Tag Archives: Texas

Recapping the US House Open Seats — Part II: Nevada Through West Virginia

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJuly 9, 2018 — With the election of Republican Michael Cloud (R-Victoria) to fill the vacant southeast Texas district (TX-27; Farenthold resignation) the total number of open House seats was reduced from 65 to 64. Within that group, 42 seats are currently Republican held, 21 are Democratic; one seat is new, created by Pennsylvania redistricting and left open when Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) decided to run in a paired incumbent race with Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Sewickley) instead of opting for the new Republican-dominated western Pennsylvania CD-14.

Among the 63 House members who have either passed away, resigned, lost their primaries, or are not seeking re-election, 23 chose to run for another office. Some of their political fates are decided, while others remain active campaigners. We we’ll look at those who became candidates for other offices and report on their current status. On Friday we examined Arizona through Minnesota. Today we’ll review Nevada through West Virginia.

NEVADA (NV-3): Freshman Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson) is skipping her first re-election campaign and instead enters the US Senate contest to challenge Sen. Dean Heller (R). Both she and Sen. Heller easily won their respective party nominations on June 12. The latest Gravis Marketing poll gave Rosen a 45-41 percent general election lead. The Senate race is expected to remain as a toss-up campaign all the way to Election Day.


NEW MEXICO (NM-1 & 2): Reps. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-Albuquerque) and Steve Pearce (R-Hobbs) oppose each other in the open governor’s race after both became their respective party nominees on June 5. The first two post-primary polls staked Grisham to leads between 9-13 percentage points.


NORTH DAKOTA (ND-AL): After Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) announced he would seek re-election, he suddenly decided to change course and pivoted into a Senate challenge against incumbent Heidi Heitkamp (D). Both won unanimous party convention support, which paved the way for easy June 5 nomination victories. The first post-primary poll actually places Rep. Cramer three points ahead of Sen. Heitkamp in what promises to be a hard-fought general election.


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Cloud Wins Special in Texas

By Jim Ellis

Michael Cloud (R) | Photo from campaign ad

Michael Cloud (R) | Photo from campaign ad

July 2, 2018 — Perhaps the most unique special election from a long series of 2017-18 irregular voting contests just wrapped up this weekend in southeast Texas, capping a subdued political battle that attracted little national attention.

Former Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) is one of several members to be forced from office because of sexual harassment allegations. Already announcing that he would not seek re-election because of a settlement reached with a female employee that was financed through the special congressional taxpayer funded account created years ago to settle internal employee relations incidents, Farenthold then quickly resigned from Congress when it became apparent that the House Ethics Committee was going to fully investigate his situation.

Rep. Farenthold’s exit meant the committee would no longer have jurisdiction to consider an ethics complaint because the incumbent’s mid-term departure meant the committee could not pursue a private citizen.

Under Texas election law, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) was forced to quickly call a special election to fill the balance of the term. His state’s vacancy procedure did not afford him the opportunity of making the special election concurrent with the regular vote as Govs. Rick Snyder (R-MI) and Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) did when House members in their states resigned (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) or suddenly passed away (Rep. Louise Slaughter, D-NY).

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The Primaries Through May:
Setting November, Part II

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

May 25, 2018 — With primaries having been completed in 13 states we review the key run-off and general election pairings that these primaries produced. Today we’ll look at Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas and West Virginia. Yesterday we reviewed Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Nebraska and North Carolina.


Ohio: A competitive open governor’s race is underway, featuring Attorney General and former US Sen. Mike DeWine (R) and ex-Attorney General Richard Cordray (D). Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) begins the general election in the favored position over Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth). A special election in the 12th District between state Sen. Troy Balderson (R) and Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor (D) occurs on Aug. 7. Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) defends his seat against Hamilton County Clerk of Courts Aftab Pureval. Former NFL football player and businessman Anthony Gonzalez (R) is heavily favored to succeed Rep. Renacci in the open 16th District.


Oregon: The only competition here is occurring in the governor’s race, where incumbent Kate Brown (D) runs for her first full term against state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend). The governor is a clear favorite for re-election.


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Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky
and Texas Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seatsMay 23, 2018 — Yesterday, voters in four states cast their votes in nomination elections. Today, we look at the results from Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, and Texas.

ARKANSAS

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) easily won re-nomination for a second term with 70 percent of the vote and now faces former non-profit executive Jared Henderson (D) in what is expected to be an easy run for re-election.

