Tag Archives: Sen. Thom Tillis

The Senate Barometer

Sen. Cory Gardner Senate campaign attack ads hitting former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper hard (see COLORADO writeup below)


By Jim Ellis

June 18, 2020 — Next to discussion of the presidential race, the political contests attracting the most political attention and debate are the 2020 US Senate campaigns.

As we know, Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority, meaning the Democrats will have to convert a net three GOP seats if Joe Biden wins the presidency, or four if President Trump is re-elected. Many believe that the winning presidential candidate will also sweep in a Senate majority for his party.

Below is an update of the key races:


• ALABAMA: In many ways, this could be the most important race on the board. Republicans must convert this seat back to their column in order to provide a greater cushion toward protecting their chamber majority. Sen. Doug Jones (D), who scored a fluke special election win in 2017, stands for a full six-year term in November.

Republicans are in a runoff election that will be decided on July 14, postponed from the original March 31 date. In the March 3 primary, retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville placed first over former attorney general and ex-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions within a field of seven total candidates, 33-32 percent.

Runoff polling, however, gives Tuberville a large lead as the contenders enter the last month of the secondary election campaign. The May 26-27 OnMessage survey gave Tuberville a 49-43 percent edge, down considerably, however, from the 55-32% margin the former coach posted in a Cygnal research group poll conducted over the May 7-10 period.

Tuberville, with President Trump’s endorsement and running an ad saying Sessions’ appointment as AG is the president’s top regret since taking office, clearly has the advantage. In the general election, this race is a must-win for the GOP. If converted, the Republican majority expands to 54, which will be critical for their chances to hold.


• ARIZONA: Things continue to break retired astronaut Mark Kelly’s (D) way in the early going opposite appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). Being one of the top national fundraisers with $31 million raised and millions more coming into the state in the form in independent expenditures, Kelly is the favorite to convert the seat in November. He has led in the last 11 publicly released polls, the latest coming from the Civiqs organization, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (June 13-15), which posts Kelly to a 51-42 percent advantage.


• COLORADO: Sen. Cory Gardner (R) seeks a second term, and with the state’s electorate moving decidedly to the left since the incumbent’s original election in 2014, the Colorado race sets up well for Democratic conversion.

There is some weakness developing, however, surrounding Sen. Gardner’s likely Democratic opponent, former governor and presidential candidate John Hickenlooper. Recently, the Colorado Ethics Commission ruled that Hickenlooper, while governor, twice violated the state’s gift ban, which has caused him negative statewide publicity.

Now, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched an ad campaign underscoring the commission finding just as the former governor approaches his June 30 primary election against former state house speaker Andrew Romanoff. Sen. Gardner also is on the air in a new ad highlighting Hickenlooper’s statements during the presidential campaign when he was quoted extensively as saying he didn’t want to be a US senator. Taking this into consideration, more people are looking toward the Democratic primary, in which Romanoff is gaining some momentum. This general election is a must-win for the Democrats.
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Dueling Polls in North Carolina Show Disparity in Candidate Numbers

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2020 — Within a 10-day period, two statewide polls producing radically different results were conducted of the North Carolina electorate. Rather unsurprisingly, the Republican polling firm turned in better results for the GOP candidates than did the Democratic company.

As has been the political narrative for this entire election cycle, North Carolina is going to be one of the most competitive states in the nation. The presidential, US Senate, and gubernatorial races will all be pivotal within the national context.

Harper Polling, the Republican firm, went into the field during the April 5-7 period and conducted live interviews of 500 likely general election voters. Public Policy Polling, a Raleigh-based Democratic survey research company, conducted a large sample poll of 1,318 North Carolina registered voters through a combination of interactive voice and text messaging response systems.

In both the presidential and US Senate campaigns we see diverse results, and particularly so for the latter, yet for the governor’s race the two firms yielded almost identical numbers.

Harper finds President Trump leading former vice president Joe Biden, 49-42 percent, well beyond the polling margin of error. This result is obviously good news for the president in what is for him a must-win state. Conversely, PPP projects only a 48-47 percent split among the two candidates, and in Biden’s favor. In actuality, the two pollsters, while a net eight points apart on their respective ballot tests, are close – within two points – on the Trump number. They are not even within the same realm, and in fact beyond any polling margin of error, on the Biden posting.

The president’s standing could actually be a bit better in North Carolina than these results, and particularly the PPP totals, indicate. In the 2016 election, he under-polled in the Tar Heel State. In the final three polls before the vote, from three different survey research firms, Hillary Clinton held an average 1.3 percentage point advantage over then-candidate Trump. The end result, however, was a 3.3 percentage point victory for the Republican nominee.

