Category Archives: House

NC-9: Ten Republicans File

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

March 19, 2019 — Candidate filing for the upcoming special election cycle closed for North Carolina’s 9th District on Friday, and the official field now features 10 Republicans, one Democrat, and two minor party candidates.

The special election is necessary because no winner was officially declared in the 2018 general election due to voter fraud accusations in one county. If the special cycle extends through the full calendar, which will happen if any one of the nomination battles are forced into a run-off, the special general won’t occur until Nov. 5, a day short of what will be a full year since the 2018 votes were cast.

We already know the Democratic Party won’t require a runoff. The 2018 nominee, Dan McCready, will be unopposed for the special election nomination, meaning he is guaranteed a ballot position in the general. Minor party candidates Allen Smith (Green) and Jeff Scott (Libertarian) will also advance because they, too, are unopposed in their respective party primaries.

But, with 10 Republicans running, there is a good chance that none of the GOP contenders will reach the 30 percent threshold necessary to claim a plurality nomination. If the Republicans nominate someone in the May 14 primary, the special general then moves to Sept. 10. If, however, a runoff is required, the campaign then stretches to the aforementioned November date.

Continue reading

Rep. Moulton Sees A Different Path

By Jim Ellis

March 13, 2019 — While former New York City mayor and media magnate Michael Bloomberg and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) both backed away from entering the presidential campaign because they couldn’t see a path for themselves to win the Democratic nomination, a different Democratic office holder appears to be taking the opposite view.

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem)

Massachusetts Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Salem) was one of the leaders of the group who attempted to deny Nancy Pelosi a return to the speakership. Therefore, with little thought of becoming a factor in the current House Democratic majority, Moulton is looking at other opportunities.

While he didn’t expressly deny examining a potential primary challenge to Sen. Ed Markey (D) earlier in the year, such a move no longer appears to be on the congressman’s horizon. Rather, he appears to believe his chances might be a bit better in trying for the “big prize.”

Scheduling visits to neighboring New Hampshire and then over to Iowa in the coming weeks, Rep. Moulton is clearly testing the waters to enter the presidential race. And, according to reports from people close to his effort, a national campaign announcement is likely forthcoming at the end of April or beginning of May.

Rep. Moulton, who served four tours of duty in the Iraq War and saw significant combat action, is a liberal Democrat, but he seems to be a hybrid in falling between the socialist Democrats such as Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), and his Massachusetts colleague Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and the former Blue Dog Democrats who trend more centrist.

Continue reading

The Outer Banks Battle

By Jim Ellis

The late longtime North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones Jr. / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Feb. 12, 2019 — The death of veteran North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-Farmville) on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019 — his 76th birthday — has sent the state’s 3rd District into a special election that will likely last all the way to Sep. 10, and the campaign will be unusually competitive.

Since the district was drawn in its current configuration in 2011, the Democrats have spent only an aggregate of $53,000 in challenging Rep. Jones. In 2018, he was unopposed. Two years earlier, Democratic nominee Ernest Reeves placed his name on the ballot but literally spent no money. During the four post-2010 census elections, Jones averaged 74.5 percent of the vote, and 66.0 percent when the uncontested campaign is removed from the configuration.

But, the special election campaign looks very different and will be the first truly competitive campaign in this part of eastern North Carolina since Jones unseated then-Rep. Martin Lancaster all the way back in 1994.

On Friday, candidate filing closed and no less than 26 Republicans, Democrats, and minor party candidates filed to run in the April 30 primary. With so many names on the ballot it is possible that both major parties could be forced into runoff elections even though North Carolina has only a 30 percent runoff rule.

For the Republicans, 17 individuals filed including a two-time primary opponent to Rep. Jones, three sitting state representatives, and the state Republican Party vice chair. But the Democrats, for the first time in more than two decades, have legitimate contenders in a district that should continually elect Republicans. The six-person Democratic field contains two former mayors, one of Greenville, the other New Bern, and two retired Marine Corps officers.

