2020 Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, & Wisconsin Primary & Georgia Runoff Preview

Four states are holding primaries tomorrow and Georgia is holding a primary runoff. Poll closing times are as follows and our liveblog will start at 7p ET tomorrow:

7 – GA, VT || 8 – CT || 9 – MN, WI

Flip over for the full preview!

Connecticut: There are a pair of House races in Connecticut without primaries worth a mention.

CT-3: CT-3 is a D+9 seat covering the south-central part of the state around New Haven, and including suburbs southwest to Stratford and northeast to Middletown.

Rosa DeLauro

Incumbent Rosa DeLauro (D) is seeking a sixteenth term. DeLauro was a Dem operative and congressional staffer, rising to become CoS to then-Sen. Chris Dodd (D) before winning this seat in 1990. After a close initial contest, she was protected in redistricting in 1992 and has never been seriously challenged in the primary or general since. She has generally been low-profile and content to climb committee ladders in her long tenure. DeLauro was initially considered one of the most left-wing members of the caucus but has drifted towards establishment liberalism as the party has moved left. She has a mediocre-by-incumbent standards warchest of $1M. In spite of the liberal lean of her seat, DeLauro is for some reason facing a credible GOP challenger this year.

Margaret Streicker

Real Estate Developer Margaret Streicker (R) touts her background as a single mother of four who built several successful businesses, primarily focused on rehabilitating New York City properties into new condos. Streicker’s decision to enter this race seems quite strange on many levels, as she would seem to be a significantly higher-caliber candidate than the deep-blue seat would merit. Local Republicans have taken the unexpected recruitment win and given her strong establishment support. Streicker is also well-funded for such a long-shot bid, with a warchest of $650K, slightly over half of which is self-funded. She is running as a moderate conservative.

Streicker is a surprisingly credible and well-funded candidate, but DeLauro is a non-controversial entrenched incumbent in a seat strongly favoring her party (and if anything probably trending left at least modestly). Overall, this seat still looks to be off the edge of the playing field barring something unexpected, but hopefully Streicker will try for a winnable office in 2022 or down the line. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

CT-5: CT-5 is a D+2 seat covering the state’s exurban and rural northwest corner along with the mill towns of Danbury, Waterbury, New Britain, and Meriden.

Jahana Hayes

Incumbent Jahana Hayes (D) is seeking a second term. Hayes is a high school history teacher who was named Connecticut’s 2016 Teacher of the Year. In her first political run for this seat last cycle, she defeated a more established candidate in the primary in a mild upset, and won the general against a weak GOP opponent by an in-line-with-expectations 12-point margin. Hayes has generally been an establishment-friendly bold progressive. She is known as a particular friend of labor and especially the teachers’ unions. Hayes has a good but not great $1.3M warchest.

David Sullivan

Federal prosecutor David X. Sullivan (R) is the presumptive GOP nominee. Sullivan is a career federal prosecutor who has spent 30 years in the local US Attorney’s office. Sullivan collected strong establishment support and pushed several minor rivals out of the race, but his fundraising has been poor at a bit under $250K gross, including a small amount of self-funding. He is running as a moderate conservative.

Overall, this is a seat that should be competitive on paper, and Hayes does not seem an exceptionally strong incumbent. However, it has fallen just out of reach for the GOP multiple times, and so far Sullivan has not demonstrated the kind of fundraising or campaign skill that is needed to truly put this race on the board. While that could change down the home stretch, for now Hayes still seems a prohibitive favorite in a race that is a bit off the edge of the playing field. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

Georgia Runoff:

GA-9 (R): GA-9 is an R+31 seat covering the state’s rural and mountainous northeast corner, as well as the Gainesville area and nearby northeast Atlanta exurbs. The seat is open as four-term incumbent Doug Collins (R) is running for the Senate.

Matt Gurtler

State Rep. Matt Gurtler (R) took first place in the first round with 21%. Gurtler has represented a rural district at the state’s far northeast corner for four years. A homebuilding contractor by trade and former legislative staffer, Gurtler is considered a rising star at age 31. He is known as a staunch antiestablishment-libertarian conservative in the Paulist mold; he was a Ron Paul activist in both 2008 and 2012. Gurtler has been known for a habit of consistently voting against leadership priorities from the right in the legislature, voting against leadership-backed bills nearly half the time in his first term, and sharing the Ron Paul nickname of “Dr. No”. He has significant support from antiestablishment institutional conservatives, most notably the endorsement of the Club for Growth, and has had good but not great fundraising of $650K.

Andrew Clyde

Firearms dealer Andrew Clyde (R) came in a close second in the first round last month with 19%. is a retired career Naval officer who now owns a national gun-sales company. Clyde has a compelling story of having nearly $1M seized from his business by the IRS before he successfully sued to get it returned. Clyde helped enact a federal law last year to reform the process by which the money was taken. He is running as a staunchly antiestablishment conservative. Clyde has had good fundraising with a nearly $900K warchest. However, nearly 90% of that cash comes from self-funding and he has only raised a bit over $100K from donors. Clyde also has little institutional support.

With both candidates taking small and roughly equal percentages of the first round vote, there is no clear favorite in the runoff and the second round is likely to be highly competitive. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

GA-14 (R): GA-14 is an R+27 seat covering the state’s northwest corner, stretching from the Chattanooga suburbs through rural areas around Dalton and Rome to northwestern Atlanta exurbs around Dallas. The seat is open as five-term incumbent Tom Graves (R) is retiring.

Marjorie Greene

Construction executive Marjorie Greene (R) took a clear first last month wdth 40%. Greene was originally running in GA-6 before carpetbagging into this race after Graves’s retirement. Greene, who owns a commercial construction company, has a very strong warchest of nearly $1.6M, though a majority ($900K) of that total comes from self-funding. She is running as an antiestablishment conservative and has significant backing from national antiestablishment networks, including the purist gun-rights group GOA. However, after her strong first-round finish it was quickly revealed that Greene is a devout follower of the nutty Q-Anon conspiracy theory (which alleges that most prominent Democrats are involved in a pedophilia ring). Greene’s history also includes a large number of conspiratorial and other controversial statements. As a result much of the GOP establishment has mobilized in favor of her rival.

John Cowan

Neurosurgeon John Cowan (R) came in a distant second in the first round with 21%. Cowan is touting his medical background and work with local law enforcement as a SWAT team medic. Cowan is running as a staunchly antiestablishment conservative. While he did not initially seem to have Greene’s level of national backing in the first round, he has a plurality of local-official and legislative endorsements. However, Cowan has been the beneficiary of significant national support since Greene’s issues were revealed, and many institutional GOP forces have lined up behind his bid in recent weeks. Cowan has had strong fundraising of $1.2M, adding $200K in self-funding to an impressive $1M in donations.

