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Political Roundup – June 5, 2024

Primary Results

Iowa:  Closer Results Than Expected

Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-LeClaire) scored a low 56-44% renomination victory over businessman David Pautsch, in the 1st Congressional District. Mr. Pautsch had raised just $35,000 through the May 15th pre-primary disclosure period. His holding of Miller-Meeks to only 56% within her party suggests significant incumbent weakness for the general election. Pautsch attacked Miller-Meeks over her series of centrist votes.

In the state’s western district, two-term Rep. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux City) only scored a 60% win over former CIA agent Kevin Virgil, who was backed by many supporters of former US Rep. Steve King. Rep. Feenstra holds Iowa’s safest congressional district and will now have little trouble winning a third term in November.

In Des Moines’ anchored 3rd District, the most competitive seat, Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) will face former Department of Agriculture official Lanon Baccam. Baccam scored an easy 84% victory in the Democratic primary. In 2022, Mr. Nunn nipped two-term incumbent Cindy Axne (D) with a less than a one-point margin.

Montana:  No Surprises

Last evening’s Montana nominations went as expected. Gov. Greg Gianforte (R) easily won his renomination. Overall, Republican participation is greater as a percentage of total voters in Montana, as one would expect based on vote trends since 2012. Approximately 57% of those who cast a ballot in the primary did so on the Republican side.

Sen. Tester also easily won his renomination and will now officially face retired Navy SEAL and aerospace company CEO Tim Sheehy (R) in the general election for what will be one of the most important Senate races on anyone’s ballot. 

In the open 2nd District, State Auditor Troy Downing defeated former US Rep. Denny Rehberg, ex-DEA agent Stacy Zinn, and state Superintendent for Public Instruction to secure the Republican primary victory. As the new 2nd District Republican nominee, Mr. Downing is virtually assured of succeeding retiring Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) in the safely Republican eastern Montana congressional district.

New Jersey:  Rep. Menendez Wins 

After being outspent and trailing in an early poll, freshman New Jersey US Rep. Rob Menendez (D-Jersey City) defended himself last night against a serious challenge from Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla to record a 54-36% renomination victory. In a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+47, the Congressman’s primary win has unofficially secured him a second term. He also overcame the baggage he inherited from his father, Sen. Bob Menendez, and the latter’s criminal indictment and trial. 

In the open Garden State Senate race, as predicted, US Rep. Andy Kim (D-Moorestown) easily won the Democratic primary, scoring 75% of the vote against two minor candidates. Republicans nominated real estate developer Curtis Bashaw with approximately 46% of the vote against three GOP opponents. Mr. Bashaw will advance to the general election against Rep. Kim and Sen. Menendez who is running as an Independent. 

In Rep. Kim’s open 3rd District, also as expected, state Assemblyman Herb Conaway (D-Delran) looks to have topped state Assemblywoman Carol Murphy (D-Mt. Laurel) by a 2:1 margin. Mr. Conaway will now have a relatively easy ride in the general election from a seat that redistricting transformed into a likely Democratic domain. The FiveThirtyEight organization rates NJ-3 as D+9.


Michigan:  Ex-Rep. Rogers (R) Gains in New Poll

Meeting Street Partners, polling for Florida Atlantic University, finds former US Rep. Mike Rogers (R) getting even closer to US Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) in their open battle to succeed retiring Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D). The new survey results find Ms. Slotkin’s edge dropping to just one point over Mr. Rogers, 43-42%. Among registered voters, the two are tied at 41%.

This survey shows once again the (previously) unusual trend of Republicans doing better with an expanded voter base. In this case, Rogers is pulling ahead even among registered voters, but trails when the sample is narrowed to contain likely voters. For the past several decades, it was typical that Democratic candidates almost exclusively fared better with lower propensity voters.  This is one more indication of a changing electorate.

Jim Ellis is a 35-year veteran of politics at the state and national levels. He has served ss executive director for two national political action committees, as well as a consultant to the three national Republican Party organizations in DC, the National Federation of Independent Business, and various national conservative groups.

Born and raised in Sacramento, California, he earned a B. A. in Political Science from the University of California at Davis in 1979. Jim raised his daughter, Jacqueline, alone after his wife died following a tragic car accident. He helped establish the Joan Ellis Victims Assistance Network in Rochester, NH. Jim also is a member of the Northern Virginia Football Officials Association, which officiates high school games throughout the region.

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