Tag Archives: Thom Tillis

Independent Outside Spending Grew at Significant Rate in 2014

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law just released a compilation of data relating to independent expenditures from the 2014 competitive senatorial campaigns. The compilation tells us some interesting facts about the scope of the outside group involvement, their impact upon the races (from an aggregate perspective), and whether Republicans or Democrats were the greater beneficiary from this campaign expenditure category.

The following are the Brennan Center’s tracked races – the ones the study conductors believed to be the 10 most competitive Senate races; Louisiana was excluded because a run-off appeared inevitable and no clear conclusion would be derived on Nov. 4 – providing totals for the independent money that was spent in each campaign.

The top indirect recipients of the independent outside spending (approximate figures) are as follows (winning candidates’ totals only):

• Thom Tillis (R-NC) – defeated Sen. Kay Hagan (D), 48-47% – $28 million
• Cory Gardner (R-CO) – defeated Sen. Mark Udall (D), 49-46% – $25 million
• Joni Ernst (R-IA) – defeated Rep. Bruce Braley (D), 52-44% – $23.5 million
• Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – def. Alison Grimes (D), 56-41% – $21.5 million
• Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) – def. Sen. Mark Pryor (D), 56-39% – $19 million Continue reading >

Rounding Out the New Members

With the 2014 election cycle nearly complete, we can now begin to study the House and Senate freshman class composition.

If Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) defeats Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) in the Louisiana run-off – he’s the favorite to win, despite her incumbency, with internal polls showing him ahead by as many as 16 percentage points – the Senate freshman class will feature 13 members, 12 of whom are Republican.

Of the baker’s dozen, again including Cassidy, five won their seats by defeating incumbents. Former Attorney General Dan Sullivan (Alaska), representatives Tom Cotton (Arkansas), Cory Gardner (Colorado), Cassidy (Louisiana), and state House Speaker Thom Tillis (North Carolina) are, or will be, the Republican challenger victors.

In the recent past, the House of Representatives had not proven to be a particularly favorable political position from which to launch a statewide run. This current cycle reversed that trend. In fact, a majority of the new members, seven, come to the Senate via the House: representatives Cotton, Gardner, Cassidy, Gary Peters (D-MI-14), Steve Daines (R-MT-AL), James Continue reading >

Bringing Heat Against Hagan in the North Carolina Senate Race

It’s no secret that one of the more disappointing Republican challenger campaigns has been North Carolina state House Speaker Thom Tillis’ US Senate effort. With Sen. Kay Hagan (D) languishing in the low 40s for most of the present two-year cycle, voting liberally while representing a mostly conservative state, and hailing from a place that consistently defeats their incumbent senators (Hagan herself attained office by defeating Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in 2008, for example), it seemed like the Tar Heel State posed Republicans their best opportunity to defeat a Democratic incumbent. But the campaign hasn’t quite yet unfolded that way.
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Boomerang Effect Hitting a Number of Campaigns

Midway through the election cycle it appeared a solid bet that at least four candidates who would normally be favorites were headed for losses. But, predictions of such demise are now being proven premature.

First-term North Carolina Sen. Kay Hagan (D) appeared doomed, unable to break 42 percent support in any poll, and was clearly sliding down a pathway toward defeat.

Democrats, in the person of Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA-1), were odds-on favorites to replace retiring Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin (D) but he, too, has experienced a reversal of political fortunes.

Republican Bruce Rauner was running consistently ahead of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn and was on a clear track toward victory even in the heavily Democratic state. But the electoral patterns are beginning to reverse, and now Quinn has a fighting chance to survive.

Upon his indictment on federal charges relating to his restaurant business dealings prior to being elected to Congress, Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY-11) looked to be headed toward the political scrap heap. But he is proving a much tougher “out” than the local Democrats originally perceived.
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The State of the Senate

Much has been written about which party will control the US Senate in the next Congress and, with seven pure toss-up races on the political board, there’s plenty of room for conjecture on both sides of the ideological aisle.

Let’s take a look at the aggregate Senate campaign picture, remembering that the Republicans must retain all of the seats they currently possess (15 in this election cycle) and convert six Democratic states just to reach the minimum majority level. Democrats will maintain control if the two parties deadlock at 50-50 (including the Independents who will caucus with one party or the other). The Dems hold power in such a situation because Vice President Joe Biden (D), the constitutional Senate president, will break any tie vote in his party’s favor.

The model also assumes Republican conversion victories in three Democratic retirement seats, Montana (Sen. John Walsh), South Dakota (Sen. Tim Johnson), and West Virginia (Sen. Jay Rockefeller). A three-way contest in South Dakota could Continue reading >

The One-Point Races – Four in All

As we pass Labor Day and enter into Election 2014 stretch drive mode, it appears that four US Senate races are polling within one point. In Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana and North Carolina, a polling conglomeration over the last several weeks points to consistently dead-even contests.

