Daily Archives: October 23, 2019

Florida Rep. Rooney to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples)

Oct. 23, 2019 — Two-term Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples) announced over the weekend that he would not seek election to a third term next year, thus FL-19 becomes the 27th open House seat for the current cycle.

Three of the open seats are vacant, meaning they will each go to special election to fill the balance of their respective terms. The trio of districts are: MD-7 (the late Elijah Cummings-D), NY-27 (Chris Collins-R), and WI-7 (Sean Duffy-R). The Wisconsin election calendar has been set for a Feb. 18 special primary and May 12 general. Maryland election law dictates that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announce the 7th District special election calendar on or before Oct. 28. No calendar announcement has yet been made for the New York situation.

Rooney, despite serving in Congress for only a brief while, had been on the unofficial retirement watch list because he had raised only $6,600 cycle-to-date for his next campaign and is at odds with his party on several issues. The congressman is independently wealthy, so the low total was not solely an indication of his intention since he has the wherewithal to self-fund his campaigns. Rep. Rooney had been a Republican critic of President Trump, took the no corporate PAC contribution pledge, and indicated he may support the impeachment inquiry.

Florida’s 19th District is a safely Republican southwest Florida seat. President Trump carried the district, 60-37 percent, while Mitt Romney won here with a similar 60-39 percent margin. In his two elections, Rep. Rooney racked up victory percentages of 62 (2018) and 66 percent (2016).

In a similar configuration over four previous terms, then-Rep. Connie Mack IV (R) averaged 65 percent of the vote. And, after Mack left the House to run for the Senate, Republican Trey Radel, who a year later would be convicted for cocaine possession and forced to resign, scored a 62 percent victory in 2012. GOP businessman Curt Clawson followed with win margins of 67-29 percent in the 2014 special election, and then 65-33 percent in the regular election cycle before choosing not to seek re-election in 2016.

Therefore, it is probable that the next Republican primary winner will summarily be elected to the House in November, 2020. The 19th District contains two-thirds of Lee County along with approximately half of Collier County. Its main population centers are the Cape Coral, Ft. Myers, Naples, and Marco Island localities.

Is Buttigieg a One-State Wonder?

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Oct. 23, 2019 — The new Suffolk University/USA Today poll of Iowa voters (Oct. 16-18; 500 likely Iowa Democratic caucus attenders) was conducted immediately after the most recent Democratic presidential debate and confirms that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg registered a strong performance.

According to the Suffolk results, former Vice President Joe Biden posts only 18 percent support, a drop of six points from their July Iowa poll, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is in a virtual tie with him at 17 percent. She gained four percentage points since mid-summer. Mayor Buttigieg now moves into a close third place with 13 percent, more than doubling his support from the July poll when he registered only six percent preference. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) remains constant with nine percent and holds fourth position.

The remainder of the field includes four candidates tied with three percent support: billionaire Tom Steyer who made his first debate appearance in the October forum, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) who dropped a whopping 13 percentage points from the July Suffolk U. survey, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar who, like Mayor Buttigieg, needs to take advantage of her Midwestern roots and reap a solid support percentage from the Iowa Democratic electorate. So far, however, she has failed to generate significant support.

While Mayor Buttigieg has appreciably increased his Iowa standing, it remains to be seen if this poll is reflective of a short-term bounce from a strong debate performance or whether seeds are being sown for a legitimate push into the top tier. And, even if he proves himself in Iowa, will that momentum carry over into other states? At this point, the available data suggests that Buttigieg could be a one-state wonder.