Tag Archives: Rep. Diane Black

A Not So Open Seat

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2017 — Currently, we see a low number of open US House seats during this 2018 election cycle, and the number is about to get even smaller. Colorado Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Golden) is expected to announce that he has changed political course once again and now will seek re-election.

In April, the six-term congressman announced his candidacy for governor, only to withdraw two months later. At the time when ending his statewide bid, Perlmutter confirmed that he would not be seeking re-election to a seventh term in the House. Believing the 7th District, a likely Democratic seat, would be open in 2018, three state legislators and a former US Ambassador jumped into the party primary.

At the very least, each of the three legislators has previously indicated that they would end their congressional campaigns and defer to the returning incumbent should he decide to return. Therefore, it is likely Perlmutter’s re-entry into the congressional race will not spur a competitive primary campaign.

Assuming this predicted new course of action proves true, the number of open regular cycle House seats will temporarily drop to 20. At this point in time, the total open seat universe is half of what it was in the last two election cycles, and less than one-third the high water number of 64 we saw in 2012.

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Another Tennessee Open

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 4, 2017 — For the second time this week, a Volunteer State Republican seat came open for the succeeding election. Following Rep. Jimmy Duncan’s (R-Knoxville) retirement announcement in the state’s 2nd District, House Budget Committee chair Diane Black (R-Gallatin) declared her candidacy for governor, thus opening her 6th District for the 2018 campaign.

In an announcement video (see above) that left no doubt she will be campaigning as a strong conservative, Rep. Black attempted to neutralize what may be her most glaring negative … that she is a member of the US House. In her one minute, 46-second video announcement, the congresswoman emphasizes the work she’s done for Tennessee and makes clear that she will use intense rhetoric to convey her positions, such as opposing “the weak-kneed people in her own party.” Professing to be like most Tennesseans, Rep. Black says she is among the majority who “do things the right way, no matter what Hollywood or Washington thinks about it.”

Rep. Black joins an open Republican governor’s field that includes state House Speaker Beth Harwell, state Sen. Mae Beavers, former state Economic Development Commissioner Randy Boyd, business owners Bill Lee and Kay White, and entertainer Mark “Coonrippy” Brown. Former Nashville Mayor Karl Dean and state House Minority Leader Craig Fitzhugh, so far, comprise the Democratic contingent. Gov. Bill Haslam (R) is ineligible to seek a third term.

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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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Tennessee Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 8, 2016 — Volunteer State voters went to the polls in their unique Thursday primary last week to choose congressional and state office nominees. The evening featured two of the most watched congressional races in the state, the GOP primary challenge to three-term Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg) and the crowded open 8th District from which three-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump/Jackson) is retiring.

Former Mitt Romney campaign official and attorney Grant Starrett challenged Rep. DesJarlais, who had been plagued for two cycles with the past scandal of engaging in extra-marital affairs with several of his female medical practice patients. Yet, he managed to survive in close contests. Two years ago, the congressman nipped former state Sen. Jim Tracy (R) by a mere 38 votes in winning with less than a majority in a multi-candidate field.

On Thursday, DesJarlais’ percentage was much better, defending himself against Starrett’s attacks from the ideological right and winning 52-43 percent, from a vote pool of just under 47,000 cast ballots. Though Starrett talked a great deal about ethics in his ads and public appearances, he did not reference DesJarlais’ affairs. Starrett had a significant resource advantage, possibly outspending the incumbent by 75 percent or more. We will see the final expenditure totals when the candidates soon file their post-election financial disclosure reports. Starrett will have likely spent in the $1.5 million range. Rep. DesJarlais now looks to be a sure re-election bet in the fall.

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Tennessee Primary: Another Upset?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2016 — The country’s only Thursday primary took place yesterday in the Volunteer State of Tennessee. No US Senate race was on the ballot there this year, but competition existed within the House delegation.

The state featured one open seat, the 8th District of retiring three-term Rep. Stephen Fincher (R-Frog Jump/Jackson), and a total of six primaries in the state’s nine CDs.

The 4th District challenge to Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-South Pittsburg/ Murfreesboro) was very serious. Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) again drew competition from the legendary political Ford family, but the contest is not attracting much in the way of attention or challenger financial support. Rep. Diane Black (R-Gallatin) drew a former state representative and statewide candidate, but he, too, was not expected to be a major threat.

The remaining challenges, those to Reps. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-Chattanooga), were minor. Regarding the latter member, this was the first time since his original election in 2010 that Fleischmann had an easy Republican primary run.

