Tag Archives: Charlie Crist

More Sunshine Polling

By Jim Ellis

March 24, 2017 — The Sunshine State of Florida may set an aggregate polling record if the current surveying pace continues. Already we have seen four different pollsters test what may evolve into a US Senate political battle between incumbent Bill Nelson (D) and Gov. Rick Scott (R), including two new studies released just this week.

More telling than the sheer polling volume is seeing all four surveying entities detect virtually the same result. That is, Sen. Nelson has a discernible lead, as one would expect from a three-term incumbent, but his advantage is small and he fails to top 50 percent in any of the publicized ballot tests.

Sen. Nelson was first elected to the House in 1978 after spending six years in the Florida legislature. He served until running for governor in 1990, losing the Democratic primary to former three-term Sen. Lawton Chiles, who would go onto unseat Gov. Bob Martinez (R) to win the statewide political position. Nelson returned to win the office of Florida treasurer, insurance commissioner and fire marshal in 1994, and then was elected US senator in 2000. He will be 76 years old in November of 2018, and has said on numerous public occasions that he will run for a fourth term.

Gov. Scott came to politics after a career in the hospital industry, which led to him forming his own venture capital firm. Politically, he seems to specialize in winning close, upset elections. He nipped then-Attorney General and former US Congressman Bill McCollum in the 2010 Republican gubernatorial primary with a three-point margin of victory, and then defeated Florida CFO Alex Sink (D), 49-48 percent, in a contest that the latter was expected to win easily. Despite poor job approval ratings, Gov. Scott was able to slip past former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) in his re-election campaign, in yet another one-point race (48-47 percent).

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New Frontline Program Incumbents

By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2017 — In February, the National Republican Congressional Committee announced the first round of its Patriot Program, the system where GOP House members help raise funds to support those in the most politically marginal districts. Now, the Democrats have countered.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s leadership has included 19 incumbents in their Frontline Program’s first wave, an usually large number.

Of the 19, 10 should be considered truly vulnerable top-tier targets. They are:

• Tom O’Halleran – AZ-1 – 50.7% win percentage – Trump district
• Stephanie Murphy – FL-7 – 51.5%
• Charlie Crist – FL-13 – 51.9%
• Brad Schneider – IL-10 – 52.6%
• David Loebsack – IA-2 – 53.7% – Trump district
• Rick Nolan – MN-8 – 50.2% – Trump district
• Josh Gottheimer – NJ-5 – 51.1% – Trump district
• Carol Shea-Porter – NH-1 – 44.3% – Trump district
• Jacky Rosen – NV-3 – 47.2% – Trump district
• Sean Patrick Maloney – NY-18 – 50.8% – Trump district

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Arizona House Winner;
Key House Polls

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 21, 2016
— The Aug. 30 Arizona primary gave us the closest congressional primary of this entire election cycle. At the evening’s end, former Go.Daddy.com executive Christine Jones appeared to have enough of a margin to secure the 5th District Republican primary nomination in order to succeed retiring Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa).

Originally, the preliminary Election Day count gave Jones an 876-vote lead. Later that evening, it dropped to 576 votes. We now know that 576 was not quite enough. By the time the absentee and provisional votes were counted, Jones had lost all of her lead and state Senate President Andy Biggs had forged ahead by just nine votes from more than 85,000 cast ballots.

After the official canvass, which ended Sept. 12, the Biggs’ lead had expanded to a whopping 16 votes. The re-count then began, and Biggs gained again, this time reaching a 27-vote edge. This last known total will stand, as yesterday Ms. Jones conceded the election. She will take no further action to prolong the contest.

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House in Flux?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2016 — Several analysis articles have appeared in the last few days indicating that the House majority might well be in play for the Democrats. Is this reality, wishful thinking, or just a partisan rhetorical ploy to engage the party base?

To re-cap, the Republicans have their largest House majority since the 1928 election, currently standing at 247-R to 186-D, with two Democratic vacancies. In order for the Democrats to secure even a one-seat majority, they would have to re-elect incumbents and candidates in all 188 of their current districts and then convert 30 Republican positions.

Initially, not all 188 Democratic seats are secure. In fact, at least one is surely coming the GOP’s way. After the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting operation in Florida, the 2nd District became a virtual Republican gimme seat. Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) choosing not to seek re-election guarantees a Republican victory.

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Florida Dominoes Fall

By Jim Ellis

June 24, 2016
— As expected, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) officially reversed course and announced that he will file for re-election. His action put in motion other political moves.

As promised, Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R) announced that he is ending his Senate campaign, deferring to his long-time friend. Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) exited the Senate race late last week in anticipation of Rubio returning and simultaneously declared that he would attempt to seek re-election to the House.

In north-central Florida, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), another Senate candidate, also stated that he, too, would leave the Senate race and now likewise retreats to seek re-election to his US House seat. Unlike Rep. Jolly, who had been laying the groundwork for a House return for a couple of weeks, Rep. DeSantis had kept his plans to himself. This led to speculation that he might not re-enter the congressional race, since six Republicans were already running, and instead sit out the 2016 election and file for the open attorney general’s position in 2018.

