Tag Archives: Sen. Bernie Sanders

California On, Maine Off

By Jim Ellis

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

Oct. 17, 2017 — Last week we reported that Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) announced her decision seek a fifth full term next year, and that state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) was considering launching a challenge against her from the ideological left.

Sen. de Leon made good on his threat. He will risk his state Senate seat, and legislative leadership position, to enter the US Senate campaign. This will be a prototypical example of the insurgent left attacking the Democratic establishment.

In his announcement address Sen. de Leon said that California “deserves a senator that will not just fully resist the Trump presidency, but also understands the issues that most Californians face every day: that’s fighting for Medicare for all. That’s fighting for our Dreamers. That’s fighting against climate change.” This tells us that he plans to echo many of the Bernie Sanders’ themes forged against Hillary Clinton in the presidential race.

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Could Bannon Cost the GOP?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 13 2017 — Several articles have surfaced this week speculating that former presidential advisor Steve Bannon wanting to find and support challengers to Republican Senate incumbents could cost the GOP its majority. It appears individuals making such a claim have forgotten how to count.

Keeping in mind that the Democrats must protect 25 of 33 in-cycle Senate seats, there are simply not enough legitimate targets available for the minority to change their status within the chamber, even though they need a net gain of only three seats. Yes, the Dems are forcing Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ) into toss-up situations, but the remaining six GOP incumbents are some of the safest in the Senate. So, even if Bannon or other conservative insurgents recruit opposition to incumbents, the chances of the eventual Republican nominee losing the general election in these particular states are extremely low.

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The Challenges Begin

By Jim Ellis

July 3, 2017 — Action late last week emanating from Massachusetts could be a harbinger of what we can expect in the coming months. The Boston Globe reported that Cambridge City Councilman Nadeem Mazen is not seeking re-election to instead launch a significant Democratic primary challenge to veteran 10-term congressman, Mike Capuano (D-Somerville).

Mazen has not yet announced his congressional candidacy, though he has previously made public his decision not to seek re-election to the Cambridge Council when he seat comes before the voters later this year. He did tell the Globe, however, that he is “beginning to focus on campaign plans for 2018” but wants to talk to community leaders, elected officials, and “potential allies” before making public statements about any future political plans.

Mazen, the first Muslim elected to office in Massachusetts, was originally elected to the council in 2009 and, at the time, pledged to only serve two four-year terms. He has worked to activate Muslims to join the political process and run for office. Professionally, Mazen founded a film company that produces animated content.

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Virginia’s Perriello Peaking

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2017 — According to his internal polling, former US Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) has caught Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam as the two head into next Tuesday’s gubernatorial primary election.

Wednesday, the Perriello camp released a series of internal Haystaq DNA surveys that portend the former congressman now maintains a slight edge over Northam, 36.8 to 36.0 percent, with the undecideds overwhelmingly breaking to their candidate. (See Perriello ad below)

Though it appears their polling results are at odds with previous independent studies that project Lt. Gov. Northam to be holding a large, and in some cases double-digit, lead, the Perriello data progression acknowledges that their candidate was significantly behind at the beginning of May.

The Haystaq DNA release actually covers three polls conducted within the last five weeks. The firm developed a sampling pool of 2,000 respondents and began questioning them on May 2. The series ended with a third and final polling snapshot (June 1-6; 455 likely Virginia Democratic primary voters drawn from the original 2,000) that yielded the aforementioned dead-heat split.

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Conflicting Virginia Polls

By Jim Ellis

May 22, 2017 — Early in this election cycle we’ve already seen several special and odd-numbered year campaigns produce conflicting polling data, and at the end of last week, a new example came forth. Two new polls from the Virginia governor’s race, Democratic primary, produced opposite results and both can be questioned in terms of reliability.

Earlier in the week, the Virginia Education Association released a Public Policy Polling survey (May 9-10; 745 likely Virginia Democratic primary voters), which projects Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam leading former US Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) by a substantial 45-35 percent margin.

Late last week, the Washington Post and the Schar School of George Mason University released their sponsored Abt Associates poll (May 9-14; 1,604 Virginia adults; 351 likely Democratic primary voters; 264 likely Republican primary voters) that produced a much different result. According to this polling sample, it is Perriello who actually holds a 40-38 percent preference lead among the most likely June 13 Democratic primary voters.

Not only do we see inconsistent conclusions from this pair of surveys, but also methodological questions arise. The Public Policy Polling survey has the stronger sampling group particulars, but may have bias problems. PPP features a robust sample of 745 Democratic primary voter respondents but the poll was conducted for an organization that is outwardly supporting Northam, and the 10-point advantage for their candidate is beyond any previously released independent figures.

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Another Surprising Convention

By Jim Ellis

March 7, 2017 — It is commonly said that political conventions often assume a life of their own, and Sunday’s Democratic gathering in Montana to choose an at-large special congressional election nominee proved no exception to the axiom.