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Sanders & Cruz Win Again;
Tennessee Filings

By Jim Ellis

April 12, 2016 — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) won his seventh consecutive Democratic nomination event as he scored a Saturday afternoon 56-44 percent Wyoming Caucus victory over Hillary Clinton. Though he realistically cannot close the delegate gap, mostly because of Clinton’s overwhelming strength among the party’s free agent Super Delegates, Sanders has still managed to win the popular vote in 17 states and territories as compared his opponent’s 20.

Wyoming has only 18 Democratic delegates, and while Sanders decisively won more state delegates in their caucus system, Clinton is coming away with more national convention delegate votes thanks to the aforementioned Super Delegates.

Once the regular and Super Delegate votes are tabulated, Clinton looks to have scored a positive 11-7 margin, despite the state delegate tally cutting against her.

According to The New York Times, the updated unofficial national count finds Clinton with an overall 1,756 to 1,068 advantage. This means the former Secretary of State is 627 votes shy of obtaining the 2,383 delegates required to claim the nomination with 20 states and territories yet to vote. Therefore, she needs less than one-third of the remaining delegates to win.

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Tennessee Today

The nation’s only Thursday primary occurs today with several races on tap for the Republicans. Democrats will have a relatively quiet night.

Senate

Two-term senator and former presidential candidate Lamar Alexander (R) faces a total of six Republican challengers, two of whom have raised in the neighborhood of $1.5 to $2 million apiece for their respective campaigns. State Rep. Joe Carr and self-funding physician George Flinn are the senator’s top challengers, but the fact that the anti-Alexander vote will be split among six GOP candidates goes a long way to ensuring that the senator will win re-nomination. Alexander’s other key structural advantage is that Tennessee is the only southern state that does not employ a run-off system. Therefore, whoever garners the most votes this evening, regardless of percentage, wins the party nomination.

Interest increased in this race after Mississippi state Sen. Chris McDaniel out-polled Sen. Thad Cochran in their state’s June 3 Republican primary, but dissipated when the senator scored a come-from-behind victory in the June 24 run-off. Tea Party activists around the country believed that “Alexander was next” when they thought that Cochran was headed for defeat.
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Three Real Primary Dust-ups

Though the government shutdown delayed filing of the candidates’ quarterly disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission, some of the dollars and cents information has already started flowing into the media. Of all the data being reported, three specific campaigns are noteworthy because challengers to incumbents within their own party are already reporting more money raised and in the bank than for their respective opponent.

MI-11

The first salvo has been fired in Michigan in attorney David Trott’s (R) challenge to freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R), and it is a serious blow. According to published reports, the challenger is going to post raising over $648,000, including a substantial contribution from himself – although the exact amount was not released – with $452,000 cash-on-hand. Bentivolio had a very poor second quarter, raising only $39,000, and reporting approximately $59,000 in his campaign account. We will soon see the extent of his third quarter take.

Rep. Bentivolio is often described as an “accidental congressman” because he entered office under unusual circumstances. Filing as a Tea Party challenger against then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R), Bentivolio became the only qualified Republican candidate on the ballot when the incumbent failed to submit enough valid nominating petition signatures. He then went on to win the general election with strong help from the Liberty for All Super PAC, which spent more than $600,000 as an independent expenditure on his behalf.

It is unclear if the congressman will receive such support this time around, but it is becoming apparent that he will need major assistance in order to compete against Trott. Armed with heavy establishment Republican Party support, Trott will soon be sporting the type of campaign resources usually reserved for an incumbent. A primary challenger victory is highly possible in this suburban Detroit district.

TN-4

Another Republican congressman who might be denied renomination is Tennessee sophomore Rep. Scott DesJarlais. A scandal broke late in his first re-election bid, one  Continue reading >

The South Carolina Special

Gov. Mark Sanford (R)

Gov. Mark Sanford (R)

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) has scheduled the special election to replace senator-designee Tim Scott (R-SC-1) in the House as he moves to the Senate to replace resigned Sen. Jim DeMint (R).

The 1st Congressional District party primaries will occur on March 19, with a run-off on April 2 should no candidate receive a majority vote. The special general election will then follow on May 7.

The now vacant CD-1 includes most of what is commonly referred to as South Carolina’s “Low Country.” It contains part of the city of Charleston and the Sea Islands, located along the way to the Georgia border, picking up the Mt. Pleasant, Beaufort and Hilton Head communities. The seat is heavily Republican (Rep. Scott won a 62.4 percent Continue reading>