Monthly Archives: December 2021

Texas 2022 Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 17, 2021 — Texas became the first state to see candidate filing close for the 2022 elections, so the campaign season has officially been launched.

In the Lone Star State, candidates file with their respective state party organizations, or county parties if their race is fully contained within one entity, and not the Secretary of State. Therefore, the filings might not yet be fully recorded and approved. The statewide primary is scheduled for March 1. If no candidate for whatever office does not receive majority support in the first election, a runoff between the top two finishers will occur on May 24.

What we know so far is that Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will face a significant Republican primary challenge from former Florida congressman and ex-Texas Republican Party chairman Allen West and former Dallas state Sen. Don Huffines. The latter man, who was defeated for re-election in 2018, has the ability to self-fund a statewide primary campaign. Former congressman and 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke will be the Democratic nominee as he faces only minor opposition in the party primary.

Regardless of the level of competition, Gov. Abbott, though his approval ratings are at a low ebb in his seven-year career as the state’s chief executive, is a heavy favorite in both the Republican primary and the 2022 general election.

The main constitutional office of interest is the attorney general’s race. Here, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton (R), who has for years been under a federal SEC indictment that has yet to move forward, and who has been publicly accused of having an ongoing extra-marital affair, faces three strong candidates for re-nomination: State Land Commissioner George P. Bush, US Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tyler), and state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman.

Though Paxton has personal and legal problems, his favorability ratings among Republican primary voters is still surprisingly high. Forcing the two-term attorney general into a runoff election, however, is a clear possibility.

With the state having no Senate race in 2022, the federal focus turns to the new 38-member US House delegation. Texas gained two seats in national reapportionment, thus increasing their delegation size from 36 to 38 seats. The state will wield 40 electoral votes in the next presidential election, second only to California’s reduced 54.

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Alabama Senate:
Primary Now Competitive

Former Business Council of Alabama CEO Katie Britt

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 16, 2021 — For the most part, early polling has given Alabama US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) a big lead in his open Senate Republican primary race, but a series of later surveys reveal a major change on the ballot test.

According to the new McLaughlin & Associates survey of the Alabama Republican electorate, Rep. Brooks’ lead has dropped to single-digit points over former Business Council of Alabama CEO Katie Britt, with business owner and military veteran Michael Durant, a relative newcomer to the race, also making his presence felt. An earlier unrelated poll actually found Britt posting a slight edge over the field.

The McLaughlin study (Dec. 6-9; 500 likely Alabama Republican primary voters; 80 percent self-identified Republicans; 20 percent non-Republicans who say they will vote in the Republican primary, live interview) projects Rep. Brooks to be holding a 31-26-17 percent advantage over Britt, who is also a former chief of staff to retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), and Durant. In a troubling sign for Brooks, a hypothetical runoff contest between the congressman and Britt fell the latter candidate’s way on a 39-37 percent count.

Before November, Brooks held huge polling leads — from 23 to 43 points in surveys conducted during the August through October period. The McLaughlin poll seems to reinforce a developing trend that the Strategy Group and the Cygnal polling organization detected in November polling.

Cygnal (Nov. 3-4; 650 likely Alabama Republican primary voters, text, interactive voice response, email), polling for the Alabama Conservatives Fund, actually saw Britt, for the first time, taking a slight 24-22-9 percent lead over Rep. Brooks and Durant.

The Strategy Group (Nov. 1-4; 784 likely Alabama Republican primary voters; live interview and interactive voice response system) found the Brooks lead over Britt to be only 28-23 percent. The SG poll was conducted largely as an issue survey for the Alabama House Republican Caucus, but they asked one question to test a Brooks-Britt isolated Senate primary, which could be a precursor to a runoff contest.

The Alabama race is another where former President Donald Trump has come out early with an endorsement. His support helped Rep. Brooks build a large early lead, but the ex-president will have to come more to the forefront if his candidate is to reverse the latest trend.

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New Mexico Lines Completed

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 2021 — Though only a three-congressional district state, New Mexico is playing an important role in the 2021 redistricting cycle. The state is one of only four where Democrats fully control the redistricting process and can make gains.

The map that passed the legislature Monday and which was immediately sent to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) for her signature appears to clinch the one-seat gain that national Democrats need from the state. On the other hand, it is likely that at least one of their current seats becomes more vulnerable.

Though Democrats have 15 legislative trifectas — that is where they hold the offices of governor, state Senate, and state House of Representatives — they effectively have only four for redistricting. In five of their trifecta states, redistricting has been sent to a citizens or politician (New Jersey) commission. In another six, they are maxed, meaning the Democrats already have all the seats that they can possibly win in each domain.

Ironically, the current Land of Enchantment map needed only minor adjustments to bring the redistricting plan into legal population compliance. The state’s per district resident quota is 705,841 individuals, and the three current districts were only between 3,082 and 11,290 people away from being in full compliance. Districts 2 and 3 needed to shed a combined 11,290 individuals to District 1, and the map would have balanced.