The most significant Arkansas race is in Little Rock’s 2nd Congressional District. With the Democratic establishment’s backing, state Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock) scored an outright victory last night, capturing 59 percent against three Democratic opponents. By earning a majority of the total votes cast, Tucker avoids a run-off and automatically advances into the general election. He will now face two-term US Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock) in November.


GEORGIA

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek re-election, so the open governor’s race tops the election card this year.

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Today’s Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seatsMay 22, 2018
— Another four states will host regular primaries tonight. Today, we preview Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky and Texas.

ARKANSAS

The Natural State features a rather quiet election cycle, but a couple of key primaries are on the docket for today.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) seeks re-nomination for a second term and faces only minor opposition from gun range owner Jan Morgan. Former non-profit executive Jared Henderson is expected to win the Democratic primary. Gov. Hutchinson is the prohibitive favorite for re-election in the fall.

With no Senate race in Arkansas this year, the four House races, possibly with one exception, appear to yield little in the way of serious competition.

Reps. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) and French Hill (R-Little Rock) are unopposed for re-nomination. Reps. Steve Womack (R-Rogers) and Bruce Westerman (R-Hot Springs) drew only minor opposition.

Only Rep. Hill looks to have a serious opponent in November. State Rep. Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), who has raised over $600,000 and had almost $240,000 in his campaign account through the pre-primary May 2nd report, is a credible candidate. He is expected to win the nomination, with the only question being whether one of his three Democratic opponents can force a run-off.

In any race where no candidate receives a majority vote, the top two advance to a June 19 run-off.


GEORGIA

Gov. Nathan Deal (R) is ineligible to seek re-election, so the open governor’s race tops the election card this year.

The Fox5 news outlet in Atlanta sponsored a pre-primary poll (May 15-16; 522 likely Georgia Democratic primary voters, 515 likely Georgia Republican primary voters) and found former state House Minority Leader Stacy Abrams topping former state Rep. Stacey Evans by a large 58-19 percent margin in the Democratic primary. Abrams is expected to win outright tonight.

On the Republican side, going to a run-off appears likely as the Fox5 poll finds Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle drawing 31 percent followed by Secretary of State Brian Kemp with 20 percent. State Sen. Hunter Hill (R-Atlanta) is third at 14 percent, and businessman Clay Tippins attracting 12 percent support. State Sen. Michael Williams (R-Cumming) then registers only five percent preference.

Georgia also has no Senate race in 2018, but does have 14 incumbent House members all seeking re-nomination and re-election. Each is expected to win re-nomination.

Two primaries of note occur in Districts 6 and 7. Rep. Handel winning the most expensive congressional race in history back in June (likely exceeding a combined $50 million) means she is attracting several Democratic opponents vying for the nomination in order to challenge her in the regular election. Since special election nominee Jon Ossoff chose not to seek a re-match, the leading contenders among the four Democratic candidates appear to be former news anchor Bobby Kaple and businessman Kevin Abel who have raised a combined $1.1 million for the primary campaign. Gun control activist Lucy McBath could draw enough support to force Kaple and Abel into a July 24 run-off election.

In the 7th District, four-term Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville) looks to be facing a credible general election challenge, from either learning center chain CEO David Kim, former state Budget director Carolyn Bourdeaux, or software developer Ethan Pham. Combined, the group had raised a cumulative $1.5 million prior to the May 2 pre-primary campaign disclosure filing.


KENTUCKY

With no governor or senator on the ballot this year, the six House races lead the Kentucky 2018 ticket. All six congressmen, five Republicans and one Democrat, are seeking re-election and none have serious primary opposition tomorrow.

The most interesting race is the 6th District Democratic primary where Lexington-Fayette Mayor Jim Gray and retired Marine Corps Lt. Col. Amy McGrath, a veteran of both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, are in a spirited battle among a field of six candidates.

Mayor Gray raised $1.3 million before the May 2nd pre-primary filing deadline. Col. McGrath had brought in an impressive $2.0 million, but had already spent all but $300,000 as the candidates turned for the final three weeks that were remaining in the primary campaign.

Tomorrow’s winner faces three-term Rep. Andy Barr (R-Lexington), who’s raised over $2.48 million for this campaign and has $2.31 million cash-on-hand. This will be a competitive race in the fall regardless of who claims the Democratic nomination tomorrow night.


