Tag Archives: Rep. Conor Lamb

The House Convenes

By Jim Ellis

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) barely retained the Speakership in a narrow vote.

Jan. 4, 2021 — The 117th House of Representatives was called to order yesterday in an unusual Sunday commencement session, and even on the first day the House membership is not complete. The elected body includes 433 members. The NY-22 seat is still undecided, and the LA-5 district is now vacant due to the shocking death of Rep.-Elect Luke Letlow (R).

The vote for Speaker in favor of incumbent Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) was 216-209. Two Democrats, Reps. Conor Lamb (D-PA) and Jared Golden (D-ME), did not support Pelosi, voting for Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), respectively, while three others voted present. Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI), Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ), and Abigail Spanberger (D-VA), all re-elected with closer than expected margins, only acknowledged their presence in the chamber while responding to the vote for Speaker.

Two members were unable to participate in yesterday’s ceremony. Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach), due to cancer treatments, and fellow Sunshine State Rep.-Elect Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami), because of a positive COVID test, were absent for the first session.

Three other seats will soon be vacant. Reps. Cedric Richmond (D-LA), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Deb Haaland (D-NM) have all been appointed to or nominated for positions in the Biden Administration.

Rep. Richmond will resign on Jan. 20 to run the White House Office of Public Engagement. This position does not require Senate confirmation. Reps. Fudge and Haaland must receive Senate confirmation for their nominations as secretaries of Housing and Urban Development and Interior, respectively. They will resign from the House upon receiving such approval for their new positions.

The NY-22 election is still undecided, now two full months after Election Day, and it may still be some time before the winner is actually determined. As the counties are finally finishing their vote totals after Justice of the Oswego County Supreme Court Scott DelConte ordered seven of the eight local entities to review and properly submit the challenged ballots to the court. Justice DelConte ruled that the seven counties failed to adhere to New York election law in processing and accounting for the challenged ballots.

The totals continue to fluctuate, as Tenney has seen her 12-vote lead swell to 29, before her fortunes changed to trailing by 14 tallies. Perhaps more importantly, DelConte has been ruling in favor of Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s (D-Utica) challenges, which could be a prelude to the final outcome. More than 2,000 ballots were contested by the competing parties.

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Candidate Filings Completed in Battleground State of Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 21, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential debate of a couple nights ago is getting most of the political news coverage, Democrats and Republicans completed their filings to run for office in one of the country’s major political battlegrounds, the Keystone State of Pennsylvania.

While the state will be one of the most important in the presidential race, it also yields a significant political playing field for the House of Representatives. There is no Senate or gubernatorial election in Pennsylvania this year.

From their 18 House districts, we see only three incumbents drawing primary opposition, and only one of the intra-party challengers appears credible. The state primary is April 28.

Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R-Levittown) has one primary challenger, investment company executive Andrew Meehan, but he had raised only $35,000 through the end of last year. It is assumed that Meehan has personal wealth, but whether or not he invests in his own long-shot campaign is as yet unknown.

Freshman Rep. Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Swarthmore) draws Democratic opposition from businessman Lou Lanni, but he does not appear politically credible. Raising only $8,000 through the end of last year, Lanni is not running a competitive campaign. With little to fear from Republicans in this district, Rep. Scanlon appears to have an easy run for her first re-election.

The most interesting primary likely lies in Pittsburgh. Veteran Rep. Mike Doyle (D-Pittsburgh) faces two Democratic opponents, one of whom looks credible. While pastor Janis Brooks does not appear to be a competitive primary contender, attorney Gerald Dickinson, on the other hand, had already raised $173,000 at the end of the year, all from individual contributors. It is still very doubtful that Rep. Doyle will be denied re-nomination, but this is the one primary campaign to watch for a developing challenge.

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PA Rep. Lamb Draws Challenger

By Jim Ellis

Scott Timko (R) | Rep. Connor Lamb (D)

Aug. 2,7 2019 — Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), who came to recent national political prominence when he upset a Republican special election nominee and then defeated an incumbent GOP House member in a newly created Allegheny County-anchored district in the regular cycle, has drawn a 2020 opponent for re-election.

Rep. Lamb, who campaigns as a moderate Democrat, defeated state Rep. Rick Saccone (R) by 755 votes in an early 2018 special election and knocked out then-Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) 56-44 percent last November, could face a novice Republican candidate in his 17th CD where Donald Trump slipped past Hillary Clinton, 49-47 percent.

