Tag Archives: Massachusetts

Senate Candidate Review

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 25, 2017 — After Friday’s review of the open House races, today we update the first half of the 33 in-cycle Senate races in terms of serious candidate personnel. Tomorrow, we will complete the remaining 17 states.

In contrast to the House where 26 regular cycle seats are open, no current Senate incumbent has announced his or her retirement.

(Regular type means the individual is an announced contender; italics denote possible candidate.)

ARIZONA — TOSS UP
Sen. Jeff Flake (R)
Kelli Ward (R) – former State Senator
Jeff DeWit (R) – State Treasurer
Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D) – US Representative
State Rep. Randy Friese (D) – Physician; Tucson area state legislator
• Sen. Flake is in trouble in the Republican primary largely due to his personal feud with President Trump. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) waits in the wings. Should she enter the race, there is a strong chance the Democrats coalesce behind her.

CALIFORNIA — SAFE D
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)
State Sen. Kevin de Leon (D) – State Senate President
• Indications are suggesting that Sen. Feinstein, now 84 years old, will seek re-election. She should have little in the way of opposition, but state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) made public statements about challenging the senator after the latter made a favorable comment about President Trump. Unlikely such a challenge will actually happen, however.
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A Not So Open Seat

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2017 — Currently, we see a low number of open US House seats during this 2018 election cycle, and the number is about to get even smaller. Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) is expected to announce that he has changed political course once again and now will seek re-election.

In April, the six-term congressman announced his candidacy for governor, only to withdraw two months later. At the time when ending his statewide bid, Perlmutter confirmed that he would not be seeking re-election to a seventh term in the House. Believing the 7th District, a likely Democratic seat, would be open in 2018, three state legislators and a former US Ambassador jumped into the party primary.

At the very least, each of the three legislators has previously indicated that they would end their congressional campaigns and defer to the returning incumbent should he decide to return. Therefore, it is likely Perlmutter’s re-entry into the congressional race will not spur a competitive primary campaign.

Assuming this predicted new course of action proves true, the number of open regular cycle House seats will temporarily drop to 20. At this point in time, the total open seat universe is half of what it was in the last two election cycles, and less than one-third the high water number of 64 we saw in 2012.

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Rokita In; Tsongas to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2017 — Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) is generally considered to be the first or second national Republican conversion target, and the GOP candidates are beginning to come forward.

Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) announced, as expected, his run for the Senate and immediately pressed the attack before his supporters to “Defeat the Elite,” a phrase that he defines as pertaining to “lobbyists, bureaucrats, politicians and the media.”

Rokita was first elected to the House in 2010 after serving two terms as Indiana’s secretary of state. He averaged 65.5 percent in his four congressional elections, and leaves his western 4th District as a safe Republican seat.

The announcement creates a major Republican primary with fellow Rep. Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) and state Rep. Mike Braun (R-Jasper). Messer tweeted about two weeks ago that he will soon become a Senate candidate with a formal announcement to follow.

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Senate: What the Money Says

By Jim Ellis

July 20, 2017 — Though electronic filing is still not yet required for US Senate candidates, several incumbents and challengers have made their financial numbers available via the public media. Outlets such as the Daily Kos Elections page, The Hill, Politico, National Journal, and local news organizations have allowed us to grasp where some of the key races stand financially.

There has already been a great deal of discussion in recent days about the upcoming Arizona Senate contest, and the dollars raised again reveal a familiar pattern. For the second quarter in a row, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix), who says she is not an active Senate candidate but is clearly readying herself in case an opportunity arises, i.e., incumbent Sen. Jeff Flake (R) attracting a strong Republican primary opponent, again raised $600,000 in a quarter, thus putting $3.2 million in her account, about $200,000 more than incumbent Flake.

Finances often give us clues as to impending political moves. California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), the body’s oldest member at 84 years of age, raised just $600,000 in the second quarter and has $3.5 million in the bank. This is a low total for a senator from the nation’s largest state. This may be an indication that Feinstein may not seek re-election. In direct comparison, 83-year-old Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), who has been less committal about re-election than Sen. Feinstein and from a state a small fraction of California’s size, raised over $1 million in the quarter and has over $4 million cash-on-hand.

