It is a slightly humid Wednesday but Yours Truly has found a nice air conditioned space to write the weekly Blogger Candidate Forum.
Yesterday, the states of Arizona, Florida, and Oklahoma held primary elections. The big news: Florida's gubenatorial race is between Tallahassee mayor Democrat Andrew Gillum and Trump acolyte Representative Ron DeSantis. In Arizona, the race to fill retiring Senator Jeff Flake's (R-AZ) seat, Democrat Krysten Sinema will meet Republican Rep. Martha McSally. Governor Doug Ducey is expected to announce Sen. John McCain's replacement sometime next week. His seat does not come up for election until 2020. In related news, Arizona senate hopeful controversial Sherif Joe Arpaio came in last with barel 3-percent of the vote. So what did we learn from these races?
1. The Florida governor's race is the one to watch this fall: the fantasy Bernie Sanders-Donald Trump race come true. Mayor Gillum's surprise victory for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination pits "a young, black progressive aspirational working-class message and DeSantis, a Republican who staked his political career on his ties to President Trump (youtube.com; date accessed Aug. 29, 2018).
Domenico Montanaro writes, "The bases of both parties want at each other. Now, they'll get their chance. And it's all taking place in the swingiest of the swing states (npr.org; date accessed Aug, 29, 2018). So where does the United States stand after nearly two years into the Trump presidency? Florida, like so many other elections, is a bellwether.
2. "Money isn't everything:" what makes Andrew Gillum's victory so impressive is that he was outspent by a mile. Mr. Montanaro writes, "In a primary contest that saw a whopping $112 million spent overall on TV ads ($73 million of that in the Democratic primary), the most of any race in the country, Gillum's campaign and groups supporting him were outspent by a factor of five by the Democratic favorite--and even more by other millionaires who ran."
Mayor Gillum and his supporters "spent just $2.5 million according to NBC News [nbcnews.com; Aug. 28, 2018; date accessed Aug. 29, 2018]. Former Rep. Gwen Graham...and groups supporting her spent $12.5 million."
The lesson is a clear message is important, as does political energy. Mayor Gillum rallied the progressive base, and, "despite not leading in a single poll, he peaked at the right time." Momentum was with him, evident at rally he held with Senator Bernie Sanders in Tampa that drew 1,000 people and the curious.
However, Florida is a state with many expensive media markets and no one can win without empty the campaign coffers. Mayor Gillum has the support of billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer--"...expect the money to flow inside and outside the state on both sides as the general election kicks into high gear." Expect a staggering amount of money to be spent by November.
3. Republican turnout set off alarm bells for Democrats: the excitement surrounding Mayor Gillum is palpable, check out his victory speech (youtube.com; date accessed Aug. 29, 2018) but before you get too excited, his victory carries a warning sign. Mr. Montanaro observes, "It should be pointed out that Republicans turned out in greater numbers for their gubernatorial primary."
He continues, "About 1.6 million Republicans turned out in the GOP primary, while 1.5 million Democrats did. What's more, DeSantis got 914,000 votes, while Gillum got almost 400,000 fewer." Andrew Gillum has room to improve: "The turnout rate in Miami-Dade, a crucial Democratic area, was the highest in at least a decade--higher than the 2016 primary,..." However, Mayor Gillum still has plenty of work to do before he can take his place in the Florida statehouse.
Republican turnout was not restricted to Florida. The GOP also saw bigger turnouts in the Arizona governor's race and the hotly contested Senate race. This is despite Krysten Sinema's lead--thus far--in general election polls over her Republican opponent. This is also a race worth watching because this once ruby red state is now in play.
4. It is going to a brutal fall: Yours Truly is not talking about the weather. Domenico Montanaro reports, "Arizona underscored how sharply negative the fall campaigns are about to get." Although Ms. Sinema leads in the polls (realclearpolitics.com; Aug. 28, 2018; date accessed Aug. 29, 2018) and has the luxury of moving to the center while Rep. McSally, a former combat pilot, came out guns ablaze. She told a crowd of supporters on Tuesday,
I am as impressed as anyone that my opponent owns over 100 pairs of shoes.... I, on the other hand, flew over 100 combat missions for my country.
She added, the race was between a patriot and a protestor. It is controversial tactic that she used during the primary, as if she was trying prove her toughness. Ms. McSally even went as far as to run an ad showing Ms. Sinema protesting in a pink tutu. Seriously?
Martha McSally understands that negativity moves numbers. Given what is at stake in November, this race is about get uglier.
5. Chalk up another victory for Democratic women: whoever wins theSenate race will make history as the first female senator from Arizona. This has been the ongoing story of the primary season. A record number of DEMOCRATIC women have won nominations for governors' and House seats.
Mr. Montanaro reports, "Last week, the number of female nominees overall for the U.S. House hit 200 for the first time ever--155 of those, though were Democratic women."
This story continued yesterday evening as Democratic women kept winning--"19 Democratic women won their party's nomination for the U.S. House. That is a majority--53 percent--of all the House seats with primaried Tuesday night." Florida, in particular, has a large slate of female Democratic candidates on the ballot, "16 of the 27 congressional races featuring a woman as the Democratic nominee."
The same cannot be said for the Republicans. Four out the 36 races Tuesday night, a female Republican was victorious. In Florida, it was two out of the 27. Startling contrast with the Democrats.
As primary season comes to a close, let us look at the numbers of women who have by party. According to the Rutgers Center for American Women (cawp.rutgers.edu; date accessed Aug. 29, 2018):
Factoring in Tuesday night's results, overall 174 Democratic women will be their party's nominee this fall (so far), a record. That far surpasses the prior record of 120 in 2016.
On the Republican side, however, just 49 women will be their party's standard-beater out of 435 seats.