Monthly Archives: July 2019

Another Open House Seat …

Texas Congressional District 5, currently represented in the US House by John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall)


By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/ Rockwall)

July 31, 2019 — The announcement that Dan Coats is resigning as Director of National Intelligence and Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall) being nominated to replace him creates another open House seat. Now within the space of just one week, the number of open congressional seats for the next election has jumped from 10 to 14.

It is likely that Ratcliffe will go through the confirmation process well into November, meaning Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will call a special election to fill the balance of the current term upon the nominee’s confirmation. Looking ahead, it is likely the special general could fall on March 3, which is the day of the 2020 Texas primary, which means that the candidates would be running to simultaneously fill the current term and for the 2020 party nomination. The confirmation process and calendar, however, will largely dictate if such a schedule will happen.

John Ratcliffe was elected to the House in 2014, after he defeated 34-year congressional veteran Ralph Hall (R-Rockwall) in that year’s Republican primary. He was easily elected in the three subsequent general elections and posted a 76 percent victory last November.

Texas’ 4th District begins at Texarkana on the Texas/Arkansas border, encompasses the counties that touch the northwest Louisiana boundary, and then moves westward and well north of Dallas along the Red River and Oklahoma state line.

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Another One Bites the Dust:
Rep. Martha Roby to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery)

July 30, 2019 — In the past week, three Republican House members made public their intention not to seek re-election including one this weekend. The action brings the grand total of open seats to 13, still a low number but one that is beginning to grow exponentially.

Now joining Reps. Paul Mitchell (R-MI) and Pete Olson (R-TX) in the recent retirement category is Alabama Rep. Martha Roby (R-Montgomery). The congresswoman released an electronic message indicating that she will not seek a sixth term and thanked her family and the people of her state’s 2nd District for the opportunity of serving in the US House for what will be a full decade.

Unlike in 2018, Roby looked to have a clear path to re-election. In the last campaign cycle, she drew a significant primary challenge because of negative comments she made about President Trump during the 2016 electoral contest. But the president endorsed her in the ’18 GOP nomination campaign and she scored a solid 68-32 percent win opposite former Democratic Congressman Bobby Bright in the Republican run-off.

Against four primary opponents, however, Rep. Roby only managed 39 percent of the vote, thus forcing the run-off. She rebounded nicely in the secondary election, and then went onto post a 61 percent victory in the general election. So far, no one from either party has come forward to challenge her, thus, Roby announces her retirement devoid of political pressure.

Alabama’s US Congressional Districts

Alabama’s 2nd District occupies the southeastern corner of the state, from the capital city of Montgomery to the Florida border on the south and Georgia to the east. It contains 14 whole counties and almost two-thirds of Montgomery County.

The seat is solidly Republican. President Trump posted a whopping 65-33 percent win here against Hillary Clinton, even topping Mitt Romney’s 63-36 percent margin over President Obama in 2012. In her five congressional general elections, Roby averaged 58.4 percent of the vote, but that figure is a bit misleading. She unseated then-Rep. Bright in 2010 with 51.1 percent and then survived a surprisingly close call in 2016 when she defeated a relatively unknown Democrat with only a 48.8 – 40.5 percent point spread. In her other three generals, she recorded victory percentages of 64, 67, and 61.

While the open seat figure is creeping upward, the majority of what will be incumbent-less campaigns are still non-competitive for next year’s election season. The overwhelming number of the 13 opens are Republican-held (10R-3D), and it appears at this early point in the election cycle that five of the districts will feature seriously contested general election contests, including four currently in GOP hands.

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Rep. Pete Olson to Retire

Texas Congressional District 22, currently represented in the US House by Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land), who just announced his retirement.

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land)

July 29, 2019 — Six-term Texas Rep. Pete Olson (R-Sugar Land) announced late last week that he will not seek re-election next year, bringing the House open seat total to an even dozen and leaving what appears to be a competitive race in his wake.

