Monthly Archives: April 2022

DeSantis Releases Congressional Map

Proposed Florida redistricting map moving from 27 to 28 districts (click on map or here to go to FiveThirtyEight interactive map).

By Jim Ellis

April 15, 2022 — After vetoing the legislature’s congressional map and forcing a special legislative session to finish the redistricting process, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) now commands the upper hand. As a result, legislative leaders say they are willing to pass his map.

Applying the district political numbers that the MCI Maps organization calculated, we see 20 of the 28 new districts that would have voted for former President Donald Trump over President Joe Biden. Overlaying the Ron DeSantis-Andrew Gillum governor’s race of 2018, a total of 18 new CDs would have supported the current state chief executive. Today’s Florida congressional delegation splits 16R-11D.

The major point of contention during the regular legislative session pertains to the elimination of the current northern Florida majority minority 5th District of Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) that stretches from Tallahassee to Jacksonville. Gov. DeSantis wants a race neutral map. Should his map be enacted, there is no question that lawsuits would be filed immediately, and this fight could lead to a fundamental examination of the national Voting Rights Act.

Assuming the map clears the legal hurdles, the Republicans could add as many as four seats to the Sunshine State delegation, which would negate Democratic gains in New York, for example. Many of the new districts could lead to increased competition for GOP members, however, as several would drop into lean Republican seats instead of ones that are currently safe.

The only displaced incumbent is Rep. Lawson, as he would have no reasonable place from which to seek re-election. His situation would then create another seat in the Jacksonville area and give current 4th District Rep. John Rutherford (R-Jacksonville) likely the choice of running in new District 4 or 5.

As a result of this northern state map strategy, Rep. Neal Dunn’s (R-Panama City) 2nd CD would become significantly less Republican, largely because the entire city of Tallahassee would be placed in his new CD. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the current 2nd as R+40. Ex-President Trump would have carried the new 2nd with 54.86 percent, with Gov. DeSantis approximately a percentage point lower.

Continue reading

Budd Laps McCrory in N.C.

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance)

April 14, 2022 — Just a month ago, some analysts and activists were questioning North Carolina Rep. Ted Budd’s (R-Advance) US Senate campaign even to the point where speculation was building that former President Donald Trump was about to pull his endorsement.

The tables have rapidly turned.

The fifth consecutive statewide survey was published Tuesday showing Budd leading former Gov. Pat McCrory as the two begin the final month of campaigning prior to the May 17 Republican primary.

Survey USA published their latest study (April 6-10; 593 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters, online) projecting Rep. Budd to a 33-23-7-2 percent advantage over McCrory, former US Rep. Mark Walker and author Marjorie Eastman. Since March 22, four other pollsters have published similar numbers. The McCrory camp has yet to counter with different figures.

Vitale & Associates was the first since early January to find Budd leading the race, a 32-29 percent margin over the former governor according to their March 22-23 survey of 504 North Carolina Republican primary likely voters.

The margin started gelling for the Budd campaign this month when three successive surveys gave the congressman double-digit leads. Cygnal, Emerson College, and WPA Intelligence — all published just before the new Survey USA study — staked Rep. Budd to leads of 11, 16, and 13 percentage points, respectively, in their polls conducted between April 1-5.

The turnaround is not particularly surprising. In relation to the Trump endorsement, early polling consistently showed the political horse race changing when the respondents were informed that the former president supported Budd. Though trailing McCrory in the initial ballot test, the fact that the two candidates flipped just on the knowledge of Trump’s endorsement was an early indicator that the former governor and fourteen-year Charlotte mayor held underlying political weaknesses.

The other clue suggesting McCrory could potentially collapse was the fact that 35 percent was his high-water mark in any of the 12 surveys results released since Jan. 5 and he only averaged 27.7 percent in those dozen polls. This, for a former governor before his own political party.

Continue reading

Iowa Senate: Finkenauer Disqualified

By Jim Ellis

Former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D)

April 13, 2022 — An Iowa district judge rejected former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer’s (D) signature petitions late Sunday night, thus disqualifying her from the Democratic primary ballot. It appeared that she was the party’s early front runner to challenge Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) in the general election.

