Tag Archives: California

Dems: Targeting Trouble

By Jim Ellis

April 26, 2017 — Democrats appear encouraged by their early House special election performance, which has spurred some talk about the party’s possibilities of re-claiming the House majority next year.

While the open special election Democratic candidates are of high quality in California, Georgia, and Montana, the early regular cycle contenders are lacking, finding themselves already embroiled in multi-candidate primaries, or not even in existence.

Of the 10 already announced regular cycle open seats six are in Republican districts. All are either categorized as safe or likely Republican, so the prospects for Democratic gains in this important sector appear non-existent at least within the current configuration.

Turning to the challenger races, Democrats are active on the recruiting front but it appears the party leadership efforts, combined with individuals declaring candidacies of their own accord, are resulting in either feast or famine. In each of 36 districts, for example, against Republican incumbents not even considered especially vulnerable, Democrats already have multiple announced candidates.

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Updating the Four Specials

By Jim Ellis

April 25, 2017 — Coming through the highly publicized GA-6 special election, the political overtime campaign season is hitting its stride as we approach May voting. In Georgia, South Carolina, Montana, and California, political action is now in full swing.

The GA-6 contest has eliminated all but finalists Jon Ossoff (D) and Karen Handel (R) in a race well on its way to becoming the most expensive congressional special election in American history. Right after last Tuesday’s vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sponsored an initial post-primary $450,000 flash media buy, which was quickly followed by the National Republican Congressional Committee’s $250,000 airtime purchase.

While the two sides exceeded $16 million in pre-primary fundraising, it appears the special general spending pattern is already following suit to no one’s surprise. We can count on seeing very active campaigning here all the way to the June 20th special general vote.

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CA-34 Votes Today

By Jim Ellis

April 4, 2017
— The first of five federal special elections is underway today in Los Angeles, as voters in California’s 34th Congressional District begin the process of electing a replacement for ex-Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), who is now the state Attorney General.

No less than 23 candidates are vying for the office, 19 of them Democrats. This is not particularly surprising considering the 34th gave only 11% of its votes to President Trump. A low turnout is expected, because this district historically has one of the smallest voter participation factors in the state.

A turnout well below 20 percent for today’s jungle primary is expected, meaning a likely total of approximately 60,000 voters, and probably considerably fewer. The state scheduled March 6 to begin the early voting period, and ballots, if they are postmarked no later than today, will be counted if received at the County Election Office on or before April 7. The primary election results must be certified on or before April 13.

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Not So Quiet Now

By Jim Ellis

April 3, 2017 –News coming from Montana last week has put this seemingly quiet special election congressional campaign squarely on the political map.

It has largely been believed that the Democrats are effectively conceding three of the four specials now occurring because President Trump chose the previous incumbents for cabinet positions. On the other hand, CA-34, which opened when Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) became California attorney general, is a district where Republicans barely attract double-digit support. This special election campaign will likely feature two Democrats advancing to the run-off election, and is not in play for the GOP.

So far, the GA-6 race has received most of the early attention and appeared to be the only one where Democrats are going all out to win. Consensus Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has already raised a whopping $4 million, and has a good chance of placing first in the jungle primary scheduled April 18. When Montana at-large candidate Rob Quist announced yesterday that he has already raised more than $754,000, the special election paradigm was altered.

The Democratic state convention chose Quist, a country rock performer and long-time local Montana folk singer, as their nominee at the beginning of the month, just after Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Kingfish) won confirmation as US Interior Secretary. Quist, though never before a candidate for political office, was viewed as someone fresh who could attract interest, which is proving to be the case. He upset 2014 US Senate nominee Amanda Curtis in the state nominating convention, and it now appears that the majority of delegates knew what they were doing.

To raise over $750,000 since March 5 with an average contribution of $40, means the Quist operation is already operating at a surprisingly high level. Though Montana has many media markets, none are particularly expensive. Therefore, Quist already has the resources to make known his message before the May 25 election even if he doesn’t raise much more.

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Senate ’18 Updates – Part I

By Jim Ellis

March 17, 2017 — As we approach the end of first quarter 2017, we see political maneuvering beginning to occur in many in-cycle US Senate states. Despite what columnists and news reporters are already saying about the Republicans potentially sustaining big mid-term losses in 2018, the Democrats have only one legitimate Senate target: Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).