Former Air Force pilot and local small business owner Scott Timko (R) declared his candidacy on Friday in a campaign that could become interesting. If Timko raises enough money to become competitive, the district voters appear to be much closer to he and Trump ideologically than they are to the national Democratic agenda.

Rep. Lamb keeps his distance from the national Democrats, but Timko is already attempting to push him leftward, pointing out that Lamb supports the national leadership and won’t even accept PAC contributions from private sector corporate employees who voluntarily support their company’s political action committee.

The 17th District was created in the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court’s early 2018 mandated congressional district re-draw. Just about three-quarters of the district’s population resides in Allegheny County, and covers the outer Pittsburgh suburbs from northeast of the city all the way around to the southwest. CD-17 also includes all of Beaver County that stretches to the Ohio border, and a sliver of Butler County.

As mentioned above, President Trump won a close victory within the 17th District confines, hence Lamb’s 2018 victory margin over Rep. Rothfus was more substantial than expected. Under the court’s redistricting plan, the new 17th contained 56 percent of the territory that Rothfus represented for three terms in his original 12th District, while Lamb had only 20 percent carry over from the 18th District to which he was elected shortly before the new map was created.

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The Crystal Ball Comparison

By Jim Ellis

Professor Larry Sabato, University of Virginia

Professor Larry Sabato, University
of Virginia

July 31, 2018 — Last week, University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato released his latest “Crystal Ball” ratings of the current US House races and declared that the Democrats are a “soft favorite” to assume the majority in the coming November elections. There’s more to the story, however.

Dr. Sabato supports his claim for several basic reasons. First, he sites the historic trends that a new president’s party loses seats in the first midterm election, and traces this electoral pattern all the way back to the Civil War era. Second, he turns to the typical polling regularly released that places President Trump’s approval ratings in what he terms “the low 40s”, and includes the generic House ratings, along with the “enthusiasm” analysis. Third, is the Democrats’ record in the current cycle’s federal and state special elections, and fourth is their second quarter fundraising “advantage.”

There are counter arguments that need mentioning for each of these points.

It is questionable to compare electoral trends developed during the 1800s to the elections of today because the world has changed so much. Bringing the analysis to at least the 20th Century and looking just at the post-World War II patterns (from President Harry Truman, inclusive, to today), we find that the average seat loss in the House during a new president’s first midterm is 26 seats. But, this average combines the six Democratic presidents losing 32 seats, and the five Republicans’ dropping 15 districts. Just three elections, 1966 (Johnson; -47 seats), 1994 (Clinton; -54), and 2010 (Obama; -63) have substantially upped the overall average.

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AZ-8: Lesko Wins

By Jim Ellis

Arizona Republican candidate Debbie Lesko wins AZ-8

Arizona Republican candidate Debbie Lesko wins AZ-8

April 26, 2018 — Arizona Republican former state Senate President Debbie Lesko defeated physician Hiral Tipirneni (D) last night, 53-47 percent, to win the vacant 8th District seat that former Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria) resigned in January.

Lesko held the seat for Republicans with a high turnout of 173,708 voters, but her six-point win is being cast in the media as an under-performance. Dr. Tipirneni, however, ran a significant campaign and will spend a projected financial number in the $1 million range. Therefore, it’s not particularly surprising that a credible candidate spending significant resources would place in the mid-high 40s despite her opponent’s party being dominant in the region. Lesko will likely spend a bit less than Dr. Tipirneni but received stronger outside support, particularly from the national Republican Party apparatus.

Though Rep. Franks averaged 69.2 percent during his three terms with the district in its present configuration, he did so against candidates who spent virtually no money. In 2014, when he drew 75 percent of the vote, he didn’t have a Democratic opponent. When Franks first won in open configuration back in 2002, his initial win percentage was 59 percent against a candidate who spent only $40,000.

The most recent polls correctly forecast the outcome. Emerson College, the pollster conducting the only two publicly released polls during the period immediately preceding the election (April 19-23; 400 likely AZ-8 special election voters: Lesko 49 percent, Tipirneni 43 percent), correctly predicted a Lesko six-point victory. A week earlier the same pollster (Emerson College; April 12-15; 400 likely special election voters) actually found Dr. Tipirneni forging a small one-point lead.

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