Political Races to watch today August 7, 2018

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Statewide primaries are being held in Kansas, Michigan, Missouri, and Washington today. In Missouri, a right-to-work ballot measure is being decided. In Ohio, the 12th Congressional District special election is on the ballot (keep reading for more on that!).
Here is a race from each state that we will have our eyes glued to tonight.


KS-Gov: In his bid for a first full term after succeeding former Gov. Sam Brownback (R) in January, Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) faces six challengers in the Republican primary for governor of Kansas. He and top challenger Kris Kobach, Kansas’ secretary of state, are presenting voters with both policy and style differences against the backdrop of two significant events from 2017: the state legislature’s reversal of several tax cuts enacted by Brownback in 2012 and the Kansas Supreme Court’s ruling that the state’s school financing formula was unconstitutional.

Five Democrats are competing for their party’s nomination in Kansas’ gubernatorial election. Only one-quarter of Kansas voters are registered Democrats, but some in the party are optimistic that Democratic policy positions can win votes following two terms under Brownback. State Sen. Laura Kelly and state Secretary of Agriculture Joshua Svaty are both campaigning on their respective histories of being elected to the state legislature in Republican-leaning districts. Former Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer cited a poll showing him leading the field in name recognition as the reason voters should choose him. Physician Arden Andersen and high school student Jack Bergeson are also running in the Democratic primary.


MI-Gov: Attorney General Bill Schuette, Lieutenant Governor Brian Calley, state Sen. Patrick Colbeck, and medical doctor Jim Hines are competing in a primary for the Republican nomination for governor. Schuette is running with endorsements from President Donald Trump (R) and Vice President Mike Pence, and has led the field in several polls. Calley has the endorsement of outgoing governor Rick Snyder, and is running on his record as lieutenant governor overseeing the state’s decreasing unemployment rate. Colbeck received an endorsement from Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and has emphasized his outsider status during the campaign.

In the Democratic primary, former state Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer leads physician Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thanedar in polling. Whitmer is backed by EMILY’s List, the Michigan Education Association, the state AFL-CIO, and all four of the state’s congressional Democrats. El-Sayed is backed by progressive influencers like U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Democracy for America, and Our Revolution, and has called for a $15 minimum wage and single-payer healthcare. Thanedar has argued for similar policies as El-Sayed and put $6 million into his campaign.


Right-to-work: Three things to know about Missouri Proposition A, the Right to Work (RTW) Referendum, that voters will decide on tomorrow:

  1. Proposition A would make Missouri the 28th state to enact a RTW law. Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin passed RTW laws between 2012 and 2017 after Republicans claimed state government trifectas—control of both chambers of the state legislature and governor’s office—in those states following elections in 2010. Missouri, however, had a divided government until 2017, when Democrats lost the governor’s office to Republican Eric Greitens in the 2016 election. As a new GOP trifecta, the state legislature passed and the governor signed RTW during the 2017 legislative session.
  2. Voters have never overturned a RTW law on the ballot. Proposition A is the third veto referendum on RTW to appear on the ballot in the United States. Electors in Arizona (1948) and Idaho (1986) have previously voted to uphold their states’ right-to-work laws. In 2016, voters in North Dakota rejected an initiative that would have allowed unions to collect dues from non-members. Opponents of RTW tried to repeal Nevada’s law in 1956 and 1958, failing at the ballot both times.
  3. RTW opponents have out-raised supporters by more than 3-to-1. The combined total raised for and against Proposition A was $22.09 million as of July 31. Pro-RTW PACs raised a combined $5.12 million. The largest contributions included $2.00 million from A New Missouri—a 501(c)(4) nonprofit affiliated with former Gov. Greitens’ (R) political team and $765,000 from The National Right to Work Committee. The PAC, supporting the RTW appeal, raised $16.96 million. The largest contributions included $2.35 million from the Missouri AFL-CIO and $1.39 million from the Committee to Protect MO Families, a committee affiliated with the Carpenters District Council of Greater St. Louis & Vicinity.


WA-8: The top-two primary in Washington’s 8th Congressional District features state Sen. Dino Rossi (R), who all polls show advancing to the general election, and a three-way Democratic battle for the second spot in the general election. The three Democrats are pediatrician Kim Schrier, former prosecutor Jason Rittereiser, and former CDC official Shannon Hader. Schrier has the support of national Democratic groups like EMILY’s List and Planned Parenthood and leads the Democrats in fundraising. Rittereiser is backed by local unions and was the only candidate to endorse single-payer healthcare. Hader has the support of most local Democratic groups and was endorsed by The Seattle Times. The seat is currently held by retiring U.S. Rep. David Reichert (R) and is rated as a “toss-up” in the general election.

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