Tag Archives: California

Feinstein Loses

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

July 17, 2018 — Five-term Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) lost the official California Democratic Party endorsement to her general election rival and fellow Democrat, state Sen. Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), this past weekend in Oakland, attracting an embarrassing seven percent of the vote among the Democratic Party delegates.

Sen. Feinstein knew she was headed for defeat within the party structure formal endorsement process, so she was campaigning for the delegates to vote “no endorsement.” This ploy garnered more votes than she received, as 28 percent of the delegates supported the party taking no official action in the Senate race. Thus, Sen. de Leon received 65 percent of the delegate vote, exceeding the minimum threshold of 60 percent to claim the party endorsement.

The action means that de Leon will be designated the official party candidate on the ballot, obviously an unusual situation for a challenging Democrat opposing an incumbent of the same party. So unusual, in fact, that in no other race where two Democrats are facing each other in the general election, from the statewide contests through the state assembly races, did the party delegates choose the challenger over the incumbent.

In winning the party endorsement, Sen. de Leon will be entitled to direct party funding and access to the state party’s fundraising and voter databases. Though having access to these resources should result in him raising an estimated several hundred thousand dollars, such an amount is just a drop in the bucket as to what a candidate in the nation’s most populous state needs in terms of financial resources necessary to compete.

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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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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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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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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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Big Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

June 6, 2018 — Voters chose their general election nominees in eight states last night with most races ending as predicted, though a few surprises also occurred. Here’s the rundown:

ALABAMA

the-primariesGov. Kay Ivey scored an outright Republican primary victory, defeating Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), and two others. The governor scored 56 percent of the GOP primary vote. She will now face Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox in the general election. Maddox defeated former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, 55-29 percent, in last night’s Democratic primary. None of the other four candidates even reached 10 percent support.

In House races, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) placed first in her multi-candidate primary, but scored only 39 percent support. She will now advance to a July 17 run-off election with party-switching former Democratic Congressman and ex-Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright, who recorded 28 percent of the vote. In 2010, Roby unseated then-Democratic incumbent Bright, so the run-off will be a re-match of sorts. Her low vote total suggests that Rep. Roby is in danger of losing re-nomination in the secondary election. The winner faces business analyst Tabitha Isner who won the Democratic primary with 60 percent of the vote. Either Roby or Bright will be favored in the general election after the run-off concludes.

In the other challenged primary race, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) notched a 61-39 percent win over businessman Clayton Hinchman. Earlier, this looked to be a significant challenge, but Rep. Brooks easily secured re-nomination.


CALIFORNIA

The California tabulation is incomplete as votes can still be received through Friday. Ballots postmarked yesterday will count as long as they reach the county elections office by 5 pm on Friday. Therefore, some second place finishes in the various races are somewhat undetermined though the current leader for the final general election qualifying position will likely hold on through the final counting phase.

As expected, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) finished first (33 percent) in the open governor’s race and advances into the November general election. Republican attorney and former presidential candidate John Cox (26 percent) clinched second place making both the state GOP leadership and Newsom happy. The Republicans needed a statewide candidate in the general election to help with voter turnout for the down ballot races, while Newsom clearly wanted a Republican against him in the general as opposed to another Democrat. Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa finished third (13 percent) and state Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) was fourth (10 percent). In all, 27 individuals received votes for governor in the state’s jungle primary format.

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Big Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 5, 2018 — Today voters in eight states — Alabama, California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota — will choose nominees for the 2018 general election in the single primary election day with the largest number of voters participating. Here’s a rundown on where things stand in each of the eight states:


ALABAMA

the-primariesThe most interesting race on the Alabama primary card is the state’s governor’s race. Incumbent Kay Ivey (R) runs for a first term after succeeding resigned Gov. Robert Bentley (R), when he left office last year as part of a plea bargain agreement for campaign finance violations.

Polling gives the governor wide leads to defeat Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle, state Sen. Bill Hightower (R-Mobile), and Baptist minister Scott Dawson. For the Democrats, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox and former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb are vying for the party nomination. Gov. Ivey is the favorite today and in November.

