Tag Archives: Kerry Bentivolio

An Open Review – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 7, 2018 — Continuing our look at the 53 open seats, today we look at those in the Lean R & D categories. It is here where Democrats will have to score big if they are to claim the House majority.

2018-elections-open-seatsThe US Supreme Court declined to hear the Pennsylvania Republicans’ arguments earlier this week to move the live redistricting case to the federal level. To review, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled the current congressional map a political gerrymander, but without citing any election law statute violations. State Senate Republicans are refusing to provide the court with their requested data until the legislative bodies are informed about what is legally wrong with the current map.

In the meantime, the court has already appointed a special master from Stanford University to draw a new plan, and moved the congressional candidate filing deadline from March 6 to March 20. Additionally, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is already saying he will veto the legislature’s map, so all of these developments suggest that a new, Democrat-friendly map will likely be in place before the 2018 elections.

In our overview of the current House open seat configuration, two of the Pennsylvania seats are either in the Lean D category (PA-7; Rep. Pat Meehan-R) or Lean R (PA-15; Rep. Charlie Dent). With a new map likely to collapse most, if not all, of the four open Republican seats, it is likely that both of the aforementioned districts will find themselves in the Democratic column after the next election.

Currently, the Lean Democrat column consists only of Republican seats. In addition to PA-7, and probably adding at least PA-15 post-redistricting, retiring GOP Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ) are leaving seats that are also trending toward the Democratic side of the political ledger.

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Another Republican Retirement

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 13, 2017 — For the third time in a week, a Republican House member announced that he will not seek re-election next year. This time, it’s a junior member who is retiring. Second-term Michigan Rep. David Trott (R-Birmingham/Livonia) announced that he will return to the private sector after the current Congress ends in early 2019. The congressman had built a highly successful real estate and foreclosure legal practice before coming to the House in 2015.

The move is certainly a surprise, and leaves another marginal Republican district up for grabs. Though races can get close here, the GOP congressional nominee has won in every election since the 11th District was originally created.

The seat was drawn in its near present form during the 2001 redistricting process as a result of then-Reps. John Dingell (D-Dearborn) and Lynn Rivers (D-Ann Arbor) being paired in the former 15th District. This, after national reapportionment reduced the Michigan delegation by one seat.

In 2002, then-state Sen. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Livonia) won the new 11th District after having a hand in drawing the congressional map as a member of the Senate redistricting committee. McCotter would serve five terms, leaving because of ballot qualification problems in 2012.

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Wendy Davis to Announce in Texas

Later today, as expected, state Sen. Wendy Davis (D) will announce her campaign for governor. With incumbent Rick Perry (R) retiring after four terms, Texas voters will witness an open governor’s campaign for the first time since 1990, when Democrat Ann Richards defeated Republican businessman Clayton Williams.

The 2014 general election looks to match Sen. Davis and three-term Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott who, for years, has been waiting in the wings to run for the state’s top office. Davis attained notoriety over the summer by filibustering a bill that increased abortion restrictions and succeeded in delaying its passage for several weeks.

The GOP has dominated Texas politics ever since George W. Bush unseated Gov. Richards in 1994. Of the 29 statewide offices, Republicans continue to control all of them, in addition to the two US Senate positions, a majority in the congressional delegation, and both houses of the state legislature. Since the Bush gubernatorial re-election effort in 1998, the GOP has typically won the major statewide offices by margins between 12 and 16 points.

But, will the string continue in 2014? With an ever-growing populace – remember, Texas gained four seats in the last reapportionment – and a Hispanic population reaching 37.6 percent of the state’s total population, Lone Star State Democrats claim that the demographic changes are making them more competitive.

Two polls have been conducted, both showing similar patterns. The most recent, the Texas Lyceum Poll (Sept. 6-20; 800 registered Texas voters), gives Abbott only a 29-21 percent lead with a whopping 50 percent undecided/don’t know factor. In early summer, Public Policy Polling (June 28-July 1; 500 registered Texas voters), even before Gov. Perry announced his retirement, tested several candidates against one another. At that time, Abbott led Davis 48-40 percent, holding the same eight-point edge as the Lyceum poll projects, but one where 38 percent more respondents believed they knew enough about the candidates to make a decision.

