Tag Archives: Club for Growth

Could Bannon Cost the GOP?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13 2017 — Several articles have surfaced this week speculating that former presidential advisor Steve Bannon wanting to find and support challengers to Republican Senate incumbents could cost the GOP its majority. It appears individuals making such a claim have forgotten how to count.

Keeping in mind that the Democrats must protect 25 of 33 in-cycle Senate seats, there are simply not enough legitimate targets available for the minority to change their status within the chamber, even though they need a net gain of only three seats. Yes, the Dems are forcing Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) into toss-up situations, but the remaining six GOP incumbents are some of the safest in the Senate. So, even if Bannon or other conservative insurgents recruit opposition to incumbents, the chances of the eventual Republican nominee losing the general election in these particular states are extremely low.

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The Missouri Move


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 12, 2017 — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) officially announced his long-awaited challenge to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) on Tuesday this week. The move had been expected since even before he formed a senatorial exploratory committee at the beginning of August. Hawley then found himself encouraged to run for the Senate literally from the first few days after his election as the state’s AG in November.

Saying Sen. McCaskill has turned her back on many key Show Me State constituencies and industries, that she has been in Washington “forever”, and simply “doesn’t represent Missouri” anymore, Hawley declared his new US Senate candidacy via campaign video featuring he, his wife, and two young sons (above).

Already, a McCaskill-Hawley general election race is being viewed as the Republicans’ top conversion opportunity. Though Hawley must get past several lesser GOP primary candidates, including state Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific/Franklin County), he is the prohibitive favorite to become the party nominee next August.

The McCaskill Campaign and the national Democratic political apparatus has been readying a defense plan against a Hawley offensive for several months. In his campaign for attorney general, Hawley used ladders as props in his ads to symbolize politicians who win one office and then immediately turnaround and jump to another. Now, doing exactly what he campaigned against, we can expect a steady barrage of attacks over what McCaskill and the Democrats will claim is Hawley’s “hypocrisy.”

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With Murphy Out in PA, Corker Out in TN, Who Will Fill the Vacancies?

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Tim Murphy  (R-Pittsburgh)

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh)

Oct. 9, 2017 — A new special US House election will soon be on tap, this time in southwestern Pennsylvania in PA-18. Beleaguered Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) succumbed to the negative publicity leaking out about his extra-marital affairs, abortion hypocrisy, and internal relations with staff members to announce late last week that he will resign his congressional office effective Oct. 21. This, just a day after he made public his intention not to seek re-election but serve the balance of the current term.

Once the seat is vacant, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will call a special election to choose a replacement. Since the Nov. 7 municipal elections occur less than three full weeks after Rep. Murphy departs, that means holding a new special congressional contest concurrently with the regular off-year vote would be impossible. Therefore, it is probable a mid-December or post-January 1st election will be scheduled.

There will be no primary period. Under Pennsylvania law, the parties will meet in district conclaves and local delegates will select the respective nominees.

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Special Elections Today

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2017 — Voters go to the polls today in the long-awaited Alabama special US Senate primary, the first tangible step in permanently replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions. As we know, Sessions resigned his Senate seat early in the year to accept the top law enforcement position in the Trump administration.

Most of the special election campaign action is on the Republican side, as appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) fights to secure a run-off position.

With the nine GOP candidates clearly attracting enough support to prevent any one of them from capturing a majority and winning the party nomination outright today, moving to a Sept. 26 run-off vote appears certain. Polling suggests that former state Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore will seize the first run-off position, but with 40 percent or less support. Sen. Strange and Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) are fighting for the second qualifying position with the other six candidates lagging behind.

The latest poll from the Trafalgar Group (Aug. 8-10; 1,439 likely Alabama GOP primary voters from more than 50,000 contacts), perhaps the most accurate survey research firm because of their most recent track record, finds Judge Moore capturing 35 percent support, with Sen. Strange far back at 23 percent and Rep. Brooks closing to 20 percent.

