Tag Archives: Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

Nevada: Who Knows?

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 28, 2014 — Nevada has proven itself as one of the most critical swing states in the 2016 election. When the presidential race was closer, carrying the 6-electoral vote Silver State was a staple towards constructing a potential Donald Trump winning coalition.

Being the only Democratic-held Senate seat where competition exists, Nevada also plays a preeminent role in determining which party will control the Senate in the next Congress. In the race to succeed retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D), we are now seeing recent polling numbers bouncing clear across the political spectrum.

For most of the year, the open Senate campaign has been relatively stable. Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) continually held a small lead over former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D), usually ranging in the 2-4 point sphere. From the period beginning July 7 and stretching to Oct. 4, 12 public Nevada Senate surveys were released. Rep. Heck led in 11 of them (the one outlier was a tie), and his average advantage was 3.2 percentage points.

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Senate Trends

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 15, 2016 — A plethora of new swing state Senate polls have been conducted and already released in August, and both parties are getting some good news in specific races.

The two states ripe for electing a senator from a different party are Illinois and Wisconsin. Such has been known for the better part of a year, and the latest polls are no exception to the developing trends.

Illinois Senate Democratic nominee Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8) released her internal Normington Petts research firm poll (Aug. 1-4; 800 likely Illinois general election voters) projecting a 44-37 percent Duckworth lead over Sen. Mark Kirk (R). Marquette University Law School, again polling the Wisconsin electorate (Aug. 4-7; 805 registered Wisconsin voters) as they have done regularly since the 2012 election, finds former Sen. Russ Feingold (D) topping incumbent Ron Johnson (R), 53-42 percent. This result swings a net of six points in Feingold’s favor when compared to the institution’s July survey. At that time, Feingold led 49-44 percent.

All the key Republican defense battleground states reported new August numbers. The good news for Democrats comes in Pennsylvania where challenger Katie McGinty (D) made a significant gain on Sen. Pat Toomey (R), to the point where several polls find her building a small lead.

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Recruiting Rubio

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2016 — As usual, a new Florida political campaign projects as a razor-thin general election contest. The Sunshine State electorate may well again determine the nation’s political fate but this time not only for a presidential campaign. Their open US Senate race could decide which party controls the majority for the upcoming 115th Congress.

Republican leaders, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), are reportedly putting the full court press on incumbent ssfenator and defeated presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) to change his mind about not seeking re-election.

Apparently the leaders are less than pleased with the open race’s development, seeing little from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), and finding Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) making public pronouncements that he will no longer personally raise money for the campaign. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6) had raised over $4 million before the end of March, has the support of important conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth, along with Tea Party grassroots support. But, the leadership feels it may be too easy for the Democrats to paint him as an extremist, thereby lessening his victory chances in the general election.

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Debbie’s Downfall?

By Jim Ellis

May 31, 2016
— Is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) headed for defeat in this year’s Democratic primary? Even though there has been a great deal of recent controversy swirling around the South Florida congresswoman, who is also the Democratic National Committee chair, the answer is no.

Among other issues breaking against her, the congresswoman is coming under major attack for, in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ words, “rigging” the election for Hillary Clinton. This charge relates to the presidential campaign rules vis-à-vis delegate apportionment and Super Delegates. Sanders supports his bias charge by reminding anyone who’ll listen that Wasserman Shultz was one of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign co-chairs back in 2008, thus highlighting the strong personal relationship between the two.

Wasserman Schultz is also facing resignation calls from her position as national party chair. Though no major Democratic leader has called for her resignation, virtually none have rallied to her defense, either. Instead, people like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Leader-in-Waiting Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and to a large extent President Obama, simply refuse to make any comment about the situation.

Now, the national barbs are spilling over into her own US House re-nomination primary. Her major Democratic opponent, law professor Tim Canova, had already raised more than $1 million even before Sen. Sanders publicly endorsed him last week. Canova claims to have obtained an additional $250,000, mostly through Internet contributions, since receiving Sanders’ open support.

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House Democratic Leadership Sees
No Path to Majority in 2016

Feb. 15, 2016 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its early primary and secondary target lists for the 2016 campaign, which is a rather curious grouping. It is already clear that the House Democratic leadership sees no path to the majority in this election, at least during this campaign period.

With the Republican advantage at 247 (once former Speaker John Boehner’s western Ohio seat is filled in special election) to 188, the Democrats would need a net gain of 30 seats just to obtain a one-seat majority. The fact that their primary and secondary target list includes only 24 races suggests that they are nowhere close to putting enough seats in play to seriously challenge the Republican leadership structure.

On the primary list of 16 candidates, two seats are already under Democratic control, CA-24, the Santa Barbara seat of the retiring Rep. Lois Capps, and the FL-18 district of Rep. Patrick Murphy who is running for the Senate. Therefore, what they believe are prime opportunity races number just 14.