Continue reading

PA-12 NOMINEE KELLER IMMEDIATELY HITS OPPONENT, PELOSI, SANDERS, CORTEZ

Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania state Rep. Fred Keller
(R-Mifflinburg)

March 5, 2019 — On Saturday, during a seven-hour marathon special district convention marked with controversy, the central Pennsylvania Republican delegates chose state Rep. Fred Keller (R-Mifflinburg) as the party nominee for 12th District Congressman Tom Marino’s (R-Williamsport) vacated seat. Marino resigned from the House at the end of January due to professional and health reasons.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) scheduled the replacement special election for May 21. Under Pennsylvania election law, the various political parties call a district convention or meeting for purposes of choosing a special election nominee. Originally, 24 potential Republican candidates expressed interest in running, but only 14 were successful in having their names placed into nomination before the 200-plus assembled delegates.

After Rep. Marino’s unexpected announcement, Democrats responded quickly and re-nominated their 2018 candidate, local college professor Marc Friedenberg, who advances into the special general election hoping to perform better than he did against Marino. In November, Friedenberg lost 66-34 percent while spending just over $90,000 on his federal campaign.

Saturday’s convention became controversial once the Club for Growth organization began sending mailers to the delegates attacking state Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Williamsport), over his record on tax issues as a legislator first elected in 2014. Prior to gathering in Williamsport, Wheeland appeared as the candidate most likely to become the delegates’ choice.

But, the convention was rocked when the representative’s stepson distributed a letter detailing how Wheeland abused he and his mother. The combination attack was enough to drive Wheeland from the race just before the fourth ballot, yielding the victory for Keller.

Continue reading

THE UPCOMING NC-3 SPECIAL ELECTION;
WILL A REPUBLICAN PREVAIL IN
A STATE THAT LEANS DEMOCRATIC?

North Carolina Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2019 — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced the special election schedule for his state’s 3rd Congressional District, vacant since 13-term incumbent Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) passed away on Feb. 10.

Candidate filing will close March 8, a short official period largely because eight individuals have already declared their candidacies. The partisan primary elections will be held April 30, followed by runoff elections, if necessary, on July 9. A secondary election will occur if no candidate receives at least 30 percent of the vote in their respective nomination election.

Should all parties nominate on April 30, then the special general will move to July 9. Otherwise, the final vote will be held Sept. 10. It is presumed that the State Board of Elections members, who have the power to schedule the succeeding District 9 election because no general election winner was certified, will follow the governor’s lead on Monday and schedule that special election within these same schedule guidelines.

With six Republicans, including three sitting state representatives already in the race, and more likely to come, the chances of the GOP being forced to hold a runoff election are extremely high.

Continue reading

Colorado & Hickenlooper —
Decisions, Decisions

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2019 — Saying he’s “not cut out to be a senator,” former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) said that he will either run for president in 2020 or no office at all. He further stated that, “Senators don’t build teams. Senators sit and debate in small groups … But I’m not sure that’s my — I’m a doer. That’s what gives me joy.”

Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper – not running for Senate (Photo Moritz Hager)

While Hickenlooper is definitive that he won’t enter the Democratic senatorial primary to challenge first-term GOP incumbent Sen. Cory Gardner, he also has made lesser-than-expected moves toward entering the presidential race.

With already a dozen Democrats either officially entering the race or forming exploratory committees, and ex-Vice President Joe Biden set to announce his decision about becoming a candidate in the coming month, Hickenlooper, with low national name identification, may be waiting too long to generate a serious effort. Therefore, the more time that passes, the greater the chances of this ex-two-term governor and Denver mayor not being on the ballot at all in 2020.

The Monday announcement was certainly good news for Sen. Gardner. Possibly in the most vulnerable position of any Republican senator standing for re-election in 2020 – largely because his state has voted decidedly Democratic in the past several elections – the Colorado and national party leadership had hoped to recruit Hickenlooper into the Senate race. Most political observers clearly believe he would be Gardner’s strongest general election challenger.

Right now, mostly minor candidates have announced for the senate in Colorado. The two most prominent Democratic figures are former state House speaker and defeated US Senate and congressional candidate Andrew Romanoff, and ex-state senator and defeated gubernatorial candidate Mike Johnston, who finished third in the 2018 party primary that nominated current governor, Jared Polis.

Continue reading

New York, 2020: A Political Hotbed?

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Bronx) upset in the 14th District Democratic primary during the last cycle has awakened the New York left.

