Tag Archives: John Kennedy

A Bayou Sweep

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 12, 2016 — Republicans completed the 2016 election cycle with a sweep of Saturday’s Louisiana run-off races. In the US Senate race, state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) easily defeated Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 61-39 percent, as expected.

State Rep. Mike Johnson (R-Bossier City) will replace outgoing Rep. John Fleming (R-Minden/Shreveport). He defeated Democratic attorney Marshall Jones, 65-35 percent, in a race that also contained little in the way of suspense.

Finally, in the double Republican 3rd CD, Lafayette retired police captain Clay Higgins out-polled Public Service Commissioner and former gubernatorial candidate Scott Angelle, 56-44 percent. Higgins will replace Rep. Charles Boustany (R-Lafayette) in the new Congress. Both Fleming and Boustany ran unsuccessfully for US Senate.

In the Senate race, Kennedy captured 55 of the state’s 64 parishes. The result here was never in doubt. Kennedy placed first in the Nov. 8 jungle primary, 25-17 percent over Campbell among 24 candidates. The qualifying Democratic candidate, who has run and lost before in statewide and congressional races, could never attract outside funding support, even from the national Democratic Party apparatus.

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More on Louisiana

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 8, 2016 — A new, but questionable, poll was released from Tulane University covering the open Louisiana Senate run-off campaign to be decided this Saturday. The poll (Nov. 8-18; 960 Louisiana adults) finds state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) leading Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 60-40 percent. Incumbent Sen. David Vitter (R), who last year was defeated in a run for governor, is retiring.

A great deal is wrong with this survey. First, though the poll was completed on Nov. 18, it was only released this past Tuesday, Dec. 7, thus the time lag may not reflect the current race status. Second, the sampling period is 11 days, which is too long of a response window. Third, there is no proper screen for registered voters, let alone likely participants. Fourth, the first sampling day was the regular Election Day, which potentially skews responses, and fifth, the pollsters pushed sampling group participants into making a choice only between the two candidates, not allowing for an undecided position.

All that being said, the 60-40 split is still relatively consistent with the few other polls we have seen for this race. All indications point to a Kennedy victory Saturday evening. If successful in his quest for the Senate, the partisan division for the new body will be 52R-46D-2I.

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The Last Campaigns

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 6, 2016 — The marathon 2016 election cycle will come to a close on Saturday with the Louisiana run-off elections. The US Senate race and two congressional elections were forced to secondary contests, and Republicans appear poised to sweep the trio.

New Senate polling data again shows Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy holding a commanding lead with majority support. According to the new Southern Media & Opinion Research poll (Nov. 28-30; 500 likely Louisiana run-off voters) Kennedy leads his run-off opponent, Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell (D), 52-38 percent.

Kennedy has a favorability rating of 57:35 percent positive to negative versus Campbell’s 46:44 percent. Kennedy runs strong in the five Republican congressional districts, losing only in the New Orleans-anchored 2nd CD. He posts best in the 1st (Slidell, Metairie, St. Bernard, Jefferson Parishes), 4th (Shreveport, Bossier City, Minden, Nachitoches), and 5th CD (Monroe, Alexandria, Bogalusa), recording around a 30-point spread in each. Campbell has a 40-point margin in the 2nd District (New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Plaquemine).

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Picking Democratic Senators;
Rep. Becerra Tapped for A.G.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 5, 2016 — Donald Trump may be looking to find cabinet members who bring him immediate tangible policy and political benefits. A new prospective appointee, if chosen, would even increase the president-elect’s strength in the United States Senate.

North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) made her way to New York yesterday to speak with Trump. If the president-elect tabbed her for an administration position, it would allow him to reach out to Democrats while simultaneously paving the way for incoming Gov. Doug Burgum (R) to appoint a Republican to replace her. Assuming John Kennedy (R) wins the Louisiana Senate run-off on Dec. 10, as expected, replacing Heitkamp would boost the Senate Republican Conference to 53 members.

