Category Archives: House

Roby Wins Run-off

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)

July 19, 2018 — Alabama voters went to the polls Tuesday to settle run-off elections, and the only congressional race on the ballot featured a Republican contest in the state’s southeastern 2nd District.

Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who fared poorly in the June 5th GOP primary in scoring only 39 percent of the vote against four opponents – a clear danger sign for any incumbent – rebounded to post a 68-32 percent victory over former one-term Rep. Bobby Bright, the man Roby unseated back in 2010. At the time, Bright served as a Democrat. He changed parties and entered the Republican primary to challenge Rep. Roby and forced a political re-match eight years after the original contest.

The 2nd District is comprised of 14 southeastern Alabama counties and part of Montgomery County. The largest communities are the cities of Montgomery (part), Dothan, and Enterprise. Roby carried all 15 local entities within a turnout of just over 71,000 voters. The congresswoman spent over $1.5 million, after obtaining more than $1 million in just the 2nd quarter. Her fundraising totals $2.2 million since the beginning of the campaign cycle.

In contrast, Bright raised just $406,000 through the June 27 pre-election report, and almost $309,000 of that total came in the form of a candidate loan.

Roby is a former Montgomery City Council member who decided to challenge then-Rep. Bright in the 2010 election. She defeated him that year, 51-49 percent, in the Republican wave election. Two years later, she scored 64 percent in her first re-election campaign, followed by a 67 percent win in 2014. Her victory margin dropped to 49-40 percent in 2016, largely because she came out against then-candidate Donald Trump after the Access Hollywood videotape became public.

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Crowley: Still on the Ballot

By Jim Ellis

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Democrat-Socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

July 16, 2018 — As has been extensively covered in the national media, Democratic socialist Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez upset 10-term Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the June 26 New York federal primary, but the winner is now claiming the defeated congressman may still oppose her in the general election.

As we detailed in our own report about the 14th Congressional District result, Rep. Crowley could still force a general election campaign because he became the Working Families Party nominee on the same night that he was losing the Democratic Party nomination. Under New York election law, candidates may simultaneously appear on the ballot as the nominee of more than one party.

The congressman, however, still maintains that he is not running but simultaneously has refused to resign from the WFP line — even when the party leadership asked him to do so.

Ocasio-Cortez is accusing the congressman of launching a minor party general election effort because he has, according to her, refused to follow through on scheduled calls to discuss his support for her despite his public comments to the contrary. Crowley said, via Twitter, that it is Ocasio-Cortez’s people who have “not followed through,” with scheduling the appointments.

Swept up in the national media coverage that has engulfed her since denying Rep. Crowley re-nomination, Ocasio-Cortez is already moving onto the national stage and still challenging the party establishment. She has already dispersed staff members to Delaware to help US Senate candidate Kerri Harris who is challenging Sen. Tom Carper in the Sept. 6 Democratic primary. She is doing the same for Bernie Sanders activist Brent Welder, one of the far left candidates hoping for the chance to unseat GOP Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas.

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Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part II: Nevada Through West Virginia

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 9, 2018 — With the election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) the total number of open House seats was reduced from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. On Friday we examined Arizona through Minnesota. Today we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

NEVADA (NV-3): Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is skipping her first re-election campaign and instead enters the US Senate contest to challenge Sen. Dean Heller (R). Both she and Sen. Heller easily won their respective party nominations on June 12. The latest Gravis Marketing poll gave Rosen a 45-41 percent general election lead. The Senate race is expected to remain as a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.


NEW MEXICO (NM-1 & 2): Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) oppose each other in the open governor’s race after both became their respective party nominees on June 5. The first two post-primary polls staked Grisham to leads between 9-13 percentage points.


NORTH DAKOTA (ND-AL): After Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced he would seek re-election, he suddenly decided to change course and pivoted into a Senate challenge against incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D). Both won unanimous party convention support, which paved the way for easy June 5 nomination victories. The first post-primary poll actually places Rep. Cramer three points ahead of Sen. Heitkamp in what promises to be a hard-fought general election.