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The Challenges Begin

By Jim Ellis

July 3, 2017 — Action late last week emanating from Massachusetts could be a harbinger of what we can expect in the coming months. The Boston Globe reported that Cambridge City Councilman Nadeem Mazen is not seeking re-election to instead launch a significant Democratic primary challenge to veteran 10-term congressman, Mike Capuano (D-Somerville).

Mazen has not yet announced his congressional candidacy, though he has previously made public his decision not to seek re-election to the Cambridge Council when he seat comes before the voters later this year. He did tell the Globe, however, that he is “beginning to focus on campaign plans for 2018” but wants to talk to community leaders, elected officials, and “potential allies” before making public statements about any future political plans.

Mazen, the first Muslim elected to office in Massachusetts, was originally elected to the council in 2009 and, at the time, pledged to only serve two four-year terms. He has worked to activate Muslims to join the political process and run for office. Professionally, Mazen founded a film company that produces animated content.

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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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America’s Ideology

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2016 — The Gallup organization conducted a month long poll (Jan. 20-30) of almost 200,000 respondents (177,788 US adults) to determine where America stands ideologically. They find that the country still leans decidedly to the right, but not as strongly as in past years.

The three most conservative states are Wyoming (35-point difference between those self-identifying as conservative as opposed to liberal: 49 percent conservative – 14 percent liberal), Mississippi (31-point difference; 46-15 percent), and North Dakota (31-point difference; 43-12 percent).

The three most liberal states are all in the New England region: Vermont (14-point difference; 40 percent liberal – 26 percent conservative), Massachusetts (8-point differential; 33 percent liberal – 25 percent conservative), and Connecticut (4-point difference; 31 percent liberal – 27 percent conservative).

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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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House Races: The Florida Bellwether

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 7, 2016 — The general election campaigns are just about set. Now into September, just two primary days remain (Sept. 8: Massachusetts — Sept. 13th: Delaware, New Hampshire, Rhode Island) and only in New Hampshire’s 1st District – a seat that has defeated more incumbents than any district in the nation since 2006 – and the open Delaware at-large CD is there any remaining nomination uncertainty.

Looking at the entire House, the current majority stands at 246 Republicans, 186 Democrats, with three vacancies. Two of the seats with no current Representative are Democratic, that of the late Rep. Mark Takai (D-HI-1) and PA-2, which Rep. Chaka Fattah-D resigned after being convicted on federal corruption charges. The remaining position, coming open today, belongs to Kentucky Republican Ed Whitfield (R-KY-1). The congressman announced a year ago that he would not seek a 12th term and last week made public his plans to leave the House early. All three seats will remain with their respective parties, meaning the effective partisan division is 247R-188D.

In order to re-capture the House majority they lost in the 2010 election, the Democrats must first secure all 188 of their own seats, and then convert 30 Republican districts just to obtain a one-seat margin of control. No statistical forecasting suggests that such an outcome is in sight.

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The Real Super Tuesday

March 11, 2016 — March 1 earned the billing of “Super Tuesday” because 13 states held a primary or caucus that day, but the real deciding date at least for Republicans is next week’s Tuesday, March 15.

The true action in the coming days is on the Republican side despite Sen. Bernie Sanders’ upset Michigan victory earlier this week. Should Donald Trump win both the key Winner-Take-All states of Florida (99 delegates) and Ohio (66), he would isolate himself as the only candidate able to win a first ballot victory.

If Trump converts Florida and Ohio, and places first in the proportional states of North Carolina (72 delegates) and Illinois (69), as polling currently suggests, while taking a significant share of the Missouri congressional district Winner-Take-All format (52), he will likely fall into the range of committing approximately 712 delegate votes by next Wednesday morning. This means he would need 53.4 percent of the 983 available delegates from the 22 post-March 15 remaining voting entities in order to secure a first ballot victory.

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Trump and Clinton Deliver,
But No Knockout Punch Quite Yet

March 2, 2016 — Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump delivered strong performances last night in their respective Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses, but neither could land the knockout punch for which they hoped.

Clinton continued her dominance in the south, but surprisingly stumbled in Oklahoma. She won seven of the 11 Democratic voting entities last night.

Trump also took seven of the 11 Republican voting states; Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) placed first in three, his home state of Texas, Oklahoma and Alaska; while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) was victorious in the Minnesota Caucus. Despite placing first in seven voting entities, Trump broke the 40 percent threshold in only two places: Massachusetts and Alabama.