Unfortunately for them, Democrats must defend 25 of the 34 in-cycle seats (the latter number includes the Alabama special election), and this political fundamental is likely the key reason Republicans will hold the majority irrespective of what the political climate may be like at election time. Arguably, seven of the nine in-cycle GOP seats are located in some of the strongest Republican states in the nation. Today we take a look at the states alphabetically from Alabama through Maryland.

• Alabama: Appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) has over a year to solidify himself politically before standing for election. He may well receive a Republican primary challenge because of the circumstances under which he was appointed to succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sen. Strange, while the Alabama attorney general, was conducting an investigation into Gov. Robert Bentley (R), which was obviously stalled when the appointment was made. So far, no one has announced against Sen. Strange, but state Senate President Del Marsh (R) is a possible candidate.

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He’ll Be Back — Maybe

By Jim Ellis

March 14, 2017 — Veteran actor Arnold Schwarzenegger made famous the line, “I’ll be back,” in the “Terminator” movies. Now, the former California governor is intimating that he may return to Golden State politics, saying he is “not ruling out” a run for US Senate next year.

But a bigger question looms. Veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) — the body’s most elderly member at 83 years of age — has not announced her retirement. In fact, the senator recently said in a California radio interview that she is seriously considering seeking a fifth full term in 2018. Despite her comments, she remains a retirement possibility, and it is doubtful that Schwarzenegger would run unless the seat comes open.

Several questions pose themselves. Since Republicans have fared so poorly in California statewide elections since his own last victory in 2006 (56-39 percent over then-state Treasurer Phil Angelides), there are questions as to whether the actor/politician would run as an Independent should he make a return to the electoral world.

Actually, the Indie option makes sense for a number of reasons.

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Polarized, or Not?

By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2017 — Much is being made about President Trump’s early job approval ratings. Almost across the board, they are low, and particularly so for a new national chief executive, which has naturally attracted media attention.

In their late February report about political polarization, the Gallup polling organization, which began testing presidential job approval back in the Truman Administration and has regularly continued the practice ever since, argues that polarization among the self-identified Republicans and Democrats is a major obstacle for President Trump to overcome. They further make the point that this is not a new phenomenon, as partisan approval polling detected similar numbers for presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The Gallup analysis, on and around the Feb. 20 time frame, found President Trump’s job approval rating to be 42 percent. When they looked at the two previous presidents, also hitting 42 percent approval rating at certain points in their own presidencies, Gallup found the level of partisan support and opposition among Democrats and Republicans for the president of their own party was virtually identical.

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Specials Update

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 16, 2017 — News is breaking in three of the impending special congressional elections:

GA-6

In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has scheduled the special election to replace newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for April 18, with a run-off to follow on June 20. Already 15 candidates have announced for the seat.

For special elections, Georgia employs the same system as we’ve previously described when discussing the California race. That is, a jungle primary will be conducted on April 18, with all candidates placed on one ballot. If no one secures a majority the top two finishers, irrespective of political party affiliation, will advance to the special general election in late June.

Democrats intend to make a push for this seat, which should become the most competitive of the five special congressional elections. President Trump only carried this district 48.3 – 46.8 percent in November, a major downturn for the GOP in what is typically a reliably Republican seat.

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Special Elections Getting Underway

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 9, 2017 — The special election cycle officially launches tomorrow evening.

KS-4

Kansas’ 4th District Republican Committee will convene for purposes of choosing a nominee to compete in the April 11 special election. Democrats will follow suit with their own confab on Saturday afternoon.

The Wichita-anchored 4th CD is vacant because Rep. Mike Pompeo (R) was nominated and confirmed as President Trump’s CIA director. He resigned the congressional seat on Jan. 24 to accept his new position. Gov. Sam Brownback (R) then quickly scheduled the replacement election for early April.

The 4th District Republican Committee consists of 126 party-elected delegates. They will consider the candidates, and then cast secret ballots. The voting will continue until one person reaches majority support (64 votes). The lowest vote-getter will be eliminated after every round of voting.

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America’s Ideology

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2016 — The Gallup organization conducted a month long poll (Jan. 20-30) of almost 200,000 respondents (177,788 US adults) to determine where America stands ideologically. They find that the country still leans decidedly to the right, but not as strongly as in past years.