TEXAS

Thirteen significant Lone Star State political run-offs will be decided today, thus ending the nomination process that began with the Texas primary election back on March 6.

In the governor’s race, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez and businessman Andrew White, the son of the late former Texas Gov. Mark White (D), do battle for the Democratic nomination. Sheriff Valdez placed first in the March 6 vote with 43 percent versus White’s 27 percent, but she failed to reach the majority plateau. Therefore, the two were forced into today’s run-off. Originally, nine Democrats were on the ballot. The winner faces Gov. Greg Abbott (R), who is the prohibitive favorite for re-election.

TX-2: This Houston suburban seat yields a Republican run-off contest between state Rep. Kevin Roberts (R-Houston) and retired Navy officer Dan Crenshaw. The Republican winner will be the prohibitive favorite to win the seat in the fall and replace retiring Rep. Ted Poe (R-Atascocita).

TX-5: Retiring Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Dallas) leaves a Republican run-off to decide his successor. State Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Kaufman County) received 30 percent in the March 6 election and now faces former Hensarling campaign manager and political fundraiser Bunni Pounds, who the congressman publicly supports. Pounds attracted 22 percent in the field of eight candidates. The Republican nominee will be the heavy favorite in November. He or she will oppose former Terrell City Councilman Dan Wood (D) in the general election.

TX-6: Tarrant County Tax Assessor and former congressional staff member Ron Wright (R) came within five percentage points of clinching the nomination outright in March. He now faces the distant second place finisher, pilot Jake Ellzey, in today’s vote. Wright is the heavy favorite for the GOP nomination and the seat.

TX-7: In the first significant Democratic run-off of the evening, Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) will find out whom he will face in what could become a competitive general election. Attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, who most of the Democratic Party establishment backs, placed first in March with a 29-24 percent margin over author Laura Mosher. A close finish is expected tonight.

TX-21: This San Antonio-Austin district is the second of three seats where both parties are holding run-off electoral contests. For the favored Republicans, former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy topped a field of 18 candidates with 27 percent of the vote. He now faces businessman and frequent candidate Matt McCall who captured 17 percent. Roy is favored to ultimately replace retiring Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio), who won his first congressional election in 1986. The Democratic race features aerospace engineer Joseph Kopser and Baptist Minister Mary Wilson. Wilson placed first in the March 6th primary with 31 percent of the vote, followed closely by Mr. Kopser’s 29 percent.

TX-23: In the state’s one true swing district that stretches from San Antonio to El Paso, Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio) runs for a third term. Since it’s origination, this district has seen all six of its previous representatives suffer a defeat at the polls. In the Democratic run-off, former US Trade official Gina Ortiz Jones, who captured 42 percent of the vote in the first election, strives to win the nomination against educator and former San Antonio City Council candidate Rick Trevino. Trevino pulled 17 percent support in the field of five original Democratic candidates. Jones is favored to win tonight. We can expect another toss-up campaign for the fall.

TX-27: Resigned Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) leaves an open seat and a June 30 special election in his wake. Tonight, both parties will host run-off elections. Republicans are favored to hold the seat, and former Water Development Board chairman Bech Bruun and ex-Victoria County Republican Party chairman and media production company owner Michael Cloud are vying for the party nomination.

TX-31: A spirited Democratic run-off is taking place in Williamson and Bell Counties, as Afghan War veteran and author M.J. Hegar faces Dr. Christine Mann, a physician. In the primary, Hegar garnered 45 percent versus Dr. Mann’s 34 percent. The winner then begins an uphill challenge against eight-term veteran Rep. John Carter (R-Round Rock).

TX-32: In 2016, 11-term Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) had no Democratic Party opposition. This year, seven Democrats competed in the primary, and two advanced into the run-off election. Civil Rights attorney and former Tennessee Titans NFL football player Colin Allred opposes former Agriculture Deputy Undersecretary Lillian Salerno for the party nomination. In the March 6 primary, Allred earned 38 percent support while Salerno took 18 percent. Allred is favored today and, with its changing demographics, this general election campaign will be more competitive than in immediate past years.

The Coming New Specials

By Jim Ellis

May 1, 2018 — Just when we thought the number of special elections was lessening when Debbie Lesko won the AZ-8 election last week to replace resigned Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria), new vacancies are popping up.

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), abruptly resigned Friday.

