- Severe storms a catalyst for different convention model
- AZ nominates Republican and Democratic candidates for Senate
- Another incumbent falls due to redistricting
- Primary results in AZ, OK, VT, and AK
- A conventional number: 2,061
Of the remaining 76 days until Election Day, 6 loom larger than the rest on the calendar as an opportunity for one of the candidates to appear before a national audience and make their case to voters.
Aug. 30 – Governor Romney gives his acceptance speech
Sep. 6 – President Obama gives his acceptance speech
Oct. 3 – First Presidential Debate (Denver, CO)
Oct. 11 – Vice Presidential Debate (Danville, KY)
Oct. 16 – Second Presidential Debate (Hempstead, NY)
Oct. 22 – Third Presidential Debate (Boca Raton, FL)
National Conventions, usually held in the summer of a Presidential Election year, have three functions - to nominate the candidates for President and Vice President, adopt the party platforms and adopt the party rules and procedures. The first National Convention occurred in Baltimore, MD in 1832. Before this, presidential nominations relied on congressional party caucuses and state legislatures.
In the past, the parties’ candidates for president were not known before the convention, and often would not be nominated in the first round of voting. Now, the nominee is usually known beforehand, based on the number of delegates they have collected during the states’ presidential primaries and caucuses. The convention serves as a tool to ratify this nominee.
The number of delegates and how many each state receives is decided upon by the party committee. This year, the Democrats had 5,552 delegates and the Republicans had 2,286. The Democratic Party allocates delegates according to population, also factoring in the Electoral College strength and votes for Democratic Presidential candidates in past elections. The Republican Party allocates three delegates for every congressional district and six delegates for at large states. States can receive bonus delegates based on the state’s Republican vote for federal offices in previous elections.
The conventions themselves usually last around four days. Within this time, there is the Keynote Address, delivered by political figures or party officials, which sets the tone of the convention and the rest of the campaign. Credentials and rules are approved and the party platform is adopted. The last portion of the convention is the nominating speech, the nomination of the presidential and vice presidential candidates, and the nominees’ acceptance speeches.
This year, the Democratic National Convention will be held from September 3-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Republican Convention is from August 27-30 in Tampa, Florida. President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be the nominees for the Democratic Party. Gov. Mitt Romney has received the number of delegates required to become the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party and selected Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential candidate.
In addition to the procedural and official functions performed at the national conventions, they also provide an opportunity to rally the base, energize the party and kick-off the general election season with fervor. Conventions have also proven to give presidential candidates a boost in the polls, or what is known as the “post-convention bump”. Since 1964, nearly every party has gotten a lift from is national party convention, and a few have propelled their candidates on the victory. But in many cases the post-convention support fades before it has an impact at the polls.
Third parties also hold national conventions although they occur earlier in the year and do not receive the media attention or the broadcast coverage the two major parties receive. The Green Party and Libertarian Party both held their conventions in May of this year. The Libertarian Party selected former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson as its presidential nominee and Judge James Gray as the vice presidential nominee. The Green Party nominated physician Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala, an anti-poverty advocate.
Georgia Runoff Elections
All three Runoff Elections for Congress were on the Republican side, with the 12th District contest being the one with the most interest in terms of potential competitive fall contests. With just 53% of the old 12th District remaining in the new 12th District, incumbent Rep. John Barrow (D) faces a mostly new district that creates a feeling this is an open seat contest. Barrow has been serving in the House since the 2004 election and will face state representative Lee Anderson (R) who has apparently won the Runoff Election over Rick W. Allen (R) by less than 1% (with 98% reporting, Lee leads by just 154 votes), but a recount is possible. In addition to significant changes to the district boundaries, the new district voted 55.6% for McCain. For Republicans, the 12th represents one of the pickup opportunities against an incumbent Democrat.
The 2nd District, located in Southwest Georgia, is a clear Democrat district represented by Rep. Sanford Bishop (D). John House (R) won 55% of the vote and will challenge Bishop in November.
The 9th District is arguably the most Republican district in Georgia (McCain received 74.7%) and one of seven districts in the state that John McCain (R) received over 60% in 2008. In the Primary Election, state representative Doug Collins (R) edged out radio talk show host Martha Zoller (R) by just 734 votes. Collins won the Runoff Election by a 54.6% to 45.4% margin. A Zoller win in the General Election would have resulted in electing the first Georgia woman to the U.S. House.