Feb. 20, 2019 — The state of New York, which generally features mostly non-competitive congressional campaigns in its 27 districts may see a very different 2020. Already, individuals are making preliminary political moves in at least 18 of the 27 CDs, including many budding primary challenges.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s (D-Bronx) upset of then-Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) in the 14th District Democratic primary during the last cycle has awakened the New York left. Now, it appears several other New York City veteran Democrats could face their own 2020 primary challenge.

Even Ocasio-Cortez, who has angered many establishment Democrats with some of her actions and comments, could also see primary competition as rumors of a return match for Crowley, who remains as the Queens Borough Democratic Party chairman, begin to swirl.

In terms of potential Democratic primary challenges, individuals are coming forward to at least begin talking about developing a potential campaign. Those targeted include Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove), Yvette Clarke (D-Brooklyn), Jerrold Nadler (D-Manhattan), Carolyn Maloney (D-New York City), Jose Serrano (D-Bronx), and Eliot Engel (D-Bronx). And, Ocasio-Cortez even listed new House Democratic Conference chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) as an incumbent for the Justice Democrats organization, apparently much to the chagrin of the rest of the NY Democratic delegation.

Continue reading

House Democrats Release “Frontline Program” Targeting Perceived
Vulnerable GOP CDs

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 12, 2019 — Countering the previously announced National Republican Congressional Committee Patriot Program targeting list, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their Frontline Program protection listing late last week.

Since the Democrats are now in the House majority, their list is wholly defensive in nature while the Republicans are the minority challengers, a juxtaposition of roles from the past four election cycles. Of the 44 Frontline defense districts, 43 are also GOP Patriot Program targets. The lone exception is Connecticut freshman Jahana Hayes (D-Wolcott), a former national Teacher of the Year award winner who won a 56-44 percent victory in her maiden general election campaign.

The targeting organizational programs are important because both official political party apparatuses help the candidates with fundraising, a campaign element where Democrats overwhelmed Republicans in the 2018 election cycle. Therefore, it is likely that the Patriot Program is more important to the previously identified GOP members than the Frontline operation is to the Democratic incumbents, most of whom raised multi-millions in their own right.

Comparing the lists, the 43 top Democratic protection members who are also found on the Republican register could more realistically be narrowed to 27 campaigns that should reasonably be placed in the highest vulnerability category.

In 19 of the 27, President Trump carried the district over Hillary Clinton, and four years earlier Mitt Romney topped President Obama in 17 of the CDs. The Republicans had won all three post-redistricting congressional elections (2012, ’14, ’16) in 22 of the 27 districts prior to the 2018 vote.

Continue reading

Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall to Retire:
A Look at the Seat’s 2020 Contenders

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville)

Feb. 11, 2019 — Five-term Georgia Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville), who survived the closest raw vote election of any winning incumbent last November (419 votes from just over 280,000 ballots cast against former state Senate committee staff director Carolyn Bourdeaux), announced late last week that he won’t seek re-election in 2020.

This opens a seat that was obviously highly competitive in the ’18 election cycle, but this lone result might not tell the entire story.

Only at the very end of the election cycle did Rep. Woodall launch a campaign, previously believing that his seat would perform as a safe Republican enclave just as it had since its inception under the 2001 redistricting plan, and then reconfigured in the 2011 remap. Then-Congressman John Linder (R) represented the district at the time and until his retirement before the 2010 election, always enjoying landslide re-election percentages.

Woodall was badly outspent by challenger Bourdeaux, falling behind her by a 2:1 ratio as his campaign posted less than $1.5 million in direct expenditures.

Continue reading

A Pennsylvania Gerrymander or Not?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 4, 2019 — As more final voting data becomes available about the 2018 electoral patterns, new local analysis articles are being distributed that allow us to better understand why the results unfolded as they did.

Emily Previti published a piece for Pennsylvania’s Keystone Crossroads media site at the end of last week that details just how the congressional outcome might have changed if the state Supreme Court had not altered the Pennsylvania federal map.

The Pennsylvania high court ruled about a year before the last election that the 2011 redistricting legislative package was a political gerrymander in relation to the state’s constitution. The court then instituted new boundaries for the 2018 and 2020 elections, designed to bridge the gap until the next census, reapportionment, and redistricting processes begin again.

