Tag Archives: Mississippi

Could Bannon Cost the GOP?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13 2017 — Several articles have surfaced this week speculating that former presidential advisor Steve Bannon wanting to find and support challengers to Republican Senate incumbents could cost the GOP its majority. It appears individuals making such a claim have forgotten how to count.

Keeping in mind that the Democrats must protect 25 of 33 in-cycle Senate seats, there are simply not enough legitimate targets available for the minority to change their status within the chamber, even though they need a net gain of only three seats. Yes, the Dems are forcing Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) into toss-up situations, but the remaining six GOP incumbents are some of the safest in the Senate. So, even if Bannon or other conservative insurgents recruit opposition to incumbents, the chances of the eventual Republican nominee losing the general election in these particular states are extremely low.

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Bannon: How Much a Factor?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2017 — Several articles have appeared in the past few days contemplating former presidential advisor Steve Bannon’s perceived political strength, most specifically regarding his actions involving recruiting Republican primary challengers against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) loyalists.

While Bannon appears in good stead vis-à-vis financial backers — with the billionaire Mercer family serving as his monetary base — those running the McConnell-aligned outside political operation downplay just how strong the insurgents might be opposite 2018 Senate GOP incumbents standing for re-election.

Valid points resonate with both sides. Buoyed by Alabama former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s victory over appointed Sen. Luther Strange in last week’s special Republican run-off election, the Bannon forces, who heaped attack ads on the interim incumbent, were naturally taking a great deal of credit for the victory. And, without doubt, anyone thinking of challenging a sitting senator is greatly encouraged after seeing the Alabama outcome.

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The Primary Fallout

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 29, 2017 — Former Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s victory in Tuesday’s special Senate run-off election has created a media narrative suggesting that statewide GOP primary challenges will soon be sweeping the political scene, but such simply won’t happen.

While Judge Moore’s win may give legs to one adjacent budding Senate primary challenge, the number isn’t going expand due to the 2018 electoral set-up. That is, few Republicans, eight to be exact, are in-cycle for the coming election and the two most vulnerable situations already feature incumbents engaged with primary opponents.

Additionally, the Moore-Sen. Luther Strange contest had unique characteristics that made a primary victory over this particular incumbent more likely, if not probable. Strange, then Alabama’s attorney general, receiving the vacancy appointment in “swamp-like” fashion from a governor trying to avoid impeachment, and using the Senate appointment process to game the system so that he could later choose the person who would continue the legal investigation of himself, cast Strange in a negative light from his very first day in Washington.

Furthermore, the new senator attracted only 32 percent in his first election, meaning that two-thirds of his own party’s Aug. 15 primary voters turned away from him at their first opportunity, was a clear signal that Strange’s appointment was met with widespread dissatisfaction and that the former AG wouldn’t last long in his new job.

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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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Flake Opposition Mounting

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

By Jim Ellis

July 5, 2017 — With the Republican healthcare overhaul bill remaining in a controversial state, and Democrats already trying to use it as a rallying point for potential 2018 candidates, the Arizona Senate field is beginning to form. Currently, three potential challenger candidates continue to weigh their options on the political sidelines.

Because Democrats have so few targets in the present election cycle – Republicans must only protect eight of the 33 states holding Senate elections, and six of those are in arguably their strongest political domains: Mississippi (Wicker), Nebraska (Fischer), Tennessee (Corker), Texas (Cruz), Utah (Hatch), and Wyoming (Barrasso) – they have no choice but to go hard after the two GOP incumbents entwined in more marginal political situations: Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Though Arizona voters routinely elect many more Republicans than Democrats, despite many campaigns ending in relatively close fashion, the Dems are forced to make a major play against Sen. Flake because they simply have no other secondary place with as much 2018 competitive potential. On defense in 25 states, Senate Democrats will not win the majority because a net gain of two, including defeating Sen. Flake, would yield only a 50-50 tie. Such a division would allow Vice President Mike Pence to ensure that the GOP majority continues in his role as the body’s tiebreaker.

Last week, both Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) and state Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson), the latter man coming to notoriety as the doctor who saved Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-Tucson) life when an insane gunman tragically shot her, brought forth public attacks on the current healthcare legislation and began sounding like candidates.

