The other four primaries on Tuesday occur in Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey and New Mexico.
Kim Reynolds is the incumbent GOP Governor up for election. Reynolds assumed the role when then-Governor Terry Branstad became Ambassador to China. Reynolds currently has a precarious 42% approval rating against 35% disapproval. She faces no primary opposition. On the Democratic side, six candidates are in the fray and most polls show a victory for businessman Fred Hubbell. In scant general election polling, Reynolds holds an approximate 5 point lead over any Democrat, including Hubbell.
Among the four Congressional districts which favors the GOP 3-1 currently, two GOP-held seats are being targeted by the Democrats. In the First, incumbent Rod Blum, although he faces no GOP opposition in his primary, has drawn four people to the Democratic primary. Blum may be vulnerable, but David Young in the 3rd is even more so on the GOP side. Again facing no primary opposition, three Democrats are waiting in the wings with the winner advancing to the general election. Two years ago, Young won his race by a relatively narrow 7 points in a swing district. Ironically, perhaps the safest Republican- Steve King in the 4th- has also drawn three Democrats to their primary. It is possible the Democrats can gain one or two seats in November out of Iowa.
Twelve Congressional seats are up for grabs and a Senate election is on tap. The current delegation favors the Democrats 7-5 in Congress. However, with two fairly safe Republican incumbents calling it quits after 2018, expect that to change. In the southern based 2nd District (my home district), Frank LoBiondo is retiring. This is a swing district that slightly favors the Democrats. The race comes down to Jeff Van Drew vs. Tanzie Youngblood on the Democratic side with Youngblood the more liberal of the two. There are four Republicans vying to keep this seat. Do not be surprised if this district falls to the Democrats in November.
The other retirement is that of Stanley Frehlinghuysen in in the 11th District which has drawn five Republicans and five Democrats to their respective primaries. This district will he hard fought-for and may tell where things are headed come Election Day. If there is any bright spot for the GOP in the House races it is in the 5th where Democratic incumbent Josh Gottheimer will likely face Steve Lonegan for the GOP where the Republicans have a legitimate chance since Gottheimer only won by 2 points two years ago.
In the Senate race, Democratic incumbent Robert Menendez, who apparently has a penchant for young Dominican girls, has a dismal 34% approval rating which is almost a guarantee for electoral failure. That’s the good news. The bad news is that is New Jersey. No matter who the GOP throws up against Menendez, keeping it within a 15 point loss could be considered a victory.
An open Governor’s race has created openings elsewhere, so let’s start at the House level since two incumbents are leaving Congress seeking the Governor’s office. In the First, Democratic incumbent Michelle Lujan Grisham leaves. Seven Democrats enter their primary and if the pre-primary convention is any indication, this should come down to either Debra Haaland or Antionette Sedillo Lopez. On the GOP side, look for Debra Arnold Jones to prevail.
In the 2nd, Republican incumbent Steve Pearce retires to also run for Governor. On the GOP side are three candidates with Monty Newman getting the endorsement of Ted Cruz. Meanwhile, the Democrats have five potential opponents with either Mad Hildebrandt or Xochitl Torres Small the likely winner.
Susanna Martinez leaves office as the incumbent Republican Governor with a horrendous 37% approval rating against 53% disapproval. There are very few worse than her. The good thing is that Steve Pearce faces no primary opposition for the GOP. On the Democratic side, there are three candidates so Lujan Grisham is not a lock, although polls indicate otherwise. In a hypothetical match up between her and Pearce, she comes out on top…but barely. This will be an important race to watch come Election Day, but it would not be a major surprise if the Democrats squeeze out victory here.
Saving this state for last because we will see TWO Senatorial races. In the House races, one should not expect any change as the GOP is likely to retain their 3-1 advantage despite Gregg Harper’s retirement in the Third.
First, there is the reelection of Roger Wicker. With Chris McDaniel withdrawn from any primary challenge, it is obvious he will be the GOP nominee. The Democrats have five candidates in their primary with no front runner so it is anyone’s guess who the Election Day loser will be.
In the special election to serve out the full term of the retired Thad Cochran, on the GOP side will be Cindy Hyde Smith who was appointed by Governor Phil Bryant. Since a jungle primary will be held on Election Day with no one’s party listed on the ballot, this is essentially a three-way race between Mike Espy for the Democrats and Hyde Smith and McDaniel on the GOP side. Expecting Smith and McDaniel to split the advantageous GOP vote while Democrats rally around Espy, a runoff on November 27th is almost guaranteed. Hypothetical polling puts Espy ahead of McDaniel should that happen and conversely puts Hyde Smith ahead should she face off against Espy. Given the endorsements thus far, we know who the GOP establishment favors (Hyde Smith). At this early stage with a long way to go there are a lot of things to consider. It must remembered that Mississippi is a state where Trump enjoys a 61% approval rating. McDaniel is the consummate conservative outsider while Hyde Smith, perhaps the more electable “establishment” type, has the backing of some Mississippi heavyweights. We may not know the makeup of the Senate until November 28th.
Next Week: Five states hold primary elections- Maine, North Dakota, Nevada, South Carolina and Virginia.