Election Day for Primary Voters
Two Senate primaries in WV and IN, along with the primary for the Governors race in Ohio, are among the issues voters go to the polls for this primary election day.
Sen. Joe Manchin regularly tops lists of vulnerable candidates for the 2018 cycle, but there is a lot going on in the GOP Primary to face him. Ordinary Times has already covered Don Blankenship’s candidacy here and here, but can he win?
Make no mistake: Blankenship can win, though polling in the race has been limited. The only public poll in the last three weeks of the campaign, a Fox News poll, had Blankenship in third with 16% to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s 21% and Congressman Evan Jenkins’ 25%. The final date that poll was in the field was 16 days before the election.
Beyond Blankenship and the establishment GOP’s battle to deny him the nomination, another fight is happening: Democrats appear to be meddling to defeat Rep. Evan Jenkins, a Democratic state legislator turned Republican congressman, in the three-way primary. The Duty and Country PAC, which is run by the Democratic former U.S. attorney responsible for jailing Blankenship, has spent $1.8 million attacking Jenkins and just $47,000 attacking Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, the third GOP primary contender. Their ads attacking Jenkins have aired more than 1,500 times, according to a Republican tracking media buys. Their spots attacking Morrisey have aired just six times. The group has spent more on television ads than anyone involved in the race, except for Blankenship’s campaign.
A name to watch on the WV undercard, First-term State Senator Richard Ojeda, media darling of the WV teachers strike, is running for Jenkins’ vacated WV3 House seat, and has drawn enough attention to warrant his own Politico write-up
Both parties have primaries to pick candidates seeking to replace outgoing Gov. John Kasich
Across the Ohio River from West Virginia, voters will choose gubernatorial candidates in both parties for the first time since Trump’s surge in the state in 2016. On the GOP side, Attorney General Mike DeWine is expected to triumph over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor after a primary in which the two sides combined to spend nearly $10 million.
The Democratic primary, between former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau head Richard Cordray and former U.S. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, could be closer, though most Democrats still expect Cordray to triumph.
Democrats in both Ohio and the District of Columbia are continuing to worry about Kucinich’s chances in the general election, particularly citing his ties to Syrian President Bashar Assad. Two of his television ads illustrate the yin and yang of his appeal. In the first, Kucinich speaks direct to camera about why he supports Medicare for all, a major progressive priority and a reason he could triumph in the primary.
The polling in this race has been a little more fruitful than in Indiana and West Virginia. Cordray’s led by double-digits in some of the latest non-gold standard polling. That makes him the clear favorite. Though with two-fifths or more of the electorate still undecided and given the predictiveness of past primary polling, a Kucinich victory wouldn’t be shocking.
Either candidate would probably be an underdog in the fall. A non-gold standard SurveyUSA poll in March had Republican and Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine leading both leading Democrats by around 10 points (with Cordray running a little better than Kucinich).
DeWine has been ahead of Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor by at least 15 points in all public polling in the Republican primary. Taylor, interestingly, has been running away from her former running mate and chief Trump critic Gov. John Kasich. It doesn’t look like it will be enough for her to win.
Republicans will also nominate a candidate to take on Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown in the fall. Congressman Jim Renacci is heavily favored in this primary, though he trails by double-digits against Brown in public polling for the general.
Polling is also an issue in Indiana, though the candidates are a bit less controversial than those in WV and OH.
A less controversial primary is occurring two states over in Indiana. There, three major Republican candidates are vying to take on vulnerable Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly.
Donnelly won a close race for his first term back in 2012 against a flawed opponent, and Trump won the state by nearly 20 points in 2016.
The favorite to face Donnelly is businessman and former state representative Mike Braun. He’s in a three-way battle with Congressman Luke Messer and Congressman Todd Rokita. Braun has been able to cast himself, like Trump, as someone from outside of politics to help clean up the swamp.
Braun, who’s pitched himself as an outsider in Trump’s mold, is considered the front-runner. But his opponents are attacking him for his history of voting in Democratic primaries, which they said led the Republican National Committee’s voting database to label him as a “hard Democrat.” (Braun said he voted in Democratic primaries to influence local elections.)
Messer’s campaign accused Braun of “colluding” with the RNC when the voting database labeled him a “hard Republican” after a weekend of stories on the issue.
“Mike Braun is so embarrassed of his past voting record as a Democrat that he’s using money and connections to cover it up. This is the swamp Mr. Braun talks about at its worst,” Messer campaign manager Chasen Bullock said.
One other note of interest in the Hoosier State, VP Mike Pence’s brother Greg is standing for IN6 and appears to be on a relatively smooth course to Congress.
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