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), abruptly resigned Friday.

On Friday, Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), who had previously announced his retirement for term’s end, abruptly resigned when learning the House Ethics Committee was going to launch an investigation into the severance payment awarded to one of his staff employees. The source of this particular recompense was the special taxpayer funded congressional account found to cover members’ special staff settlements.

Meehan also pledged to repay the $39,000 payment that is the investigation’s basis within the next 30 days. Now that Meehan has exited the House, the Ethics Committee no longer has jurisdiction. He joins former Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) who resigned in early April also to avoid a congressional investigation.

Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) resigned his seat in late April to accept his position in the Trump Administration as the new NASA Administrator. Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) says he will resign his seat at an unspecified date in early May, presumably because he will be accepting a position in the private sector. As we know, the late New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) passed away on March 16.

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Another Resignation;
North Dakota Convention Results

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi)

Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi)

April 10, 2018 — Four-term Texas Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi), who had shelved his plan to run for re-election well before the March 6 state primary largely due to details stemming from a sexual harassment settlement, abruptly resigned from the House on Friday. Farenthold delivered his announcement via video during the middle of the day and left his position by 5 pm.

The resignation from his TX-27 seat had been rumored because the House Ethics Committee was about to conduct a further investigation into the harassment case and the $84,000 taxpayer funded settlement. Rep. Farenthold said earlier that he would reimburse the government for the payment, but records do not indicate the refund was made. By resigning, the Ethics Committee cannot continue the investigation because Farenthold will no longer be a member.

With now former Rep. Farenthold having left office early, five House seats will be vacant upon Pennsylvania Rep-Elect Conor Lamb’s (D-Pittsburgh) imminent induction. The others are: AZ-8 (Franks-R), MI-13 (Conyers-D), NY-25 (Slaughter-D), and OH-12 (Tiberi-R). All will be filled by special election before the current Congress ends, though the Michigan seat will be done concurrently with the regular election cycle and there is no announced schedule for the New York seat. The AZ-8 seat special general election is April 24. The OH-12 special primary will be held May 8, concurrent with the regular state primary. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to decide a replacement procedure for the late Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester).

The Texas succession situation is unclear. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) has eight days to decide on a special election schedule. The post-primary run-off for both parties is May 22 for the now vacant 27th CD.

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Senate Match-Ups Forming

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2018
— Only two primaries are in the books, but already we appear to have clear Senate match-ups forming in as many as 14 statewide races.

2018-elections-open-seatsBelow are the races that look set as general election campaigns. Those headed for serious primary battles are not included on this list.

In alphabetical order, the following are the impending general election contests:

Arizona: Assuming Rep. Martha McSally (R-Tucson) repels her primary challenge from the right, the Grand Canyon State general election will feature McSally and Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) in what will be one of the premier Senate contests in the country this year.

California: It appears we are again headed for a double-Democratic general election in the Golden State. Sen. Dianne Feinstein should have little trouble dispensing with state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles).

Florida: With Gov. Rick Scott (R) scheduling an announcement for April 9, it looks like the long-anticipated contest between the two-term governor and incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D) will come to fruition.

Minnesota: Appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) will be running to fill the remaining two years of resigned Sen. Al Franken’s (D) term. State Sen. Karen Housley (R-St. Mary’s County) immediately declared her candidacy and, so far, she appears headed for the Republican nomination. Neither woman has run statewide before, so this campaign has the prospect of turning highly competitive especially with Minnesota moving rightward in the past few elections.

Mississippi: Developments within the past two weeks are yielding a second Mississippi Senate race for the 2018 election cycle. With Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith (R) already being designated to replace retiring Sen. Thad Cochran (R) when he leaves office in April, she will draw serious opposition from state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville). If no candidate obtains majority support in the Nov. 6th vote, the top two finishers will run-off three weeks later.

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The Texas Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

March 8, 2018 — The 2018 election cycle’s first regular primary results are in the books, and the Texas electorate largely performed in its typical fashion last night.

Democrats were citing that their primary turnouts would be much higher this year in anticipation of a more competitive 2018 general election cycle; however, the party turnout was substantially better than in the 2014 midterm election (almost double the participation factor), it was still only two-thirds of their 2016 presidential total.

