Tag Archives: Hawaii

Arizona: Kirkpatrick In;
Hawaii: Gabbard Out

By Jim Ellis

July 25, 2017 — Arizona former US Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) has completed her political transition to Tucson. Over the weekend, the former congresswoman and US Senate candidate announced that she will enter the very crowded Democratic primary in the AZ-2 Congressional District.

The move had been anticipated since Kirkpatrick had re-located from her home in Flagstaff to Arizona’s second largest population center and never ruled out entering the 2nd District race when questioned about doing so. Yet, even her path to the Democratic nomination is a difficult one, not to mention facing GOP Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson). Rep. McSally scored an impressive 57-43 percent re-election victory last November even though Hillary Clinton carried the district, 50-45 percent.

Already in the 2018 Democratic field are former state Rep. Matt Heinz, who lost to McSally as last year’s party nominee, ex-state Rep. Bruce Wheeler, former Assistant US Army Secretary Mary Matiella, businessmen Billy Kovacs, Charlie Verdin and Jeff Latas, and retired Air Force colonel, Lou Jordan.

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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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Polarized, or Not?

By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2017 — Much is being made about President Trump’s early job approval ratings. Almost across the board, they are low, and particularly so for a new national chief executive, which has naturally attracted media attention.

In their late February report about political polarization, the Gallup polling organization, which began testing presidential job approval back in the Truman Administration and has regularly continued the practice ever since, argues that polarization among the self-identified Republicans and Democrats is a major obstacle for President Trump to overcome. They further make the point that this is not a new phenomenon, as partisan approval polling detected similar numbers for presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The Gallup analysis, on and around the Feb. 20 time frame, found President Trump’s job approval rating to be 42 percent. When they looked at the two previous presidents, also hitting 42 percent approval rating at certain points in their own presidencies, Gallup found the level of partisan support and opposition among Democrats and Republicans for the president of their own party was virtually identical.

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The Senate Reset

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 20, 2016 — It’s now inside of three weeks before the election, and hearing leaders of both parties claim they could control the Senate in the next Congress, it’s time to take a step back and see where the candidates actually stand.

To re-cap, Republicans are risking 24 seats as compared to the Democrats’ 10. In order to re-capture the majority they lost in 2014, the Dems must retain all 10 of their defensive seats, and then convert at least four Republican states if Hillary Clinton is elected president and five if she is not.

The Democrats appear safe in nine of their 10 seats: California (open-Barbara Boxer), Colorado (Michael Bennet), Connecticut (Richard Blumenthal), Hawaii (Brian Schatz), Maryland (open-Barbara Mikulski), New York (Chuck Schumer), Oregon (Ron Wyden), Vermont (Patrick Leahy), and Washington (Patty Murray).

The Republicans appear headed for victory in 14 of their defensive states: Alabama (Richard Shelby), Alaska (Lisa Murkowski), Arkansas (John Boozman), Georgia (Johnny Isakson), Idaho (Mike Crapo), Iowa (Chuck Grassley), Kansas (Jerry Moran), Kentucky (Rand Paul), North Dakota (John Hoeven), Ohio (Rob Portman), Oklahoma (James Lankford), South Carolina (Tim Scott), South Dakota (John Thune), and Utah (Mike Lee).

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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2016 — While national pollsters are detecting a tightening presidential race, the US Senate campaigns are also beginning to reveal some potentially defining trends.

Safe Republicans & Democrats

Of the 34 in-cycle US Senate campaigns currently underway in 2016, half of them are in the safe category and won’t change. Nine Republican senators and eight Democrats are assured of re-election:

Republican senators: Shelby (AL), Murkowski (AK), Crapo (ID), Moran (KS), Hoeven (ND), Lankford (OK), Scott (SC), Thune (SD), Lee (UT)

Democrat sentors: California (Open Boxer), Maryland (Open Mikulski); Blumenthal (CT), Schatz (HI), Schumer (NY), Wyden (OR), Leahy (VT), Murray (WA)
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Hawaii Nominates Candidates;
Alaska, Wyoming to Follow

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 16, 2016 — Hawaii’s primary voters went to the polls over the weekend to nominate their state and federal general election candidates.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D) easily won re-nomination from the Democratic Party, recording just over 80 percent of the vote to secure his bid for a full term. He now faces the Republican primary winner, John Carroll, a former state senator who is a frequent federal candidate. Sen. Schatz will have little trouble winning the general election. He was appointed to the seat when Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) passed away in 2012, and won the 2014 special election to serve the balance of the current term.

Two years ago, interim-Sen. Schatz defeated then-Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) for the party nomination, but the former congresswoman now appears headed back to Washington. She won a landslide Democratic primary victory Saturday (74.6 percent) for her former congressional seat.

