Elsewhere, on Tuesday, former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman is locked in a tight race on his comeback attempt, going to the wire in the Republican Party primary against Lt. Gov. Spencer Cox. And Republicans are electing candidates on two of the Democrats’ endangered House seats.
And after a series of electoral mishaps, Colorado and Utah, a pair of bipartisan states that have created voting by mail systems, can show the rest of the country how to hold a primary in a pandemic.
Here are five things that the POLITICO campaign team is looking at:
A bruised Hickenlooper seeks to straighten the ship.
Hickenlooper entered the Senate primary as a prohibitive favorite due to his two victories in the governor’s election and the near-universal identification of the name. He quickly gained the backing of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee and several candidates who dropped out of the race to endorse the former governor.
But the race turned into an individual battle between Hickenlooper and Romanoff, the former president of the state House of Representatives running on a platform that includes the Green New Deal and “Medicare for All,” two progressive priorities that Hickenlooper he opposed in favor of more moderate options. Hickenlooper stumbled into the final leg of the campaign, incurring a fine of less than $ 3,000 from the state’s Independent Commission on Ethics that dates back to his time as governor and was forced to apologize for racially callous comments.
Hickenlooper’s struggles disrupted the race, making it closer than most Democrats expected and giving Romanoff a chance to present his case. Republicans seized on the moment, putting up television commercials slated to hit Hickenlooper on the airwaves for the past few weeks, forcing the Senate majority PAC, a top outsider Democratic group, to respond by backing Hickenlooper up and attacking Gardner.
Hickenlooper leads Romanoff in the polls and is likely to emerge as the nominee. Even though Romanoff was running to the left with the support of groups like Sunrise Movement and Our Revolution, some important progressive players, including Sanders, did not endorse the race. And Ladies Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker backed the Hickenlooper campaign, undermining Romanoff from the national spotlight enjoyed by other recent progressive challengers.
Republicans believe that Hickenlooper’s missteps have given Gardner a shot at one of the most challenging states for the Republican Party in this cycle. But Democrats believe Gardner’s ties to Trump, who reiterated her backing in a tweet Monday, combined with the state’s continued shift to the left, make it too difficult for the Republican senator to overcome. Either way, Colorado’s general election will begin with a bang on Wednesday.
Huntsman’s legacy at stake
In 2008, the last time Jon Huntsman was on the ballot in Utah, he won reelection with a staggering 78 percent of the vote.
But in a sign of how difficult this campaign has been, Huntsman was only 29 percent in the last public poll of the Republican primaries on Tuesday.
He could still easily win the nomination: That poll had Huntsman and Cox (30 percent) side by side. But after returning home after a stint in Moscow as President Donald Trump’s ambassador to the Kremlin, Huntsman discovered that the state’s political culture has come a long way.
Outgoing Governor Gary Herbert, who was Lieutenant Governor of Huntsman and took office when Huntsman stepped down to become President Barack Obama’s then Ambassador to China in 2009, is endorsing Cox, his own LG. Loyalty to Trump is a universal asset among Republicans in 49 of the 50 states, but not necessarily in Utah.
The coronavirus pandemic is also an important factor. Cases are increasing in Utah: Cox is leading the state’s response, while Herbert on Monday asked the Trump administration to implore the president to ask Americans to put on costumes when they are in public. The virus also hit near the campaign: Huntsman was homebound for much of the past month after hiring Covid-19 and only recovered in the closing days of the race.
Oklahoma Showdown, Part 1
Oklahoma’s fifth district is arguably the best House Republican pickup opportunity in the country, but the state’s primary calendar offers Democrats a big reason for optimism. Tuesday’s primaries are sure to head to a runoff on August 25, meaning it will be one of the last seats on the battlefield to crown a candidate.
A massive field of nine Republicans vies for the top two spots at this Oklahoma City-based headquarters, which now Democratic Rep. Kendra Horn won by less than 3,500 votes in the biggest House of Representatives surprise of 2018. It is likely Terry Neese, a businesswoman who was nominated by the Republican Party for Lieutenant Governor in 1990, take first place, after sowing her offer with $ 450,000 of her own money. But there is a three-way battle for second place between state senator Stephanie Bice, former state school superintendent Janet Barresi, and businessman David Hill.
Some Republican operatives think that Bice would be the most formidable; She has a natural constituency as a state senator and has demonstrated her fundraising skills. However, the Club for Growth has dropped money against her, airing a television ad linking her to the disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein.
Regardless of which two candidates win on Tuesday, they will spend precious time and resources over the next two months in a brutal second round. Meanwhile, Horn will accumulate cash. He had a $ 2.4 million war chest in mid-June.
Republicans’ Pick for a High Pick in Utah
Representative Ben McAdams, a moderate Blue Dog Democrat and self-styled fiscal conservative, has attracted a group of potential applicants. However, recruiting failures, the drop in Trump popularity in the Mormon state of Utah, and McAdams’ huge fundraising have made his reelection prospects look stronger in this challenging district.
Four Republicans compete to take on McAdams: Former NFL player Burgess Owens, State Rep. Kim Coleman, former radio host Jay McFarland, and Trent Christensen, a fundraiser for Mitt Romney. The main contenders are Coleman, who has the support of the political arm of the House Freedom Caucus, and Owens, who had raised almost $ 640,000 in mid-June.
Republicans in the House of Representatives faced a tortuous recruitment process in Utah’s 4th District after their strongest candidate, state Senator Dan Hemmert, unexpectedly retired in December. But they are confident that the district’s Republican slant will ensure the race is competitive, no matter who prevails on Tuesday.
Trump will probably not be a great blessing. The district won by just 7 points in 2016 after Romney won it by 37 points four years earlier.
Mail ballot states have their day in the spotlight
Most primaries held since the start of the pandemic have been marred by very public failures, from hours queues to voter complaints about not receiving requested absentee ballots.
Are two states expected to avoid much of that disaster? Colorado and Utah.
Both states are universal vote-by-mail states, where every voter in the state receives a ballot by mail, pandemic or otherwise. But there have still been some adjustments to make due to the pandemic.
In Utah, results may not end for days, if not weeks, if either race is particularly close. Ballots with the Election Day postage stamp can be received until shortly before the official results list, so races that are not closed cannot be called immediately.
“Having a race closed and having to wait a bit to get results is not unusual,” said Justin Lee, Utah’s director of elections, citing the race closed in between periods in the 4th District. Results will not begin publication until midnight EST.
In Colorado, ballots must be received by 9 pm EST / Mountain on Election Day, regardless of when they are postmarked, which means the results on Tuesday night will be much more definitive than Utah. But the increase in security protocols for poll workers due to Covid-19 could delay the count a little.
“It is going to take a little longer to count the ballots,” Paul Lopez, the Denver employee, told The Colorado Sun. “But that does not mean it is not safe.”