Several polls have been released showing the race close and CW is that it is essentially a pure Tossup. The runoff is likely to be highly competitive between Greene’s cash and stronger first-round performance and national Republicans enthusiasm for Cowan and alarm over Greene’s loose-cannon nature. Overall there is no clear favorite. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

Minnesota:

MN-Sen: Atop the ballot in Minnesota is the Senate race, which does not have seriously contested primaries.

Tina Smith

Incumbent Tina Smith (D) is seeking a full term. A marketing executive in her early career, Smith had a long career as a Democratic and liberal operative, working at Planned Parenthood and for several pols in official and campaign positions before becoming CoS to then-Gov. Mark Dayton (D) in the early 2010s. Smith quickly established herself as Dayton’s most trusted advisor and was tapped as his LG running mate for Dayton’s second term in 2014. When then-Sen. Al Franken (D) resigned in his #metoo scandal in 2017, Smith was seen as the obvious choice in spite of her lack of elected experience. Though Smith initially said she only wanted to fill the seat as a placeholder, she was quickly convinced to stay in the Senate as Democratic insiders cleared the primary field for her. Smith prevailed by an in-line-with-expectations 11 point margin amid the 2018 wave. In her Senate tenure, she has been an establishment liberal with some progressive tendencies, and has strong connections to both the state and national Democratic establishments. Smith is well-funded with a $10M warchest.

Jason Lewis

Ex-Rep. Jason Lewis (R) is Smith’s likely challenger. Lewis is a talk radio host who had a nationally-syndicated nighttime talk show from 2009 to 2014. After leaving that job, he entered the race for the purple suburban MN-2 in 2016. Buoyed by high name recognition, Lewis won the convention endorsement in a mild upset and carried that through to a primary victory. Lewis was attacked in that campaign for a number of controversial statements from his radio show, but squeaked to a narrow victory in one of the biggest upsets of the 2016 cycle. Despite his history of controversial statements, Lewis was mostly a backbench establishment conservative in his congressional term, and while he was largely left for dead as the 2018 wave built, he held the race to a closer than expected 5 point margin. After his loss, he considered a comeback bid for MN-2 but jumped into the race against Smith after the seat attracted little interest from other Republicans. In part by default due to the anemic state of the Minnesota GOP bench, Lewis has coalesced establishment support for this race and does not face a serious primary challenger. For this race, Lewis has shifted somewhat back toward his antiestablishment roots, though his bid this year is probably best described as straddling the line between the establishment and antiestablishment wings. He has had mediocre fundraising of $2.5M, though that is still enough to run a credible campaign.

Overall, Smith is a proven incumbent in a state favoring her party, and Lewis is looking like at best a low-“B” list recruit for the GOP. Thus, this seat is not considered a top-tier Republican pickup opportunity. However, Minnesota is a very pale if consistent shade of blue, and has shown some slight rightward trends in recent years, and Lewis’s campaign skills have been underestimated. Thus, the race is on the edge of the playing field and an upset could be possible if Smith errs or the climate improves for the GOP. Overall, Smith seems a solid but not quite prohibitive favorite for re-election. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Likely D.

MN-5 (D): MN-5 is a D+26 seat covering the city of Minneapolis and most of its first-ring suburbs.

Ilhan Omar

Incumbent Ilhan Omar (D) is seeking a second term. Omar has of course been one of the highest-profile members of the House in her single term as part of the “Squad” of far-left freshman Democratic women. Born in Somalia, Omar’s family fled the country after its dictator Siad Barre (to whom her family appears to have had close ties) was toppled in 1991 and the nation became a lawless failed state. A civil servant and Dem operative, Omar ousted a Democratic incumbent from a deep-blue eastern Minneapolis legislative seat in 2016 and quickly got a large amount of notice for her identity politics credibility as a hijab-wearing Black Muslim woman. She rode that appeal to an easy primary win for this seat when it fell open in 2018. In Congress, Omar has generated a national profile for her lightning-rod nature. While she is very similar to AOC in her relative youth, far-left ideology, and charisma with the left, Omar has generally been less vocally radical than the New Yorker on fiscal issues. Instead, Omar’s controversies have focused on foreign policy, with aggressive criticism of US policy in the Middle East and Israel that has often crossed the line into open anti-Semitism; the best-known example was a tweet that American support for Israel was “all about the Benjamins.” While some Democrats attempted to reprimand her for her statements, Omar’s left-wing allies diluted the resulting statement to be a generic platitude. Omar’s left-wing appeal has given her very strong fundraising of $4.3M, with a majority of it coming from national left-wing small donors. She retains a majority of establishment support, with the official convention endorsement, endorsements from Pelosi and Bernie, and with a majority of labor and liberal groups. However, Omar is a deeply polarizing figure even within the Democratic party, and she has drawn a surprisingly serious primary challenge.

Antone Melton-Meaux

Attorney Antone Melton-Meaux (D) is a former congressional staffer who has worked as an attorney and now runs a mediation/arbitration practice. Melton-Meaux straddles the line between establishment liberal and bold progressive, pitching some unusual compromise ideas like single-payer healthcare for primary care only. However, Melton-Meaux has been hitting Omar much harder on her national stardom and neglect for the district and polarizing tone. That message has found surprisingly fertile ground even in the deep-blue and extremely ideologically progressive district. While Melton-Meaux does not have any major national support, he has racked up endorsements from a who’s who of local insiders from both the establishment and progressive wings of the party. In particular, while Omar’s delegation colleague Rep. Angie Craig (D) has not endorsed, she and her network are thought to be supporting Melton-Meaux, a former corporate colleague, significantly behind the scenes. Aided by that local support and a torrent of national anti-Omar fundraising, Melton-Meaux has had truly gangbusters fundraising. He has raised AFAIK the most of any incumbent primary challenger nationwide at over $4.1M, nearly equaling Omar’s warchest.

Business executive John Mason (D) is an openly-gay African American whose husband ran an asterisk-level US Senate campaign in 2018. Mason is running as an establishment liberal. He has raised little from donors, but has self-funded $100K to run a semi-credible campaign. Overall his impact is likely to be limited to peeling off a few anti-Omar votes from Melton-Meaux.

