After next week, primary season will rekindle for its last stretch before everyone can finally focus entirely on the general election. And the first week back could end up being the most dangerous primary week of the year for incumbents.
— Two House incumbents are more likely to lose than not: Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R-MI) and Scott DesJarlais (R-TN). But don’t write them into any broader pattern. Bentivolio, who was the only other Republican on the ballot in MI-11 when Thad McCotter‘s fradulent nominating petitions were thrown out, is the definition of an accidental congressman, while the 2012 revelations that DesJarlais had sexual relationships with co-workers and medical patients and pressured one to have an abortion destroyed his standing with Republicans. Both attracted very well-funded challengers with business and establishment GOP support.
— Other incumbents up at the beginning of August are better-positioned, though some still face potentially difficult challenges. Ex-Rep. Todd Tiahrt‘s (R) KS-04 comeback attempt also defies political pigeonholing. Many of the groups backing Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) had few ideological quibbles with Tiahrt while he was in Congress, per their vote scorecards, but they’re sticking with the incumbent. Both candidates are accusing the other of cronyism, and Pompeo is using Tiahrt’s service against him by attacking him over earmarks. Meanwhile, most still expect Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) to win renomination, but physician Milton Wolf (R) hasn’t faded as far as people thought after his X-ray controversy.
— Then, in Hawaii‘s traditional Saturday primary, there’s the lone big Democratic Senate primary of the cycle, pitting appointed Sen. Brian Schatz (D) against Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D), who wanted that appointment in the first place and was backed by late Sen. Daniel Inouye. That race and Gov. Neil Abercrombie‘s (D) contested primary are studies in contrast among Hawaii Democrats, highlighting ethnic differences, generational differences, and a long-term ideological shift within the state party.
Only two congressional incumbents have lost primaries this year (though as we’ve noted, that by itself isn’t a full measure of incumbent strength and weakness). As primaries restart, that figure could go up fast.
— Scott Bland
What We're Following See More »
The House on Tuesday voted 403-12 "to pass an overhaul to the nation’s chemical safety standards for the first time in four decades. The Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act aims to answer years of complaints that the Environmental Protection Agency lacks the necessary authority to oversee and control the thousands of chemicals being produced and sold in the United States. It also significantly clamps down on states’ authorities, in an effort to stop a nationwide patchwork of chemical laws that industry says is difficult to deal with."
"Leaders of the Republican Party have begun internal deliberations over making fundamental changes to the way its presidential nominees are chosen, a recognition that the chaotic process that played out this year is seriously flawed and helped exacerbate tensions within the party." Among the possible changes: forbidding independent voters to cast ballots in Republican primaries, and "doubling the number of early states to eight."
Citing the unpredictable nature of this primary season and the possible leverage they could bring at the convention, John Kasich is hanging onto his 161 delegates. "Kasich sent personal letters Monday to Republican officials in the 16 states and the District of Columbia where he won delegates, requesting that they stay bound to him in accordance with party rules."
"Speaker Paul Ryan is changing the rules of how the House will consider spending measures to try to prevent Democrats from offering surprise amendments that have recently put the GOP on defense. ... Ryan announced at a House GOP conference meeting Tuesday morning that members will now have to submit their amendments ahead of time so that they are pre-printed in the Congressional Record, according to leadership aides." The change will take effect after the Memorial Day recess.
Bernie Sanders "signed a letter Tuesday morning requesting a full and complete check and recanvass of the election results in Kentucky ... where he trails Hillary Clinton by less than one-half of 1 percent of the vote. The Sanders campaign said it has asked the Kentucky secretary of state to have election officials review electronic voting machines and absentee ballots from last week's primary in each of the state's 120 counties.