Monthly Archives: December 2015

A Surprise Virginia Retirement

All the best for the holidays. The Ellis Insight Political Updates will return in the New Year.
Enjoy the season!

Dec. 24, 2015 — Three-term Rep. Robert Hurt (R-Chatham/Charlottesville), just 46 years of age, announced yesterday that he will not seek re-election next year. The Hurt retirement story broke from Virginia Republican sources late in the day Tuesday, and certainly qualifies as a major political surprise.

He was only elected in 2010, and leaving Congress so early and at a young age is highly unusual. Hurt explained the reason for his retirement in a statement:

“When I think back on my first run for public office, I never envisioned making this a career. I ran because I believed then as I do now that every citizen should contribute in his or her own way to ensure a vibrant representative democracy. But I also believed then as I do now that it is not our elected leaders who make our country great, but it is, rather, the private citizen and the private economy that make this country great.”

Prior to winning the central Virginia US House seat, Hurt served in the Virginia state Senate and House of Delegates. The congressman began his political career with a stint on the Chatham Town Council. He has served in elective office continually since the beginning of 2000 and appeared to be in no danger of losing re-election.

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A New Open Seat; Presidential
And House Dropouts

Dec. 23, 2015 — New York Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld/Utica/Binghamton) announced Monday that he will not seek a fourth term next year, thus creating the 32nd open seat of the 2016 election cycle.

Hanna was already fielding a primary challenge from conservative assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, the same opponent who held him to an uncomfortable 53.5-46.5 percent victory margin in 2014. Tenney was able to outpoll the congressman in three of the district’s eight counties (four whole; four partial).

In order to keep her state Assembly seat two years ago, Tenney did not advance to the general election on the Conservative Party ballot line, even though she became their nominee. Since Rep. Hanna was otherwise unopposed, many believed Tenney could have unseated him in a head-to-head contest, but her political risk proved too great.

Though Hanna generally votes the Republican Party line, he strays on some major social issues to the point that only 11 other Republicans vote opposite the party position more often than he. Thus, the incumbent was perceived as being vulnerable in the upcoming primary election.

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South Carolina Polling Flawed

Dec. 22, 2015 — South Carolina is an important early primary state and may have an even greater role than usual in setting the tone for the 2016 Republican race. Two December polls surveyed the Palmetto State Republican electorate, but the data snapshot does not provide us with a true indication of delegate apportionment and this latter point, from a nationwide perspective, is determinative regarding who wins the GOP presidential nomination.

With current polling suggesting that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) may place first in the Iowa Caucus and Donald Trump well positioned to top the field in the New Hampshire primary, scoring a big delegate haul in South Carolina will give one of the candidates a clear momentum boost heading into the eleven-state Super Tuesday contests scheduled for March 1.

It’s the South Carolina delegate apportionment system that renders the latest state polls inconclusive. Under Republican Party rules, the state uses a Winner-Take-All by congressional district option, and then awards a large chunk of the at-large delegates to the statewide winner. The polling misses a key point because it does not segment the responses into the state’s seven congressional districts. This is largely because the individual district sample sizes would be too small to produce reliable results.

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Ohio Filings

Dec. 21, 2015 — With several states holding concurrent primaries (with the presidential election) in March, candidate filing deadlines are passing. The Ohio candidates became official at the end of this week.

Sen. Rob Portman (R) will face two minor Republican opponents before competing with former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) in the general election. Strickland has one credible Democratic opponent, Cincinnati City Councilman P.G. Sittenfeld who repelled pressure from party leaders to exit the race. One minor Democratic contender also filed. Two Independents and a Green Party candidate will also present themselves on the US Senate ballot.

In the House races, 15 of the 16 incumbent Ohio congressmen will seek re-election. Only the 8th District of resigned Speaker John Boehner (R) will be open and settled in a special election. The special primary will be held concurrently with the regular nomination contests on March 15, with the related general on June 7. Eighteen Republican candidates filed for the safe GOP seat just north of Cincinnati. Butler County Auditor Roger Reynolds, state Sen. Bill Beagle, and state Rep. Tim Derickson appear to be the top GOP candidates. The eventual winner will square off against the lone Democrat who filed, party activist Corey Foister.

Four congressmen, three Republicans and one Democrat, drew primary opposition, but only one is a serious challenge, while another may develop.

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More Florida Surprises

Dec. 18, 2015 — St. Pete Polls, not known as Florida’s most reliable pollster but a firm that produces a large volume of research, released a new survey yesterday showing Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) bolting past favorite son Marco Rubio in the Sunshine State. The pollsters selected 2,694 previous Republican primary voters during the December 14-15 period through an automated response system.

The results find Donald Trump leading with 36 percent, followed by the Texas senator at 22 percent, and Rubio posting 17 percent, while former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush only attracts nine percent support. Dr. Ben Carson dropped to six percent. This is the first poll that finds Cruz eclipsing both of the Florida home state politicians, but Trump has been leading everyone here for awhile.

According to this data, Trump polls 40 percent or greater in two regions, Panama City and Gainesville. Rubio does his best in Miami, where he moves into second place and trails the leader 25-31 percent.

Florida hosts the largest Winner-Take-All primary (99 delegates), and will vote on March 15.

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