(To see full-size results graphic below, please click on image; partial results shown.)
325-2018-Texas-Primary-Results-graphicDespite the increase, just 6.8 percent of the state’s more than 15 million registered voters cast a ballot in this year’s Democrat primary. Adding the Republican vote, the primary registered only a 17 percent total turnout, again making the state one of the lowest in terms of party primary participation.

This year, 60 percent of those voting chose to cast a Republican ballot, down from the 71 percent in the last midterm and the 68 percent total from the 2016 presidential race. But, in the 17 Republican congressional districts where both sides fielded contested primaries, in only one CD, Rep. Will Hurd’s 23rd District, did more Democrats vote than Republicans.

As expected, both Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) easily captured their party nominations for the US Senate campaign. Sen. Cruz recorded an 85.3 percent vote total among Republicans, while 61.8 percent of Democrats chose Rep. O’Rourke. Since both men exceeded the 50 percent plus one vote majority figure, each advances to the general election.

Republican Gov. Greg Abbott racked up a 90.4 percent win in the GOP primary, while Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez (42.9 percent) and businessman Andrew White (27.4 percent) must now duel in a May 22 run-off election to decide the Democrat nomination.

In the eight open congressional races, three featured outright winners. In retiring Rep. Sam Johnson’s (R-Plano) north Texas 3rd District, state Sen. Van Taylor (R-Plano), as expected, easily captured the Republican nomination (84.7 percent) and he will go onto win the general election. In Rep. O’Rourke’s El Paso-anchored 16th District, the El Paso County Judge (Executive), Veronica Escobar, recorded a 61.4 percent win over five opponents and will easily win the succeeding general election. In Houston, state Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston), also as expected, notched a 63.2 percent win against six Democratic opponents, and she will replace retiring Rep. Gene Green (D-Houston) in the 29th CD.

Turning to Rep. Ted Poe’s (R-Atascocita) open district, a surprise occurred in the GOP primary. Though she spent over $5 million of her own money, GOP activist Kathaleen Wall failed to qualify for the run-off by a slight 145-vote margin. State Rep. Kevin Roberts (R-Houston) placed first with 33 percent and will face retired Naval officer Dan Crenshaw (27.4 percent) in the May 22 Republican run-off. The winner will have the inside track toward replacing the retiring seven-term incumbent in the general election.

A run-off will occur in retiring Rep. Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Dallas) 5th District. State Rep. Lance Gooden (R-Terrell) advances to the run-off against political fundraiser Bunni Pounds. Gooden’s advantage in the primary vote was 29-22 percent over Pounds. Former Terrell City Councilman Dan Wood was unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

Tarrant County Tax Assessor and former congressional chief of staff Ron Wright came within five percentage points of clinching the Republican nomination in retiring Rep. Joe Barton’s (R-Ennis) north Texas’ 6th District. He becomes a heavy favorite to dispatch airline pilot and Afghanistan War veteran Jake Ellzey (21.7 percent) in the run-off election. Wright will likely succeed the retiring 17-term congressman.

In the 18-candidate 21st District Republican primary to succeed veteran Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio), former Ted Cruz chief of staff Chip Roy placed first (27 percent), and will face frequent candidate Matt McCall (17 percent) in the run-off election. McCall, who has previously challenged Rep. Smith, may have benefited from name confusion since this seat is adjacent to Rep. Michael McCaul’s (R-Austin) 10th District. Roy now becomes the favorite to win the run-off and the general election to follow the retiring incumbent.

Turning to the Corpus Christi area, former Water Development Board chairman Bech Bruun (36.1 percent) placed a close first in the Republican primary over former Victoria County Republican Party chairman Michael Cloud (34.9 percent), and the two will battle again in late May. The likely Republican nominee will replace retiring Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi).

Looking at the three races that are expected to be competitive in the general election, Rep. Hurd was easily re-nominated (80.3 percent), while the Democrats must go to a run-off. Former US Trade official Gina Ortiz Jones ran strongly in the Democratic primary (41.3 percent), but must face former San Antonio City Council candidate Rick Trevino (17.5 percent) on May 22. The Democrat establishment’s favored candidate, attorney Jay Huling’s (15 percent), failed to qualify. The succeeding general election here will be competitive in what is the state’s lone swing district.

Rep. John Culberson (R-Houston) was easily re-nominated with 76.1 percent while attorney Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (29.3 percent) and author Laura Moser (24.3 percent) advance to a run-off.