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Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part I: Arizona through Minnesota

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 6, 2018 — Last Saturday’s election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) reduced the total number of open House seats from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. Today we’ll examine Arizona through Minnesota. On Monday we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

Arizona 2 & 9: Reps. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) are both running for the Senate and may oppose each other in the open general election. Rep. McSally is engaged in a three-way Republican primary that will be decided on Aug. 28. Rep. Sinema is the consensus Democratic Senate nominee. Polling shows McSally as the favorite to win the Republican nomination. Early general election pairings find Sinema leading the race from 7-11 points.


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California Poll Shows Nunes-Janz
Race As Being Competitive

By Jim Ellis
ca-22-devin-nunes-california-map
July 5, 2018
— A new Public Policy Polling survey conducted for the liberal group, End Citizens United (June 22-24; 632 registered California voters) of the race in CA-22, finds Democratic challenger Andrew Janz closing the gap between he and veteran Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare/ Fresno) as the pair advance toward the November general election. According to the PPP results, Nunes, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee who is leading the House oversight of the Justice Department’s Russia campaign collusion investigation, leads Janz, 49-41 percent.

The poll suggests that Janz, an attorney and first-time candidate who had already raised over $1.8 million through the middle of May, is competitive in the central California congressional district. However, as we look more closely at the poll, it is also important to note that the sponsoring organization, End Citizens United, is in no way supportive of Rep. Nunes, could be a vehicle for an independent expenditure supporting Janz, and we see that push questions were offered in order to form a specific conclusion.

After the initial ballot test question was asked, if the reported questionnaire order was, in fact, how the queries were presented to the individual 22nd District respondents, a series of statements were recited to the respondents that cast negative aspersions over Rep. Nunes accepting campaign contributions from “corporate special interests,” and saying that Janz will accept no such money.

The actual verbiage is as follows: “Andrew Janz is not taking any money from corporate special interests. His campaign is primarily funded by real people. If elected, Andrew Janz will work for the people of the Central Valley, not special interests in Washington. Devin Nunes has accepted over $600,000 in corporate PAC money and voted to give corporations a massive tax cut while raising taxes on thousands of Central Valley families. Having heard this, let me ask you again: The candidates for Congress this November are Democrat Andrew Janz and Republican Devin Nunes. If the election was today, who would you vote for?”

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Cloud Wins Special in Texas

By Jim Ellis

Michael Cloud (R) | Photo from campaign ad

Michael Cloud (R) | Photo from campaign ad

July 2, 2018 — Perhaps the most unique special election from a long series of 2017-18 irregular voting contests just wrapped up this weekend in southeast Texas, capping a subdued political battle that attracted little national attention.

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) is one of several members to be forced from office because of sexual harassment allegations. Already announcing that he would not seek re-election because of a settlement reached with a female employee that was financed through the special congressional taxpayer funded account created years ago to settle internal employee relations incidents, Farenthold then quickly resigned from Congress when it became apparent that the House Ethics Committee was going to fully investigate his situation.

Rep. Farenthold’s exit meant the committee would no longer have jurisdiction to consider an ethics complaint because the incumbent’s mid-term departure meant the committee could not pursue a private citizen.

Under Texas election law, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was forced to quickly call a special election to fill the balance of the term. His state’s vacancy procedure did not afford him the opportunity of making the special election concurrent with the regular vote as Govs. Rick Snyder (R-MI) and Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) did when House members in their states resigned (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) or suddenly passed away (Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY).

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Examining The Tuesday Turnout

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJune 29, 2018 — In continuing the effort to monitor primary turnout as a potential indicator of how the general election may unfold and whether a Democratic wave is forming, today we examine the preliminary participation numbers from the June 26 primaries.

