Governors: Post-Primary Bottom Lines (NV, SC)

The following Bottom Lines have been updated following this week's primaries in Nevada and South Carolina


Democrats point to their success in the state in 2016 as evidence that they are well positioned to pick up this GOP-held open seat this cycle, arguing that Nevada has turned blue. Republicans point out that they have held the Governor’s office since the 1998 election. They also believe that Democrats have nominated a flawed candidate. In the June 12 primary, Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolek won the Democratic nomination with 50 percent of the vote, defeating fellow commissioner Chris Giunchigliani, who took 39 percent, while four minor candidates and “none of these candidates” split the remaining 11 percent. Democratic strategists scoff at Republicans’ suggestion that Sisolek is a flawed candidate and believe that he is the strongest nominee they have had in years. They further argue that the flawed candidate in the race is the Republican nominee. Attorney General Adam Laxalt won the Republican nomination with 72 percent in an eight-way field. Democrats have reason to be optimistic, but this is going to be a gritty battle. The contest is in the Toss Up column.


This seat was supposed to be open as the incumbent, Republican Nikki Haley, was term-limited. Haley, though, joined the Trump Administration and then-Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster succeeded her. But, McMaster doesn’t seem to be benefitting much from incumbency or an endorsement from President Trump. He ended up with two credible primary opponents and wasn’t able to get the 50 percent of the vote necessary to avoid a run-off. He finished first with 42 percent followed by mortgage company executive John Warren with 29 percent and former state Department of Health Director Catherine Templeton with 21 percent. A run-off was always a possibility, but most observers believed that Templeton was the bigger threat. Whether McMaster survives the June 26 run-off is an even-money proposition today. Democrats nominated state Rep. James Smith with 62 percent of the vote in a three-way field. If Democrats have any shot in this solidly red state, it’s against McMaster, given the damage he has suffered during the nominating process and Democrats’ ability to tie him to a number of scandals that have roiled state government. The contest will remain in the Solid Republican until the run-off.

Image: Laxalt (NV-R) | Credit: AP Photo/John Locher