With the general election now just a formality in the heavily Democratic 1st District, Hanabusa will join the current Congress upon winning the concurrent special held in conjunction with the regular election on Nov. 8. Hanabusa will fill the remainder of the late Rep. Mark Takai’s (D-Aiea) first and final term in office. The congressman passed away from pancreatic cancer on July 20.

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Two Sad Retirements

By Jim Ellis

May 23, 2016 — Two additional House members announced late last week that they would not file for re-election, both due to health reasons.

Hawaii Rep. Mark Takai (D-Aiea/Honolulu) issued a public statement indicating that his pancreatic cancer is spreading and he is unable to seek re-election to a second term. Takai was diagnosed with the disease last year, had surgery in November, and doctors cleared him to run for another term.

Now, unfortunately, his health has taken a serious turn for the worse and he is forced to retire. Rep. Takai, 48 years of age, won a 51-47 percent victory in 2014 after serving 20 years in the Hawaii legislature.

Florida Rep. Curt Clawson (R-Bonita Springs/Ft. Myers) also announced that he will not seek re-election. He is returning to Florida to care for his ailing father. Clawson won a special election in 2014, and a full term later that year. Rep. Clawson, a multi-millionaire former business owner, is serving in his first elective office and says he doesn’t rule out again running for office in the future.

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Sanders: Three Crushing Wins

By Jim Ellis

March 29, 2016 — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may well be the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee but, once again, we see Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders scoring impressive wins in states without major African-American populations.

Over the weekend, Sanders posted landslide caucus victories in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, averaging a cumulative 74.7 percent support figure among the Democratic participants in the three states. In terms of committed delegates, Sanders attracted 105 convention votes in the trio of places, while Clinton gained 54. Though Saturday was arguably Sanders’ best day in the campaign, he still managed to only dent Clinton’s national lead in the all-important delegate count.

According to the New York Times, inclusive of the voting two days ago, Clinton’s advantage between committed regular and Democratic Super Delegates is 1,712 to 1,004. The winner must commit 2,383 votes at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia beginning July 25. Therefore, the former secretary of state and First Lady needs only 671 more delegates, or 33 percent, from the remaining 22 voting entities to clinch what will almost assuredly be a first-ballot victory.

It is important to remember that the Super Delegates, unless barred from doing so by state law, are free agents and can change their votes irrespective of what they may say publicly. Right now, it appears few if any will do so, but that is possible under Democratic National Committee rules. In the Super Delegate category alone, Clinton’s advantage is a reported 469 to 29. Super Delegates are comprised of Democratic elected officials from the various states and party leaders, the latter usually a person in an elected party position such as a state or county chairman.

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More Questions

March 10, 2016 — Sen. Bernie Sanders’ upset victory over former Secretary of State and race leader Hillary Clinton in the Michigan Democratic primary is causing people to ask some surprising questions. Factoring in Clinton’s overwhelming 83 percent victory in the Mississippi primary, she will add to her national delegate lead so she is still in strong shape for the nomination despite the Wolverine State setback … at least for now.

The top observation spawning from Tuesday night pertains to whether Sanders can take advantage of the campaign schedule once it moves more toward the type of states where he has consistently been winning. Can he fully capitalize upon an election calendar that is about to become much more favorable to him?

Since Clinton’s strong delegate lead is largely based upon her overwhelming dominance among Super Delegates — those elected Democratic officials and party leaders who are largely free agents at the convention — will those individuals begin to back away if Sanders overtakes her among the regular delegates?

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Four More States Tonight

By Jim Ellis

March 8, 2016 — A quartet of states votes in Republican primaries and caucuses tonight: Michigan, Mississippi, Idaho and Hawaii, with the candidates fighting for an aggregate of 150 delegate commitments.

Democrats will vote only in Michigan and Mississippi. Former Secretary of State and First Lady Hillary Clinton is expected to carry both states in her party contests, while Republican Donald Trump is favored in Michigan and Mississippi.

Observers are closely watching to see if Gov. John Kasich can finish a strong second in Michigan, which would likely help him build needed momentum in anticipation of next week’s critical Ohio Winner-Take-All challenge. Sen. Ted Cruz has the strong potential of running well in Idaho. Hawaii is small and anyone’s guess, but Sen. Marco Rubio has a chance to come away with the most delegate votes. Continue reading

Redistricting Moves Far From Over

June 15, 2015 — It’s very possible that a large number of the nation’s congressional districts will be re-drawn before the next census; the key unanswered question is, will most of it happen before the next regular vote, or will the district line adjustment process be pushed forward to the 2018 election cycle?

The US Supreme Court has been active in cases involving the Voting Rights Act (VRA) and methodology used to draw congressional districts. They first struck down a key VRA section in the Shelby County (AL) case that virtually eliminated the pre-clearance requirement associated with Voting Rights Act, Section V. This took a great deal of redistricting power away from the federal government (Department of Justice) and strengthened the states.

