Monthly Archives: December 2020

NY-22: Judge Rules

By Jim Ellis

Former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) leads freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 12 votes out of 317,727 tabulated ballots.

Dec. 10, 2020 — The only House race still uncertified or undecided will remain in political limbo for at least a couple of more weeks. Tuesday, in a 20-page ruling, state Supreme Court Justice Scott DelConte returned the contested race back to the counties to properly complete the canvass process in order to ensure that all eligible votes are counted and recorded.

At this point, former US Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) leads freshman Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 12 votes of 317,727 tabulated ballots.

At one point, Tenney led the count by 28,422 votes, but that lead all but disappeared when the 60,000-plus mail votes were recorded. At one point, Brindisi took a 13-vote lead, but a discovered mistaken count in Herkimer County changed the outcome to give Tenney her present 12-vote edge.

In New York, the local district court — or superior court as some states label it — is referred to as a Supreme Court. Justice DelConte has assumed jurisdiction for the case and determined that seven of the congressional district’s eight counties did not follow New York election law or procedure as to how county personnel handled many of the contested ballots and those that are seemingly uncounted.

Additionally, the judge denied both Tenney’s motion to certify the current count and Rep. Brindisi’s motion to recount only some of the counties and precincts. Justice DelConte wrote that Tenney’s motion ignored the clear fact that a bevy of ballots remain uncounted and recorded, and Brindisi only wants to adjust the areas that are favorable to him.

Only Tioga County correctly completed the counting and canvass process and is therefore not involved in this post-election adjustment period. Personnel in the other seven counties, however, at least failed to adhere to New York law that requires a written explanation on the invalid ballot itself as to why it was rejected and who made the challenge. Instead, many contested ballots were affixed with post-it notes, many of which have become dislodged and lost.

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Georgia Senate Races Unfold

(Sen. David Perdue Ad)

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 9, 2020 — We are over halfway into the Georgia US Senate runoff campaigns that will decide the national legislative body’s majority and it is clear that political prime time will determine the winners. Election Day is now less than a month away and the start of early voting begins next Monday, Dec. 14.

Setting the political table, the Republicans have a slight advantage coming from both Nov. 3 elections. GOP Sen. David Perdue (see ad above) placed ahead of Democrat Jon Ossoff (see ad below) by 88,098 votes but came up a quarter of a percentage point shy of obtaining the majority support necessary to win. In the 20-candidate field for the special election, when adding all of the Republican candidates and comparing that tabulation to the Democratic aggregate, we see the GOP holding a 47,808 vote edge.

(Jon Ossoff Ad)

The combined Georgia Senate runoff elections are sure to set a spending record once the campaigns end on January 5th. Already, according to the AdImpact marketing organization, as the Daily Kos Election site and Bloomberg Government reports, over $300 million has been spent since the beginning of these runoff campaigns.

(Raphael Warnock Ad)

A total of $170 million has been expended in the special election campaign, for example. Between the two candidates, Democrat Rev. Raphael Warnock (see ad above) has outspent Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler (see ad below), $60 million to $45 million, but outside groups supporting the appointed incumbent have more than made up the difference, outlaying $53 million as compared to $13 million from left-of-center organizations.

(Sen. Kelly Loeffler Ad)

Democrats have run approximately 42,000 commercials as compared to the Republicans’ 33,500 during the runoff period even though the latter party and its allies have spent more. Because the right-of-center organizations have dominated the non-candidate spending, and the cost to run such ads is greater than for an individual candidate’s committee, the monetary imbalance is thus explained.