The court majority reasoned that the previous congressional map routinely yielding a 13R-5D congressional result was out of sync with a statewide electorate that usually favors Democrats, among other reasons. Yet, according to the Previti article, such may not have been the case.

Click on above map to see full story and interactive map at the Keystone Crossroads media site.

After overlaying the new court-imposed 18-district congressional map (above) that returned a 9R-9D result from the previous 12R-6D delegation split (the division changed when Democrat Conor Lamb won an early 2018 special election in a previously Republican 18th CD), Previti concludes that the same 9-9 split we see today may well have occurred even under the previous map.

Continue reading

Reflecting on the 2018 Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 24, 2019 — Now that all but one of the 470 House and Senate races from the election cycle just ended are final and recorded, it is time to better understand what the results portend.

As we know, the Democrats had a good election overall, and most particularly in the US House where they converted a net 40 seats — possibly 41 if NC-9 turns their way when the new election is finally scheduled — but Republicans did expand their majority in the Senate, thus largely disqualifying 2018 as an official wave election. Overall, there are 93 freshman House members and nine new senators when counting appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ).

Democrats came very near wave proportions, however – the Ballotpedia organization studied past wave elections and found that a swing of 48 House seats is necessary to constitute such a designation. While the effects from the 2018 election will certainly have long term reverberations, much more time is required to determine if the results are providing the foundation for transformational policy changes or are merely a blip that could just as quickly swing back to the Republicans.

What we do know is that women made significant gains in federal representation. In the Senate, the body now features a net three more female members (gaining Kyrsten Sinema and appointed Sen. McSally, both from Arizona, along with new Sens. Jacky Rosen (NV), and Marsha Blackburn (TN), but losing North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp), meaning that 25 women are now incumbent senators.

Continue reading

Pennsylvania Rep. Marino to Resign

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

Jan. 22, 2019 — Five-term Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) announced that he is leaving Congress next week to accept a professional position in the private sector. Marino was first elected to the House in 2010, after serving five years as the US Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and 11 years as District Attorney of Lycoming County.

In the Republican wave election of 2010, Marino ousted then-Rep. Chris Carney (D) by a 55-45 percent margin and has averaged 66.1 percent of the vote in his subsequent re-elections. The 2018 Pennsylvania court-ordered redistricting plan re-numbered his 10th Congressional District to 12 and created a seat where 68 percent of the constituency carried over from the previous district.

In 2017, President Trump nominated Rep. Marino as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly referred to as the nation’s “drug czar.” But the congressman withdrew his name when experiencing some negative reaction during the confirmation process.

The 12th District will now go into a special election cycle. After the seat becomes officially vacant on Jan. 23, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will have 10 days to issue a writ of election to fill the newly open seat. The various political parties will meet in special conventions to choose their nominees, with the winners proceeding to an election date that the governor will assign. It is most likely he will schedule the 12th District special to run concurrently with the Pennsylvania municipal primary, which is calendared for May 21.

Continue reading

NC-9: Vacant for the Year?

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 15, 2019 — The 9th District of North Carolina, still with uncertified electoral results from November, could conceivably remain vacant until the November municipal elections as the situation continues to unfold.

The NC State Board of Elections was supposed to have met on Friday, and at that point would likely have scheduled a new election, but the panel itself is a political football. A state judge acted to dissolve the membership by refusing to issue a stay of his previous ruling.

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris has filed a court challenge to the Board of Elections not certifying his win in NC-9 and claiming his 905-vote lead should stand.

The panel became a tug of war between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican dominated state legislature even before the NC-9 controversy arose. During the transition between the time that Cooper unseated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in the 2016 statewide election and his taking office Republican legislators changed certain laws. One of those moves concerned the Board of Elections’ composition.

A judge eventually ruled that the legislature acted unconstitutionally regarding some of the changes including the legislation regarding the Board of Elections. The board was supposed to be dissolved after the election certification period, but the NC-9 problem earned the group a stay of the original ruling. The judge, however, did not see fit to allow them to continue in the new year.

