Bob Johnson will advance to a Runoff in this dark red district.

GA-2: Republican Greg Duke easily won the right to face Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop in November.

GA-10: Republican Minister Jody Hice and Trucking Executive and political scion Mike Collins will advance to a Runoff in this dark red district.

GA-11: Republican State Senator Barry Loudermilk and former Congressman and 2008 Libertarian Presidential nominee Bob Barr will advance to a Runoff in this dark red district.

GA-12: Rick Allen won the Republican Primary without a Runoff and will face Democratic Congressman John Barrow in a competitive November election.

IDAHO

Idaho Senate: Incumbent Republican Senator Jim Risch and Democrat Nels Mitchell easily won their respective Primaries. Risch is heavily favoured for re-election.

Idaho Governor: Incumbent Republican Governor Butch Otter won by a narrower than expected margin of 51-44. Given the deep red hue of Idaho, Otter is heavily favoured for re-election.

ID-2: Incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Simpson easily beat back his Tea Party-fuelled Primary opposition, and he has a sizable edge over former Democratic Congressman Richard Stallings in November.

KENTUCKY

Kentucky Senator: Senate Minority Leader and leading 2016 VP prospect  Mitch McConnell handily defeated Tea Party-backed opposition 60-35, and will go on to face a bitter and costly battle with Democrat Allison Grimes.

KY-6: Democrat Elizabeth Jensen easily won her Primary, and will face Republican Congressman Andy Barr in what could shape up to be a competative race in November.

OREGON

Oregon Senate: In spite of recent scandals, Republican Monica Wehby prevailed 51-37 and will face vulnerable Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley in November/

OR-1: The latest Republican Primary tallies, with 170/199 precincts reporting, show Jason Yates ahead of Delinda Morgan 43-40. The winner will face Democratic Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici in November.

OR-2: Republican Congressman Greg Walden steamrolled a Tea Party-backed challenger, and will face little difficulty holding his seat in November.

OR-5: Republican Tootie Smith romped in her Primary and will face vulnerable Democratic Congressman Kurt Schrader in November.

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania Governor: Tom Wolf creamed all of his Democratic opposition and will go on to face vulnerable Republican Governor Tom Corbett in November.

Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor: Democrat Mike Stack blew away his nearest opposition by a 3-1 margin. He will face incumbent Republican Jim Cawley in November.

PA-8: Democrat Kevin Strouse narrowly won his Primary and will go on to face Republican Congressman Mike FitzPatrick in November.

PA-9: Republican Congressman Bill Shuster won re-nomination over Tea Party-backed opposition by 18 points, a narrower than expected margin. He is a lock for re-election.

PA-13: In an upset, Democratic State Senator Brendan Boyle blew away all his Primary opposition and is a lock in November's election.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5/20/14 Arkansas, Idaho, Kentucky, Oregon, & Pennsylvania Primaries: Races to Watch

ARKANSAS

AR Governor GOP: This race features former Congressman and 2006 Gubernatorial nominee Asa Hutchinson and Businessman and 2010 US Senate candidate Curtis Coleman. Hutchinson has a decent edge going into tonight.

AR Lieutenant Governor GOP: Congressman Tim Griffin faces State Representatives Debra Hobbs and Andy Mayberry. While we cannot rule out the possibility of an upset, Griffin should be considered the favourite as of now.

AR-2 GOP: The big contest out of this state tonight pits self-funding Banker and the NRCC's choice cut French Hill against the more Conservative State Representative Ann Clemmer and Tea Party-backed retired Army officer Conrad Reynolds. Hill may have a financial edge, but the outcome is anyone's to guess.

AR-4 GOP: State House Majority Leader Bruce Westerman is facing off against Energy Executive Tommy Moll for the right to run in Arkansas' most Conservative district. Westerman has a distinctive edge going into tonight.

