March 7, 2018 — The California candidate filing deadline is Friday, and we are beginning to see some complicated political moves crystallize as we get closer to final decision time.
California candidate T.J. Cox (D)
In the state’s Central Valley, a major Democratic shake-up is unfolding. On Sunday, Emilio Huerta, the 2016 Democratic nominee against Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) in California’s 21st Congressional District, announced that he is dropping his 2018 bid. The surprise announcement appears linked to Democratic leaders wanting to move 10th District candidate T.J. Cox (D) south so he can become Rep. Valadao’s general election opponent.
Months ago, Cox, a businessman and investment fund founder, announced his candidacy against Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock/Modesto) in CA-10. Democrat leaders were positive about his candidacy at the time because they were reportedly less than satisfied with two-time nominee Michael Eggman, a wealthy farmer who lost to Denham in both 2014 (56-44 percent) and 2016 (52-48 percent).
As is the case in many districts around the country, large numbers of Democrat aspirants began declaring their candidacies for the 10th District race. Last year, it appeared the party establishment was lining up behind Cox, especially when Eggman announced that he would not run for a third time. In late January, however, Eggman suddenly changed his mind, did an about-face, and declared his congressional candidacy once again. Knowing that the former nominee’s name ID would likely land him the second qualifying position in the June 5 jungle primary because a total of seven Democrats were headed toward securing positions on the ballot, the party leaders began scrambling to fortify a better candidate lineup.
Feb. 26, 2018 — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R) was indicted on one count of felony invasion of privacy late last week. The photograph of a partially nude woman with whom he was having an affair is the subject of the felony charge. Though the extramarital affair was consensual, being photographed in a compromising position was not, hence the invasion of privacy indictment. Transmitting the photo through use of a computer makes the charge a Class E felony under Missouri law, which could mean a prison sentence of up to four years.
Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens’ mug shot
While the legal situation will be left to the courts to adjudicate, the political aftermath merits discussion. Though Gov. Greitens claims he will fight the charge, more often than not these situations end in reaching a legal agreement. In cases involving office holders, resigning from office is always part of any plea agreement. This was certainly the case for then-Gov. Robert Bentley (R) in Alabama, when he agreed to resign when the charges against him were reduced to misdemeanor campaign violations. Upon news of the indictment, Republican state legislative leaders said that they would assign a committee to investigate the charge, which opens the door to potential impeachment proceedings.
Should the governor reach a plea bargain, or be found guilty and thus forced to resign his position, Lt. Gov. Mike Parson would ascend to the governorship. As a Republican, Parson’s becoming governor would not result in a change of party leadership. Because Gov. Greitens was just elected in 2016, Parson, should he succeed a resigned or impeached state chief executive, would serve in the state’s top position through 2020 and be eligible to run in his own right in the ’20 election.
Oct. 11, 2017 — California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) announced this week that she will seek a fifth full term next year despite, at 84 years of age, being the Senate’s oldest member. Curiously, her recent comments about President Trump and gun control have created some problems for the senator within the far left of her California Democratic Party. Thus, Feinstein’s decision to run again has engendered possible opposition from at least one prominent Democratic elected official.
Sen. Feinstein was first elected in 1992, when she defeated appointed Sen. John Seymour (R) after Gov. Pete Wilson (R) selected him to fill the Senate vacancy. Then-Sen. Wilson was elected governor in 1990, thus creating the vacancy. Two years later, Sen. Feinstein nipped then-Rep. Michael Huffington (R-Santa Barbara) 47-45 percent in the 1994 general election, the last close California Senate race. She would go onto win easy re-elections in 2000, 2006, and 2012.
A few weeks ago, Sen. Feinstein made the public comment that Donald Trump actually “can be a good president,” which drew the ire of many of his ardent Golden State opponents including state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), who seemingly has become the chief anti-Trump spokesman in California. After the Las Vegas shooting, Sen. Feinstein made the further statement that “no gun laws could have prevented the Las Vegas massacre.” Predictably, this comment was also met with derision from the far left, including Sen. de Leon.
By Jim Ellis
April 4, 2017 — The first of five federal special elections is underway today in Los Angeles, as voters in California’s 34th Congressional District begin the process of electing a replacement for ex-Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), who is now the state Attorney General.
No less than 23 candidates are vying for the office, 19 of them Democrats. This is not particularly surprising considering the 34th gave only 11% of its votes to President Trump. A low turnout is expected, because this district historically has one of the smallest voter participation factors in the state.
