It’s A Runoff: Ossoff Fails To Hit 50 Percent

Another blow to an already-demoralized Democratic Party.

Democrat Jon Ossoff failed to reach the 50-percent mark and avoid a runoff in the special election in the Georgia 6th District. The showdown will be between Ossoff and former Georgia secretary of state Karen Handel, a Republican who took home just under 20 percent.

The election will take place on June 20.

While the GOP rejoices in avoiding an embarrassing loss in a district that leans Republican – the numbers show they are not out of the woods just yet.

In all, Ossoff came home with 48.1 percent of the vote. While he was virtually the only Democrat running (his Party did an excellent job coalescing behind his candidacy), there were other Democrats on the ballot. While extremely small, their numbers may mean the difference come June.

Ragin Edwards and Ron Slotin both took in .3 percent. Rebecca Quigg captured .2 percent and Richard Keatley finished the list with .1 percent. This puts the total Democratic vote at exactly 49 percent.

On the Republican side: Handel, Bob Gray, Dan Moody, Judson Hill and all others made a combined vote total of exactly 51 percent. This means we have only a two percent difference between the two parties.

In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton lost to Trump in this district by 1.5 percentage points. Ossoff overperformed on Clinton’s numbers last night in all three of the district’s counties – raking in above one percent more than her in Cobb, Fulton and Dekalb.

If the vote percentages of the primary stay proportional in the runoff, then we could see the winner of this race be decided by less than one percent.

For her part, this should be Karen Handel’s race to lose. The 6th District has traditionally been a Republican one – ever since New Gingrich was elected in the 70’s. Handel, the former secretary of state, has historically done well in the area. While she ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2010 and senator in 2014, she had made a base of support in the northern Atlanta suburb.

Despite the Republican lean of the district and Handel’s history with it, there is a stunning show of Democratic voter enthusiasm. This (combined with Ossoff’s million-dollar war chest funded by donors outside the state) will make the race a complete toss-up and one that will be watched intently around the country.

Campaign Daily Rating: Toss-up


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Uncertainty Looms In Final Stretch Of French Election

There is only one week left until French citizens head to the polls for the first round of voting in their country’s presidential election. National Front’s Marine Le Pen and En Marche!’s Emmanuel Macron are expected to make it to the second round.

There are officially 11 candidates vying for the same office. One in four French voters still say there are undecided – making this race one of the most unpredictable in decades. Polling indicates a tight race between Le Pen and Macron for the first round, but also show Macron leading in the second round of voting.

The tales of the two leading parties are descriptions of meteoric rises from obscurity.

The National Front was long considered a fringe, far-right party with flirtations with racism, anti-Semitism and ant-immigration sentiment. The Party was founded in 1972 by Jean-Marie Le Pen – who was labeled a “demon” by French media. However, things changed considerably for the National Front when his daughter, Marine Le Pen, took over in 2011. She began a campaign of softening The Party’s image in an attempt to appeal to a broader base.

How serious was she in reforming the National Front? She kicked her own father (The Party’s founder and leader for decades) out for insensitive remarks. This strategy of “normalizing” the National Front, and a spike in Islamic terrorist attacks in the country, have led to a surge in support. For the first time since its inception, the National Front is within striking distance of occupying the Élysée Palace.

If this sudden surge in party appeal is impressive – En Marche!’s story will be stunning.

Emmanuel Macron was a member of the Socialist Party before branching off to form his own, new party – En Marche! (meaning: Let’s Go!). He made a career in investment banking and has never held public office before. In 2014, he was appointed as France’s economic minister by President Francois Hollande.

How new is En Marche!? …Macron founded the Party just last year.

Since that time, his Party has done what every expert believed to be impossible and has surged into the political mainstream. Macron labels the party as more-or-less a centrist one, with moderate stances on the economy, the EU and immigration. The Party’s backbone is made up of a volunteer army that has propelled it into relevancy – many of them young and disillusioned with the status quo of mainstream French politics.

What are the big differences between Le Pen and Macron?

The election between the two has certainly been dubbed a globalist-vs-nationalist battle. Le Pen has even called Macron’s policies “savage globalization.” Macron supports France’s membership in the EU and is unabashedly pro-immigration. Conversely, Le Pen has vowed to hold a referendum of France’s EU membership and has made immigration skepticism a backbone of her campaign.

With about a week until the first round of voting begins, Le Pen is polling at 23 percent and Macron at 22 percent. Far-left candidate Jean-Luc Mélenchon and the center-right  François Fillon are only polling a few points behind, so this could still be anybody’s game between the top four. Numbers show a last-minute surge for Melenchon, whereas Fillon has fallen flat in recent days due to a public funding scandal.

Unfortunately for Le Pen, she appears to poll poorly in second matchups to the other three. She will more-than-likely make it past the first round, but not progress any further.


