Monthly Archives: May 2022

Brooks Continues Momentum in Alabama; An Unusual Alaska Endorsement; Redistricting News

By Jim Ellis
May 23, 2022

Senate

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)

Alabama: Brooks With Momentum — US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) continues to make strong strides to capture one of the two runoff positions in Tuesday’s primary election. All polling suggests that none of the three top candidates will reach the 50 percent plateau to claim the nomination outright. The latest survey, from the Cygnal research group for the Alabama Daily News and Gray Television (May 15-16; 634 likely Alabama Republican primary voters), sees Rep. Brooks moving past retired “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant, while knocking on race leader Katie Britt’s door.

The ballot test breaks 31-29-24 percent (Britt, Brooks, Durant) meaning that all three candidates still have the potential of qualifying for the two-person runoff. Tuesday’s vote will undoubtedly be close. The eventual Republican nominee is a lock to succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R) in November. The runoff election is scheduled for June 21.

House

AK-AL: Cross-Endorsing — Previously, the Alaska Republican Party endorsed businessman Nick Begich III in the special election to replace the late US Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon) over former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin (R). Now, we see another unusual endorsement. Begich is the grandson of the late US Rep. Nick Begich (D), who died in a plane crash in 1972. This led to Young winning the special election in 1973. While Nick Begich III is following in his family’s footsteps in running for public office, he is doing so as a Republican. This move now leads his uncle, former US Sen. Mark Begich (D), to endorse Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant (D) in the large field of 48 candidates instead of his nephew.

Under the new Alaska electoral system, four of the 48 candidates on the June 11 jungle primary ballot, regardless of party affiliation, will advance to the Aug. 16 special general election.

NY-17: Internal Dem Chaos — Assuming the presiding judge adopts the special master’s redistricting map, it appears that Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) has created a political hornet’s nest with his declaration that he would challenge freshman Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-Westchester County), who happens to be African American, in the new 17th District rather than compete for the seat directly to the north, the new 18th District. Rep. Maloney said he is running in the 17th because that is where the map placed his home, but a substantial part of his current constituency also lies in the new 18th.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) criticized Maloney saying, “I don’t think he should be DCCC chair if he’s going to challenge another member. It’s completely inappropriate.” Neighboring Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) was more critical. He said Rep. Maloney is trying “to dismantle and tear down Black power in Congress” and should run in his own district (meaning District 18).

Redistricting

Missouri: Map Adopted — Gov. Mike Parson (R) signed the legislation enacting the new Missouri congressional districts. With that, now New Hampshire remains the only state that has not completed the re-mapping process. The Missouri map is largely an extension of the current eight-district plan and will likely continue to send six Republicans and two Democrats to Washington. Rep. Ann Wagner’s (R-Ballwin) 2nd District becomes more Republican, thus stabilizing her seat. Interestingly, the legislature did not change the candidate filing deadline of March 29, so no new individuals can enter the congressional races even though the district lines are somewhat different.

Governor

Alabama: Gov. Ivey Back Over 50 percent — A new Emerson College survey (May 15-16; 706 likely Alabama Republican primary voters; live interview; interactive voice response system; and text) tested the governor’s Republican primary. In another poll, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) had dropped below the 50 percent threshold, but Emerson finds her rebounding in this study. Here, she captures 53 percent support, while developer Tim James, son of former Gov. Fob James, posts 21 percent preference and ex-ambassador to Slovenia, Lindy Blanchard, records 13 percent. All other candidates fall into single digits.

TN Legal Challenge Rejected; MO/FL Redistricting Maps Remain In Limbo

By Jim Ellis
May 20, 2022

House

Former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who former President Donald Trump was supporting, is among three potential candidates unable to run in TN-5.

TN-5: Starbuck’s Legal Challenge Rejected — Before the early April filing deadline, the Tennessee Republican Party adopted new candidate qualification rules that included past voting history requirements. The new standard requires that all potential GOP office seekers must have voted in the last three statewide elections. Thus, a trio of filed candidates in the new 5th Congressional District were disqualified because they recently moved into the state. The three are former State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus, who former President Donald Trump was supporting, business owner Baxter Lee, and video producer Robby Starbuck.

Starbuck sued in federal court asking that the judge strike down the Tennessee party’s requirement, arguing that the party leaders established a requirement that is “inconsistent with federal and state law.” Late last week, Judge Waverly Crenshaw rejected the claim saying that “Starbuck’s efforts were thwarted not because of any clear violation of federal law, but because (for whatever reason) the (Tennessee Republican Party) decided not to follow its own rules.” Ortagus and Lee did not challenge the new rule. Starbuck says he may take the matter to state court. The Tennessee primary is Aug. 4.

