Monthly Archives: August 2021

The US HOUSE ReMatches

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 9, 2021 — Earlier this week, former Maine congressman, Bruce Poliquin (R), who lost his seat in 2018 through the Ranked Choice Voting system after placing first in the original count, declared his 2022 candidacy for a re-match with Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston).

As we look toward the ’22 US House cycle, we see 13 close 2020 contenders (where the winner scored 52 percent or less) who have already announced that they will return for another run. Including Poliquin, only two of the 13 are former incumbents.

Below is a synopsis of the re-match races to date:

CA-25: Rep. Mike Garcia (R)

Former state Assemblywoman Christie Smith (D) has lost twice to Rep. Garcia but has announced a return for a third run after originally saying she would attempt to regain her seat in the state legislature. She will have competition in the June 7 jungle primary, however. Six other Democrats have declared their candidacies, and even resigned Rep. Katie Hill (D) has made noises about running again.

Redistricting will be a major factor in the outcome. The last race was decided by just 333 votes, so how the 2022 race forms next year is extremely uncertain.

CA-48: Rep. Michelle Steel (R)

Steel, a former Orange County Supervisor, defeated freshman Rep. Harley Rouda (D), 51-49 percent, in a coastal seat that had traditionally been strongly Republican. Redistricting will of course affect this district, like all others in southern California with the state losing a congressional seat for the first time in apportionment history, but Rouda is not waiting to view new boundary lines. He has already announced his return as a 2022 congressional candidate.

GA-7: Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D)

Expect redistricting to change this marginal political district in a major way. With Democrats converting two Atlanta suburban seats in consecutive elections, Republican map drawers are likely to concede one of the two CDs to the Democrats while making the other much better for a GOP candidate.

It is likely that Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) will be the Democratic beneficiary of the draw, while freshman Rep. Bourdeaux will probably be looking at a much more difficult new district for her to win. Republican nominee Rich McCormick, who lost here 51-49 percent in 2020, looks to be in strong position if the redistricting strategy outlined above is adopted.

ME-2: Rep. Jared Golden (D)

As mentioned above, former Rep. Poliquin is returning for a re-match after sitting out the 2020 cycle. Redistricting probably won’t change the 2nd District much since Maine only has two CDs. Ranked Choice Voting will still be an issue for the Republicans here, but the GOP is better equipped to deal with it in 2022. This will be a highly competitive campaign in one of just seven districts that supported former President Trump and elected a Democrat to the US House.

MN-2: Rep. Angie Craig (D)

Marine Corps Reserve officer Tyler Kistner (R) held Rep. Craig to only a 48-46 percent win last November and returns for a re-match. This is another situation where redistricting will play a major role. It is more than likely the split legislature will mold the two politically marginal adjacent southern Minnesota districts into safer seats for both Craig and Republican Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester). Such a draw would make Kistner’s 2022 task much more difficult.

NH-1: Rep. Chris Pappas (D)

State Republican leaders, who now control both houses of the New Hampshire legislature, have already indicated they plan on making the state’s 1st District, which defeated more incumbents than any other seat in the country during the previous decade, into a better Republican seat while conceding the 2nd District to Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Concord). This does not bode well for Rep. Pappas, who defeated businessman Matt Mowers (R), 51-46 percent, in 2020.

Pappas has already said he is looking to enter what could be an open governor’s race if his congressional seat becomes more Republican. Last week, Mowers confirmed that he is planning to run again.

NJ-7: Rep. Tom Malinowski (D)

Former state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean, Jr. (R), who came within two points of unseating Rep. Malinowski last November, will return. New Jersey redistricts by commission with five members of each party holding seats. A tie breaker is normally appointed to be the deciding vote. Democrats will want this seat to swing more their way, with Republican commissioners wanting likewise from their perspective. Another competitive race is forecast, but redistricting will likely determine the partisan tilt.
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Missouri Senate: Long In, Wagner Out

By Jim Ellis

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), announced that he will run for the Senate in Missouri.

