Aug. 22, 2016 — Several analysis articles have appeared in the last few days indicating that the House majority might well be in play for the Democrats. Is this reality, wishful thinking, or just a partisan rhetorical ploy to engage the party base?
To re-cap, the Republicans have their largest House majority since the 1928 election, currently standing at 247-R to 186-D, with two Democratic vacancies. In order for the Democrats to secure even a one-seat majority, they would have to re-elect incumbents and candidates in all 188 of their current districts and then convert 30 Republican positions.
Initially, not all 188 Democratic seats are secure. In fact, at least one is surely coming the GOP’s way. After the court-mandated mid-decade redistricting operation in Florida, the 2nd District became a virtual Republican gimme seat. Freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) choosing not to seek re-election guarantees a Republican victory.
March 31, 2016 — The anti-Washington political sentiment is more than just a factor in the presidential race. The feeling is permeating the early congressional nomination campaigns, particularly among Republicans, and House incumbents are taking serious notice.
So far six states have held their congressional primaries: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas, and though no incumbent has lost many have deflected competitive intra-party challenges, while several others loom on the horizon. In the six states that have nominated their 2016 congressional candidates, including four with run-off systems, none has even been cast into a secondary election. The closest two results came in Texas and Illinois, where veteran representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX-8) and John Shimkus (R-IL-15) won respective 53 and 60 percent re-nomination victories.
The most serious current primary campaigns are occurring in North Carolina, now scheduled for June 7 after a court-mandated major redistricting plan forced the state to move its congressional primaries from March 15.
Feb. 10, 2016 — New Hampshire voters went to the polls yesterday for the long-anticipated New Hampshire presidential primary. A plethora of pre-primary political surveys suggested that Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders would win the respective Republican and Democratic primaries there. And they were right.
Though the media gives undue attention to this first-in-the-nation primary in relation to its size, long-term momentum is often built in the Granite State. For Republicans, New Hampshire possesses only 23 delegates (from a universe of 2,472), 20 of which are apportioned by today’s vote. On the Democratic side, this primary awards 32 delegates from an overall universe of 4,763.
With Trump placing first as the last 10 public polls all suggested –- in margins from nine to 21 points – he leads the pack of GOP candidates with a cumulative 18 total delegates even when combining his New Hampshire and Iowa totals. This still is less than two percent of the number that he, or any other contender, needs to clinch the nomination.
Feb. 4, 2016 — The Iowa delegate count released a day after the first-in-the-nation caucus concluded suggested that declaring a “winner” of the nominating event is a bit of a misnomer.
Though Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) finished first in the Republican race, his delegate take appears to be a grand total of eight. Second and third place finishers, Donald Trump and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) are awarded seven delegates apiece. Dr. Ben Carson receives three delegates, and all other participants get one apiece. Therefore, Cruz’s Iowa “victory” is netting him a one-delegate margin. He now needs 1,229 delegate votes to win the nomination, while Trump and Rubio both need 1,230, thus putting the Iowa Caucus vote into perspective.
The Democrats have a much more complicated delegate apportionment formula that rewards margin of victory in geographic regions. Therefore, despite Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) pulling into a virtual tie with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton within the state delegate system (701-697), the national delegates break 29-21 in the latter’s favor. This being said, in the face of claims to the contrary, Clinton did actually place first in Iowa because she gained in the all-important national delegate count. Under the Democratic structure a candidate needs 2,383 delegate votes to win the presidential nomination. Continue reading →
Jan. 19, 2016 — Rep. Scott Rigell’s (R-VA-2) announced retirement last week is surprising not just because it was unexpected. Since the Virginia redistricting situation that directly affects the southeastern part of the state is not fully decided, the political timing of such a declaration is precarious.
Clearly, Rigell’s decision not to seek a fourth term is being done for personal reasons and not political ones. His official statements suggest he has a “sense of accomplishment” regarding his service in Congress, and that “it’s time to come home.” If politics were involved, he would postpone a retirement announcement until the district lines are finalized, particularly because his 2nd District fares quite differently under the two redistricting plans.
The new court-ordered Virginia map would make Rep. Randy Forbes’ (R-VA-4) district virtually unwinnable for a Republican, but actually reinforces, from a GOP perspective, the Rigell seat and that of neighboring Rep. Robert Hurt (R-VA-5). Interestingly, Hurt, also after three terms, announced his retirement just before Christmas.