FL-27: Rep. Salazar Close in Opponent’s Poll — Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell (D) released the results of his internal poll that was conducted last month (April 18-21; 350 likely FL-27 general election voters). The results show him within two points of freshman Rep. Maria Elvira Salazar (R-Miami), 43-41 percent. If the bounced Florida redistricting map is restored in the upper-level courts, as many believe will happen, the new 27th plays three points better for Rep. Salazar, though it would still be rated as tipping toward the Democrats by one percentage point.

In the current Democratic version of FL-27, Salazar defeated then-Democratic incumbent Donna Shalala (D-Miami), 51-49 percent, in the 2020 election.

Redistricting

Missouri: Map Sent to Governor — Missouri is one of just two states that has not yet completed the congressional redistricting process, though it appears the legislature and governor may finally have an agreement. Had the legislature not acted this weekend before the session ended Sine Die, the federal courts would have assumed the re-mapping process.

The plan now before Gov. Mike Parson (R) would likely preserve the state’s current 6R-2D ratio. The argument among Republicans was over increasing the draw to 7R-1D, thus collapsing the Kansas City Democratic district of Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver. Under the map now likely to be adopted, Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), who has fought to win consecutive close finishes against strong Democratic opponents, sees her new 2nd CD become more Republican because politically favorable rural territory was added west of St. Louis County.

Alabama’s Battle for Second; Conflicting Polls in Missouri;
de Blasio Returns in NY

By Jim Ellis
May 19, 2022

Senate

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)

Alabama: Battling for Second — Emerson College released a new survey for next Tuesday’s Alabama Senate primary, and the results again show that US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) has made a competitive comeback after former President Donald Trump rescinded his endorsement because he felt the congressman was running a poor campaign. For the third time, a recent poll shows Brooks rebounding to a virtual tie for the second runoff position.

For the three contenders, former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt, retired “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant, and Brooks, advancing to a secondary runoff election is a virtual certainty. In Alabama, candidates must achieve majority support to win a party nomination.

The Emerson College survey (May 15-16; 706 likely Alabama Republican primary voters; live interview; interactive voice response system and text) again finds Britt claiming first place with 32 percent, while Durant and Brooks closely follow with 26 and 25 percent, respectively. In other words, the latter two are in an effective tie for the second position. Assuming no one receives majority support Tuesday, the top two finishers will advance to a June 21 secondary runoff election. The Republican nominee then becomes a lock to succeed the retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R) in November.

Missouri: Conflicting Polls — Former Gov. Eric Greitens (R), who was forced to resign from office due to a sex scandal and is now dealing with abuse accusations from his ex-wife, has catapulted back into the lead according to a new Survey USA poll. The study (May 11-15; 1,412 likely Missouri general election voters; 642 likely Missouri Republican primary voters; 500 likely Missouri Democratic primary voters; online) projects Greitens to a 26-17-11 percent lead over Attorney General Eric Schmitt and US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia). The Democratic candidates, led by Iraq War veteran Lucas Kunce and philanthropist Trudy Busch Valentine, are all lagging around the 10 percent mark in primary support. All Republicans defeat the Democratic candidates in preliminary general election pairings.

This S-USA poll is a significant change from previous polling and is in direct conflict with the latest Remington Research Group survey taken within the same period (May 11-12; 945 likely Missouri Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system). These results find AG Schmitt with a 29 percent lead over Rep. Hartzler’s 23 percent, and Greitens trailing with 21 percent. The Missouri primary is Aug. 2.

House

NY-10: de Blasio, State Senator Announce — The revised New York congressional map has not yet received final judicial approval, but candidates are starting to make moves in anticipation of this being the active 2022 district plan. Because the map pairs NYC Democratic incumbents Carolyn Maloney and Jerry Nadler, another safe Democratic open seat was created adjacent to the hotly contested 12th CD. The new 10th District will be decided in the Democratic primary.

Yesterday, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his congressional candidacy, but so did state Sen. Brad Holyman (D-NYC). Assuming the map is approved, this will be a hotly contested primary election that should attract national attention. Because the original congressional map and that of the state Senate were disqualified, the judge postponed the primary election for races in these categories until Aug. 23.

Redistricting

Kansas: High Court Overturns — In April, a Kansas district court disqualified the legislature’s congressional map as a partisan gerrymander. Gov. Laura Kelly (D) originally vetoed the map, but the legislature was able to override her action with two-thirds support in both houses. The Kansas state Supreme Court has overturned the lower court ruling, meaning the original map that puts the state’s 3rd District, in and around Kansas City, into competitive status is back for the 2022 cycle. Two-term Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Roeland Park) currently represents the district. This seat will again become a 2022 Republican conversion target.

