Monthly Archives: February 2017

Democrats Choose Perez

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2017 — Convention politics often produces interesting results, and the Democratic National Committee’s vote for chairman on Saturday proved no exception. Former Obama Administration Labor Secretary and Justice Department official Tom Perez was elected the new party chairman, in a race where the first and second place finishers ultimately secured the DNC’s top two internal positions.

Perez came within one tally of winning outright in the first round of voting, and then captured the chairmanship on the second ballot. Minnesota US Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis), who placed a very close second, was immediately appointed the organization’s Vice Chairman.

The national committee is comprised of 447 voting individuals, including members from overseas. The Democrats Abroad receive only half-votes for their contingency, however. Therefore, with 427 full votes being cast in the first round, the winner needed 214 to clinch the chairmanship, but Perez finished with 213. Therefore, a second round was required.

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Leading the DNC

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2017 — The Democratic National Committee convened in Atlanta beginning Thursday of last week, and before the meeting adjourned on Saturday evening the 447-member conclave elected a new party chairman. The person they elected was former Obama Administration Labor Secretary and Justice Department official Tom Perez.

Eight activists, including a former cabinet secretary and sitting Member of Congress, were vying for the position, and it was only those two who seemed to be within striking distance of claiming victory. Perez replaces interim chair Donna Brazile who is not running for the permanent position. Brazile was tabbed to replace elected chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the South Florida congresswoman, upon the latter’s forced resignation in controversy during the Democratic National Convention last July.

Perez claimed to have 205 committed votes for DNC chairman, just short of the 224 a candidate needs to score a first-ballot victory. And he almost captured the win on the first ballot. It took two ballots, however, to secure the win.

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New Wisconsin Senate Data

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 24, 2017 — The 2018 Senate Democrats have the same problem as last year’s Senate Republicans. That is, the Dems must protect too many seats in the coming election, which obviously diminishes opportunities for gains.

The Dems current situation is worse than the Republicans’ in the previous cycle. In 2018, the party candidates must win 25 of the 34 in-cycle seats (now including the Alabama special election for purposes of completing the current term that Attorney General Jeff Sessions began) just to break even. The 2016 Republicans were forced to defend 24 states to the Democrats’ 10, and ended the campaign cycle dropping a net two seats.

Adding further vulnerability to the Democrats’ potential quagmire is seeing 10 of their 25 incumbents hailing from states that President Trump carried last November. In nine of those 10 – Michigan is the lone exception – the state’s other senator is a Republican.

One of the top Republican conversion targets is the Badger State of Wisconsin. Here, first-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) seeks re-election in what should be a highly competitive general election campaign.

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The Next Special

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 23, 2017 — Former South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney’s (R-Lancaster/Rock Hill) resignation officially launches the fourth US House special election, as individuals are now formally becoming candidates. Though Gov. Henry McMaster (R) has not yet set the special election calendar, state election law mandates when voting must occur.

Under South Carolina law, a partisan primary special election for a commensurate vacant position is held on the 11th Tuesday following an incumbent leaving a particular office. Since Mulvaney resigned just after being confirmed as director of the Office of Management & Budget on Feb. 16, the special election clock for filling the now open 5th Congressional District began ticking.

Last week’s resignation means May 2, the 11th Tuesday after the date of vacancy, will host the respective partisan primaries. If no candidate obtains majority support in the party primary, the run-off will occur on the 13th Tuesday following the vacancy date, meaning May 16 in this case. The special general then follows on the 18th Tuesday post-vacancy, thus translating into June 20.

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The First GA-6 Poll

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 22, 2017 — Many political analysts and observers have predicted that the northern Atlanta suburban special election to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will be the most competitive of the early cycle political contests, and a new Clout Research (formerly Wenzel Strategies) poll lends some credence to such an assertion.