In Dallas, Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Dallas) won a 79.3 percent re-nomination victory, while ex-NFL player Colin Allred (38.5 percent) and former US Agriculture Department official Lillian Salerno (18.3 percent) will battle in the May 22 Democrat run-off election.

None of the 28 House incumbents seeking re-election were forced into a run-off. Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Dallas), running for what she says will be her last term, fared the worst but still scored a 63.6 percent re-nomination victory over two opponents.

Primary Season Begins Today

By Jim Ellis

texas-primary-election-2018March 6, 2018 — The 2018 primaries begin today, as Texans will complete their voting process for the first-in-the-nation midterm primary.

The Lone Star State political card features the US Senate race, a full compliment of statewide races, including Gov. Greg Abbott (R) beginning his campaign for re-election, along with voters choosing nominees in the 36 US House seats. The delegation’s eight open seats will attract the most attention. Should candidates not receive majority support, run-off elections between the top two finishers in each party will subsequently be held on May 22.

Both Sen. Ted Cruz (R) and Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) are expected to easily win their respective nominations. This will officially begin the nation’s first US Senate general election cycle. Rep. O’Rourke will have the benefit of commanding strong financial resources — he had just under $5 million in the bank at the end of the pre-primary reporting period — because so many national liberal donors are contributing against Sen. Cruz.

The Democratic gubernatorial primary features Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez opposing businessman Andrew White, son of the late former Gov. Mark White (D). Neither have major resources, and the winner draws Gov. Abbott who could top $100 million in spending. The governor is viewed as a safe bet for re-election.

In the 36 House races, 28 incumbents are seeking re-election; 15 of them (a dozen Republicans and three Democrats) have primary opposition, but all are expected to easily win re-nomination.

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Setting the Stage: The Texas Primary

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 23, 2018 — We’re now inside two weeks before the first-in-the-nation regular midterm primary election, as the Texas early voting process is now well underway in preparation for the March 6 regular primary vote.

texas-primary-election-2018Seventy-six candidates are running for major statewide office — races for governor, US senator, lieutenant governor, attorney general, comptroller, agriculture commissioner, land commissioner, and one slot on the state railroad commission. A record total of 304 Democrats, Republicans, Independent and minor party candidates are vying for their respective party nominations in the state’s 36 US House districts.

Texas is a run-off state, meaning if no candidate in the various primaries receives majority support, the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election on May 22. Since a vast number of races have multiple candidates, including 28 individual candidates alone fighting to succeed retiring Rep. Lamar Smith (R-San Antonio) in his open central Texas CD, the secondary election calendar promises to also have a large slate of late May voting contests.

Two Democrats off to late starts are vying to face Gov. Greg Abbott (R), and though nine candidates are on the Democratic gubernatorial ballot, there remains some possibility that either Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez or businessman Andrew White, the son of the late former Gov. Mark White (D), will emerge as the party’s nominee on March 6.

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An Open Review – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2018 — With so many House retirements coming into focus within the past several weeks, it is a good time to review the list of 53 districts heading into their next election without an incumbent on the ballot.

Of the 53, Republicans currently hold 37 seats versus just 16 for the Democrats. Here’s the breakdown of how things look regarding all 53 seats right now:

2018-elections-open-seats

  • Safe Republican (19)
  • Likely Republican (6)
  • Likely Democrat (6)
  • Safe Democrat (6)
  • Lean Republican (5)
  • Lean Democrat (3)
  • Toss-up (8)

This configuration could change drastically if the Pennsylvania map is re-drawn in a court-ordered redistricting. The state Supreme Court has declared the Keystone State map a political gerrymander and has ordered a new plan drawn by Feb. 15.

The state Senate President Pro Tempore is responding, however, that the legislature will not comply with the court order to turn over statistical data need to draw a new map because the state court did not cite the legal provisions violated in making the current plan a gerrymander. Additionally, the US Supreme Court is sending signals that it may try to involve itself even though this case is filed against the Pennsylvania Constitution and not its federal counterpart. We can count on major action coming here within the next several days.

Furthermore, the US Supreme Court is in the process of deciding the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case, which will also affect active lawsuits in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia; in Pennsylvania, the political gerrymandering lawsuit realm is not directly part of this group because its case is filed within the state court system. But the Republicans have petitioned the federal high court to look at this case for other legal reasons.