Over the years, the 22nd District has had a colorful history. Originally crafted as a swing district in the 70s, Ron Paul first won it in a 1976 special election before losing it in the regular election later that year. He would return to win the district back in 1978 and then hold it for three terms before running unsuccessfully for the Senate.

Succeeding Dr. Paul was then-state Rep. Tom DeLay (R), who would win 11 elections in the congressional district and rise through leadership to become Majority Whip and Majority Leader.

Leaving mid-term in 2006, the Republicans were barred from replacing DeLay on the ballot, which led to then-Houston City Councilwoman Shelley Sekula-Gibbs (R) running as a write-in candidate and losing to a Democrat, former Rep. Nick Lampson. Two years earlier, Lampson had lost his Beaumont-anchored district. Republicans re-claimed the seat two years later in the person of the current incumbent, Pete Olson.

Rep. Olson issued the following statement explaining his decision: “as someone who has long advocated for policies that put our families first, it’s time for me to take my own advice and be a more consistent presence to help our family. To that end, while I will complete my term in the 116th Congress, I will not be seeking reelection.”

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Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell to Retire:
“Rhetoric Overwhelms Policy …”

Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden)

By Jim Ellis

July 26, 2019 — Michigan Rep. Paul Mitchell (R-Dryden) who represents the eastern part of the state known as “the thumb of Michigan”, announced Tuesday that he will not seek a third term in the US House.

His reason for departing after what will be only four years in office and spending over $7 million of this own money to win election to Congress over three campaigns is to spend more time with his family because of his special needs son. Rep. Mitchell also expresses displeasure and frustration with Washington because, he says, “rhetoric overwhelms policy, and politics consumes much of the oxygen in this city.”

Rep. Mitchell was originally elected in 2016, replacing Rep. Candice Miller (R) when she retired after 14 years in the House. He won a five-way Republican primary that year with 38 percent support, or more than 8,000 votes beyond he and his closest competitor, state Sen. Phil Pavlov (R-Port Huron). Mitchell won the ’16 general election with a 63-32 percent margin and was re-elected last year, 60-35 percent.

In his first venture into elective politics, Mitchell ran in the vacant 4th District when former Ways & Means Committee chairman Dave Camp (R-Midland) retired in 2014 after his time leading the panel had reached its term limit. In the three-way Republican primary, Mitchell lost 52-36 percent to current Rep. John Moolenaar (R-Midland). After the defeat, he moved across the state to Lapeer County, an area where Mitchell had business interests.

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Biden Rebounding Across the Nation

Former vice president, Joe Biden

By Jim Ellis

July 25, 2019 — Former Vice President Joe Biden is re-establishing his pre-debate lead in the Democratic presidential race according to a new Morning Consult political survey.

The poll (July 15-21; 17,285 likely Democratic primary voters from an online pool of 5,000 US registered voters), part of a regular ongoing Morning Consult research series, finds Biden registering 33 percent preference. Following with double-digit support are Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Kamala Harris (D-CA) at 18-14-13 percent, respectively. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who led all of the Democratic candidates in second quarter fundraising with $24 million obtained during the three-month period, posted only five percent support in placing fifth.

Though we see more support for both Warren and Harris than was present in pre-debate polling, the remainder of the field appears to be reverting to their support levels detected prior to the first Democratic presidential forum held in Miami at the end of June.

Results such as those found in this MC study still suggest the pressure is squarely on the former vice president to deliver an improved performance at his next debate scheduled for July 31 from Detroit. While it was clear his support dipped after the last debate, it will now become imperative for him to command the stage in order to re-establish long-lasting confidence from his political base.

The post-debate slippage indicated that much of Biden’s voter base can be described as vacillating, thus identifying a point of weakness. The upcoming national debate will give him the opportunity of cementing his early lead.

With Biden again pitted against Sen. Harris, and this time with Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) joining him as part of the 10 candidates appearing on stage, his key opponents make up a formidable presence who will likely seize more than their allotted share of speaking time. Fighting for time could become problematic for Biden, especially if he becomes a joint target as the evening proceeds.

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