Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Pompeo for Senate?

By Jim Ellis

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Nov. 25, 2019 — Ever since Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R) announced last January that he would retire at the end of the current Congress there has been consistent speculation that US Secretary of State and former Wichita area congressman, Mike Pompeo, would resign his national position and return to Kansas to run for the open seat. Despite repeated denials from Secretary Pompeo, the speculation would not die.

Now, it appears the rumors of him entering the race have greater foundation, as more concrete stories that he will soon resign and announce his candidacy are regularly surfacing. The Senate Republican leadership is clearly in favor of the Pompeo move, originally fearing that former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could win a crowded August Republican primary with only a vote plurality and then perform as badly in the general election as he did when he lost the 2018 open governor’s race.

With Republicans holding 53 of the chamber’s 100 seats but having to defend 23 incumbents and open seats on the 2020 Senate election map versus only 12 for the Democrats, the GOP cannot afford an electoral debacle in what should be a safe seat. It was only two years ago that another flawed Republican Senate candidate bungled the Alabama special election, thus allowing Democrat Doug Jones to win the position that Sen. Jeff Sessions had resigned to become US Attorney General.

Currently, eight individuals have announced for the Republican nomination led by Kobach, US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend), and state Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita). Polling and local political intel suggests that Pompeo would have little trouble winning the nomination, and the seat, if he were to enter the race. If he does become a candidate, some of the others, and particularly Rep. Marshall, would have time to exit the race and pivot back toward seeking re-election to their current position.

Originally, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R) had been in the Senate race – in fact, he was the first to enter the contest immediately after Sen. Roberts made public his intentions – but he has already exited and, at the behest of former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), is now challenging freshman Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Topeka) for re-nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.

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Filings & Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 22, 2019 — As we approach the end of this year, two states have already held their 2020 candidate filings and six more will do so in December. This sets the stage for eight statewide primaries in March, four from large states. Mississippi, with a March 10 primary, set its filing deadline for Jan. 10.

In total, and in addition to the presidential campaign, filings during this period in these states have occurred or will occur for six Senate races and 151 US House districts. All five Super Tuesday primary states will host US Senate contests and hold an aggregate of 113 congressional districts.

Alabama and Arkansas have already filed, and the major stories coming from these places as already covered were former US Attorney General and senator, Jeff Sessions, again declaring for his former position and the lone Democrat challenging Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) dropping out of the race just two hours after he had filed. In the pair of states, two House incumbents, Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) and Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro), are totally unopposed in their 2020 campaigns.

The other states heading for December candidate filing deadlines are Illinois on Dec. 2; California, Dec. 6; Texas, Dec. 9; and Ohio, Dec. 11. North Carolina is currently scheduled for Dec. 20, but it is conceivable that the pending redistricting lawsuits could potentially postpone the state primary and thus the qualifying candidate deadline.

The five Super Tuesday (March 3) primary states are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas.

Alabama has the first Senate primary and that will likely determine which two of the six major Republican candidates move into an April 14 run-off election. Currently, polling suggests that former Sen. Sessions and Auburn University retired head football coach Tommy Tuberville would advance to a run-off. Secretary of State John Merrill, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), and former state Supreme Court Chief Judge and 2017 US Senate special election nominee Roy Moore round out the group of main competitors. The eventual nominee will face Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the November campaign.

Two open seat congressional races, both in South Alabama, will almost assuredly go to run-offs, though the eventual Republican nominee in the respective districts will be heavily favored to replace Reps. Byrne and Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who is retiring.

The March 3 primary is relatively inconsequential in Arkansas since it appears the general election is relatively set. Since the Democrats have no candidate in the Senate race, the party structure will meet to nominate a consensus candidate for a ballot slot in the general election.

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Strickland Announces in Ohio; Chances? Walker Cruising

FEB. 27, 2015 –Seventy-three year old former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland’s (D) announcement that he will challenge first-term Sen. Rob Portman (R) was expected yet still surprising.

Clearly the defeated former governor is attempting to take advantage of what he believes will be a 2016 Democratic presidential victory not only nationally, but in Ohio as well. Such a finish could reasonably sweep in a Democratic Senate candidate on presidential coattails, of this we know.

While the former governor has six terms in Congress to his credit and another four years as the state’s chief executive, he is no stranger to losing. In fact, he lost four House races in addition to his re-election as governor. Strickland won for the first time on his fourth try for Congress, some 16 years after he originally ran.
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Senate ’16 Taking Shape

With several political moves being made this week and last, some of the key 2016 US Senate races are already coming together. Below is a quick recap of the states where action is presently occurring:

Alaska – Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R): Democrats’ first choice is former Sen. Mark Begich (D). Bypassing a race to reclaim his former position as mayor of Anchorage, Begich has instead formed a new consulting firm. He has not yet ruled out a run against Sen. Murkowski, so this potential challenge remains alive.

Arizona – Sen. John McCain (R): A budding Republican primary challenge for the 2008 GOP presidential nominee seems assured. Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ-5) may be the strongest potential Republican challenger, and is moving toward running. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ-9) is a possible Democratic contender, more likely to run if Salmon progresses with his intra-party challenge.
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Cruz, Walker Up in Texas;
Bush, Perry Still Lagging

FEB. 25 — The University of Texas and the Texas Tribune news publication teamed to release a poll of potential Republican 2016 primary voters (YouGov; Feb. 6-15; 1,200 Texas adults; 547 sampled-matched Republican primary voters) and found home state Sen. Ted Cruz and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker leading the pack by a relatively substantial margin.

Falling back into single digits were former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Texas’ longest-serving governor, Rick Perry. Thus, we see one more political survey attesting to Gov. Walker’s strength and ex-Gov. Bush’s early weakness.

The UT/Tribune polls have previously not been particularly reliable, but in this instance they teamed up with the international survey research company, YouGov, which has generally produced credible results around the world. This poll, however, appears to have its flaws.
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