Tag Archives: Gov. Robert Bentley

Alabama Stats;
Minnesota’s New Senator

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 2017 — Predictably, Democrats and media commentators are promoting the premise that Doug Jones’ victory in Tuesday’s Alabama special Senate election is another sign that a Democratic wave is building to transform the minority party into one that wins control of at least one congressional chamber next year. But the actual numbers do not provide evidence for such an analysis.

In actuality, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) may have succinctly and correctly described what happened in the Alabama election, which caused Republicans to lose one of their safest seats in the nation. During an interview with NBC News, Sen. Johnson simply said, “Alabamians didn’t want somebody who dated 14-year-old girls.”

Looking at the actual figures, there is more supporting data for the supposition that Jones’ win is more likely due to Republican defections from former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, rather than a massive increase in Democratic turnout. While the Alabama special did feature a higher turnout than the last midterm election (2014), we also saw this phenomenon occur in two earlier special elections: the Montana at-large and GA-6 congressional contests. Republicans won both of those votes, proving that the GOP base was sufficiently energized in those two places to withstand increased Democratic turnout. But, Alabama doesn’t fit that same model either in the mode of Republican loyalty or an energized Democratic base.

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Strange vs. Brooks

By Jim Ellis

July 26, 2017 — Though nine Republicans are on the ballot for the Aug. 15 Alabama special Senate GOP primary, the ad war would suggest it’s a contest only between appointed Sen. Luther Strange and US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville).

Brooks is advertising heavily and going hard right, a reasonable strategy for an Alabama Republican primary, and his latest ad (above) features his role in helping the shooting victims during the June 14 morning congressional baseball practice at an Alexandria, Virginia park. After Brooks risked his life to help those who had been wounded, a reporter attempted to bring the gun control debate into focus. Brooks’ answer to his question is the ad’s focal point, as well as identifying the shooter as a “Bernie Sanders supporter.”

Sen. Strange, on the other hand, is exclusively targeting Rep. Brooks with hard-hitting negative ads, attacking him for not supporting President Trump during the 2016 national campaign. (See below)

Strange’s tactics tell us that the few published polls suggesting the senator and Rep. Brooks are fighting for the second run-off position are most likely accurate. It also supports the idea that Strange’s own internal polling numbers are giving him similar reports, or he wouldn’t be focusing on just one opponent.

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Alabama Battle Lines Drawn

By Jim Ellis

July 14, 2017 — Now, just about a month away from the Alabama US Senate special primary election, we are seeing the first political patterns that begin to define the Republican primary race.

To review, the seat became vacant when Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) was appointed US attorney general. In a controversial move, embattled Gov. Robert Bentley (R) tabbed state Attorney General Luther Strange (R) to replace Sessions. The appointment was controversial from the start because Bentley was reportedly under investigation by Strange’s office.

Gov. Bentley, who was facing impeachment from his own Republican base in the state legislature, saw the process grind to a halt when Strange asked the legislative leadership to allow him to complete his investigation to determine if the governor actually misused state funds when engaged in an extra-marital affair. Strange later said that he never confirmed such an investigation was actually underway, but he publicly asked the legislative leaders to halt, and that helped him earn him the appointment. Bentley was then in position to appoint the new attorney general who would decide whether to continue the stealth investigation into his own potential wrongdoing.

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Unelecteds and Opens

By Jim Ellis

June 12, 2017 — It was always known that a large number of 2017-18 cycle governors’ races would be open contests, but finding several unelected incumbents running to hold their new positions is an unforeseen nuance.

In three states, and possibly soon a fourth, governors have been appointed to Trump administration positions or forced from office, thus allowing the lieutenant governor to move into the state’s top position.

South Carolina’s Nikki Haley, now UN Ambassador; Terry Branstad of Iowa becoming US Ambassador to China and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley being forced from office for misappropriation of state funds have made Henry McMaster (SC), Kim Reynolds (IA), and Kay Ivey (AL) overnight governors. While on paper and in practice this is a big advantage for the former lieutenant governors in running for the state’s top position, none of them have easy campaign roads, and not even for their respective party nominations.

Last week’s announcement from Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) that he will enter his state’s open gubernatorial contest next year may soon lead to him battling a new incumbent if on-again, off-again Washington, DC appointment rumors eventually prove true.

Speculation has abounded that President Trump will tap Gov. Sam Brownback (R-KS) for an open United Nations position, or another associated with foreign policy. Though such talk has been a subject of discussion since February and he has yet to be appointed, it is unclear if such will ever happen. Should it, however, then Secretary Kobach, oil businessman Wink Hartman, and ex-state Rep. Ed O’Malley will have to face a new sitting Republican governor, Jeff Colyer, the current lieutenant governor.

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An Alabama Surprise

By Jim Ellis

May 19, 2017 — Filing closed yesterday for the Alabama special Senate election, and events didn’t unfold as expected. Instead of having more candidates opposing appointed Sen. Luther Strange in the special Republican primary, we actually see fewer.

Three individuals expected to file formal candidate declaration statements, including an announced candidate and one who had filed an exploratory committee — and both of those were viewed as active candidates until yesterday — chose not to run.