Awaiting a decision to be released before the end of the month is the Arizona congressional commission case. In this instance, Grand Canyon State Republicans filed suit against the voter-created special redistricting commission that has power to create state legislative and congressional districts. The Arizona Republicans are challenging the legitimacy of the commission itself, arguing that the US Constitution gives power to redistrict the House of Representatives only to the state legislatures.

Legal experts suggest the Arizona Republicans have a 50/50 chance of prevailing, and most agree the final vote will be 5-4, one way or the other.
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Hanabusa Concedes in Hawaii; Tight NC Senate Race

Hawaii

In Hawaii, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) announced yesterday that she will concede the contested Senate Democratic primary. The final unofficial count gives appointed Sen. Brian Schatz a 1,769-vote advantage, which is likely too large for any challenge to overturn.

Though Hanabusa may have grounds for contesting the results – ballots not counted together, extending the election for only certain people, etc. – she has decided not to pursue what are probably long-shot legal options. But, challenging Schatz again may not be out of the question. Because 2014 voters will only choose a senator to fill the last two years of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D) final term in office, Schatz, now the prohibitive favorite to win in November, will again be on the ballot in 2016.

North Carolina

Monthly, Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling surveys the tight US Senate race featuring incumbent Kay Hagan (D) as she attempts to win a second six-year term. The August PPP poll (Aug. 14-17; 856 likely North Carolina voters) gives the senator a 42-38 percent lead over Republican nominee Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Libertarian Party candidate Sean Haugh receives eight percent support.
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New Hawaii, Montana Senate Developments

Hawaii Senate

Puna, Hawaii voters not able to cast their ballots in the Aug. 9 primary went to the polls on Friday to complete the statewide electoral process, but before secondary voting even began a surprising new discovery was made.  Some 800 votes from Maui were “found” by election officials during the last week, somehow left uncounted during the original tabulation process.  These votes, too, were added to the weekend count.

The voters eligible to participate Friday could only possible change one outcome, that of the tight Democratic US Senate nomination campaign between appointed Sen. Brian Schatz and Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1).  Going into the secondary voting, Schatz held a 1,635-vote lead.  At this point, the preliminary final count, including the newly added ballots, actually shows Schatz expanding his lead 134 votes to a spread of 1,769.

Does this mean the contest is finally decided?  Possibly, but it depends on how far Rep. Hanabusa wants to go in legally challenging the results.  The fact that election officials allowed the original counting to commence, knowing that not all eligible voters had the opportunity to participate, and then extended the voting period after the original results were made public may be cause for a Hanabusa complaint.  Her argument could be that voting behavior may Continue reading >

Catching Up on Races That Have Gone Into Political Overtime

During the past week’s primaries, several races ventured into political overtime, which we update today.

WI-6

Last night in central Wisconsin’s open 6th District race – Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI-6) retiring – the Associated Press prematurely declared state Sen. Glenn Grothman the winner of the Republican primary. Now the projection has been rescinded as fellow GOP Sen. Joe Leibham rebounded in the remaining Sheboygan County votes to pull into a virtual tie.

When the projection was made, Grothman had a comfortable eight percentage point lead over Leibham, with Assemblyman Duey Stroebel dropping well behind in third place. As more of Sheboygan County continued to be counted, Leibham’s strength exponentially increased to the point of him finishing just 214 votes behind. All precincts are reporting, but provisional counting is underway. It is unlikely there are enough votes outstanding to change the outcome, but an even closer finish will lead to a recount. Therefore, we are probably weeks from arriving at a final total.

Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is the Democratic nominee and, on paper, he appears to be a credible candidate. If he is to seriously compete, however, he, his Continue reading >

Razor-Thin Tennessee Results; Walsh; Hawaii, Tomorrow

Tennessee – Statewide

Sen. Lamar Alexander won renomination last night in Tennessee, and while his margin wasn’t razor-thin, his victory percentage was unimpressive. Scoring just 50 percent in his own Republican primary, Alexander out-polled state Rep. Joe Carr’s 41 percent. The remaining five candidates split the outstanding vote.

But the closeness of the contest occurred on the Democratic side, in what will likely be a battle for the right to lose to Alexander in November. Attorney Gordon Ball has been projected the winner, leading attorney Terry Adams by just 1,911 votes statewide.

One thing is clear, however. The statewide turnout overwhelmingly favored Republicans. Approximately 645,000 individuals voted in the Republican primary as compared with just under 240,000 who participated on the Democratic side.

On the other end of the margin perspective, Gov. Bill Haslam (R) cruised to an 88 percent victory. He will face Democrat  Continue reading >