Tag Archives: Sen. John McCain

Special Election Called in PA

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

Jan. 29, 2019 — While most of the special election banter surrounds the still undecided North Carolina situation (NC-9), the first new election of the year has just been scheduled.

With Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino’s (R-Williamsport) surprise announcement earlier this month that he was resigning from the House, a move he made official on Jan. 23 to accept a position in the private sector, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) has already called the replacement special election to fill the new vacancy.

As expected, Gov. Wolf made the 12th District special election concurrent with the Pennsylvania statewide municipal primary, which is scheduled for May 21. There will be only the one election, and the candidate receiving the most votes, regardless of percentage attained, will serve the balance of the current term.

In the meantime, the 15 county chairmen from the qualified political parties will schedule a convention in the district to choose their respective nominee. Generally, the convention is weighted to accurately reflect the population spread throughout the district. Therefore, the most populous counties within the 12th CD, Lycoming and part of Centre that together possess 29 percent of the district’s population, will likely have a commensurate number of votes at the special nominating convention.

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Sinema & McSally Both Headed
to Washington as Senators

By Jim Ellis

L-R — Arizona Reps. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) and Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Dec. 20, 2018 — Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) defeated Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) for the open Arizona seat by 55,900 votes in November, but ironically now both are headed to Washington as new members of the US Senate.

Gov. Doug Ducey (R) announced that he is appointing Rep. McSally to fill the Senate vacancy after interim Sen. Jon Kyl (R) resigns on Dec. 31. McSally will then serve the next two years of the current term and looks to stand for a special election that will run concurrently with the regular 2020 election cycle. Whoever wins that election will then have the opportunity of running for a full six-year term in 2022 as the elected incumbent.

The late Sen. John McCain (R) won for the sixth time in 2016, meaning four full years remain before this seat next comes in-cycle.

The reaction to McSally’s appointment was predictably partisan. Republicans were generating positive comments mostly about her strong record of military service while Democrats responded that Arizona voters already rejected the Tucson House member, and saying they will beat her again in 2020.

While true that senator-elect Sinema did win the election just past, the battle was hard fought, and the victory spread ended close, 50-48 percent. McSally led through most of the counting and the final result was determined days after the last vote was cast. Therefore, suggesting that the state’s voters overwhelmingly rejected McSally is quite a stretch.

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McSally Surges in New Arizona Poll

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Oct. 12, 2018 — A new OH Predictive Insights survey for ABC News 15 in Phoenix (Oct. 1-2; 600 likely Arizona voters) brings new information about the open Arizona Senate race. According to the ballot test results, Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) has overcome Rep. Kyrsten Sinema’s (D-Phoenix) consistent small lead in the battle to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R) and claims a six-point advantage, 47-41 percent.

Though this is the first time that Rep. McSally has scored a lead beyond the polling margin of error, the new result is plausible.

For several weeks, surveys have projected that Gov. Doug Ducey (R) is expanding his small advantage over Arizona State University professor and Democratic gubernatorial nominee David Garcia into a double-digit lead, but the same polls continued to forecast Rep. Sinema with a tight edge in the Senate race. It seemed only a matter of time before the act of Ducey cementing his margin would begin to help McSally.

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ)

Secondly, McSally, a retired Air Force colonel and the first woman to fly a combat mission and command a flight squadron, has been hitting Sinema over her role as a war protester prior to the latter woman being elected to the state legislature. The contrast is a compelling one and should play to McSally’s favor. Arizona may be more politically competitive that in past years, but Republicans still maintain a statewide advantage here. Additionally, the death of Arizona Sen. John McCain brings greater attention to those engaged in military careers, thus further helping McSally.

An outside conservative organization then began attacking Sinema over legislation she drafted while in the legislature that made it more difficult to charge individuals in child prostitution cases. Sinema’s argument was that men should not be held totally responsible for engaging in such a crime if the prostitute in question is made to look much older than her true age. This attack appears relatively weak and may miss the mark, but it adds to the multi-pronged strategy to cast Rep. Sinema in a negative light.