Under Iowa law, a statewide candidate must submit 3,500 valid registered voter signatures to obtain ballot position. A side requirement is that at least 100 signatures must come from a minimum of 19 individual counties, and it is here where Finkenauer came up short. While filing more than 5,000 signatures statewide, the qualification came down to two of her 19 counties where all but the bare minimum number were rejected outright.

The State Objection Panel, comprised of two Democratic statewide officials and one Republican, had approved the petitions, but Polk County District Judge Scott Beattie said the body was wrong for ignoring the full legal requirements. Three signatures from the two counties in question lacked the date of signature, which is a clear requirement under the Iowa procedure. Republicans then filed their legal challenge arguing that the Objection Panel did not fully adhere to the law.

Judge Beattie agreed, and wrote that though the “court takes no joy in this conclusion,” he had no choice but to enforce the letter of the law.

Finkenauer immediately claimed the judicial ruling was partisan in nature because Judge Beattie is a Republican. She said his decision is a “massive gift to Washington Republicans,” according to the Des Moines Register newspaper.

She then launched an appeal to the state Supreme Court. The Secretary of State, however, has said he has to see a ruling overturning the decision, if such is to be rendered, before April 15 in order to satisfy the national MOVE Act requirements, which mandates notice of an election at least 45 days prior for overseas and military voters. The Iowa primary is June 7. Therefore, if the Court proceeds with their review, it will have to act within the next couple of days.

It is not yet known what amount Finkenauer raised during the year’s 1st quarter, but she had already obtained more than $1.9 million in contributions prior to 2021 ending. Of that, she reported more than $723,000 in the bank at the Dec. 31 reporting deadline.

Continue reading

AZ, NJ, NY, TN Complete Filings

By Jim Ellis

April 12, 2022 — Candidate filing closed in Arizona, New Jersey, and New York for major party candidates, and for all candidates in Tennessee. The first three states noted each have later deadlines for minor party, independents, and write-in candidates.

Arizona

In Arizona, the Senate and governor races highlight the state’s political battles this year, and there were no surprise entries in either contest.

The Senate race features incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly (D), who is running for a full six-year term after winning the 2020 special election to fill the balance of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term. He has no primary opposition. Republicans feature five candidates, but the battle is revolving around three of them for the party nomination — Attorney General Tim Brnovich, venture capitalist Blake Masters, and former solar energy company CEO Jim Lamon.

The open governor’s contest finds six Republicans and three Democrats vying to become their respective party standard bearers. Former news anchor Kari Lake, who former President Donald Trump endorses, and ex-congressman and 2000 gubernatorial nominee Matt Salmon appear to be the leading candidates. Secretary of State Katie Hobbs opens with a large polling lead over former state Rep. Aaron Lieberman and ex-Nogales mayor, Marco Lopez. This race will likely evolve into a toss-up general election battle.

Four key congressional general election races and a Republican primary are on tap in Arizona. Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills) inherits a tougher new district, now numbered 1, that rates a R+7 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization. His current 6th District is R+13. Physician Hiral Tipirneni (D), who held Rep. Schweikert to a 52-48 percent victory in 2020, is not returning for a re-match. Former Phoenix Suns executive Adam Metzendorf appears to be the strongest of the three filed Democrats. Rep. Schweikert drew two minor GOP primary opponents.

Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) has an R+6 rated 1st District under the current map, but the new 2nd District, despite having almost two-thirds of his current territory, increases to R+15, making him possibly the most endangered Democratic incumbent in the country. Six Republicans are vying for the party nomination, the leader of whom appears to be state representative and decorated Army veteran Walt Blackman.

Democratic representative and former Phoenix mayor, Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix), is also looking at a post-redistricting competitive general election. Seeing his Phoenix metro district move from D+15 to D+1 suggests that a Republican challenger will be a serious contender in November. Six Republicans are vying for the party nomination including two sports figures. Jerone Davison is a pastor and former member of the then-Oakland Raiders NFL franchise after playing football for Arizona State University. Tanya Wheeless is an attorney and former senior vice president for the Phoenix Suns NBA franchise.