Aug. 6, 2021 — The open Missouri Senate race saw significant change in the past couple of days with two announcements: one from a person launching his Senate campaign while another declared for a different political contest.

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), who represents the second safest Republican district in the Missouri congressional delegation, announced that he will run for the Senate, entering the already crowded open contest for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R).

US Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), another individual long said to be considering the Senate contest, announced instead that she will run for a sixth term from her St. Louis suburban congressional district.

Rep. Wagner has faced two competitive electoral contests in 2018 and 2020, winning with 51 and 52 percent of the vote, respectively, in a district that is becoming politically marginal. Then-President Trump carried the MO-2 district by just a handful of votes in 2020 after winning it 53-42 percent in 2016. With Republicans holding the redistricting pen and Missouri not losing a congressional seat, Rep. Wagner’s CD should become more favorable for her in the next election under new boundaries.

Long will oppose former governor, Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and fellow US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) at this point in the Senate Republican primary. Though Rep. Wagner has removed herself from consideration, 8th District US Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem), who holds Missouri’s strongest Republican congressional seat, is still viewed as a potential senatorial candidate.

It appears that Rep. Long starts in an underdog position if looking solely at fundraising and available resources. AG Schmitt raised $1.33 million through the June 30 Federal Election Commission second quarter reporting period and held $1.2 million in his campaign account. Rep. Hartzler added $1.05 million in receipts and holds over $1.4 million in her campaign committee. Greitens, who resigned his governorship under a cloud of sexual scandal just a year into his term, raised only $476,000-plus since entering the Senate race, but major GOP donor Dick Uihlein has already pledged to contribute $2.5 million to a pro-Greitens outside super PAC.

While Rep. Smith has not yet revealed his 2022 political plans, he is raising money, and would at least financially stand near the top of the current candidate field. He has raised over $600,000 since the beginning of the year but possesses over $1.6 million in his congressional account, all of which could be transferred to a Senate committee.

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Brown, Carey Win In Ohio

Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in Ohio’s 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2.

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2021 — Primary voters in two Ohio districts, for all intents and purposes, chose replacements Tuesday for resigned Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) and Steve Stivers (R-Columbus).

County Councilwoman and Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in the 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2 in a seat that is safe for her party. Ohio Coal Association chairman Mike Carey did likewise in the 15th District Republican primary that occupies much of the Buckeye State’s southern sector.

Despite polling showing Brown trailing former state Sen. Nina Turner but consistently gaining momentum, it was obvious that the winner’s campaign peaked at precisely the right time. With 75,064 people voting in the Democratic primary, Brown scored a 50.2 – 44.5 percent victory. The other 11 candidates split the remaining 5.3 percent.

The 11th District contains most of the city of Cleveland in Cuyahoga County and part of Akron in Summit County. Brown’s Cuyahoga total percentage spread of 50.4 – 44.1 almost exactly mirrored the district-wide vote. Conversely, Turner scored a very tight 48.8 – 40.0 percent plurality in Summit County, a difference of just 54 votes.

Turner, the former national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders for President campaign attracted support from the Democratic socialist movement, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Justice Democrats PAC. She began the campaign as almost a prohibitive favorite, leading by a 50-15 percent margin in a late May Tulchin Research organization survey. Once the final financial totals are known, it will be clear that Turner outspent the winner by a better than 2:1 margin.

Brown, receiving backing from the more establishment-oriented Democrats including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus, and former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, began to chip away at the former state legislator’s lead about six weeks before the election and made steady gains through the closing period as polling highlighted.

The race’s most recent survey, from the Mellman Group (July 13-17; 400 OH-11 likely voters), gave Turner only a 41-36 percent advantage. A poll generally scoffed at in early July, from the Republican firm TargetPoint, found the two candidates tied at 33 percent. In the end, it was TargetPoint that proved closest to the final mark.

On the Republican side, with just 5,299 voters participating, community activist Laverne Gore was an easy winner, capturing 74 percent support. The Nov. 2 special election is now just a formality in the heavily Democratic district, however, and Brown can count on being sworn into the House toward the end of this year.

