Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Chaffetz to Retire; Cruz Down

By Jim Ellis

April 21, 2017 — Five-term Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Alpine/Sandy) announced Wednesday that he will surprisingly retire from the House at the end of the current term. Chaffetz, chairman of the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee, says he wants to return to the private sector and devote the rest of this time in Congress to completing his open investigations. The congressman said he may well run for public office again, but not in 2018. When asked about him entering the impending open 2020 gubernatorial race, Chaffetz joked that he is a “definite maybe.”

Rep. Chaffetz becomes the 14th House incumbent who will not be on the ballot for the next election, including the four remaining special congressional elections. At least another 15 members are reportedly considering seeking a different elective office, or outright retirement. Nine of the previously mentioned 14 are Republicans.

Utah’s 3rd Congressional District is safely Republican. President Trump took the district with 47.2 percent of the vote, while Hillary Clinton actually placed third, just behind Independent Evan McMullin at 23.3 percent. The 3rd was one of Mitt Romney’s strongest districts in the entire country. In 2012, he defeated President Obama, 78-19 percent, in this CD. Reviewing the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. John McCain won here with a 68-30 percent margin.

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The Gloves Come Off in GA-6

By Jim Ellis

April 7, 2017 — National fundraising has exploded in the GA-6 special election, especially for the Democrats. Candidate Jon Ossoff (D), who has won unanimous support from national liberal groups, reports now raising more than $8 million for his special election campaign. Republicans have already spent over $4 million, meaning that this campaign will likely set a national record for special election expenditures.

Democrats believe their chances of electing investigative filmmaker Ossoff are strong, while Republicans are countering with a barrage of heavy media attack ads designed to tarnish the highly touted candidate’s image. (See example below)

Georgia’s 6th District is a traditionally Republican north Atlanta suburban seat that Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price represented since his original election in 2004. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) were the previous incumbents.

The Dems find themselves in a position of having a candidate around whom they can coalesce while the Republicans see five serious candidates within a field of 11. As we have reported several times, all polling shows Ossoff leading the race in the 40 percent range, but it is highly unlikely that he can touch the 50 percent threshold in order to win the seat outright on April 18. If not, then he and the top vote-getting Republican will advance to a June 20 run-off election. Polls show dead-heat ballot test pairings between Ossoff and the strongest Republican candidates.

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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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PA: Understanding What Happened

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 17, 2017 — Now that the 2016 presidential election result has been dissected into congressional districts, we have the ability to understand just how Donald Trump scored his upset presidential win. Pennsylvania was one of the key battleground states, and arguably the one that put President Trump over the top.

As in most states, Hillary Clinton performed very well in the cities and inner suburbs – usually even better than President Obama’s commensurate and victorious 2012 totals – but Trump’s performance in the outer suburbs and rural areas, where turnout notably increased, outdid her stout showing.

Examining Pennsylvania, and looking at the state through metro congressional districts and comparing them to those in outer suburb and rural regions, we see starkly different trends.

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Senator   Mitt Romney?

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 8, 2017 — Sen. Mitt Romney?

According to the Salt Lake City Deseret News, former Republican presidential nominee and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is not yet ruling out a potential 2018 Utah Senate race.

Jump-starting the speculation is Romney’s comment saying that “all doors are open” in response to a question from a Deseret political news reporter about the upcoming federal election. Romney was attending an event yesterday commemorating the 15th anniversary of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games that he directed when being interviewed.

“I don’t have any predictions on what I might do. I’m not going to open a door and I’m not going to close a door. All doors are open,” Romney stated when answering the question. Such a quote is a long way from actually expressing interest in the Utah Senate race, but it is clear he is giving himself some latitude with respect to mounting a statewide political effort.

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Two Kansas Races:
Retirement & Special

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 27, 2017 — Rep. Lynn Jenkins bows out of politics, opening up the KS-2 congressional district, and Rep. Mike Pompeo’s confirmation as CIA director under President Trump opens up the KS-4 congressional district. Here’s a look at how those openings are expected to play out:

KS-2

It was expected that five-term Kansas Rep. Jenkins (R-Topeka) would not seek re-election in 2018, but her actual announcement contained a surprise. Most politicos believed Rep. Jenkins would enter the open governor’s campaign, but that will not be the case.

