http://www.washingtonpost.com; June 5, 2018
Welcome to the jungle. It is a beautiful Wednesday afternoon and time for Blogger Candidate Forum, Survivor: California Primary edition where the name of the game is "outwit, outplay, and outlast" the pack of nominees to have a shot at making the top two ballot spots on the November general election. Before we grab a vine and swing into the results of yesterday's California state primary election--dubbed "the jungle primary--" Yours Truly would like to report a confirmed FLOTUS sighting. First Lady Melania Trump attended a closed door celebration for Gold Star families on Monday and a meeting at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters to discuss hurricane preparedness. Mrs. Trump may want to take low-key approach to being First Lady but what she does, what she says, and where she goes is news. Being FLOTUS makes you a public person. Even though Mrs. Trump would prefer to live out of the spotlight and being FLOTUS was not something she sought, however, it was thrust on her and now she has to deal with it. One more thing, for those of you who are wee American history challenged, it was the British not the Canadians who burnt down the White House in the War of 1812. Alright, grab a vine and here we go.
Democrats had reason to be happy with yesterday's eight state primaries. Democratic candidates made some serious in-roads in state and federal races. Here are some takeaways:
California House of Representatives Democratic candidates barely avoided disaster: Specifically, Democratic candidates in three Orange County-area House races barely got through to the next round. These races are critical to the Democrats hopes of regaining the majority in the House in November. Democratic candidates in the 38th, 48th, and 49th districts, trying to flip vulnerable Repbulican seats, managed to outlast California's notorious "jungle primary" where the top two finishers, regardless of party affliation, make the November ballot.
However, it is not certain if Washington Democrats will get the candidates they wanted through to November. The ballots are still being counted and it is entirely possible that Democrats will still be frozen out of the race farther up north in the 10th District.
Dianne Feinstein: Iron Lady. The senior senator from California claimed the first spot on the November ballot. Senator Feinstein will face state Senate President Kevin de Leon in the general election. State Senator de Leon upstart campaign forced California's longest serving and best known politician to pivot left after urging patience with the current president. Sen. de Leon campaigned as a leader of the resistance which forced Sen. Feinstein to re-evaluate her position on marijuana legalization and he death penalty without alienating her base.
Senate Republicans: last night was not all about Democrats. Montana Republicans nominated their best candidate to unseat Democratic incumbent Senator Jon Tester. The Republicans chose State Auditor Matt Rosendale to be their champion in the fall. Sen. Tester is one of the most vulnerable Senate Democrats standing for re-election in a state won by Mr. Trump in 2016. Mr. Trump targeted Sen. Tester after the Montana legislator helped derail the president's nominee for Secretary of Veteran Affairs. Mr. Rosendale's victory provides a huge relief for Senate Republicans who originally favored a Trump-endorsed candidate, the president's originally nominee for secretary of interior. Memo to Republicans, Trump-endorsed candidates have not fared well elections. Ask Luther Strange.
Women candidates for governor: She is woman, see her run for governor. Republican voters in Souh Dakota, Alabama, and Iowa and Democratic voters in New Mexico were jumping for joy. Each of those states nominated a woman to the November ballot and (the best part) they all have a real chance of emerging victorious. South Dakota Representative Kristi L. Noem bested her rival and is in solid standing to be the first woman to lead her state--the seat is open and South Dakota is a very red state. In he state of Alabama, still new Governor Kay Ivey (R) successfully beat back four challengers and stands a good chance of becoming governor. New Mexico Democrats made history when they nominated Representative Michelle Lujan Grisham to be their standard bearer in November. If elected, Rep. Lujan would be the first Native American to become governor of a state and she has a good chance. New Mexico's governor race is also open and most likely to flip red to blue (washingtonpost.com; Jan. 6, 2018; date accessed June 6, 2018).
Not everyone was uncorking champagne bottles last night. California gubinatorial candidate former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was outwitted and outplayed in the jungle. California Repbulican Senate candidates were shut out of the November ballot. Elsewhere, candidates for state and federal offices were crying in their beers.
Senators accused of corruption: corruption does not pay, ask New Jersey Democratic Senator Rober Menendez. Not even the state's best known Democrats could persuade voters to carry Sen. Menendez through to Novemeber. Senator Menendez was tried last year for corruption but not convicted when the jury deadlocked, later proclaimed his innocence and declared his candidacy for another six year term. A deadlocked jury does not equal exoneration. Strange but true, he won his primary, but his rival who did not file the correct paperwork still captured 40 percent of the vote. Go figure.
Republican members of Congress who abandoned Mr. Trump in 2016: Trump voters are extremely loyal to their president and Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R) found out the hard way. Rep. Roby, who disavowed the president in 2016, was forced into a runoff with her Democratic-turned-Republican opponent former congressman Bobby Bright in her conservative southeastern district. Something about that infamous Access Hollywood made Rep. Roby declare she would not vote for Mr. Trump (Ibid; June 5, 2018).
Republican turnout in November is essential to key House races: if the Repbulicans want to retain their House majority after November, they will have to fire up their voters. In the California races, Democrats have a good chance of flipping vulnerable Republican districts. However, Republicans in New Jersey and New Mexico have a good chance to retain their districts. Democrats emerged from Tuesday's primary in a position of strength in many of the contested seats. To wit, New Jersey Repbulicans selected two unknown underfunded candidates to flip contested seats (Ibid). That did not exactly work out too well. In New Mexico, a Democratic candidate for the House had a greater turnout then her Republican rival.
Bottom line, as the campaign's begin their pivots to the fall, it will be interesting to see what role the president directly or indirectly plays. If Democratic candidates are smart, they will focus on the issues affecting their states and districts, less on presenting themselves as the leaders of the resistance. They will need to show that they can work across the aisle to find solutions to the most pressing issues and resist where they can. The real key for Democrats is finding a national message--tell the voters who you are and what you are about. Why should anyone vote for you. For Republicans, the path to victory is a little harder. You want to appeal to the Trump voters but at the same time, you do not want to alienate the anti-Trump Republicans. Next week we will consult with Cook's Political Report and read the tea leaves.