Last week, Gov. Steve Bullock (D) scheduled the congressional replacement vote for May 25 for the purpose of replacing former Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish), who is now US Interior Secretary. Therefore, all recognized political parties had to quickly caucus in order to choose their individual nominee. Democrats immediately announced they would meet on March 5, and Republicans followed suit yesterday. The Libertarians will select a nominee on Saturday.

Going into the party meeting at the Helena Great Northern Hotel in Montana’s capital city, state Rep. Amanda Curtis (D-Butte), a high school mathematics teacher who had been the party’s 2014 US Senate nominee, appeared to have the inside track for the special congressional nomination. Eight individuals stood before the 160 voting party members, with only two, Curtis and state Rep. Kelly McCarthy, being elected officials.

The voting consumed four rounds, with the final ballot winnowed down to Curtis and local bluegrass/country rock musician Rob Quist. On the final tally, it was Quist, born in Cut Bank, Mont. 69 years ago, who scored an upset 90-69 vote victory. Post-convention interviews suggested the majority of delegates wanted to choose the candidate they believed was more electable. Apparently, most thought Curtis would repeat her fate of 2014 when she fell to then-Rep. Steve Daines (R), 58-40 percent in that year’s US Senate campaign.

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Democrats Choose Perez

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2017 — Convention politics often produces interesting results, and the Democratic National Committee’s vote for chairman on Saturday proved no exception. Former Obama Administration Labor Secretary and Justice Department official Tom Perez was elected the new party chairman, in a race where the first and second place finishers ultimately secured the DNC’s top two internal positions.

Perez came within one tally of winning outright in the first round of voting, and then captured the chairmanship on the second ballot. Minnesota US Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minneapolis), who placed a very close second, was immediately appointed the organization’s Vice Chairman.

The national committee is comprised of 447 voting individuals, including members from overseas. The Democrats Abroad receive only half-votes for their contingency, however. Therefore, with 427 full votes being cast in the first round, the winner needed 214 to clinch the chairmanship, but Perez finished with 213. Therefore, a second round was required.

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Leading the DNC

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2017 — The Democratic National Committee convened in Atlanta beginning Thursday of last week, and before the meeting adjourned on Saturday evening the 447-member conclave elected a new party chairman. The person they elected was former Obama Administration Labor Secretary and Justice Department official Tom Perez.

Eight activists, including a former cabinet secretary and sitting Member of Congress, were vying for the position, and it was only those two who seemed to be within striking distance of claiming victory. Perez replaces interim chair Donna Brazile who is not running for the permanent position. Brazile was tabbed to replace elected chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the South Florida congresswoman, upon the latter’s forced resignation in controversy during the Democratic National Convention last July.

Perez claimed to have 205 committed votes for DNC chairman, just short of the 224 a candidate needs to score a first-ballot victory. And he almost captured the win on the first ballot. It took two ballots, however, to secure the win.

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Senate Plans

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2017
— Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), two of the Senate’s most elderly members, were at the top of the potential retirement list in 2018. But, as we mentioned in our updates during the preceding 10 days, both are now sending re-election signals.

Below is a re-cap of the 21 senators who have made public comments about their 2018 campaign status (a total of 33 are in-cycle):

California: Sen. Feinstein stated during a radio interview within the past few days that she is “leaning” toward seeking re-election, feeling that her age during the next campaign (85) will not be a particular detriment either to her political ability or in representing her constituents. She stopped short, however, of making a formal campaign announcement.

Delaware: Sen. Tom Carper (D) said in early December that he has not yet decided whether he will seek a fourth term in 2018. The senator has been in elective office for 40 consecutive years, and will be 72 at the time of the next election.

Florida: Sen. Bill Nelson (D) was also thought to be a retirement possibility, considering that he will be 76 years of age in 2018, and will complete 30 years of congressional service in that same year. Repeatedly, however, Sen. Nelson has said that he will seek a fourth term next year.

Indiana: In what promises to be a hotly contested campaign, Sen. Joe Donnelly (D) announced his re-election intention in January, and is beginning to hire political staff.

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New Wasserman Schultz Poll

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 23, 2016 — The Democratic National Convention controversy surrounding former national party chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz has dissipated, but her Democratic congressional primary battle against law professor Tim Canova is running in high gear.

With the vote coming on Aug. 30, the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper and Florida Atlantic University together sponsored a survey of 400 likely Democratic primary voters in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. The poll, administered by the Business and Economics Polling Initiative, suggests that Wasserman Schultz will likely win re-nomination, but she may find the final tally uncomfortably close.

According to the respondent group, polled during the Aug. 17-19 period, Rep. Wasserman Schultz leads Canova 50-40 percent, but delving into the poll suggests some interesting patterns that could lead to a much closer final result.

Despite Wasserman Schultz’s national problems, Democrats in her district, as evidenced by this 400-member polling sample, still view her relatively favorably. By a margin of 58:35 percent, these Democrats have a positive impression of the congresswoman. Canova scores in similar territory. The same group rated him 46:22 percent favorable to unfavorable.

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The Race Tightens — or Does It?

