He’s Baaaaaack!

By Jim Ellis

                      Judge Roy Moore

June 24, 2019 — As expected and despite urgings from President Trump not to do so, former Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore announced his Senate 2020 candidacy late last week.

We will remember Judge Moore’s ill-fated 2017 special Senate election effort that resulted in Democrat Doug Jones becoming the first member of his party to win an Alabama Senate seat since Howell Heflin was last re-elected in 1990.

Even before the announcement, Moore and Sen. Richard Shelby (R) were again trading barbs. Judge Moore argued that Shelby’s involvement, which culminated in the senior senator saying he was placing “country before party,” led to Jones’ victory, while Shelby retorted that he still thinks “Alabama can do better,” in a reference about electing Judge Moore.

Arguably, Alabama is the most important Senate race on the 2020 election board. If the Republicans take back the seat, which is a must if they want to cement their hold on the majority, the Senate party division would increase to 54 Republicans. Looking at the remaining seats in play for the current election cycle it becomes increasingly difficult for the Democrats to reach majority status if they lose this race.

In 2017, Judge Moore, after defeating appointed incumbent Luther Strange 55-45 percent in a run-off election after placing first with 39 percent in the original special primary, was found to have attempted to date, or did date, between two and nine underage girls when he was a deputy district attorney in Etowah County some 40 years ago. The controversy likely cost Moore the election, a battle that he lost to Jones 50.0 to 48.3 percent.

The 2020 regular primary appears to feature a more difficult field of opponents for Moore than did the special election. Appointed Sen. Strange waded into his own batch of quicksand when allegations surfaced that he allegedly cut a deal with Gov. Robert Bentley (R) when the former man was Alabama’s attorney general and the state chief executive was being scrutinized for spending and utilizing state resources for his personal use.

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Coming to Grips With
The Tar Heel State Electorate

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Congressional Districts

June 21, 2019 — A new North Carolina poll from Harper Polling conducted for the state’s conservative Civitas Institute (June 8-10; 500 likely North Carolina voters) charts just how difficult it may be for any candidate to strike a balance with the current inconstant Tar Heel State electorate.

As we know, North Carolina is one of the nation’s genuine swing states, and how they break in the 2020 national election will go a long way toward determining the outcome of the next presidential election. Looking at the national electorate from a partisan presidential context, the state is a must-win for President Trump, but less so for the eventual Democratic nominee. If the Democrat were to convert North Carolina, however, a national victory for his or her party would be the likely result.

The survey was fielded to look at several issues and attitudes in the state, and mostly test the 2020 governor’s race. The respondent sample correctly reflects the North Carolina party division (actual: 37.1 percent Democrat, 30.1 percent Republican; poll: 37 percent Democrat, 31 percent Republican), and shows an ideological bent toward the conservatives (combination of strongly and somewhat conservative: 52 percent, strongly and somewhat liberal: 20 percent); but lurches heavily female: 54-46 percent (actual state: 51.3 percent female, 48.7 percent male).

Additionally, the sample claims to have supported President Trump in greater numbers than the actual vote: Trump 46-38 percent in the Harper Poll versus 50-46 percent in the actual 2016 vote count. This is surprising considering the respondent sample leans so heavily female.

But on the two issues tested: college student loans and the tariffs with China, the respondents provide some unexpected answers. Their retorts suggest that candidates from both parties may have a difficult time forging a winning path through the North Carolina electorate.

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Florida: Biden Up

Former vice president, Joe Biden (Getty Images)


By Jim Ellis

June 20, 2019 — Quinnipiac University surveyed the Florida electorate (June 12-17; 1,279 registered Florida voters, 417 self-identified Democrats) and found former Vice President Joe Biden opening a substantial lead over Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) there. He also posts a healthy advantage against President Trump in a hypothetical general election pairing in what is always a critical voting domain.

The Q-Poll numbers find Biden scoring a 41-14-12 percent advantage over Sens. Sanders and Warren, respectively, with South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) trailing in single-digits with eight and six percent, sequentially.

As Nate Silver, founder of the 538 statistical website, said in an interview this week that looking at general election polling this early is basically a futile exercise. It does, however, provide us a clue into candidates’ strengths and weaknesses. In the general election Q-Poll pairing, Biden records a 50-41 percent advantage over President Trump in Florida. This poll, of course, was taken before Trump’s Florida rally Tuesday night in which he kicked off his 2020 campaign.

Silver’s spoken sentiments are true because, among other reasons, so much time remains between now and the 2020 Nov. 3 election, and so many unknown events will occur that could alter the final outcome. Additionally, the campaign will drastically change when both parties have nominees and voters begin paying serious attention to the race.

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Wyoming: Political Picture
Will Take Time to Emerge

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney

June 19, 2019 — Sen. Mike Enzi’s (R) retirement announcement last month will ignite a political firestorm in the Equality State, but not just yet. Because the state is small and the candidate filing deadline is almost a year away (May 29), the races will take time to develop. Both the Senate campaign and at-large House contest, assuming we see an opening in the latter situation, will become major political battles, at least as far as the Aug. 18, 2020 Republican primary is concerned.

The focal point centers around at-large Rep. Liz Cheney’s (R-Wilson/Jackson) intention. Should she run for the Senate, as most believe she will, her path to the nomination is likely to be encumbered. Her jumping into the Senate contest will also open Wyoming’s lone House seat for the second time in three election cycles.

In addition to Cheney, a former at-large US representative and ex-state treasurer is reported to be testing the waters for the Senate seat. Additionally, a two-term former governor is looming large on the political horizon.

Cynthia Lummis (R) served in the House for four terms after her original election in 2008 and did not seek re-election in 2016. Lummis averaged 64.8 percent in her four elections, and 68.8 percent in three re-elections as the incumbent. She served eight years as state treasurer, in addition to a combined 14 years in the Wyoming House and Senate. The former congresswoman is reportedly making calls to assess her chances and if she decides to enter the open Senate contest, we could see she and Cheney squaring off for the GOP nomination.

Billionaire Foster Friess, who finished a relatively close second in the 2018 Republican gubernatorial primary, is also being mentioned as a potential candidate. While not committing to the race, Friess has also not ruled out running.

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Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Susan Brooks represented Indiana’s 5th District, a reliably Republican district over the years.

June 18, 2019 — The 2019-20 House open seat count reached double-digits as Indiana Rep. Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) announced late last week that she would not seek a fifth term next year.

With Brooks retiring and Montana at-large Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) announcing that he will run for governor, the open seat count grows to 10 including the two North Carolina special congressional elections that will be filled on Sept. 10.

Most news outlets were reporting the Brooks announcement as a surprise, in large part because she chairs the National Republican Congressional Committee’s candidate recruitment operation. But, rumors of Brooks moving on from the House have circulated before, and she did attempt to become governor when incumbent Mike Pence left office after being selected as Donald Trump’s running mate. There was also speculation that she could leave the House next year in order to run for state attorney general.

Immediately after Pence left his Hoosier State gubernatorial re-election effort to campaign for vice president, an Indiana Republican Party committee was empowered to choose a new gubernatorial nominee. Rep. Brooks, along with fellow US Rep. Todd Rokita, declared for the special nomination, but the party committee members instead chose then-Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb who would go onto win the general election and now stands for re-election in 2020.

Rep. Brooks says her retirement decision is primed because of a desire to begin devoting her life to interests outside of politics. She will, however, continue in her NRCC role to lead the party’s recruitment apparatus in serving the balance of this current term.

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