Though Trump has a healthy early lead, he is far from securing the 1,237 delegate votes required to clinch the party nomination. This suggests that the possibility of forcing a contested, or brokered, remains tangible.

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Next Steps in the Presidential Race

Feb. 23, 2016 — South Carolina Republicans went to the polls in record numbers (737,924 voter turnout, far surpassing the previous high of 601,166; a 23 percent increase) on Saturday to give Donald Trump all 50 of the state’s delegates.

Because South Carolina uses a Winner-Take-All by congressional district system, Trump placing first in all seven seats gave him a combined 21 delegates. Matched with the 29 at-large delegates he received for winning the statewide count, a backdoor Winner-Take-All result occurred.

In Nevada, while Hillary Clinton’s 53-47 percent win in the Democratic Caucuses was close, the psychological effect and momentum swing prove greater than her percentage margin. A Bernie Sanders victory could have begun to seriously unravel the Clinton campaign just when the former Secretary of State was fighting to overcome the aftermath of a frayed early start. Safely clearing Nevada, she is now has the chance to score big in her strongest geographical region: the South.

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The Changing Presidential Campaign

Feb. 12, 2016 — The presidential candidates are now exiting the race just as fast as they were entering about a year ago. In early to mid-2015, there were 17 Republican candidates and five Democrats, but after yesterday those numbers are now, respectively, seven and two.

Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and businesswoman Carly Fiorina joined the cavalcade of Republican candidates abandoning their presidential quest, as both came to the realization through disappointing New Hampshire finishes that neither has a path to victory in the national contest. Since the Iowa Caucus ended, ex-Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD), ex-Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Christie, and Fiorina have all left the race.

Breaking 10 percent of the New Hampshire vote was a must for Christie, because that is the minimum vote threshold required in the state’s delegate apportionment formula. Realistically, the New Jersey governor needed a John Kasich-type finish (second place) to jump-start his effort in order to seriously vie for the moderate and establishment sectors’ support. Virtually making New Hampshire a watershed state for his campaign, it was little surprise that Gov. Christie ended his national effort when he failed to achieve his stated Granite State goals.

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Immigration Politics: The White House Task Force on New Americans

Fox News ran a story over the weekend quoting “Republican strategists” as saying that the new White House Task Force on New Americans is targeting specific numbers of legal non-citizen immigrants in 10 states with the underlying purpose of increasing Democratic voter registration. They complain the Task Force is fast-tracking people in this category for citizenship to make them eligible to participate in the 2016 presidential election in order to increase the Democratic Party advantage.

The Task Force’s stated goal is to help “welcome” the new immigrants and more seamlessly assimilate them into American society. The administration is emphasizing national economic benefits as the reason for making it easier to qualify the legal immigrants for citizenship. They argue that the immigrant population represents 13 percent of the national population, slightly larger than the African American share, but comprises 16 percent of the workforce, and is responsible for creating 28 percent of all new businesses. About half of those in the legal immigrant category are Hispanic, with Asians being the second largest group.

Though voting privileges will be part of attaining citizenship, the 10 states chosen – because 75 percent of the legal immigrants reside in these places – are almost exclusively not swing political states. It is clear that seven of the 10, and maybe as many as nine, are established Electoral Vote havens for one party or the other.
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Republican Wave Hits Land

As was beginning to be forecast during the past weekend, the speculated-about Republican wave did form, and it hit the political terrain with much greater force than predicted.

The 2014 election is as strong a Republican wave as occurred in 1980, 1994, and 2010. GOP candidates may exceed 247 seats in the House (and could reach 250), which will be the largest majority they’ve had since reaching 270 seats all the way back in the 1928 election. They also exceeded expectations in the Senate by winning at least 53 seats, and actually increased their total of governorships in the face of virtually all predictions projecting GOP losses.

Republicans successfully took control from the Senate Democrats and gained eight seats for total of 53 with Louisiana in a run-off still to come in December. Senate Committee leadership will now all change to Republican and the membership ratios between the two parties will reflect the full Senate’s new partisan division that will be finalized in the next few weeks.

The Louisiana Senate race between Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) and Rep. Bill Cassidy (R) is still to be decided in a Dec. 6 run-off. Sen. Landrieu barely finished first in the state’s “jungle” primary (42 percent) and came nowhere close to obtaining 50 percent of the Continue reading >