In House races, Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) faces a multi-candidate Republican primary, including former US Rep. Bobby Bright, the man she unseated in 2010 when he was the Democrat incumbent. Also in the race is state Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) and former Roy Moore campaign manager Rich Hobson. Rep. Roby is favored, but the possibility of being forced to a run-off exists if she fails to obtain majority support.

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California Jungle Primary Intrigue

The California state flag

The California state flag

By Jim Ellis

June 4, 2018 — In 2010, Golden State voters adopted a ballot proposition that changed the state’s primary system. As we have often noted in articles about the state’s political campaigns, the primary is now a qualifying election with the top two vote-getting candidates advancing to the general election regardless of percentage or political party affiliation. Looking toward the California preliminary vote tomorrow, the top-two jungle primary system may produce some unintended consequences.

When the initiative was first floated eight years ago, many pro-enterprise organizations joined in support because they correctly saw that business coalition candidates, and Republicans in particular, were headed for further downturns in California elections. The top-two format, many believed, would produce more centrist victors from both political parties. In practice, when analyzing the three election cycles since the process began and going into a fourth on Tuesday, such has not quite been the case.

As we know, Democrats have heavily targeted California in their 2018 bid to regain the US House majority, believing that their chances of winning the seven Republican districts Hillary Clinton carried in the last presidential election are strong. But Tuesday’s vote is providing them a new obstacle to overcome, a complication that could actually shut them out of even having a general election candidate in some of their top targeted districts.

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Top-Two “Jungle Primary” Reverberations

By Jim Ellis

May 14, 2018 — Back in 2010, when initiators created the movement to change the California primary system to feature a jungle format — where the top two finishers advance to the general election regardless of the percentage of vote they attained or party affiliation — they had hoped their ultimately successful ballot initiative would favor candidates closer to the political center. Approaching the June 5, 2018 primary, however, we see that this top-two system might produce quite different and possibly unintended outcomes.

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-480

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-48)

In a pair of competitive Southern California Republican congressional districts, recent polling suggests that Democrats could find themselves on the outside looking in for the November election despite having high hopes of converting the two seats.

The districts are CA-48, where veteran 15-term US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) seeks to be part of another two-year congressional session, and CA-49, the open Orange/San Diego County seat from which Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) is retiring.

The pair of early May polls, one from Change Research (CA-48) and the other Benenson Strategy Group (CA-49), reveals that two Republicans could potentially advance to the general election in both districts, thus preventing Democrats from competing in the general election. Though it’s mathematically possible that two Dems could also progress to November in both places, the latter scenario is less likely because the GOP holds a voter registration edge in each CD.

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

California Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-49)

In the 48th, Republicans have a 10-point 40.7-30.1 percent registration advantage over Democrats with an additional 24.5 percent declaring No Party Preference, meaning the latter are Independents. In the 49th, the GOP advantage is a lesser 36.7–31.1 percent with 26.6 percent not stating a party preference. Therefore, without coalescing the Democratic vote in each district behind one strong candidate, the chance plainly exists that Republicans could potentially slip two contenders in through the proverbial backdoor. In both the 48th and 49th, too many Democratic candidates are strong enough so as to prevent such a base unification.

The Change Research survey (May 2-3; 590 likely CA-48 jungle primary voters) finds Rep. Rohrabacher leading the field of four tested candidates (though a total of 16 candidate names will appear on the primary ballot, including three Democrats and one Republican who have withdrawn, but too late to erase their ballot positions). Rohrbacher is in front in the poll with just 27 percent of the vote, followed by Democratic scientist Hans Keirstead, who has 19 percent, and ex-state assemblyman and former Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh, with 17 percent. Democrat Harley Rouda, a businessman and attorney, garners 11 percent support.

