Tag Archives: North Carolina

Sen. Tillis’ Potential Primary Fight

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R)

March 15, 2019 — According to an article in The Hill newspaper earlier this week, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R) may be headed for a serious Republican primary battle next year. The article, written by The Hill reporters Scott Wong and Alexander Bolton (THE HILL: GOP’s Tillis comes under pressure for taking on Trump), details several local Republican county chairmen expressing displeasure with Sen. Tillis’ stand against President Trump’s emergency declaration for the southern border situation.

The article also points out that Sen. Tillis led the Republican efforts to protect Independent Counsel Robert Mueller’s role in investigating the president over possible Russian collusion and other tangential issues. This is yet another issue stance that pits Sen. Tillis against his Republican base.

The article suggests that three-term Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) could be testing the waters to make a senatorial run, reporting that the congressman has conducted a statewide poll. According to the Walker Camp only Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ West Asheville) has higher name identification among the delegation members. At this point, Congressman Walker appears not to be eliminating any political option.

During the 2016 US Senate campaign, Sen. Richard Burr (R) indicated that he would not seek re-election after he completes his third term in 2022. Therefore, Walker may be looking not so much at a primary challenge to Sen. Tillis but could already be preparing for an open seat run three years from now.

Continue reading

The Outer Banks Battle

By Jim Ellis

The late longtime North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones Jr. / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Feb. 12, 2019 — The death of veteran North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-Farmville) on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019 — his 76th birthday — has sent the state’s 3rd District into a special election that will likely last all the way to Sep. 10, and the campaign will be unusually competitive.

Since the district was drawn in its current configuration in 2011, the Democrats have spent only an aggregate of $53,000 in challenging Rep. Jones. In 2018, he was unopposed. Two years earlier, Democratic nominee Ernest Reeves placed his name on the ballot but literally spent no money. During the four post-2010 census elections, Jones averaged 74.5 percent of the vote, and 66.0 percent when the uncontested campaign is removed from the configuration.

But, the special election campaign looks very different and will be the first truly competitive campaign in this part of eastern North Carolina since Jones unseated then-Rep. Martin Lancaster all the way back in 1994.

On Friday, candidate filing closed and no less than 26 Republicans, Democrats, and minor party candidates filed to run in the April 30 primary. With so many names on the ballot it is possible that both major parties could be forced into runoff elections even though North Carolina has only a 30 percent runoff rule.

For the Republicans, 17 individuals filed including a two-time primary opponent to Rep. Jones, three sitting state representatives, and the state Republican Party vice chair. But the Democrats, for the first time in more than two decades, have legitimate contenders in a district that should continually elect Republicans. The six-person Democratic field contains two former mayors, one of Greenville, the other New Bern, and two retired Marine Corps officers.

Continue reading

PA-12 NOMINEE KELLER IMMEDIATELY HITS OPPONENT, PELOSI, SANDERS, CORTEZ

Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania state Rep. Fred Keller
(R-Mifflinburg)

March 5, 2019 — On Saturday, during a seven-hour marathon special district convention marked with controversy, the central Pennsylvania Republican delegates chose state Rep. Fred Keller (R-Mifflinburg) as the party nominee for 12th District Congressman Tom Marino’s (R-Williamsport) vacated seat. Marino resigned from the House at the end of January due to professional and health reasons.

Gov. Tom Wolf (D) scheduled the replacement special election for May 21. Under Pennsylvania election law, the various political parties call a district convention or meeting for purposes of choosing a special election nominee. Originally, 24 potential Republican candidates expressed interest in running, but only 14 were successful in having their names placed into nomination before the 200-plus assembled delegates.

After Rep. Marino’s unexpected announcement, Democrats responded quickly and re-nominated their 2018 candidate, local college professor Marc Friedenberg, who advances into the special general election hoping to perform better than he did against Marino. In November, Friedenberg lost 66-34 percent while spending just over $90,000 on his federal campaign.

Saturday’s convention became controversial once the Club for Growth organization began sending mailers to the delegates attacking state Rep. Jeff Wheeland (R-Williamsport), over his record on tax issues as a legislator first elected in 2014. Prior to gathering in Williamsport, Wheeland appeared as the candidate most likely to become the delegates’ choice.