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Another Democrat Retirement;
New Nevada Senate Polling

Jan. 7, 2016 — Former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-3) announced that he will not seek a ninth term from his Long Island congressional district yesterday, bringing the total 2016 open seat number to 35, 15 of which are Democrat-held.

New York’s 3rd District changed significantly in the 2011 redistricting plan, as did GOP Rep. Peter King’s 2nd District that adjoins it to the south. Both seats were made surprisingly more competitive when compared to their previous districts. Israel’s district, formerly the 2nd, was made more Republican. King’s CD, previously labeled District 3, became more Democratic. Both incumbents won two re-elections under the new boundaries, but the prevailing political wisdom suggested that both seats could flip to the opposite party in an open seat scenario. Since Israel will not be on the ballot here this November, Republicans will likely make a move to covert the district.

In 2012, President Obama carried the new 3rd District, but only with a 51-48 percent spread. Rep. Israel won re-election in 2014 with a margin of 53-44 percent against a candidate, Republican Grant Lally, who spent less than $200,000 on his campaign effort. Two years earlier, versus similar opposition, Israel claimed a 51-37 percent win.

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Heck Joins Nevada Senate Race;
Stunning New Florida Poll

July 8, 2015 — Nevada Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), after a long consideration period, announced his intention this week to seek the Republican nomination for U. S. Senate. Heck will run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who, of course, served prominently as Majority Leader during the 2007-2015 period.

Rep. Heck had always been high on the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s candidate recruitment list, right after Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). After long denying he had an interest in running for the federal post, Gov. Sandoval last month publicly removed himself from consideration, thus opening the way for Heck.

It further appears that the Nevada general election is now set. Both Heck and former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) appear to be consensus candidates for their respective parties and both potential Democratic and Republican politicians are now looking more intently at Heck’s open congressional seat rather than the statewide campaign.
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The American Political State

July 7, 2015 — As we pass the 4th of July break and the celebration period of our country’s history, it’s always an appropriate time to review the current status of American politics. As we look forward to another important election in 2016, including the voters selecting a new president, we find both uncertainty and definition.

It’s anyone’s guess right now as to who wins the presidency. Additionally, US Senate control is up for grabs with majority Republicans defending 24 of the 34 in-cycle states.

Conversely, the House Republican majority is stable, particularly with the recent US Supreme Court decision approving congressional redistricting commissions. The rejection of the Arizona Republicans’ legal argument means that congressional boundaries in the Grand Canyon State, California, New Jersey and Washington – all multi-congressional district states that employ redistricting commissions – will remain intact throughout the remainder of the decade. Lines could change because of court decisions in Virginia, and other southern states could conceivably follow suit, but majority status is unlikely to be affected in the short-term.
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Why Cillizza’s Senate Dems’ “Stellar”
Recruitment Analysis is Wrong

June 9, 2015 — The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza wrote a story at the end of last week that rated 2016 Senate Democratic candidate recruitment as “stellar”, but he omits some rather major analytical points in drawing that conclusion. Mainly, he fails to mention the large number of cumulative losses these individuals have recently absorbed.

He first starts with the Nevada race and says the Democrats recruited the top potential candidate, former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto who outgoing Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) prompted to run and supports. He gives the party further points by citing that Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1) will not challenge Masto. This is all true, and avoiding a primary does make things better for them during the general election, but Masto should not be considered to be a prohibitive favorite against what should be a strong Republican. She won her first AG race in 2006, a Democratic landslide year, with a solid 59.0 percent vote count. Four years later she significantly regressed, scoring 52.8 percent, though 2010 was clearly a better Republican year.

In Florida, he cites Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL-18) as a strong recruitment, and we agree. As Cillizza correctly mentions, Rep. Alan Grayson’s (D-FL-9) potential candidacy certainly clouds the Democratic picture. The Florida seat is open because Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running for president.
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Nevada Senate Outlook

May 14, 2015 — Because they are defending so many states in the 2016 Senate elections (24 of the 34 in-cycle seats are Republican-held), the open Nevada seat could be one of the few available national offensive opportunities for the majority party. Therefore, Republican leaders have been working hard to field a strong candidate to fight to succeed retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D), and they may have found him.

Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) is the party leaders’ first choice and, based upon his 71 percent re-election performance last November, the Silver State chief executive is clearly the individual best positioned to convert the seat. But Sandoval is committed to serving his second term and consistently says he has no interest in a 2016 Senate race. That being the case, Republicans are turning to Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), and late reports suggest their courting efforts are working.

