“The 100 Day Dash to Election Day” -- The Sunday Political Brunch August 5, 2018


CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Last Sunday marked an important milestone – just 100 days until the November midterm election. This is going to be a fight to the finish for control of the U.S. Senate and House. Let’s “brunch” on some of the key races this week:

“By the Numbers” – If you are keeping score – and the math is important – here’s where to crunch the numbers. Right now, the Republicans hold a slim 51-49 majority in the U.S. Senate, with Vice President Mike Pence being the tie-breaker, if need be. In the House, it’s Republicans 236, Democrats 193, with 6 net gain of vacancies. A simple majority is 218 seats, so Democrats are within striking distance.

“Manchin Ads” – For those who live outside of West Virginia, you cannot believe the onslaught of ads in our U.S. Senate race, which have been almost non-stop since the May primary. It’s relentless. Ads from groups backing the Republican nominee, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, have targeted Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) for his stances on immigration reform. Conversely, groups supporting Manchin have attacked Morrisey for lobbying work he and his wife did on behalf of pharmaceutical companies. It’s ugly and intense. And it’s pedal to the metal to November with no let-up in sight. The latest Real Clear Politics composite has Manchin up by 7 points, but Morrisey is a fierce competitor. Both have won state wide several times.

“He’s Back!” – Don Blankenship became something of a national media darling after his Quixotic run for the West Virginia Republican Senate nomination in May. And now he’s back. The state’s Constitution Party gave Blankenship the nomination for the U.S. Senate in November. Problem is, the state has what’s known as a “sore-loser law,” which aims to prevent spring primary losers from re-emerging in November as candidates on a third-party ballot. Blankenship filed with the Secretary of State, only to be rejected. Get ready for a fast and furious court fight that could go the U.S. Supreme Court. Blankenship – who has a seemingly bottomless wallet – told me, “I will spend whatever is necessary to get my name on the ballot.”

“WV 3” – Toss-up!” – One of the most fascinating races for the U.S. House in the nation is right here in West Virginia. The third Congressional District is an open seat after Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-WV) had an unsuccessful bid for the Republican U.S. Senate nomination. The prestigious Sabato Crystal Ball report had the race as “Leans Republican” but now it’s listed as a “Toss Up.” The Democratic nominee is firebrand State Senator Richard Ojeda (D-Logan), who openly endorsed and voted for Republican Presidential Nominee-turned President Donald Trump. The Republican nominee is Delegate Carol Miller (R-Cabell), the daughter of longtime U.S. Rep. Samuel Devine (R-OH). Put this in your “Top Ten” national House races.

“Trump on the Stump” – In Florida, President Trump hit the campaign trail this week with an intense rally where he endorsed Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) for governor. But DeSantis faces State Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R-FL), who previously served 10 years in Congress. It’s unusual for a president to get involved in a primary race, but as we’ve seen, this is an unconventional presidency. On the other side of the aisle is former Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL), in the Democratic primary. Her dad, Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), was also a two-term governor of Florida.

“North, By North Dakota” – Control of the U.S. Senate may lie in a few states. Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is hoping to earn a second term in a state that went heavily for Donald Trump in 2016. Right now, the polls show Heitkamp is in a dead-heat with three-term Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

“Indiana Wants Me” – Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) is also in a tough re-election fight, especially in the home state of Vice President Mike Pence. A Gravis Poll in May 2018 had it Republican nominee Mike Braun at 47 percent, with Sen. Donnelly at 46 percent. Flip a coin folks!

“The Other Hot States” – Other states with potentially very competitive Senate races include Nevada, Montana, Arizona, Missouri, Ohio, Tennessee, and Florida.

“Why All This Matters” – I think it’s fair to say that President Trump is the most polarizing commander-in-chief in U.S. history. Will that rally his party? Or will it rally the opposition? Stay tuned! And, yes, how people feel at home could also sway races for governor, senator and representative around the country.

What races are hot in your state or region of the country? Just click the comment

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving the state of West Virginia, and its five neighboring states.

© 2018 MarkCurtisMedia, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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