Tag Archives: President Trump

Candidate Filings: Eye on
Mississippi and Kentucky

By Jim Ellis

Look for a rematch between Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), left, and former congressman, Mike Espy (D)

Jan. 17, 2020 — Two more states closed their candidate filing periods as primary slates in both Mississippi and Kentucky have now been determined.

Mississippi voters will cast ballots on March 10 with a run-off election on March 31 if no candidate receives 50 percent support in a partisan primary.

Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) stands for election to a full term this year after winning the 2018 special election. While it looked like the senator would receive a Republican primary challenge this year, the battle did not materialize, and she is unopposed as the GOP standard bearer. Josh Randle, the former president of the Miss America Organization, had filed an exploratory committee for a senatorial run, but apparently the research done as part of that process did not yield him a reasonable victory path. Therefore, Randle chose to take a pass on the challenge.

This means we will see a re-match between Sen. Hyde-Smith and former US Agriculture secretary and ex-Mississippi congressman, Mike Espy (D). The two battled in the special election, and Hyde-Smith scored a 54-46 percent victory in a race that appeared more competitive than the final result. Espy has two Democratic challengers, but it is doubtful that either can mount a serious offensive against the former federal official and Clinton Administration cabinet member.

All four Mississippi US House members are heavy favorites for re-election. Only Rep. Trent Kelly (R-Saltillo/Tupelo) is unopposed in his primary. Both Reps. Bennie Thompson (D-Bolton/Mississippi Delta) and freshman Michael Guest (R-Brandon/ Jackson) have weak primary opponents and each have a safe seat for the general election.

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New Arizona Data

By Jim Ellis

Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D), and Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Jan. 10, 2020 — Public Policy Polling conducted a study of the Arizona electorate (Jan. 2-6; 760 registered Arizona voters) to test the highly important impending US Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly, the presumed Democratic nominee.

PPP also ran ballot tests involving President Trump paired individually against the major Democratic presidential contenders. Even though Arizona is a critical state in the 2020 presidential general election, the early projection numbers are not particularly salient because the contest has yet to begin in earnest, but the Trump results do provide a credibility foundation to analyze the PPP Senate numbers.

The Senate ballot test shows, as does every other previous survey of this race, that the McSally-Kelly battle is within the polling margin of error. The PPP numbers, at 46-42 percent in Kelly’s favor, project a four-point spread between the candidates, which is a bit more separation than revealed in past Arizona surveys.

Both Kelly and McSally have been near the top of national Senate fundraising charts, so it is clear that each will have plenty of resources to communicate their specific campaign messages in addition to expected independent expenditures that will come into the state to aid and attack both candidates. It is already clear that the Arizona Senate race will become a national campaign.

At this point, the Grand Canyon State campaign looks to be the Democrats’ best conversion opportunity, and a victory for them becomes even more important to offset what is likely a predicted loss for Sen. Doug Jones (D) in Alabama. With the Democrats needing a net gain of at least three seats, or four depending upon the presidential race outcome, every swing seat becomes critical for both parties.

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Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport)

Jan. 7, 2020 — The House open seat total reached 40 over the weekend as veteran Tennessee Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City/Kingsport) announced that he will not seek a seventh term later this year. Rep. Roe is the former mayor of Johnson City, Tenn., and ostensibly entered federal office when he defeated first-term Congressman David Davis in the 2008 Republican primary.

Roe initially pledged to serve only five terms. He changed his mind and successfully sought re-election in 2018 saying that he had unfinished business as chairman of the House Veterans Affairs Committee. As we know, the Democrats would go onto win the majority that year, thus relegating Roe to the committee’s ranking minority member position. Losing the chairmanship virtually eliminated the foremost reason for him remaining in Congress.

The 1st District is one of the safest Republican seats in the country. The last time a Democrat was elected to the House from easternmost Tennessee dates all the way back to 1878. The longest-serving representative from the region is former Rep. Jamie Quillen (R) who held the seat for 34 years after his original election in 1962.

The 1st District occupies the eastern tail of the Volunteer State. It contains 11 counties and part of Jefferson, a domain it shares with the 2nd District that is anchored in Knoxville. The largest 1st District population centers surround the cities of Johnson City and Kingsport. Sevier County, with a population figure of just under 90,000, is the third largest segment. It contains the cities of Sevierville and the tourist centers of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge in the district’s southern sector.

The TN-1 electorate votes heavily Republican. President Trump carried the seat 77-20 percent in 2016. Mitt Romney defeated President Obama here, 73-26 percent, and John McCain recorded a 70-29 percent victory margin in 2008. In his six victorious congressional elections, Rep. Roe averaged 77.8 percent of the vote in what were always lightly contested general election campaigns.

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Castro Out; Bernie Brings in $34.5M

Julian Castro, 2020 Presidential candidate and Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary, bows out of the race.


By Jim Ellis

Jan. 6, 2020 — Saying that it simply “isn’t our time,” former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced late last week that he is ending his bid for the Democratic presidential nomination now, exactly one month before the campaign’s first votes are cast in the Iowa Caucuses.

Castro, who served the final two-and-a-half years of the Obama Administration in the president’s cabinet after a five-year stint as mayor of San Antonio and previously being elected to one term on the city council, was one of the first candidates to enter the 2020 presidential campaign. Beginning the race as a little-known political figure despite serving in a national office, Castro couldn’t get his campaign untracked. He never came close to attaining high single digit support in any poll, even when including those from his home state of Texas.

On the money front, Castro raised slightly over $10 million for his national effort. Through Sept. 30, he attracted $7.6 million in financial backing with estimates of approximately $3.5 million for his final quarter in the race. Castro qualified for participation in four of the six national candidate forums, taking a major risk in one of them that proved to backfire.

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The North Carolina Filings

All the best for a wonderful holiday season.
Ellis Insight daily updates will return on Jan. 3, 2020.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 24, 2019 — Candidate filing in the Tar Heel State closed Friday, and the North Carolina political contestants are now set for the March 3 Super Tuesday state primary. In addition to the presidential race, North Carolina voters will choose nominees for governor, US Senate, 13 congressional races, the state constitutional offices, and state legislature.

No surprises came from the presidential filings, though 38 individuals filed to run for the nation’s highest office. Twenty of the 38 are minor party candidates, however. Fifteen Democrats are running, including all of the major contenders. President Trump draws Republican primary opposition from former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and Illinois ex-congressman Joe Walsh.

Sen. Thom Tillis sees only minor Republican primary opposition and now is a cinch for re-nomination. Businessman Garland Tucker was expected to run a competitive primary race but decided to end his effort prior to the filing deadline. When Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) was drawn out of a winnable district in the court-mandated redistricting plan, he began considering entering the Senate race. The congressman, however, ultimately decided to wait a cycle and looks to run for Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) open seat in 2022.

Five Democrats filed for the Senate, but the nomination battle is realistically between former state senator Cal Cunningham, who is the party leadership favorite, and state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston). The eventual Democratic nominee will face Sen. Tillis in what promises to be a competitive general election in a state that has defeated more incumbents in the modern political era than any other place.

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