Overall, Omar’s appeal to the left-wing of the party and high profile should be enough to leave her favored for renomination in one of the nation’s most reflexively left-wing districts. However, Melton-Meaux has proved that dissatisfaction with Omar among Democrats is very real. CW is that Omar will likely still win an underwhelming victory, but Melton-Meaux pulling the upset is very much within the realm of possibility. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

MN-7 (R): MN-7 is an R+12 covering most of the western half of the state except the southwest corner. It is a very rural seat with Moorhead as the largest city.

Collin Peterson

Incumbent Collin Peterson (D) is seeking a sixteenth term. An accountant, Peterson began his political career with a decade in the state legislature in the 70s and 80s. He lost three runs for this seat, two generals and a primary, before winning the seat on his fourth try in 1990 with help from a scandal-plagued incumbent. After tough races in his first couple re-election bids, Peterson locked down the GOP-friendly seat and won a series of walkover wins, becoming only a tiny handful of deep-red-district Democrats to easily survive the 2010 wave. Since 2014 though, Peterson’s margins have dropped to single digits, and shrunk in each of the last four cycles, as the district has trended even further right. Peterson is powerful in DC, as he has worked his way up the committee ladder to Agriculture Committee Chair, where he is known as perhaps the most authoritative Democratic voice on farm issues. He is perhaps the last truly conservative Democrat in Congress, particularly on cultural issues; he is pro-life, pro-gun rights, and voted against Obamacare and impeachment, though he has generally been moderate to liberal on most fiscal issues. While he was previously far from the right end of the caucus in his early career, as the caucus’s DINO and conservative wings have all but gone extinct, he is now the caucus’s most conservative member. However, likely realizing that no other Democrat would have a chance to hold this district, he retains strong establishment support. He has a mediocre-by-incumbent-standards warchest of $1.3M. Though that cash goes far in the very inexpensive district, Peterson may find himself unprepared for his fight this year. Peterson’s tight 4-point win despite the 2018 wave has attracted considerable GOP enthusiasm for giving him a strong challenge this cycle, and three credible Republicans are facing off in the primary.

Michelle Fischbach

Ex-LG Michelle Fischbach (R) is national Republicans’ choice candidate. An attorney, Fischbach is very well-connected in the pro-life movement, as her husband runs the state’s largest pro-life group and her mother is a top official at a national pro-life group. Fischbach served as a longtime State Senator representing a rural district near St. Cloud from the 1990s until 2018. Elected as Senate President when the GOP took over the chamber in the 2010s, she was automatically elevated to interim LG in 2018, making her technically the most recent Republican to have held a statewide seat in Minnesota, when then-LG Tina Smith (R) was appointed to the US Senate. After losing a primary race to keep the LG seat for a full term as ex-Gov. Tim Pawlenty’s (R) running mate, she turned her sights to taking on Peterson. Fischbach has collected strong establishment support, headlined with endorsements from President Trump and the official Minnesota GOP convention backing, along with a clear majority of both state and national GOP figures. She is generally running as an ideological establishment conservative, and has fundraised well with a $1M warchest.

Noel Collis

Gastroenterologist Noel Collis (R) has been touting his medical background with some humorous ads promising to “give Washington a colonoscopy”; he has also founded a medical device manufacturer. He is running as a staunchly antiestablishment conservative and has gone fiercely negative against both of his rivals, particularly hitting Fischbach on her long political career. Collis has good but not great overall fundraising of $750K, though the vast majority of that total comes from $700K in self-funding. He also has little establishment support and has shown poor stump skills. 

Dave Hughes

2016/18 nominee Dave Hughes (R) is mounting a third bid for this seat. Hughes is a retired career Air Force officer who now works as an instructor for drone pilots. Despite untouted and underfunded campaigns, Hughes lost by closer than expected margins in both his bids, holding Peterson to 5 points in 2016 and 4 points in 2018 and notably coming even closer in 2018 than 2016. He could have goodwill from those runs, but has had poor fundraising in the mid-five-figures for this race, and has only a modest amount of institutional support. Hughes is running as an antiestablishment conservative and has been touting his pro-forma 2018 endorsement from Trump (which has drawn a rebuke from the Trump team as the President has backed Fischbach). 

Overall, Fischbach’s large advantages in fundraising, institutional support, and name recognition should make her a fairly strong favorite in the primary, though both Collis and Hughes have some chance to pull the upset. In the general, the race looks set to be one of the year’s most competitive. Peterson is an exceptionally strong incumbent who has defied political gravity multiple times before and has very strong crossover appeal. However, assuming Hughes is not renominated, he will be facing a stronger and better-funded challenger than in his last two bids in a district that is only trending further right. Thus, there is no clear favorite in the general. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as a Tossup.

There are also four House races in Minnesota without competitive primaries.

MN-1: MN-1 is an R+5 seat covering a stripe across the state’s southern edge, including the Rochester, Mankato, and Austin areas as well as a large amount of surrounding rural territory.

Jim Hagedorn

Incumbent Jim Hagedorn (R) is seeking a second term. Hagedorn is an Heir Force Colonel as the son of 70s-era ex-Rep. Tom (R) who began his career as a congressional staffer and became a civil servant with the Bureau of Engraving and Printing in D. After returning to Minnesota, he won the seat on his fourth try in 2018 after losses in the 2010 primary and generals in 2014 and 2016. Hagedorn was initially considered a very weak candidate, and hit in his runs for a history of offensive posts on his blog that at times used sexist and vulgar laguage and lack of residency in the district. However, he gradually proved his campaign skill with a much closer than expected loss in 2016 and close win in 2018 in the right-trending district. Hagedorn ran on a somewhat antiestablishment platform in his prior bids, but has pivoted in office and has been an establishment conservative in his first term. He has also received notice for his continuing to fulfill his official duties despite a diagnosis of kidney cancer. Though Hagedorn had previously been on mediocre terms with the local establishment, they have made their peace with him; he has collected strong institutional support and a good if not great warchest of a bit under $1.7M. Hagedorn will likely need that cash as he is facing a competitive rematch with his 2018 rival.

Dan Feehan

2018 nominee Dan Feehan (D) is mounting a second bid after falling short by under 1% two years ago. Feehan has a compelling biography as an Iraq veteran who taught in inner-city schools in Chicago, before becoming a high-level official in the Obama administration defense department. Though Feehan had no real ties to the district (he grew up in exurban Minneapolis and spent much of his career in Chicago and DC), he was still considered a touted recruit last cycle by national Democrats. His close loss in the contest was in line with expectations. Though he was one of just a tiny handful of Dems to lose a seat the party held despite the 2018 wave, his bid for a rematch with Hagedorn has been met with unanimous institutional support and strong enthusiasm. As he did two years ago, Feehan has once again fundraised extremely well, with a warchest of $2.3M. He is running as an establishment liberal with some mild populist-moderate tendencies.