But, the convention was rocked when the representative’s stepson distributed a letter detailing how Wheeland abused he and his mother. The combination attack was enough to drive Wheeland from the race just before the fourth ballot, yielding the victory for Keller.

Continue reading

THE UPCOMING NC-3 SPECIAL ELECTION;
WILL A REPUBLICAN PREVAIL IN
A STATE THAT LEANS DEMOCRATIC?

North Carolina Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2019 — North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) announced the special election schedule for his state’s 3rd Congressional District, vacant since 13-term incumbent Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville) passed away on Feb. 10.

Candidate filing will close March 8, a short official period largely because eight individuals have already declared their candidacies. The partisan primary elections will be held April 30, followed by runoff elections, if necessary, on July 9. A secondary election will occur if no candidate receives at least 30 percent of the vote in their respective nomination election.

Should all parties nominate on April 30, then the special general will move to July 9. Otherwise, the final vote will be held Sept. 10. It is presumed that the State Board of Elections members, who have the power to schedule the succeeding District 9 election because no general election winner was certified, will follow the governor’s lead on Monday and schedule that special election within these same schedule guidelines.

With six Republicans, including three sitting state representatives already in the race, and more likely to come, the chances of the GOP being forced to hold a runoff election are extremely high.

Continue reading

Tracking Trump’s Approval Ratings
Against Electoral College Results

2016 Electoral College Results map (270toWin)


By Jim Ellis

Feb. 26, 2019 — Already beginning to project where the states might fall in the 2020 presidential election, the Gallup organization released a 50-state survey tracking study Friday that summarizes their cumulative research collected throughout the past year.

Gallup finds President Trump slightly improving his standing over a similar project conducted from their aggregate 2017 data. Meanwhile, the Civiqs polling organization projects, as do all other pollsters, that Trump’s job approval remains upside-down. In the good news category for the president, however, the latter organization finds that he is viewed more positively than either of the national political parties.

Nationally, Trump carries a 44:52 percent job approval ratio according to the Civiqs poll of registered voters (polled continually from Oct. 12, 2015-Feb. 23, 2019; 181,729 responses during that multi-year tracking period). The Democratic Party, however, posts a lesser 39:52 percent rating, while the Republican Party lags behind both the president and their political party counterpart. The GOP registers a poor 26:60 percent index.

But these numbers are not particularly unusual because the same trend among the three polling subjects has been consistent for many months. The more telling conclusion is that the deviation factor among the approval ratings has remained constant for well over a year, suggesting that the electorate continues locked in a highly polarized and negative status.

Continue reading

Alabama Senate Race Begins

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Bradley Byrne, a Republican, formally announced his candidacy for the Senate.

Feb. 25, 2019 — One of the critical 2020 US Senate contests is beginning to take shape. Over the past few days, Alabama Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) formally announced his statewide candidacy with the goal of opposing Democratic Sen. Doug Jones, who won the controversial 2017 special election that attracted national attention.

The Jones victory, defeating beleaguered Republican Roy Moore, a former state Supreme Court Chief Justice, represented the first time a Democrat won an Alabama statewide federal election since incumbent Sen. Howell Heflin secured his final term in 1990.

Prior to that, Richard Shelby, then a Democratic congressman, unseated Republican Sen. Jeremiah Denton in 1986. Shelby then switched to the Republican Party immediately after the 1994 election. Prior to the Denton victory on the same night that Ronald Reagan was first elected president, no Republican had won an Alabama seat for more than 100 years.

The Yellowhammer State Senate race could well be the lynchpin to determining which party will control the chamber after the 2020 election. With the electoral map favoring the Democrats because Republicans must defend 22 of the 34 in-cycle seats, including the Arizona special Senate election, Alabama becomes a virtual “must-win” for the GOP.

Continue reading

The Early Senate Maneuvers

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 23, 2019 — Though it is only January of the off-year, already early moves are being made in anticipation of an active 2020 US Senate campaign cycle. With 34 in-cycle Senate races on the ballot, as many as 16, at this point, could become competitive in either the primary or general election.

Below is a quick synopsis of the latest happenings in several states:


OPEN SEATS

• Kansas: The open seat is Kansas is already active with backroom discussions. After first indicating that he would not leave his current position to run for the Senate, pressure is being put on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to re-consider his decision to stay out of the battle to succeed the retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R).

