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Political Note #307   Paula Jean Swearengin US Senate West Virginia

2020                             General election

Democrats have made inroads into the Deep South.  Florida hardly counts as the South any more even if Democrats keep losing Senate elections, Gubernatorial elections, and Presidential elections there by 1%.  If it weren’t for voter suppression, Georgia Democrats would probably have elected a governor in 2018.  In 2020, there are two US Senate elections in Georgia.  Would you bet against Democrats winning at least one of those?  The US Senate race in South Carolina favors the Republican incumbent, but by very small numbers.  The US Senate race in North Carolina favors the Democratic challenger, but by very small numbers.  Virginia has become a Democratic state.

Move west.  Alabama has a Democratic US Senator.  He’s up for election in 2020 and is endangered.  Still, incumbents always have an advantage. Mississippi had a Democratic Attorney General.  His 2018 run for governor was unsuccessful.  Mississippi had a strong African American run for the US Senate in 2018.  He is trying again in 2020.  Louisiana has a Democratic Governor.  A very conservative Democratic governor.  A Democratic Congressman made a strong run for the US Senate from Texas in 2018.  A Democrat, a retired female helicopter pilot is making another strong Democratic run for the US Senate in 2020.

The Border States (plus 2) are a little less susceptible to Democratic inroads, but not entirely.  What makes the Border States different?  Fewer African Americans.  A smaller base for a Democrat to start with.  What states are included here?  West Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, plus secessionist, but still borderish Tennessee and Arkansas.  West Virginia has a Democratic Senator. A conservative Democrat.  A Democrat, a retired female fighter pilot in making a strong run for the Senate in Kentucky.  On the other hand, the Democrats don’t even have a candidate in Arkansas.

Paula Jean Swearengin’s candidacy in West Virginia is a kind of experiment.  The Democrats who have been successful in the South and the Border states have been moderate.  Or conservative.  Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia is conservative.  Alabama’s Doug Jones is a moderate with a civil rights history.  Kentucky’s governor Andrew Beshear may be a moderate, but the legislature treats him as if he were a socialist.  Louisiana’s governor John Bel Edwards has figured out a way to be moderate, to take steps Republicans would never take on behalf of the poor, and to get elected, He opposes abortion.

Paul Jean Swearengin. Is an activist.  She served on the board of the Keepers of the Mountain Foundation, opposing mining by removing the tops of mountains.  She was an advocate of President Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which, had it been implemented, would have given oversight authority to the EPA to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from power plants.  The Clean Power Plan would probably have been in West Virginia’s interest.  Cleaner coal and oil power would have meant a slower movement by power plants toward natural gas and to solar and wind power.

Paula Jean Swearengin was in a documentary that focused on four insurgent Democratic candidates.  The star of Knock Down the House was the candidate who won her primary – Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.  Like the other three insurgent candidates in the film, Paula Jean Swearengin endorsed Bernie Sanders for President.

Paula Jean Sswearengin’s insurgent candidacy for Congress was based on some of the issues Sanders supported – a $15 minimum wage, Medicare for All, free college tuition, and, in her case, legalization of marijuana for medical and recreational use.  She has some special West Virginia issues.  In a state with a high percentage of people working multiple part-time jobs, none of them eligible for paid vacation, she advocates ensuring that everyone has the right to a paid vacation.  Mostly though, her campaign was about conservation, preserving West Virginia’s beauty.  Keeping West Virginians safe.  Safe drinking water, for instance.

Paula Jean Swearengin is not focused on racial or language issues. That should be no surprise.  West Virginia has few minorities.  93% of the people in West Virginia are white.  Almost as high a  percentage are Protestant or are unaffiliated, but come from Protestant families.

West Virginia is older than all other states and less well educated.  More West Virginians are over 65 than any other state in the Union and fewer have a college education.  Its median family income is lower than any other state.  Can Paula Jean Swearengin create a successful stew of environmental advocacy, support for a minimum wage, and support for health care into a successful campaign?  He success would bring us a new kind of border state politician.  It is improbable, but Jean Swearengin could reclaimsfor Democrats the support of white, low income West Virginians.