Polling predictably shows a close race with virtually every study finding all four contenders within the polling margin of error, as a listing of the latest post-November 3rd election surveys reveal:

Senate – A

Trafalgar Group (Dec. 1-3; 1,083 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 47%

Survey USA (Nov. 27-30; 583 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 50%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 48%

RMG Research (Nov. 19-24; 1,377 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 48%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 47%

Insider Advantage (Nov. 16; 800 likely voters)

• Jon Ossoff (D) 49%
• Sen. David Perdue (R) 49%

Remington Research Group (Nov. 8-9; 1,450 likely voters)

• Sen. David Perdue (R) 50%
• Jon Ossoff (D) 46%

Senate – B – Special Election

Trafalgar Group (Dec. 1-3; 1,083 likely voters)

• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 50%
• Raphael Warnock (D) 45%

Survey USA (Nov. 27-30; 583 likely voters)

• Raphael Warnock (D) 52%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 45%

RMG Research (Nov. 19-24; 1,377 likely voters)

• Raphael Warnock (D) 48%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 46%

Insider Advantage (Nov. 16; 800 likely voters)

• Raphael Warnock (D) 49%
• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 48%

V-Creek/AMG (Nov. 10; 300 likely voters)

• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 50%
• Raphael Warnock (D) 46%

Remington Research Group (Nov. 8-9; 1,450 likely voters)

• Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R) 49%
• Raphael Warnock (D) 48%

The campaign messages are also well defined. Sen. Perdue continues to emphasize the national negative themes that appeared to work well for the GOP in the down ballot races: socialism, defunding the police, packing the US Supreme Court, raising taxes, and illegal immigrant voting.

Ossoff has been concentrating his ad messages on COVID and what he claims are Perdue and President Trump’s failures in handling the issue. His latest ad linked below features film of former President Barack Obama at a rally for the Democratic candidate, along with Ossoff’s wife, Dr. Alisha Kramer, who is a physician.

Turning to the special election, the Loeffler and Warnock campaigns have been trading attacks, counterattacks, and defensive messages.

Rev. Warnock hits Sen. Loeffler on her controversial stock transactions, while she responds with an aggressive hit about him being an extremist who calls the police “thugs” and once invited Fidel Castro to speak at a church where Rev. Warnock was an assistant pastor. Warnock responds with the linked ad that shows him walking his dog and disposes of the animal’s excrement in a reference to characterizing the Loeffler attacks.

In the end, the races will come down to which side can better deliver its base votes to the polls. Turnout will be robust but certainly well under the 4.952 million people who originally voted in the Perdue-Ossoff campaign, the larger turnout figure from the two Senate contests.

At this point, the races’ conclusion is uncertain, but Republicans should still have at least a slight advantage heading into early voting period and the election itself. Such a premise is based upon past voting history even in this politically changing state, and the original vote margins recorded on Nov. 3.

LA-5: Letlow Wins Runoff

Luke Letlow, Louisiana (LA-5) Republican

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 8, 2020 — Luke Letlow, who had served as chief of staff to Louisiana 5th District incumbent Rep. Ralph Abraham (R-Alto) up until the time he announced his candidacy to replace the retiring congressman, convincingly won Saturday’s double-Republican runoff election to claim the open seat contest as we noted yesterday.

With his victory, Letlow becomes the 212th Republican heading toward the new session of Congress with one campaign uncalled (NY-22) and another being challenged (IA-2). Majority Democrats currently have 222 clinched seats.

Letlow defeated state Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria), 62-38 percent, winning all but one of the district’s 24 parishes. At total of 79,309 voters participated in the runoff election, a 15 percent turnout of the district’s 528,278 registered voters. The Letlow victory margin was just over 19,000 votes.

In the original “blanket primary” election on Nov. 3, Letlow placed first with 33 percent of the vote as compared to Rep. Harris’ 17 percent to create the double Republican secondary election. Harris slipped past Democrat Candy Christophe by 428 votes in the original vote in order to qualify for the runoff and effectively secure the seat for the Republicans. The Nov. 3 election saw a 5th District turnout rate of 70.1 percent.

The “blanket primary” is the phrase Louisianans use to describe the system more commonly described as a “jungle primary.” That is, all candidates appear on the same ballot regardless of political party affiliation and the top two advance into a runoff election if no one receives majority support in the original vote. The Bayou State was the first to adopt this system and originally did so in 1978.

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Friday’s LA-5 Runoff

https://youtu.be/1BUfn_Iia6oLouisiana state Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) attacks opposing candidate and fellow Republican Luke Letlow over enriching himself during his career in politics.

