Monthly Archives: March 2022

Oklahoma Senate Special Challenged

By Jim Ellis

Veteran Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R)

March 10, 2022 — The lawyer who defended 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator who was later executed in 2001, has petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging the state’s new special election law.

Last year, the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill that now allows US Sen. Jim Inhofe (in this case) to irrevocably declare that he would resign his position at the end of the year in order to conduct a concurrent special election to coincide with the current election calendar. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed the bill into law.

Attorney Stephen Jones, himself a former US Senate candidate — he challenged then-Sen. David Boren in the 1990 Democratic primary and attracted just 17 percent of the vote — filed his challenge late Monday, and asked the high court to freeze the current Senate candidate filing period with respect to the special election. The legal move was made just after Gov. Stitt officially set the special election to run concurrently with the 2022 regular midterm election calendar.

Individuals have until April 15 to file for this year’s elections, and several, US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville), state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), former National Security Council staff head Alex Gray, and Inhofe former chief of staff Luke Holland, have already announced that they will enter the special Senate election. The Oklahoma primary is June 28. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers advance to an Aug. 23 runoff election.

The legislature passed the bill last year, and Gov. Stitt signed the legislation that created the current system — which is, that if a letter is filed with the proper state authorities prior to March 1 of an even-numbered year containing a date certain as to when the office holder will officially resign, the succeeding special election to replace that person can proceed within the regular election calendar even though the person affected remains in office. Sen. Inhofe met those required conditions.

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North Carolina Races – Part II

Click on above image or here to go to FiveThirtyEight interactive redistricting map.


By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2022 — Today’s update is the second part of our look at the new North Carolina political map. In this edition, we examine the state’s 14 new US House districts.

Incumbents who look to be in strong position under the new map and won’t get much of a challenge are the following (the rating figure comes from the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization):

  • Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh; D+24)
  • Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville; R+29)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk; R+24)
  • Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro; D+9)
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-Wilmington; R+16)
  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Union County; R+38)
  • Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman; R+43)
  • Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte; D+25)

The state will feature four open seats in the 2022 election. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) is retiring after serving what will be nine full terms, leaving his 1st District as an open seat. Rep. Butterfield complained that the original draw makes the seat less favorable for an African-American candidate to win. The new district increases the black population percentage by a point, to just over 41 percent. The total minority population registers almost 50 percent of the new 1st, with a 49.9 percent number.

Four Democrats filed for the seat, and the leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Don Davis (D-Snow Hill) and ex-state senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. Seven Republicans filed including 2020 nominee Sandy Smith, who held Rep. Butterfield to a 54-46 percent re-election victory, and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson. FiveThirtyEight rates this seat as D+5, so we can expect the GOP to target this race.

Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill) is also retiring. He is completing 17 non-consecutive terms in the House, having lost his seat in the 1994 election after originally coming to the House in the 1986 vote. He returned to Congress in the 1996 election. Eight Democrats are vying for the party nomination and the seat in the May primary.

Since the new 4th is rated D+30, claiming the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning the general election. The leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Valerie Foushee (D-Carrboro), Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, and country singer and 2014 congressional nominee Clay Aiken.

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North Carolina Races Set – Part I

2022 North Carolina Congressional Redistricting Map

By Jim Ellis

March 8, 2022 — The chaotic Tar Heel State political scene quelled on Friday as the postponed candidate filing period finally came to a close. Today we look at the recent North Carolina redistricting past and future, along with an analysis of the open Senate race. Tomorrow, we examine the state’s 14 new US House districts.

The North Carolina state Supreme Court’s approved map will be in place for the 2022 midterm election, and as a result the candidate slate is less competitive than the originally conceived congressional plan would have yielded. While the Democrats won this most recent political battle, the state’s redistricting war, a fight between the legislature and state Supreme Court that has resulted in four different congressional maps being in passed into law and ultimately rejected since 2010, will likely continue.

The Republican legislature controls the redistricting pen because the North Carolina governor, in this case Democrat Roy Cooper, has no veto power over this subject matter. Democrats control the state Supreme Court with a 4-3 partisan majority, but there is at least an even chance that the balance of power will change after the midterm election.

Two of the Democratic judges are on the ballot this year and no Republicans. One of the two, Justice Robin Hudson, is not seeking re-election, so GOP chances of winning at least one of the two races are enhanced. If they succeed, Republicans will hold the court majority after the first of the year.

Since a court map is only an interim plan, the legislature can replace it at any time. Since the state high court did approve the legislature’s latest version of the state House and Senate maps, Republicans stand a strong chance of maintaining their majorities in both houses. Therefore, re-drawing the congressional map in 2023 should the NC Supreme Court have a different complexion could mean that the GOP would be able to enact a stronger plan next year.