Overall, the race looks likely to be highly competitive. Hagedorn is an incumbent who has shown significant improvement in his campaign skill and his ability to flip the seat despite the 2018 wave should not be ignored. This district is also continuing to have a significant rightward trend and is almost certain to be carried by Trump. However, Feehan is a very strong candidate and Hagedorn is not the strongest incumbent. Overall, Hagedorn seems a moderate favorite in a competitive race. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Lean R.

MN-2: MN-2 is an R+2 seat covering most of the Twin Cities’ southern suburbs and some rural territory to the south.

Angie Craig

Incumbent Angie Craig (D) is seeking a second term. Craig is a married open lesbian who began her career as a journalist before becoming an executive at medical device company St. Jude Medical. She first sought this seat in 2016 and was considered a touted recruit, but lost by a narrow margin in a considerable upset. Craig received establishment backing for a second bid in 2018 and prevailed by a somewhat lower-than-expected 6-point margin amid the wave. Craig has generally been an establishment liberal with mild moderate tendencies in Congress and is regarded as a rising star. She is very well-funded with a warchest of $3.7M, which may be necessary this year. Though for some time the GOP struggled with recruitment here and it looked increasingly possible that Craig could get a free pass this cycle, a credible challenger has emerged late in the game.

Tyler Kistner

Veteran Tyler Kistner (R) is the presumptive GOP nominee as his erstwhile rivals dropped out after Kistner won the convention endorsement. Kistner is a 33-year old who has spent his entire career in the Marines before leaving the service to seek this seat. He is running as a mainstream establishment conservative. Though his bid for the seat got off to a very slow start, since earning the convention endorsement he has coalesced unanimous establishment support. His youth and biography have also netted him some buzz and he has fundraised well with a $1.1M warchest.

Overall, Craig is a strong incumbent, but Kistner is showing signs of being a strong challenger with a compelling biography as well. This seat is also not trending strongly in either direction. For now, Craig still seems a strong favorite for re-election, but the race is definitely on the playing field and Kistner could easily pull the upset, especially if the national climate improves for the GOP. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Likely D.

MN-3: MN-3 is a rapidly left-trending D+1 seat covering the western Twin Cities suburbs, wrapping a crescent from Bloomington to Coon Rapids.

Dean Phillips

Incumbent Dean Phillips (D) is seeking a second term. Phillips is a businessman who is heir to a wealthy family of vodka manufacturers. In his first political bid, he ousted a GOP incumbent to win this upscale left-trending district in 2018 by a slightly larger than expected 11 point margin. Phillips has generally been an establishment liberal in Congress. He is known for his exceptionally gauzy conciliatory rhetoric even by political standards, but that has not manifested in particular ideological moderation in his first term. However, Phillips still fits his upscale left-trending district well. He has a good but not great warchest of $1.5M, though he can likely self-fund at will if he begins to run short on cash.

Kendall Qualls

Healthcare executive Kendall Qualls (R) has a compelling biography as an African-American veteran who grew up poor. Qualls became a business executive in the medical device industry, rising to become VP of marketing for the large medical device company Medtronic. Qualls has collected unanimous GOP establishment support and has fundraised well with a gross warchest of $850K, including a small amount of self-funding. He is running on a vague establishment conservative platform, but CW seems to be that Qualls is far more conservative than he is letting on in the purple district, and he has significant support from antiestablishment interests as well.

Overall, Qualls is a credible candidate, but this upscale district has been trending left at a rapid clip in the Trump era and Phillips is a good fit for the seat. Overall, the seat looks like it is only on the very edge of the playing field, with Phillips a strong, but not quite prohibitive, favorite. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Likely D.

MN-8: MN-8 is an R+4 seat covering the northeast quarter of the state, including Duluth and the Iron Range as well as rural territory in the central part of the state.

Pete Stauber

Incumbent Pete Stauber (R) is seeking a second term. A former minor-league professional hockey player and cop, Stauber was elected to local office in suburban Duluth in the 2000s before winning a deep-blue seat on the St. Louis County commission in 2012. Stauber was considered a touted recruit for the right-trending district in 2018, and he modestly exceeded expectations by flipping the seat by a 5-point margin. Stauber has been an establishment conservative with mild moderate tendencies in his first term in Congress. He has been regarded as an effective campaigner and rising star, and will likely be the first name on Republicans’ recruitment wishlist the next time a top-tier statewide opportunity in MN comes up. Stauber is well-funded with a $1.9M warchest.

Quinn Nystrom

Ex-Baxter councilwoman Quinn Nystrom (D) is a 30-something who served a term on the city council for the town of 8K, a suburb of the small city of Brainerd. However, she has probably been more notable for her work as an activist and author focusing on support for type 1 (juvenile) diabetes, which she and her brother were diagnosed with as teenagers. She is running as a populist establishment liberal with a focus on healthcare issues. More or less by default as no well-known pols entered the race, Nystrom has collected decent establishment support. However, her fundraising has been mediocre-to-poor at $500K.

Overall, this downscale district has seen a strong rightward trend, Stauber is a strong incumbent, and Nystrom remains little-known. Additionally, Nystrom has not yet shown the kind of fundraising chops necessary to truly make the race competitive. Thus, for now the race looks to be a bit off the edge of the playing field. However, the seat is only light-red and could come onto the playing field if the climate improves further for Dems or Stauber errs. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

Vermont:

VT-Gov (R, D): Both sides have primaries for the gubernatorial seat.

Phil Scott

Incumbent Phil Scott (R) is seeking a third two-year term. A former executive at a construction company, Scott represented the Montpelier-Barre area in the State Senate for a decade before being elected as LG in 2010. Scott developed a strong brand as a moderate in the legislature and as LG, which allowed him a relatively easy win for the open gubernatorial seat in 2016 despite the deep-blue nature of the state. Scott has maintained extremely high approval ratings as Governor, habitually ranking among the nation’s top 5 most popular executives and often registering approval ratings in the 70% range – even before the coronavirus bump. Scott’s warchest is essentially empty at just $50K, as he has fulfilled a pledge not to fundraise or campaign during the height of the coronavirus crisis. However, he does have outside support from the RGA. Typical of Vermont Republicans, Scott is among the most moderate members of the party holding significant office anywhere nationwide. He is pro-choice and moderate to liberal on most cultural issues, though he has been a moderate conservative on fiscal issues and has seen some success at restraining spending and taxes. Scott’s social liberalism has drawn him significant grumbles on his right, particularly with his 2018 signing of a gun-control measure that incensed conservatives in what has historically been a very pro-second-amendment state. However, seeing Scott as basically their only hope of holding the Governorship in deep-blue Vermont, most Republican establishment figures, including ideological conservatives, have not wavered in their support of the Governor. He does face a contested primary with four other Republicans this year though.