The three most conservative states are Wyoming (35-point difference between those self-identifying as conservative as opposed to liberal: 49 percent conservative – 14 percent liberal), Mississippi (31-point difference; 46-15 percent), and North Dakota (31-point difference; 43-12 percent).

The three most liberal states are all in the New England region: Vermont (14-point difference; 40 percent liberal – 26 percent conservative), Massachusetts (8-point differential; 33 percent liberal – 25 percent conservative), and Connecticut (4-point difference; 31 percent liberal – 27 percent conservative).

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Democrats Play Offense

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 1, 2017 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), in a memo from Executive Director Dan Sena, on Tuesday released their first 2018 target list of who they believe are the vulnerable Republican US House members. A total of 59 districts occupy the list; some that make sense, while others are long shots to say the least.

Included are eight freshmen members: representatives Brian Mast (FL-18), Jason Lewis (MN-2), Ted Budd (NC-13), Don Bacon (NE-2), John Faso (NY-19), Claudia Tenney (NY-22), Lloyd Smucker (PA-16), and Scott Taylor (VA-2). The freshman targets’ win percentages span from a low of 43.7 percent (Tenney) to a high 61.3 percent (Taylor), with an average of 51.9 percent among the eight.

Within the entire group of 59 targets, only five failed to reach majority support in their districts: representatives Tenney (43.7 percent), Lewis (46.9 percent), Will Hurd (TX-23; 48.3 percent), Martha Roby (AL-2; 48.8 percent), and Bacon (48.9 percent).

In the 59 Republican CDs, Hillary Clinton’s performance was better than former President Obama’s 2012 showing in 23 of them, her best Republican district being Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen’s South Florida FL-27, where the 2016 Democratic nominee garnered 58.6 percent. Sophomore Rep. Carlos Curbelo’s neighboring 26th District was her second-best seat. Here, Clinton tallied 56.7 percent of the vote.

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Senate Plans

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2017
— Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), two of the Senate’s most elderly members, were at the top of the potential retirement list in 2018. But, as we mentioned in our updates during the preceding 10 days, both are now sending re-election signals.

Below is a re-cap of the 21 senators who have made public comments about their 2018 campaign status (a total of 33 are in-cycle):

California: Sen. Feinstein stated during a radio interview within the past few days that she is “leaning” toward seeking re-election, feeling that her age during the next campaign (85) will not be a particular detriment either to her political ability or in representing her constituents. She stopped short, however, of making a formal campaign announcement.

Delaware: Sen. Tom Carper (D) said in early December that he has not yet decided whether he will seek a fourth term in 2018. The senator has been in elective office for 40 consecutive years, and will be 72 at the time of the next election.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was also thought to be a retirement possibility, considering that he will be 76 years of age in 2018, and will complete 30 years of congressional service in that same year. Repeatedly, however, Sen. Nelson has said that he will seek a fourth term next year.

Indiana: In what promises to be a hotly contested campaign, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) announced his re-election intention in January, and is beginning to hire political staff.

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Election 2016: Urban vs. Rural

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2017 — Now that the election returns are official and divided into congressional district and county totals, we can now see exactly how the presidential election unfolded.

It became clear from early Election Night totals that Donald Trump won the national vote because of his performance in the outer suburbs and rural areas in the 30 states that he carried over former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. His margins there, largely because of turnout, were enough to compensate for Clinton’s larger-than-expected advantages in the major cities and inner suburbs.

In looking at the country’s largest metropolitan statistical areas, we find that Clinton scored an average 59.9 percent of the vote, when averaging her percentage performance in the nation’s 10 most populous urban regions. This compares to President Trump’s 35.8 percent. Keep in mind that the national popular vote percentage total was 48.1 – 46.0 percent.

In the rural areas surrounding these specific urban centers, the numbers dramatically changed. Counterbalancing the Clinton margins in the metroplexes, Trump’s lead in the outer suburban and rural regions in the states he carried was roughly equivalent to the former secretary of state’s urban advantage but with greater turnout. In the corresponding Trump state rural regions, the new president averaged 56.8 percent as compared to Clinton’s 39.7 percent.

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Open Seat News — Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 12, 2017 — With the new Congress scarcely a week old, we already know of eight open House districts. Assuming all of President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet appointees coming from the House are confirmed for their new positions, the action will lead to five mid-year special elections.