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Ohio Treasurer To Try Again At Unseating Sherrod Brown

Perhaps the second time’s a charm for Republican Treasurer Josh Mandel.

Before his first Senate run, Mandel looked like a rising GOP star who could not be stopped. He became a local city councilman in 2004, entered the Ohio House of Representatives in 2007 and was elected as Ohio’s 48th Treasurer in 2010.  The former high school quarterback and Marine intelligence specialist was trailblazing his way through Ohio politics.

His luck appeared to run out when he attempted to unseat incumbent Sen. Sherrod Brown in 2012 – a strong year for Democrats nationally. Despite benefiting from $10 million in conservative super PAC spending and a strong prowess at fundraising on his own behalf, Mandel lost to Brown 45 percent to 51 percent.

Six years later and with more experience under his belt, 39-year-old Mandel is looking to take another shot at Ohio’s senior senator. He is already off to an impressive start as far as polling and fundraising are concerned. Mandel, while still being the only declared GOP candidate so far, is polling well ahead of potential Republican rivals. He leads Rep. Pat Tiberi 60 percent to 12 percent. Mandel also raked in almost $1.5 million in the first three months of 2017.

The primary may be easy for the Republican Treasurer, but the general election should prove to be an uphill battle.

During the same first first quarter of this year, Sen. Sherrod Brown outraised Mandel by almost $1 million. Brown’s campaign operation also carries about double the amount of cash on hand. The incumbent senator undoubtedly has name-recognition to his advantage against a challenger from a much lower statewide office.

The same blue-collar voters who handed Trump the presidency have long been a base for Brown – who is viewed as one of the strongest advocates for workers’ rights. Will these same voters be mobilized again to go to the polls for Brown in 2018, or has President Trump set a new course for The Buckeye State?

Ohio does seem to be trending red. Trump won Ohio by a fairly wide margin in 2016, carrying 80 counties (of 88) and taking more than 476,000 more votes than Hillary Clinton. Sen. Rob Portman wrecked Ted Strickland 58 percent to 37 percent on that same ballot. In 2014, Gov. John Kasich demolished challenger Ed Fitzgerald 64 percent to 33 percent. Today, Sen. Brown is only one of five members in Congress from Ohio.

These are some staggering numbers.

Two questions may answer if Brown can hold on to his senate seat: Will his deep roots in the state (40-plus years in elected office) and campaigning prowess shield him from a Mandel challenge? Will President Trump (who currently boasts low approval ratings) taint the environment for Republicans running in Ohio? The 45th president’s popularity could be a huge factor this upcoming mid-term election.

Trump cleared a path for his fellow GOP candidates in the The Buckeye State in 2016, but two years of sinking approval numbers could change the game for anyone.

Campaign Daily Rating: Likely Democrat

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Gubernatorial Race Brewing In Virginia

While most every other state is still recuperating from the crazy presidential campaign last year, Virginia is already underway in a competitive contest for the state’s highest office. Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is term limited (thanks to Old Dominion’s one-term gubernatorial policy) and will be vacating his seat at the end of the year.

Former Bush staffer and RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie is the clear front-runner in the GOP primary. He leads Prince William County Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart with 28 percent to his 12 percent. However, that same Quinnipiac University poll taken in early April shows Gillespie trailing both Democratic candidates by over 10 points in a general election matchup.

Unlike the Republican primary, the race to become the Democratic nominee is much more competitive. Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam trails former Rep. Tom Perriello by only five points. The contest has become an establishment-versus-grassroots campaign of sorts.

Northam has long been involved in Old Dominion politics. He also sports the backing of major Democrats in the state: Gov. McAuliffe, Senator Tim Kaine, Senator Mark Warner, the majority of the state’s Democratic congressional delegation and every Democrat in the state legislature.

This laundry list of backers for the lieutenant governor has not secured his nomination, however. Tom Perriello’s surprise entrance into the race in early January has led to a wave of insurgent support.

Tom Perriello only served one term in the U.S. House of Representatives – having been elected in 2008 to Virginia’s 5th Congressional District and then promptly ousted amid the 2010 Republican wave. Upon leaving the House, Perriello served as CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund and was appointed in 2015 as the Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The time spent at the Center for American Progress and his vehement anti-Trump rhetoric on the campaign trail has largely built up his cred among national liberals. Perriello boasts endorsements from many key members of the Obama White House (Dan Pfeiffer and John Podesta included) and from the Senate’s only democratic socialist – Bernie Sanders.

Since he entered the primary, Perriello has continually railed against Donald Trump on the campaign trail, calling the 45th President “viciously racist” and vowing to stop his agenda whenever possible. The strategy to energize disillusioned  Democrats after a bruising 2016 election loss is clearly working. Despite having virtually the entire Virginia Democratic establishment betting against him, Periello leads Northam 25 percent to 20 percent.