Farmer and tax attorney John Klar (R) is the only one of Scott’s primary challengers running a particularly serious campaign. He is running to Scott’s right, particularly on fiscal issues, though he is still overall generally running as an upscale moderate. Klar’s attempts to harness discontent on the right with Scott are compromised by his own moderation, as he is anti-Trump and voted for Obama twice and for Bernie in 2016. He also has little name recognition, poor fundraising, and only a small amount of institutional support.

Three other Republicans, 2014 Indie candidate Bernard Peters (R), community college administrator Doug Cavett (R), and far-left perennial candidate Emily Peyton (R), who is also running for AG this year, are not running serious campaigns but may take scattered protest votes. Overall, Scott’s incumbency and popularity, coupled with the little known nature of his challengers, should make him a strong favorite for renomination; if the race is not a blowout, it would be something of a surprise, and a sign of significant discontent with Scott on the right that might cause an undervote in the general. Across the aisle, four Democrats are vying for the nomination to take on Scott, three of them serious.

David Zuckerman

LG David Zuckerman (P/D) somewhat surprisingly jumped into this race early this year, giving up his seat for the uphill bid against Scott. Zuckerman is a member of Vermont’s left-wing capital-P Progressive Party who has also won Democratic primaries by fusion voting. A ponytail-sporting organic farmer, he has also been a longtime career pol, representing Burlington in the legislature for two decades after winning his first election at age 25. Zuckerman is considered staunchly left-wing even by Vermont standards, as a bold progressive with some far-left tendencies on both fiscal and cultural issues. He is also known for a longtime record of anti-mandatory-vaccine stances, which have become a major flashpoint for his opponents this year. Zuckerman has been walking back some of those stances in the coronavirus era, but they still may cause him issues with covid in the news. Zuckerman has strong establishment support, including big endorsements from the AFL-CIO and Ben and Jerry, along with a large number of legislators and insiders, generally from the party’s more progressive side. He has also had mediocre-to-good fundraising of around $300K.

Rebecca Holcombe

Ex-appointed state education secretary Rebecca Holcombe (D) was the first candidate into the race to take on Scott. Holcombe is a teacher by trade who was appointed as education secretary by then-Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) in 2014, being retained by Scott when he took over after the 2016 election. Holcombe left Scott’s administration in 2018 over disagreements with Scott’s efforts to slow growth in school spending. Holcombe generally had a good working relationship with Scott prior to the disagreement, and she has been considered relatively moderate by Vermont Democratic standards, particularly on fiscal issues. She is running in this race as a moderate liberal on fiscal issues and an establishment liberal with some progressive tendencies on cultural issues. She has strong establishment support, including big endorsements from Emily’s List, 80s-era ex-Gov. Madeline Kunin (D), and a large number of legislators and insiders, generally from the party’s more moderate and establishment liberal side. Holcombe’s head start has allowed her to outpace Zuckerman in fundraising with a strong $500K gross warchest.

Pat Winburn

Attorney Pat Winburn (D) is a career trial lawyer. He is running on an establishment-friendly bold progressive platform on both fiscal and cultural issues, between his two major rivals ideologically, though closer to Zuckerman. Winburn has had mediocre fundraising of $200K, though those hauls are almost entirely self-funded. He has thus been able to run a large number of ads, though most have poor production values and have demonstrated little in the way of exceptional candidate skills. He also has few institutional connections or support.

The final candidate, environmental activist Ralph Corbo (D), is not running a serious campaign but has some mild notability for being ejected from Scott’s 2019 inauguration festivities for screaming an outburst from the gallery. Overall, Zuckerman looks like a slight favorite in the primary, but Holcombe is a serious candidate who could have a significant chance to pull the upset. Winburn and Corbo seem long-shots barring something significantly unexpected.

In the general, Scott’s high approval ratings look likely to make him a very strong favorite; several polls have been released showing him leading by overwhelming margins. However, in a state as blue as Vermont, his margin for error is very small and a Dem wave or error by the incumbent could easily open the door for one of his Democratic rivals. Thus, for now we mark Scott as only a moderately strong favorite for re-election. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Leans R.

VT-LG (R,D): The LG seat is open as Incumbent David Zuckerman (P/D) is giving up the seat after two terms to run for Governor.

Scott Milne

2014 gubernatorial and 2016 US Senate nominee Scott Milne (R) is seeking a restart to his political career in this race. Milne is a travel agent and a minor Heir Force candidate, as his mother was a legislator in the 90s. He began his political career with a state legislative loss in 2006, and was recruited as a sacrificial lamb gubernatorial nominee in 2014. Milne was not considered a strong candidate in that race and his candidacy was written off, but the GOP wave and frustration with then-Gov. Peter Shumlin’s (D) disintegrating efforts at a single-payer healthcare plan pushed Milne to a surprisingly close loss, falling short to Shumlin by just 1%. Pushed out of seeking a second gubernatorial bid in 2016 by the candidacy of popular then-LG, now-Gov. Phil Scott (R), Milne became the sacrificial-lamb US Senate nominee that year, losing by a 2:1 margin to entrenched incumbent Patrick Leahy (D). Milne has generally been an establishment conservative in his runs. His fundraising this year has been poor, but he benefits from strong name recognition and establishment connections. He has raised some eyebrows in this race for engaging in the common and legal, but unsavory, practice of appearing in ads for his travel agency business that are thinly-veiled attempts to boost his name recognition for the campaign.

Meg Hansen

Consultant Meg Hansen (R) was the first Republican into the race. Hansen has an interesting biography; she lost her mother to brain cancer at age 5 and trained as a physician in her native India. She left that career to become a fashion designer in Italy, immigrating again to the US to attend grad school at Dartmouth. She now works as an independent communications and public policy consultant. Hansen is running as a chamber-of-commerce style establishment conservative. She has received considerable buzz for her unusual biography but has had mediocre fundraising and little institutional support.

Three other candidates in the GOP primary seem longer-shots. Businessman Dana Colson (R) owns a welding-supply business. He has a compelling personal story of becoming politically involved after his son was murdered, and is running on an antiestablishment-leaning conservative platform. However, Colson has little name recognition or establishment support. 2018 State Senate Dwayne Tucker (R) is a former construction engineer who now owns a horse-husbandry operation. He is running on a syncretic platform with conservative and moderate elements, but has little name recognition or institutional support. Tucker is also simultaneously running in a State Senate primary. Finally, 2006 Green Party gubernatorial nominee Jim Hogue (R) is not running a serious campaign.