The congresswoman did, in fact, announce that she will leave the House at the end of the current term, but will not be running for governor or any other office. Jenkins intends to return to the private sector after completing her final term in Congress.

Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, and a great many names have been mentioned as potential statewide candidates. Now that Rep. Jenkins will not be a gubernatorial contender, the race to succeed Brownback becomes even more wide open. Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), Attorney General Derek Schmidt (R), and Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R) are attracting attention as prospective candidates. For the Democrats, 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis, the former state House minority leader, resides in this district and could potentially become a congressional candidate.

CD-2 lies in eastern Kansas, stretching in a north-south direction from Nebraska to Oklahoma. The two largest population centers are the capital city of Topeka and Lawrence, the home of Kansas University. The seat is reliably Republican but has elected Democrats from time to time. President Trump carried the 2nd, 56-37 percent. Four years ago, Mitt Romney out-polled then-President Obama, 56-42 percent.

Once this open seat race takes shape, the eventual Republican nominee will be viewed as a strong favorite, but a Democratic wave year, if such were to form, could potentially make this open seat race competitive.

KS-4

Since Rep. Pompeo (R-Wichita) immediately resigned his congressional seat upon being confirmed as President Trump’s CIA Director earlier in the week, Gov. Brownback (R) scheduled the replacement election for Tuesday, April 11. The two parties will determine for themselves how their nominees will be chosen, but it will be through an internal party procedure that must be completed by Feb. 18.

The Republicans have already announced that the 126-member 4th District Republican Committee will choose the special election nominee. The eventual GOP candidate will likely be a prohibitive favorite to win in April. Democrats have not yet announced their nomination structure.

The 4th is a strongly Republican seat. President Trump scored a 60-33 percent victory here over Hillary Clinton. In 2012, Mitt Romney’s victory margin over then-President Obama was 62-36 percent.

In anticipation of the special election, several individuals have already announced their candidacies, including former US Rep. Todd Tiahrt (R). Also petitioning the Republican committee members are state Treasurer Ron Estes, Wichita City Councilman Pete Meitzner, former radio talk show host Joseph Ashby, petroleum company CEO George Bruce, and Trump Transition Team member Alan Cobb.

For the Democrats, former state Treasurer Dennis McKinney and international relations consultant Laura Lombard are the two most prominent announced candidates.

Kansas’ largest city, Wichita, anchors the 4th District that occupies the south-central region in the state, just along the Oklahoma border. Much more will develop on this special election now that the vacancy is official, and with a newly defined short election cycle.

More Virginia News

By JIm Ellis

Jan. 18, 2017 — Yesterday, we wrote an update that quoted a December Public Opinion Strategies (POS) survey testing the Virginia gubernatorial candidates (Dec. 11-13; 500 likely Virginia voters; Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) 43 percent — ex-RNC chairman Ed Gillespie 38 percent) and made the statement that the poll is still worth considering because not much would politically change over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays. Apparently, such is not the case.

A more current study (Mason-Dixon Polling & Research; Jan. 5-10; 625 registered Virginia voters) shows a different result. According to the Mason-Dixon data, it is Gillespie who leads, forging a 44-41 percent advantage over Lt. Gov. Northam.

In the previous POS poll, the other Republican potential candidates, Prince William County Board chairman Corey Stewart and state Sen. Frank Wagner, were within basically the same range as Gillespie.

That’s inconsistent with Mason-Dixon, however. In this poll, Northam does considerably better against Stewart, leading him by a relatively robust 45-38 percent spread. Wagner was not tested, probably because the state legislator had less than 10 percent name identification according to this same sampling universe.

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Key House Races; Key Polls

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2016 — Now that all political contests are in full campaign mode, we can report new numbers on five of the most hotly contested House race conversion opportunities for both parties.

AZ-1

One of the few truly swing congressional districts in the country, the expansive eastern Arizona 1st District is again the site of what should be a toss-up political contest. With Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) vacating the seat to run for Senate, the resulting general election matchup between former state Sen. Tom O’Halleran, who served a portion of his time in the legislature as a Republican, and controversial Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu (R) will be interesting to watch.