The senator won a close upset victory in 2012, defeating one-term at-large Rep. Rick Berg (R) by a one-point margin. She is now preparing for what is likely to be a highly competitive 2018 re-election bid, but accepting a position in the Trump Administration would obviously require her to resign the Senate seat. With North Dakota voting patterns now going solidly Republican – Trump received 63 percent in the Nov. 8 election compared to 58 percent for Mitt Romney in 2012, and John McCain’s 53 percent eight years ago – Republican conversion prospects in a post-appointment election would be bright should Heitkamp depart.

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Louisiana Run-off Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 22, 2016 — With the Dec. 10 run-off election fast approaching for the open Louisiana US Senate race and two congressional campaigns, new data has been released into the public domain.

The responses to a statewide poll suggest that state Treasurer John Kennedy (R) has developed a commanding lead over Democratic Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell. The 4th Congressional District sample is also large enough to project state Rep. Mike Johnson (R) with a clear advantage, but the 3rd District contest between two Republicans could bring a surprising conclusion.

The Atlanta based Trafalgar Group surveyed the state electorate (Nov. 14-17; 2,200-plus likely Louisiana run-off voters; 600-plus in each of congressional districts 3 and 4; via interactive voice response system) and found four-term treasurer Kennedy staked to a strong 58-35 percent advantage. Without adding the individuals leaning to one of the candidates Kennedy’s margin is 48-27 percent.

In the 4th District congressional race, GOP candidate Johnson is opening up a large 59-35 percent lead over Democratic attorney J. Marshall Jones. This is not particularly surprising since the western state district is solidly Republican (2012: Romney 59 percent; Obama 40 percent), and has not been represented by a Democrat since Buddy Roemer (D-Bossier City) vacated the seat back in 1988 to become governor.

Jones placed first in the jungle primary largely because he was the only Democrat in a field of eight candidates. The coalescing of Democratic votes meant that a 28 percent showing was enough for him to capture the first run-off position. But, 70 percent of the individuals supported a Republican candidate, thus giving credence to Trafalgar’s polling result that makes Johnson a big favorite for the December secondary election.

The double Republican 3rd District run-off is the more interesting contest, however. Here, retired police captain Clay Higgins, who spent just over $200,000 for the jungle primary, leads state public service commissioner and ex-lieutenant governor Scott Angelle, 50-42 percent. Angelle, who expended more than $1.3 million and placed a strong third in the 2015 governor’s race, finished first in the jungle primary but with only a 29-26 percent margin over Higgins while 10 other candidates lagged behind.

Magellan Strategies (Nov. 15-16; 400 LA-3 likely run-off voters) also tested this congressional race and found Higgins’ advantage to be an even stronger 50-32 percent.

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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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Senate Overtime

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 19, 2016 — Most projections suggest that the 2016 US Senate election cycle will end in a partisan division close to a 50-50 tie between Democrats and Republicans. If true, a new political poll suggests that the final determining factor won’t occur until well beyond Nov. 8.

A new JMC Analytics and Polling survey of the Louisiana Senate race portends that this open seat contest will be headed to a Dec. 10 run-off election. Therefore, if one Republican and one Democrat advance from the field of 24 candidates, it will mean the country must wait a full month after the general election to determine whether the Senate is tied or one party reaches 51.

But, such a majority may only last for a year. Assuming Hillary Clinton is elected president, her vice presidential nominee, Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, will have to resign his seat. Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) will then make an appointment – sure to be another Democrat – but this person will only serve until the next statewide general election.

Because Virginia elects its governors in odd-numbered years, the special Senate election will subsequently take place in 2017. Therefore, if the Senate breaks 50-50, with that last seat being from Virginia, the majority will be at risk just one year later. This will make an Old Dominion statewide special election the nation’s political focal point, at least in terms of determining Senate control.

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The Last Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 23, 2016 — The open Louisiana Senate campaign has not yet drawn much national attention, but that appears to be changing and in a big way. A new poll underscores just how close the contest is getting in the midst of surprising revelations.