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New Alabama Data; UT-3 Formulating

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 8, 2017 — As we enter the final full week of campaigning before the Aug. 15 vote, a new political poll forecasts a different leader in the Republican special US Senate election primary. The survey reliability factor could be suspect, however.

During the July 31 – Aug. 3 period, RHH Elections conducted a poll of 426 self-identified Alabama GOP registered voters who say they will vote in the special Republican primary. All but 57 responded via the Interactive Voice Response system, and the former provided their responses through an online questionnaire. No live surveyors were part of the interview process, which weakens the reliability substantially.

That being said, the RHH numbers are within the realm of the other published poll results. The new data forecasts former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore as capturing the edge with 31 percent over the previous race leader, appointed Sen. Luther Strange, who is just two points behind, meaning the contest is a virtual tie between them with as much as 40 percent of the outstanding preference spread among the remaining seven candidates. The latter group includes US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) with 18 percent, state Sen. Trip Pittman (8 percent), and former Alabama Christian Coalition head Randy Brinson (2 percent). Those not stating a named candidate are categorized as undecided.

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South Carolina Run-off Numbers

By Jim Ellis

May 15, 2017 — Northern South Carolina Republican voters will go to the polls Tuesday to choose a special election nominee in the vacant 5th Congressional District run-off election. The June 20 special general winner will replace former Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-Lancaster) who resigned from Congress to become Director of the Office of Management & Budget.

We remember the results from the special primary vote held 10 days ago that almost ended in a tie. Seven Republicans originally entered the GOP contest, and it quickly became clear that a two-week run-off period would be necessary to determine a final nominee. Few expected, however, that the original vote would come close to deadlocking.

State House Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope (above) arguably began as the favorite for the nomination. Ironically, it is likely that he wouldn’t have even been a congressional candidate had not incumbent Gov. Nikki Haley (R) been appointed US Ambassador to the United Nations. The move allowed Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (R) to ascend to the state’s top job where he can now run for a full term unencumbered by the term limit that would have ended Gov. Haley’s tenure. In an open seat situation, Pope intended to run for governor.

The second major candidate, state representative and former congressional nominee Ralph Norman (below) quickly jump-started his political effort by resigning from the legislature to go “all-in” for the congressional race. His campaign aggressiveness paid off as he drew virtually even with Pope in the primary vote.

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GA-6: Ossoff vs. Handel

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2017
— Democrat Jon Ossoff came within a relative whisker of capturing the 6th District special election contest last night against 17 other candidates. In an election night that featured a laboriously slow count from Fulton County, Georgia, which experienced technical problems throughout the day, Ossoff tallied 48.1 percent of the vote, just two points away from winning the seat.

Turnout was unusually high for a special election, and the 6th will likely have the highest participation factor of the five special congressional contests occurring throughout the early summer. With the vote totals still a bit sketchy because of the Fulton County problems, and final tallies potentially changing, it appears that just over 192,000 voters will have cast ballots. Compare this to the 28,731 who voted in the California special congressional election on April 4, and the 120,897 participants in the Kansas special held last week. In the regular 2016 general election, 326,005 individuals voted in the congressional election.

Karen Handel, the Republican former Secretary of State placed a solid second and advances to the June 20 run-off election with Ossoff. Her percentage of just about 20 percent almost doubled the vote of the third place finisher, businessman and local city councilman Bob Gray.

Most of the polls released before the special jungle primary appeared flawed because they were not listing all of the candidates. Thus, there was some potential that the surveys over-stated Ossoff’s strength, but such was not the case. They also consistently showed the four competitive Republicans are closely bunched together in low double-digits, but Handel distinctly out-performed most of those estimates.

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Recruiting Rubio

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2016 — As usual, a new Florida political campaign projects as a razor-thin general election contest. The Sunshine State electorate may well again determine the nation’s political fate but this time not only for a presidential campaign. Their open US Senate race could decide which party controls the majority for the upcoming 115th Congress.

