Tag Archives: Ammar Campa-Najjar

Reviewing the House Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2020 — With the COVID-19 virus playing havoc with virtually every aspect of American life, including elections, how are the House vacant seats being affected?

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Buncombe County) resigned from Congress Monday night to become White House Chief of Staff, which brings the total number of vacancies to a half-dozen. Special elections are scheduled in four of those, with three to be decided on or before May 12.

Originally, the special elections in Maryland and New York were supposed to be the first to go to the voters, but the COVID-19 precautions changed the date of the New York election and the voting system in Maryland. Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who easily won the crowded Democratic primary on Feb. 7, will win the special general on April 28 but the process now becomes all-mail. The Republican nominee is event planner Ken Klacik, but this Baltimore city district and surrounding area will easily remain in Democratic hands. We can expect Mfume to break 75 percent of the vote.

The former congressman was elected to five terms in the House beginning with the 1986 election. He resigned to become president and CEO of the NAACP in 1996. Mfume served in that position until running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006, losing the Democratic primary to then-congressman, Ben Cardin. Then-state Delegate Elijah Cummings replaced Mfume in the House at that time and served until his death in October. Now, ironically, Mfume returns to replace the late Rep. Cummings.

California’s 25th District, which begins in the state’s Simi Valley and stretches to the Palmdale area, potentially features the hottest of the current special elections. Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned the seat because of a sexual scandal leading to a multi-candidate concurrent special and regular election.

Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith topped the field on March 3, and she advances to the special election runoff on May 12 with Iraq War fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R). The latter individual placed ahead of, and eliminated, former US Rep. Steve Knight (R) who was attempting a political comeback after losing to Hill in 2018. Polling is projecting a tight finish. Regardless of what happens on May 12, both Smith and Garcia are advancing to the regular general election to battle for the full term beginning in 2021. The May 12 winner is immediately sworn into the House and serves the remaining part of the current congressional session.

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Hunter Reeling

California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 7, 2019 — In addition to his legal woes, indicted California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) now appears to have severe political problems according to a new just-released CA-50 district study.

A Survey USA poll conducted for the San Diego Union-Tribune (Sept. 27-Oct. 2; 592 likely CA-50 voters; 671 respondents were asked favorability questions about the top four candidates, but the electoral questions were asked only of those who described themselves as likely voters) tested the seven announced candidates for the March 3 California jungle primary.

The S-USA results find Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, the 2018 party nominee who held Rep. Hunter to a four-point win, holding 31 percent support. Former San Diego City councilman and mayoral and congressional candidate Carl DeMaio (R) follows with 20 percent, ex-Rep. Darrell Issa, who recently announced his candidacy records 16 percent, while Rep. Hunter posts only an 11 percent preference factor.

Rather surprisingly, state Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee), also a recent candidate but a public official who represents almost 90 percent of the 50th District, records a very low four percent. The two independent candidates have three percent combined.

It is no surprise that Campa-Najjar is leading. In a crowded field with only one candidate from a particular party, it becomes a simple strategy to coalesce the party members behind the lone contender. While Campa-Najjar will almost certainly advance to the general election in this type of jungle format with so many candidates splitting his opposition party vote, we also must see that 52 percent of the poll respondents chose a Republican candidate. This obviously bodes poorly for the sole Democrat in the general election.

The setup here is similar to last year’s open 49th District, the adjacent seat from which Rep. Issa retired. In the June 2018 election, Republican Diane Harkey finished first by an eight-point margin in a field of 16 candidates but, in the general with only two contenders, it was Democrat Mike Levin who recorded a 56-44 percent victory.

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CA-50: Issa Announces

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2019 — As expected, former California congressman, Darrell Issa (R), announced late last week that he will enter the state’s 50th District jungle primary against indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), but the candidate situation is getting so convoluted it is difficult to “tell the players without a scorecard.”

Attending the announcement event with Issa last week were two other announced contenders for the seat, former Escondido mayor, Sam Abed, and current El Cajon mayor, Bill Wells. As part of the Issa declaration, both men announced that they will not become official candidates when the filing period opens and instead endorsed the former congressman.

