Monthly Archives: January 2018

No. 51

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2018 — The number of House open seats continues to grow. Veteran New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-Morristown), chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, announced Monday that he will not seek a 13th term later this year.

2018-open-house-seats-toss-upDespite averaging 65.3 percent of the vote during his 12 successful elections and even winning with a healthy 58-39 percent victory margin in 2016, Rep. Frelinghuysen was considered vulnerable for 2018. Democrats have recruited at least two candidates who are pulling in strong financial resources in order to stock a large campaign war chest for a presumed political battle in what is always a very expensive state.

The Dems say this district is changing because Hillary Clinton came within one percentage point of carrying it (49-38 percent) in the 2016 presidential campaign. Still, her performance here pales in comparison to a 55-41 percent Garden State win, and even though the district became close in the presidential contest, it has yet to fall to a Democratic candidate.

Yesterday, we covered the Ohio political situation as being potentially favorable to Republicans. Conversely, the northeastern tri-state region comprised of Pennsylvania, New York, and New Jersey perhaps has even a better chance of adding a strong number of seats to the Democratic conference.

Continue reading

Ohio’s Red Leap

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 30, 2018 — Thought of as one of the key swing states in American politics since the turn of the century, President Trump’s stronger than expected eight-point Buckeye State victory in the 2016 presidential race proved eye-opening. But, was his performance trend setting or an anomaly?

A new Fallon Group survey for the state’s 1984 Society group finds the upcoming open governor’s race is exceeding the Trump marker, at least in the early going. Such totals indicate that the presidential outcome could be signaling a more Republican-oriented direction beginning to form in the state, but a closer look may point to the Trump numbers as affirming a political trend rather than creating one.

Left - Mike Dewine (R) | Right - Richard Cordray (D)

Left – Mike Dewine (R) | Right – Richard Cordray (D)

According to the Fallon Group data (Jan. 16-19: 801 likely Ohio general election voters; 286 Ohio Republican likely primary voters, 248 Ohio likely Democratic primary voters), attorney general and former US senator, Mike DeWine (R), would lead recently resigned Federal Consumer Protection Bureau director and ex-Ohio attorney general Richard Cordray (D) by a whopping 48-29 percent margin. The polling demographics appear to correctly model the state, thus providing reliability support. In the polling sample, Anglo voters account for 77.4 percent of the respondents, as compared to 79.5 percent of the state population. African Americans are 14.2 percent of the polling universe, and 12.8 percent of the actual Ohio population. Hispanics register 2.2 percent of the respondent group, against a 3.7 percent state population figure. Therefore, the respondent universe is consistent with at least the overall Ohio population complexion. Additionally, the polling universe is comprised of 51.9 percent females, versus a 51.0 percent actual make-up.

The Republican leadership approval ratings are mixed. The respondents believe, by a margin of 54:25 percent, that Ohio is generally on the right track. Outgoing Gov. John Kasich’s (R) job performance is rated highly: a 57:29 percent favorability ratio. President Trump, on the other hand, is upside-down at 43:52 percent positive to negative.

Continue reading

Meehan to Go

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 29, 2018 — The alleged sexual harassment situation involving four-term Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford) culminated with his retirement announcement, last week.

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford)

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford)

In a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan and his local Republican Party chairman, Meehan wrote that he will not be a candidate for a fifth term in November. But, his personal situation may not be the only reason that voluntarily leaving Congress makes sense for him.

As we’ve discussed on several occasions, the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court invalidated the state’s congressional map earlier this week on grounds that the empowered Republican political apparatus took partisanship too far in constructing the 2011 plan. The GOP will try to flip this case into federal jurisdiction — the US Supreme Court has never ruled a map invalid because of political gerrymandering, and are actively considering several such cases during the current term — but the party’s prospects of doing so are likely poor.

If the state high court’s ruling stands, the legislature and governor will be forced to present a new map to the Justices by Feb. 15 in order to keep pace with the current election calendar. The short deadline will likely avoid compelling the court to delay the state’s March 6 candidate filing deadline and May 15 primary election.

Now with a Democrat governor in office, and not the Republican that signed this map into law, it is highly probable that a veto will occur over the next GOP iteration. If so, then the court will appoint a special master to draw the new map.

Continue reading

Kansas’ New Race

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) | Facebook

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) | Facebook

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2018 — Two events occurred two days ago that drastically changed the Kansas gubernatorial race.

First, Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) won confirmation as President Trump’s ambassador-at large for International Religious Freedom and will soon be resigning as Kansas’ chief executive to accept his new position. Gov. Brownback barely passed muster in the Senate, a body in which he served 14 years before being elected governor in 2010. Vice President Mike Pence was called into the Senate chamber to break the 49-49 confirmation deadlock.

The move means that Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), already a candidate for the state’s top post, will be ascending to the governorship by the end of this week. Colyer will become the fourth Republican lieutenant governor who will be running for governor as an unelected incumbent. Govs. Kay Ivey (R-Alabama), Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa), and Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) are the other three who became governor last year when the individual elected in 2014 either left under an ethical cloud (Alabama) or accepted a Trump Administration appointment (Iowa; South Carolina; and now Kansas).

Second, Republicans also received good news over a development that could decimate the Democrat’s opportunity of running a viable general election campaign. Wealthy Independent Greg Orman, who challenged Sen. Pat Roberts (R) in 2014 and actually became the de facto Democratic nominee (he lost 53-42 percent), officially announced he will enter the governor’s campaign and as a non-affiliated candidate.

Continue reading

Looking at the Governors’ Races

2018-gubernatorial-elections

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2018 — Earlier this month, we set the stage for the Senate and House campaigns. Today, we look at another important election platform, that of the nation’s governors. Though these races will elect people who will obviously determine future individual state policy, most of the 2018 gubernatorial winners will carry redistricting veto power in 2021. Therefore, these elections also carry national implications.

Of the 36 governors’ campaigns, 17 will be open races mostly due to state term limit laws. While the Democrats must protect the preponderance of US Senate seats this year, the opposite situation exists in the governors’ races. Here, Republicans must defend 26 state houses, 13 of which are open seats.

Of the 13 GOP incumbents seeking re-election, three are actually running for governor for the first time. Govs. Kay Ivey (R-Alabama), Kim Reynolds (R-Iowa), and Henry McMaster (R-South Carolina) were all lieutenant governors who ascended to their current position because the person elected in 2014 is no longer in office.

Alabama’s Gov. Robert Bentley (R) was forced to resign as part of a plea bargain arrangement over campaign finance violations. The other two state chief executives, Terry Branstad (IA) and Nikki Haley (SC), accepted positions in the Trump Administration. At this point in the election cycle, all three unelected governors are favored to win a full term.

Continue reading