By Jim Ellis

July 1, 2016 — New recently released national and specific state polls are providing differing views about the presidential campaign’s current status. Though the conclusions vary among the publicly released surveys in terms of margin, all find Hillary Clinton leading Donald Trump nationally and in the key states. It the modern political era the early election cycle has always favored the Democratic presidential candidate so the fact that Clinton has the initial advantage is not unusual or unexpected.

Quinnipiac University (June 21-27; 1,610 US registered voters) just released their latest national survey, and find Clinton’s advantage over Trump and Libertarian Gary Johnson has slipped to just 39-37-8 percent, an indication that the gap is closing even though many establishment Republican leaders continue to make anti-Trump public statements.

The new Fox News poll (June 26-28; 1,017 US registered voters) finds Clinton to be in a bit stronger position than does Quinnipiac, however. Fox forecasts a 41-36-10 percent Clinton edge over Trump and Johnson.

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Incumbent Loss; Favorites & Upsets

By Jim Ellis

June 16, 2016 — Digging a little deeper for a more detailed look at Tuesday’s primary results:

District of Columbia

In what proved to be a meaningless District of Columbia primary, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton destroyed Sen. Bernie Sanders with a 79-21 percent win from almost 100,000 votes cast.

The contest concluded all primaries and caucuses and sends Clinton to the national convention in Philadelphia with more than enough pledged votes and Super Delegate support to claim an official first ballot victory in late July.

Virginia

The big news came from the Virginia Tidewater where eight-term veteran Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Chesapeake) suffered a crushing 53-41 percent defeat in his new Virginia Beach district, becoming the cycle’s second special redistricting casualty following Rep. Renee Ellmers’ (R-NC-2) loss last week.

The winner is Virginia Beach first-term state Delegate Scott Taylor (R) who spent less than 20 percent of incumbent Forbes’ $2 million total. The court-ordered mid-decade redistricting plan forced Forbes out of his 4th District. The new CD-4 includes the cities of Petersburg and part of Richmond, which virtually assures the Democrats of victory. Thus, Rep. Forbes decided to move into the open Virginia Beach anchored 2nd District an area that he had never represented in his 15-year congressional career, but which seemed to be his best available chance of prolonging his career.

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A Closer Look at Tuesday’s Results

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2016 — As has been the pattern since it became clear that both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton would be the eventual nominees of their respective parties, Trump consistently won big, breaking 67 percent in all primary venues Tuesday (California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico and South Dakota — North Dakota was a Democratic Caucus only) and averaging approximately 74 percent of the Republican vote. Clinton lost Montana, and the North Dakota Caucus to Bernie Sanders but scored surprisingly well in California, topping 62 percent in early returns. Clinton, however, averaged only in the 55 percent range, almost 20 full points below how Trump is performing among Republicans.

It’s officially onto the Clinton-Trump general election even if Sen. Sanders decides to make any type of run at the Democratic National Convention. For now, let’s take a little closer look at each state’s Tuesday results.

North Carolina

Turnouts for the stand-alone US House primaries were very low across the board Tuesday night, averaging just about 25,000 in the eight contested Republican contests and approximately 21,000 in the three significant Democratic intra-party battles. The special plurality primary was instituted in response to the federal court ordered mid-decade congressional re-draw.

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Hillary Takes Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands; A North Carolina Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 7, 2016 — Hillary Clinton won the Puerto Rico primary Sunday, capturing just under 60 percent of the vote. She unofficially defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders in pledged delegates, 36-24, and captured an additional five Super Delegates. Two Puerto Rico convention voters remain uncommitted.

The former secretary of state also won the US Virgin Island caucus on Saturday, and comes away with at least six of the seven pledged delegates who were at stake. Sen. Sanders scored one convention vote. Two Super Delegates indicated support for Clinton, with the remaining three classified as uncommitted.

Combined, she gained 42 pledged delegates and likely another seven Super Delegates for an aggregate weekend total of 49 votes. She is now and additional 49 delegate votes away from clinching the nomination, which she will do early tonight.

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Sanders’ Final Strategy

By Jim Ellis

June 3, 2016 — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) has repeatedly said he plans to take his campaign to the Democratic National Convention, but what he really expects to attain from doing so has been a relative mystery. Now, however, according to the Wall Street Journal and other sources, his plan is beginning to come into focus.

As we head into the final major primary day on next Tuesday, Hillary Clinton stands with 2,291 to 2,312 pledged and Super Delegate votes to Sanders’ 1,544 or 1,545 total, depending upon what count you view. Many media outlets have differing delegate tabulations because their Super Delegate information is inconsistent. Most of the Super Delegates can change their votes, so there is an inherent variance in the true vote count.

On Tuesday, Democratic voters in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and California will vote. It is likely that Clinton will score enough delegates from the first three voting entities of that day, the USVI, Puerto Rico, and New Jersey in the Atlantic and Eastern time zones, respectively, to officially claim the nomination.

But, Sanders won’t necessarily be through, if his convention plan gains legs. His strategy is to force a rules fight and move to bind the Super Delegates to their respective statewide vote totals instead of allowing the vast majority of them to remain as free agents.

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