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Mountain Polling

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJune 25, 2018 — The Utah state primary is tomorrow, and we have finally seen a poll testing former presidential nominee Mitt Romney in his run for the open Senate seat that the venerable Orrin Hatch (R) is vacating after what will be 42 years of legislative service. In New Mexico, Carroll Strategies released a statewide survey last week of 1,199 of the state’s registered voters and segmented the respondents into the state’s three congressional districts. We look at the upcoming primaries in both states:

Utah Senate

According to the Hinckley Institute at the University of Utah (June 11-18; 654 registered Utah voters, 356 likely Utah Republican primary voters), Romney has a commanding lead as the campaigns enter the final days before Republican voters choose their nominee. In late April, state Democratic convention delegates nominated Salt Lake County Councilwoman Jenny Wilson as the party standard bearer, so there is no Democratic Senate primary on Tuesday.

The polling results find the 2012 Republican presidential nominee leading state Rep. Mike Kennedy, a Provo physician who outpaced Romney among delegates at the Republican state convention, by a whopping 65-23 percent margin. Therefore, little doubt exists that we will see a sizable Romney victory this coming Tuesday night.

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Arizona Senate: Filing Closes,
New Poll Shows Surprise

Arizona-mapBy Jim Ellis

June 1, 2018 — Candidate filing closed in Arizona Wednesday for the state’s Aug. 28 primary election, and the US Senate candidate fields are now set. Little in the way of surprise — barring last minute filers who have not yet been reported, the Republicans, who are attempting to replace retiring Sen. Jeff Flake (R), number three in total: US Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson), former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, and ex-state senator and former US Senate candidate Kelli Ward. For the Democrat primary, US Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) faces attorney Deedra Abboud, a minor candidate.

Remington Research just released the results of their latest Grand Canyon State GOP primary survey conducted last week (May 23-24; 2,011 likely Arizona Republican primary voters via an interactive voice response system). According to the data, Rep. McSally attracts 42 percent support as compared to ex-Sheriff Arpaio’s 25 percent, while Ward tallies 23 percent. In two other polls conducted in April, Rep. McSally led in one and Ward the other.

While the McSally advantage is 17 and 19 points over Arpaio and Ward in the most current survey, she led the former sheriff and the ex-state legislator, 36-26-25 percent in a mid-April Magellan Strategies poll. OH Predictive Insights, however, found Ward jumping out to a 36-27-22 percent advantage over Rep. McSally and Arpaio in their early April study.

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A False Alarm in Virginia

By Jim Ellis

Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville)

Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville)

May 29, 2018 — The news media was filled with stories last week that freshman Virginia Rep. Tom Garrett (R-Scottsville/Charlottesville) was about to announce his retirement. And Late last week, Rep. Garrett fueled such talk in telling the media that he would hold a news conference to address his status. But the speculation proved overblown when Garrett clarified, in what was described as a long and rambling news availability, that he will seek a second term in the fall.

Rep. Garrett, who parted ways with his chief of staff last week and who is not known for being an aggressive fundraiser, partially fed into the idea that he would not seek re-election. Through April 8, Garrett had only $133,275 in his campaign account. Observers invariably drew a comparison with his Democratic opponent, journalist Leslie Cockburn. She has raised more than $715,000 but only has $271,113 remaining. Cockburn does have the wherewithal to self-fund her campaign to a significant degree, however.

Before the Garrett retirement flap, Democrats were looking at this race as a second-tier potential target. Garrett won the 2016 election with 58 percent of the vote against Albemarle County Supervisor Jane Dittmar, another Democratic candidate who was originally believed to be competitive and did, in fact, spend over $1.3 million on her campaign.

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New Arizona Senate Data

By Jim Ellis

Sen. John McCain (R) -- Negative approval rating and pressure to retire

Sen. John McCain (R) — Negative approval rating and pressure to retire

April 19, 2018 — Magellan Strategies independently surveyed the Arizona Republican electorate (April 11-12 and 15; 755 likely Arizona Republican primary voters) to test the state’s upcoming Senate race, along with Sen. John McCain’s (R) status and that of other key elected GOP leaders.

