Monthly Archives: January 2019

Reflecting on the 2018 Numbers

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 24, 2019 — Now that all but one of the 470 House and Senate races from the election cycle just ended are final and recorded, it is time to better understand what the results portend.

As we know, the Democrats had a good election overall, and most particularly in the US House where they converted a net 40 seats — possibly 41 if NC-9 turns their way when the new election is finally scheduled — but Republicans did expand their majority in the Senate, thus largely disqualifying 2018 as an official wave election. Overall, there are 93 freshman House members and nine new senators when counting appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ).

Democrats came very near wave proportions, however – the Ballotpedia organization studied past wave elections and found that a swing of 48 House seats is necessary to constitute such a designation. While the effects from the 2018 election will certainly have long term reverberations, much more time is required to determine if the results are providing the foundation for transformational policy changes or are merely a blip that could just as quickly swing back to the Republicans.

What we do know is that women made significant gains in federal representation. In the Senate, the body now features a net three more female members (gaining Kyrsten Sinema and appointed Sen. McSally, both from Arizona, along with new Sens. Jacky Rosen (NV), and Marsha Blackburn (TN), but losing North Dakota’s Heidi Heitkamp), meaning that 25 women are now incumbent senators.

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The Early Senate Maneuvers

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 23, 2019 — Though it is only January of the off-year, already early moves are being made in anticipation of an active 2020 US Senate campaign cycle. With 34 in-cycle Senate races on the ballot, as many as 16, at this point, could become competitive in either the primary or general election.

Below is a quick synopsis of the latest happenings in several states:


OPEN SEATS

• Kansas: The open seat is Kansas is already active with backroom discussions. After first indicating that he would not leave his current position to run for the Senate, pressure is being put on Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to re-consider his decision to stay out of the battle to succeed the retiring Sen. Pat Roberts (R).

Facing a badly split Republican Party in the Sunflower State, many GOP leaders at the state and federal level believe that Pompeo would be the best candidate to unify the disparate factions, which would enable him to easily hold the seat in the general election. This, after the party just lost the governorship.

• Tennessee: Former Gov. Bill Haslam (R) left office on Saturday and says he will decide in the next few weeks whether to seek retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander’s (R) open seat. No one has yet come forward to announce his or her candidacy — the prospective field presumably frozen until Haslam makes public his political plans. Should the former governor decide to run, he would quickly become a prohibitive favorite in the Republican primary and general election.
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Pennsylvania Rep. Marino to Resign

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

Jan. 22, 2019 — Five-term Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) announced that he is leaving Congress next week to accept a professional position in the private sector. Marino was first elected to the House in 2010, after serving five years as the US Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and 11 years as District Attorney of Lycoming County.

In the Republican wave election of 2010, Marino ousted then-Rep. Chris Carney (D) by a 55-45 percent margin and has averaged 66.1 percent of the vote in his subsequent re-elections. The 2018 Pennsylvania court-ordered redistricting plan re-numbered his 10th Congressional District to 12 and created a seat where 68 percent of the constituency carried over from the previous district.

In 2017, President Trump nominated Rep. Marino as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly referred to as the nation’s “drug czar.” But the congressman withdrew his name when experiencing some negative reaction during the confirmation process.

The 12th District will now go into a special election cycle. After the seat becomes officially vacant on Jan. 23, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will have 10 days to issue a writ of election to fill the newly open seat. The various political parties will meet in special conventions to choose their nominees, with the winners proceeding to an election date that the governor will assign. It is most likely he will schedule the 12th District special to run concurrently with the Pennsylvania municipal primary, which is calendared for May 21.

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The Justice Democrats

By Jim Ellis

The Justice Democrats logo (click on image to go to their website)

Jan. 18, 2019 — Similar to the time when the Republicans controlled the House, it appears the most ideologically committed faction of the Democratic Party is already beginning to target the more centrist majority members for primary defeat.

The Justice Democrats organization spokespeople reiterated yesterday that they will be opposing certain incumbents in Democratic primaries beginning with Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo).

The group boasts of having newly-elected Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) as members after the pair defeated Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) and Mike Capuano (D-Somerville) in their respective 2018 primaries. The Justice Democrats also list veteran Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) as members along with newly elected freshmen Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

The Justice Democrats have a published issue agenda that includes “Medicare for All”, guaranteed living wages, federal guaranteed jobs, taxpayer financed higher education for anyone who wants to attend a university or college, their “Green New Deal” pertaining to environmental policy, and law enforcement reform, among other issues.

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Senate: Early Handicapping

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 17, 2019 — The 2020 Senate election cycle features 34 races instead of 33 because of the Arizona special, and this time it is the Republicans who must defend the preponderance of seats. In 2018, Democrats held 26 of the 35 seats up for election; in this cycle, Republicans must protect 22 of the 34 Senate positions.

Republicans are first risking two open seats, those of Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. At this point, both should remain in the GOP column. They also face a slew of competitive races in as many as eight incumbent states. Democrats, on the other hand, must defend in one highly competitive campaign, that of Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama, and a potentially viable contest in Minnesota.

But the most vulnerable Republican races will attract serious political attention. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (CO), and North Carolina first term incumbent Thom Tillis are facing difficult election or re-election campaigns, in addition to Sen. Jones.

Martha McSally lost the 2018 Arizona Senate race to new Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) by 55,900 votes of more than 2.384 million ballots cast, or a margin of 2.4 percentage points. This, however, in the same election where Republican Gov. Doug Ducey scored a strong 56-42 percent re-election victory.

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