Tag Archives: Ellis Insight

New Jersey Files

By Jim Ellis

New Jersey congressional districts

April 3, 2020 — In the election two years ago, Democrats nearly swept all 12 of the Garden State’s congressional districts leaving only veteran Rep. Chris Smith (R-Hamilton) standing, a man originally elected in 1980. With this cumulative result, New Jersey became one of the lynchpins of the House Democratic sweep that yielded a net gain of 40 seats nationally.

The Democratic “blue wave” included defeating two sitting Republican incumbents, then-Reps. Tom MacArthur and Leonard Lance, and converting two more open seats, those from which Reps. Frank LoBiondo and Rodney Frelinghuysen retired. Now, the GOP strives to make a comeback.

New Jersey congressional candidates completed their filings earlier this week, thus giving us an introduction as to who will become party nominees in the June 2 primary. The state is again shaping up as one of the most important within the US House election prism.

Since the election, former Democratic state senator Jeff Van Drew, who was elected to replace retiring Rep. LoBiondo in the Atlantic City/Cape May CD, decided to switch parties largely because of the way the Democratic leadership ostracized him for opposing President Trump’s impeachment.

Additionally, the state Republican leadership has maneuvered well, convincing two credible candidates willing to oppose strong Republicans to turn their attention toward Democratic incumbents in nearby districts. This puts more seats in play and unifies the minority party behind all of the viable candidates they are putting forth.

Looking ahead, Reps. Donald Norcross (D-Camden City), Frank Pallone (D-Long Branch/Perth Amboy), Albio Sires (D-West New York), Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson), Donald Payne Jr. (D-Newark), and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-Ewing Township/Trenton) are secure for re-election.

Continue reading

Reviewing the House Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2020 — With the COVID-19 virus playing havoc with virtually every aspect of American life, including elections, how are the House vacant seats being affected?

North Carolina Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Buncombe County) resigned from Congress Monday night to become White House Chief of Staff, which brings the total number of vacancies to a half-dozen. Special elections are scheduled in four of those, with three to be decided on or before May 12.

Originally, the special elections in Maryland and New York were supposed to be the first to go to the voters, but the COVID-19 precautions changed the date of the New York election and the voting system in Maryland. Former Rep. Kweisi Mfume, who easily won the crowded Democratic primary on Feb. 7, will win the special general on April 28 but the process now becomes all-mail. The Republican nominee is event planner Ken Klacik, but this Baltimore city district and surrounding area will easily remain in Democratic hands. We can expect Mfume to break 75 percent of the vote.

The former congressman was elected to five terms in the House beginning with the 1986 election. He resigned to become president and CEO of the NAACP in 1996. Mfume served in that position until running unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006, losing the Democratic primary to then-congressman, Ben Cardin. Then-state Delegate Elijah Cummings replaced Mfume in the House at that time and served until his death in October. Now, ironically, Mfume returns to replace the late Rep. Cummings.

California’s 25th District, which begins in the state’s Simi Valley and stretches to the Palmdale area, potentially features the hottest of the current special elections. Rep. Katie Hill (D) resigned the seat because of a sexual scandal leading to a multi-candidate concurrent special and regular election.

Democratic state Assemblywoman Christy Smith topped the field on March 3, and she advances to the special election runoff on May 12 with Iraq War fighter pilot Mike Garcia (R). The latter individual placed ahead of, and eliminated, former US Rep. Steve Knight (R) who was attempting a political comeback after losing to Hill in 2018. Polling is projecting a tight finish. Regardless of what happens on May 12, both Smith and Garcia are advancing to the regular general election to battle for the full term beginning in 2021. The May 12 winner is immediately sworn into the House and serves the remaining part of the current congressional session.

Continue reading

Early Clues for Dems’ Early Targets

By Jim Ellis

April 1, 2020 — The Senate Majority PAC, one of the chief advocacy entities for Democratic candidates, has reserved media time totaling $69.2 million from August through the election, as reported on the Daily Kos Elections website. The expenditures provide us some clues into how the Democratic establishment and their progressive left allies view their strategic attack points in relation to the national political landscape.

The early media time reservations are invested in five states: Arizona, Colorado, Iowa, Maine, and North Carolina. This is certainly not the limit of the SMP planned expenditures, nor is the organization likely committed to fulfilling the entirety of this time buy without having negotiated an escape clause. All depends upon their agreements with the individual television outlets and does not include any future expenditure the group may make for radio and digital advertising.

Setting the stage, the five states are all clearly top-tier Republican-held targets of which the Democrats would have to convert nearly all in order to wrest Senate control away from the current majority. That number grows if they fail to defend their own vulnerable seats in either Alabama or Michigan, or both.