The fact that the Lyceum poll has a very long sampling window, over two weeks, and  Continue reading >

House Developments

Three new members of the House were officially sworn in to complete partial terms, and a fourth will be in a matter of days. The quartet of special election winners are replacing members who resigned early or, in the case of New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne Sr., passed away. All but one were also elected to a full term. The exception is Michigan Democrat Dave Curson who won the special election to serve the remainder of resigned Rep. Thaddeus McCotter’s term but lost the regular election to Republican Kerry Bentivolio. The latter will join the freshman class in January. The new official members are Reps. Suzan DelBene (D-WA-1) replacing Gov.-Elect Jay Inslee (D), and Thomas Massie (R-KY-4) succeeding resigned Rep. Geoff Davis (R). Donald Payne Jr. (D-NJ-10), who will take over for his late father, will be sworn in later this week.

Turning to the outstanding House races, California Democrats Ami Bera (CA-7) and Scott Peters (CA-52) continue to expand their leads over Reps. Dan Lungren and Brian Bilbray. It appears only a matter of time before both are declared victorious. Bera’s lead is now greater than 3,000 votes; Peters’ just under that number.

In Florida, Rep. Allen West (R-FL-18) has filed a lawsuit to have all of the St. Lucie County early ballots counted. Recounting the final three days of received early voting tallies resulted in both he and his Democratic opponent losing votes. West now trails by more than 1,700 votes, but that is a reduction from an original deficit that exceeded 2,300. Meanwhile his opponent, Democrat Patrick Murphy is in Washington, D.C., and attending freshman orientation. Further research into the double-counting of St. Lucie County ballots is appearing to cut against West’s original claims. The post-election saga here is likely to continue for some time but it appears the eventual final outcome will favor Murphy.

Who is David Curson?

David Curson

Technically, we will have a 436th member of Congress, at least for the short-term. In Michigan’s 11th District, Republican Kerry Bentivolio won the regular election and will replace McCotter’ in January. The seat became vacant when former Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R) resigned before the election. But Bentivolio won’t be the immediate successor. Because McCotter resigned well before the end of the term, Democratic United Auto Workers union staff member David Curson won a concurrent special election that was held in the previous 11th CD, not the one created through reapportionment for this ensuing decade. Though Bentivolio won the full term, he lost the special election to Curson. Dr. Syed Taj, the party’s nominee for the regular term did not run in the special election.

Curson’s election means he will immediately be sworn into Congress and participate in the lame duck session, serving in November and December. His term will end at the beginning of January when the new House is inducted, and Bentivolio will then take the oath of office. At that point, Curson’s short-lived congressional career will come to an end.

Primary Tipping Points: Mo., Mich., Wash.

Missouri: The polling was right. During the final week of the Missouri Senate Republican primary, late surveys from research organizations such as Public Policy Polling detected Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO-2) mounting a serious come-from-behind surge. Akin, who billed himself as the campaign’s “true conservative,” had not led for any substantial period of time, but his campaign peaked at exactly the right moment. Last night, Akin notched a 36-30-29 percent GOP nomination win over St. Louis businessman John Brunner and ex-state treasurer Sarah Steelman, respectively.

The victory sends Akin to the general election against first-term incumbent Claire McCaskill (D), who may be the weakest Democrat incumbent currently seeking re-election. While Sen. McCaskill’s party leaders and political activists believe Akin is the best Republican for her to run against, the Missouri voting trends may tell a different story come November. This will be a hard-fought campaign and one in which the presidential contest will play a major role. The real race begins today.

Turning to the paired House races, in Missouri’s St. Louis-anchored 1st Congressional District, veteran Rep. Lacy Clay (D) easily turned back a challenge from fellow Democrat, Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-MO-3) who chose to run in a contested primary after his seat was collapsed in reapportionment. Clay was renominated 63-34 percent, amongst a turnout of about 90,000 voters. Late polling was predicting a decisive Clay win and such occurred mostly due to overwhelming support within the African-American community.

Michigan: As expected, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI-2) scored an easy 54-34 percent victory over charter school advocate Clark Durant in the contest for the Senate. The retired congressman will now face two-term incumbent Debbie Stabenow in what will be a major uphill battle. Sen. Stabenow is the clear favorite for re-election.

In Detroit, also as local polling predicted, two-term Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-9), who was paired with veteran Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI-12) in the new 9th District but chose to run in the Detroit/Oakland County CD because he believed he could take advantage of a split within the African-American community, saw his strategy bear fruit last night. Mr. Peters defeated freshman Rep. Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) 46-36 percent in a field of five candidates, three of whom are African-American.

In the adjacent 13th District, 24-term Rep. John Conyers, who will now likely complete at least 50 years of service in the House, defeated a field of four challengers, garnering a clear majority 57 percent of the vote. State Sen. Glenn Anderson, Mr. Conyers’ strongest opponent, only managed 15 percent, again just as the late polls were predicting.