Previously, in the 26 states where primaries were held, it appears that a normal turnout pattern had developed. Generally, more Democrats were voting in the states that typically vote Democratic, while more Republicans participated in those places where Republican candidates win the greater number of offices. In the five pure primary (non-run-off) states that held primaries on Tuesday, such a pattern continued. Utah was not included in the following analysis because the state did not feature any political contest where both Democrats and Republicans held a primary vote.

Democrats decisively turned out more people in Maryland (the Senate Democratic primary attracted 560,477 votes while the Republicans only produced 169,047), as one would expect, since the Free State is one of the strongest Democratic entities in the country. Conversely, more Republicans than Democrats voted in the Oklahoma primary (452,194 to 395,038 in the gubernatorial race), and that ratio, too, was anticipated.

Colorado, generally considered a swing state but one moving toward the Democrats in most elections, again saw more Democrats participating in Tuesday’s election. In the open governor’s race, 627,839 Democrats voted in the gubernatorial primary as compared to 493,445 Republicans. Once more, these numbers are predictable and represent a rather normal voter turnout pattern.

While talk of a “blue wave” continues and polls continue to show that more Democrats are interested and enthused about the coming midterm elections in the fall, such is not apparent in actual voting behavior within the two largest and most prolific Democratic states. In California, as we previously reported, while more Democrats than Republicans voted in the statewide jungle primary, in the seven targeted congressional districts more people voted for Republican candidates in six of those seven.

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Critical NJ Race in Toss-Up Mode

By Jim Ellis

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill

Navy veteran and attorney, Mikie Sherrill (D) | Photo from campaign ad

June 28, 2018 — Democrats have high hopes of converting a northern New Jersey seat that has only elected Republicans during the past 34 years, and a new Monmouth University poll (June 22-25; 406 NJ-11 registered voters) projects a toss-up 11th District contest. The two major party nominees, chosen in early June, are state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R-Morristown) and attorney and Navy veteran Mikie Sherrill (D).

Monmouth polling is experimenting with new sampling methods that involve three different turnout projection models. Their full sample, or “potential” voter model is one that tests only people who have voted in at least one election since 2010 or who are newly registered voters. The second model is what they term a “standard midterm” sample, and the third is in place to monitor a “Democratic surge,” if such were to develop.

The latter phrase has been used frequently in polling and in political commentaries, but there is little evidence of a substantial increase in Democratic primary voting from most states. At this point, national turnout models based solely upon 2018 primary voter turnout suggest a pattern that is closely aligned with a typical midterm performance. So far, more Democrats have been voting in states that normally vote Democratic, and more Republicans are participating in places where GOP candidates dominate.

New Jersey state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) | Photo from campaign ad

New Jersey state Assemblyman Jay Webber (R) | Photo from campaign ad

According to the full sample model, Democrat Sherrill leads Republican Webber by a scant 40-38 percent. Under the typical midterm model, the Democratic advantage increases to four points, 44-40 percent, but is still within the polling margin of error. Under their potential “Democratic surge” model, which may well prove illusionary when actual votes are counted, Sherrill increases her advantage to 45-39 percent.

The sample is weighted, but the draw does include more Independent voters (plus-three percent) than the raw percentage district total, and is four points less Democratic. But, the weighting formula is supposed to neutralize such discrepancies.

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Today’s Primaries

By Jim Ellis

June 26, 2018 — Five more states vote in nominating primaries or run-off elections today — Colorado, Oklahoma, South Carolina (run-off), the New York federal primary and the Utah races.

the-primariesCOLORADO

Leading the Centennial State ballot is the open governor’s race, which feature spirited contests for both parties. The Democratic race is largely between US Rep Jared Polis (D-Boulder) and former state Treasurer Cary Kennedy, the officially endorsed party candidate. Polling suggests that Rep. Polis has the advantage, even though Kennedy is the party insider’s favorite. Lt. Gov. Donna Lynne, and former state Sen. Mike Johnston complete the Democratic field.