The largest time reservation is in North Carolina, where Democrats hope newly nominated Cal Cunningham, a former state senator and 2010 US Senate candidate (lost Democratic nomination to then-secretary of state Elaine Marshall who would lose the general election to GOP Sen. Richard Burr), can unseat first-term incumbent Thom Tillis (R) in a state that has defeated more senators than any other in the modern political era. Of the $69.2 million in national reservations the group made, $25.6 million is dedicated to North Carolina media markets.

Arizona gets the second largest share with $15.7 million dedicated toward helping retired astronaut Mark Kelly, already the consensus Democratic candidate, challenge appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). Iowa, where Democrats will nominate a candidate on June 2 to challenge first-term Sen. Joni Ernst (R), will see $13.1 million of the SMP media buy. Maine gets $9.6 million to oppose Sen. Susan Collins (R), and Colorado $5.2 million largely for negative ads against first-term Sen. Cory Gardner (R).

Continue reading

Collins Way Up in Georgia Senate Race

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins – surging ahead?

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2020 — A new Battleground Connect tracking poll of the Georgia Senate special election race finds Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) beginning to pull away from the jungle primary field. According to their one-night flash poll (March 24; 1,025 likely Georgia jungle primary voters held concurrently with the Nov. 3 general election), Collins has opened up a 16-point advantage over the top Democrat and expands to a full 20-point margin over appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R). The Battleground Connect survey finds Collins recording 34 percent support followed by businessman Matt Lieberman (D), son of former Connecticut senator and 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee Joe Lieberman, with 18 percent and Sen. Loeffler only posting 14 percent preference. The remaining candidates, Baptist minister Raphael Warnock (D) and former US attorney Ed Tarver (D) record 13 and 5 percent, respectively.

This latest track is one of four March polls that Battleground conducted. All had 1,025 respondent sampling universes and each were one-night surveys. In their first poll, conducted on March 7, Rep. Collins’ margin over Sen. Loeffler was 29-20 percent, with Democrats Lieberman, Warnock, and Tarver trailing consecutively with 16, 12, and 5 percentage point support. Since that time, there has been a net 11-point drop in support for Loeffler vis-à-vis her position against Rep. Collins.

Additionally, Sen. Loeffler’s personal favorability index has also dropped precipitously throughout the survey series. Originally, the March 7 poll found that 38.5 percent of the Georgia electorate had a positive opinion of the appointed senator while virtually the same number held a negative impression (37.8 percent). The latest March 24 poll produced a much different finding.

Continue reading

Runoff Review – Part I

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2020 — Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who moved the Texas run-off from May 26 to July 14 this past Friday night means that 16 federal contests – one Senate and 15 House races – will have a longer secondary campaign cycle. In Texas, if no candidate receives majority support in a partisan primary the top two finishers from the particular party advance to a runoff election.

Similar action has occurred in Alabama, where the Senate Republican runoff and secondary elections for both parties in open Congressional District 1 and for the GOP in open Congressional District 2 will now be held on July 14 instead of March 31.

In North Carolina, all federal nominations were decided in the March 3 primary except for the Republican race in Congressional District 11, Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ Buncombe County) western state open seat. The North Carolina runoff has been moved from May 12 to June 23.

Mississippi has an inconsequential runoff for the 2nd District Republican nomination in a district where Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton/Mississippi Delta) will be the prohibitive favorite in November. Yet, this election, too, has been postponed until June 23.

The schedule change could greatly affect the Alabama Senate race and may be just what former US attorney general and ex-senator Jeff Sessions needs to re-tool his campaign message and reverse his recent political fortunes. The primary yielded retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville placing ahead of Sessions, 33.4 – 31.6 percent. All post-primary polling gave Tuberville a discernible lead, but that trajectory could now change considering Sessions will soon have considerably more time to tell his political story. The July 14 winner faces Sen. Doug Jones (D) in November.

In the Mobile-anchored 1st District, both parties advanced to runoff elections. The eventual Republican nominee becomes a prohibitive favorite in the general election. Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl and former state senator Bill Hightower advanced to the runoff election and the winner of this runoff contest will become a heavy favorite in November. Carl placed first in the primary, nipping Hightower, 38.7 – 37.5 percent. Therefore, the runoff is anybody’s game.

For the Democrats, biologist Kiani Gardner and retired Marine Corps veteran James Averhart will battle for the party nomination. Gardner placed first with a 44.1 – 40.3 percent margin over Averhart. Almost twice as many people voted in the Republican primary within the 1st District race. The Democratic nominee will have little chance in the general election from this safely Republican seat.

Continue reading