In his victory speech, 15th District Republican primary winner Mike Carey gave a large portion of the credit to former President Donald Trump who endorsed him in a crowded field of eleven candidates. “Tonight, the voters of the 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the clear leader of our party,” Carey began his victory speech before his victory party supporters.

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Alaska Senate: A Re-Emergence

By Jim Ellis

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate

Aug. 4, 2021 — The Alaska Survey Research firm released a new Alaska Senate poll finding Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) improving her standing, but an even more drastic potential development has surfaced.

The poll (July 11-21; 947 registered Alaska voters, online) shows Sen. Murkowski posting her best numbers of the year, leading former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R), 36-27 percent. Tshibaka, already the candidate who the Alaska Republican Party and former President Donald Trump have officially endorsed, was leading the senator in earlier published surveys (Change Research: May 22-25; 1,023 likely Alaska voters, Tshibaka 39-19 percent. Cygnal: released March 29; 500 registered Alaska voters, Tshibaka 34-19 percent).

In the July ASR poll, state Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) and former Senate nominee Joe Miller (R/Libertarian) trailed the two leaders with 19 and 18 percent, respectively. Under Alaska’s new top-four primary system, all four of these candidates, however, would advance into the general election.

In even better news for Sen. Murkowski, the ASR poll tested her against Tshibaka in a head-to-head match-up and the incumbent would defeat the challenger, 55-45 percent. The bad news for Murkowski is the new Alaska voting system will not allow for such a pairing. Beginning with the 2022 election, all candidates run on a jungle primary ballot in the Aug. 16, 2022, nomination contest and the top four contenders, regardless of percentage attained will advance into the general election. Therefore, testing for a one-on-one ballot test should no longer be applicable in analyzing the Alaska electoral system.

Beyond the poll, a new development could be on the Alaska political horizon. Over the weekend, former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, addressed a group of evangelical Christian leaders. Asked if she would run for the Senate, Palin retorted, “if God wants me to run for the US Senate next year, I will.” She then, however, scolded the leaders saying, “I would say you guys better be there for me this time, because a lot of people were not there for me last time.”

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Ohio Specials Today

Ohio’s Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2021 — Though the two Ohio special congressional elections won’t officially be decided until the Nov. 2 general election, today’s nomination contest in both the vacant 11th and 15th congressional districts will unofficially choose the succeeding representatives in the respective Democratic and Republican primary elections.

District 11, the vacated Cleveland-Akron seat because former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) resigned to accept her appointment as Housing & Urban Development Secretary, is a solidly Democratic seat (Biden ’20: 80-19 percent; Clinton ’16: 80-17 percent). Though yielding a Democratic primary of 13 candidates, the race is boiling down to a two-way contest between former state senator and 2020 Bernie Sanders for president national co-chair Nina Turner and Cuyahoga County councilwoman and local Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown.

The 15th District lies in southern Ohio and contains some of the south Columbus suburbs of Franklin County along with 11 largely rural counties southwest, south, and southeast of the state’s capital city. The former incumbent here, Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), resigned his office in May to accept a position as president/CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. This, after testing the waters for a US Senate run. OH-15 is a reliable Republican district (Trump ’20: 56-42 percent; Trump ’16: 55-40 percent) that has grown more conservative over time.

Originally, it appeared that former Sen. Turner was a lock in the 11th District. She had big leads in polling and fundraising, but in the past six weeks, Brown has made major strides. While the latest polling still projects her trailing just outside the polling margin of error, the prevailing political trend is definitively moving in the local official’s direction.

This race is also shaping up as a battle between the two major factions within today’s Democratic Party: the Democratic socialists, led by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and the political action committee known as the Justice Democrats, opposite the national party establishment featuring such individuals as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus leadership, and Hillary Clinton.

While keeping her ads positive, some of Brown’s outside supporters, namely the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC, have highlighted public comments Turner previously made about President Biden, Vice President Harris, all before they were elected to their present positions, and the Democratic Party in general. Conversely, Brown’s campaign ads highlight her strong support for President Biden and his stated policy agenda.

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