IDAHO

ID Governor GOP: This cartoonish Primary features incumbent Governor Butch Otter going up against State Representative Russ Fulcher, retiree and street preacher Walt Bayes, and Engineer and Motorcyclist Harley Brown. The four of them recently met for a debate, which was largely memorable for its striking resemblance to an audition for 'The Village People on Broadway.' Fulcher will poll formidably(as the only serious alternative to Otter), but Otter will still win 57-31.

ID Senate DEM: This race, for the right to lose to Republican Senator Jim Risch, features Attorney and frequent multi-state candidate William Bryk(who will also lose his Primary to Senator Jeff Merkley in Oregon tonight), Attorney Nels Mitchell, and Website Developer Jeffrey Anderson. Mitchell is the probable favourite for tonight.

ID-2 GOP: This one will get the most attention of all the Congressional races tonight. Incumbent Congressman Mike Simpson faces the fight for his political life against Tea Party-backed Trial Lawyer Bryan Smith. This is the Congressional Primary where outside groups have spent the most, indicating the closeness of the race. Right now, I give Smith the advantage going into tonight based on grassroots enthusiasm.

KENTUCKY

KY Senate GOP: The marquee contest of the night features Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell going up against Tea Party-backed Investment Executive Matt Bevin. Polls have indicated McConnell is ahead by modest margins, and he is indeed the favourite tonight. That said, do not be surprised if this turns into a sleeper race.

KY-6 DEM: Non-Profit Education Group CEO Elizabeth Jensen is facing 2012 State Representative nominee Geoffrey Young for the right to take on freshman Congressman Andy Barr. Jensen is heavily favoured.

OREGON

OR Senate GOP: Surgeon Monica Wehby and State Representative Jason Conger are the main contenders duelling it out for the right to face vulnerable freshman Senator Jeff Merkley in November. Wehby has been hit in recent days with accusations stating that she harassed her husband during divorce proceedings. Normally this would help Conger, but it has also come to light that he was a proud supporter of Cover Oregon(the failed statewide exchange for ObamaCare) and a local bridge project which went nowhere after many millions of taxpayer dollars were spent promoting and planning it. Given the nature of Oregon voting(the state does vote by mail), Wehby should still retain enough of an edge to beat Conger. I'm thinking around 40-37 Wehby.

OR-1 GOP: This race features Vineyard owner Delinda Morgan, Mechanical Engineer Bob Niemeyer, and Pest Control Service Manager Jason Yates. Sources on the ground tell me that Yates has decent odds going into tonight.

OR-2 GOP: Congressman and NRCC Chairman Greg Walden faces a Primary challenge from Tea Party-backed Klamath County Commissioner Dennis Linthicum. Walden should be able to hold on.

OR-5 GOP: This race features a brawl between Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith and former Congressional aide Ben Pollack for the right to take on Congressman Kurt Schrader. Smith has name recognition on her side, while Pollack has grassroots support. This will be very close.

PENNSYLVANIA

PA Governor DEM: This one will be the most closely watched Gubernatorial Primary of the night. Former State Revenue Secretary Tom Wolf, State Treasurer Rob McCord, Congresswoman Allyson Schwartz, and former State Environmental Protection Secretary Katie McGinty are in the running to take on unpopular GOP Governor Tom Corbett. Wolf has maintained a sizable lead in the Primary, and should win with ease tonight. Prediction: 48% Wolf, 25% McCord, 16% McGinty, 11% Schwartz.

PA Lieutenant Governor DEM: This race features 5 heavyweights vying to take on GOP Lieutenant Governor Jim Cawley. Former Congressman Mark Critz, Harrisburg City Commissioner Brad Koplinski, State Representative Brandon Neuman, Bradford County Commissioner Mark Smith, and State Senator Mike Stack are all running. Everything I've heard says Critz and Stack are the leaders of the pack, and that Critz is the narrow favourite for the nomination.

