Monthly Archives: June 2021

The Controversy over Donald Trump’s Endorsement of NC Senate Candidate, Rep. Ted Budd


By Jim Ellis

June 23, 2021 — Three Politico publication reporters, Burgess Everett, Melanie Zanona, and Olivia Beavers, combined on an article published yesterday (Nasty N.C. Senate primary tests Trump’s sway over the GOP) that merits refutation.

The piece details former President Trump’s public endorsement of US Senate candidate Ted Budd, the 13th District congressman, at the North Carolina Republican Party convention on June 5, and reactions to the development. Generally, and not surprisingly, it casts the endorsement and Rep. Budd’s statewide chances in a negative light.

Therefore, a number of points require balance.

1. To begin, the story quotes key Republicans, such as retiring North Carolina US Sen. Richard Burr (R) and South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), who are downplaying the Trump endorsement’s effectiveness, with Sen. Burr going so far as claiming that ex-governor Pat McCrory is basically the only candidate who could win the upcoming general election. It is important to note here that McCrory failed to win re-election in 2016, the last time he was on a statewide ballot.

2. Secondly, a released Meeting Streets Insight poll conducted for the Budd campaign (June 9-10; 500 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters; live interview) highlights a different perspective.

The MSI survey found McCrory leading the GOP field 45-19-12 percent over Rep. Budd and former US representative, Mark Walker, respectively. When the polling sample is informed of the Trump endorsement – only 20 percent were aware before the pollsters provided the information – the ballot test completely flips to 46-27-8 percent with Rep. Budd leading, followed by ex-governor McCrory and former Rep. Walker. Obviously, this suggests the Trump endorsement still has power within the North Carolina Republican primary voter segment.

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NYC and Ranked Choice on Ballot

NYC Democracy produced a voter palm card to help guide voters in a ranked-choice voting scenario.

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2021 — New York City Democrats go to the polls today to cast their ballots in the party’s mayoral primary as 13 candidates compete to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). With voter registration figures giving Democrats an almost 7:1 advantage, there is little doubt that the eventual Democratic primary winner will win the mayoral general election on Nov. 2.

More, however, is on the ballot than just deciding which of the candidates will advance into the Autumn election. The Democrats are using a ranked choice voting system that has been tried in other places around the county, such as the state of Maine and 32 mostly local jurisdictions. With 13 candidates vying for the mayoral nomination, however, and at least four being within the margin of error in the most recent polling, this New York City race could be the system’s most significant test.

Ranked Choice Voting is an electoral procedure where voters rank the candidates in their order of preference. In this case, Democratic voters will record their first preference with the number 1, and then follow through individually with the remaining dozen.

The system works as follows: when the ballots are fully counted, assuming no one receives an outright majority, which is a virtual certainty with so many candidates in contention, the 13th-place finisher will be eliminated from further competition. Election officials will then locate all ballots where the last place finisher was chosen first. Those voters’ second choices are then recorded and added to the original count. This process continues until a top candidate reaches the 50 percent plateau.

Considering that New York City election officials took six weeks to determine a winner in Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-Manhattan) 12th District congressional Democratic primary last year, for example, this complicated counting process could go on for some time before a winner is ultimately announced.

Pollsters attempted to gauge the voters’ ranked choice predilections in rather complicated questioning, and most estimated that the counting process would consume 10-12 rounds. Polling accuracy is unclear at this point because few research firms have attempted to measure the ranked choice system. Therefore, today’s race could have a wild card ending especially when voters go deep into their ratings.

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Senate: Recapping the Latest

By Jim Ellis

June 21, 2021 — We have seen quite a few recent US Senate moves that help set the picture for a very competitive 2022 election cycle that will almost certainly break the current 50-50 chamber tie. Below is a recap of the action:

Alabama: Katie Britt (R), the former president and CEO of the Alabama Business Council joined the race and immediately secured the endorsement of her former boss, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R). Before joining the Business Council, Britt was the senator’s chief of staff. She joins Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and former US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard in the GOP field. No Democrat has yet announced.

Arizona: Two-term Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) announced his candidacy in the past week, giving the GOP a candidate who has won statewide to face freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D), who stands for a full six-year term in 2022 after winning the 2020 special election. Also in the Republican field are retired Air Force Major General Mick McGuire and solar energy company executive Jim Lamon. Venture capitalist Blake Masters and US Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) remain as possible candidates.

Florida: US Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando), the former police chief whose husband is mayor of Orange County and the former county Sheriff, formally announced her US Senate challenge to Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Former congressman Alan Grayson and Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell are also Democratic US Senate candidates, among others.