According to Magellan’s results, US Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) outpaces former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio and ex-state senator and 2016 US Senate candidate Kelli Ward, 36-26-25 percent, an improvement for the congresswoman when compared to previously published polls.

In January, Phoenix-based OH Predictive Insights released their poll that found McSally leading 31-22-19 percent over Arpaio and Ward, while another Arizona-based survey research firm, Data Orbital, found a much tighter three-way split, 31-29-25, again with McSally topping Arpaio and Ward, consecutively.

Much speculation still surrounds Arpaio’s candidacy. Some believe that he will drop his Senate campaign prior to the state’s May 30 candidate filing deadline, instead using the race as basically a vehicle to raise money to cover legal fees from battling charges filed against him during the past two years. President Trump pardoned Arpaio after he was found guilty of criminal contempt in relation to refusing to follow a judge’s immigration order while in his position as sheriff.

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The Daily Retirement Briefing

California Rep. Darrell Issa

California Rep. Darrell Issa

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 12, 2018 — California Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Vista) latest re-election, a 1,621-vote victory over retired Marine Corps Colonel Doug Applegate (D) in CA-49, proved to be the closest US House result in the nation during 2016, but there will not be a re-match this year.

Rep. Issa announced Wednesday that he will not seek re-election to a 10th term, becoming the 48th House member to take this action in the current election cycle. With Arizona Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) reportedly primed to declare her Senate candidacy today, the number will quickly grow to 49. Issa’s action directly follows that of fellow California Rep. Ed Royce (R-Yorba Linda/ Fullerton), who announced on Monday that he won’t run for a 14th term.

Both men faced difficult re-election battles, as do five other California Republicans that Democrats are targeting. Because President Trump fared so poorly in California, the Democratic strategists believe the same pattern will carry over into the midterm cycle. But, such a result remains to be seen.

Though Republicans are clearly in worse position without Rep. Royce running again, that might not be the case concerning Issa’s. With his negatives growing and a close call in the previous election, the party might actually fare better with a fresh face, particularly when the Democrats do not have a clear alternative. Though Applegate is running again, he is facing a stiff challenge from at least two other Democrats, wealthy attorney Mike Levin, and former US State Department and United Nations official Sara Jacobs. Real estate investor Paul Kerr rounds out the current Democratic field.

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The Next Special: Nominees Set

By Jim Ellis

Former Pennsylvania Assistant US Attorney Conor Lamb (L) | Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Saccone (R)

Former Pennsylvania Assistant US Attorney Conor Lamb (L) | Pennsylvania State Rep. Rick Saccone (R)

Nov. 21, 2017 — After the raucous Alabama special Senate election concludes on Dec. 12, voters in western Pennsylvania will go to the polls next March 13 to fill a US House vacancy. We will remember that Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) resigned under pressure in October after a series of extra-marital affairs came into public view, with allegations that he urged a mistress to have an abortion at the very time he was co-sponsoring pro-life legislation.

Murphy had represented his southwestern Keystone State district since originally winning election in 2002, in a seat the preceding redistricting plan created as open. Prior to serving in Congress, Rep. Murphy was elected to two terms in the Pennsylvania Senate.

Upon the congressman’s resignation, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) scheduled the replacement general election for March 13. Under Pennsylvania statute, there is no primary to choose partisan nominees. Rather, the various political party members meet in a special district convention to choose among individual candidates.

A week ago Saturday, Republicans chose state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Elizabeth/ Jefferson Hills) who had previously dropped his US Senate campaign to take his chances in the open House seat. Prior to winning his position in the state legislature in 2010, Saccone had served as an Air Force officer, a civilian employee of the Army in Iraq after retiring from active duty, and a television anchorman for a South Korean English-language news station. He also was assigned to North Korea for the purpose of assisting with a proposed agreement to prevent further nuclear weapons development. Saccone won the GOP nomination on the second ballot, defeating state Sens. Guy Reschenthaler (R-Bethel Park) and Kim Ward (R-Greensburg).

