Tag Archives: Wyoming

Bannon: How Much a Factor?

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

Steve Bannon (Photo by Gage Skidmore)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 5, 2017 — Several articles have appeared in the past few days contemplating former presidential advisor Steve Bannon’s perceived political strength, most specifically regarding his actions involving recruiting Republican primary challengers against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) loyalists.

While Bannon appears in good stead vis-à-vis financial backers — with the billionaire Mercer family serving as his monetary base — those running the McConnell-aligned outside political operation downplay just how strong the insurgents might be opposite 2018 Senate GOP incumbents standing for re-election.

Valid points resonate with both sides. Buoyed by Alabama former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s victory over appointed Sen. Luther Strange in last week’s special Republican run-off election, the Bannon forces, who heaped attack ads on the interim incumbent, were naturally taking a great deal of credit for the victory. And, without doubt, anyone thinking of challenging a sitting senator is greatly encouraged after seeing the Alabama outcome.

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Senate Candidate Review – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 26, 2017
— Yesterday, we reviewed the first half of the 33 in-cycle Senate races in terms of serious candidate personnel. Today, the remaining 17 states are covered.

As a reminder, no current Senate incumbent has announced his or her retirement.

(Regular type means the individual is an announced contender; italics denote possible candidate.)

NEVADA — TOSS UP
Sen. Dean Heller (R)
Danny Tarkanian (R) – Businessman, frequent candidate
Rep. Jacky Rosen (D) – US Representative, 3rd District
Rep. Dina Titus (D) – US Representative, 1st District

NEW JERSEY — LIKELY D
Sen. Bob Menendez (D)
• Sen. Menendez federal trial has frozen potential Democratic and Republican Senate hopefuls. After the Menendez legal situation is decided, much could happen in this state.

NEW MEXICO — LIKELY D
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D)
Mick Rich (R) – State Labor Commission member
Richard Berry (R) – Albuquerque mayor
John Sanchez (R) – Lt. Governor

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Flake Opposition Mounting

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ)

By Jim Ellis

July 5, 2017 — With the Republican healthcare overhaul bill remaining in a controversial state, and Democrats already trying to use it as a rallying point for potential 2018 candidates, the Arizona Senate field is beginning to form. Currently, three potential challenger candidates continue to weigh their options on the political sidelines.

Because Democrats have so few targets in the present election cycle – Republicans must only protect eight of the 33 states holding Senate elections, and six of those are in arguably their strongest political domains: Mississippi (Wicker), Nebraska (Fischer), Tennessee (Corker), Texas (Cruz), Utah (Hatch), and Wyoming (Barrasso) – they have no choice but to go hard after the two GOP incumbents entwined in more marginal political situations: Sens. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeff Flake (R-AZ).

Though Arizona voters routinely elect many more Republicans than Democrats, despite many campaigns ending in relatively close fashion, the Dems are forced to make a major play against Sen. Flake because they simply have no other secondary place with as much 2018 competitive potential. On defense in 25 states, Senate Democrats will not win the majority because a net gain of two, including defeating Sen. Flake, would yield only a 50-50 tie. Such a division would allow Vice President Mike Pence to ensure that the GOP majority continues in his role as the body’s tiebreaker.

Last week, both Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D) and state Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson), the latter man coming to notoriety as the doctor who saved Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ (D-Tucson) life when an insane gunman tragically shot her, brought forth public attacks on the current healthcare legislation and began sounding like candidates.

Mayor Stanton and Dr. Friese confirm they are considering entering the Senate race, and it’s not out of the realm of possibility that one or both men could announce their candidacy on the heels of the Senate healthcare vote, particularly if Sen. Flake supports the legislation. Both would be credible candidates and it is unclear at this writing if one would step aside in favor of the other.

Another individual hovering in the background of this Grand Canyon State political picture is Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix). She has been on a fundraising tear, and though already announcing her intention to seek a fourth term in the House, Sinema does admit to be considering a Senate bid if the circumstances are favorable. By that, she means Sen. Flake drawing a strong Republican primary challenger. It is also unclear if Rep. Sinema will risk her now safe Maricopa County House seat to join what could be a crowded Democratic primary against potentially top-tier candidates even if she perceives Flake to be politically weak.

As we will remember from the last campaign cycle, Sen. Flake became embroiled in a public feud with then-presidential candidate Donald Trump and relations between the two men remain less than cordial. After the election, Flake’s internal Republican polling standing suffered greatly as a result, thus making him potentially vulnerable in next year’s Republican primary. Already, former state Sen. Kelli Ward is an announced GOP challenger, but she is not typically regarded as a heavyweight candidate even though she held Sen. John McCain to a 51-40 percent re-nomination percentage in the 2016 Republican primary.