State Senate President Del Marsh (R-Anniston) was an Alabama politico thought to be a sure US Senate candidate. About 10 days ago he said a decision had been reached about the statewide special election, but wouldn’t be announced until later. As filing closed, Sen. Marsh chose to remain on the political sidelines. He still expresses interest in the governor’s race, but says he would “probably” support Gov. Kay Ivey (R) if she decides to run.

State Rep. Ed Henry (R-Decatur), who led the drive in the state House to impeach resigned Gov. Robert Bentley (R) and was one of the first individuals to announce his Senate candidacy, also decided not to formally file.

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More Alabama Drama

By Jim Ellis

April 14, 2017 — In office now just a few days, new Gov. Kay Ivey (R) is reportedly contemplating a major electoral decision that will add to Alabama’s considerable political intrigue. According to a spokesperson for Ivey, the governor is considering changing the special election schedule as it relates to appointed US Sen. Luther Strange’s (R) situation.

In a controversial decision, former Gov. Robert Bentley (R) appointed then-Attorney General Strange to replace Sen. Jeff Sessions (R) immediately after the latter was confirmed as US attorney general. The move was controversial since Strange was reportedly investigating the governor regarding the situation for which he resigned earlier this week, but during the appointment process said that no such inquiry was underway. After the Senate appointment was made and a new state attorney general installed, it was confirmed that a Bentley investigation was in fact quickly progressing.

In addition to choosing Strange to replace Sen. Sessions, Gov. Bentley scheduled the special election to fill the balance of the current Senate term to run concurrently with the regular 2018 election schedule. Some argued that Bentley exceeded his authority because the state’s special election law indicates the vote should be called “forthwith.” Bentley and his legal team argued that the “forthwith” reference in the Alabama statute referred to officially calling the election, but not necessarily to conducting the vote. Bentley also argued it is more cost effective to hold the special concurrently with the regular general election rather than incur the expense of running a stand-alone statewide vote.

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Alabama Governor

By Jim Ellis

April 12, 2017 — Gov. Robert Bentley’s (R) resignation from office Monday, and his reported plea bargain agreement relating to charges that he squandered public and campaign funds in connection with maintaining and then covering up an extra-marital affair with a state employee changes the current Alabama political picture.

Bentley was ineligible to seek a third term, and his resignation comes ahead of what looked to be a sure impeachment. Lt. Gov. Kay Ivey (R) ascended to the governor’s office immediately upon Bentley’s resignation becoming official. Though she had not announced a campaign for governor next year, it was widely believed that Ivey would become a candidate.

Now that she is governor, it remains to be seen if the long line of potential gubernatorial candidates will move forward with their own campaigns, remain on the sidelines if it looks like she will become a strong incumbent, or look toward appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) who must stand for election in 2018 to serve the balance of the current term.

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Senate ’18 Updates – Part I

By Jim Ellis

March 17, 2017 — As we approach the end of first quarter 2017, we see political maneuvering beginning to occur in many in-cycle US Senate states. Despite what columnists and news reporters are already saying about the Republicans potentially sustaining big mid-term losses in 2018, the Democrats have only one legitimate Senate target: Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV).

Unfortunately for them, Democrats must defend 25 of the 34 in-cycle seats (the latter number includes the Alabama special election), and this political fundamental is likely the key reason Republicans will hold the majority irrespective of what the political climate may be like at election time. Arguably, seven of the nine in-cycle GOP seats are located in some of the strongest Republican states in the nation. Today we take a look at the states alphabetically from Alabama through Maryland.

• Alabama: Appointed Sen. Luther Strange (R) has over a year to solidify himself politically before standing for election. He may well receive a Republican primary challenge because of the circumstances under which he was appointed to succeed Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sen. Strange, while the Alabama attorney general, was conducting an investigation into Gov. Robert Bentley (R), which was obviously stalled when the appointment was made. So far, no one has announced against Sen. Strange, but state Senate President Del Marsh (R) is a possible candidate.

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Alabama Senate – Strange

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2017 — Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley (R) named state Attorney General Luther Strange (R) to replace former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R). Sessions resigned from the Senate after being confirmed as US Attorney General.

Strange will serve through the 2018 regular election. He has already announced that he will run in the concurrent special election. If successful, he will then serve the balance of the current term, meaning through 2020. He would be eligible to seek a full six-year term in the 2020 election.

Senate Plans

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2017
— Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), two of the Senate’s most elderly members, were at the top of the potential retirement list in 2018. But, as we mentioned in our updates during the preceding 10 days, both are now sending re-election signals.

Below is a re-cap of the 21 senators who have made public comments about their 2018 campaign status (a total of 33 are in-cycle):

California: Sen. Feinstein stated during a radio interview within the past few days that she is “leaning” toward seeking re-election, feeling that her age during the next campaign (85) will not be a particular detriment either to her political ability or in representing her constituents. She stopped short, however, of making a formal campaign announcement.