Overall, Milne’s name recognition likely leaves him a moderate favorite in the GOP primary, but Hansen is serious enough to have some chance at the upset. Democrats have a crowded primary with four serious candidates.

Tim Ashe

State Senate Pres. Tim Ashe (D) has represented the Burlington area in the State Senate for twelve years, the last four as Senate President. Ashe began his career as a staffer for Bernie Sanders and has since worked as an executive at housing and youth-services nonprofits; he also served on the Burlington city council before being elected to the legislature. Ashe has been an establishment-friendly bold progressive in the legislature and has been one of the key drivers of left-wing policy initiatives in the legislature for the last few years. He has fundraised well and has strong name recognition and establishment support.

Molly Gray

Prosecutor Molly Gray (D) began her career as a Democratic operative and congressional staffer to Vermont Rep. Peter Welch (D). After attending law school, she has become a state prosecutor. She is generally running as a bold progressive on cultural issues and an establishment liberal on fiscal issues, making her the most moderate candidate in this very left-wing field. Somewhat surprisingly for a first-time candidate competing against three better-known rivals, Gray has led the field in fundraising with a six-figure warchest, and has arguably a plurality of institutional support, headlined by endorsements from ex-Govs. Peter Shumlin (D) and Madeleine Kunin (D) along with multiple legislators and insiders. Gray has faced some questions about whether she meets the 4-year residency requirement for office, as she worked abroad in Switzerland for a year from 2017-18, though she maintained her legal residence in the state and thus should be clear to run.

Debbie Ingram

State Sen. Debbie Ingram (D) has represented the Burlington area in the State Senate for four years. Ingram is an openly-lesbian former TV writier who left that career to become a minister. She served in local office before winning her legislative seat. She has been an establishment-friendly bold progressive in the legislature, with some mild far-left tendencies, and is reprising that platform for this race. Ingram’s fundraising has been mediocre, and in spite of her legislative connections she has only modest institutional support.

Brenda Siegel

2018 gubernatorial candidate Brenda Seigel (D) operates a local dance festival. She sought the governorship two years ago on a far-left platform on both fiscal and social issues. Seigel took a slightly better than expected 20% and third place last year despite a relatively unpolished campaign. She is running a stronger campaign this year on a far-left platform and benefits from her residual name recognition. However, Seigel has few establishment and institutional connections and her fundraising has been mediocre.

Overall, this primary seems quite chaotic and any of the four candidates could prevail. Ashe and Gray are generally considered to be the front-runners with no clear favorite between the two, but Ingram and Seigel also have significant chances to prevail as well. In the general, Vermont’s deep-blue lean and the relatively “B”-list-at-best nature of the GOP candidates seem likely to leave Democrats a strong favorite to hold the seat. However, Scott is still ikley to carry the state and Republicans are likely ot have a credible nominee, meaning the race may be on the very edge of the playing field. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Likely D.

VT-Aud (D): The only other seriously-contested Row Officer Primary is for Auditor.

Doug Hoffer

Incumbent Doug Hoffer (P/D) is seeking a fifth term. Hoffer is an attorney and former freelance policy analyst who first ran for this seat in 2010, losing the general to the then-incumbent before winning the open seat a cycle later. A former staffer to Bernie Sanders when he was mayor of Burlington, Hoffer is a capital-P Progressive party member who also runs on the Dem line; he is considered fairly left-leaning even by Vermont standards and has generally governed as a bold progressive. However, he has not been particularly controversial in office and is generally regarded as competent, and retains the vast majority of Democratic establishment support. In spite of those assets, Hoffer has somewhat surprisingly drawn a serious primary challenger.

Linda-Joy Sullivan

State Rep. Linda-Joy Sullivan (D) has represented a rural district in the state’s southwest for four years. A CPA and attorney, Sullivan has been one of the legislature’s most moderate Dems in her tenure, notably casting the deciding vote against overriding Gov. Phil Scott’s (R) veto of a family-leave bill. She is running as a moderate and emphasizing fiscal responsibility, a questionable fit for Vermont’s left-wing primary electorate. Additionally, she is simultaneously running for re-election to the legislature, which has raised eyebrows about her commitment to this race. Sullivan has only a small amount of Democratic establishment support, but actually has a significant amount of institutional backing from Republicans, who are organizing an active write-in campaign on her behalf.

Hoffer’s incumbency, and his ideology that is more in-step with the Democratic primary electorate, seems likely to leave him a significant favorite barring something unexpected. Republicans have no candidate on the ballot, but with the active write-in campaign for Sullivan being endorsed by several GOP leaders including multiple sitting and former legislators, she seems likely to get the 250 write-in votes needed to secure the nomination. However, Sullivan may have a hard time beating out low-info write-ins for Hoffer in the GOP primary. Assuming she wins the GOP line, Sullivan will likely find the going in the general no easier than her uphill primary run, thanks to the deep-blue nature of state. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

Three other Row Officer races in Vermont are not very interesting.

Jim Condos

VT-SoS: The Secretary of State seat does not have contested primaries. Incumbent Jim Condos (D) is seeking a sixth term. Condos is a former local official and legislator who has been a non-controversial establishment liberal in office. He has generally been low-profile and technocratic in the post.

This year Condos faces only token opposition from ultra-perennial candidate Brooke Paige (R), who was the only Republican to file for this seat. Paige, who won the GOP nomination for six different offices last cycle, should obviously pose little threat to Condos in the deep-blue state barring a DGLB situation. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

VT-AG (R): Republicans have a contested primary for the AG’s seat, but it is between two perennial candidates who are simultaneously seeking other offices.

T. J. Donovan

Incumbent TJ Donovan (D) is seeking a third term after considering and declining a gubernatorial run. A career prosecutor, Donovan is a minor Heir Force member as the son of a legislator and grandson of Bernard Leddy (D), who was one of the first serious Democrats to run for office in then-monolithically-Republican Vermont in the early 20th century. Donovan sought this seat in 2012, narrowly losing the primary to the then-incumbent, before winning the open seat in 2016. He has generally straddled the line between establishment liberal and bold progressive in office, and has been considered one of the bigger rising stars on the state’s well-stocked Dem bench.