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How Rubio’s Decision Affects Others

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2016 — It appears that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will change course and run for re-election after repeatedly saying he would not. GOP leaders, fearing they would lose the seat without him, have apparently prevailed upon him to seek re-election after exerting intense pressure. We will know for sure very shortly, because the state’s candidate filing deadline closes Friday afternoon.

But, Rubio’s decision will not only affect the Senate race. Two House district campaigns could also drastically change if he launches a new campaign.

Already, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) has left the Senate race and returns to his Pinellas County congressional district to fight an uphill battle for re-election in an unfavorable post-redistricting seat. The state Supreme Court drew a new 13th CD that greatly favors the Democrats, and party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist will be Jolly’s general election opponent.

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Ins, Outs and Maybes

By Jim Ellis

June 21, 2016 — Florida Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) announced Friday that he would officially end his US Senate bid and return to protect his seat in the House of Representatives. The move had been predicted for the past week.

With the state Supreme Court re-drawing his 13th CD to the Democrats’ liking, Rep. Jolly’s re-election prospects appeared dim so the Senate race looked to be a viable possibility. When the congressman announced, however, that he would no longer personally raise funds for his statewide effort, leaving that task to “staff and Super PACs”, it became clear that his Senate campaign would go nowhere.

When the city of St. Petersburg was added to District 13 in the mid-decade redistricting plan, party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist decided to enter the open congressional race as a Democrat. In the new configuration, President Obama averaged 55 percent of the vote in his two elections, up from breaking even here when the previous 13th was a statewide vote microcosm.

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Florida Speculation Growing

By Jim Ellis

June 20, 2016 — The Florida Senate race could soon be changing in a major way. With the June 24 filing deadline closing in on all Florida politicos, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running out of time to decide whether he will reverse his previously stated position and seek re-election.

The stage is set for his return, but is re-entering the Senate race the right move for him? Certainly Republican leaders think Rubio running again would be best for the party. The Florida campaign is going to be one of the most important and talked about during the general election cycle and Senate Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have made no secret of their position that Rubio should run.

Now we see at least two active Senate participants saying they would end their campaigns if the senator were to declare. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), who Rubio has repeatedly praised as being a worthy successor, made the public statement earlier this week that should the incumbent and former presidential candidate want back in, he will exit, stage right.

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Retirements 2016: House Changes?

Jan. 12, 2016 — Just before Christmas, and including three more such announcements that occurred last week, five House members made public their intention not to seek re-election in the fall. The sudden jump in the number of congressmen choosing either to retire from politics or run for a different office now makes 2016 an average election cycle when examining the vacancy rate.

Representatives Richard Hanna (R-NY-22), Robert Hurt (R-VA-5), Jim McDermott (D-WA-7), Steve Israel (D-NY-3), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3) all making their political plans known in the last three weeks creates a total of 36 open seat elections for the coming year (21R-15D); an average number based upon 21st Century electoral trends, and a return to normalcy. The last two election cycles have yielded an unusually large open seat numbers: 62 in 2012, and 48 in 2014.

Interestingly, heavy competition appears to be building in only a small number of these incumbent-less US House campaigns. Based upon our internal calculations, only three of the 36 open seats are in the pure toss-up category, those of representatives Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ-1), Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) and John Kline (R-MN-2). Another six, three for each party, can be considered in the “Lean” category. This means, at our early point in the campaign cycle, that only nine open districts, or one-quarter of the total number, are not definitively headed toward one party camp or the other.

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Florida Lines Finally Approved

Dec. 4, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court finally enacted a congressional redistricting plan on Tuesday. The process began in early July when the high court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts and now culminates in approving a lower court judge’s statewide plan that changes 22 of the Sunshine State’s 27 CDs.

Currently, the delegation stands at 17R-10D. Democrats are poised for gains, but the actual increase may be smaller than intended. Two South Florida seats, those of Republicans Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), a freshman, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), a 14-term veteran and former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, appear designed to elect Democrats but these districts have a history of bucking voting trends at the congressional level. Though Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s 27th CD voted 53 percent for President Obama in 2012, the congresswoman didn’t even draw an opponent in 2014 and notched a 60-37 percent win when last contested.

There is little doubt that Democrats will convert Districts 10 and 13, while Republicans will take back District 2, a seat they lost in the 2014 election.

The Orlando-anchored 10th District becomes 15 points more Democratic on the Obama scale and switches 13 points when looking at gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s (D) performance in his 2014 statewide losing effort. Incumbent Rep. Dan Webster (R) can’t win this seat, but he may survive by moving into neighboring District 11, an open CD because Rep. Rich Nugent (R) is not seeking re-election. The 11th gains a significant chunk of Lake County from Webster’s current 10th, meaning the congressman will have a foothold in the new district. If he can win nomination, FL-11’s Republican history will allow him to continue his congressional career.

