Monthly Archives: June 2016

Four States Choose Nominees

By Jim Ellis

June 30, 2016 — Voters went to the polls to select their general election political lineups in Colorado, New York, Oklahoma, and Utah.

Colorado

Just as El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn became the endorsed US Senate candidate at the state Republican convention earlier in the year, he soared to a primary victory. Glenn topped 38 percent of the GOP vote, outpacing former Colorado State Athletic Director Jack Graham (25 percent), who many people believed to be the best candidate in the crowded field, businessman Robert Blaha (16 percent), former state Rep. Jon Keyser (13 percent), and ex-Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier (nine percent).

Commissioner Glenn now advances to the general election to face Sen. Michael Bennet (D), where the challenger faces long odds. Considering the breakdown in Republican recruiting and the fact that the establishment candidate, Keyser, finished second to last gives observers little confidence that this can become a competitive race in the fall.

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Primaries Yesterday

By Jim Ellis

June 29, 2016

Colorado

Sen. Michael Bennet (D) officially heads into the general election, and learned the identity of his Republican opponent, El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn. The GOP has had nothing but trouble in finding a suitable challenger here, in what was once thought to be a competitive race. But, a series of recruiting mishaps and several candidates having trouble with the petition signature process means the Senator stands in strong position for re-election.

In addition to Glenn, the Republican candidates were businessman John Blaha, and ex-state Rep. Jon Keyser, along with former Aurora city councilman and previous congressional candidate Ryan Frazier, and ex-Colorado State University Athletic Director Jack Graham. Glenn begins as a decided underdog to Sen. Bennet and faces a major uphill climb in making this race a top-tier challenge campaign.

Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Denver) and Douglas Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) drew respective party primary challenges, but both won easily.

New York

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) stands for re-election and will have little trouble securing a fourth term in November. He had no primary opposition.

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Clinton Up 10 Points, Or One?

By Jim Ellis

June 28, 2016 — Two new national media polls were released over the weekend, and even though they were conducted over the same sampling period their conclusions are quite different.

The Washington Post-ABC News poll (June 20-23; 1,001 adults — undisclosed number of registered voters, 650 certain voters) finds Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump and Gary Johnson, 47-37-7 percent. But, the NBC/Wall Street Journal survey (June 19-23; 1,000 registered voters) finds only a one-point Clinton edge, 39-38-10 percent, over Trump and Johnson, respectively.

In both cases, Clinton’s lead is stronger without Johnson included. The fact that the Johnson-Weld Libertarian Party ticket will be on the ballot in all 50 states makes the third party inclusion more accurate. Without Johnson, WaPo/ABC finds a 51-39 percent Clinton spread; NBC/WSJ sees a 46-41 percent margin.

Green Party candidate Jill Stein was also added to the mutli-candidate question in both surveys. She scored three percent on the WaPo/ABC study, and six percent from NBC/WSJ. It is unlikely, however, that she will gain 50-state ballot standing. Therefore, her national poll position is largely irrelevant at this time.

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A Contested Convention After All?

By Jim Ellis

June 27, 2016 — There is clear evidence that “Never Trump” Republican national delegates are organizing an effort to force a national convention rules change and, in effect, fully open the floor proceedings when all delegations gather in Cleveland.

The movement received a shot in the arm earlier in the week when Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus appointed former US Rep. Enid Greene Mickelsen (R-UT) as chair of the national convention rules committee, and veteran RNC committeeman and former White House staff member Ron Kaufman (R-MA) as her co-chair. In doing so, Priebus by-passed the current RNC eules committee chairman, Arizona committeeman Bruce Ash, who is a strong proponent for keeping the rules consistent.

That’s not to say that Mickelsen and Kaufman would be sympathetic to opening the convention, but it was clear that Ash is hostile to the idea. In media interviews, Ash repeatedly stated that Donald Trump has abided by all party rules and fairly won the nomination through his particular strength in primaries. Trump has amassed more votes than any Republican candidate in history, meaning his presidential nomination is clearly legitimate. Ash further indicated that the GOP delegates, including himself, represent the Republican voters of their states, and they have clearly selected Trump.

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Florida Dominoes Fall

By Jim Ellis

June 24, 2016
— As expected, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) officially reversed course and announced that he will file for re-election. His action put in motion other political moves.

As promised, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R) announced that he is ending his Senate campaign, deferring to his long-time friend. Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) exited the Senate race late last week in anticipation of Rubio returning and simultaneously declared that he would attempt to seek re-election to the House.

In north-central Florida, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), another Senate candidate, also stated that he, too, would leave the Senate race and now likewise retreats to seek re-election to his US House seat. Unlike Rep. Jolly, who had been laying the groundwork for a House return for a couple of weeks, Rep. DeSantis had kept his plans to himself. This led to speculation that he might not re-enter the congressional race, since six Republicans were already running, and instead sit out the 2016 election and file for the open attorney general’s position in 2018.