Because the state’s jungle primary runs concurrently with the November general election, the action among the 24 candidates who will appear on the ballot is just now beginning to sizzle. Straight from the annals of what are always colorful Louisiana campaigns, the current race has is now tinged with prostitution and even murder.

Last week, controversy erupted when author Ethan Brown released his new book “Murder in the Bayou”, which details the demise of the “Jeff Davis 8”, the apparently related individual killings of sex workers in Jefferson Davis Parish.

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Vitter Loses; Won’t Run in 2016

Nov. 24, 2015 — As a myriad of Louisiana gubernatorial polls correctly predicted, state Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) scored a landslide 56-44 percent victory over Sen. David Vitter (R) Saturday night. The result proved a bitter defeat for the Republican after he was cast as a prohibitive favorite when the campaign began.

In his concession speech, the senator confirmed that he will not seek re-election in the 2016 cycle, yielding the sixth open seat US Senate campaign for next year. There was strong speculation when the governor’s campaign began to turn against Vitter that the politically damaged senator would be highly vulnerable if he were to seek a third term after experiencing what would be a crushing defeat. Though the Republicans will now be forced to risk an open seat it is preferable to defending a wounded incumbent.

Saturday’s result was clearly a rejection of Vitter and not necessarily the Republican Party. Despite the Democrats winning at the top of the ticket, Republican lieutenant governor candidate Billy Nungesser, the Plaquemines parish president, recorded his own strong 55-45 percent victory margin against Democratic nominee Kip Holden.

In the double-Republican attorney general’s race, former US Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3) unseated incumbent Buddy Caldwell with a similar 55-45 percent spread after strategically positioning himself as the more conservative candidate.

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Louisiana Polling

Louisiana Republican state Treasurer John Kennedy, a former Democrat and US Senate candidate, hired the North Star Opinion Research firm to help guide his political ambitions. Kennedy is reportedly considering running for governor or attorney general in 2015. His name is also mentioned in conjunction with the 2016 US Senate contest.

The North Star survey research (Jan. 10-13; 600 registered Louisiana voters) tested Kennedy within a field of candidates first for governor, and then for attorney general as well as for US Senate.

Currently, with Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) ineligible to seek a third term later this year, Sen. David Vitter (R) has jumped into the off-year gubernatorial race. Also considering running are Republican Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne, State Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle, and Kennedy. State Rep. John Bel Edwards is the lone Democrat to express interest in running. Should Kennedy decide on the attorney general’s race, that impending field so far consists of incumbent Buddy Caldwell (R), who is politically weak, and former Rep. Jeff Landry (R-LA-3). Alexandria Mayor Jacques Roy is the one Democrat tested.

The 2016 US Senate picture will largely be dictated by what happens in the governor’s race. Should Sen. Vitter win, and he’s the early favorite, an individual will be appointed to fill the unexpired Continue reading >

Weekly Redistricting Outlook

Significant redistricting action occurred in the following four states during the past week:

ARIZONA (current delegation: 5R-3D; gains one seat) – Redistricting chaos has broken out. (Read more background in our Nov. 2 post.) Gov. Jan Brewer (R) and the Republican state Senate last week impeached Independent Redistricting Commission chair Colleen Mathis, as they have the power to do under the voter initiative that created the special panel in 2000. The commission is comprised of two Republicans, two Democrats, and one Independent, the latter of whom automatically becomes chairman. Ms. Mathis, the Independent, was impeached by two-thirds of the state Senate, which Gov. Brewer approved. Officially, the impeachment related to the way in which Mathis discharged her duties as commission chair but, in reality, it was because she basically became the commission’s third Democratic member, siding with the Ds on all key votes. She helped draft a map that will likely lead to a Democratic majority within the state’s nine-member federal delegation at some point during the decade.