Donovan faces token opposition from a pair of perennial candidates. Perennial candidate Brooke Paige (R) has filed to run again for this post and for SoS. Far-left perennial candidate Emily Peyton (R) is also running for Governor. Obviously random vote-scattering will determine the nominee and neither Paige nor Peyton will pose any threat to Donovan in the general. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

Beth Pearce

VT-Treas: The Treasurer’s seat does not have contested primaries.

Carolyn Branagan

Incumbent Beth Pearce (D) is seeking a fifth full term. Pearce is a career government accounting staffer who rose to the top deputy post in the Treasurer’s office before being elevated to the top job by appointment in 2011. She has been an establishment-friendly bold progressive, but has also been low-profile in office and attracted little controversy or opposition.

Republicans amazingly enough have a serious candidate for this seat in ex-State Sen. Carolyn Branagan (R). Branagan represented the St. Albans area in the legislature for 14 years in the House followed by a term in the State Senate before retiring in 2018. Branagan is running on a technocratic moderate platform and criticizing pension underfunding. Branagan is a surprisingly credible candidate for such a long-shot race. However, defeating a non-controversial incumbent for a low-profile office against the deep-blue lean of the state seems an incredibly uphill task. Thus, Pearce looks to be a prohibitive favorite for re-election. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

Peter Welch

VT-AL: Vermont has a PVI of D+15.

Jimmy Rodriguez

Incumbent Peter Welch (D) is seeking an eighth term. A personal injury attorney, Welch has had a long political career. Serving in the legislature in the 80s and rising to Senate President, he lost a primary for this seat in an unexpected upset back in 1988. After a decade hiatus, he returned to the legislature in the early 2000s and once again became Senate President, winning this seat easily when it came open in 2006. Welch straddles the line between establishment liberal and bold progressive, and is on good terms with the state party’s establishment and more progessive wings. Befitting an incumbent who has not faced a competitive race since his initial election in 2006, Welch’s warchest is among the smallest of any House incumbent at $550K. Welch has been outraised in one of the weirdest races of the year.

Welch has actually been outraised by a Republican. Arizona resident Jimmy Rodriguez (R) self-funded $590K for this race, but has spent little of it and is not running a serious campaign… his website does not even mention Vermont and has little information whatsoever save for his Arizona phone number. I have no idea what the backstory is here but something strange is going on. It’s not even a given that he wins the primary over his equally non-serious opponents.

Obviously Welch should be a prohibitive favorite for re-election, though if Rodriguez wins the primary the race might be worth watching incidentally for the oddness factor. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe D.

Wisconsin:

WI-1 (D): WI-1 is an R+5 seat covering the Kenosha-Racine metro area, most of Milwaukee’s southern and southwest suburbs, and rural territory west to Janesville.

Bryan Steil

Incumbent Bryan Steil (R) is seeking a second term. Steil is an attorney, manufacturing executive, and former congressional staffer who began his political career as an appointed university regent. When Speaker Paul Ryan (R) retired from this seat in 2018, Steil surprisingly cleared the GOP primary field of top-tier contenders. With help from a supbar Democratic opponent, he prevailed in the general by a 12-point margin, making him one of the few true overperformers for House Republicans amid the 2018 wave. Steil has been an establishment conservative in his first term; he is well-funded with a $2.5M warchest. The seat is light enough red that he does have two somewhat serious Democratic challengers.

Roger Polack

Attorney Roger Polack (D) previously served as a civillian intelligence operative in Afghanistan. He is running as a populist establishment liberal with mild cultural moderate tendencies. Polack has a modest amount of institutional support and has had poor fundraising of a bit under $250K.

Josh Pade

2018 gubernatorial candidate Josh Pade (D) is an attorney who took under 1% and last place in the Democratic gubernatorial primary last cycle. He is running as a populist establishment liberal, but has little institutional support. Pade has fundraised barely enough to run a credible campaign in the mid-five-figures, including a small amount of self-funding.

Overall, Polack’s stronger fundraising should make him the favorite in the primary between two “C” list at best candidates. Steil’s proven strength from his 2018 race and the weak Democratic field, coupled with the medium-red nature of the district, look likely to leave this seat a bit off the edge of the playing field in the general; however, it could potentially become competitive if the year improves further for Dems or Steil errs. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

WI-3 (R): WI-3 is an EVEN seat covering the La Crosse and Eau Claire areas, a broad swath of the rural Driftless area along the Mississippi River, and a gerrymandered arm to the college town of Stevens Point.

Ron Kind

Incumbent Ron Kind (D) is seeking a thirteenth term. A prosecutor, Kind picked up this seat in a close race in 1996 and has held it easily in most instances since, not facing another tough race until 2010. He was held to a four-point margin amid the 2010 wave, but was protected by redistricting in 2012 with what was then a Democratic vote sink, and has since won several easy re-elections. However, Dem margins have eroded dramatically in this district in the Trump era, and there has been new enthusiasm from Republicans for giving Kind a serious challenge. Kind has generally been an establishment liberal in Congress with mild moderate tendencies; he has not had high visibility but has been somewhat influential behind the scenes with stints as a low-level leadership member. He has a good but not great warchest by incumbent standards at $1.6M. Kind does have a token primary challenge from his left this year, but should be a strong favorite for renomination, as his challenger has not fundraised seriously and this seat does not have a partiuclarly large progressive base.

Derrick Van Orden

Retired Navy SEAL Derrick Van Orden (R) served 26 years in the service, including a deployment to Bosnia; he has later worked as a business consultant. Van Orden straddles the line between establishment and antiestablishment conservatism and appears to have some mild libertarian tendencies. He has strong institutional support, including big endorsements from Pence, ex-Gov. Scott Walker (R), Texas Rep. Dan Crenshaw’s (R) network for GOP veteran candidates, and a majority of establishment figures in the Wisconsin GOP. Though he entered the race late, Van Orden has still fundraised well with gross hauls of a bit over $700K.

Jessi Ebben

PR operative Jessi Ebben (R) is a 30-year old who has worked as a civil servant and now works in the PR department for a healthcare system. Ebben has received significant notice for her youth. She is running as an antiestablishment conservative and has decent institutional support from those corners, including endorsements from the Freedom Caucus and Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan (R). Ebben also has a significant minority of local institutional support from legislators, local pols, and insiders. However, her fundraising has been poor at a bit over $150K, about half of which is self-funded.

Overall, Van Orden’s fundraising advantage should make him a fairly strong favorite in the primary, though Ebben is credible enough to have a chance at the upset if she can harness antiestablishment enthusiasm. In the general, Kind has proven a strong incumbent and this area has considerable Democratic heritage. However, the district is trending strongly rightward and is probably at least 50-50 to be carried by Trump this year. Republicans could have a strong candidate here, but both GOP contenders are still unproven. Overall, Kind seems a substantial favorite for re-election, but the race is likely to be significantly more competitive than the walkover wins he has notched since 2012, and an upset is very possible. Kind’s bigger danger could come in 2022, when (even with a fair map) the seat is almost certain to become significantly more GOP-friendly. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Likely D.