Earlier in the month, Temecula City councilman and former mayor, Matt Rahn, also said he was leaving the race after being the first to announce. He attributed his decision to the political situation surrounding Rep. Hunter and the other candidates and potential candidates as simply being too convoluted.

Within the past two weeks, state Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) announced that he will run for the congressional seat, thus adding even more confusion to the political picture. Because California’s state Senate seats are bigger than congressional districts, Jones already represents about 88 percent of the 50th CD. Prior to winning his Senate seat in 2018 (meaning he does not risk the position to run for Congress because he has a four-year term), Jones served his allotted three terms in the state assembly and two different tours on the Santee City council.

Two other Republicans also remain in the race. Carl DeMaio is a former San Diego City councilman, ex-mayoral and congressional candidate. He came close to being elected mayor in a special election when then-incumbent and former congressman, Bob Filner (D), was forced to resign over a sexual harassment scandal in 2013. He then ran for the 52nd CD in 2014 and lost 52-48 percent to incumbent Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego). He is now a local radio talk show host.

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Ex-Rep. Issa Forms Exploratory Committee For Crowded CA-50

Ex-California US Rep. Darrell Issa

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 3, 2019 — Ex-California US Rep. Darrell Issa, who represented the state’s 49th CD for 18 years, just filed a new congressional exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission. But he is not looking to run in his former seat. Rather, the exploratory committee is organized to survey his chances of winning the adjacent 50th CD, the district that indicted Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) currently represents.

This congressional district’s political soap opera continues to unfold. Hunter is facing a trial after the first of next year to defend himself against campaign finance charges, certain ones for which his estranged wife and former campaign manager have already negotiated a plea agreement with the government. And, with the early March 3 state primary scheduled concurrently with the presidential Super Tuesday vote, candidates are already announcing their intentions.

Anticipating that the court case will go against the congressman, five Republicans have announced their candidacies. And, with the trial now postponed until after the first of the year (it was originally scheduled for mid-September) there is a strong chance that Rep. Hunter will file for re-election before the state’s Dec. 6 candidate filing deadline. Should Issa decide to enter the race, then at least seven Republicans will be competing.

So many are coming forward because the 50th is one of the safest Republican seats in California, a state that now has a congressional delegation of 46 Democrats and just seven Republicans. However, quite possibly, and largely due to the state’s jungle primary law, the seat could fall into Democratic hands under a very realistic scenario.

Under California law, similar to the system in Louisiana and Washington, all candidates appear on the primary ballot regardless of political party affiliation. In the California process, the top two finishers in the first election, which is in reality a qualifying election as opposed to a partisan primary, advance to the general election.

Because there will be seven Republicans or more on the ballot and, at this point, just one Democrat — 2018 nominee Ammar Campa-Najjar, who posted 48.3 percent of the vote against Hunter — Campa-Najjar’s chances of advancing to the general election are quite favorable.

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What to Expect

We’re back after going dark briefly over the Christmas holiday. (No, just in case you were wondering, we’re not part of the government shutdown.) We trust that you are rested, recharged and ready for the new year and the ever-evolving political developments that will come.

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 2, 2019 — We kick off a new calendar and political year looking at several anticipated events. On the presidential front, we can expect several candidate announcements coming in January, along with a changing primary/caucus schedule. Additionally, some close losing congressional candidates are already declaring they want a re-match.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) began the new year by forming a presidential exploratory committee and stating that she would begin her potential national campaign with a four-city information-gathering tour in Iowa, site of the first presidential votes scheduled for early February of 2020.

Four potential Democratic candidates are reportedly close to hiring key personnel either as national managers or Iowa state leaders. Aside from Sen. Warren, Sens. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), are apparently poised to make staffing announcements possibly within the first two weeks of this new month and year.

An imminent presidential candidacy declaration is expected from former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX), who formed an exploratory committee in early December. Rumors in Texas abound, however, that while Castro may begin to compete in the presidential race he could pivot out of the national campaign and into a US Senate challenge against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) if he fails to gain traction.

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