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Why the Panic?

By Jim Ellis

June 23, 2016 — It is clear that most Republican insiders, and many elected delegates preparing for the national convention in Cleveland, appear terror stricken over the Trump campaign’s current status. Now, a long-shot move is underway to attempt to change the GOP convention rules so all delegates would be free to vote as they choose, thus dissing state laws and binding planks in a last-ditch attempt to deny Donald Trump the nomination.

Trump, himself, is being portrayed as showing signs of panic with his abrupt firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, but this act is likely a response to the poor fundraising operation that came directly under the departed top staff man’s purview. The Trump campaign reports an embarrassingly low $1,289,507 million cash on hand.

But is there reason for such panic? As often seems the case, the people directly involved in the political process appear to pay more attention to media stories than to numbers and maps because the empirical data is telling quite a different story.

Quinnipiac University just released polls in three key states, all taken between June 8-19. Their new Florida poll (975 registered Florida voters) finds Hillary Clinton leading Trump 47-39 percent, a significant gain in this most important of swing states, but the relatively modest eight point spread is her best showing, by far.

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How Rubio’s Decision Affects Others

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2016 — It appears that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will change course and run for re-election after repeatedly saying he would not. GOP leaders, fearing they would lose the seat without him, have apparently prevailed upon him to seek re-election after exerting intense pressure. We will know for sure very shortly, because the state’s candidate filing deadline closes Friday afternoon.

But, Rubio’s decision will not only affect the Senate race. Two House district campaigns could also drastically change if he launches a new campaign.

Already, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) has left the Senate race and returns to his Pinellas County congressional district to fight an uphill battle for re-election in an unfavorable post-redistricting seat. The state Supreme Court drew a new 13th CD that greatly favors the Democrats, and party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist will be Jolly’s general election opponent.

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Ins, Outs and Maybes

By Jim Ellis

June 21, 2016 — Florida Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) announced Friday that he would officially end his US Senate bid and return to protect his seat in the House of Representatives. The move had been predicted for the past week.

With the state Supreme Court re-drawing his 13th CD to the Democrats’ liking, Rep. Jolly’s re-election prospects appeared dim so the Senate race looked to be a viable possibility. When the congressman announced, however, that he would no longer personally raise funds for his statewide effort, leaving that task to “staff and Super PACs”, it became clear that his Senate campaign would go nowhere.

When the city of St. Petersburg was added to District 13 in the mid-decade redistricting plan, party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist decided to enter the open congressional race as a Democrat. In the new configuration, President Obama averaged 55 percent of the vote in his two elections, up from breaking even here when the previous 13th was a statewide vote microcosm.

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Florida Speculation Growing

By Jim Ellis

June 20, 2016 — The Florida Senate race could soon be changing in a major way. With the June 24 filing deadline closing in on all Florida politicos, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running out of time to decide whether he will reverse his previously stated position and seek re-election.

The stage is set for his return, but is re-entering the Senate race the right move for him? Certainly Republican leaders think Rubio running again would be best for the party. The Florida campaign is going to be one of the most important and talked about during the general election cycle and Senate Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have made no secret of their position that Rubio should run.

Now we see at least two active Senate participants saying they would end their campaigns if the senator were to declare. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), who Rubio has repeatedly praised as being a worthy successor, made the public statement earlier this week that should the incumbent and former presidential candidate want back in, he will exit, stage right.

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Nevada’s Critical Role in November

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2016 — As we examine the 2016 political landscape, it appears that Nevada, the small four-congressional district western state of 2.8 million people, will play a defining role in electing a president, determining which party controls the United States Senate, and whether or half of its House seats swing.

The developing Senate contest between Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and former two-term Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) became official in Tuesday’s statewide primary. Masto and Heck each recorded landslide victories in their respective nomination contests and have now begun the arduous general election campaign. The state also hosts two nationally significant House races.

In the 3rd Congressional District, businessman and frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian upset state Senate Majority Leader Mike Roberson to win the Republican nomination from the politically marginal district that encompasses south Las Vegas and the succeeding territory all the way to the Arizona and California borders. Tarkanian will now face software developer Jacky Rosen (D) in the general election. Until Rep. Heck made his district politically secure, the 3rd delivered victory percentages of only 47.4, 48.1, and 50.4 from 2008 through 2012.

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Incumbent Loss; Favorites & Upsets

By Jim Ellis

June 16, 2016 — Digging a little deeper for a more detailed look at Tuesday’s primary results:

District of Columbia

In what proved to be a meaningless District of Columbia primary, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton destroyed Sen. Bernie Sanders with a 79-21 percent win from almost 100,000 votes cast.