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The Pre-Redistricting Wars

redistricting-2018By Jim Ellis

Jan. 23, 2018 — Though we are in the fourth election cycle of the decade, the 2011 redistricting fights are still continuing. The US Supreme Court has been dealing with redistricting cases from five states, but it all could come to a head soon.

The lawsuits first break down into the familiar racial gerrymandering claims, which have been in the courts in some fashion or another since the Voting Rights Act was created in 1965. Currently, the topic of political gerrymandering is hot as both parties are pursuing live complaints against their opponents for drawing congressional and state legislative boundaries to maximize the political standing of one party to the unfair detriment of the other.

The major political gerrymandering case comes from Wisconsin and will likely set the tone for other such suits in Michigan, North Carolina, Texas, and possibly Maryland. Democrats are bringing the action in the first four states, while Republicans are challenging Maryland’s 6th Congressional District.

Obviously, the high court is getting involved to craft a new set of rulings relating to both racial and political gerrymandering before the entire country goes into a 50-state redistricting round upon completion of the 2020 census. Therefore, election results in 2018 and 2020 to establish incumbency both in the House of Representatives and the state legislatures become critically important.

Last week, the US Supreme Court stayed the most recent North Carolina lower court redistricting ruling. The three-judge panel invalidated the maps, determining that majority Republicans engaged in political gerrymandering. In the last election cycle the Tar Heel State boundaries were also re-drawn to remedy what the panel cited as racial gerrymandering reasons, but the Democrats were unable to make a dent in the Republicans’ 10R-3D delegation advantage.

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Senate Candidates 2018 – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 18, 2018 — We continue with our two-part series reviewing the announced candidate status in each state. Yesterday, Minnesota former Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R) announced that he would not enter the special election against appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D). Therefore, the second Minnesota seat will be re-stated:

Minnesota: Appointed Sen. Tina Smith (D) – seeking election
Candidate Filing Deadline: June 5, 2018
State Primary: Aug. 14, 2018
• Karin Housley (R) – State Senator; Attorney
• Tom Emmer (R) – US Representative; 6th District; 2010 Governor nominee – possible candidate
• Michele Bachmann (R) – Former congresswoman; former presidential candidate – possible candidate

New Jersey: Sen. Bob Menendez (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: April 2, 2018
State Primary: June 5, 2018
• Bob Hugin (R) – Pharmaceutical company CEO – possible candidate
2 Minor Democratic candidates
2 Minor Republican candidates
1 Independent candidate

New Mexico: Sen. Martin Heinrich (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: Feb. 6, 2018
State Primary: June 5, 2018
• Mick Rich (R) – State Labor Commissioner

New York: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Process Ends: April 19, 2018
State Primary: June 26, 2018
1 Minor Democratic candidates
3 Minor Republican candidates

North Dakota: Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: April 9, 2018
State Primary: June 12, 2018
• Tom Campbell (R) – State Senator; agri-business owner
• Rick Berg (R) – Former at-large US Representative
• Gary Emineth (R) – Former ND Republican Party chairman

Ohio: Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: Feb. 7, 2018
State Primary: May 8, 2018
Michael Gibbons (R) – Venture capitalist
• Jim Renacci (R) – US Representative; 16th District
• Jim Tressel (R) – Youngstown State U President; former football coach, Ohio State University – possible candidate
• J.D. Vance (R) – Venture capitalist; author – possible candidate

Pennsylvania: Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: March 6, 2018
State Primary: May 15, 2018
• Paul Addis (R) – Energy company executive
• Cynthia Ayers (R) – Former National Security Agency staff member
• Lou Barletta (R) – US Representative; 11th District
• Jim Christiana (R) – State Representative
3 Minor Democratic candidates
3 Minor Republican candidates
1 Independent candidate

Rhode Island: Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: June 27, 2018
State Primary: Sept. 12, 2018
• Bob Flanders (R) – Former state Supreme Court justice
• Bobby Nardolillo (R) – State representative
1 Independent candidate

Tennessee: Sen. Bob Corker (R) – Retiring – Open Seat
Candidate Filing Deadline: April 5, 2018
State Primary: Aug. 2, 2018
• Marsha Blackburn (R) – US Representative; 7th District
• Stephen Fincher (R) – Former US Representative; 8th District
• Phil Bredesen (D) – Former governor; former Nashville mayor
4 Minor Republican candidates
1 Minor Democratic candidate