But Virginia redistricting is far from settled despite the lower court’s action to institute their map. Republican appellants are asking the US Supreme Court to stay the lower court decision until the high court, itself, hears arguments on the new plan and renders its own decision.
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.
Nov. 19, 2015 — Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal became the third Republican casualty of this 2016 presidential contest by suspending his campaign Tuesday. He joins Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) and ex-Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX) on the GOP political sidelines. Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) and ex-Gov. Lincoln Chafee (D-RI) have already exited stage left for the Democrats.
Gov. Jindal was hoping to make major inroads in Iowa, notching a respectable score there in the Feb. 1 Caucus vote, which theoretically could give him the momentum to become a top-tier candidate. But, his objective simply wasn’t coming to fruition. Though the governor was making some progress in Iowa – at least one poll had him as high as six percent – it was clear that his effort was falling short of what he needed to continue.
Therefore, 14 candidates remain, still the largest of all past Republican presidential fields. The Jindal exit won’t much change the flow of the campaign because he was not a factor anywhere but arguably Iowa. Never making the primetime debate, and his sagging popularity in his home state where even the Republican nominee to succeed him, Sen. David Vitter, is attempting to tie Democrat John Bel Edwards to his faltering Administration combined to place him in an untenable position for the national race. Hence, the obstacles proved too large for him to become viable. Continue reading →
Aug. 20, 2015 — There won’t be a new congressional map coming from the Virginia legislature and governor, after all. In early June, based upon their previous ruling and subsequent US Supreme Court decisions, a federal three-judge panel ordered the state legislature to re-draw, by Sept. 1, the southeastern part of Virginia after affirming that Congressional District 3 — Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Newport News) is illegal.
Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called the special legislative session for purposes of complying with the judicial ruling, but the members have already left Richmond. The map will revert to the court, where the judges will presumably draw the new map themselves.
Judicial maneuvering, and not congressional politics, caused the session to close less than a day after it began. Virginia is one of two states, South Carolina being the other, that gives judicial appointment responsibility to the legislature. The governor, during times of recess, has the right to fill judicial vacancies.
June 10, 2015 — Last October, an Eastern District of Virginia special three-judge panel declared VA District 3 (Rep. Bobby Scott, D-Richmond/ Norfolk) unconstitutional. According to the ruling, the draw packed African Americans, thereby diluting the black community’s influence in other districts even though the map was constructed to the dictates of the Voting Rights Act and previous court decisions.
The Republican appeal went to the US Supreme Court, which in turn sent the congressional plan back to the court of origination in order to determine the next course of action. The Supreme Court is using an Alabama state legislative case to chart new ground in relation to minority district redistricting and appears to be returning maps from cases before them back to the lower courts with instructions to add specifics.
The federal Virginia panel took action late last Friday and sent the map to the legislature with instructions to re-draw the 3rd District. As is the case with all redistricting, changes to one CD will affect at least two and possibly several districts. Most likely, Rep. Randy Forbes (R) will find his 4th District significantly changed, much to his chagrin. Continue reading >
April 1, 2015 — Candidate filing closed this past Friday for the MS-1 special election, which Rep. Alan Nunnelee’s (R) death made necessary. Twelve Republicans and one Democrat will be on the May 12 Mississippi jungle primary ballot. With so many candidates qualifying, a June 2 run-off between the top two finishers is a virtual certainty, since it would be very difficult for any one contender to attract a majority of the vote.
One prominent name missing from the list is former Rep. Travis Childers (D), who won the last special election held here, and then claimed a full term later in 2008. He was unseated in 2010, and then lost to Sen. Thad Cochran (R) last November in a statewide general election contest. Though it is always possible lightning could have again struck for him in a special election, the chance of Childers holding this strongly Republican northern Mississippi district for a long duration is an unlikely one, at best. Hence, his decision not to run.
The lone Democrat running is former Jackson mayoral aide Walter Zinn. His prospects of qualifying for the run-off are somewhat realistic because the Republican vote will be split literally a dozen ways. His prospects are thin, however, to capture the seat in the run-off. Aside from being a prohibitive underdog against a Republican in a one-on-one battle, Zinn’s Jackson political base is not even in the 1st District. Continue reading >