Another race, in Alaska, could join this group, but their late primary (Aug. 19) has only yielded an official nominee for a short period. Once the polling crystallizes around Sen. Mark Begich (D) and former Attorney General and Natural Resources Department director Dan Sullivan (R) as the two official candidates, a more consistent close race will likely formulate. The recent polling history, virtually all of which was conducted before the state primary, has yielded inconsistent results.

Right now, it is clear that Republicans will gain seats in the US Senate, but will they score well enough on the conversion front to wrest a small majority away from the Democrats? Such is the major question that will be answered in the next two months.

If one considers that the GOP will likely hold its two vulnerable seats in Georgia Continue reading >

Hanabusa Concedes in Hawaii; Tight NC Senate Race

Hawaii

In Hawaii, Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI-1) announced yesterday that she will concede the contested Senate Democratic primary. The final unofficial count gives appointed Sen. Brian Schatz a 1,769-vote advantage, which is likely too large for any challenge to overturn.

Though Hanabusa may have grounds for contesting the results – ballots not counted together, extending the election for only certain people, etc. – she has decided not to pursue what are probably long-shot legal options. But, challenging Schatz again may not be out of the question. Because 2014 voters will only choose a senator to fill the last two years of the late Sen. Daniel Inouye’s (D) final term in office, Schatz, now the prohibitive favorite to win in November, will again be on the ballot in 2016.

North Carolina

Monthly, Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling surveys the tight US Senate race featuring incumbent Kay Hagan (D) as she attempts to win a second six-year term. The August PPP poll (Aug. 14-17; 856 likely North Carolina voters) gives the senator a 42-38 percent lead over Republican nominee Thom Tillis, the Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives. Libertarian Party candidate Sean Haugh receives eight percent support.
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Hagan Struggles in North Carolina

The conservative Civitas Institute tested the North Carolina electorate (National Research, June 18-19 & 22; 600 registered North Carolina voters – live calls, 25 percent cell phone users) and found that Sen. Kay Hagan (D) is leading her Republican opponent, state House Speaker Thom Tillis, but her advantage is tentative.

The 42-36 percent result again posts Hagan in the low 40s, very bad territory for any incumbent. The fact that she has a six-point edge over Tillis is obviously an improvement from her prior poll standing, but this probably has more to do with an unpopular state legislature than Tillis, personally. It appears the House Speaker’s numbers always tumble when this legislature is in session, as it is now. The fact that he is one of the body’s key leaders, however, is a major negative, so Tillis’ ballot test deficit certainly cannot be discounted.

Sen. Hagan is generally considered to be the most vulnerable of all Democratic incumbents standing for re-election. She represents one of only two states that changed its 2008 vote away from Barack Obama, and doesn’t have the president on the ballot with her as she did six years ago to maximize the important minority voter  Continue reading >

NRCC Spending Targets Perceived Opportunity; Polls Show a Surly N.C. Electorate

The National Republican Congressional Committee just released their upcoming media buys, which total $18 million across 26 different districts. Much more will be spent, but this opening public salvo provides us a window into where the committee sees opportunity or the need to defend.

The top incumbent defense is found in Colorado’s 6th District, where three-term Rep. Mike Coffman (R) faces former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff (D) in a battle where the combined candidate fundraising total already exceeds $6 million. The NRCC bought media time in the Denver broadcast market worth $3.3 million.

The 6th District race is turning into the most expensive congressional campaign in the country. Located in the eastern and northeastern Denver suburbs, the 6th is now a marginal political district that is beginning to trend more Democratic despite it electing a Republican congressman. Coffman was re-elected in a post-redistricting 2012 campaign, but with only 48 percent of the vote. The midterm  Continue reading >

Upsets Foiled as Incumbents Reign in Primaries

The first in a series of consecutive May primary weeks went solidly for the incumbents last night, as all US House members facing intra-party challengers, including House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8), rode to victory.

In the preponderance of cases, the incumbents won in the normal landslide proportion one would expect in primary elections. In only three instances, those of representatives Renee Ellmers (R-NC-2), Walter Jones Jr. (R-NC-3) and David Joyce (R-OH-14), did the incumbents fail to break 60 percent. Speaker Boehner, after campaigning hard and hitting the television airwaves to rebuff his under-financed but creative opponents, scored 69 percent of the vote.