According to the survey (Feb. 17-18; 694 very likely and somewhat likely GA-6 special election voters), it is Democrat Jon Ossoff who leads the jungle primary with 31.7 percent support followed by former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) who commands 24.9 percent. Businessman Jon Gray (R) is the only other candidate in double-digits, posting 10.6 percent preference. State Sen. Judson Hill (R), one of the more active contenders in the early going, is next recording 9.2 percent.

The Democrats have been attempting to sell that argument that they are competitive in this reliably Republican district because President Trump carried the seat by only 1.5 percentage points. This compared to Rep. Price averaging 76 percent of the vote over seven terms and scoring a 62 percent re-election victory in November, a full 14 points better than Trump’s performance.

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Duffy Won’t Go; SC-5 Special

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 21, 2017 — Timing is everything.

Wisconsin Senate

The man commonly viewed as the most likely opponent to first-term Wisconsin Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) next year won’t run. Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) released a statement saying it is “not the right time” for him to undertake a statewide venture.

In a public statement covered by his hometown newspaper, the Wausau Daily Herald, Rep. Duffy said, “After much prayer and deliberation, Rachel and I have decided that this is not the right time for me to run for Senate. We have eight great kids and family always comes first. … I’ll continue to work my heart out for the families of the 7th District, and I’m excited about the great things we will accomplish with our united Republican government.”

While the congressman did not formally announce for re-election, the gist of his statement suggests that he is not retiring from elective politics.

Several prominent Republicans are looking at the Senate race, and many will continue to engage in serious contemplation especially since Duffy will not be among the field of candidates.

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PA: Understanding What Happened

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 17, 2017 — Now that the 2016 presidential election result has been dissected into congressional districts, we have the ability to understand just how Donald Trump scored his upset presidential win. Pennsylvania was one of the key battleground states, and arguably the one that put President Trump over the top.

As in most states, Hillary Clinton performed very well in the cities and inner suburbs – usually even better than President Obama’s commensurate and victorious 2012 totals – but Trump’s performance in the outer suburbs and rural areas, where turnout notably increased, outdid her stout showing.

Examining Pennsylvania, and looking at the state through metro congressional districts and comparing them to those in outer suburb and rural regions, we see starkly different trends.

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Specials Update

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 16, 2017 — News is breaking in three of the impending special congressional elections:

GA-6

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has scheduled the special election to replace newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for April 18, with a run-off to follow on June 20. Already 15 candidates have announced for the seat.

For special elections, Georgia employs the same system as we’ve previously described when discussing the California race. That is, a jungle primary will be conducted on April 18, with all candidates placed on one ballot. If no one secures a majority the top two finishers, irrespective of political party affiliation, will advance to the special general election in late June.

Democrats intend to make a push for this seat, which should become the most competitive of the five special congressional elections. President Trump only carried this district 48.3 – 46.8 percent in November, a major downturn for the GOP in what is typically a reliably Republican seat.

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Flake Still Trailing
in Arizona Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 15, 2017 — Just after the Nov. 8 election, Remington Research conducted a Republican voters’ statewide Arizona survey (Nov. 15-16; 1,122 likely 2018 Republican primary voters via automated response device), as we previously covered, and found Sen. Jeff Flake (R) to be in trouble … in his own primary. Now, a new poll seems to confirm Flake’s weakness.

The previous data showed the incumbent trailing state Treasurer Jeff DeWit (R), 42-33 percent, in a hypothetical Republican primary. The same sample found former state senator and 2016 US Senate candidate Kelli Ward tied with Flake, 35-35 percent. Ward attracted 40 percent of the vote against Sen. John McCain in the 2016 Republican US Senate primary. In a three-way race, DeWit led Flake and Ward, 38-30-15 percent, respectively. Perhaps most disconcerting for the senator was his favorability index among the Republican sample group, 30:49 percent favorable to unfavorable.

Now comes a new Political Marketing International poll (Feb. 7; 921 likely 2018 Republican primary voters via automated response device) that again brings warning signs to Sen. Flake. According to this current data, Flake actually trails Ward, 23-30 percent. DeWit, who has not committed to run for Senate though he did announce that he’ll retire as state treasurer, was not tested in this particular poll.