Democrats met in their 18th District special convention Sunday and chose as their standard bearer. Lamb, like his future Republican opponent Rep. Saccone, also won nomination on the second ballot by defeating Westmoreland County Commissioner Gina Cerilli, former Obama Veterans Administration official Pam Iovino, Allegheny County Councilman Mike Crossey, psychologist Rueben Brock, writer Keith Seewald, and emergency physician Bob Solomon.

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Hensarling Retirement:
Open Seat Effect

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, (TX-5)

Rep. Jeb Hensarling, (TX-5)

Nov. 2, 2017 — House Financial Services Committee chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) announced Tuesday that he will not seek a ninth term in Congress next year to represent Texas, the timing coinciding with his internal term limit as the major committee’s leader. Hensarling was first elected in 2002 when then-incumbent Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) decided to jump to a new safe north Dallas Republican district leaving open this south Dallas-anchored seat, which, at the time, was politically marginal.

In that redistricting year, Hensarling, a former aide to Sen. Phil Gramm (R) before taking positions in the private sector with financial and energy producing companies, won the Republican nomination outright against four other GOP candidates, scoring 53 percent of the vote. He went on to record a 58-40 percent November victory, and would then average 73 percent over his seven re-election campaigns without ever being seriously challenged.

Texas’ 5th Congressional District now encompasses a substantial part of east Dallas County, including the city of Mesquite, before stretching southeast to annex five full counties and a partial one. After Dallas and Mesquite, the district’s largest population centers are the cities of Palestine, Jacksonville, and Athens.

President Trump tallied a 63-34 percent victory over Hillary Clinton here in 2016, following Mitt Romney’s similar 64-34 percent margin four years earlier. Even Sen. John McCain in President Obama’s first winning election posted a 62-37 percent spread within the TX-5 confines. Therefore, the district is solidly Republican and should not be hotly contested in next year’s general election campaign.

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Two Polls; One Interesting, One Bad

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 1, 2017
— Two political polls were released into the public domain yesterday. The first survey is of interest because it already examines a budding open seat Arizona Senate Republican primary, and becomes the first gauge of how former state Sen. Kelli Ward, who had been challenging Sen. Jeff Flake (R), performs in a new situation.

Another in a series of Virginia gubernatorial polls was also published Monday as we begin the last week of the election contest. Here, we question the results’ accuracy.

Arizona Senate

Former Arizona state senator and GOP Senate challenger Kelli Ward

Former Arizona state senator and GOP Senate challenger Kelli Ward

Speculation has been hot and heavy during the past few days, the first time interval since Sen. Flake announced he would not seek a second term largely because of dismal re-election prospects. Culminating the early conjecture are Phoenix-based Data Orbital’s (DO) new conclusions (Oct. 26-28; 500 likely Arizona GOP primary voters) finding former state Sen. Ward leading a pack of potential Senate candidates, but with a margin that suggests the impending Republican primary is anybody’s game.

Looking at the DO results, Ward places first with 26 percent, followed by Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) at 19 percent, and former Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa) coming next at 10 percent, while ex-Rep. John Shadegg (R-Scottsdale), Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale), and Arizona University Regent Jay Heiler score 6, 5, and 1 percent, respectively.

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Fast Action in Arizona

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson)

Oct. 30, 2017 — Sen. Jeff Flake’s (R) announcement Wednesday that he will not run for re-election has ignited a flurry of political activity in Arizona about who now might enter the newly open 2018 Senate race. Decisions are already being made, with many quickly saying they won’t run for the seat.

A great deal of attention surrounds 2nd District US Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) for obvious reasons, because she is likely the best Republican candidate on paper, but the congresswoman has yet to make a public statement about running for the Senate. Published reports, however, quote sources close to her as saying she is being “inundated” with supporters urging that she run.

