Monthly Archives: March 2016

Competitive House Primaries

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2016 — The anti-Washington political sentiment is more than just a factor in the presidential race. The feeling is permeating the early congressional nomination campaigns, particularly among Republicans, and House incumbents are taking serious notice.

So far six states have held their congressional primaries: Alabama, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Ohio and Texas, and though no incumbent has lost many have deflected competitive intra-party challenges, while several others loom on the horizon. In the six states that have nominated their 2016 congressional candidates, including four with run-off systems, none has even been cast into a secondary election. The closest two results came in Texas and Illinois, where veteran representatives Kevin Brady (R-TX-8) and John Shimkus (R-IL-15) won respective 53 and 60 percent re-nomination victories.

The most serious current primary campaigns are occurring in North Carolina, now scheduled for June 7 after a court-mandated major redistricting plan forced the state to move its congressional primaries from March 15.

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North Carolina: New Districts, New Candidates

By Jim Ellis

March 30, 2016 — The court-ordered North Carolina redistricting map is final and the new candidate filing period closed at the end of the preceding week.

The statewide and local legislative primaries were previously conducted, in conjunction with the presidential primary on March 15, but the congressional nominations were moved to June 7. Originally, all North Carolina primaries were scheduled for March 15, but the late court action necessitated opening a new filing period for the significantly altered congressional map.

The original 2011 congressional map elected 10 Republicans and three Democrats to the 13 total seats. When the court remanded the map back to the legislature with instructions to change the districts in relation to minority representation, the legislature did just that: a rather radical redraw that will still likely keep the state at 10R-3D, but assures a somewhat different group of people representing many of the changed districts.

The biggest difference will be the elimination of at least one Republican House member, as representatives Renee Ellmers (R-Dunn) and George Holding (R-Raleigh) are squaring off against each other in the new 2nd District that contains all or parts of six counties. The district contains all of Wake County with the exception of the city of Raleigh.

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Sanders: Three Crushing Wins

By Jim Ellis

March 29, 2016 — Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton may well be the inevitable Democratic presidential nominee but, once again, we see Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders scoring impressive wins in states without major African-American populations.

Over the weekend, Sanders posted landslide caucus victories in Alaska, Hawaii and Washington, averaging a cumulative 74.7 percent support figure among the Democratic participants in the three states. In terms of committed delegates, Sanders attracted 105 convention votes in the trio of places, while Clinton gained 54. Though Saturday was arguably Sanders’ best day in the campaign, he still managed to only dent Clinton’s national lead in the all-important delegate count.

According to the New York Times, inclusive of the voting two days ago, Clinton’s advantage between committed regular and Democratic Super Delegates is 1,712 to 1,004. The winner must commit 2,383 votes at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia beginning July 25. Therefore, the former secretary of state and First Lady needs only 671 more delegates, or 33 percent, from the remaining 22 voting entities to clinch what will almost assuredly be a first-ballot victory.

It is important to remember that the Super Delegates, unless barred from doing so by state law, are free agents and can change their votes irrespective of what they may say publicly. Right now, it appears few if any will do so, but that is possible under Democratic National Committee rules. In the Super Delegate category alone, Clinton’s advantage is a reported 469 to 29. Super Delegates are comprised of Democratic elected officials from the various states and party leaders, the latter usually a person in an elected party position such as a state or county chairman.

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The Game Within the Game

By Jim Ellis

March 28, 2016 — While the Republican presidential candidates are experiencing a small voting respite – the next GOP primaries are April 5 and 19 (Wisconsin and New York, respectively) – the so-called “game within the game” is getting underway as recent developments in Louisiana illustrate.

The phrase refers to the complicated process of actually choosing individuals to fill the various delegate slots that are awarded to the respective candidates under Republican National Committee allocation procedure. It is here where Sen. Ted Cruz may have a distinct advantage.

Coming from the Louisiana state Republican convention, a similar venue where the respective 56 voting entities ratify their official national delegate slates, the fluid process could actually send a pro-Cruz delegation to the Republican National Convention in Cleveland even though more voters supported Donald Trump.

On March 5, Trump polled 41.4 percent of the statewide vote versus Sen. Cruz’s 37.8 percent. Based upon the state’s delegate apportionment formula that allows candidates to earn a portion of the 25 at-large bound delegates if they exceed 20 percent of the statewide vote, Trump received 13 votes to Cruz’s 12.

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A Tar Heel Sleeper?

By Jim Ellis

March 25, 2016 — With the presidential campaign dominating the political media, it is easy to lose sight of the highly important 34 Senate races running simultaneously. At least one campaign appears to be in transition, and is rapidly shifting from relatively safe to potentially competitive.

Throughout 2015, it was commonly believed that North Carolina represented the Democrats’ most glaring candidate recruitment failure. Try as they might to attract a top name office holder or former statewide official like ex-US Sen. Kay Hagen, the party leaders could not convince a person of significant political stature to run. They settled for ex-state Rep. Deborah Ross and small town mayor Chris Rey. But the recent primary results and a new poll suggest that this race may be ascending the targeting charts.

In the March 15 statewide Democratic primary, Ross easily captured the Senate nomination and posted a much stronger-than-anticipated 62 percent against Rey (16 percent) and two other opponents. North Carolina carries a 40 percent run-off requirement; meaning, if no candidate exceeds this particular vote threshold the top two finishers move to a secondary election. Questions about Ross cracking the 40 percent mark consumed the pre-race predictions.

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