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Early National Report Card

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 14, 2017 — Morning Consult and the Politico publication joined forces to conduct a major national tracking survey that begins to understand how Americans are viewing the current political state. The polling period occurred Feb. 2-4, through extensive interviews with a large 2,070 registered voters sampling universe.

The questionnaire covered how people view President Trump, the congressional leaders, the direction of the country, and their attitudes about key issues currently facing the nation including Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation status.

The right track-wrong track question — though a sizable majority still express negative opinions about where the country is headed — is improving according to this survey. By are margin of 40:60 percent, the respondents believe America is now on the right track. Previously, the ratio had been much worse: well into the 70-plus percentile range responding wrong track during the presidential campaign.

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KS-4: Republicans Choose

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 13, 2017 — The 126-member 4th District Republican Congressional Committee met in Wichita last week to choose a nominee with the objective of keeping the vacant US House seat under GOP control. CIA Director Mike Pompeo (R) resigned from Congress to accept President Trump’s appointment. Therefore, the special election to replace him is set for April 11.

Late last week, state Treasurer Ron Estes officially became the party standard bearer by capturing 66 of the 126 votes on the second ballot. He defeated Trump Transition Team member and presidential campaign official Alan Cobb, ex-US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R-Wichita), former radio talk show host Joseph Ashby, and petroleum company CEO George Bruce. Wichita City Councilman Pete Meitzner had been campaigning for the seat, but decided not to enter the official local convention proceedings.

On the first ballot, Estes scored 58 votes, six short of claiming the nomination outright. Cobb was second with 28 secret ballot votes. Former eight-term US Rep. Tiahrt landed in the second tier of candidates, ahead of only Ashby and Bruce.

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Alabama Senate – Strange

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2017 — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) named state Attorney General Luther Strange (R) to replace former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R). Sessions resigned from the Senate after being confirmed as US Attorney General.

Strange will serve through the 2018 regular election. He has already announced that he will run in the concurrent special election. If successful, he will then serve the balance of the current term, meaning through 2020. He would be eligible to seek a full six-year term in the 2020 election.

NRCC Releases 2018 Targets

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2017 — In late January the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) released their list of 59 current Republican House targets, and now the GOP committee leadership has countered in publicizing their own group of 36 politically marginal Democratic incumbents.

The National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) released the targets this week, and their primary offensive list is not particularly surprising. It naturally includes the 12 Democratic districts that President Trump carried, before adding two dozen of which some are certainly more vulnerable than others.

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Special Elections Getting Underway

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 9, 2017 — The special election cycle officially launches tomorrow evening.

KS-4

Kansas’ 4th District Republican Committee will convene for purposes of choosing a nominee to compete in the April 11 special election. Democrats will follow suit with their own confab on Saturday afternoon.

The Wichita-anchored 4th CD is vacant because Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) was nominated and confirmed as President Trump’s CIA director. He resigned the congressional seat on Jan. 24 to accept his new position. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) then quickly scheduled the replacement election for early April.

The 4th District Republican Committee consists of 126 party-elected delegates. They will consider the candidates, and then cast secret ballots. The voting will continue until one person reaches majority support (64 votes). The lowest vote-getter will be eliminated after every round of voting.

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Senator   Mitt Romney?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 8, 2017 — Sen. Mitt Romney?

According to the Salt Lake City Deseret News, former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is not yet ruling out a potential 2018 Utah Senate race.

Jump-starting the speculation is Romney’s comment saying that “all doors are open” in response to a question from a Deseret political news reporter about the upcoming federal election. Romney was attending an event yesterday commemorating the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games that he directed when being interviewed.

“I don’t have any predictions on what I might do. I’m not going to open a door and I’m not going to close a door. All doors are open,” Romney stated when answering the question. Such a quote is a long way from actually expressing interest in the Utah Senate race, but it is clear he is giving himself some latitude with respect to mounting a statewide political effort.

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