Monthly Archives: January 2017

Scanning the Country – Part IV

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 9, 2017 — Continuing our five-part political journey around America, we now look at the next nine states — North Carolina through South Dakota — examining whether certain members from the various federal delegations are looking to retire and/or seek a different office.

North Carolina: After a heavy 2016 political cycle, Tar Heel State voters will get a political respite for the election two years hence. With no governor or US Senate race on the ballot, the 13 congressional races will lead the North Carolina ballot. After a mid-decade redistricting battle, the 10R-3D delegation split did not change.

Though Democrats won their lawsuit, they are now suing again because they still did not like the final results. Unless the districts again change, 12 of the 13 incumbents should be in strong re-election position. The lone exception will be Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-Charlotte), whose new district is 60 percent different than his former one and is politically marginal. He can be assured of tougher opposition in 2018, and a strong campaign being waged against him. Just barely winning his 2016 nomination battle in the new 9th district, he can potentially expect another Republican primary challenge, too.

North Dakota: With it now clear that Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D) will not be joining the Trump Administration, the North Dakota Senate race becomes a top national Republican target. At-large Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-Bismarck) is now acknowledging that he is at least considering a run for the Senate. He would likely be the national Republicans’ top choice as Heitkamp’s opponent. Should Cramer enter the Senate contest, the race would be rated a toss-up. His open House district would lead to a major convention nomination battle for Republicans, with the eventual GOP nominee being the favorite to hold the seat in the general election. Should Cramer not challenge Heitkamp he would be safe for re-election, yet the Senate race will still be highly competitive.

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Scanning the Country – Part III

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 6, 2017 — Continuing our five-part political journey around America, we now look at the next set of states — from Minnesota to New York — examining whether certain members from the various federal delegations are looking to retire and/or seek a different office.

Minnesota: After publicly contemplating an open race for governor, Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) announced to the Minneapolis press that she will seek a third term next year. With an open governor’s race also on the ballot, it is doubtful that the senator will face any major opposition. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) is barred from running for a third term. Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), who survived a close re-election call in November (50.3/49.6 percent), is now purportedly looking at a statewide run. Republican Reps. Tom Emmer (R-Delano), the unsuccessful 2012 gubernatorial nominee, and Erik Paulsen (R-Eden Prairie) are mentioned as potential GOP candidates.

Democrats will target freshman Rep. Jason Lewis (R-Woodbury), another close winner in his southern Minneapolis suburban CD. Reps. Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) and Rick Nolan (D-Crosby/Duluth), who also had competitive contests in northern districts where Donald Trump carried 62 and 54 percent of the respective vote, can expect active opponents in 2018. Retired Air Force officer Dave Hughes, scoring 47 percent against Rep. Peterson while not even spending $50,000, has already announced that he will run again.

Mississippi: Sen. Roger Wicker (R) is on the ballot next year and is not expected to face difficult competition. There is no 2018 governor’s race in Mississippi and the congressional delegation is secure. Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Biloxi) is perennially subject to a Republican primary challenge, but now in his fourth term the seat may be secure.

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Scanning the Country – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 5, 2017 — Continuing on our political journey around America, we now look at the next set of states — Hawaii through Michigan — examining whether members from the various federal delegations may be looking to retire and/or seek a different office.

Hawaii: Sen. Mazie Hirono (D) stands for her first re-election and major opposition is not expected. Gov. David Ige (D) will likely seek a second term. Reps. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) and Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) will be safe for their respective re-elections, though the latter has had meetings with the Trump Transition team indicating at least the possibility of a future Administration appointment.

Idaho: Gov. Butch Otter (R) will not seek a fourth term, meaning an open governor’s race. Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Eagle/Boise) has already publicly expressed his potential interest in running for the position. After easily fending off a 2014 primary challenge, Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) is again secure for re-election. Idaho has no US Senate election in 2018.

Illinois: Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) is sure to draw major competition. Reps. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson/Chicago) and Cheri Bustos (D-Moline) have been mentioned among many others as potential candidates. Sen. Dick Durbin (D) has already said he will not run for governor in 2018. Rauner’s chief opponent, however, could be Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy (D), son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. Chicago Alderman Ameya Pawar became the first official Democratic gubernatorial candidate.

Illinois has no Senate race in the coming cycle. Returning Rep. Brad Schneider (D) may get yet another challenge from outgoing Rep. Bob Dold (R). If so, it will be the fourth consecutive election cycle in which the two will have faced each other.

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Scanning the Country — Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 4, 2017 — Embarking upon the new year, which we hope proves happy for all, it is a good time to spend this first week setting the political stage for the coming election cycle. Today, we cover the first 10 states — Alabama through Georgia reporting which members from the various federal delegations may be looking to retire and/or seek a different office.

Alabama: Sen. Jeff Sessions’ (R) selection as US Attorney General has thrown the state into political chaos. Five of the six Republican House members report interest in being appointed to the Senate. With Attorney General Luther Strange (R) already declaring that he will run for the seat no matter who is appointed, things may be taking on a different look. Everything will remain murky until Sen. Sessions is confirmed to his new position and Gov. Robert Bentley (R) makes an interim appointment.

The one Republican not looking at the Senate seat is Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile). He is likely to again run for Governor in 2018, when the seat is open. Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery) is also a potential gubernatorial candidate should she not be appointed senator. Gov. Bentley is ineligible to seek a third term.

Alaska: Independent Gov. Bill Walker is eligible to run for re-election. There is no Senate election here in 2018. Rep. Don Young (R-At-Large) is expected to seek a 24th term though, at age 83, he is a perennial retirement candidate.

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Gaining and Losing

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2017 — At the end of 2016, the Census Bureau released its population estimates for the period beginning July 1, 2015 through July 1, 2016. The bureau reports some interesting data. Utah had the largest percentage growth (2.02 percent) of any state during that time span, while Illinois, West Virginia, Connecticut, and five others actually lost inhabitants. The other major gainers were also in the west: Nevada (1.95 percent) and Idaho (1.83 percent).

The states gaining the most individuals when calculating on a raw number basis for the tested 12-month period were Texas (432,957), Florida (367,525), California (256,077), and Washington (127,710).

The Illinois net total of 37,508 people leaving the state is the highest such number in the nation by more than a factor of three. Surveys suggested that high taxes, a lack of economic opportunity, and poor weather were the top reasons for the exodus.

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