By Jim Ellis

Monday, Dec. 7, 2020 — The Jan. 5, 2021 Georgia US Senate runoffs are not the only post-election secondary campaign contests, even though they dominate the national political attention since their outcomes will determine the chamber majority. The nation’s other runoff election was scheduled for this past Saturday in northeastern Louisiana for the state’s 5th Congressional District.

A little background on the race: Unlike Georgia, there was no suspense as to which party wins the seat – both Louisiana contenders are Republicans – but the identity of the winning candidate was in question up till Friday.

Luke Letlow finished first on Nov. 3 (33.1 percent) from a field of nine candidates in what is termed a “blanket primary” in Louisiana but a “jungle primary” elsewhere. He also finished first Saturday, Dec. 5. More analysis tomorrow from that. The candidate field Nov. 3 consisted of five Republicans and four Democrats, and Letlow doubled the vote total of his nearest competitor. State Rep. Lance Harris (R-Alexandria) finished second (16.5 percent), qualifying for the runoff by just 428 votes over third-place finisher Candy Christophe, the top Democratic contender.

Letlow is a former chief of staff to retiring Congressman Ralph Abraham (R-Alto), who is honoring a term-limits pledge to only serve three terms. Dr. Abraham was a 2019 Republican gubernatorial candidate, losing the Republican nomination to businessman Eddie Rispone by three percentage points. Rispone would then fall to Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) in the November ’19 runoff on a 51-49 percent count.

Letlow served as Rep. Abraham’s chief during his entire congressional career up until the time he (Letlow) declared his own candidacy. Prior to that, the 2020 top 5th District vote-getter held a position in Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration.

Lance Harris is a convenience store chain business owner and farmer who was elected to the state House of Representatives in 2011. He was unopposed in his succeeding re-election campaigns, those in 2015 and 2019.

Harris’ parents were missionaries in China and became prisoners of the Communist regime. They survived captivity and were released, only to be killed in a car accident in 1984 after returning to Louisiana. Harris explains that his parents’ experience drives him to fight socialism, which is why he entered elective politics after establishing his career in business.

While the contest was fairly quiet in the blanket primary, the runoff turned combative. Harris attacked Letlow for his career in politics (see ad at top), citing in his ads that his opponent has made “over $1 million in working for politicians including Bobby Jindal” and then worked as a lobbyist.

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IA-2: Hart Petitions the House

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman-elect Mariannette Miller-Meeks – or is she?

Dec. 4, 2020 — As things officially stand, Rita Hart, the Democratic nominee in the open IA-2 congressional district that occupies the southeastern part of the state, has lost to state Sen. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) by a grand total of six votes from more than 393,000 ballots cast, but the challenge process from the Democrat is apparently not over.

Though the state has certified the race, Hart is reportedly preparing to take the results directly to the US House of Representatives, asking the House Administration Committee to investigate the counting process. Ultimately, the House itself has the power to seat all of its members.

Normally, any individual possessing a duly authorized certificate of election from the state’s official election administrator, usually the Secretary of State, is seated. There is precedence, however, for denying duly elected candidates their seats.

Under Iowa election law and procedure, Hart had another way to challenge the results. Her campaign staff claims that certain ballots were not counted in the original or recount process, and there are enough, they say, to flip the final outcome in Hart’s direction.

In Iowa, such a disputed election goes to a judicial panel over which the state Supreme Court Chief Justice presides. In addition to the Chief Justice, the high court then chooses four other judges from around the state to comprise the special panel. In this case, the judges would have had to declare an official winner by Dec. 8 in order to comply with Iowa law. The Hart campaign contended that was not adequate time to consider the ballot challenges, so they opted to petition the House itself.

Rep. Zoe Lofrgen (D-CA) chairs the House Administration Committee, which includes five additional Democrats, two more from California, and three Republicans. The other members are: Reps. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Susan Davis (D-CA), G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Marcia Fudge (D-OH), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA). The Republicans are Ranking Minority Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) and Reps. Mark Walker (R-NC), and Barry Loudermilk (R-GA).

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