Incumbent Sen. John Barrasso (R) dispatched his primary voter with just over 90% of the vote in route to what will almost certainly lead to his first full term after being appointed to fill the vacancy created by the passing of Sen. Craig Thomas (R) in 2007. Barrasso then won a 2008 special election to fill out the remainder of the term. Barrasso remains well liked in the state and will face Albany County Board of Commissioner Tim Chesnut (D) in the General Election. Nearly 85% of the primary ballots cast were in the Republican primary.
Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-At Large) is seeking a third term and like Barrasso is a strong favorite to win. Both Lummis and her General Election opponent Chris Henrichsen (D) were unopposed in the Primary Election. Wyoming Democrats are focused on state legislative contests and did not attempt to recruit a candidate against Lummis. Henrichsen, who has lived in Wyoming for two years, teaches politics at Casper College.
After the four congressional primaries on August 14, only eight states have yet to hold their primaries before the November General Election. Here are the remaining Primary Election dates and the remaining states:
Not only has Wisconsin been in the spotlight since Saturday, but it was once again last night. The marquee race from last night was the contest to win the Republican nomination for Senate in Wisconsin between Tommy Thompson (R) and Eric Hovde (R). Thompson is former four-term Governor, state legislator, Cabinet member and unsuccessful candidate for president. His long political career stretches back to when he won a seat to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 1966. By contrast, businessman Eric Hovde was born in 1964 and was making his first run at political office. Former congressmen Mark Neumann (R) and Speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly Jeff Fitzgerald (R) were also vying for the nomination.
Thompson’s victory speech showed the energy he will need if he is to find his way to the Senate in the 113th Congress come January. Thompson will be facing seven-term Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D), who will draw upon strong support from liberal organizations across the country. Baldwin ran unopposed in her primary. Most polls indicate a slight advantage for Thompson to win this open seat that was created when Sen. Herb Kohl (D) decided to retire. A Democrat hold here would go a long way in keeping Democrats in the majority while a Thompson win could give Republicans a solid chance to have an outright majority.
Results for the Wisconsin Senate GOP nomination (with 100% reporting):
Florida is one of the Big Three states along with Ohio and Virginia. All three are must-win states for Romney to win the White House and all three states have competitive Senate races where Republican victories would take a seat from Democrat control. While the Primary Election was settled quickly, the General Election could likely prove to be a long night in determining if incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) wins a third term. If Rep. Connie Mack (R) wins, Florida’s Senior Senator becomes Sen. Marco Rubio (R), who first won election in 2010. Both Nelson and Mack won their respective primaries by 78.8% and 58.7%. The growing central region of the state that is home to a large number of hospitality industry voters will be key one of the main keys in deciding this contest.The upset of the night occurred in Florida’s Third District where veterinarian Ted Yoho (R) surprised nearly everyone by defeating 12-term incumbent Rep. Cliff Stearns (R) narrowly in a four way primary by just 829 votes (34.4% to 33.1%). While the race has not been officially called as of 3:30am ET, to trigger an automatic recall the margin would have to be under 0.5%. The stinger for Stearns is that, as of his last FEC report on July 25, he had nearly $2.1 million cash on hand in his campaign. Ouch! The combination of 35% of the district being new to Stearns as a result of redistricting and the effective “he is a career politican” ads proved to be lethal for Yoho. Nearly every GOP candidate receives over 55% in this district and Yoho will be a favorite to make it to Washington.In 2012 there are 13 contests involving 11 pairs of House incumbents running against each other (2 pairs in California face each other in the Primary and General Elections). One of those contest involved two Florida House members. In Florida’s Seventh District, Rep. John Mica (R) defeated freshman Rep. Sandy Adams (R) by a 61.2% to 38.8% margin. This result is one of the more lopsided member versus member contest as a result of Mica receiving strong support from nearly all constituent bases inside and outside of Florida, while Adams was not able to garner much support that left her campaign vulnerable. Mica currently serves as the Chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
The two candidates expected to claim their party’s nomination for the open U.S. Senate seat created by the retirement of Sen. Joe Leiberman (I) did so with ease. Rep. Chris Murphy (D-CT05) won his primary with 67.5% over former Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz (D), while Linda McMahon bested former Congressman Chris Shays (R) by receiving 72.7% of the vote. McMahon received 43% while spending over $50 million in her 2010 failed Senate effort against Richard Blumenthal (D). McMahon’s background and involvement with the WWF will attract attention to this race. Regardless of the winner, Connecticut will have Senators first elected in 2010 and 2012.The race to replace Rep. Murphy in the fifth district was contested by both major parties. On the Democrat side, which has a slight advantage in the fall, Elizabeth Esty (D) won her three primaries with 44.5% and was the surprise winner over Connecticut House Speaker Christopher Donovan (D), who tallied 32.4%. Donovan was the prohibitive favorite and had the support of the party and labor unions. This all changed at the end of May when a campaign finance scandal rocked his campaign and saw his finance director arrested for allegedly concealing large amounts of contributions. Esty, a former state representative, will face state senator Andrew Roraback (R) who won his party nomination with 32.3% in a four way primary.