Republican leaders, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), are reportedly putting the full court press on incumbent ssfenator and defeated presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) to change his mind about not seeking re-election.

Apparently the leaders are less than pleased with the open race’s development, seeing little from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), and finding Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) making public pronouncements that he will no longer personally raise money for the campaign. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6) had raised over $4 million before the end of March, has the support of important conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth, along with Tea Party grassroots support. But, the leadership feels it may be too easy for the Democrats to paint him as an extremist, thereby lessening his victory chances in the general election.

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Polls: Razor Thin Races

By Jim Ellis

May 13, 2016 — Quinnipiac University, releasing the Senate numbers from the three-state presidential polls they just conducted, finds toss-up campaigns emerging across the board.

In Florida, both nomination battles are far from clear or being settled. Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18), the Democratic establishment’s chosen candidate, and Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6), the conservative base contender who enjoys strong support from the Club for Growth — among other outside right-of-center organizations — were the strongest competitors for each party. It is important to note, however, that all potential general election match-ups were within small single-digit margins.

It is fair to say that representatives Murphy and DeSantis may have the best chance of advancing to the general election and, if they do, this might become the best campaign in the country. Such a race would feature two young, articulate office holders with leadership potential in their respective parties. That being said, the Q-Poll Florida data (April 27-May 8; 1,051 registered Florida voters) finds Murphy holding the barest of margins, 36-35 percent over DeSantis, meaning a virtual tie.

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North Carolina: New Districts, New Candidates

By Jim Ellis

March 30, 2016 — The court-ordered North Carolina redistricting map is final and the new candidate filing period closed at the end of the preceding week.

The statewide and local legislative primaries were previously conducted, in conjunction with the presidential primary on March 15, but the congressional nominations were moved to June 7. Originally, all North Carolina primaries were scheduled for March 15, but the late court action necessitated opening a new filing period for the significantly altered congressional map.

The original 2011 congressional map elected 10 Republicans and three Democrats to the 13 total seats. When the court remanded the map back to the legislature with instructions to change the districts in relation to minority representation, the legislature did just that: a rather radical redraw that will still likely keep the state at 10R-3D, but assures a somewhat different group of people representing many of the changed districts.

The biggest difference will be the elimination of at least one Republican House member, as representatives Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) and George Holding (R-Raleigh) are squaring off against each other in the new 2nd District that contains all or parts of six counties. The district contains all of Wake County with the exception of the city of Raleigh.

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Nevada Numbers; Carolina Chaos

Feb. 24, 2016 — As expected, Donald Trump placed first in the Nevada Caucuses scoring just under 46 percent of the attender preference; his strongest performance to date, though the turnout was only in the 75,000 range. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was second with 24 percent, followed by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz at 21 percent. Dr. Ben Carson and Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) trailed with five and four percent, respectively.

Though he didn’t emphasize Nevada at all, Gov. Kasich’s dead last finish behind Carson cannot be good for his pre-Ohio staying power.

Carolina Chaos

Surprise move follows surprise move in the continuing North Carolina redistricting saga that has unleashed political turmoil in the Tar Heel State.

After the three-judge federal panel sitting in Raleigh struck down Congressional Districts 1 (Rep. G.K. Butterfield; D-Wilson) and 12 (Rep. Alma Adams; D-Greensboro) in early February, the legislature, fulfilling the court-ordered directive, re-configured the map and passed it into law by the imposed Feb. 19 deadline. The March 15 primary has been moved to June 7 and, surprisingly, the run-off portion of the election process has been eliminated for the congressional contests. Primary elections for all other offices continue on March 15 and will feature the state’s traditional 40 percent threshold run-off system.

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North Carolina Filing

Jan. 4, 2015 — Candidate filing closed in North Carolina before Christmas, and nine of the 14 federal incumbents standing for re-election will face 2016 primary opponents. Two of the challenges appear serious.