North of Detroit in suburban Oakland County, former state Senate majority leader Nancy Cassis’ (R) late-developing write-in campaign fell way short as reindeer rancher and staunch Ron Paul supporter, Kerry Bentivolio, the only person who officially qualified for the Republican primary ballot, looks to be in the 65 percent range when all of the votes are finally counted. Physician Syed Taj won the Democratic primary and this has the potential of becoming a hotly contested general election campaign. Incumbent Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11), reeling from a disastrous six-week presidential campaign, failed to qualify for the congressional ballot and then subsequently resigned his seat. This will be an interesting general election race between two people, neither of whom was expected to be a serious candidate. Democrats have a chance to snatch this seat even though it historically votes Republican.

Washington: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) will face state Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R) in her bid for a third term. Such is not expected to be a highly competitive race. In House races, all incumbents secured a general election ballot position in this top-two primary format. As in California and Louisiana, the candidates finishing first and second, regardless of political party preference, advance to the general election. All seven incumbents seeking re-election placed first with percentages exceeding 50 percent.

In the three open seats, Republican John Koster placed first in the new 1st District that gives the GOP a much better chance of securing a general election victory. He will face Democratic former congressional nominee Suzan DelBene who placed ahead of two-time congressional nominee Darcy Burner.

With Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA-6) retiring after 36 years of congressional service, it appears that Democrat state Sen. Derek Kilmer, as predicted, will become his successor. Kilmer placed first in the jungle primary and becomes the prohibitive favorite in what is a heavily Democratic district.

In the new 10th District, awarded the fast-growing state in reapportionment, former state House majority leader and 2010 congressional nominee Denny Heck (D) placed first in the low 40-percentile range and will face Pierce County Councilor Dick Muri (R) in what shapes up as a reliable Democratic district. The Washington delegation is likely to split with five Democrats, four Republicans, and one marginal district (the 1st to be decided in the tough Koster-DelBene contest).

Missouri, Michigan Highlight Another Primary Day

Voters in four more states go to the polls tomorrow, and the most exciting races are in Missouri and Michigan. In the Show Me State, Sen. Claire McCaskill, quite possibly the most vulnerable of Democratic incumbents standing for re-election, will soon know who she will face in the fall. A close Republican contest among three candidates is trending toward an uncertain result even the day before the vote. Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO-2), former state treasurer Sarah Steelman, and St. Louis businessman John Brunner vie for the nomination.

Brunner is by far spending the most money, already over $7 million; Steelman is attempting to run furthest to the right and now brandishes Sarah Palin’s endorsement; and Rep. Akin emphasizes his conservative record as a six-term veteran member of the House. All three are leading McCaskill in the latest polling.

In the St. Louis-based 1st Congressional District, a Democratic incumbent pairing is occurring because the national reapportionment formula cost Missouri a seat. Reps. Lacy Clay (D-MO-1) and Russ Carnahan (D-MO-3) are pitted against each other in the city district, a re-draw that clearly favors the former. Rep. Clay has consolidated the dominant African-American constituency and enjoys the support of most of the local political establishment including St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay.
Former Republican National Committee co-chair Ann Wagner will capture the GOP nomination in Rep. Akin’s open 2nd District and is expected to win the general election, as well.

In Michigan, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI-2) is the heavy favorite in the Senate Republican primary, but he will be a decided underdog in the general election against two-term Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D).

But the bigger Michigan story is likely to be in the Detroit area congressional districts, particularly in new Districts 11 and 14.

The resignation of Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R) has ignited a free-for-all in the Oakland-Wayne County 11th District. Since McCotter did not qualify for the ballot, only Tea Party activist and reindeer rancher Kerry Bentivolio’s name will officially appear. Former state Senate majority leader Nancy Cassis is running an establishment-backed write-in campaign in hopes of taking the nomination and giving the GOP a stronger chance of holding the seat in November. Local physician Syed Taj is the favored Democratic candidate. The situation here is chaotic. Tomorrow’s vote will provide some answers but the 11th, which should be a reliable Republican district, is now likely to host a competitive general election.

In the Detroit-based 14th CD, another incumbent Democratic pairing will be decided. Reps. Gary Peters (D-MI-9) and freshman Hansen Clarke (D-MI-13) face each other along with three other candidates. Peters, who was originally paired with veteran Rep. Sander Levin (D-MI-12) in the new 9th CD, decided to run in the 14th with the idea of splitting the majority African-American vote among the three significant black candidates, including his colleague Clarke. The strategy may work, as Peters appears poised to win the Democratic nomination tomorrow according to several late polls.