Instead, the Democratic leadership made major changes all centered around transforming freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell’s (R-Alamogordo) 2nd CD into a Democratic advantage. The US Department of Justice just filed suit against the Texas redistricting map under a partisan gerrymander argument, so it is curious to see whether they follow the same course and bring forth a similar partisan gerrymander lawsuit in New Mexico and Illinois, places where Democrats control the redistricting pen.

New Mexico is also interesting in that all three of the state’s delegation members, Reps. Melanie Stansbury, (D-Albuquerque) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-Santa Fe), as well as Herrell, are freshmen. In fact, Stansbury is even behind the other two in seniority since she won her seat in a June 1 special election to replace resigned Rep. Deb Haaland (D), who left the House to become US Interior Secretary in the Biden Administration.

For the first time, the redesigned New Mexico congressional map splits the state’s dominant city of Albuquerque. Drawing the southern 2nd District into the Albuquerque metropolitan area provides the Democrats the ability to enhance the party’s chances of flipping the seat. Throughout New Mexico’s history, the city has been fully contained within the 1st Congressional District.
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North Carolina in Political Abeyance

(Please click on map for expanded view.)


By Jim Ellis

Dec. 14, 2021 — Last week proved to be a topsy-turvy week in North Carolina politics, and situations are being created that won’t likely be resolved for some time.

First, a three-judge panel suspended the state’s Dec. 17 candidate filing deadline to allow consideration time for the filed partisan gerrymandering lawsuits. A day later, the en banc 15-member State Appellate Court overturned the judicial panel’s ruling and reinstated the Dec. 17 filing deadline. Just hours later, the state Supreme Court overruled the full Appellate Court and not only reinstated the original ruling suspending the candidate filing deadline, but postponed the North Carolina primary more than two months, moving it from March 8 to May 17.

The final ruling affects all candidates at every level because the primary now returns to the traditional May slot that North Carolina typically holds. The respective Democratic and Republican Party leaders moved the primary in 2020 to better position the state for the presidential nomination process. In the 2021 legislative session, the General Assembly took no action to move the primary back to May.

The judicial rulings also affect the statewide US Senate race. For example, ex-Congressman Mark Walker (R) is a Senate candidate who did not seek re-election to the House in 2020 because the late-decade court-ordered redistricting ruling tore his previous 6th District into several parts making the region unattainable for any Republican.

Many people on the right, including former President Donald Trump, are reportedly urging Walker to leave the Senate race and run in the state’s open 7th Congressional District. The newly created CD-7 in the Greensboro area, which Walker largely represented, would certainly be winnable for him. In actuality, he would only have to win a Republican primary. If this map stands, the new 7th will be safe for the GOP in any general election.

Currently, the former congressman trails badly in early US Senate polling, but he is planning to stay in the Senate race until at least the end of the year, or when the congressional map status becomes clear.

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Virginia Map Released

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 13, 2021 — The Virginia congressional redistricting map was just published and it contains some surprises. Unexpectedly, the overall plan features more competitive districts than the current map, and the state’s three female members each drew more difficult political situations. All eight males would have safe seats.

Because the Virginia Redistricting Commission members failed to produce a new congressional map by the stated deadline, the Supreme Court of Virginia was forced to assume map drawing responsibilities. The court hired two special masters, a Democrat and a Republican, to collaborate and produce a new federal map.

The 11-district plan enhances the political competition in two seats when compared to vote totals typically yielded from the current map and creates a new open seat that sets the scene for a highly contested Democratic primary. The districts of Reps. Elaine Luria (D-Norfolk) and Jennifer Wexton (D-Leesburg) clearly become more competitive, while Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) has no reasonable place to run.

Instead of placing the new 7th District in the central part of the state beginning in Henrico County where Rep. Spanberger resides, the seat is transferred to Northern Virginia and will occupy all of Prince William and Stafford counties along with the cities of Manassas, Manassas Park, and Fredericksburg in addition to a small piece of southeastern Fairfax County. The FiveThirtyEight statistical organization rates the new 7th as D+14.

Immediately, two Democratic candidates who this year ran statewide — gubernatorial candidate Jennifer Carroll Foy and Hala Ayala, the lieutenant governor nominee — both expressed interest in running for the new seat. Both women are former state delegates. Though the new Prince William-anchored district is numbered seven, none of Spanberger’s current constituents reside here.

First District Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Montross) loses the Northern Virginia region he currently represents and sees his district move west. It picks up the western part of Henrico County and pairs him with Rep. Spanberger. With the statistics projecting the new 1st as R+16, it appears any Wittman-Spanberger campaign would end badly for the Democratic congresswoman.

The remaining parts of the Spanberger constituency have gone to Rep. Donald McEachin’s (D-Richmond) 4th District, and Rep. Wexton’s 10th CD. Such would force Rep. Spanberger to challenge a sitting Democratic incumbent if she were to choose to run in one of these seats. In no situation does Rep. Spanberger have a reasonable victory path.

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