Delaware: Sen. Tom Carper (D) said in early December that he has not yet decided whether he will seek a fourth term in 2018. The senator has been in elective office for 40 consecutive years, and will be 72 at the time of the next election.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was also thought to be a retirement possibility, considering that he will be 76 years of age in 2018, and will complete 30 years of congressional service in that same year. Repeatedly, however, Sen. Nelson has said that he will seek a fourth term next year.

Indiana: In what promises to be a hotly contested campaign, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) announced his re-election intention in January, and is beginning to hire political staff.

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Special Elections Mounting – Senate

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 14, 2016 — Just as the 2016 election cycle ended with the Louisiana run-off elections last Saturday, a new round of voting is about to begin.

President-Elect Donald Trump’s selection of Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT-AL) as Interior Secretary adds yet another future special election to the growing number of House and Senate odd-numbered year electoral contests.

In addition to what could well become a competitive Montana statewide election in approximately 100 days or so, as many as five other campaigns will be calendared within approximately the same time frame depending upon individual state election laws.

With Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) appointed as Trump’s Attorney General-designate, and with speculation being rampant that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) will become Agriculture Secretary, two new senators and a trio of US House members will be chosen.

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Alabama Strange

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 2, 2016 — Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) is the US Attorney General-Designate as is common knowledge, and upon his confirmation to the position a situation filled with rather unique political intrigue will take center stage in Alabama’s capital city.

Gov. Robert Bentley (R) has the responsibility of filling any US Senate vacancy with at least an interim appointment, and then calling a special election to fill the remaining balance of the term. In this case, the special election for Sessions seat will likely be scheduled concurrently with the 2018 regular primary and general voting cycle. The winner then serves until the next in-cycle election, which will be 2020 for this particular Senate position.

Most of the time, the special election is run concurrently with the regular election cycle, but it doesn’t have to be scheduled in such a manner according to Alabama election law. Since the state is solidly Republican, the individual who Bentley appoints will have a major advantage in capturing the party nomination, and then the seat whenever the special is called.

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June 3 Primary Results Rundown

Mississippi

It was clear that Sen. Thad Cochran was in trouble against state Sen. Chris McDaniel in their Republican primary battle. Last night, McDaniel outpaced the senator by just under 2,500 votes, but the race may not be over. With McDaniel hovering under the 50 percent cut line (49.4 percent with 99 percent of precincts reporting), it appears a secondary election between the two men will occur on June 24. A third candidate, realtor Tom Carey, received two percent, which might be enough to deny McDaniel winning outright, although it is unclear just how many outstanding votes remain to be counted. The post-election period here should be of great interest. The bottom line: this pivotal Senate primary challenge race may not yet be over.

Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-MS-4) got a scare last night, in what proved to be the biggest surprise of the evening. Former veteran Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor (D-MS-4) came close to forcing the two-term incumbent into a run-off, but it appears the congressman will barely win re-nomination with a 50.5-43 percent margin over Taylor  Continue reading >

June 3 is Largest Single Day of Primaries

Voters in eight states go to the polls tomorrow, making June 3rd the largest single voting day on the primary election calendar.

Mississippi

We begin our analysis in the south, with the premier race of the day. Mississippi Republican Sen. Thad Cochran fights to win renomination against state Sen. Chris McDaniel in order to continue his long political career. Cochran was originally elected to the Senate in 1978 and became the first modern-day Republican to represent a Deep South state. He won his House seat six years earlier, in fact on the same day that Richard Nixon was re-elected president.

The latest public opinion polls actually showed McDaniel leading the senator, perhaps as a result of a unified front of national conservative organizations falling in line behind the challenger and spending  Continue reading >

Bradley Byrne’s Blistering Ad Raises Concerns in AL-1 Race

DeanYoung

It looks as if the proverbial gloves are coming off in the AL-1 Republican special run-off election (Nov. 5), because presumed front-runner Bradley Byrne, a former Alabama state senator and gubernatorial candidate, has unleashed a rather surprising television attack ad against opponent Dean Young.

Citing that Young started a political action committee called the Christian Family Association PAC, the ad accuses Young of “fooling Christians for profit.” According to the Byrne ad, 95 percent of the money contributed to the organization – over $168,000 – went to Young’s company. The ad claims that Young “can’t be trusted” and says he is “the last guy we need in Washington.” The ad, which was on YouTube, has been pulled down.

The Byrne campaign’s frontal attack strategy is curious. By all measures, he leads this race and his headed for victory on Nov. 5. Such a position normally dictates a more passive campaign action plan.

On the money front, Byrne had out-raised Young by a ratio of almost 10:1 through the Sept. 4 pre-primary campaign disclosure filing ($317,245 to $36,713).

Since the Sept. 24 primary, where Byrne placed first with 35 percent in a 12-person Republican field as compared to Young’s 23 percent, the third and fourth-place finishers have each endorsed the former state legislator. The National Rifle Association soon followed suit. After that, resigned incumbent Jo Bonner (R), who left office in August to accept a position with the University of Alabama, also publicly put his political capital behind Byrne.

Additionally, an early October Wenzel Strategies poll (Oct. 6-7; 412 registered AL-1 voters), gave Byrne a 44-37 percent lead over Young.
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