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Top Two Playing Havoc in California

California Congressional Districts

California Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

April 17, 2018 — When sponsors of the 2010 California ballot initiative that would change the state’s primary system from a closed one to a structure that sends the top two finishers to the general election regardless of political party affiliation, they believed such an alteration would result in more centrist candidates being elected. Thus, the theory was, a new voting procedure would put the extreme candidates from both parties at a disadvantage.

While it’s debatable that centrists have benefited since the “top-two” system went into effect beginning with the 2012 election, the “jungle primary” is clearly having an effect in the many crucial California congressional campaigns this year. While Golden State Democrats are optimistic they can convert competitive seats in Orange County, recent polling in at least one of these seats reveals no clear advantage even as they mount strong efforts in what have traditionally been Republican districts.

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Three House Polls Show Tight Races

By Jim Ellis

2018-us-house-racesApril 13, 2018 — New polls were released recently indicating that three US House races will likely become highly competitive come November. The CA-10 contest featuring Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock/Modesto) was always slated to be a top-tier challenger race. But it’s apparent that races in Kentucky and Michigan — KY-6 (Rep. Andy Barr-R) and MI-8 (Rep. Mike Bishop-R) — are now emerging onto the contested campaign scene. I’ll review the current status of each of the three races:

CA-10

Anzalone Liszt Grove Research conducted a poll for California Democratic candidate Michael Eggman (March 13-15; 471 likely CA-10 June 5 jungle primary voters, 400 likely CA-10 general election voters) and found four-term Congressman Denham leading his two-time opponent, 45-41 percent. In the past two general elections, Rep. Denham has defeated Eggman, 52-48 percent (2016) and 56-44 percent (2014).

Though the June qualifying election numbers were not released, the survey supports the underlying contention that Eggman would be a stronger candidate against Rep. Denham than Democratic venture capitalist Josh Harder. While Eggman trails the congressman by four percentage points, Harder lags behind, 48-37 percent.

KY-6

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray (D), who lost the 2016 US Senate race in Kentucky 57-43 percent to incumbent Rand Paul (R), is coming back this year with the hope of unseating three-term Rep. Barr (R-Lexington). This week, the Gray campaign released a poll taken a month earlier that shows him easily defeating retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath in the Democratic primary. The Mellman Group survey (March 3-6; 400 likely KY-6 Democratic primary voters) finds Mayor Gray leading McGrath, 52-19 percent.

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Senate Match-Ups Forming

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2018
— Only two primaries are in the books, but already we appear to have clear Senate match-ups forming in as many as 14 statewide races.

2018-elections-open-seatsBelow are the races that look set as general election campaigns. Those headed for serious primary battles are not included on this list.

In alphabetical order, the following are the impending general election contests:

Arizona: Assuming Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) repels her primary challenge from the right, the Grand Canyon State general election will feature McSally and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) in what will be one of the premier Senate contests in the country this year.

California: It appears we are again headed for a double-Democratic general election in the Golden State. Sen. Dianne Feinstein should have little trouble dispensing with state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

Florida: With Gov. Rick Scott (R) scheduling an announcement for April 9, it looks like the long-anticipated contest between the two-term governor and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) will come to fruition.

Minnesota: Appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) will be running to fill the remaining two years of resigned Sen. Al Franken’s (D) term. State Sen. Karen Housley (R-St. Mary’s County) immediately declared her candidacy and, so far, she appears headed for the Republican nomination. Neither woman has run statewide before, so this campaign has the prospect of turning highly competitive especially with Minnesota moving rightward in the past few elections.

Mississippi: Developments within the past two weeks are yielding a second Mississippi Senate race for the 2018 election cycle. With Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) already being designated to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R) when he leaves office in April, she will draw serious opposition from state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville). If no candidate obtains majority support in the Nov. 6th vote, the top two finishers will run-off three weeks later.

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The California Candidates

By Jim Ellis

March 13, 2018 — California candidate filing closed on Friday, and the jungle primary scheduled for June 5 will be a crowded affair.

California Congressional Districts

                                    California Congressional Districts

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), seeking a fifth full term in office, will face 39 Democrat, Republican, minor party, and Independent opponents on the qualifying election ballot. The top two finishers on June 5, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to the general election. At this point, chances are strong that Sen. Feinstein and state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) will be the qualifying candidates.