The contest concluded all primaries and caucuses and sends Clinton to the national convention in Philadelphia with more than enough pledged votes and Super Delegate support to claim an official first ballot victory in late July.

Virginia

The big news came from the Virginia Tidewater where eight-term veteran Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Chesapeake) suffered a crushing 53-41 percent defeat in his new Virginia Beach district, becoming the cycle’s second special redistricting casualty following Rep. Renee Ellmers’ (R-NC-2) loss last week.

The winner is Virginia Beach first-term state Delegate Scott Taylor (R) who spent less than 20 percent of incumbent Forbes’ $2 million total. The court-ordered mid-decade redistricting plan forced Forbes out of his 4th District. The new CD-4 includes the cities of Petersburg and part of Richmond, which virtually assures the Democrats of victory. Thus, Rep. Forbes decided to move into the open Virginia Beach anchored 2nd District an area that he had never represented in his 15-year congressional career, but which seemed to be his best available chance of prolonging his career.

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Another Day, Another Primary Slate

By Jim Ellis

June 15, 2016 — A review of yesterday’s slate of primaries:

District of Columbia

Yesterday marked the final presidential primary as Democrats trudge to the polls in the District of Columbia. Forty-six Democratic delegates are at stake, 26 of whom are Super Delegates.

But the DC count wouldn’t and didn’t change anything. If Sen. Bernie Sanders had captured the entire slate, it wouldn’t change the final result. That didn’t come close to happening, however, as presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton destroyed Sanders with a 79-21 percent win from almost 100,000 votes cast. Clinton won with the balance of Super Delegates providing her the margin to exceed the 2,383 votes required to secure the party nomination.

Virginia

The Old Dominion’s unusual nomination system where the party leadership in each district can decide to hold a primary or convention culminated with voting in three CDs yesterday.

The most interesting was in the open Virginia Beach 2nd District where Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4) attempted to win re-nomination from a new CD. The court-ordered mid-decade redistricting turned Rep. Forbes’ previous domain into what should now become a decidedly Democratic seat. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virginia Beach) deciding to retire after three terms gave Forbes the opportunity to jump into an available political situation.

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General Election Preview:
Iowa, Montana, North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

June 14, 2015 — In addition to the California races we described in the last Update, key general election campaigns are now underway in Iowa, Montana and North Carolina since their nominees were also chosen on June 7. New Mexico and South Dakota likewise held June 7 primary contests, but all of their incumbents appear safe for re-election.

Iowa

Senate: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R), who has come under heavy fire for his handling of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, may face a more competitive 2016 political contest than first believed. Originally elected the same night that Ronald Reagan first won the presidency in 1980, Sen. Grassley has never faced a difficult re-election. This year, however, Democrats believe they have an opportunity to make the race competitive.

Their new nominee is former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, who served one-term under Gov. Chet Culver (D) but was swept from office with him in 2010. Previously, Judge had been appointed as state Agriculture Secretary by then-Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), who, himself, currently serves as President Obama’s top agriculture cabinet member.

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Post-Primary Race Previews – California

By Jim Ellis

June 13, 2016 — The June 7 primary results set the stage for several interesting California general election campaigns. Tomorrow, we will review the other June 7 primary states and their key general election contests.

The competition to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) features two Democrats advancing to the general election for the first time in state history. Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) placed first and second in the jungle primary field of 34 Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Harris’ 40 percent performance was stronger than polling projected, while Rep. Sanchez’s 19 percent of the joint vote fulfilled her forecast.

Without any suspense as to whether or not the Democrats will hold the Boxer seat, it is unlikely the national Democratic Party apparatus or outside Super PACs will involve themselves in the race. This should be more of a help to Sanchez than Harris. Though Harris is the clear favorite to win the general election, Rep. Sanchez has the correct profile for a modern day California statewide candidate.

Hailing from southern California, where approximately 60 percent of the state’s residents live and a region starved for a statewide office holder, Sanchez, coming from Orange County, has the opportunity to make geography a political asset.

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Convention Arithmetic

By Jim Ellis

June 10, 2016 — Except for the District of Columbia Democratic primary next Tuesday, the presidential nomination process is now complete yet activists in both parties are still attempting to upend the two presumptive nominees.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has still not conceded the nomination to Hillary Clinton and he actually has only slightly more of an argument to stay alive than the band of conservatives and Republicans who persist in their quest to de-rail a Trump nomination.

Because of the large number of Democratic Super Delegates, the unofficial counts only agree on one point: that Clinton does not have enough pledged delegates to clinch a first ballot victory. All agree, however, that when adding the unbound Super Delegates who say they will support her on the presidential nomination roll call scheduled for July 25 at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia that she achieves victory.

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