Georgia: Former University of Georgia football star and NFL player Herschel Walker (R) is re-locating back to his home state from Texas ostensibly to soon announce a challenge to freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) who, like Sen. Kelly in Arizona, must stand for a full six-year term in 2022 after winning a 2020 special election. Also in the GOP nomination race are state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, construction company owner Kelvin King, and financial executive and former Trump White House staff member Latham Saddler.

Iowa: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), who will be 89 at the next election, appears poised to seek an eighth term. At this point, state Sen. Jim Carlin (R-Sioux City) is an announced Republican primary challenger, and ex-Crawford County Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer (D) is the lone Democratic announced candidate. Former one-term US Rep. Abby Finkenauer is a potential candidate along with current US Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines), and Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart.

Missouri: Six-term US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) is the latest Republican to join the open field with Sen. Roy Blunt (R) retiring. She will oppose former governor, Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey, with US Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), Billy Long (R-Springfield), and Jason Smith (R-Salem) remaining as possible candidates.

Former St. Louis area state Sen. Scott Sifton is the lone prominent announced Democrat. Ex-governor, Jay Nixon, and Kansas City Mayor Quentin Lucas are potential Democratic candidates.

Nevada: The Republican leadership believes that former Attorney General and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt, grandson of the late former Sen. Paul Laxalt (R), will soon announce his Senate candidacy to oppose first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).

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The Manchin Compromise

By Jim Ellis

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

June 18, 2021 — West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D) offered a detailed compromise Wednesday to the S.1/HR-1 package that will be debated and likely voted upon in the Senate next week.

The controversial legislation would nationalize voting procedures, and Sen. Manchin has said he would not support a final package unless Republican votes could be recruited to break a filibuster. According to news sources, no Republican is currently supportive.

Sen. Manchin released what he terms is a compromise measure, (Voting Legislation For the People Act Compromise), and presumably a substitute for S.1, or “For the People Act,” as it is formally entitled. His proposal includes 26 points in addition to five sub-points.

The chances of the Democratic leadership accepting the Manchin compromise on face value are virtually nil because his measure does not include some of the key planks found in the S.1 language.

For the purposes of this column, let’s look at a few of what could be the more controversial pieces of the Manchin offering both from a political and constitutional perspective.

• Point 3 states that the measure would “ban gerrymandering and use computer models” for redistricting. Accepting this would be difficult since there is no common definition of “gerrymandering.”

Additionally, though computer models are already used in every state to draw districts, Sen. Manchin may be referring to the Iowa process in which the legislature allows the committee staff to draw maps through a specific computer model without regard to an incumbent’s residence but based solely on geographic and some demographic characteristics.

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It’s Down to a Dozen in SC-7

By Jim Ellis

South Carolina state Rep. William Bailey (R-Myrtle Beach)

June 17, 2021 — South Carolina state Rep. William Bailey (R-Myrtle Beach), who became the first individual to announce a Republican primary challenge to Rep. Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach) has become the first candidate to withdraw, with his announcement this past Tuesday. Bailey initially entered the race immediately after the congressman voted to impeach former President Trump in relation to the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol.

Rep. Bailey indicated that there are ‘enough conservatives in the race to give Mr. Rice a strong challenge,’ and says he is leaving the congressional race to seek re-election to his state House position.

After Bailey’s departure, and including Rep. Rice, there are a dozen announced candidates for the Republican congressional primary in a 7th District that currently occupies South Carolina’s northeastern sector and includes the cities of Myrtle Beach and Conway. In the two Trump presidential elections, the district’s voters strongly supported the former president and with very consistent margins: 58-39 percent in 2016 and 59-40 percent last November.

Normally, a large field of opponents would help an incumbent, but maybe not under the South Carolina election system. The state, like many others in the south, adopts a secondary runoff election process, meaning the winning candidate must secure an absolute majority. If no one can achieve the mark in the primary election, the top two vote-getters advance to a secondary election.

What makes the Palmetto State’s system different is that the runoff cycle lasts only two weeks. Typically, South Carolina holds its primaries in mid-June with the associated runoffs following in the latter part of the month.

Therefore, an incumbent under attack doesn’t have much time to recover before the next election commences. This calendar likely enhances the most common pattern of incumbents generally losing a runoff election if they are forced into a secondary vote.

The large number of contenders notwithstanding, and without Rep. Bailey in the field, the two most prominent challengers appear to be Horry County School Board chairman Ken Richardson and former Myrtle Beach mayor, Mark McBride, though the latter man was defeated in a runoff election for a third term. McBride was also beaten badly in a 2020 special election for the state House of Representatives.

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