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Florida Redistricting Lines
Almost Complete

Oct. 13, 2015 — The Republican troubles in the US House look to be getting worse as the long-awaited Florida redistricting process is at last taking shape. The state Supreme Court struck down portions of the map back in early July and, with the state legislature not passing new legislation in their abbreviated special session, the high court returned the plan to Circuit Judge Terry Lewis to serve as the redistricting special master. The original lawsuit was filed in Lewis’ court.

On Friday, Judge Lewis released his map, choosing one of the Democratic plaintiffs’ submissions, saying this plan best fulfills the Supreme Court’s sated objectives. The new map now goes to the Supreme Court for final approval.

The partisan numbers figure to favor Democrats by one to as many as four seats. Most likely, assuming no additional retirements among incumbents, the Democrats will probably gain one or two seats. There is a scenario, however, where Republicans could still break even. The Florida delegation splits 17R-10D under the current map.

The members likely to lose under the new configuration are representatives Gwen Graham (D-FL-2) and Dan Webster (R-FL-10) the latter of whom, ironically, is currently a candidate for House Speaker. Rep. David Jolly’s 13th District will also go Democratic, likely to former Gov. Charlie Crist (D) who said he would run if his St. Petersburg home was drawn into the district.

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First Florida Map

Aug. 10, 2015 — Prior to the opening of the special state legislative session convened to re-draw the Florida congressional map, Sunshine State legislative leaders released their initial plan late last week. It is likely that his map will not pass in its current form, but it does provide a good starting point.

The plan radically changes four districts and makes several more competitive, but allows the GOP a chance at maintaining its 17-10 delegation majority.

Three districts are designed to change hands. What the state Supreme Court isolated as the focal point for declaring eight of the 27 districts as legally non-conforming, Tampa Bay’s District 13 — Rep. David Jolly (R) — would become decidedly more Democratic according to the 2012 presidential election result. The addition of St. Petersburg to this seat, as directed by the court, represents a Democratic voter increase of 9.2 percent based upon the previous configuration. With incumbent Jolly now in the Senate race, FL-13 becomes a prime conversion opportunity for Democrats most likely in the person of former Gov. Charlie Crist.

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Florida Musical Chairs Begin

July 22, 2015 — As predicted, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) announced his intention to run for Florida’s open Senate seat next year, joining what is becoming a crowded Republican field that may expand even further.

Rep. Jolly was originally elected to his marginal Pinellas County seat in an early 2014 special election after the venerable 21-term Rep. Bill Young (R) passed away. Jolly was an upset winner in the special, defeating former state CFO Alex Sink, who had lost a one-point race for governor in the previous statewide cycle.

Jolly is jumping into the Senate campaign largely because the state Supreme Court just recently declared his district and seven others illegal in accordance with the state’s voter-adopted redistricting initiative. Since the court objects to the Tampa-anchored 14th District jumping across the bridge to annex Democratic St. Petersburg, it is a virtual certainty that the politically marginal 13th will become less Republican. Therefore, Rep. Jolly’s chances of winning re-election in such a newly configured seat all of a sudden become poor.
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Crist for Congress?

July 14, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court barely had time to announce their decision declaring eight of the state’s congressional districts illegal before the political musical chairs began vibrating.

On Thursday, the high court declared that Rep. David Jolly’s (R) Pinellas County seat, among others, is in violation of the state’s 2010 voter-passed redistricting initiative, which put limits on partisan map drawing. Former governor, Charlie Crist, a Pinellas County resident who has either lost races or was headed for defeat in both the Republican and Democratic parties, and even as an Independent, is reportedly considering running for Congress should the Tampa Bay re-draw favor the Dems. Rep. Kathy Castor’s (D-Tampa) 14th District, that encompasses the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, was also invalidated.

The court returned the map to the legislature with orders to re-construct eight districts from around the state, four Republican-held seats and four Democratic. The number of additional tangentially affected districts could mean that virtually the entire state will be redrawn within the next 100 days. Since the map is headed back to the legislature, majority Republicans will again have the redistricting pen, but the new final product must be submitted to the judiciary for approval. The new plan will take effect for the 2016 elections.
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Even More Presidential Candidates Emerge

Almost everyday now, a new individual is mentioned as someone considering a potential run for president in 2016. The latest to be attracting some attention are two big state Republican governors both named Rick. Florida Gov. Rick Scott and Michigan state chief executive Rick Snyder are reportedly floating national trial balloons, testing whether they might be viable GOP presidential candidates next year.

Though both are clearly considered long shot candidates at best, they do have several key obvious positives. First, they are governors, which has historically been the best office from which to successfully run for the White House. Second, if either were to capture the nomination, their home states should give them a key boost on the general election map, particularly in Gov. Scott’s case because a Republican realistically cannot win a presidential election without carrying Florida. Third, both have a fundraising base that could quickly reach national proportions.

But, both Scott and Snyder also possess clear negatives. Though they won re-election to a second term last month in their respective competitive states, neither did so impressively. Florida being the quintessential swing domain always yields a close race, but Scott’s 48-47 percent victory margin, virtually identical to his 49-48 percent win four years ago over then-Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink (D), should have been stronger against an opponent Continue reading >