Category Archives: House

Cheney to Remain in the House

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/ Jackson)

Jan. 21, 2020 — When Wyoming Sen. Mike Enzi (R) decided to retire last May, it had been assumed that at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/ Jackson), the daughter of former vice president and at-large Wyoming Congressman Dick Cheney, would run for the seat. That is not the case, however. Late last week, Rep. Cheney announced that she will seek re-election later this year instead of entering the open Senate race.

When Cheney first ventured into elective politics she looked to run for the Senate, beginning with a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Enzi in 2014 that would later end before going to the ballot. She was then elected to the House two years later when at-large Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R) decided to retire after four terms.

Now with Lummis attempting to return to elective politics with her own Senate campaign, the statewide situation may significantly change. Many were waiting on the sidelines to see what Rep. Cheney would do in order to decide whether to run for the House or the Senate. Now, we may begin to see some serious candidate action, but much time remains for individuals to decide. The Wyoming candidate filing deadline is May 29 for the Aug. 18 primary.

In addition to former Congresswoman Lummis, the only two announced Republican Senate candidates are retiree Patrick Dotson and disabled veteran Josh Wheeler. Though Democrats will be severe underdogs here in the general election, three candidates have announced: college professor Merav Ben-David, actor Chuck Jagoda, and non-profit group executive Yana Ludwig.

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Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport)

Jan. 7, 2020 — The House open seat total reached 40 over the weekend as veteran Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport) announced that he will not seek a seventh term later this year. Rep. Roe is the former mayor of Johnson City, Tenn., and ostensibly entered federal office when he defeated first-term Congressman David Davis in the 2008 Republican primary.

Roe initially pledged to serve only five terms. He changed his mind and successfully sought re-election in 2018 saying that he had unfinished business as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. As we know, the Democrats would go onto win the majority that year, thus relegating Roe to the committee’s ranking minority member position. Losing the chairmanship virtually eliminated the foremost reason for him remaining in Congress.

The 1st District is one of the safest Republican seats in the country. The last time a Democrat was elected to the House from easternmost Tennessee dates all the way back to 1878. The longest-serving representative from the region is former Rep. Jamie Quillen (R) who held the seat for 34 years after his original election in 1962.

The 1st District occupies the eastern tail of the Volunteer State. It contains 11 counties and part of Jefferson, a domain it shares with the 2nd District that is anchored in Knoxville. The largest 1st District population centers surround the cities of Johnson City and Kingsport. Sevier County, with a population figure of just under 90,000, is the third largest segment. It contains the cities of Sevierville and the tourist centers of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the district’s southern sector.

The TN-1 electorate votes heavily Republican. President Trump carried the seat 77-20 percent in 2016. Mitt Romney defeated President Obama here, 73-26 percent, and John McCain recorded a 70-29 percent victory margin in 2008. In his six victorious congressional elections, Rep. Roe averaged 77.8 percent of the vote in what were always lightly contested general election campaigns.

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The North Carolina Filings

All the best for a wonderful holiday season.
Ellis Insight daily updates will return on Jan. 3, 2020.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 24, 2019 — Candidate filing in the Tar Heel State closed Friday, and the North Carolina political contestants are now set for the March 3 Super Tuesday state primary. In addition to the presidential race, North Carolina voters will choose nominees for governor, US Senate, 13 congressional races, the state constitutional offices, and state legislature.

No surprises came from the presidential filings, though 38 individuals filed to run for the nation’s highest office. Twenty of the 38 are minor party candidates, however. Fifteen Democrats are running, including all of the major contenders. President Trump draws Republican primary opposition from former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and Illinois ex-congressman Joe Walsh.

Sen. Thom Tillis sees only minor Republican primary opposition and now is a cinch for re-nomination. Businessman Garland Tucker was expected to run a competitive primary race but decided to end his effort prior to the filing deadline. When Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) was drawn out of a winnable district in the court-mandated redistricting plan, he began considering entering the Senate race. The congressman, however, ultimately decided to wait a cycle and looks to run for Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) open seat in 2022.

Five Democrats filed for the Senate, but the nomination battle is realistically between former state senator Cal Cunningham, who is the party leadership favorite, and state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston). The eventual Democratic nominee will face Sen. Tillis in what promises to be a competitive general election in a state that has defeated more incumbents in the modern political era than any other place.

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Rep. Mark Meadows to Retire

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ Asheville)

Dec. 23, 2019 — Four-term North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ Asheville), the former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, surprisingly announced that he would not file for re-election this past Friday, and immediately rumors began circulating that he will soon accept a position in the Trump Administration.

Prospective candidates had less than two full days to decide if they wanted to enter the now open congressional race since he sent his announcement tweet on Wednesday night and candidate filing closed at noon Friday, Dec. 20. Six Democrats had already announced their candidacies, so the onus is on Republican potential contenders to make a quick decision and complete the filing process.

Stronger potential Democratic candidates only had that same small time window to make a decision, as well. Of those six already running no one has yet reported even raising $40,000.

The new redistricting plan changed North Carolina’s 11th District to the degree where just under a quarter of the constituency is new but no more Democratic even though the entire city of Asheville was placed back into the CD.

The 11th District sits in the far western tail of North Carolina, nestled among the bordering states of Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. The new 11th District encompasses 16 whole counties along with a part of Rutherford County. The changes included adding all of Buncombe (Asheville) and Avery Counties, while annexing about half of Rutherford County. In exchange, Burke and Caldwell Counties are transferred to Rep. Virginia Foxx’s (R-Banner Elk) new 5th District.

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What The Van Drew Switch Means

By Jim Ellis

NJ-2 Freshman Rep. Jeff Van Drew

Dec. 18, 2019 — We can expect an official announcement coming this week that freshman New Jersey Rep. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis Township) will become a Republican. Seeing most of his staff resign over this past weekend is the clearest indication that the speculation surrounding the congressman’s impending political move will in fact occur.

What does Van Drew’s switch mean for the House outlook in 2020? After the 2018 cycle House were finally tabulated, including the 2019 special elections to fill vacancies, the Republicans were tasked with converting a net 18 seats to obtain a bare one-vote majority.

Such a calculation has changed, however. The North Carolina court-mandated redistricting plan, the state’s third in this decade, will cost the Republicans at least two seats, meaning the GOP majority conversion number increases to 20. The Van Drew switch now reduces that number to 19, assuming each party holds their two vacant seats that will be decided in special elections prior to the regular 2020 general election.

Van Drew decided to switch parties due to his opposition to the Trump impeachment plans, but the underlying related reason points to some of his key county Democratic chairmen indicating they would support an intra-party challenge against him. New Jersey political parties are strong, and a Democratic chairman opposing one of his own incumbents would be taken seriously. The party endorsements in this state carry tangible benefits, including a particular advantageous ballot placement. An incumbent not receiving the party endorsement goes a long way to seeing such an office holder replaced.

The Republican move doesn’t solve all of Rep. Van Drew’s political problems, however. Upon hearing the party switching speculation, venture capitalist David Richter stated that not only is he remaining in the Republican primary to face Van Drew, but he is prepared to spend $1 million of his own money to win the nomination. On the Democratic side, college professor Brigid Callahan Harrison announced that she will run for the party nomination, and others are expected to soon follow her lead. It is clear that Rep. Van Drew will face both a competitive Republican primary and general election to secure a second term.

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