Tag Archives: Doug Applegate

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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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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Democrats Maneuver in San Diego

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2018 — Two noteworthy Democrat events happened in San Diego over the past few days.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

First, the California Democratic Party state convention, meeting in San Diego over the weekend, actually denied veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) the party endorsement. Though the delegates came close to endorsing state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), he also fell short.

In the vote to award the party endorsement for the 2018 US Senate race, it was state Sen. de Leon capturing 54 percent of the delegate votes as compared to only 37 percent for incumbent Sen. Feinstein. A total of 60 percent was needed for endorsement. This is not the first time that the liberal grassroots delegates have turned away from Feinstein. According to an NPR account of the convention proceedings, the party delegates chose then-Attorney General John Van de Kamp over Feinstein in the 1990 governor’s race.

The lack of an endorsement will not hurt the senator’s campaign, however. A January Public Policy Institute of California poll (Jan. 21-30; 1,705 California adults) favored Sen. Feinstein over Mr. de Leon, 46-17 percent, when tested in the jungle primary format. She has an even more commanding lead in campaign resources. The year-end Federal Election Commission disclosure report finds her holding just under $10 million in her campaign account as compared to an embarrassingly low $359,000 for de Leon.
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The Daily Retirement Briefing

California Rep. Darrell Issa

California Rep. Darrell Issa

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 12, 2018 — California Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Vista) latest re-election, a 1,621-vote victory over retired Marine Corps Colonel Doug Applegate (D) in CA-49, proved to be the closest US House result in the nation during 2016, but there will not be a re-match this year.

Rep. Issa announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election to a 10th term, becoming the 48th House member to take this action in the current election cycle. With Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) reportedly primed to declare her Senate candidacy today, the number will quickly grow to 49. Issa’s action directly follows that of fellow California Rep. Ed Royce (R-Yorba Linda/ Fullerton), who announced on Monday that he won’t run for a 14th term.

Both men faced difficult re-election battles, as do five other California Republicans that Democrats are targeting. Because President Trump fared so poorly in California, the Democratic strategists believe the same pattern will carry over into the midterm cycle. But, such a result remains to be seen.

Though Republicans are clearly in worse position without Rep. Royce running again, that might not be the case concerning Issa’s. With his negatives growing and a close call in the previous election, the party might actually fare better with a fresh face, particularly when the Democrats do not have a clear alternative. Though Applegate is running again, he is facing a stiff challenge from at least two other Democrats, wealthy attorney Mike Levin, and former US State Department and United Nations official Sara Jacobs. Real estate investor Paul Kerr rounds out the current Democratic field.

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Follow the Money

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 24, 2017 — The 3rd Quarter Federal Election Commission US House disclosure reports are available, and they provide valuable clues as to which campaigns could become first-tier efforts next year. The Daily Kos Elections Page once again completed their quarterly analysis, which became the major source for this column.

federal-elections-commission-logoThirty-five incumbents and two challengers have already raised more than $1 million for the current election cycle. Another seven (six incumbents; one challenger) have crossed the $900,000 mark in current cycle receipts.

Most of the million-dollar incumbents are in projected competitive primary or general election campaigns.

Arizona two-term incumbent Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) is again raising and spending huge amounts in the early going. She has gathered $2.8 million, a great deal of which comes through expensive direct mail, hence her cash-on-hand total is $1.453 million. Her potential leading Democratic opponent, former 1st District Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) who has re-located to Tucson in order to challenge McSally, is showing only $269,000 on hand in comparison, but that is the largest amount among the five Democrats filing disclosure reports in this district.

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Political Overtime – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 30, 2016 — Aside from the two Louisiana run-off elections on Saturday, all of the US House campaigns have now been projected. As expected, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) was confirmed as the winner of his re-election campaign, the last remaining undecided contest. Statistically, not enough votes remain to overturn the congressman’s 2,348 district-wide vote margin. Rep. Issa defeats retired Marine Corps Colonel Doug Applegate (D) with at least 50.4 percent of the vote, even though he scored only 47 percent in the anchor county of San Diego.