Sen. Richard Burr (R) draws a Tea Party challenge from physician Greg Brannon, who placed second (27.5 percent) against now-Sen. Thom Tillis in the 2014 Republican primary. He returns in a four-way contest against the two-term GOP incumbent. Former District Judge Paul Wright and retired advertising executive Larry Holmquist are the other GOP contenders.

North Carolina has 40 percent run-off law. If no candidate exceeds 40 percent, then a secondary election occurs. Sen. Burr is a cinch for the party nomination, and figures to have a strong general election performance against what will be a second-tier Democratic opponent. In 2010, Burr became the first incumbent since 1968 to be re-elected in this particular Senate seat. With Democratic recruitment failing, he is in very strong shape to win a third term.

Representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2), Walter Jones (R-NC-3), Virginia Foxx (R-NC-5), Mark Walker (R-NC-6), David Rouzer (R-NC-7), Robert Pittenger (R-NC-9), Patrick McHenry (R-NC-10), and Alma Adams (D-NC-12) all drew primary challengers. Only the campaigns against Representatives Ellmers and Jones appear serious at the outset. The North Carolina primary will be held concurrently with the presidential nomination event, on March 15.

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Ellmers’ Vulnerability

Dec. 14, 2015 — Time sometimes changes perspective in politics. Three-term North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) came to Congress with a 2010 victory margin of just under 1,500 votes against then-Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington/Durham) in what became one of that cycle’s biggest Tea Party upsets. Now running for a fourth term, some of the congresswoman’s past allies are backing one of her Republican primary opponents. Her performance in office has disappointed various conservative segments.

This week, the Club for Growth, one of the most prolific conservative outside support groups endorsed Rep. Ellmers’ top primary opponent, former Chatham County Republican chairman Jim Duncan. The Ellmers’ conservative detractors have a major problem, however, in that the anti-incumbent vote is split among three candidates. In addition to Duncan, local radio talk show host Frank Roche and public relations executive Kay Daly are both in the race.

With the Club helping Duncan, his resource base will expand exponentially. He becomes Ellmers’ key challenger and, if the other two could be talked out of running before the upcoming Dec. 21 candidate filing deadline (for the March 15 primary), would be in strong position to deny her re-nomination. But, considering that North Carolina employs a 40 percent run-off rule, defeating any incumbent in a crowded field is a difficult proposition. To avoid a secondary election, Ellmers would only have to reach the 40 percent plateau to clinch the nomination, which, in the 2nd District is the tantamount to winning in November.

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Entering Primary Season’s Final Stretch

As we enter the primary season’s final stretch, 19 states still have yet to choose their 2014 nominees. The first nine days of August will bring voters to the polls in a half-dozen states with much to be decided.

August 5

The most active day is the first Tuesday in August. Four states are holding primaries, featuring one key Senate nomination battle.

In Kansas, Sen. Pat Roberts (R) faces a GOP challenge from physician Milton Wolf. Roberts has made several mis-steps during the campaign, including admitting that he doesn’t own property in his state, possessing a Virginia personalized license plate that identifies him as the Kansas senator, and saying that he returns home, “every time he has an opponent.” Despite the gaffes, Dr. Wolf appears to be a flawed candidate and is not likely to deny Roberts renomination.
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The Georgia Run-Offs

Tomorrow, Peach State voters head to the polls to finally decide Georgia’s four important federal run-off elections. Concluding what has been a very long and active nomination campaign here, complete with some surprising results from the May 20 primary, the Republican voters will now choose a US Senate nominee and likely pick congressmen in Districts 1, 10, and 11.

Senate

This contest has proven to be one of the most interesting of the entire election cycle, and the Georgia race is of foremost consequence in the national Senate picture. In order to gain the majority, Republicans must first secure the two potentially vulnerable seats already within their control: Kentucky (Minority Leader Mitch McConnell), and this race in Georgia. A Democratic conversion in either of these states would likely retain their party’s majority status.

You will remember that this particular Senate campaign originally featured three members of the congressional delegation, a former statewide elected official, and a major business leader who is a cousin to, and who shares the last name with,  Continue reading >