All eight House incumbents (four Republican and four Democrat) are running for re-election and all eight received at least 80% of the vote in their primary races. The race to keep your eye on here is in the eight district where freshman Rep. Chip Cravaack (R) finds himself in a district that voted for both Barack Obama for president and Al Franken for senate. Cravaack will be challenged by Richard Nolan (D), who severed in Congress from 1975 to 1981.
According to a new study conducted by Google, 83% of mobile phone owners are registered voters. Voters are increasingly turning to smartphones, tablets and computers to receive their news and information on candidates, issues, politics and elections while watching less TV and reading fewer newspapers.
Looks like that shiny toy called the internet has caught on, so let’s fully embrace its power to communicate to voters and employees this election season.
Rep. Akin win Senate GOP nomination in Missouri
Rep. Clay defeats Rep. Carnahan in MO1
Rep. Peters defeats Rep. Clarke in MI14
Two longest serving members of the House advance
No surprises in Kansas, but state legislature poised to move right
Washington Gubernatorial race is one to watch
Where are the voters?
The Missouri GOP’s path to a November victory over incumbent Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) may have just become more difficult by nominating Rep. Todd Akin (R) over two other strong contenders. The first term Senator is one of the toughest campaigners around and has connected well in the past with voters not only around the two major metropolitan cores, but also in the more rural parts of the state. Of the three leading Republicans, Akin was clearly the most conservative of the group and polling showed he would be the weaker challenger against McCaskill. Despite this, Akin will be a slight favorite to move this Missouri Senate seat to the Republican column.
While Akin was not ignored in the primary (unlike Deb Fischer in Nebraska), much of the harder hitting messages were focused between John Brunner (R) and Sarah Steelman (R). Brunner is a successful businessman who spent over eight million of his own money in this contest. Steelman was endorsed by Sara Palin (R) and was strongly supported by trial lawyers for her past support as a state legislator. Akin was able to distance himself from Steelman in the area around his old congressional district by a two-to-one margin and outpaced Brunner in areas outside the major metro areas where Brunner ran a heavy TV ad campaign.
Results for the Missouri Senate GOP nomination (with 99.9% reporting):
Due to Missouri losing one congressional seat, Reps. Lacy Clay (D) and Russ Carnahan (D) were paired against each other after Carnahan was essentially the incumbent left without a district forcing him to make a difficult choice in where to run. As is typically the case in a member versus member contest, these two started out as longtime friends with deep family connections that turned sour during the primary. In the end, 70% of the old district remained with Clay in the new district and Clay cruised to an easy victory by a 63.2% to 33.9% margin. President Obama (D) won MO-01 by over 80%, making Clay an overwhelming favorite to win in November.
Of the six states with an incumbent running for re-election, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D) may be the most vulnerable and will face off against Dave Spence, who won the GOP nomination in a four candidate field with nearly 60% of the vote. Missouri is competitive at the Presidential, Gubernatorial and U.S. Senate level and thus is a state to closely watch the rest of this cycle.
December 13, 1955 and January 3, 1965 mark the dates that Rep. John Dingell (D-MI12) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI13) began their service in the U.S. House respectively. The two longest serving members of the House easily survived their contests despite many rumblings following redistricting that they were now vulnerable. Both will be heavy favorites to return for another term.
In the other member versus member contest of the night, Rep. Gary Peters (D) defeated Rep. Hansen Clarke (D) by over 10,000 votes. Peters, who is white, will likely be joining Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN9) as the only white members of congress representing a majority black district (Detroit).
Following his short and unsuccessful presidential bid, Rep. Thad McCotter (R-MI11) committed one of the bigger “oops” moments this year when he failed to submit enough valid signatures to be placed on the ballot and was forced to drop out of his re-election race, thus creating an open seat that is potentially winnable by Democrats. The Democrat nominee will be physician Syed Taj (D) and the Republican nominee will be reindeer rancher Kerry Bentivolio (R). Bentivolio, supported by the Tea Party, defeated write-in candidate and state senator Nancy Cassis setting this matchup to be much more competitive than anyone would have imagined just a few weeks ago.
Normally the Senate contest deserves top billing, especially this election cycle when so much of the goal is to “fix” the Senate. Two-term incumbent Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will face off against Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R), who won the GOP nomination with 54.2%. Hoekstra has been heavily criticized for running some of the most racially insensitive and offensive TV ads this cycle, thus alienating much of the necessary middle ground needed to be competitive in Michigan . Stabenow is favored to return for a third term.
