Monthly Archives: June 2018

Maine’s Instant Run-Off Examined

By Jim Ellis

MAINEJune 15, 2018 — An interesting situation is developing from the still-in-progress Maine primary that could become a test case for either changing or instituting state run-off electoral systems.

As you know, run-offs ensure that a party nominee obtains a majority or, in the case of North Carolina and South Dakota, a substantial share of the vote. The run-off’s purpose is to prevent a party from nominating a winner in a multi-candidate election who garners only a small plurality.

The South Carolina 4th Congressional District race is a good example of why some states choose a run-off format. On Tuesday, both parties advanced a pair of candidates into respective run-off elections because no one came close to receiving majority support.

For the Republicans, with 13 candidates running to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg), former state Sen. Lee Bright finished first, but with only 25 percent of the vote. In most other states, he would have been nominated. Since, 75 percent of the Republican voters chose another candidate, the run-off ensues. On June 26, Bright and state Sen. William Timmons (R-Greenville), who finished second with 19.2 percent, will decide the party nomination in one-on-one electoral competition. On the Democratic side, candidates Doris Lee Turner (29.4 percent) and Brandon Brown (28.5 percent) advance, while Eric Graben (25.7 percent), Will Morin (9.1 percent), and J.T. Davis (7.2 percent) are eliminated.

Maine is testing a unique new system that prevents situations such as their own that occurred in the past two gubernatorial elections, but avoids the cost of holding another separate election. Political observers will now see if their new idea will work and potentially withstand a legal challenge.

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California Still Counting;
CD-48 Still Undecided

By Jim Ellis

The California state flag

The California state flag

June 13, 2018 — The notoriously long California vote counting system continues to grind along, and a week later a major election is still in doubt — the 48th Congressional District, a seat fully contained within Orange County. Among the 16 jungle primary candidates, incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has secured the first run-off position and advances into the general election. The ongoing battle is for second place between biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead and businessman Harley Rouda, both Democrats.

This is an interesting election since the national and state Democratic Parties are split. The California State Democratic Party convention gave its official endorsement to Keirstead, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and many Democratic leaders officially backed Rouda.

On election night, Rouda had taken the lead, but the laborious post-election count has now put Keirstead in second place with a growing lead. His previous edge over Rouda was 87 votes. The latest count, released Monday night, increases Keirstead’s edge over Rouda to 372 votes, continuing the pattern of Keirstead moving up in the post-election count.

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Today’s Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 12, 2018 — Today brings another set of primaries, this time from five states: Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia.

MAINE

the-primariesSen. Angus King (I) stands for a second term, and today’s primary will be a non-event. Both the Republicans and Democrats have only one candidate on the ballot. State Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Kennebec County), who was the Maine State Director for the 2012 Ron Paul for President campaign, will be the GOP nominee, while teacher Zak Ringelstein is the Democratic candidate. Sen. King is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

The open governor’s race is a wild affair for both parties. Gov. Paul LePage (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. The Democrats are fielding seven candidates and the Repblicans, four. Expect the general election to be competitive.

The 2nd District Democratic congressional primary is of keen interest, as a three-way contest culminates among state Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), wealthy conservationist Lucas St. Clair, and former Islesboro Selectman Craig Olson. The resource battle is between Golden and St. Clair, and both figure to spend more than $800,000 in attempting to secure the party nomination. The winner will challenge two-term Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor) in the general election.


NEVADA

The Silver State political card is full with contested races for Senate, governor, and three House races.

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Democrats Re-Visit
“Super Delegates”

By Jim Ellis

June 11, 2018
— According to an article published late last week by Politico, Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez informed a group of US House members this week in a meeting that the party will be considering a move to change the status of what are now known as “Super Delegates” in preparation for the 2020 presidential election.

super-delegates-375The Democratic National Committee’s Rules and Bylaws panel met Friday to consider two proposals about making the group virtually powerless before the next presidential campaign begins. The Super Delegates became controversial in the 2016 presidential contest because of Hillary Clinton’s dominance within this delegate sector, which is comprised of elected officials and party leaders.

Many believed the group unfairly tilted the playing field toward Clinton in the face of actual Democratic primary and caucus voters who preferred Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. In the end, Clinton still won the pledged delegate count — those earned in primaries and caucuses — but her strength with Super Delegates clinched the nomination long before all the delegates voted on the first ballot at the Democratic National Convention.

In short, each state is awarded a certain number of Super Delegates, officially labeled as “PLEO’s” (Party Leader/Elected Official). They are comprised of a defined number of the state’s elected officials, internally elected, and “distinguished” party leaders. Each state has different rules governing who is awarded Super Delegate status.

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Latest Post-Primary Developments

By Jim Ellis

the-primariesJune 7, 2018 — Featuring eight primaries and the Minnesota political party endorsing conventions immediately preceding the state’s candidate filing deadline, the week has brought a whirlwind of political activity. We’ll update the latest developments.

Over the weekend, Minnesota Democrats and Republicans met in convention, as they do in every election cycle, to issue formal party endorsements. It is the typical practice in this state for the un-endorsed candidates to end their campaigns instead of forcing an August primary. But, 2018 is proving to be an unusual year.

While the Republicans re-endorsed their 2014 gubernatorial nominee, particularly when former Gov. Tim Pawlenty chose not to compete in the endorsing convention, it became clear that there would be an active Aug. 14 Republican primary between the ex-state chief executive and Hennepin County Commissioner Jeff Johnson.

The Democratic process was even more interesting, however. When the delegates voted to endorse state Rep. Erin Murphy (D-St. Paul), state Auditor Rebecca Otto announced that she would end her campaign. On the other hand, Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato), who said weeks ago that he would force a primary if he lost the party endorsement, confirmed that he will activate an Aug. 14 primary against Murphy.

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