PA-8 DEM: This race features Publishing Company Executive Shaughnessy Naughton going up against Afghan/Iraq War Veteran Kevin Strouse, the choice of national Democrats, for the right to take on GOP Congressman Mike FitzPatrick. Strouse has maintained fundraising advantages, and should be able to put this one away.

PA-9 GOP: Congressman Bill Shuster is facing a Tea Party-backed challenge from Businessman Art Halverson. Shuster is heavily favoured to win.

PA-13 DEM: This one is a 4-car pileup, with former Congresswoman and Clinton in-law Marjorie Margolies, State Senator Daylin Leach, State Representative Brendan Boyle, and Physician Val Arkoosh running to replace Gubernatorial hopeful Allyson Schwartz. The Clinton association should be enough to guide Margolies to a narrow win in this Suburban Philadelphia district.

5/20/14 Georgia Primary Rundown

GA Senate GOP: This is where all the statewide and most of the national action will be taking place tonight. In the running are Congressmen Paul Broun, Phil Gingrey, and Jack Kingston, self-funding Businessman and political scion David Perdue, and former Secretary of State and 2010 GOP Gubernatorial Primary runner-up Karen Handel. This race has been very fluid and the 'battle lines' rather muddled. Kingston started out the frontrunner, with the more Conservative candidates(Broun/Gingrey) polling formidably. Since then, Perdue has gained a solid foothold and seems likely to coast to a Runoff. Kingston, who seems to be imploding, and Handel, who is remarkably incapable of selling her product to a Primary electorate, are bashing each other to pieces for the coveted second place slot, which leaves open the possibility of one of the more Conservative candidates(again, Broun/Gingrey) slipping into the second slot. The only guarantee is that there will be a Runoff with David Perdue and his many millions of dollars on July 22.

GA Governor GOP: This one has not gotten the attention it deserves. Not surprising, given that this and every other Primary race has take a back seat to the Senate Primary. This race pits incumbent Governor Nathan Deal against Tea Party-backed Dalton Mayor David Pennington and State School Superintendent John Barge. While Pennington has been running a very issues oriented campaign, Barge's run has been quite inexplicable, seeming mainly to serve as a candidate for that rare breed of Republican educator who dislikes Governor Deal(both Barge and Deal supported and presided over the implementation of Common Core). All this having been said, neither man has caught on with the voting public, and Deal is likely to coast to re-nomination with over 60% of the vote.

GA Secretary of State DEM: This race pits Oglethorpe Mayor Gerald Beckup and former Lithonia City Councillor Doreen Carter. Polling gives Carter a sizable edge, and that it how the race should go tonight. Carter 62-38.

GA State School Superintendent GOP and DEM: This race, on both sides, is an electoral equivalent to a multi-car pileup on Spaghetti Junction. These races is the fluidest of the fluid. The leaders of the GOP pack seem to be Ashley Bell, Mike Buck, Nancy Jester, Fitz Johnson, Kira Willis, and Richard Woods. The seeming leaders of the Democratic pack seem to be Denise Freeman, Alisha Morgan, and Valarie Wilson. Who emerges and advances to the Runoff is literally anyone's guess.

GA Insurance Commissioner DEM: This race pits former State Representative Keith Heard against former DNC official Liz Johnson. Polling has given Johnson an edge, but that edge has narrowed a bit. I expect Heard to pull an upset tonight.

GA Public Service Commission GOP: Incumbent Lauren 'Bubba' McDonald faces strong challenges from Lavonia lawyer Doug Kidd and Hall County Commissioner Craig Lutz. Kidd is guaranteed a first place slot, and McDonald might not even make it to a Runoff.

GA-1 GOP: This race pits State Senator Buddy Carter against State Representative and 2010 GOP Gubernatorial candidate Jeff Chapman, former USDA official and 2010 GOP Agriculture Commissioner candidate Darwin Carter, Surgeon Bob Johnson, Physician Earl Martin, and Venture Capitalist John McCallum in a race to succeed Senate candidate Jack Kingston. Buddy Carter is a virtual lock on first place. The question is who will get second place and advance to the Runoff with him. The likeliest bets seem to be Chapman, Johnson, and McCallum.