Texas: Sen. Ted Cruz (R) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: Completed December 11, 2018
State Primary: March 6, 2018
Run-off Election: May 22, 2018
• Beto O’Rourke (D) – US Representative; 16th District
• Bruce Jacobson (R) – Evangelical Cable TV executive
2 Minor Democratic candidates
3 Minor Republican candidates
5 Libertarian candidates

Utah: Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) – Retiring – Open Seat
Candidate Filing Deadline: March 15, 2018
State Primary: June 26, 2018
• Dan McCay (R) – State representative – possible candidate
• Evan McMullin (R) – Former Independent presidential candidate – possible candidate
• Mitt Romney (R) – Former GOP presidential nominee; ex-MA governor – possible candidate
• Chris Stewart (R) – US Representative; 2nd District – possible candidate
• Jenny Wilson (D) – Salt Lake County councilwoman
1 Minor Republican candidate
2 Minor Democratic candidates
1 Libertarian candidate

Virginia: Sen. Tim Kaine (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: March 29, 2018
State Primary: June 12, 2018
• Nick Freitas (D) – State Delegate
• E.W. Jackson Sr. (R) – Minister; former lieutenant governor nominee
• Corey Stewart (R) – Pince William Co Bd Chairman; 2017 Governor candidate
• Jim Gilmore (R) – Former governor; ex-Senate & presidential candidate – possible candidate
1 Minor Republican candidate

Vermont: Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: May 31, 2018
State Primary: Aug. 14, 2018
1 Minor Democratic Candidate
1 Independent Candidate

Washington: Sen. Maria Cantwell (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: May 18, 2018
State Primary: Aug. 7, 2018
1 Minor Democratic candidate
1 Libertarian candidate
3 Independent candidates

West Virginia: Sen. Joe Manchin (D) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: Jan. 27, 2018
State Primary: May 8, 2018
• Don Blankenship (R) – Former coal company CEO; convicted felon
• Evan Jenkins (R) – US Representative; 3rd District
• Patrick Morrisey (R) – Attorney General
• Paula Jean Swearingen (D) – Environmental activist
6 Minor Republican candidates
2 Minor Democratic candidates

Wisconsin: Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) – seeking election
Candidate Filing Deadline: June 1, 2018
State Primary: Aug. 14, 2018
• Kevin Nicholson (R) – Businessman
• Leah Vukmir (R) – State Senator
• Eric Hovde (R) – Venture capitalist; 2012 Senate candidate – possible candidate
4 Minor Republican candidates
1 Constitution Party candidate
1 Veterans Party candidate
1 Independent candidate

Wyoming: Sen. John Barrasso (R) – seeking re-election
Candidate Filing Deadline: June 1, 2018
State Primary: Aug. 21, 2018
• Gary Trauner (D) – Former Teton County School Board Chair; ex-congressional nominee (2006; ’08)
• Foster Freiss (R) – Mutual Fund founder; GOP donor – possible candidate
• Erik Prince (R) – Security firm founder – possible candidate


Major Sources:
• Politics1.com political blog
• Ballotpedia.com website
• State Elections offices

New Year House Preview

US-House-of-Representatives-balance-of-power-January-2018By Jim Ellis

Jan. 8, 2018 — Continuing our federal race outlook to set the political stage in this first week of the actual midterm election year, we now turn to the House races.

Republicans have a 24-seat margin (counting their three vacant seats that will go to special election in the early part of this year: PA-18, AZ-8, and OH-12), and though Democrats and most in the media claim that a new majority is just around the corner, a race-by-race House analysis shows that the road to converting the majority remains difficult to attain. This is so for several key reasons, not the least of which is the typical House incumbent retention factor. In 2016 the rate hit 97 percent (377 victories for the 389 House members who ran for re-election).

Additionally, even though President Trump’s job approval rating is historically low, we must remember that he won the 2016 national election with a personal approval index no higher than his present positive to negative ratios. And, even though congressional approval was well below 20 percent for the entire 2016 election year, Republicans lost only six House seats from their previous modern era record majority of 247 that was attained in the 2014 election.

When we have seen major seat changes occur in past elections, the winning party has done well in converting open seats. For the fourth election cycle in a row, the 2018 House cycle features an above average quantity of incumbent-less US House campaigns – the current number is 45, counting the two latest announced retirees, Reps. Bill Shuster (R-PA) and Gregg Harper (R-MS).

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