The Democrats argued that the map would elect four Republicans, two Democrats, which would leave three seats as competitive in districts that either party could win. Considering demographic growth patterns in Arizona, the three toss-up seats would likely trend Democratic if not in 2012, then in later elections. GOP freshmen Reps. Paul Gosar (R-AZ-1) and David Schweikert (R-AZ-5), in particular, received unfavorable draws and would have difficult paths to re-election.

After the impeachment, Mathis filed suit with the state Supreme Court to overturn the removal action. The high court has agreed to hear the case. Their first ruling will likely come next week, when they decide whether or not to stay the impeachment pending the judicial review. Invoking a stay would be interesting, since such a move would basically restore Mathis to her role as chairman, at least for the short term. That might be enough time, however, to actually adopt the draft map. The initiative law mandated that any draft map must be opened to a public comment period for 30 days, a period that has now expired. Actually adopting the congressional map will give the plan a greater legal standing, since an eventual lawsuit against whatever becomes final is inevitable.

MASSACHUSETTS (current delegation 10D; loses one seat) – The proposed Massachusetts congressional map was released yesterday and, to no one’s surprise since 1st District Rep. John Olver (D) has already announced his retirement, the 1st and 2nd Districts, the two western-most seats in the Bay State, were combined into a new 1st District. All nine Democrats seeking re-election should have no trouble, as most of the new map is similar to the current plan, sans western Mass. The new 7th District (formerly the 8th) of Rep. Michael Capuano (D) loses the city of Cambridge, long the district’s population anchor dating back to the days when John Kennedy and Tip O’Neill represented the seat, while annexing several minority communities. Rep. Barney Frank’s (D) 4th District loses the cities of New Bedford and Fall River to Rep. Bill Keating’s new 9th District, thus making the former’s seat a bit more Republican as he some GOP-leaning suburbs were then added. This map, or a version close to it, will be enacted and all incumbents should remain in what will likely be a 9D-0R delegation for the decade.

NORTH CAROLINA (current delegation: 7D-6R) – The North Carolina congressional map approved by the state legislature earlier in the year received pre-clearance from the U.S. Justice Department. It is clearly the Republicans’ best map in the country. Immediately, several lawsuits, including one from a group of plaintiffs led by former Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC-2), were filed. Having pre-clearance from the Obama Administration clearly gives the state a strong argument to win these court challenges. It is likely that the pre-cleared map will eventually become final, meaning that 2012 elections will be conducted within the boundaries of this plan. Heavily endangered are Democratic incumbents Mike McIntyre (D-NC-7), Larry Kissell (D-NC-8), and Heath Shuler (D-NC-11). Reps. David Price (D-NC-4) and Brad Miller (D-NC-13) are paired in a new District 4 that stretches from Raleigh to Fayetteville. Republicans could gain as many a four seats in the Tar Heel State, neutralizing similar losses from the Democratic map in Illinois.

OHIO (current delegation: 13R-5D: loses two seats) – The GOP plan to redraw the congressional districts in order to attract enough African-American Democratic support in the state House of Representatives to pass the map via a two-thirds vote has failed. Though the state has enacted a map, Democrats won a court ruling that gives them the ability to place the measure before the 2012 general election voters via referendum. Had the GOP garnered a two-thirds vote in both houses, a referendum would not have been a legal option. The mark was attained in the state Senate but fell a few votes short in the House.

In a ruling against the Democrats, the court did not extend the signature gathering period to qualify the referendum. The party had asked for the longer period because the regular referendum qualifying period is already half over. Even with the shortened time frame, the Democrats should be able to qualify the measure for a vote.

If they are successful, then an interim map will have to be used for 2012. Ohio loses two seats, so a new 16-district map must be in place for the upcoming elections. The enacted map would likely elect 12 Republicans and four Democrats. It is likely that a court-drawn map would not reflect as favorable a Republican split, though the GOP will ask the eventual court of jurisdiction to install the official plan as the interim map.

Ohio is a critically important redistricting state, especially for the Republicans, so the eventual outcome here will greatly affect the national political picture.