The Republican incumbent was once a new kind of politician.  Shirley Moore Capito is the daughter of a Congressman.  She was the first female West Virginia Senator, the first full-term Republican. Is she down to earth?  She went to prep school in Maryland, to Duke as an undergraduate, and the University of Virginia to prepare to teach.  Twenty years ago, in 2000, having worked as a career counselor at West Virginia University, she was elected the first Republican Member of Congress in almost 20 years.  She kept getting reelected until 2014 when she ran to replace retiring Democrat Jay Rockefeller for the US Senate.  She easily defeated her Democratic opponent while Tea Partiers complained she was too liberal.  She had do defeat a candidate to her right in the primary in 2020, too.  It is 20 years since she was first elected to office.  It could be her insurgency has worn off.

Help Paul Jean Swearengin defeat Shirley Moore Capito.  Send some money.  On June 30, Paula Jean Swearengin had 5% of what Capito had to spend on the campaign.  She needs enough resources to make this a contest, to have a chance to flip this Senate seat. West Virginians get a lot of federal governmental help.  See if Paula Jean Swearengin and Joe Biden change the way people who benefit from government help think about that help.  West Virginians don’t like handouts. They don’t like being told they are getting handouts They do like getting what they deserve and being treated with respect. They like being treated fairly.  The Republican President of the United States promised them that coal would be back.

Help these Senate candidates. A surprising number of these candidates just might win and flip the Senate.   Check for more complete descriptions of the candidates described in bold.  Democrats gain control of the Senate if they win a net of four seats. 



Arizona                     Astronaut Mark Kelly, gun safety leader supported by his wife former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords v. Incumbent and ex fighter pilot Martha McSally. March 31 Cash on hand: McSally $10 million. Kelly $20 million.  Polls: July Kelly 50-42, 53-41 June Kelly 53-44 Kelly 48-41 Kelly 47-38 Kelly 49-34 Kelly 51-42 May Kelly 51-41, 51-38 April  Kelly 51-42, March Kelly 50-44, March Kelly 48-36


Colorado                  Former Governor John Hickenlooper v Incumbent attorney and party activist Senator Cory Gardner. June 30 Cash on hand: Gardner $10.7 million, Hickenlooper $4.5 million, House Speaker Romanoff $1 million.  Polls:  June 51-39, 58-28 August, 2019. Hickenlooper 53-40


Michigan                   Incumbent Democrat Gary Peters has a tough opponent in African-American Businessman John James.  June 30 Cash on hand: Peters $11.6 Million, Johnson $9.2 Million.  Polls: July Peters 47-39, 53-48   June Peters 49-42 Peters 41-31, Peters 50-32, Peters, 51-38, Peters 51-36 May Peters 48-39,   April Peters 46-36, March Peters 42-35, February Peters 45-39, January Peters 44-40






Alaska                       Physician and Commercial Fisherman Al Gross v. incumbent  and attorney with military connections Dan Sullivan.  June 30 Sullivan’s cash on hand $5.3 million.  Gross’s cash on hand $3.2 million. Polls: July Sullivan  39-34


Georgia (A)              Jon Ossoff v incumbent David Perdue.  Cash on Hand June 30. Perdue $10.7 Million, Ossoff $2.5 Million,.  Polls July Perdue 48-43, Ossoff 45-44 June Perdue 45-42 Ossoff 45-44  May Ossoff 47-45 May Perdue v. Ossoff 46-41



Iowa                           Businesswoman and civic leader Theresa Greenfield v unpopular incumbent Joni Ernst.  June 30 Cash on hand:  Ernst $9.1 Million, Greenfield $5.6 Million, Businessman Eddie Mauro $1 Million.  Polls: July Greenfield 49-47 June Greenfield 46-43, 48-45, 45-43, April Ernst v. Greenfield 43-42, December, 2019 Ernst v Greenfield 47-41, October, 2019 Ernst v. Greenfield 47-40


Kentucky                  Retired Marine Pilot Amy McGrath and conservative Democrat v Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.    June 30 Cash on hand: McConnell $16.6 Million, McGrath $16.2 Million, Charles Booker $70,000. Polls June McGrath 41-40 January Tie McConnell v McGrath 41-41, January, McConnell 43-40, September 2019 McConnell 47-46, August, 2019 McConnell 47-45


Maine             Speaker of the ME House, Sara Gideon v former moderate Senator, Susan Collins.  June 30 Cash on hand: Collins  $5.6 Million, Gideon $5.4 Million  Polls: July Collins 45-37, July Gideon 47-43, 46-42 May Gideon 51-42 March Gideon 47-43 February Gideon 43-42, June 2019 Collins 44-30, June 2019 Collins 52-36


Montana                    Steve Bullock, popular Democratic Governor of Montana versus corporate-oriented incumbent Steve Daines.  June 30 Cash on hand:  Daines $7.1 Million, Bullock $7.6 Million. Polls: July Bullock 46-44, 47-43  May Bullock 46-39,   March 47-47 Tie.