At the end of the year, with Republican legislators desiring to change the special election law that would allow an open primary system instead of the general election rerun that would have been the previous board’s only option had they ordered a new vote, a new election law was enacted.

In a deal with the Democrats, the Republican leadership passed a bill that allows the open primary in exchange for giving Gov. Cooper what he wanted in terms of Board of Elections’ personnel. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both houses, but the governor vetoed. The legislature immediately overrode his action.

Continue reading

What 2018’s Closest Races Mean
While Looking Ahead to 2020

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 11, 2019 — Now that the various state elections’ offices have certified the Nov. 6 final voting totals, we can begin to reflect and better analyze the particulars of the 2018 campaigns, which will provide clues to future targeting and possible performance.

Below are the 29 US House winners who received a final vote total of 51 percent or less, and we can be assured that most, if not all, of these veteran and new members will be major targets in the 2020 elections.

Fifteen of the districts yielded Democratic victories with 14 going to or remaining Republican. All US House results are final with the exception of the NC-9 contest that remains uncertified and is likely to go to a new election. The North Carolina State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet this week, and it is probable that they will order a new election as part of the proceedings.

Listed in order by party from the winner with the lowest percentages:

  • IA-3: Cindy Axne (D) – 49.3% (Rep. David Young – 47.1%)
  • NJ-3: Andy Kim (D) – 50.0% (Rep. Tom MacArthur – 48.7%)
  • UT-4: Ben McAdams (D) – 50.1% (Rep. Mia Love – 49.9%)
  • NY-22: Anthony Brindisi (D) – 50.1% (Rep. Claudia Tenney – 48.3%)
  • VA-7: Abigail Spanberger (D) – 50.3% (Rep. Dave Brat – 48.4%)
  • CA-21: T.J. Cox (D) – 50.4% (Rep. David Valadao – 49.6%)
  • NY-19: Antonio Delgado (D) – 50.4% (Rep. John Faso – 45.3%)
  • GA-6: Lucy McBath (D) – 50.5% (Rep. Karen Handel – 49.5%)
  • ME-2: Jared Golden (D) – 50.5% (Rep. Bruce Poliquin – 49.5%)
  • MI-8: Elissa Slotkin (D) – 50.6% (Rep. Mike Bishop – 46.8%)
  • SC-1: Joe Cunningham (D) – 50.6% (Katie Arrington – 49.2%)
  • OK-5: Kendra Horn (D) – 50.7% (Rep. Steve Russell – 49.3%)
  • FL-26: Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D) – 50.9% (Rep. Carlos Curbelo – 49.1%)
  • NM-2: Xochitl Torres-Small (D) – 50.9% (Yvette Herrell – 49.1%)
  • IA-1: Abby Finkenauer (D) – 51.0% (Rep. Rod Blum – 45.9%)
  • KS-2: Steve Watkins (R) – 47.6% (Paul Davis – 46.8% – Rep. Lynn Jenkins retiring)
  • NY-27: Chris Collins (R) – 47.8% (Nate McMurray – 47.4%)
  • TX-23: Will Hurd (R) – 49.2% (Gina Ortiz Jones – 48.7%)
  • GA-7: Rob Woodall (R) – 50.1% (Carolyn Bourdeaux – 49.9%)
  • MN-1: Jim Hagedorn (R) – 50.1% (Dan Feehan – 49.7%)
  • MI-6: Fred Upton (R) – 50.2% (Matt Longjohn – 45.7%)
  • IA-4: Steve King (R) – 50.3% (JD Scholten – 47.0%)
  • IL-13: Rodney Davis (R) – 50.4% (Betsy Dirksen Londrigen – 49.6%)
  • TX-31: John Carter (R) – 50.6% (MJ Hegar – 47.7%)
  • MN-8: Pete Stauber (R) – 50.7% (Joe Radinovich – 45.2%)
  • NY-1: Lee Zeldin (R) – 50.7% (Perry Gershon – 46.6%)
  • MT-AL: Greg Gianforte (R) – 50.9% (Kathleen Williams – 46.2%)
  • KY-6: Andy Barr (R) – 51.0% (Amy McGrath – 47.8%)
  • NE-2: Don Bacon (R) – 51.0% (Kara Eastman – 49.0%)

Continue reading