WI-5 (R): WI-5 is an open R+13 seat covering the western and northwestern Milwaukee suburbs and rural areas to the northwest. The seat is open as ultra-longtime incumbent Jim Sensenbrenner (R) is retiring after twenty-one terms.

Scott Fitzgerald

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) is a newspaper executive who has been one of the most important forces in state politics for the last decade. Fitzgerald entered the legislature from an exurban-to-rual district northwest of Milwaukee in the 90s, and worked his way into GOP leadership, becoming leader when the GOP took over the chamber in 2010. He has led the State Senate since, with the exception of a brief period in 2012 when the GOP lost its majority due to recall elections. Fitzgerald has generally been seen as one of, if not the, key forces in developing the fiscal conservative agenda of ex-Gov. Scott Walker (R) in the 2010s on issues like pension reform and right-to-work. Fitzgerald’s entry into this race was a slight surprise, as he has remained powerful even after Walker’s loss as an architect of legislative opposition to Gov. Tony Evers (D). He is probably best described as a fiercely ideological conservative, particularly on fiscal issues, who is still quite establishment friendly. His appeal to the conservative base and dominant position in the state party allowed him to quickly clear the primary field of most established contenders, and he has essentially unanimous establishment support, including an endorsement from Sensenbrenner. Fitzgerald also has a good warchest of $800K for this race. He has looked to be on close to a glide path to the seat, but does still face one credible primary opponent.

Cliff DeTemple

Businessman Cliff DeTemple (R) owns a company selling surveying equipment. He is also a high-level officer in the Coast Guard reserve. DeTemple is running as a staunchly antiestablishment conservative. He has not fundraised seriously from donors but has the resources to run a credible campaign from $200K in self-funding. Going up against one of the state’s biggest GOP political figures in Fitzgerald, DeTemple has attracted little institutional support.

Overall, Fitzgerald’s name recognition, institutional ties, and credibility with the conservative base should make him the very strong favorite in the primary over DeTemple barring something seriously unexpected. The GOP nominee will likely head to an easy general election victory in the deep-red seat. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

There are also two Wisconsin races without seriously-contested primaries.

WI-7: WI-7 is an R+8 seat covering the state’s largely rural northwest quarter, including the Wausau area, the few Twin Cities exurbs that bleed over the state line, and the Superior area at the state’s northwest corner.

Tom Tiffany

Incumbent Tom Tiffany (R) is seeking a full term after winning a special election earlier this year. Tiffany represented a rural seat around Rhinelander in the legislature for a decade before winning a relatively easy special election victory earlier this year with 57%. He is well-liked in the state GOP establishment and boasts unanimous Republican institutional support, including endorsements from Trump, Duffy, and the Chamber of Commerce, among other GOP forces. He is an establishment-friendly ideological conservative with a focus on fiscal conservative issues, very much in the Walker mold. Indeed, Tiffany has been considered a significant driver of the conservative agenda in Madison over the last decade. He has fundraised well with total hauls of over $1.8M.

Tricia Zunker

School board member Tricia Zunker (D) is Democrats’ nominee. Zunker is an attorney and professor of Native American heritage who also serves as an elected tribal judge. She essentially cleared the special election field by default as no other credible candidates entered the special election race. As she did earlier this year, Zunker is running as an establishment liberal, and has had good fundraising of around $850K gross. Zunker took 43% in the special, slightly underperforming expectations.

Overall, Tiffany should be the strong favorite for a full term after his good performance holding the open seat in May. However, Zunker is a credible candidate who could have a chance to pull the upset in a very good Dem year or if Tiffany errs. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Likely R.

WI-8: WI-8 is an R+7 seat covering most of the state’s northeast quarter, including the Green Bay and Appleton areas and surrounding rural territory.

Mike Gallagher

Incumbent Mike Gallagher (R) is seeking a third term. Gallagher is a 36-year old considered a fast-rising star on the state’s GOP bench. A Marine veteran who served as an intellegence officer in Iraq, he has also earned a PhD and served as a top staffer to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and then-WI Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) 2016 Presidential campaign. Gallagher entered politics with a run for this seat in 2016 and has been a backbench establishment conservative so far in the House. However, he has displayed almost superhuman electoral strength, defeating a sitting State Senator in the primary by over 50 points and a sitting County Executive in the general by 25, and topping 60% in 2018 despite the wave. He is well-funded with a $2.5M warchest.

Amanda Stuck

State Rep. Amanda Stuck (D) has represented a liberal seat covering the core of Appleton for six years. A former mail carrier and congressional staffer, Stuck surprisingly jumped into the race against Gallagher this cycle, giving up her legislative seat to do so. She straddles the line between establishment liberal and bold progressive, generally more progressive on fiscal issues and more of an establishment liberal on cultural issues. Due to her legislative connections, Stuck has attracted decent establishment support and did not attract significant primary opposition. However, Gallagher’s strength and the medium-red lean of the seat have meant Stuck’s bid has received surprisingly tepid enthusiasm relative to other Democrats, and her fundraising has been poor at a bit over $250K.

Overall, the medium-red lean of the seat and Gallagher’s proven exceptional electoral strength, coupled with Stuck’s poor fundraising, mean the seat looks to be off the edge of the playing field. However, Stuck is credible enough to make the race competitive if Gallagher makes an unforced error or the national climate improves further for Democrats. RRH Elections currently rates this general election as Safe R.

There are also two legislative special elections this week.
GA-SD-4 is a rural R+20 seat west-northwest of Savannah around Statesboro and Springfield. Five candidates are facing off in a Louisiana Rules Top Two format, four Republicans and an Indie. Accountant Billy Hickman (R) led school board member and physician Scott Bohlke (R) 33-32 in the first round; there is no clear favorite in the runoff.
SC-LD-115 is an R+2 seat covering four of the Sea Islands, Folly, James, Kiawah, and Morris, which are a mix of upscale suburban and resort communities south of Charleston. Folly Beach city manager Spencer Wetmore (D) is facing off with James Island city councilman Josh Stokes (R); there is no clear favorite.

The post 2020 Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, & Wisconsin Primary & Georgia Runoff Preview appeared first on RRH Elections.

2020 Connecticut, Minnesota, Vermont, & Wisconsin Primary & Georgia Runoff Preview