At the end of last year, state Treasurer Jeff DeWit (R) was polling strongly against Flake, actually leading him in some internal polls, but has yet to come forward to announce a Senate challenge. He has said he will not seek re-election to his current position, however.

The Arizona race will clearly be an interesting one. Republicans still maintain a 1.259 million to 1.102 million voter registration edge over Democrats with 1.235 million categorized as Independents. Though the party registration figures are at virtual parity, the GOP electoral resume is strong.

The only Democrat to win a US Senate seat here since 1962 is Dennis DeConcini, who served three terms before retiring in the 1994 election cycle. The Dems have fared better in governors’ races during that same 55-year time span, electing six of the 13 state chief executives who have occupied the office. Currently, the US House delegation stands at 5R-4D, while the GOP controls both houses of the state legislature.

Senate ’18 Updates – Part IV

By Jim Ellis

March 22, 2017 — In our fourth and final installment in this update report series, we examine the latest happenings for the remaining seven 2018 US Senate campaigns.

• Utah: Now that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R) is sending signals that he will run for an eighth term (he is already the longest-serving Republican senator in history) much less political attention will be paid to this state. Should Hatch decide to retire, then former Massachusetts governor and presidential nominee Mitt Romney will become the center of attention. Romney made statements earlier in the year that he would consider running for the Senate from Utah. The context, however, was in the realm of an impending Hatch retirement. Same for former Utah governor and presidential candidate, Jon Huntsman, but his likely appointment as ambassador to Russia means the former governor will be removed from the Senate picture irrespective of Sen. Hatch’s status.

In any event, this seat will remain in Republican hands. Currently, it appears that the senator will seek re-election and is projected to win again in 2018.

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Polarized, or Not?

By Jim Ellis

March 1, 2017 — Much is being made about President Trump’s early job approval ratings. Almost across the board, they are low, and particularly so for a new national chief executive, which has naturally attracted media attention.

In their late February report about political polarization, the Gallup polling organization, which began testing presidential job approval back in the Truman Administration and has regularly continued the practice ever since, argues that polarization among the self-identified Republicans and Democrats is a major obstacle for President Trump to overcome. They further make the point that this is not a new phenomenon, as partisan approval polling detected similar numbers for presidents Barack Obama and George W. Bush.

The Gallup analysis, on and around the Feb. 20 time frame, found President Trump’s job approval rating to be 42 percent. When they looked at the two previous presidents, also hitting 42 percent approval rating at certain points in their own presidencies, Gallup found the level of partisan support and opposition among Democrats and Republicans for the president of their own party was virtually identical.

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America’s Ideology

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 6, 2016 — The Gallup organization conducted a month long poll (Jan. 20-30) of almost 200,000 respondents (177,788 US adults) to determine where America stands ideologically. They find that the country still leans decidedly to the right, but not as strongly as in past years.

The three most conservative states are Wyoming (35-point difference between those self-identifying as conservative as opposed to liberal: 49 percent conservative – 14 percent liberal), Mississippi (31-point difference; 46-15 percent), and North Dakota (31-point difference; 43-12 percent).

The three most liberal states are all in the New England region: Vermont (14-point difference; 40 percent liberal – 26 percent conservative), Massachusetts (8-point differential; 33 percent liberal – 25 percent conservative), and Connecticut (4-point difference; 31 percent liberal – 27 percent conservative).

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Cheney Results In;
Alaska Primary Decided

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2016 — Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president, US defense secretary, and five-term Wyoming congressman, Dick Cheney, successfully captured Wyoming’s open seat Republican congressional nomination Tuesday night. The first-place finish, though nowhere close to garnering a majority of the votes cast, is enough to earn her the primary victory. Becoming the GOP nominee is tantamount to winning the seat in November since Wyoming will undoubtedly vote Republican once again this year.

Cheney scored 40 percent of the vote, far ahead of second-place finisher Leland Christensen’s 22 percent. The latter is a veteran state senator. Placing third was state Rep. Tim Stubson (17 percent), followed closely by attorney Darin Smith (15 percent). Five minor candidates came after Smith with college professor Mike Konsmo, obtaining under two percent of the vote, being the largest vote-getter within the also-ran group.