Mayor Stanton and Dr. Friese confirm they are considering entering the Senate race, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that one or both men could announce their candidacy on the heels of the Senate healthcare vote, particularly if Sen. Flake supports the legislation. Both would be credible candidates and it is unclear at this writing if one would step aside in favor of the other.

Another individual hovering in the background of this Grand Canyon State political picture is Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix). She has been on a fundraising tear, and though already announcing her intention to seek a fourth term in the House, Sinema does admit to be considering a Senate bid if the circumstances are favorable. By that, she means Sen. Flake drawing a strong Republican primary challenger. It is also unclear if Rep. Sinema will risk her now safe Maricopa County House seat to join what could be a crowded Democratic primary against potentially top-tier candidates even if she perceives Flake to be politically weak.

As we will remember from the last campaign cycle, Sen. Flake became embroiled in a public feud with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and relations between the two men remain less than cordial. After the election, Flake’s internal Republican polling standing suffered greatly as a result, thus making him potentially vulnerable in next year’s Republican primary. Already, former state Sen. Kelli Ward is an announced GOP challenger, but she is not typically regarded as a heavyweight candidate even though she held Sen. John McCain to a 51-40 percent re-nomination percentage in the 2016 Republican primary.

At the end of last year, state Treasurer Jeff DeWit (R) was polling strongly against Flake, actually leading him in some internal polls, but has yet to come forward to announce a Senate challenge. He has said he will not seek re-election to his current position, however.

The Arizona race will clearly be an interesting one. Republicans still maintain a 1.259 million to 1.102 million voter registration edge over Democrats with 1.235 million categorized as Independents. Though the party registration figures are at virtual parity, the GOP electoral resume is strong.

The only Democrat to win a US Senate seat here since 1962 is Dennis DeConcini, who served three terms before retiring in the 1994 election cycle. The Dems have fared better in governors’ races during that same 55-year time span, electing six of the 13 state chief executives who have occupied the office. Currently, the US House delegation stands at 5R-4D, while the GOP controls both houses of the state legislature.

More on the House

By Jim Ellis

June 27, 2017 — Yesterday, we examined the House’s post-special election status and speculated upon the Democrats’ chances of wresting majority control away from Republicans during the coming regular campaigns. One of the obstacles that make the Democrats’ task difficult is that only 15 early seats are open, and Republicans risk just nine of the total sum.

What could bring Democrats greater opportunity is the number of potentially open seats — that is, where members are, reportedly, considering running for another office. In this category, 18 incumbents are said to be contemplating different political moves that, if executed, would send their current seats into the open category.

Of the 18, only two are Democrats. Should Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) draw a major Republican primary opponent, Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) is likely to jump into the Arizona statewide race thinking her victory chances become more realistic if Flake is forced to battle through a difficult intra-party contest. In Maryland, Rep. John Delaney (D-Potomac) is still reportedly considering entering the governor’s race to challenge incumbent Larry Hogan (R). The Democratic field is expanding, however, with former NAACP president Ben Jealous and Prince Georges County Executive Rushern Baker just recently announcing their candidacies, so Rep. Delaney’s decision is likely becoming more difficult.

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Senate: Utah & Mississippi

By Jim Ellis

March 13, 2017 — Originally elected in 1976, no Republican senator has served longer than Utah’s Orrin Hatch, and he is the eighth longest-serving member in American history. At the end of last week, he informed the media that he’s “planning on” running for an eighth term in 2018.

In 2012, Sen. Hatch indicated that he would be serving his final term upon election that year, but now his intention has apparently changed. The press office statement proved less definitive than Sen. Hatch’s words, however, suggesting that there is still a possibility for retirement.

“Senator Hatch appreciates the encouragement he’s receiving to run for reelection. While he has not made a final decision about his plans for 2018, he has made plans thus far to ensure all options remain on the table,” came the official statement clarifying the Senator’s earlier comments.

Earlier in the year, former governor and US ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman (R), indicated an interest in running for the Senate. He said at the time that he did not intend to challenge Sen. Hatch, should the latter decide to seek re-election. With Huntsman now appearing to be President Trump’s choice for Ambassador to Russia, it is unlikely that he will be in the Senate campaign picture irrespective of what Sen. Hatch decides.

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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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Early Voting: Definitive?

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 31, 2016 — Thirty-seven states and the District of Columbia have some form of what is commonly called “no excuse” early voting, and some of those release the number and type of ballots being returned well before Election Day. Can this provide us an insight into how the election is already unfolding?