For the Republicans, state Treasurer Walker Stapleton, the officially endorsed party candidate, looks to be leading the GOP battle for the nomination. His strongest competition appears to be coming from former state representative and businessman Victor Mitchell. Former Small Business Administration state director and ex-Parker Mayor Greg Lopez, and investment banker Doug Robinson round out the Republican field. The individuals nominated today will battle to succeed outgoing Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), who is ineligible to seek a third term.

The open 2nd District campaign will be waged in the Democratic primary, with today’s winner being a lock to succeed Rep. Polis. Ex-University of Colorado Regent Joe Neguse is favored over former Boulder County Democratic Party chairman Mark Williams.

Democrats are fielding a primary campaign in what is commonly known as the “western slope district,” where three party members are fighting for the nomination to challenge four-term Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Cortez). Former state Rep. Diane Mitsch Bush, ex-Glenwood Springs City Attorney Karl Hanlon, and former Eagle County Commissioner Arn Menconi are the Democratic contenders with Bush commonly viewed as the favorite. Rep. Tipton will be favored in the general election.

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Poll: Manchin Up, But Questions Arise

By Jim Ellis

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

June 22, 2018 — A new West Virginia statewide survey testing the important US Senate race between Sen. Joe Manchin (D) and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) done by Monmouth University was just released showing Manchin leading Morrisey 50-43 percent, but the polling sample spurs methodological questions.

Monmouth surveyed 653 West Virginia voters between the June 14-19 period, but 428 of them were from the 3rd Congressional District. The sample was heavy in the state’s open southern CD because the pollsters were also testing the US House contest between state Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-Logan) and state House Majority Whip Carol Miller (R-Huntington). The northern 1st District contributed only 87 voters to the sample, while 138 came from the 2nd CD.

To ensure a more representative statewide sample, the Monmouth pollsters weighted the data to compensate for the major discrepancy. But, the weighting still reports that 34 percent of respondents are from the 1st District, 34 percent from the 2nd, and 32 percent from the 3rd, which still gives the latter district the overwhelming preponderance of respondents.

Monmouth reports results under several turnout models. A “potential” voter is one who has participated in at least one election since 2010. A series of responses were also included under a “likely voter” model in what they describe as a “standard midterm election”, while a final response set comes from one that projects a “Democratic surge.”

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Still Counting . . .

By Jim Ellis

i-vote-i-countJune 21, 2018 — Even in the age of advanced technology, vote counting can be a surprisingly long process. Despite political primaries being conducted weeks ago in California (June 5) and Maine (June 12), as of this writing, election officials still have not determined a winner, or second general election qualifier, in at least three campaigns.

In California, the 48th Congressional District’s second general election qualifier remains undeclared. There, Democratic businessmen Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead are fighting to determine which of the two will advance from a pool of 15 candidates challenging veteran Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

On election night, Rohrabacher clinched first place with 30.3 percent of the vote over the field of 15, while Rouda placed second. With the California process being notoriously slow because of the large number of mail ballots that must be counted and are allowed to be postmarked the day of the election and received through that following Friday, it appeared evident that the substantial number of outstanding votes could well change the outcome for the second place qualifier. Hence, the abnormally long post-election process began.

Today, the official count, though still not complete, now finds Rouda re-capturing second place, this time by a scant 69 votes of the more than 173,000 votes cast, counted, and recorded district-wide, and the 57,285 ballots divided only between Rouda and Keirstead.

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Do Democrats Have a Chance in SC-1?

By Jim Ellis

South Carolina 1st District Republican nominee, state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville)

South Carolina 1st District Republican nominee, state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville)

June 18, 2018 — A day after US representative and former governor Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) was denied re-nomination, becoming the second incumbent in this election cycle to fall before the national vote even begins (in May, North Carolina Rep. Bob Pittenger, R-Charlotte, was the first to lose) the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party was claiming that his political organization is now staring at a conversion opportunity.