In 2014, Cheney aborted a challenge to veteran Republican US Sen. Mike Enzi and controversy arose that the candidate, who has lived in Virginia most of her life, was not a true Wyoming resident, nor was she and her family committed to living there. Cheney’s regular presence in the state and actually residing there after the 2014 election cycle put her in strong position to run for the at-large US House seat once incumbent Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Cheyenne) decided not to seek a fifth term.

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Hawaii Nominates Candidates;
Alaska, Wyoming to Follow

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 16, 2016 — Hawaii’s primary voters went to the polls over the weekend to nominate their state and federal general election candidates.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D) easily won re-nomination from the Democratic Party, recording just over 80 percent of the vote to secure his bid for a full term. He now faces the Republican primary winner, John Carroll, a former state senator who is a frequent federal candidate. Sen. Schatz will have little trouble winning the general election. He was appointed to the seat when Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) passed away in 2012, and won the 2014 special election to serve the balance of the current term.

Two years ago, interim-Sen. Schatz defeated then-Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) for the party nomination, but the former congresswoman now appears headed back to Washington. She won a landslide Democratic primary victory Saturday (74.6 percent) for her former congressional seat.

With the general election now just a formality in the heavily Democratic 1st District, Hanabusa will join the current Congress upon winning the concurrent special held in conjunction with the regular election on Nov. 8. Hanabusa will fill the remainder of the late Rep. Mark Takai’s (D-Aiea) first and final term in office. The congressman passed away from pancreatic cancer on July 20.

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Trump’s VP Selection

By Jim Ellis

July 18, 2016 — Donald Trump had scheduled an announcement Friday in New York to introduce who would be his vice presidential running mate. A plethora of media reports suggested that he would select Indiana Gov. Mike Pence over former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

The reports were right. Gov. Pence withdrew from the governor’s race before the noon CDT, for that was the established deadline when the ballots became final under Hoosier State election law. Once a vacancy is registered, the Indiana Republican Party has 30 days to name a replacement for the gubernatorial ballot, and already at least three individuals have informed the party leadership that they are candidates. Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and representatives Susan Brooks (R-Carmel) and Todd Rokita (R-Clermont) are withdrawing from their respective campaigns, but the ones not chosen could conceivably be reinstated in order to keep their present ballot position.

Choosing Pence makes sense for Trump, at least from the standpoint that the conservative Indiana governor will help unite the Republican base. Though Trump’s GOP support numbers in national polling appears on par with Hillary Clinton’s backing within the Democratic Party universe in most polls, the bedrock Republican states, particularly in the central and Rocky Mountain regions of the country, are a slightly different story.

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Cruz Wins in Wyoming;
McCain Ties in Arizona

Wyoming

By Jim Ellis

April 19, 2016 — Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) scored another victory in a Republican state convention system that features no direct voting. Like North Dakota and Colorado, Wyoming has historically chosen its delegates through the state convention process, and did so again over the weekend.

Earlier in the process, county caucuses chose 12 of the state’s 29 national convention votes. On Saturday, the state convention delegates elected the remaining 14 national delegates. The final three are the Republican National Committee members: the state GOP chairman, the national committeeman, and national committeewoman.

The end result is 23 delegates for Sen. Cruz versus one for national front-runner, Donald Trump. The others remain uncommitted or attached to other candidates. But, Wyoming is one of the unbound delegations, meaning the members can still change their votes unless subsequent party directives and rules enforce pledged loyalty.

According to the GreenPapers.com political information website, Trump now leads Cruz 758-558 in the national delegate count. This means Trump needs another 479 votes to clinch the nomination. To win on the first ballot, Trump would have to claim just over 62 percent of the outstanding 769 Republican delegates.

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Trump’s Achilles Heel

By Jim Ellis

April 13, 2016 — Donald Trump’s flap over the Colorado delegation’s action this past Saturday reveals his campaign’s biggest weakness. While he has performed better than any other Republican candidate in attracting votes in the primary/caucus process to date, the Trump organization has paid scant attention to delegate selection mechanics in the various states. Now, the omission is beginning to cost him.

Trump is crying foul because the Colorado Republican Party met in convention instead of scheduling a primary or caucus, but theirs was not a random, or unheard of act. In fact, North Dakota used the same procedure the previous weekend without raising the Trump campaign’s ire.

“Though [Trump] has placed first more often than any other Republican candidate in primaries and a few caucuses, he has still garnered support from just 37 percent of voters casting ballots in a primary or caucus, far from obtaining majority status.”

Colorado Republicans have always employed a nominating convention. Prior to the 1980s, the only ballot access a candidate for any partisan office had was to obtain at least 20 percent of the convention vote. For the past 25-plus years, however, candidates can opt to bypass the convention and directly qualify exclusively through the signature petition process.