A turnout well below 20 percent for today’s jungle primary is expected, meaning a likely total of approximately 60,000 voters, and probably considerably fewer. The state scheduled March 6 to begin the early voting period, and ballots, if they are postmarked no later than today, will be counted if received at the County Election Office on or before April 7. The primary election results must be certified on or before April 13.
Feb. 22, 2017 — Many political analysts and observers have predicted that the northern Atlanta suburban special election to replace Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will be the most competitive of the early cycle political contests, and a new Clout Research (formerly Wenzel Strategies) poll lends some credence to such an assertion.
According to the survey (Feb. 17-18; 694 very likely and somewhat likely GA-6 special election voters), it is Democrat Jon Ossoff who leads the jungle primary with 31.7 percent support followed by former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R) who commands 24.9 percent. Businessman Jon Gray (R) is the only other candidate in double-digits, posting 10.6 percent preference. State Sen. Judson Hill (R), one of the more active contenders in the early going, is next recording 9.2 percent.
The Democrats have been attempting to sell that argument that they are competitive in this reliably Republican district because President Trump carried the seat by only 1.5 percentage points. This compared to Rep. Price averaging 76 percent of the vote over seven terms and scoring a 62 percent re-election victory in November, a full 14 points better than Trump’s performance.
Feb. 16, 2017 — News is breaking in three of the impending special congressional elections:
In Georgia, Gov. Nathan Deal (R) has scheduled the special election to replace newly confirmed Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price for April 18, with a run-off to follow on June 20. Already 15 candidates have announced for the seat.
For special elections, Georgia employs the same system as we’ve previously described when discussing the California race. That is, a jungle primary will be conducted on April 18, with all candidates placed on one ballot. If no one secures a majority the top two finishers, irrespective of political party affiliation, will advance to the special general election in late June.
Democrats intend to make a push for this seat, which should become the most competitive of the five special congressional elections. President Trump only carried this district 48.3 – 46.8 percent in November, a major downturn for the GOP in what is typically a reliably Republican seat.
June 13, 2016 — The June 7 primary results set the stage for several interesting California general election campaigns. Tomorrow, we will review the other June 7 primary states and their key general election contests.
The competition to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) features two Democrats advancing to the general election for the first time in state history. Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) placed first and second in the jungle primary field of 34 Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Harris’ 40 percent performance was stronger than polling projected, while Rep. Sanchez’s 19 percent of the joint vote fulfilled her forecast.
Without any suspense as to whether or not the Democrats will hold the Boxer seat, it is unlikely the national Democratic Party apparatus or outside Super PACs will involve themselves in the race. This should be more of a help to Sanchez than Harris. Though Harris is the clear favorite to win the general election, Rep. Sanchez has the correct profile for a modern day California statewide candidate.
Hailing from southern California, where approximately 60 percent of the state’s residents live and a region starved for a statewide office holder, Sanchez, coming from Orange County, has the opportunity to make geography a political asset.
Nov. 30, 2015 — The new Iowa Quinnipiac University poll shows a significant gain for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in anticipation of the Feb. 1 Republican precinct meetings. Dr. Ben Carson recorded a substantial loss in support, while race leader Donald Trump posted an incremental gain.
According to the latest Q-Poll (Nov. 16-22; 600 likely Iowa Republican Caucus attenders), Sen. Cruz attracted an additional 13 percentage points when compared with the university’s Oct. 22 released survey. Their new ballot test finds Trump leading Cruz 25-23 percent, with Dr. Carson slipping to 18 percent (down from 28 percent in October) and Sen. Marco Rubio remaining constant with 13 percent support. Trump gained five percentage points in the last month.
Again we see the familiar separation pattern occurring, as the top four finishers in this poll: Trump, Cruz, Carson, and Rubio, again are firmly distinguishing themselves as the “Front Four”. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is a distant fifth at just five percent. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush drops even lower to four percent.
While Trump continues to lead, though his advantage here is consistently shrinking, he also is tops in another category, which is not good news. A full 30 percent of the sample identified Trump as “the candidate they would definitely not support” in the Iowa Caucus. For a change, and unfortunately for him, Jeb Bush scores high. He is second in this negative category with 21 percent saying he is the one candidate for whom they won’t vote. By contrast, Cruz, Rubio, and Carson score seven, five and four percent figures, respectively, in response to this question.