States

Idaho: Ex-US Rep Defeats Incumbent AG — Former Congressman Raul Labrador, who served four terms in the House, will return to elective office. In the Idaho Republican primary, Labrador unseated the incumbent Attorney General Lawrence Wasden by a substantial 51-38 percent result. Prior to his service in Congress, Labrador was twice elected to the state House of Representatives. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 2018, losing to current Gov. Brad Little, who also won his primary challenge on Tuesday. After leaving Congress, Labrador was elected as chairman of the Idaho Republican Party.

Budd Wins in NC; PA Senate Race
Still Too Close to Call

By Jim Ellis
May 18, 2022

Primary Results

Yesterday’s Voting — As predicted, North Carolina US Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) soundly defeated former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to win the US Senate nomination, winning 99 of the state’s 100 counties. Former US Rep. Mark Walker and author Marjorie Eastman finished third and fourth. The general election is now set, as Rep. Budd advances to face former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who became a consensus Democratic candidate. The Tar Heel contest will be one of the most important Senate races in the country.

US Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) lost his battle for re-nomination last night to state Sen. Chuck Edwards (R-Hendersonville). In the field of eight candidates, Edwards claimed the nomination with 33 percent of the vote, as compared to the scandal-plagued congressman’s 32 percent. In North Carolina, runoffs only occur if all of the candidates fall below a 30 percent threshold.

In what appears to be another congressional defeat, veteran Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) is running far behind his Democratic primary challenger, Jamie McLeod-Skinner, a former city manager, but half of the vote is still outstanding under Oregon’s all-mail voting system. Still, with a 61-39 percent margin, Rep. Schrader appears too far behind to make up all of the vote difference.

The Pennsylvania Senate Republican race is still too close to call, as television Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick are locked in a battle separated with less than two-tenths of a percentage point. It is difficult to tell how many votes remain uncounted because the state will allow ballots postmarked yesterday to be received in the coming days. It will be some time before we know the outcome, but Dr. Oz has a 2,672-vote lead of the more than 1.31 million votes cast. Pennsylvania election law guarantees an automatic recount if the margin is within .5 percent. McCormick claims the remaining mail votes will hand him the victory.

As expected, the Pennsylvania Democrats nominated Lt. Gov. John Fetterman who lays in a hospital recovering from a recent stroke that occurred from a blood clot in his heart. Fetterman, who underwent a pacemaker procedure, is expected to make a full recovery but will be sidelined for some time.

In the election, Fetterman easily defeated US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) and state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia) with a 59-26-10 percent landslide victory margin. He won all of the state’s 67 counties in a turnout of more than 1.17 million voters. Surprisingly, Democratic turnout dropped below that of Republicans for the first time in decades. This, despite the party’s 45.8 to 35.9 percent voter registration advantage.

In the PA governor’s race, state Sen. Doug Mastriano (D-Fayetteville) easily won the open Republican nomination and will face Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D) in the general election. The latter man was unopposed in the Democratic primary. Media reports suggest that Mastriano may be too conservative to win in Pennsylvania, but the large Republican primary turnout is a precursor that this race will be competitive.

In other key statewide races, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul romped to an 86 percent Republican primary victory. He will face former Louisville state Rep. Charles Booker who was an easy winner on the Democratic side. Sen. Paul is a heavy favorite for re-election. In the open 3rd Congressional District, state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey, also as expected, won a landslide Democratic primary victory last night and will succeed retiring Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Louisville) in the Autumn.

Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) defeated Trump backed Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, 53-32 percent, and becomes a prohibitive favorite in the general election. US Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) again defeated his 2014 primary opponent, attorney Bryan Smith, this time by 13 percentage points and will claim a 13th term in November.

Governor

Wisconsin: New Republican Leader According to Dem Poll — Democratic pollster Public Policy Polling surveyed the Wisconsin Republican gubernatorial primary and produced results not found in other polls. The study (May 9-10; 675 likely Wisconsin Republican primary voters) projected construction company executive and 2004 US Senate nominee Tim Michels taking a small lead over former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch. This is the first poll find anyone but Kleefisch claiming the top position. The ballot test gave Michels a 27-26 percent edge, with businessman Kevin Nicholson trailing well behind in third place with nine percent preference. The Milwaukee Works, Inc. organization released the ballot test portion of the PPP survey.