While Mitt Romney carried the 1st by a margin of 50-48 percent, a new Global Strategy Group survey (Sept. 22-25; 400 likely AZ-1 voters) finds Hillary Clinton topping Donald Trump, 46-43 percent. The same sample then yields a 45-38 percent O’Halleran lead.

The seven-point Democratic congressional margin equals what the GSG found in August, but the electorate has shifted. While more Republicans now support Babeu, Independent voters are trending toward O’Halleran.

A Democratic victory here, however, merely holds one of the party’s 188 seats and does not cut into the Republican majority.

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The States Tighten

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 12, 2016 — As the national popular vote pulls into a virtual dead heat, polls released yesterday in the critical swing states suggest that a similar pattern is occurring in the individual voting entities, too.

To re-cap the Electoral College map, in order to win the national campaign Donald Trump must keep the 24 states Mitt Romney claimed in 2012, including key swing North Carolina, and then win Florida and Ohio. President Obama won both of these latter states in each of his national campaigns. For her victory configuration, Hillary Clinton need only preserve 80 percent of the states that Obama won twice.

Once Trump secures the Romney coalition plus Florida and Ohio, he then must take at least one more state totaling more than 16 Electoral Votes, to reach the minimum victory threshold of 270 Electoral Votes. Adding Pennsylvania, for example, would award Trump the presidency.

Quinnipiac University publicized four state polls yesterday, covering each key swing entity. In Florida and Ohio, the Q-Poll finds Trump returning to parity with Hillary Clinton. He trails in North Carolina, however. Though still behind in Pennsylvania, the research projects him pulling back to within five points of her and halving the deficit he faced in the August Pennsylvania Quinnipiac survey.

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The Big Swings

By Jim Ellis

July 21, 2016 — If we use the 2012 presidential map as the starting point for projecting the current campaign’s outcome, we can see that the race could literally be determined in three large swing states. If Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump maintain the states that President Obama and Mitt Romney each won four years ago with the exception of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, such a configuration would result in a Trump national victory.

To review, President Obama received 332 Electoral Votes, winning 26 states and the District of Columbia. Romney took 24 states for a total of 206 Electoral Votes. The grand total for Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania is 67 Electoral Votes, meaning Trump winning all three would give him 273 national votes and ultimate victory. It takes 270 Electoral Votes to win the Presidency.

A Trump victory is also dependent upon him carrying the 22 states that have gone Republican in every presidential election of this century, and Indiana, which strayed only in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama carried the Hoosier State by one percentage point. The addition of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to the ticket should help in that regard, if any is needed.

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Pivotal Minnesota

By Jim Ellis

May 10, 2016 — If the Democrats are to have any chance of making major gains in the 2016 House of Representatives elections, they must take advantage of seats in states like Minnesota where they traditionally perform well. Now, it appears the slates are virtually set for the North Star State’s fall elections.

The Republicans held their party endorsing convention over the weekend, which likely produced their congressional nominees. The Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party (DFL) held their convention at an earlier date.

While the DFL candidates are challenging for two of the state’s three Republican seats, the Minnesota GOP also has two potential conversion opportunities.

The weekend’s major convention fight came in Rep. John Kline’s (R-Burnsville) open 2nd District. There, radio talk show host and 1990 congressional candidate Jason Lewis (R) prevailed on the sixth ballot to win the party endorsement. Normally, the convention victory is tantamount to nomination but two of the losing candidates in this district, manufacturing executive Darlene Miller, who enjoys outgoing Rep. Kline’s endorsement, and former state Sen. John Howe look to force an Aug. 9 primary.

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A Tar Heel Sleeper?

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2016 — With the presidential campaign dominating the political media, it is easy to lose sight of the highly important 34 Senate races running simultaneously. At least one campaign appears to be in transition, and is rapidly shifting from relatively safe to potentially competitive.