The best news of the evening for Republicans came in North Carolina, where state House Speaker Thom Tillis exceeded the 40 percent threshold to win the party’s US Senate nomination outright. Late polling clearly suggested that Tillis would place first in the field of eight candidates, but questions remained as to whether he would  Continue reading >

Today in North Carolina*

*News update at bottom of post.

Today is primary day in North Carolina, and Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling just released their last poll for the Republican nomination race. Previously, PPP projected state House Speaker Thom Tillis to be exceeding the 40 percent threshold required to claim the nomination without a run-off (46 percent), but they now detect a weakening position.

According to their latest data (May 3-4; 925 NC Republican primary voters), Tillis would garner exactly 40 percent of the Republican primary vote, compared to physician Greg Brannon’s 28 percent, and Charlotte pastor Mark Harris’ 15 percent. In a potential run-off between Tillis and Brannon, the speaker’s lead is only six points, as the candidates register a 46-40 percent split.

It’s not surprising to see Tillis taking a hit. All of the candidates, including incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan (D), are launching attacks and attempting to deny Tillis the nomination for their own political reasons.

All late polling slots Tillis in first place and Brannon in second. The question to be answered when votes are counted tonight, is whether the North Carolina state legislative  Continue reading >

Clarity in Georgia, North Carolina Senate Races?

Two of the more important Senate races in this 2014 election cycle are occurring in Georgia and North Carolina. Both states are in play for the general election; each party holds one of the two seats, both are major targets, and crowded Republican primaries in the pair of places will soon be clarified.

If several new polls are accurate, certain candidates may be breaking away from their respective packs as we approach the May 6 North Carolina primary and the May 20 vote in Georgia. If a candidate exceeds 40 percent of the NC vote, that person is nominated. In the Peach State, it takes the traditional 50 percent plus one vote to claim the nomination outright.

Georgia Primary: May 20 – Run-off, July 22

This is one of two Republican seats, Kentucky (Mitch McConnell) being the other, where Democrats are competitive. The Republican primary features five accomplished candidates, all of whom can construct a reasonable path to victory. A run-off is a virtual certainty here, but many scenarios exist about which two Republicans  Continue reading >

McAllister Out in Louisiana; A Roundup of Senate Poll Shockers

Freshman Rep. Vance McAllister (R), who was elected in a November special election in Louisiana’s 5th Congressional District to replace resigned Rep. Rodney Alexander (R) but then quickly became embroiled in an extra-marital scandal, announced yesterday that he will not seek a full term this November. He will serve the balance of the current term, however.

Due to his short stint in Congress and his upset of the party establishment candidate, McAllister did not have the internal district support to withstand a scandal. His announcement means that 45 seats will now be open in the 2014 election cycle, though one – the 19th District of Florida – will be filled in a June special election. In addition to the 45 members leaving the House, seven more vacancies, including this Louisiana seat, have been filled in special elections since the beginning of this Congress.

In the special election, McAllister defeated 11 other Republican candidates. Some, such as former Rep. Clyde Holloway (R-LA-8) and Monroe Mayor Jamie Mayo, already  Continue reading >

Virginia’s “Firehouse” Primary Tomorrow; Other Primary Developments

A congressional nomination will be decided tomorrow in the Washington, DC suburbs of Northern Virginia. Expectations suggest a limited number of Republican voters will participate in what is termed a “firehouse” primary.

The characteristics of such a voting event are unique. First, only 11 polling places will be open throughout the entire district: just one apiece in Clarke, Frederick, and Prince William Counties, and in the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Winchester. Fairfax County will feature two polling locations, and Loudoun County, a locality housing more than 350,000 residents, will have only three. Instead of voting in one’s own neighborhood as is normally the case, individuals will have to travel, in some instances more than 20 miles, and stand in what could be a long line because there are so few polling places. Thus, participating in this election will take a much greater commitment from every voter than in normal primaries.
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Dems Hit Tillis in NC Senate Race

It is becoming clear who the Democrats don’t want Sen. Kay Hagan to face in November. The Senate Majority PAC, conducting an independent expenditure operation in the North Carolina Senate race, just unleashed a major attack ad against state House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Cornelius). This is their second wave of commercials that individually targets Tillis.

The Tar Heel State race is one of the key contests that will likely determine which party captures the Senate majority. Sen. Hagan seeks a second term after defeating then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R) in the 2008 general election, but is having a difficult time breaking away from the pack in this campaign. Poll after poll shows the incumbent lagging slightly behind all of her Republican opponents, even though virtually all of them have low name identification. Clearly, a sitting senator trailing candidates such as Heather Grant, an Iraq war veteran and nurse, while only consistently scoring in the low 40 percentile range is cause for concern.


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