Facing a badly split Republican Party in the Sunflower State, many GOP leaders at the state and federal level believe that Pompeo would be the best candidate to unify the disparate factions, which would enable him to easily hold the seat in the general election. This, after the party just lost the governorship.

• Tennessee: Former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) left office on Saturday and says he will decide in the next few weeks whether to seek retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R) open seat. No one has yet come forward to announce his or her candidacy — the prospective field presumably frozen until Haslam makes public his political plans. Should the former governor decide to run, he would quickly become a prohibitive favorite in the Republican primary and general election.
Continue reading

Senate: Early Handicapping

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 17, 2019 — The 2020 Senate election cycle features 34 races instead of 33 because of the Arizona special, and this time it is the Republicans who must defend the preponderance of seats. In 2018, Democrats held 26 of the 35 seats up for election; in this cycle, Republicans must protect 22 of the 34 Senate positions.

Republicans are first risking two open seats, those of Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. At this point, both should remain in the GOP column. They also face a slew of competitive races in as many as eight incumbent states. Democrats, on the other hand, must defend in one highly competitive campaign, that of Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama, and a potentially viable contest in Minnesota.

But the most vulnerable Republican races will attract serious political attention. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (CO), and North Carolina first term incumbent Thom Tillis are facing difficult election or re-election campaigns, in addition to Sen. Jones.

Martha McSally lost the 2018 Arizona Senate race to new Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) by 55,900 votes of more than 2.384 million ballots cast, or a margin of 2.4 percentage points. This, however, in the same election where Republican Gov. Doug Ducey scored a strong 56-42 percent re-election victory.

Continue reading

NC-9: Vacant for the Year?

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 15, 2019 — The 9th District of North Carolina, still with uncertified electoral results from November, could conceivably remain vacant until the November municipal elections as the situation continues to unfold.

The NC State Board of Elections was supposed to have met on Friday, and at that point would likely have scheduled a new election, but the panel itself is a political football. A state judge acted to dissolve the membership by refusing to issue a stay of his previous ruling.

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris has filed a court challenge to the Board of Elections not certifying his win in NC-9 and claiming his 905-vote lead should stand.

The panel became a tug of war between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican dominated state legislature even before the NC-9 controversy arose. During the transition between the time that Cooper unseated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in the 2016 statewide election and his taking office Republican legislators changed certain laws. One of those moves concerned the Board of Elections’ composition.

A judge eventually ruled that the legislature acted unconstitutionally regarding some of the changes including the legislation regarding the Board of Elections. The board was supposed to be dissolved after the election certification period, but the NC-9 problem earned the group a stay of the original ruling. The judge, however, did not see fit to allow them to continue in the new year.

At the end of the year, with Republican legislators desiring to change the special election law that would allow an open primary system instead of the general election rerun that would have been the previous board’s only option had they ordered a new vote, a new election law was enacted.

In a deal with the Democrats, the Republican leadership passed a bill that allows the open primary in exchange for giving Gov. Cooper what he wanted in terms of Board of Elections’ personnel. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both houses, but the governor vetoed. The legislature immediately overrode his action.

Continue reading

House: Opening with a Vacancy

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris

Jan. 7, 2019 — When the new House of Representatives convened last week, they did so with only 434 voting members, not 435, as the situation in North Carolina’s 9th District remains unresolved.

To recap, Republican Mark Harris scored an apparent 905-vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready on election night, but the results remain uncertified due to what a majority of Board of Elections panel members are citing as voting irregularities in one county. The panel is scheduled to next meet this Friday, Jan. 11th, and organizing a new election is the likely resolution.

Previously, the Board only had the power to order a rerun of the general election. Hence, the subsequent election would have included only Harris, McCready, and Libertarian Jeff Scott. Considering the media hit that Harris has received over the election irregularity controversy, his chances of winning the rerun are slim. (He hired the Red Dome Consulting firm, which contracted with the individual accused of orchestrating the ballot harvesting operation, McCrae Dowless, the vice chairman of the Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation Board.)

Therefore, with Republicans controlling the legislature, they quickly constructed a legislative package that would give Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper largely what he wanted in naming a new Board of Elections panel, while changing the post-election law to allow open primaries. This would give the GOP the opportunity of replacing Harris in the general election.