There are many analytical pieces now in the public domain featuring many different conclusions. It doesn’t appear likely, however, that the early voting numbers are really telling us much. It appears that no matter what your electoral preference, you can find an early voting analysis that supports your individual political outlook.

Therefore, with so many more voters projected to take advantage of the early voting process, it’s difficult to make comparisons between this election and those from the past. It is likely that either a majority of 2016 voters, or close to one, will cast their ballots prior to the actual Nov. 8 Election Day, up from approximately 40 percent in the last presidential election.

Forty states have some type of no-excuse early voting procedure, including every individual entity west of the Mississippi River. Six states: Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, South Carolina, and Virginia, technically allow early voting, but one must indicate a coming absence from the home area during the Election Day period in order to cast an early ballot.

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State by State

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 9, 2016 — The Washington Post just released their Survey Monkey online polling data for all 50 states. (Poll: Redrawing the electoral map) It gives us our first complete look at the nation’s political predisposition on a state-by-state basis through August and early September (polling period: Aug. 6-Sept. 1).

The results, with several exceptions, are not particularly surprising. The answers you’d expect after understanding how this entire election campaign has unfolded relate to just how negatively people view both candidates. That is, 95 percent of the respondents said at least one of two major party contenders, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, would “threaten the nation’s well-being”. Twenty-one percent believe both are a similar threat.

The polls’ cumulative effect gives Clinton a discernible electoral vote lead, which is consistent with other publicly available survey research information. But, several states are inconsistent with other published data and vote history.

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Competitive House Primaries

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2016 — The anti-Washington political sentiment is more than just a factor in the presidential race. The feeling is permeating the early congressional nomination campaigns, particularly among Republicans, and House incumbents are taking serious notice.

So far six states have held their congressional primaries: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas, and though no incumbent has lost many have deflected competitive intra-party challenges, while several others loom on the horizon. In the six states that have nominated their 2016 congressional candidates, including four with run-off systems, none has even been cast into a secondary election. The closest two results came in Texas and Illinois, where veteran representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX-8) and John Shimkus (R-IL-15) won respective 53 and 60 percent re-nomination victories.

The most serious current primary campaigns are occurring in North Carolina, now scheduled for June 7 after a court-mandated major redistricting plan forced the state to move its congressional primaries from March 15.

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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

Ohio Filings

Dec. 21, 2015 — With several states holding concurrent primaries (with the presidential election) in March, candidate filing deadlines are passing. The Ohio candidates became official at the end of this week.

Sen. Rob Portman (R) will face two minor Republican opponents before competing with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the general election. Strickland has one credible Democratic opponent, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld who repelled pressure from party leaders to exit the race. One minor Democratic contender also filed. Two Independents and a Green Party candidate will also present themselves on the US Senate ballot.

In the House races, 15 of the 16 incumbent Ohio congressmen will seek re-election. Only the 8th District of resigned Speaker John Boehner (R) will be open and settled in a special election. The special primary will be held concurrently with the regular nomination contests on March 15, with the related general on June 7. Eighteen Republican candidates filed for the safe GOP seat just north of Cincinnati. Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, state Sen. Bill Beagle, and state Rep. Tim Derickson appear to be the top GOP candidates. The eventual winner will square off against the lone Democrat who filed, party activist Corey Foister.

Four congressmen, three Republicans and one Democrat, drew primary opposition, but only one is a serious challenge, while another may develop.

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Early Primary Races

Dec. 2, 2015 — The early presidential calendar brings March congressional primaries to seven states. Instead of doubling the election cost with a stand-alone presidential primary followed by a commensurate state nomination event later in the year, several legislatures decided to move their entire cycle to an unusually early calendar slot.

The March primary states, aside from Texas and Illinois, which normally hold their nomination voting then, are: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio.

March 1

Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby faces Republican primary opposition from four opponents, one of whom, businessman Jonathan McConnell, could self-fund a campaign should he choose to do so. This is a good example of where the short time frame hurts potential challengers. Sen. Shelby should have little problem disposing of his competition to win re-nomination for a sixth term. Should Shelby fall below 50 percent, a run-off election would be held on April 12.

All seven House members are seeking re-election. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL-2), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) all face Republican opposition. All are favored to win without a run-off.

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