Additionally, one sitting member has been appointed California attorney general and is moving through the state confirmation process. Two more have already announced gubernatorial campaigns, and another just made a public pronouncement that he will not seek re-election in 2018.

Below is a re-cap of the first four (alphabetical) CDs. The remainder will follow in the succeeding Update.

CA-34: Thirteen-term Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) was appointed attorney general to replace newly elected Senator Kamala Harris (D). Becerra is currently going through the legislative confirmation process, which means a hearing and vote in both the state Assembly and Senate. Once the congressman is confirmed for his new position, assuredly before January ends, he will resign from the US House. When the vacancy becomes official, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) will call a special election to occur between 126 and 140 days after his order. Both the special primary and general elections must occur within this time frame.

All candidates will participate in a jungle primary. If one candidate receives a majority vote, such individual is elected outright. If not, the top two finishers, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to the special general election. Already 14 candidates have announced for the seat (11 Democrats, two Republicans, and one Green Party contender). The most likely scenario would find two Democrats advancing to the special general, which will most likely occur at the end of May or in early June. The leading candidates appear to be Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D) and former LA City Council aide Sarah Hernandez (D).

GA-6: When Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) is confirmed as Secretary of Health & Human Services and resigns his northern Georgia congressional seat, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) will call a special replacement election. Deal will have wide scheduling discretion, as his requirement is that the vote be no less than 30 days after his call. The process will be three-tiered, featuring partisan primaries, partisan run-offs if necessary, and a general election. Most likely, the entire cycle will end sometime in June.

Republicans will be heavily favored to hold the seat. Former GOP Secretary of State Karen Handel (unannounced) and Republican state Sen. Judson Hill (announced) appear to be the leading early contenders.

KS-4: Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-Wichita) selection as CIA Director will likely result in the special election with the shortest cycle calendar. Under Kansas law, Gov. Sam Brownback (R) will call the election for between 45 and 60 days after his pronouncement. If Pompeo resigns in February, the replacement election will then be held sometime in April.

The officially recognized political parties will determine for themselves how they will choose their nominees. Republicans have already announced that the 4th District Republican Committee of 126 voting members will vote for a special election nominee. Democratic leaders have not yet indicated how their process will unfold.

Once nominees are chosen, the candidates will participate in one election. Independents will have the right to petition onto the ballot, but the high signature qualification requirement will be over 17,000. Republicans are heavy favorites to hold the southeastern Kansas seat. Former US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R), state Treasurer Ron Estes (R), oil company executive and former congressional candidate Wink Hartman (R), and state Senate President Susan Wagle (R) are among the high profile candidates being mentioned.

MT-AL: Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish) has been nominated as US Interior Secretary. Once the at-large seat becomes vacant, presumably sometime in February, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) will call the election for between 85 and 100 days post his declaration, meaning a vote sometime in late May or early June. The political parties will meet in convention to determine their nominees, so voters will go to the polls only once.

The special election could become competitive. Democrats hold two of Montana’s six statewide offices and before the November election actually controlled five. Already four Democrats and three Republicans have announced their candidacies. For the Democrats, three contenders are state representatives, including 2014 US Senate nominee Amanda Curtis, along with one businessman. The GOP side, so far, features two state senators, including Senate President Scott Sales, and one state representative. Democrats could turn to former state schools superintendent and 2016 congressional nominee Denise Juneau. The latter lost to Rep. Zinke in November by a 56-41 percent count.

Gaining and Losing

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2017 — At the end of 2016, the Census Bureau released its population estimates for the period beginning July 1, 2015 through July 1, 2016. The bureau reports some interesting data. Utah had the largest percentage growth (2.02 percent) of any state during that time span, while Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, and five others actually lost inhabitants. The other major gainers were also in the west: Nevada (1.95 percent) and Idaho (1.83 percent).

The states gaining the most individuals when calculating on a raw number basis for the tested 12-month period were Texas (432,957), Florida (367,525), California (256,077), and Washington (127,710).

The Illinois net total of 37,508 people leaving the state is the highest such number in the nation by more than a factor of three. Surveys suggested that high taxes, a lack of economic opportunity, and poor weather were the top reasons for the exodus.

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