Kansas is not competitive at the presidential level (McCain won with 57% in 2008), does not have a U.S. Senate seat up in 2012 and its state legislature is overwhelmingly Republican. All four of the House seats are held by Republicans and all four were uncontested in the primary with two members (Huelskamp in the 1st district and Yoder in the 3rd district) running unopposed in the fall.
However, there is always a story to be told on election night and Kansas has a good one. Kansas was the last state to complete redistricting as a result of a feud between moderate and conservative Republicans. With new lines and support from Gov. Sam Brownback (R), conservatives defeated a number of moderate Republicans and will likely have enough numbers in the next state legislature to move Kansas significantly to the political right. It also appears that the unofficial leader of the state’s moderates was defeated in his primary.
Washington is one of three states to hold a top two open primary where all the candidates, regardless of party, are placed on the ballot and the two candidates receiving the most votes advance to the General Election. California and Louisiana are the other two states with a similar process. Unlike California where a number of contests resulted in two members of the same party advancing to the General Election, all November races in Washington at the congressional and statewide levels will feature a Democrat versus a Republican.
Without question, the top contest in Washington is the open seat contest for Governor. In a state where the Republican brand is generally terrible, Attorney General Rob McKenna (R) is a good match to the average Washington voter and is seen as likable and is not out of touch on issues that Republicans often are in this state. Former Rep. Jay Inslee (D) advanced as well and with just over 51% of the ballots counted (the remaining will arrive by mail in the next few days) lead all nine candidates representing four parties with nearly 47%. In the cycle where there is only eleven gubernatorial contests, this race is one of the top ones to keep an eye on in November.
The congressional district that is most likely to be competitive in the fall is the open seat contest for the First District that Rep. Inslee stepped away from to run for Governor. Since Inslee resigned his seat, two elections will be held in WA1 – one to fill out the remaining term to the 112the Congress and the second for the election to the 113th Congress beginning in January. Essentially the winner gets a two month advantage on seniority for the next Congress. Both contests will feature previous candidate John Koster (R) against Suzan DelBene (D), who dropped considerable resources of her own to finance her primary campaign. On the ballot to serve in the 113th Congress, Koster was the only Republican and leads the way over six other candidates with 44%. In 2008, GOP candidate for Governor Dino Rossi won this district with 50.3% while Obama carried with 56.3%.
America and the world are focused on the London Olympic Games and largely ignoring politics. So let me add to the one team we all support right now by pointing out that in the history of the first 25 Olympic Games the United States won a total of 2,296 medals (929 Gold, 729 Silver and 638 Bronze). An astounding 971 more medals than the country with the second largest medal haul, Russia. Go USA!
Cruz has an eye-popping resume – a father who is Cuban born, graduated from Princeton and Harvard Law School, national debate champion, and law clerk for Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist. He will be heavily favored to defeat Democrat nominee Paul Sadler in the General Election and would become the first Hispanic U.S. Senator from Texas.
Texas U.S. Senate Runoff Election Results:
_The most likely district to be competitive in the General Election is now set as well. In Texas 23, Rep. Canseco (R) will face state Rep. Pete Gallego (D). Gallego was the choice of most national Democrats who felt Gallego would be a stronger candidate than former Rep. Ciro Rodriguez (D). While Rodriguez started out with stronger name recognition, Gallego turner his strong support into a significant fundraising advantage that forced the Runoff Election and gave him enough time to ultimately defeat Rodriguez by a 54.9% to 45.1% margin. This will be a closely watched race that is winnable for either Canseco or Gallego.
At the state legislative level, over one-third of the next Texas Legislature will be in their first or second term with the state senate led by Dewhurst and Governor Rick Perry (R) who is already rumored to be laying the groundwork for another presidential bid.
Rep. John Barrow (D-GA12) is one of the most vulnerable incumbents facing re-election. In a four-way GOP primary, state representative Lee Anderson (R) led businessman Rick Allen (R) with 34.2% to 25.7%. Both will advance to a Runoff Election to decide who faces Barrow.
Georgia gained one seat in reapportionment and will now send 14 members to the U.S. House. District 9 becomes the “new” district and is a heavily Republican district but the likely winner will have to wait until a Runoff Election is held. In a tight primary, state representative Doug Collins received 41.8% of the vote where businesswoman Martha Zoller received 41.1% (a 729 vote difference out of nearly 110,000 ballots cast).
There is a time for politics and a time for governing. The time for politics is over the time for governing is upon us.