In Rep. Dale Kildee’s (D) open 5th District, Dan Kildee, a former Genesee County official in several positions and nephew of the congressman, is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Since the 5th is a heavily Democratic district, the younger Kildee will virtually clinch victory in November with his win tomorrow night.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI-6) again faces a Republican primary challenge from former state representative Jack Hoogendyk, the man who held him to a 57 percent victory two years ago. It appears Upton will win by a much larger margin this time.

Finally, in the new 13th District, 24-term Rep. John Conyers (D) finds himself facing four strong primary challengers, two state senators, a state representative, and a school board trustee. As is often the case in races where a group of candidates run in a system without a run-off, the incumbent normally wins because the pro-challenger vote is split among too many contenders.

In the state of Washington, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) stands for election to a third term in what should be a relatively easy campaign bid. The Republicans will nominate a candidate on Tuesday. In the state’s two open congressional seats, Democrats will choose state Sen. Derek Kilmer to succeed veteran Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA-6). In the new 10th District, the additional seat awarded to the state in reapportionment, former state House majority leader Denny Heck is poised to win the Democratic nomination, which is tantamount to election in November.

Kansas is also holding a primary election tomorrow, but all federal incumbents lack serious competition.

McCotter Resigns, Chaos Reigns

Thaddeus McCotter

Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) abruptly resigned from the House on Friday, indicating the “nightmarish” six weeks he just experienced is driving a wedge between his professional duties and family. McCotter began this election cycle by launching an ill-fated run for president that captured no attention. He ended his national bid after six weeks. Failing to secure the proper number of re-election petition signatures to qualify for the Michigan ballot, McCotter announced he would run a write-in campaign for the Republican congressional nomination, but then quickly changed course and decided to retire at the end of the current Congress. Now, he has left the House altogether.

Since candidate filing closed before it became apparent that McCotter’s petitions were invalid, the Republicans are left with only Tea Party activist and educator Kerry Bentivolio as an official ballot-qualified candidate. Local Republican leaders and activists are rallying around former state Senate majority leader Nancy Cassis’ write-in effort in order to promote a stronger nominee for the general election. The Michigan primary is Aug. 7. Democratic physician Syed Taj seems to have the inside track for his party’s nomination. The GOP should be able to hold the seat, but clearly the campaign situation here has fallen into chaos.

McCotter to Run Write-in; Key Dem Drops Out in Ill.

It’s now official: Michigan Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) failed to submit the requisite number of petition signatures to qualify for the ballot, and the five-term congressman announced that he will seek the Republican nomination via write-in. Already on the Republican ballot is Tea Party activist Kerry Bentivolio. Two individuals thought to be potential candidates, former congressional contender Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski and businessman David Trott both say they will not run. Trott is officially backing McCotter. State Sen. Mike Kowall, originally in the race when McCotter announced his presidential campaign, is reportedly considering a write-in effort of his own.

In Illinois, Brad Harriman the 12th Congressional District Democratic nominee, is withdrawing from the race because of a recently diagnosed neurological condition. IL-12 is the state’s southwestern seat represented by the retiring Rep. Jerry Costello (D). Democratic county chairmen in the affected area will caucus and choose a replacement nominee. Republican Jason Plummer, the party’s 2010 lieutenant governor nominee, is the GOP candidate. This seat is competitive and already in the Democratic column, so the special committee of local chairmen will have to quickly recruit and support a strong replacement candidate.

Rep. McCotter May Not Qualify for Michigan Ballot

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-MI-11) is in danger of being disqualified from the Michigan ballot because he apparently has failed to submit the required number of valid petition signatures as part of the candidate filing process. Under Michigan law, congressional candidates can submit no more than 2,000 petition signatures, at least one thousand of which must be from authentic registered voters of the particular district. Reports, likely to be confirmed today, will show that McCotter is far short of the minimum required number because of significant duplication within his signature base.

Since candidate filing is closed, McCotter’s only recourse would be to run as a write-in candidate in the Aug. 7 Republican primary election. Tea Party activist Kerry Bentivolio is already properly qualified for a GOP ballot position, so McCotter would be forced to overcome the insurgent challenge from the outside. It remains to be seen if the party leaders automatically line-up behind their incumbent now that he has put himself in a less than advantageous position, or if they consider an alternative candidate.

MI-11 should be a relatively safe Republican seat, but mistakes like the one McCotter just made could lead to a highly competitive fall campaign. Dr. Syed Taj is the likely Democratic nominee, originally not expected to be a serious challenger. Should McCotter’s Republican primary write-in attempt fail, however, a Taj-Bentivolio match-up would present the Democrats with a real opportunity for victory.