To be fair, there will be more than enough time for either candidate to pull ahead. Both parties pick their nominee on June 13.

The ramifications of the election may be more than just political.

This November could be the deciding factor in where the Washington Redskins decide to make their new home stadium. Gov. McAuliffe has worked desperately to move the team to Northern Virginia, but has yet to finalize a deal with the Redskins’ management. They  may move to D.C. or stay in Maryland. Both Perriello and Northam have publicly taken tough stances on the team’s controversial name whereas Gillespie believes the decision to change the name is solely up to the team.

Campaign Daily Rating: Toss-up


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Kansas Special Election: A Concerning Win For The GOP

Republican Ron Estes was able to keep Kansas’ 4th Congressional District in GOP hands. However, the margin of victory in such a deep-red district should serve as an alarm bell for Republicans across the country.

Kansas State Treasurer Ron Estes bested his Democratic opponent James Thompson in a special election on April 11 – delivering another blow to national Democrats as their Party is still reeling from the brutal 2016 outcome. Kansas’ 4th District is a traditional Republican stronghold. President Trump won the area by 27 points while then-Rep. Mike Pompeo won by over 30 points. Back in 2012, Romney also dominated by a 25-point margin.

Surprisingly, Representative-Elect Estes only won the district by about seven points – a poor showing for a Republican and a clear indication Democrats are energized under the Trump era.

The outcome may paint a picture of what to expect in Georgia’s special election next week and for the not-so-distant 2018 mid-terms. In Georgia, Democrat Jon Ossoff is also polling well for such a conservative district. Should Republicans be worried that Democrats are performing so well in deep-red territory?

The short answer: yes. The long answer, though, is more complicated.

Ron Estes’ victory was shockingly competitive, but it may not be totally indicative of an unpopular president. In Kansas, Republican Gov. Sam Brownback is one of the most unpopular governors in the country as he is blamed for major setbacks in the Kansas state budget. The special congressional election may have been more of a referendum on Gov. Brownback than on President Trump – making the election there not completely relatable to elections elsewhere across the country.

And like Kansas, Georgias’ 6th Congressional District is unlikely to flip. Ossoff will surely make it to the run-off, but polling doesn’t indicate he will capture the district once the GOP coalesces to one specific candidate.

Despite whatever local politics may be at play in Kansas, one thing is for certain: Democrats are itching for a win.


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Democrat Jon Ossoff Unlikely To ‘Flip The 6th’

Despite the popular Democratic war cry, it isn’t looking like Jon Ossoff will beat the odds and “Flip The 6th.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price vacated Georgia’s 6th Congressional District when President Trump appointed him to his current position. The district has long been a Republican stronghold since the days of Newt Gingrich. However, President Trump is proving to be a big factor when it comes to courting the area’s conservative – yet affluent – constituents.

Price never had trouble winning easily in the district that encompasses the rich and educated neighborhoods of North Metro Atlanta. In 2016, he won re-election by a resounding 23-point margin. Despite this, Trump, with his blue collar appeal, barely scraped by with a one-point victory. Now that Price has left for HHS, the district is up for grabs and Democrats smell blood.

It is true that Jon Ossoff has a lot of factors going for him.

Ossoff is the unofficial standard-bearer for the Democratic side (despite several other Democrats still campaigning) whereas many Republicans are running competitively against each other. This has created an opening for Ossoff while the GOP is greatly divided. Adding to this dynamic, the special election is set up as a jungle primary – meaning all Republicans and Democrats are running against each other and the top two candidates (regardless of party) will make it to the run-off election. For Ossoff to stand a chance, he needs to reach the 50 percent mark to avoid a run-off in the deep red district.

And for a long while, it was looking like he could pull it off. Polls showed him closing in on the 50-percent threshold. Democrats nationwide have poured over $8 million on his behalf – a stunning haul for a not-so-special House race.

Despite this, recent polls out now show Ossoff losing steam and dropping below 40 percent. While he will surely make the run-off, he will have an extremely uphill battle to climb in defeating a Republican one-on-one. He will most likely face former Georgia Secretary of State Karen Handel in a June 20 run-off.

Ossoff had a mild set back in his campaign in March when it was revealed he embellished his resume. The former aide to Rep. Hank Johnson had top-secret clearance for five moths while he worked as a congressional staffer. However, he longed claimed on the campaign trail that his security clearance lasted for several years. It was also unearthed that Ossoff is not even currently living in the district.

Republicans, for their part, have been greatly disturbed by the Democratic enthusiasm and have responded accordingly. The National Republican Congressional Committee has increased its presence in the special election and plan to support the eventual Republican nominee. They will have to work hard to energize a Republican constituency that may be feeling complacent in a time when the GOP controls both chambers of Congress and the presidency.

The outcome of the election could prove to be very symbolic of the political atmosphere under a Trump White House.


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