Originally, North Carolina arguably looked to be the Republicans’ most important redistricting state in that it was one of just two places where the party could gain multiple congressional seats and the only one where a potential three-seat increase was within the realm of possibility. The outlook for the final 2022 map, however, gives the Democrats an advantage. It now appears more likely that the Dems will gain one or even two seats in the delegation.

The North Carolina judicial decision is a major blow to House Republican national prospects. While the party still has a good chance of re-taking the majority they lost in the 2018 election, the difficulty factor has increased through adverse court decisions here and in several other states.

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More About The Texas Runoffs

By Jim Ellis

March 7, 2022 — More is becoming clear about Tuesday night’s Texas primary election. Topping the list, Republicans had the better night in terms of voter participation. Their turnout, which exceeded 1.9 million voters in the governor’s race, represents at least a 24.2 percent increase over the last midterm election year of 2018. The Democrats, on the other hand, saw only a 3.5 percent commensurate increase.

Two major runoff elections advance to a May 24 vote. In the attorney general’s race, embattled incumbent Ken Paxton, who has been under federal indictment since 2015 with no action taken, and faces bribery accusations from ex-staff members along with a now public extra-marital affair, still managed to place first in the primary. He recorded 42.7 percent of the Republican vote and now faces Land Commissioner George P. Bush in the secondary election. Commissioner Bush is the son of former Florida governor and ex-presidential candidate Jeb Bush.

Bush received 22.8 percent, which was enough to clinch second place and advance. In third position with 17.5 percent, just ahead of US Rep. Louie Gohmert’s (R-Tyler) 17.1 percent, was former state Supreme Court Justice Eva Guzman. With approximately 58 percent of the Republican primary electorate choosing someone other than incumbent Paxton, the runoff outlook bodes poorly for him on paper, but the AG still has a solid base within the GOP’s most conservative faction. The latter will be an important element in the lower turnout runoff election.

In the primary contest, Bush was the only opponent that Paxton did not attack with negative ads. This suggests his preference is to run against Bush in what was always viewed as a contest that would evolve into a runoff, so this attorney general’s battle should be an interesting three-month campaign.

In the federal races, two incumbents were forced to runoff elections, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and Van Taylor (R-Plano), but the latter situation is already settled.

The Cuellar race got much closer as late votes were being tabulated. According to the Secretary of State’s website, Cuellar, who came from way behind after trailing early, took the lead but did not reach the majority threshold. Some outstanding and overseas ballots remain to be tabulated, but it doesn’t appear as if this runoff will be avoided.

The official count now stands a 48.4 percent for Rep. Cuellar and 46.9 percent for opponent Jessica Cisneros. A third candidate, Tannya Benavides, secured only 4.7 percent of the vote, but this was enough to deny either front runner majority support.

The race not only broke along ideological lines, but also geographic. Rep. Cuellar is a member of the more politically moderate Blue Dog Coalition, while Cisneros earned support from the Democratic Socialists. Geographically, Cisneros ran up the vote score in the northern part of the district, the area in and around San Antonio, while the counties south of the city and all the way to the Mexican border including Cuellar’s home county of Webb, strongly supported him.

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Rep. Taylor Withdraws From Race

Former Texas Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is now the new 3rd District Republican nominee after north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) decided to withdraw from the runoff election resulting from Tuesday’s primary.

By Jim Ellis

March 4, 2022 — It was on a somewhat surprising note that north Texas area Congressman Van Taylor (R-Plano) was forced into a runoff from Tuesday’s primary election, but Wednesday’s related events proved astonishing.

Rep. Taylor has announced that he is withdrawing from the runoff, making public an extra-marital affair in which he engaged. Apparently, affair rumors began to surface late in the primary contest. Clearly knowing the story would become public, he admitted the indiscretion and immediately departed the race.

Under Texas election procedure, a candidate qualifying for a runoff election can decline to participate. The concession means the opponent automatically wins the party nomination. Thus, former Collin County Judge (Executive) Keith Self is the new 3rd District Republican nominee with an accompanying ticket to Washington, DC after the Nov. 8 election.

Taylor only secured 48.7 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary, meaning that a majority of Republican primary voters chose another candidate. This is never a good sign for any incumbent and the chief reason that most incumbents fail when forced to the secondary election. Adding the personal baggage obviously told Rep. Taylor that his re-election chances were irreparably diminished.

Self is a retired career West Point Academy Army officer who placed second in the primary with 27.1 percent, outlasting third-place finisher Suzanne Harp, a hard-charging businesswoman who proved to be surprisingly strong. The new congressional nominee presided over Collin County, an entity with now more than 1 million people, for three terms and chose to retire in 2018. In the congressional primary, he campaigned to Rep. Taylor’s right.

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