The Runoffs and Undecideds

Tuesday’s primary election featured the runoff states of Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia. Additionally, three races from two other states remain undecided with very tight preliminary finishes.

We’ll begin with an update from a lingering contest from the May 17th primary date, the Pennsylvania Republican Senate election that looks to remain undecided for quite awhile longer. Keystone State election authorities have already ordered election officials in the 67 counties to begin the inevitable recount. Officials know the final unofficial total, which could be released as early as today or tomorrow, will be within the 1/2 percent realm that triggers an automatic recount.

The current totals find Dr. Mehmet Oz leading former hedge fund CEO David McCormick by 902 votes from more than 1.3 million ballots cast. The deadline for military, overseas, and provisional ballot reception was Tuesday. It is being reported that this is the closest primary in Pennsylvania’s modern political era. The election must be certified by June 8th, hence beginning the recount process before an unofficial final count is determined. At that point we will undoubtedly see legal challenges brought forth for individual votes.

Two Texas runoffs also remain undecided. In the 28th District, Rep. Henry Cuellar* (D-Laredo) holds only a 177 vote run-off lead over opponent Jessica Cisneros (D). The Secretary of State’s released results show all precincts reporting, meaning ancillary votes arriving in the mail and provisionals are likely the only ballots remaining. A recount will probably be requested, but based upon the trends of where the remaining ballots lie, it appears that Rep. Cuellar’s slim advantage will likely grow.

Staying in South Texas, the Democratic 15th District runoff between businesswoman Michelle Vallejo and attorney Ruben Ramirez leans toward the former candidate by just 23 votes. The total vote count at this point is 12,063, an extremely low participation total. The final mail ballots can clearly tip this race to either candidate.

The eventual TX-15 Democratic nominee will face Republican Monica de la Cruz* who won outright back on March 1st. The general election campaign will likely begin as a toss-up. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rating for this district is EVEN.

All of the Arkansas candidates won outright on Tuesday night, so the Natural State nomination process is complete. Multiple runoffs, however, are scheduled in Alabama and Georgia.

The Alabama Senate race ended with former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt recording 44.7% in Tuesday’s Republican primary and US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) rebounding from well behind to capture second place with 29.2% over retired “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant’s 23.3%. Right before the primary, Mr. Durant indicated he would not endorse Ms. Britt if he failed to make the runoff. While again attacking her in his concession speech on election night, he also didn’t say he would endorse Mr. Brooks, but intimated as such.

Both the Alabama and Georgia runoffs are scheduled for June 21st, thus giving all of the overtime candidates little time to campaign before voters again go to the polls. Ms. Britt’s substantial lead casts her in the favorite’s role for the next vote, but often times the second place finisher is able to overcome the deficit and claim victory in the runoff. Considering, however, that Ms. Britt carried all but five counties throughout the state, three of which are in Rep. Brooks’ congressional district, she is in strong position as the runoff campaign begins.

Rep. Brooks’ open 5th District that covers the Tennessee border counties and is anchored in Madison County and the city of Huntsville also features a Republican runoff with a clear leader. Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong came close to winning outright, scoring 44.7% of the vote. Also advancing to the secondary election is former Army Assistant Secretary Casey Wardynski who captured 23.0% in the field of six candidates. Mr. Strong carried all five counties and came within 1.3 percentage points of scoring majority support in dominant Madison County. He begins the runoff in the favorite’s position.

All of the Georgia major statewide races are decided, with the exception of the open Lt. Governor’s campaign, but three tight congressional runoffs in competitive situations will occur in Districts 2, 6, and 10.

In the southwestern 2nd District that now rates just D+4 for veteran Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop (D-Albany), Republicans Jeremy Hunt (36.9%), an Army veteran and conservative media pundit, and attorney Chris West (30.2%) advance to a June 21st runoff that either man can win. The eventual nominee will have an uphill battle against Rep. Bishop who has represented the region since 1993, but the seat is more competitive than in past elections.

The open 6th District, now a R+24 seat, will effectively choose the next Congressman in the runoff election. Incumbent Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) left this district to successfully challenge Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) in the adjoining 7th District, thus leaving the 6th open for a Republican pick-up.

The two candidates are former 7th District GOP nominee Rich McCormick, a retired Navy physician who made the opposite move of Ms. McBath’s, and former state Ethics Commission chairman Jake Evans, who both former President Donald Trump and ex-House Speaker Newt Gingrich endorse. Dr. McCormick placed first in the primary with a 43.1 - 23.0% margin in a field of nine candidates, and looks to be a clear favorite in the runoff election.

Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro) left his safely Republican 10th District open to run unsuccessfully for Secretary of State. In his wake, eight candidates battled to be his successor and trucking company owner Mike Collins (25.5%) and former DeKalb County Executive Vernon Jones (21.6%) advance to the runoff. Notable candidates failing to qualify were state Rep. Timothy Barr (R-Lilburn) who posted 14.4% and former US Rep. Paul Broun who only secured 13.4% in his failed comeback attempt.

Mike Collins is the son of the late former Rep. Mac Collins (R), who represented a western Georgia district for six terms before running unsuccessfully for the Senate and then failing in a comeback bid for the House.

Vernon Jones, who held his county executive position and was a member of the state House of Representatives as a Democrat, switched parties when he became a national spokesperson for the Trump campaign. Mr. Jones was originally in the Governor’s race, but former President Donald Trump persuaded him to jump into this House contest and endorses him. This will likely be a highly competitive runoff campaign.

* denotes the candidate has received an AGC PAC contribution during the 2021-2022 election cycle. 

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