After originally saying he would not challenge Reid when it looked like the senator would seek re-election, Rep. Heck now appears to be moving toward entering the open-seat race. With most other Republicans appearing ready to yield to him, Heck having a clear path to the GOP nomination is highly realistic.
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Reid Endorses Successors;
Duckworth to Run

March 31, 2015 — Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid’s (D) surprise retirement announcement on Friday quickly yielded another unexpected pair of political moves. After saying he wouldn’t run next year, Reid quickly expressed support for former Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto as his successor. This, even before Cortez Masto issued a statement of candidacy.

Just a day later, he and Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) then both announced their support for Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) to succeed Reed as the party leader. It was believed that he and Durbin would battle each other for the leadership post, but their action suggests a smooth transition will presumably occur.

Reid’s decision to take a stand in the Democratic primary is within character because he often involves himself in pre-primary Senate races around the country. But, it’s unusual even for him to do so before the candidate is in the race.

This being said, presumably it has been worked out in Democratic circles well behind the scenes that Cortez Masto is the preferred candidate. Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1), however, doesn’t appear part of this deal since she describes herself as “seriously considering” a bid for the Senate. Former Secretary of State Ross Miller (D), who lost the race for attorney general last November to Republican Adam Laxalt, is yet another potential Democratic candidate.
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NYT: Harry Reid to Retire

The New York Times is running a major story today saying that Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has made the decision not to seek re-election and will soon announce his course of action.

Reid had been vociferously denying the many retirement rumors that were circulating earlier in the year, and was actively raising funds and taking steps to hire a campaign team. Now, the Times says he is reversing course.

Reid’s departure will naturally change the Senate in a dramatic way, but the decision has major political ramifications, as well. Republicans will be much more competitive in an open seat situation in Nevada, and will now likely see stronger candidates come forward.

Previously, Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) and representatives Joe Heck (R-NV-3) and Mark Amodei (R-NV-2) have all either said or indicated that they would not challenge Reid in 2016. In an open seat situation, this could all change.

The Reid retirement will fundamentally change the 2016 political picture.

This is a developing story.

Reid Endorses Van Hollen; Strickland Ties Portman

Maryland Senate

In a surprising development, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has already given his personal endorsement to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD-8), the recently announced Maryland senatorial candidate. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D) announced last week that she will retire at the end of the current Congress, launching what promises to be a very crowded Democratic primary to replace her.

Van Hollen has been on the inside of the House Democratic leadership almost since his original election in 2002, and he is known as a highly ambitious politician. Therefore, through his positioning within the House conference, the Montgomery County congressman was able to develop a relationship with Sen. Reid. But, it is still unusual that a Senate leader would involve himself so quickly in a contested primary when so many Democratic delegation members appear inclined to run. Speculation continues that Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD-4), for example, is just days away from announcing her own candidacy.

In other Maryland news, Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz (D) announced that he will not enter the Senate race. Kamenetz had been prominently mentioned as a possible candidate in the early speculation immediately after Sen. Mikulski’s announcement.
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Nevada Numbers – Both Presidential and Senate Races Tested

MARCH 3, 2015 — Gravis Marketing conducted a poll of the Nevada electorate (Feb. 21-22; 955 registered Nevada voters; 438 likely Republican Nevada Caucus attenders; 324 likely Democratic Nevada Caucus attenders; 193 likely general election voters) in order to test both party nomination contests, and gauge how Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D) shapes up for re-election.

For Republicans, Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) is again pacing the field, this time with 27 percent of the vote according to the Gravis study. Following in second place, eight percentage points behind, is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush at 19 percent.

All other candidates posted in single digits. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was third with eight percent; Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) had the most disappointing performance in recording just three percent; and retired Maryland neurosurgeon Ben Carson was not included on the ballot test questionnaire.
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Conversion Opportunities Lie Ahead for Senate Democrats; McSally Wins – Officially

As 2014 closes, we’re taking a quick look ahead at the 34 in-cycle US Senate seats for 2016. The tables have turned in that it is the Democrats who will have to convert Republican seats in order to recapture their lost majority. With Republicans having to defend 24 of the 34 Senate states, the Democrats will have plenty of conversion opportunities. They will need to win all 10 of the seats they currently hold and convert five Republican seats to reach 51 senators. Should the Democrats hold the White House in the presidential election, the Senate conversion number will drop to four because the Democratic vice president will then be able to break a 50-50 deadlock.

Of the senators who preliminarily say they will seek re-election, four (senators Richard Shelby (AL), John McCain (AZ), Charles Grassley (IA) and Barbara Mikulski (MD), will be 80 years old or older at the time of the next election. Another six will be 70 or older.

Right now, several seats are projected to be competitive, and both Democrats and Republicans are eying individuals they would characterize as dream challengers.

For Democrats, the two most competitive incumbent protection contests will be Nevada and Colorado. New Senate Minority Continue reading >