The legislature quickly passed the reform package at the end of the year with an overwhelming margin, because most Democrats voted for the bill as it included their much-wanted Board of Elections changes. The legislation was sent to Gov. Cooper with veto-proof majorities in both houses.

Continue reading

Apportionment Projections:
Who is Gaining, Who is Losing

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2019 — Late last year, we covered the new Census Bureau report for the states gaining and losing population during the past 12-month period. Now, we see the agency’s latest just-released numbers for the decade through this past July. Armed with the new data, outside mathematicians have made apportionment projections to provide a more defined picture as to which states will be gaining or losing US House seats in the 2020 post-census reapportionment.

With two years remaining in the present decade, trends can still change and we must remember that the reapportionment formula is complex, but the new projections give us a strong idea as to just how many seats, give or take a small variance, will transfer. At this point, according to the Washington, DC-based Election Data Services, it appears that as many as 22 seats could change location affecting 17 states.

Texas, having gained 3.55 million people since the 2010 census, looks to be adding as many as three seats for the 2022 elections and beyond. This will give the Lone Star State 39 seats during the next decade, and 41 electoral votes in the succeeding presidential elections.

Florida was the second largest gainer with just under 2.5 million new residents, meaning the Sunshine State will likely gain two seats, going from 27 to 29. In terms of raw numbers, California gained more than 2.3 million people, but it actually dropped a tenth of a point below the national growth average of 6.3 percent for the past eight years. This means the Golden State is currently on the hook to actually lose a district for the first time in history.

Continue reading

Potential Specials in North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 12, 2018 — Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Asheville) being mentioned as a possible successor to outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly means that a special election would be called for western North Carolina if the congressman were to vacate his district. Should this come to pass, the state may be forced to host two congressional special elections but possibly under different rules.

North Carolina Congressional Districts

The 9th District, which stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border, is likely headed to a new vote since the state Board of Elections refuses to certify Republican Mark Harris’ 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready due to election irregularities in one county.

Though the two potential elections could reasonably be held under the same schedule, the process parameters surrounding each are likely to be different.

If Rep. Meadows’ district opens, the special election will be run under traditional rules, meaning open partisan primaries and a general election once nominees are chosen. But, not so in the 9th District.

Under North Carolina law, should the Board of Elections declare the original election null and void after their investigation into the alleged irregularities concludes, a new special election would be a rerun of the 2018 general election, meaning the candidates would be Harris, McCready, and Libertarian nominee Jeff Scott.

Continue reading

Two House Races Still Not Decided

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 6, 2018 — Two House races are still not finalized, with one possibly headed for a new election. In California, action is still not complete now almost a month after Election Day. Democrat T.J. Cox leads Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) by 843 votes in the 21st District with an undetermined number of ballots remaining to be counted. It does appear that Cox will be declared the winner, but the election officials actually doing finalizing the race still have not done so.

In North Carolina, the state Board of Elections has blocked certifying Republican Mark Harris’ victory over Democratic businessman Dan McCready in the state’s open 9th District. The seat went to open status after the North Carolina primary in May when Harris, formerly a Baptist pastor, upset Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) in the Republican primary.

Ironically, a practice referred to as “ballot harvesting” appears to be at the heart of the California political overtime races and this one suspended result in North Carolina. Ballot harvesting is the act of an individual gathering absentee ballots from voters, bundling them together, and turning them over to election officers for counting purposes. In California, ballot harvesting is now legal. In North Carolina, it is not.

In the Golden State, the Valadao district is the last to turn. In five other seats, all Republican held, the GOP candidate led through Election Day and mail counting, only to see the tables turn when provisional ballots were added. Statewide, almost 2 million votes were in this category, so an average of approximately 35,000 such votes were present in most congressional districts.

Continue reading

NC-9: Certification Problems

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris

Nov. 30, 2018 — The North Carolina Board of Elections has failed to certify Republican Mark Harris’ victory in the open 9th Congressional District, action that may initiate a long legal battle.

Board Vice Chairman Joshua Malcolm (D) objected to certifying Harris’ 905-vote victory over businessman Dan McCready (D) from 282,717 total votes cast. The seat was open after Harris, a Baptist former pastor and ex-US Senate and congressional candidate, defeated Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) in the May Republican primary.