More information is forthcoming about the presidential election re-count requests for Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which are attracting more than their share of national attention. Green Party nominee Jill Stein, now joined by the Hillary Clinton Campaign, initiated the move to re-verify the electoral counts but the effort is already running into trouble.

Because there is no evidence of computer hacking or voting machine doctoring, as Stein portends, the Wisconsin Elections Commission rejected her request for a hand re-count, so now the minor candidate is suing to overturn that ruling. The mechanical re-count will move forward, however, if Stein pays $3.5 million to finance the process today.

In Pennsylvania, local election authorities say there will be no re-count because Stein missed the filing deadline.

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Political Overtime – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29 2016 — One campaign remains officially uncalled, the California congressional race between Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and challenger Doug Applegate (D), a retired Marine Corps Colonel. Three more, the Louisiana run-offs for Senate and a pair of US House districts, will be settled this Saturday in the state’s secondary election.

In California’s 49th CD, the latest count finds Rep. Issa continuing to lead Applegate at this writing, but the margin is tightening as expected. With approximately 30,000 votes remaining to be counted in this marathon process, Issa has 154,057 votes as compared to 151,633 for Applegate. Issa racked up 60.5 percent of the vote in Orange County but, unfortunately for the congressman, that entity comprises only 23 percent of the entire district vote. In the dominant San Diego County portion, Applegate has a 53-47 percent advantage that has held up virtually throughout the counting process.

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Setting the Record Straight

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 28, 2016 — With Thanksgiving and the long weekend having just passed, it’s a good time to correct some misconceptions about the 2016 election.

The media has long reported that voter participation levels dropped below the most recent elections, suggesting that the Nov. 8 vote was in the low turnout realm. But as we now know, more than 13 million votes have been processed since Election Day, and such a proclamation is no longer true.

Absentee, provisional, and overseas ballots have streamed into the tabulation centers across the country and are now assimilated into the various state counts. The California and Washington systems also allow voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day instead of requiring them to be received by Voting Day as is the case in virtually every other state; overseas ballots are excepted for late arrival in all places.

Due to California and Washington, literally millions of ballots went unreported on Election Night. In fact, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) and challenger Doug Applegate (D) are still in an unresolved election in California’s 49th Congressional District as of this writing. Before the long Thanksgiving break, the secretary of state reported that more than two million ballots statewide remain to be processed.

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Bera Wins; Issa Close; More Jockeying

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 23, 2016 — The Associated Press yesterday projected California Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove/ Sacramento) the winner in the hotly contested CA-7 District campaign, even though there are approximately 43,000 ballots still left to count.

Rep. Bera has pushed his lead to 6,008 votes over Sacramento County Sheriff Doug Jones (R) at the end of the day’s counting. This means, with what will likely be just under 300,000 total votes cast in the district, that Jones would need approximately 57 percent of the outstanding ballots to overtake Bera. While not impossible, the projection appears legitimate considering that Jones has yet to lead this race.

The Bera victory means the Democrats are assured of at least 194 seats in the new Congress. Republicans are guaranteed of 239. The GOP looks to win the second of two Louisiana run-off elections, after wrapping up the first (District 3) on November 8th when two Republicans advanced to the general election run-off. The LA-4 contest is projected to go Republican on Dec. 10.
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Update: Outstanding Races

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 18, 2016 — California’s two uncalled congressional races are still not complete because of a counting process moving at what feels like a glacial pace.

In Sacramento County’s 7th District, Rep. Ami Bera (D-Elk Grove) is in a political overtime situation for the third consecutive election. The latest count finds the congressman garnering 119,448 votes (51.0 percent) as compared to Sheriff Scott Jones’ (R) 114,646 tallies (49.0 percent). Despite being 10 days beyond the election, an estimated 67,000+ District 7 ballots await tabulation.