North Carolina.       Businessman, environmentalist, and veteran, Cal Cunningham v Incumbent Thom Tillis.  June 30 Cash on Hand:  Tillis $6.9 Million, Cunningham $6.6 Million.  Polls:  July Cunningham 49-42, 47-39, 44-40  June Cunningham 51-41 Tied 41-41 Cunningham 42-39, Cunningham 45-36, Cunningham 44-40, 43-41 June Cunningham 39-37 Tillis 38-36, May Cunningham 46-44,  Tillis 41-40, April Cunningham 41-39, 47-40, April Tillis 38-34, March Cunningham 48-43, Tillis 44-42.


South Carolina        Former Party Chair Jaime Harrison v incumbent, former moderate Republican Lindsay Graham.  June 30 Cash on hand Graham $15 Million, Harrison $10.2 Million.  Polls: July Graham 48-41  May Tied 42-42, March Graham 47-43




Alabama                   Incumbent ex US Attorney and KKK Prosecutor Doug Jones v ex Senator and ex Secretary of State Jeff Sessions or former Auburn football coach Tommy Tuberville. June 30 Cash on hand. Jones $8.8 Million. Tuberville $550,000.  Polls: Primary Poll. Polls for the General Election. June Tuberville 50-36, June Tuberville 47-44


Georgia (B)              Five candidates.  The top two will be in a run off.  Three Democrats: The Reverend Dr. Raphael Warnock, Senior Pastor at the Ebenezer Baptist Church of Atlanta, Businessman Matt Lieberman, ex US Attorney Ed Tarver.  Two Republicans: Inc Kelly Loeffler, Congressman Doug Collins. June 30 Cash on hand:  Loeffler $7 Million, Warnock $2.9 Million, Collins $2.6 Million, Lieberman $300,000  Polls: July  Collins 26, Loeffler 24, Warnock 18, Liberman 11, Tarver 9 May Collins 34, Warnock  18, Lieberman 14, Loeefler 12, April Collins 36, Warnock 16, Loeffler 13, Lieberman 11, Tarver 3.   General:  Warnock 45-44. 


Kansas                     Physician and former Republican State Senator Barbara Boliier for Open Republican Seat in Kansas. June 30 Cash on hand: Bollier $4.1 Million Republicans:  Hamilton $960,000, Marshall $1 Million, Kobach $130,000, Lindstrom $160,000. Polls:  May Bollier 42-41 v Kobach, 41-40 v Hamilton, 41-42 v Marshall, March 31 Bollier $2.4 Million. 


Texas                         Pilot MJ Hegar should win the primary run off and run against the increasingly unpopular Incumbent John Cornyn.  June 30 Cash on hand: Cornyn $134.5 Million, M. J. Hegar $900,000  Polls: July Cornyn 42-35, 47-38, 44-36, 42-29, June Cornyn 46-36 February Cornyn 49-41, December, 2019 Cornyn  44-30




Mississippi              Ex Member of Congress and Ex Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy v Incumbent Cindy Hyde-Smith.  June 30 Cash on hand: Hyde-Smith $1.2 Million, Espy $680,000.  Polls: June Hyde-Smith 49-41 February Hyde-Smith 53-43


Tennessee               Attorney, former military pilot, and Rabbinical Spouse James Mackler for an open Republican seat in Tennessee.  June 30 Cash on hand: Republicans:  Hedge Fund Owner Bill Hagerty $4.1 Million, Surgeon Manny Sethi  $720,000. Democrat Mackler $600,000.  Polls: February General Election Hagerty v Mackler 55 – 33, Sethi v Mackler 46-35




SOUTH DAKOTA,   Businessman Dan Ahlers v Incumbent Mike Rounds.  June 30 Cash on hand : Rounds $1.8 Million. Ahlers (who still has to win a primary) $50,000.

Idaho                          Paulette Jordan v Incumbent James Risch. June 30 : Cash on hand Risch $2.4 million.  Jordan $70,000

Arkansas                  Independent Dan Whitfield v incumbent Tom Cotton  June 30 Cash on hand Cotton $6 Million, Whitfield $18,000 Thousand.