Winning her first congressional election in 2014, a 161-vote victory over then-Rep. Ron Barber (D-Tucson) that proved to be the closest congressional result in the country that year, and then racking up 57 percent support over former state Rep. Matt Heinz (D) last year even though Hillary Clinton was scoring a five-percentage point win in her southeastern Arizona congressional district makes Rep. McSally a proven political commodity. As a freshman House member, she raised an eye-popping $7.7 million for her first re-election effort. This year, ranking high on Democratic target lists and drawing eight announced opponents including former US Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Flagstaff) who moved to Tucson right after losing to Sen. John McCain (R) in the 2016 election, Rep. McSally already has accumulated over $1.45 million for her next campaign.

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The New Arizona Senate Race

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 26, 2017 — Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake (R) surprised most in the political world during a speech a couple days ago from the Senate floor, and thereby to the nation, that he will not seek re-election for a second term.

Former Arizona state senator and GOP Senate challenger Kelli Ward

Former Arizona state senator and GOP Senate challenger Kelli Ward

With the text of his retirement address devoted mostly to his long-enduring battle with President Trump, Sen. Flake admits to having “regrets” about leaving elected politics and over the nation’s current state of affairs. But, the more salient reason hastening his departure is likely the polling data that shows his standing among Republicans is worse than the Arizona electorate as a whole, and that he would likely lose to both GOP challenger Kelli Ward, a former state senator who held Sen. John McCain to a 51-40 percent victory in the 2016 Republican primary, and US Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) in the general election.

Contrary to media and Democratic Party analyses, the Republicans’ chances of holding this Senate seat actually improve with Sen. Flake’s departure. It was clear that his presidential sparring with Trump had left him worse for wear, and the GOP will likely be able to nominate a less encumbered, and thereby stronger, general election candidate.

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Pence In, Tiberi Out


Greg Pence, brother of VP Mike Pence, announces he is running for Indiana’s open 6th District.


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 23, 2017 — Greg Pence, brother of Vice President Mike Pence, is now a congressional candidate in Indiana. Greg Pence made public late last week his intention to run for the open 6th District, the seat his brother held for 12 years before being elected governor (see video above). He is attempting to replace Rep. Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie), who is running for Senate. Before he entered the congressional race, Greg Pence was serving as Messer’s finance chairman for the Senate campaign.

The 6th District is safely Republican, voting 68-27 percent for the Trump-Pence ticket, after supporting Mitt Romney with a 60-37 percent split. Back in 2008 when then-Sen. Barack Obama (D) won Indiana in the year that he was first elected president, Sen. John McCain still carried the 6th with a substantial 55-44 percent spread.

Under this backdrop, the vice president’s brother begins his congressional quest in a campaign where he will very likely only need to win the Republican nomination to secure his seat in the US House. And, with the VP’s help, particularly with his national finance network, it will be very difficult for any Republican candidate to keep Greg Pence from winning the primary.

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The Missouri Move


By Jim Ellis

Oct. 12, 2017 — Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) officially announced his long-awaited challenge to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D) on Tuesday this week. The move had been expected since even before he formed a senatorial exploratory committee at the beginning of August. Hawley then found himself encouraged to run for the Senate literally from the first few days after his election as the state’s AG in November.

Saying Sen. McCaskill has turned her back on many key Show Me State constituencies and industries, that she has been in Washington “forever”, and simply “doesn’t represent Missouri” anymore, Hawley declared his new US Senate candidacy via campaign video featuring he, his wife, and two young sons (above).

Already, a McCaskill-Hawley general election race is being viewed as the Republicans’ top conversion opportunity. Though Hawley must get past several lesser GOP primary candidates, including state Rep. Paul Curtman (R-Pacific/Franklin County), he is the prohibitive favorite to become the party nominee next August.

The McCaskill Campaign and the national Democratic political apparatus has been readying a defense plan against a Hawley offensive for several months. In his campaign for attorney general, Hawley used ladders as props in his ads to symbolize politicians who win one office and then immediately turnaround and jump to another. Now, doing exactly what he campaigned against, we can expect a steady barrage of attacks over what McCaskill and the Democrats will claim is Hawley’s “hypocrisy.”

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