With Bera leading here by 4,802 votes, and assuming the outstanding ballots estimate is correct, Jones would need to garner at least 53.5 percent of uncounted votes to overtake the incumbent. Since these ballots are mail-only, either from the regular mail, provisional, or overseas voting options, it is unlikely that the remaining tallies are from a particular set of precincts or region. This means it is difficult to gauge whether these votes are predominantly Democratic or Republican. Rather, the mailed votes are probably dispersed uniformly throughout the district.

The 7th CD is wholly contained within Sacramento County and occupies 49.54 percent of the local entity’s territory. Since the county election officials report that 136,644 ballots remain to be processed, simply taking half of the number allows us to arrive at the conclusion that approximately 67,000 ballots are destined for the 7th District.

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The Uncalled Races

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2016 — The state of Michigan, in the presidential race, and both CA-7 and CA-49 remain uncalled. The reasons for the long delay in finalizing the tallies are detailed below.

The unofficial final Michigan election totals stand at 2,279,210 for Donald Trump and 2,267,373 for Hillary Clinton, a difference in the Republican’s favor of 11,837 with all votes received and counted. The state has not declared even an unofficial winner because a re-count can still be requested. Under Michigan procedure, elections within a percentage point are not called unless the re-count options are exhausted.

This week, as in virtually every state, the official county canvasses are beginning, in which tabulations in the 83 counties are verified and readied for official certification. Once the numbers are confirmed, the election results will be finalized for all Michigan elections held Nov. 8. Should Trump maintain his lead, his national electoral vote total will swell to 306 versus Hillary Clinton’s 232.

In California, votes are still being received. The Golden State, similar to the procedure used in Washington, allows mailed ballots to be postmarked on Election Day. The other two states that rely totally or heavily on mailed ballots, Oregon and Colorado, require the votes to be received on Election Day. This year, the CA deadline for receiving the ballots was moved, because of the Veterans Day holiday on Nov. 11, to yesterday, Nov. 14.

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The State Picture

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 14, 2016 — While there were no significant weekend changes in the uncalled federal races — Michigan remains outstanding in the presidential race (Trump ahead 47.6 – 47.3 percent there), and and we still have two undecided California congressional campaigns (Rep. Ami Bera, D-CA-7, leads Sheriff Scott Jones 50.6 – 49.4 percent; Rep. Darrell Issa, R-CA-49, has a 51.0 – 49.0 percent advantage over retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate) — we do have virtually complete state race results.

The legislatures and governors are an important influence at the federal level because in most instances these bodies and officials determine congressional redistricting. With live challenges in Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia, and a possible re-draw of central Texas this coming year, it is not too early to monitor party strength in the newly elected state legislatures.

As we covered in the post-election report series, Republicans earned at least a net gain of two gubernatorial chairs. They converted governors’ mansions in Missouri (Eric Greitens), New Hampshire (Chris Sununu), and Vermont (Phil Scott), while potentially losing North Carolina (Attorney General Roy Cooper-D leading Gov. Pat McCrory-R, but the race is not officially called).

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More Races Called

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 10, 2016 — As outstanding and absentee votes continue to be tallied, more races are being decided. Yesterday’s biggest development was concluding the year long toss-up battle between New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) and Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) in what proved to be a laboriously slow counting process. With the election dust finally settling, we now see a victory for Gov. Hassan. From more than 707,000 votes cast, her unofficial victory margin appears to be just 716 votes.

Sen. Ayotte’s loss means the Republican majority margin will likely end at 52-48, since the Dec. 10 Louisiana run-off election will probably yield a John Kennedy (R) win. Kennedy, the four-term state treasurer, placed first on Tuesday night in a field of 24 candidates followed by Democrat Foster Campbell, a Louisiana public service commissioner and multiple-time statewide candidate.

This isn’t an easy race for Kennedy, however. Often, after one party wins a national election an emotional let down can occur in a quick subsequent vote, and a lack of enthusiasm allows the losing party to rebound. Additionally, we merely have to retreat to October 2015 to find the last time the Democrats won a Louisiana statewide election (governor’s campaign: John Bel Edwards-D defeated Sen. David Vitter-R).

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