The open governor’s race is even more crowded. Sixty candidates returned documents for ballot placement. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is favored to finish first, but the major remaining question concerns whether Republicans can coalesce behind one candidate to at least compete in the general election. Seventeen Republicans and 15 Democrats will be listed on the ballot if all submitted the proper qualifying documentation. The remaining contenders belong to a minor party or are Independents. The most likely pair to advance is Lt. Gov. Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, thus creating the double-Democratic general election campaign that Republican leaders hope to avoid.

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The Swap in California

By Jim Ellis

March 7, 2018 — The California candidate filing deadline is Friday, and we are beginning to see some complicated political moves crystallize as we get closer to final decision time.

California candidate T.J. Cox (D)

California candidate T.J. Cox (D)

In the state’s Central Valley, a major Democratic shake-up is unfolding. On Sunday, Emilio Huerta, the 2016 Democratic nominee against Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) in California’s 21st Congressional District, announced that he is dropping his 2018 bid. The surprise announcement appears linked to Democratic leaders wanting to move 10th District candidate T.J. Cox (D) south so he can become Rep. Valadao’s general election opponent.

Months ago, Cox, a businessman and investment fund founder, announced his candidacy against Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock/Modesto) in CA-10. Democrat leaders were positive about his candidacy at the time because they were reportedly less than satisfied with two-time nominee Michael Eggman, a wealthy farmer who lost to Denham in both 2014 (56-44 percent) and 2016 (52-48 percent).

As is the case in many districts around the country, large numbers of Democrat aspirants began declaring their candidacies for the 10th District race. Last year, it appeared the party establishment was lining up behind Cox, especially when Eggman announced that he would not run for a third time. In late January, however, Eggman suddenly changed his mind, did an about-face, and declared his congressional candidacy once again. Knowing that the former nominee’s name ID would likely land him the second qualifying position in the June 5 jungle primary because a total of seven Democrats were headed toward securing positions on the ballot, the party leaders began scrambling to fortify a better candidate lineup.

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Surprising California House
Non-Endorsements

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2018 — Yesterday, we reported that the California Democratic Party state convention delegates snubbed veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein by not officially endorsing her for re-election. The US House endorsements, or lack of them in many instances, also featured some unexpected results.

Looking at the 14 Golden State Republican incumbents, seven of whom Democratic leaders have publicly identified as targets for the upcoming election, the state delegates left four of these top conversion opportunities without an endorsed candidate.

california-39th-and-49th-congressional-districtsIn the campaigns against Reps. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock/Modesto), Steve Knight (R-Palmdale), and in the open districts of the 39th (Rep. Ed Royce retiring) and 49th (Rep. Darrell Issa retiring), the Democratic candidate contingent in each contest will head into the June 5 jungle primary election with no one carrying the official party endorsement.

In the other two top-tier targeted districts, convention delegates officially endorsed Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/ Bakersfield) in the 21st and Rep. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) in the 45th. The activists chose their 2016 nominee, attorney Emilio Huerta, to run against Rep. Valadao; Huerta actually performed poorly against the congressman in 2016, losing 57-43 percent, while Hillary Clinton carried the district 55-40 percent. However, Huerta is the only announced candidate in this race; therefore, he was easily able to exceed the 60 percent threshold needed to claim the state party endorsement.

In the Walters district, the party delegates chose law professor Dave Min as their endorsed candidate. This is a bit of a surprise because fellow law professor and consumer advocate Katie Porter seems to be attracting at least an equivalent level of campaign support. Both have outside endorsements, each has raised over $675,000 (Min: $679,000; Porter: $741,000), and the two each have more than $400,000 in the bank (Min: $411,000; Porter: $510,000). In addition to these two candidates, four other Democrats are also on the ballot. Min, however, is clearly the better inside political player since he was able to convince a super majority of convention delegates to publicly back his campaign.

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