GA-2 GOP: Former Lee County School Board Member Greg Duke and retired educator Vivian Childs are fighting for the right to take on Democratic Congressman Sanford Bishop. Duke appears to be a modest favourite right now.

GA-3 GOP: Congressman Lynn Westmoreland is facing a challenge from Businessman Chip Flanegan. Westmoreland is favoured, but an upset is not out of the question.

GA-4 DEM: Congressman Hank Johnson faces a strong challenge from former DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown. Johnson has not been posting impressive fundraising numbers lately, which leads me to believe that Johnson's support going into tonight is softened. I would say there's a slightly better than even chance Brown pulls off an upset over Johnson.

GA-9 GOP: Congressman Doug Collins faces a challenge from retired Army Brigadier General Bernie Fontaine. While Fontaine may get more support than people expect, Collins remains a heavy favourite going into tonight.

GA-10 GOP: This race pits Trucking Executive and political scion Mike Collins against Baptist Minister and 2010 7th district GOP Congressional runner-up Jody Hice, State Representative Donna Sheldon, Attorney Gary Gerrard, Businessman and 2012 Primary loser Stephen Simpson, former Columbia County GOP Chairman Brian Slowinski, and USMC Reserves Colonel S. Mitchell Swan in a race to succeed Senate candidate Paul Broun. The race is essentially a 3-way fight between Collins, Hice, and Sheldon. The only certainty about the runoff is that Collins will be in it.

GA-11 GOP: This race pits former Congressman and 2008 Libertarian Presidential nominee Bob Barr against State Senator Barry Loudermilk, State House Majority Whip Ed Lindsey, former State Workforce Development Evecutive Director Tricia Pridemore, Businessman Allan Levene, and retired Army officer Larry Mrozinski in a race to succeed Senate candidate Phil Gingrey. This race seems to be a 4-car pileup between Barr, Lindsey, Loudermilk, and Pridemore. It is unclear who will emerge for a near-guaranteed July Runoff. My prediction is the 2 will be Loudermilk and Pridemore.

GA-12 GOP: 2012 runner-up Rick Allen is facing off against 2008 nominee John Stone(who, with inflated AA turnout under old district lines, lost 66-34), State Representative Delvis Dutton(the candidate of national Republicans), Businessman Eugene Yu(who dropped down from the Senate race to this one), and Nurse and 2010 Primary candidate Diane Vann for the right to challenge Democratic Congressman John Barrow, a top target for Republicans in 2014. The 2 who will likely advance to the Runoff are Allen and Stone, as neither Dutton nor Vann has caught on and Yu has had some egregious campaign finance violations come to light in recent weeks.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Day at the Races(4/18/14), Part 2: Endorsing David Pennington for Georgia Governor

On Friday, April 18, 2014, I had the opportunity to attend two political meet-and-greets held around my area. The first one was hosted by Republican Congressman and US Senate candidate Phil Gingrey. The second one, which I will now document, was hosted by former Republican Mayor of Dalton, GA, and Gubernatorial candidate David Pennington, who is primarying incumbent Republican Governor Nathan Deal.

This meeting was held at a local restaurant. I arrived a little before the meeting started. I sat apart from the crowd, as I was planning to eat dinner and hadn't any questions I really wanted to ask(was more there to listen and observe). After some opening remarks from campaign workers, Mr. Pennington got up and introduced himself.

One of the first things he talked about was our states' population growth, which is one of the fastest rates of growth in the country. He also brought up the fact that we have one of the highest tax rates and unemployment rates in the country and are also rated near the bottom of the pack with regards to education quality. He emphasized his opposition to Common Core(which Governor Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge both support and implemented statewide), adding that education is up to local school boards, teachers, and parents. He pointed out that schools today have gotten so bad that students grade-watch their professors and teachers change the answers on kids' tests and pass them.