“It is a perfect storm and an opportunity for us to pick that seat up,” said Trav Robertson, the SC Democratic chairman in an interview last week with the Huffington Post.

Robertson and the local Democrats are claiming that the 1st District is now competitive because Rep. Sanford is out. The 1st stretches from Daufuskie and Hilton Head Islands along the Atlantic coast in the state’s southeastern corner and moves up State Route 17 to the Santee Coastal Reserve while taking in the southern tip of Charleston before jutting up Interstate 26 and State Highway 52 to capture the Goose Creek, Summerville, Moncks Corner, and Bonneau communities.

But it seems the chairman may have it backwards. His “perfect storm” might actually have formed if his candidate, attorney Joe Cunningham, were now facing a weakened Rep. Sanford, who might have won re-nomination with a 50.5 – 46.5 percent spread, instead of losing to state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville) by such a margin.

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California Still Counting;
CD-48 Still Undecided

By Jim Ellis

The California state flag

The California state flag

June 13, 2018 — The notoriously long California vote counting system continues to grind along, and a week later a major election is still in doubt — the 48th Congressional District, a seat fully contained within Orange County. Among the 16 jungle primary candidates, incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has secured the first run-off position and advances into the general election. The ongoing battle is for second place between biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead and businessman Harley Rouda, both Democrats.

This is an interesting election since the national and state Democratic Parties are split. The California State Democratic Party convention gave its official endorsement to Keirstead, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and many Democratic leaders officially backed Rouda.

On election night, Rouda had taken the lead, but the laborious post-election count has now put Keirstead in second place with a growing lead. His previous edge over Rouda was 87 votes. The latest count, released Monday night, increases Keirstead’s edge over Rouda to 372 votes, continuing the pattern of Keirstead moving up in the post-election count.

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Today’s Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 12, 2018 — Today brings another set of primaries, this time from five states: Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia.

MAINE

the-primariesSen. Angus King (I) stands for a second term, and today’s primary will be a non-event. Both the Republicans and Democrats have only one candidate on the ballot. State Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Kennebec County), who was the Maine State Director for the 2012 Ron Paul for President campaign, will be the GOP nominee, while teacher Zak Ringelstein is the Democratic candidate. Sen. King is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

The open governor’s race is a wild affair for both parties. Gov. Paul LePage (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. The Democrats are fielding seven candidates and the Repblicans, four. Expect the general election to be competitive.

The 2nd District Democratic congressional primary is of keen interest, as a three-way contest culminates among state Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), wealthy conservationist Lucas St. Clair, and former Islesboro Selectman Craig Olson. The resource battle is between Golden and St. Clair, and both figure to spend more than $800,000 in attempting to secure the party nomination. The winner will challenge two-term Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor) in the general election.


NEVADA

The Silver State political card is full with contested races for Senate, governor, and three House races.

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Latest Post-Primary Developments

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJune 7, 2018 — Featuring eight primaries and the Minnesota political party endorsing conventions immediately preceding the state’s candidate filing deadline, the week has brought a whirlwind of political activity. We’ll update the latest developments.

Over the weekend, Minnesota Democrats and Republicans met in convention, as they do in every election cycle, to issue formal party endorsements. It is the typical practice in this state for the un-endorsed candidates to end their campaigns instead of forcing an August primary. But, 2018 is proving to be an unusual year.

While the Republicans re-endorsed their 2014 gubernatorial nominee, particularly when former Gov. Tim Pawlenty chose not to compete in the endorsing convention, it became clear that there would be an active Aug. 14 Republican primary between the ex-state chief executive and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

The Democratic process was even more interesting, however. When the delegates voted to endorse state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), state Auditor Rebecca Otto announced that she would end her campaign. On the other hand, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), who said weeks ago that he would force a primary if he lost the party endorsement, confirmed that he will activate an Aug. 14 primary against Murphy.

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