The open Tucson-anchored 6th District is another commission-drawn CD designed to be competitive for the decade. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) had she decided to seek re-election, would have run here. This is a must-win seat for Republicans if they are to capture a House majority. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) has already endorsed former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce official Juan Ciscomani among a field of five GOP candidates. Democrats feature a battle between state Rep. Daniel Hernandez (D-Sunnyside) and former state senator Kirsten Engel.

Rep. Debbie Lesko (R-Peoria) draws no opposition in her 8th District. In the new 9th CD, controversial Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott) sees his home placed outside the new 9th, but faces only a Republican primary battle in a CD that contains 70 percent of his current constituency.

New Jersey

There is no 2022 New Jersey Senate race, and the governor’s contest was decided last year. Therefore, the US House races lead the top of the ticket. Redistricting saw the Democratic commission members strengthen the politically marginal districts of Reps. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wycoff), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair), but doing so made Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-Rocky Hill) 7th CD more Republican.

Continue reading

Ohio Numbers Crunched

Ohio 2022 Congressional Redistricting map. Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight’s fully interactive map.

By Jim Ellis

April 11, 2022 — When Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) announced the suspension of his re-election campaign on Wednesday, it brought some national attention to what has become a Buckeye State redistricting debacle.

Gibbs called out the Ohio State Supreme Court for allowing the replacement congressional district map to languish in political limbo after they rejected the first iteration for excessive political gerrymandering. Though congressional candidate filing was delayed until March 4 from the original Feb. 2 deadline in association with the state’s May 3 primary, the court still took no action toward finalizing a new map. Therefore, candidates were forced to file for districts that may or may not change before election day.

When the Ohio state high court finally informed the Democrat plaintiffs who were challenging the map that the decision regarding the first map constituted the final ruling, the complaint process had to rewind, beginning with a new lawsuit. Now filed, it is apparent that first judicial action on the new challenge is still months away. Therefore, the replacement map appears set for the 2022 elections, at least through the nomination process.

That finally being the case, we can now look at what is becoming a relatively competitive map for the upcoming general election.

Ohio loses a seat, therefore a new congressional map must be in place for the 2022 elections, otherwise all 15 US House contests would be decided on a statewide basis.

The state will now feature two open seats, Gibbs’ 7th CD and the newly configured open 13th District that Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) is vacating to run for US Senate. Two new House members, Reps. Shontel Brown (D-Warrensville Heights/Cleveland) and Mike Carey (R-Columbus), who were both elected in November 2021 special elections, will stand for full terms this year.

Of the 13 incumbents seeking re-election, two, Reps. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati) and Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) — the latter being the fourth longest-serving member of the House who was first elected in 1982 — find themselves in toss-up general election situations.

In Rep. Chabot’s 1st District, which covers much of greater Cincinnati, the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as a D+3. Dave’s Redistricting App largely agrees, finding the average Democratic vote over a historical set of races registering 49.91 percent as opposed to 47.93 percent for Republicans. Already, the general election is largely set with Rep. Chabot seeking re-election and the Democrats having a consensus candidate is Cincinnati City Councilman Greg Landsman.

Rep. Kaptur sees the Cleveland portion of her district redacted, meaning her Toledo-anchored seat now features an even mix between Democrats and Republicans. The FiveThirtyEight group rates Kaptur’s new 9th CD at R+6, but Dave’s Redistricting App sees this seat differently. According to the party averages over the course of past political contests, the Democratic vote is 48.77 percent, as compared to a virtually even percentage for Republicans, 48.63.

Rep. Kaptur has no Democratic primary opposition, but four Republicans have filed, two of whom would be significant general election contenders. They are state Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and state Rep. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance). It is likely that one of these two will advance into the general election and make the OH-9 general election campaign one of the most hotly contested in the nation.

Continue reading