These education practices leave future members of our work-force sorely lacking in skills, which translates into higher rates of unemployment and poverty. A statistic he cited was the employment-to-population ratio in Metro Atlanta counties over the past 20 years. Citing the counties of Clayton, Cobb, DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinnett, he pointed out that the employment-to-population percentage averaged from in the high forties to 50% 2 decades ago, while they now average in the low forties and high thirties. An observation Pennington noted in his jobs and employment discussion was the fact that, with a majority of the 'quality' jobs centred in and around Atlanta, the lack of jobs in the rural, outlying parts of the state is the reason that Atlanta traffic is amongst the worst in the nation. One of his major points was that Atlanta moved Georgia's economy forward from the 70s to the 90s, and that Georgia's economy has suffered with Atlanta's economic atrophy.

At this point, somebody asked Mr. Pennington a question regarding the Chamber of Commerce. Pennington emphatically stated that, as a small businessman, he did not associate himself with the CoC. Teeing off of that, he emphasized the fact that he is not a professional politician. He is a small business owner who put himself forward to the Citizens of Dalton when he saw a failure of leadership in the city. He talked about how he, over the past 6 years, cut taxes and licensing fees city-wide and gave his salary to charitable purposes(which he promised he would do as Governor. He credited his policies with i,proving Dalton's economy, even as the rest of Whitfield County lagged behind.

Mr. Pennington also referenced a recent quote from Governor Deal which stated that tax reform in GA was 'dangerous.' This quote runs contrary to Deal's claims while campaigning in 2010. In 2010, he campaigned as a supporter of the FairTax(a tax system Mr. Pennington is supportive of), complete with the endorsement of then-Congressman and FairTax mastermind John Linder. Sometime in the past 9 months, Georgia became one of the few states to enact the 'Amazon Sales Tax,' which taxes items sold on the world's largest online shopping venue. This is in addition to all the other high tax rates Deal has enacted and retained in his tenure. Another quote, perhaps unsurprising, from Governor Deal which was cited was one, spoken at a rally at the local 'Achasta' golf course, which bashed the Conservative grassroots(a comment made as 'Conservative' Senate candidate Karen Handel looked on).

The final points Pennington made pertained to the political ramifications of the Primary Election. He proclaimed that the Conservative movement is dead of Republicans re-nominate Deal and that Democrats will win if Deal is re-nominated. He cited the fact that Democrat Jason Carter has his grandfather Jimmy's friends, Hollywood, the mainstream media, and national Democratic organizations behind him. He has a near-infinite money supply trucking in, and he can go on the air attacking Deal over ethical issues, including, but not limited to, his associations with the car auctioning company Copart(which Pennington has stated is to Deal what Watergate was to Richard Nixon). He also said that Georgia is gone if a Democrat wins because of the population growth, mainly in the minority community, and the fact that Republicans will be seen as having been given their chance{even though the last two GOP Governors(including the cousin of leading GOP Senate contender David Perdue) are former Democrats}. In explaining why the Conservative movement would win by nominating him, he touted his record as Dalton's Mayor as a tax-cutting, ethical Conservative, which is a stark contrast to Governor Nathan Deal. He emphasized his belief that, by articulating his Conservative beliefs before the state electorate, he would be able to, with the energy of the grassroots behind him, defeat Democrat Jason Carter in November.

After the meeting ended, I got the chance to pick up campaign literature and meet both the candidate and his supporters. I mentioned being impressed with what I had heard and indicated I would be supportive of the campaign. About a week and a half ago, I cast my early votes for Pennington, Paul Broun, School Superintendent candidate Mary Kay Baccallo, and Public Service Commission candidate Craig Lutz. I hope that people will consider supporting Pennington as the Conservative and electable alternative to Deal and John Barge.