Throughout 2015, it was commonly believed that North Carolina represented the Democrats’ most glaring candidate recruitment failure. Try as they might to attract a top name office holder or former statewide official like ex-US Sen. Kay Hagen, the party leaders could not convince a person of significant political stature to run. They settled for ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross and small town mayor Chris Rey. But the recent primary results and a new poll suggest that this race may be ascending the targeting charts.

In the March 15 statewide Democratic primary, Ross easily captured the Senate nomination and posted a much stronger-than-anticipated 62 percent against Rey (16 percent) and two other opponents. North Carolina carries a 40 percent run-off requirement; meaning, if no candidate exceeds this particular vote threshold the top two finishers move to a secondary election. Questions about Ross cracking the 40 percent mark consumed the pre-race predictions.

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Iowa Monday; Rep. Ribble to Retire

Feb. 2, 2016 — After more than a year of campaigning and anticipation, the first votes of the 2016 open presidential campaign were cast Monday evening. Both Republican and Democratic voters attended precinct caucuses in the Hawkeye State of Iowa to record their presidential preference.

The Iowa Republican precinct caucuses ended in a virtual three-way tie last night, with no candidate receiving even 30% of the vote. Sen. Ted Cruz (28 percent), Donald Trump (24 percent) and Sen. Marco Rubio (23 percent) each are expected to garner a respective 9, 8 and 8 delegates.

The Democratic side turned out equally interesting. In their much different system, where voters’ choices translate into state delegates for each candidate, it was former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders ending in a virtual tie.

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Yet Another Retirement;
Virginia Update

Jan. 11, 2016 — Rounding out the week is our third House retirement announcement, this time from Georgia Republican Rep. Lynn Westmoreland (R-Coweta County), a 12-year congressional veteran. The congressman will serve the remainder of this term and then potentially begin a campaign for the open governor’s position in 2018. Incumbent Nathan Deal (R) will be ineligible to seek a third term that year.

Westmoreland, who is in no political danger within the confines of the 3rd District and was unopposed in the last election, said it would not be fair to his current constituency to run for another office while ostensibly representing them in Washington.

Georgia’s 3rd District is located southwest of Atlanta, stretching from the Alabama border to the northeast almost directly into The ATL’s dominant outer suburban ring. The district’s largest population centers are LaGrange, Carrollton, and Griffin, along with the Pine Mountain region. It is a heavily Republican seat, as evidenced from Mitt Romney obtaining 66 percent voter support in the 2012 presidential contest. This, and the fact that few Democrats hold any office in the region, makes it clear that the Republican nomination contest will determine Westmoreland’s successor.

The Georgia state primary is scheduled for May 24, with the all-but-certain run-off slated for July 26. We can expect a large field of Republican candidates. Rep. Westmoreland’s retirement means that 36 seats will be open in the 2016 election cycle, 21 currently in Republican hands.

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Ellmers’ Vulnerability

Dec. 14, 2015 — Time sometimes changes perspective in politics. Three-term North Carolina Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) came to Congress with a 2010 victory margin of just under 1,500 votes against then-Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-Lillington/Durham) in what became one of that cycle’s biggest Tea Party upsets. Now running for a fourth term, some of the congresswoman’s past allies are backing one of her Republican primary opponents. Her performance in office has disappointed various conservative segments.

This week, the Club for Growth, one of the most prolific conservative outside support groups endorsed Rep. Ellmers’ top primary opponent, former Chatham County Republican chairman Jim Duncan. The Ellmers’ conservative detractors have a major problem, however, in that the anti-incumbent vote is split among three candidates. In addition to Duncan, local radio talk show host Frank Roche and public relations executive Kay Daly are both in the race.

With the Club helping Duncan, his resource base will expand exponentially. He becomes Ellmers’ key challenger and, if the other two could be talked out of running before the upcoming Dec. 21 candidate filing deadline (for the March 15 primary), would be in strong position to deny her re-nomination. But, considering that North Carolina employs a 40 percent run-off rule, defeating any incumbent in a crowded field is a difficult proposition. To avoid a secondary election, Ellmers would only have to reach the 40 percent plateau to clinch the nomination, which, in the 2nd District is the tantamount to winning in November.

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