Malcolm cited “irregularities” in Republican Bladen County, an entity that Harris carried by 1,557 votes, obviously more than his district-wide margin, as his reasoning to the other board members as to why the result should be at least temporarily suspended.

The 9th District begins in Mecklenburg County and then travels down the South Carolina border to the Fayetteville area. It includes five complete counties and parts of three others including Mecklenburg and Bladen. Harris carried only Union County and Bladen’s 9th District section, but his margins were large enough in these two places to overcome McCready’s advantage in the other six local entities.

The North Carolina Board of Elections (BoE) is a nine-member panel that has been at the center of controversy between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican legislature. After Cooper defeated then-Gov. Pat McCrory (R), the legislators passed a series of bills that limited some of the governor’s power. One of the measures involved changing how the Board of Elections’ membership was appointed.

Continue reading

More House Calls

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 13, 2018 — While two key Senate races in Florida and Arizona as well as the Georgia governor’s campaign remain languishing in a situation rife with uncounted votes and complaints about election officials, progress is being made with outstanding House races.

California Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (CA-480

Two of the nine congressional races were called over the weekend, one for each party. Looking at the trends in the remaining seven, it appears the Democrats’ final conversion number may now approach 40.

In California, 15-term Rep. Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has gone down to defeat at the hands of businessman Harley Rouda (D). Though thousands of votes remain to be counted, a projection has been made in Rouda’s favor. Three more California races still remain uncalled, however, and a final result could still consume days if not weeks.

Rep. Rohrabacher fell into trouble in what should be a strong Republican district with stories about how the congressman was making favorable statements toward Russian president Vladimir Putin and being close to some Russian officials. The FBI warned Rohrabacher that the Kremlin had even assigned him a code name. Republicans, concerned about his actions, curtailed his role as chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats.

Rohrabacher signaled his political trouble when he scored only 30.3 percent of the vote in the state’s jungle primary, even though he finished first in a pool of 16 candidates. Rouda, placing second by just 125 votes, which allowed him to advance into the general election, was able to overwhelm the congressman in campaign funding. The Democrat’s campaign spent over $7 million, including $2 million from his personal finances, as compared to about $2.5 million for Rohrabacher.

Turning to North Carolina, Baptist former pastor Mark Harris (R) has successfully held the open 9th District Republican seat, as he defeated businessman Dan McCready (D). Harris has been projected to win with an approximately 2,000-vote margin (49.4 – 48.8 percent), and overcame a better than 1:2 ratio in campaign spending.

It appears McCready will spend close to, or over, $5 million in his losing effort as compared to Harris spending in the $2 million range. In the Republican primary, Harris unseated three-term Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte), but he managed to hold what became a competitive seat in the general election.

The 9th District begins in the Charlotte metropolitan area and then stretches along the South Carolina border all the way to the Fayetteville suburbs. McCready, a business owner, was one of the Democratic candidates saying he would not support Nancy Pelosi for Speaker, even going so far as to making the statement in his campaign ads.

The remaining uncalled offices are:

CA-10 (Rep. Jeff Denham (R) now trailing Democratic venture capitalist Josh Harder)
CA-39 (former Assemblywoman Young Kim (R) leading retired Naval officer and lottery winner Gil Cisneros (D)
CA-45 (Rep. Mimi Walters (R) leading Democratic law professor Katie Porter)
GA-7 (Rep. Rob Woodall (R) leading former state legislative committee staff director Caroyln Bourdeaux (D)
ME-2 (Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R) vs. Democratic state Rep. Jared Golden – see NOTE below)
NJ-3 (Rep. Tom MacArthur (R) trailing former National Security Council official Andy Kim (D)
UT-4 (Rep. Mia Love (R) trailing Democratic Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams)

All of these races have a greater number of outstanding and uncounted ballots than the current margins, and thus each could still turnaround.

NOTE: In the Maine district, it appears that Rep. Poliquin will likely finish ahead of Golden but will not attain majority support. In previous years, this would have elected Poliquin, as it would in almost every other state, but Maine’s new ranked voting instant run-off system will likely flip the result to Golden. Therefore, we can expect continued counting and much legal wrangling to occur until this final result is recorded.