Oct. 23, 2015 — Tomorrow’s jungle primary election will begin the process of replacing term-limited Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), and it appears that the lone Democrat in the race and Republican Sen. David Vitter will advance to the Nov. 21 general election. In the unlikely event that any candidate secures an outright majority, such a person would be automatically elected.
State Rep. John Bel Edwards (D) is leading in all polls, and for two reasons. First, as the unified Democratic candidate, he has solidified his party vote as opposed to the Republicans, who are dispersing their support among three candidates.
Second, Sen. Vitter has been absorbing a multitude of attacks, from being labeled a “Washington politician”, to continuing the unpopular Jindal’s policies, to past sexual scandals, to being called aloof and out of touch with the Louisiana voting base — all have taken their toll upon him. Originally leading the race, it now appears he will finish a distant second, but still far enough ahead of Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne to advance.
An Edwards-Vitter run-off election will be nasty and bitter. It is likely the Democrats have saved their toughest attacks on Vitter until the run-off, knowing that a secondary election is a virtual certainty. Sen. Vitter, whose personal approval ratings are poor, also will go negative, understanding that will be his easiest path to victory. Therefore, expect many attacks on Edwards — often linking him with an unpopular President Obama and the national Democratic Party — to be launched from the Vitter campaign, the national Republican Party organization, and Super PACs supporting the GOP nominee.
In the previous decade, Californians defeated only one US House incumbent in more than 500 campaigns. This, among other factors, led voters to adopt a new electoral system creating a citizens’ redistricting commission and sending the top two finishers in a jungle primary format – that is, all candidates appearing on the same ballot – to the general election regardless of political party affiliation.
The changes have achieved their intended effect of creating more competition. Last year 22 races featured a winner receiving less than 60% of the vote, and seven incumbents were defeated.
This year, competitive campaigns appear to be already forming in at least 14 districts, including four seats that will likely feature two members of the same party advancing to the general election.
CA-3: Rep. John Garamendi (D) – 2012 result: 54 percent
Term-limited Assemblyman Dan Logue (R) has announced his challenge to Garamendi, the state’s former lieutenant governor. The competition level here should increase in comparison to 2012.
CA-7: Rep. Ami Bera (D) – 2012 result: 52 percent
Making his second attempt at running for Congress, Bera unseated former GOP Rep. Dan Lungren. Currently, ex-Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA-3), 2012 US Senate nominee Elizabeth Emken, and congressional chief of staff (Rep. Tom McClintock) Igor Birman have formally declared their intentions to run. One will advance to the November election against the freshman congressman. This Sacramento area race should be hotly contested.
CA-10: Rep. Jeff Denham (R) – 2012 result: 53 percent
Denham clinched a second term in a much different district than the one he originally claimed in 2010, defeating former astronaut Continue reading >
The elimination of California’s partisan primaries, as was done prior to the last election, will again seriously affect Golden State politics in the 2014 mid-term vote. Under the state’s new jungle primary law, the top two candidates in the June election advance to the general regardless of political party affiliation and percentages attained. Therefore, former US Commerce Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Ro Khanna’s intra-party Democratic challenge to seven-term Rep. Mike Honda will likely last the entire campaign cycle.
Khanna has already been extraordinarily successful on the fundraising circuit, attracting more than $1 million for the 2014 race, and exceeding $1.7 million cash-on-hand. In the 2012 cycle, Khanna was briefly in the 15th District race when he believed that 80 year-old then-incumbent Pete Stark (D) was going to retire. Upon Stark’s decision to run again, all Democratic contenders with the exception of Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell withdrew. Swalwell then successfully unseated Rep. Stark 52-48 percent in a Democrat-on-Democrat general election.
Before exiting the Stark campaign, Khanna raised over $1.26 million and had north of $1 million remaining in his campaign account, thus explaining the large early war chest for his Honda challenge. Conversely, Rep. Honda has not been as financially prolific in early 2013, obtaining over $567,000, but ending with less than $375,000 in the bank.
But a just-released Public Policy Polling survey for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (Aug. 2-4; 806 registered CA-17 voters) shows that Khanna has a long way to go if he is to upset this incumbent, as Honda leads the ballot test 49-15 percent. The result is similar to the previously released Lake Research poll (Feb. 17-20; 503 registered CA-17 voters), commissioned for the Honda campaign, that posted the congressman to a 57-13-5 percent Continue reading >