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Super Tuesday State Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential primaries have dominated the political media coverage for next Tuesday’s big election, five states are also holding their regular primary elections including four with Senate races.

Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will begin choosing their nominees for the Senate and their entire slate of down ballot races. Each is a run-off state, and two of the aforementioned, Alabama and Texas, appear headed for a secondary Senate primary contest later in March and May, respectively. The regular California primary is also scheduled, but there is no Senate election in the Golden State this year. We will, however, see 53 sets of US House general election participants advance to the general election from their top-two jungle primary system.

In Alabama, former US attorney general and senator Jeff Sessions is attempting a political comeback. Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) are his chief opponents. Former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge Roy Moore is also on the ballot, but polling suggests he will not even break into double digits.

Sessions ad

Sessions launched two new ads in the last couple days, one that promotes himself as a strong supporter of, and the best person to implement the Trump agenda. The second is an attack ad against Tuberville, hitting him with audio of the retired coach saying we need immigrants coming across the border for certain jobs and that Tuberville actually lives and pays taxes in Florida.

Tuberville ad

Earlier, Tuberville was running a statewide ad reminding the electorate that President Trump fired Sessions as attorney general and that choosing him for the post was the president’s top regret during his tenure in office. Rep. Byrne has been simultaneously running a negative spot jointly attacking both of his top opponents.

The most likely pair to advance into the run-off are Sessions and Tuberville. The secondary election is scheduled for March 31.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) is virtually re-elected. Democrats failed to file a candidate against him, meaning Tuesday’s primary is a non-event for the first-term senator. He will advance into the general against only minor party opposition.

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Primary Money Count – Senate

By Jim Ellis

Former Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R)

Feb. 7, 2020 — The 4th Quarter campaign disclosure reports are published and today we look at the key early primary Senate states, those that will have an initial vote on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Five states will hold their regular primaries on that day, and four of them have Senate elections. Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will take at least the first step in choosing their statewide nominees on Super Tuesday. California, which also holds its regular primary that day does not have a Senate race in this cycle. In Arkansas, Democrats failed to produce a candidate, meaning that Sen. Tom Cotton (R) will head into the general election as a virtually unopposed candidate.

ALABAMA

Alabama hosts a major Republican primary featuring former US attorney general and senator, Jeff Sessions. He is running for the seat he vacated to accept his federal appointment. Sessions is being fiercely challenged, however. Two serious candidates are also vying for the party nomination, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Ex-state Supreme Court chief judge and 2017 Senate special election nominee Roy Moore is back for another attempt, but his previous poor performance and lack of funding has relegated him to lower-tier status.

On the fundraising front, the Federal Election Commission reports find Sessions raising more than $530,000 but has spent more than $812,000. At the end of the year, he held over $2.5 million in cash, but most of those funds were raised during his time as an incumbent Senator.

Coach Tuberville has done an outstanding job of fundraising for a first-time candidate in a crowded field, raising over $1.3 million from individuals and loaning his campaign $1 million. His year-end cash-on-hand (CoH) figure was $1.52 million.

Rep. Byrne has accumulated over $3.3 million for his campaign, including transferring more than $2.2 million from his US House committee. His CoH total is just under $2.1 million.

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The North Carolina Filings

All the best for a wonderful holiday season.
Ellis Insight daily updates will return on Jan. 3, 2020.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 24, 2019 — Candidate filing in the Tar Heel State closed Friday, and the North Carolina political contestants are now set for the March 3 Super Tuesday state primary. In addition to the presidential race, North Carolina voters will choose nominees for governor, US Senate, 13 congressional races, the state constitutional offices, and state legislature.

No surprises came from the presidential filings, though 38 individuals filed to run for the nation’s highest office. Twenty of the 38 are minor party candidates, however. Fifteen Democrats are running, including all of the major contenders. President Trump draws Republican primary opposition from former Massachusetts governor Bill Weld and Illinois ex-congressman Joe Walsh.

Sen. Thom Tillis sees only minor Republican primary opposition and now is a cinch for re-nomination. Businessman Garland Tucker was expected to run a competitive primary race but decided to end his effort prior to the filing deadline. When Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) was drawn out of a winnable district in the court-mandated redistricting plan, he began considering entering the Senate race. The congressman, however, ultimately decided to wait a cycle and looks to run for Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) open seat in 2022.

Five Democrats filed for the Senate, but the nomination battle is realistically between former state senator Cal Cunningham, who is the party leadership favorite, and state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston). The eventual Democratic nominee will face Sen. Tillis in what promises to be a competitive general election in a state that has defeated more incumbents in the modern political era than any other place.

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