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Sanders & Cruz Win Again;
Tennessee Filings

By Jim Ellis

April 12, 2016 — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) won his seventh consecutive Democratic nomination event as he scored a Saturday afternoon 56-44 percent Wyoming Caucus victory over Hillary Clinton. Though he realistically cannot close the delegate gap, mostly because of Clinton’s overwhelming strength among the party’s free agent Super Delegates, Sanders has still managed to win the popular vote in 17 states and territories as compared his opponent’s 20.

Wyoming has only 18 Democratic delegates, and while Sanders decisively won more state delegates in their caucus system, Clinton is coming away with more national convention delegate votes thanks to the aforementioned Super Delegates.

Once the regular and Super Delegate votes are tabulated, Clinton looks to have scored a positive 11-7 margin, despite the state delegate tally cutting against her.

According to The New York Times, the updated unofficial national count finds Clinton with an overall 1,756 to 1,068 advantage. This means the former Secretary of State is 627 votes shy of obtaining the 2,383 delegates required to claim the nomination with 20 states and territories yet to vote. Therefore, she needs less than one-third of the remaining delegates to win.

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Wrapping up Tuesday’s Presidential Primaries; a Look at Other Races

By Jim Ellis

March 17, 2016 — The late Republican polling proved accurate. Donald Trump easily won the Florida Winner-Take-All primary, and in such a landslide that Sen. Marco Rubio was forced to suspend his campaign after not winning his home state. As you now know, winning Florida entitles Trump to the state’s 99 delegate votes.

In Ohio, the survey research also foretold the growing John Kasich momentum in his home state, culminating with the governor notching an 11-point victory over the New York real estate mogul. And, of course, Kasich captures Ohio’s 66 Winner-Take-All delegates.

On the Democratic front, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may have delivered the political knockout punch that she has needed to put the nomination battle to bed. Winning the Florida, Ohio, North Carolina and Illinois primaries has increased her already substantial delegate lead, thus beginning to put her in sight of the 2,383 convention votes to win the nomination. For his part, Sen. Bernie Sanders only out-polled Clinton in Missouri.

Trump also placed first in North Carolina and Illinois, which will add to his delegate totals. Since those two states have no vote threshold requirement, all candidates, including Rubio, added to their delegate totals. Trump fought Sen. Ted Cruz to a virtual draw in Missouri, leading by less than 2,000 votes statewide, but due to the congressional district winner-take-all system the state employs his actual delegate take may be as high as 34-15. The three Republican National Committee delegates are unbound. Continue reading

A Retirement Trio

Nov. 16, 2015 — Three retirement announcements, and how the process of filling the vacancies looks to play out:

CA-20

Twelve-term Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel), who represents the exclusive Monterey Peninsula in coastal California, announced that he will not seek re-election next year. The 74-year-old veteran congressman was first elected in a 1993 special election, after serving 12-plus years in the California state assembly.

The district includes all of Monterey and San Benito Counties, and portions of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. The 20th is heavily Democratic, as President Obama’s twin 71 percent victories here reveal. Under California’s top-two political primary system, it is probable that two Democrats will advance from the June primary to the general election.

Rep. Farr came to Congress when President Clinton tabbed this region’s congressman, then-Rep. Leon Panetta (D), to serve as his Director of the Office of Management & Budget. During his tenure in the House, Panetta had been chairman of the House Budget Committee. Now, Panetta’s son, Jimmy Panetta, a Monterey County Deputy District Attorney, is a potential congressional candidate.

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Close Race Decided in AZ-1; Post-Primary Polls in Four Key States

AZ-1

The closest race of Tuesday night’s primary now looks to be concluded. State House Speaker Andy Tobin appears to have captured the Republican congressional nomination over rancher Gary Kiehne and state Rep. Adam Kwasman. With still two precincts not fully reported, but from an area where Tobin did well, the state legislative leader has a 36-35-29 percent margin, a 480-vote spread over his closest competitor, Kiehne.

Though this is a tight contest, such a margin is probably too large for Kiehne to overcome. So, unless there are uncounted votes elsewhere – which, often seems to happen – look for Tobin to become the Republican nominee.

Assuming the supposition of an official Tobin victory is true, the state House Speaker will now face vulnerable Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D) in what will likely be a toss-up campaign. Kirkpatrick was first elected in 2008, but lost in the midterm election of 2010 by a wide margin. She returned to win the seat again in 2012 after Continue reading >