States

Texas: Conflicting AG Polls — Next Tuesday, Texas Republican voters will decide the runoff election between incumbent Attorney General Ken Paxton and Land Commissioner George P. Bush. The race has turned negative and earlier polls were giving Paxton, who is still under a stalled 2015 SEC indictment, a strong lead. The new University of Texas at Tyler survey (May 2-10; 570 likely Texas Republican runoff voters) projects Paxton’s lead to be only 41-35 percent.

During the same sampling period, as previously reported, the CWS Research group (May 4-10; 992 likely Texas Republican runoff voters) produced a much different 58-31 percent ballot test result in the attorney general’s favor. Since these polls were conducted during the same period, we will have to see more data to determine the correct trajectory. It appears clear, however, that Paxton is the race leader, but whether his margin is wide or tight is open to question.

Primaries Set for Five States Today

Pennsylvania primary GOP candidates Kathy Barnette, Dr. Mehmet Oz, and David McCormick are in a virtual dead heat with McCormick fading.

By Jim Ellis
May 17, 2022


Primaries

Today’s Voting — Primaries are being conducted in five states today, including the crucial Pennsylvania and North Carolina races. The most watched campaigns being decided tonight include the Pennsylvania Senate and governor’s races in both parties, the North Carolina Republican Senate race, freshman Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s (R-NC) nomination challenge, and the hotly contested new open 13th District seat in the Tar Heel State.

In Oregon, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) faces a significant Democratic primary challenge, while Idaho Gov. Brad Little (R) is defending himself from a challenge from his lieutenant governor, Janice McGeachin, who has former President Trump’s support. The open Louisville seat in Kentucky will be virtually decided today as state Senate Minority Leader Morgan McGarvey (D) appears as a lock to capture the Democratic nomination. In this 3rd District seat, clinching the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning the seat.

Senate

Pennsylvania: Final Polling Still Too Close to Call — Major occurrences are happening in both parties on primary eve. For the Republicans, The long-awaited Pennsylvania primary is on tap, and the Republican side is ending with a flurry of outside organizations running media attack ads. Supporters of former hedge fund CEO David McCormick and Dr. Mehmet Oz turned their attention in the final days of the race toward trying to blunt Army veteran and 2020 congressional candidate Kathy Barnette who has driven herself into the top tier and beginning to peak at the optimum time. Supporting Barnette is the Club for Growth organization, spending $2 million in a media blitz around the state to bolster her improving chances of winning the primary.

Susquehanna Polling & Research released their final poll before the votes are counted (May 12-15; 400 likely Pennsylvania Republican primary voters) and it projects a virtual dead heat at the top of the ticket. The Susquehanna numbers find Oz leading Barnette by just a single point, 28-27 percent, with a 24 percent undecided factor. Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is way back, according to this study, with just 11 percent support.

Democratic front-runner John Fetterman was hospitalized with a stroke over the weekend, but appears well positioned to make a full recovery and capture the nomination today. Lt. Gov. Fetterman has a large polling lead over US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) and looks to be the clear favorite on the Dem side today.

House

MI-13: Another Close Primary Race — Target Insyght completed a poll of Detroit’s open new 13th District (May 3-5; 600 likely MI-13 Democratic primary voters; live interview) and finds another political contest that is tight among several candidates. Eleven candidates are in the Democratic field, but only three enter double digits.

Former Detroit City Councilwoman Sharon McPhail leads the group at 20 percent, John Conyers III, son of former 52-year congressional veteran John Conyers, is second with 15, and state Rep. Shri Thanedar (D-Detroit) is third with 12. The Michigan primary is Aug. 2. The seat is open after Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) announced her retirement and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) decided to seek re-election in District 12.

Governor

Minnesota: Former State Senator Wins Party Endorsement — Minnesota Republicans met in their state nominating endorsement convention and chose, on the sixth ballot, former state Sen. Scott Jensen as their official party candidate. Others may oppose him in an Aug. 9 primary election. Should Jensen come through the primary, he will then challenge Gov. Tim Walz (D). A recent Survey USA poll (May 5-10; 629 registered Minnesota voters; 513 who identify themselves as likely general election voters; live interview) finds Gov. Walz leading Jensen only 44-39 percent, and carrying a favorability index of 44:41 percent positive to negative.

Pennsylvania: Mastriano Pulling Away — Susquehanna Polling & Research (see Senate post above) also tested today’s governor’s race. Here they find state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville), despite two candidates dropping out in an attempt to deny him the nomination, expanding his polling lead. The results project Mastriano to a 29-18-15 percent lead over former US Attorney Bill McSwain and ex-US Rep. Lou Barletta. Tonight’s winner faces Attorney General Josh Shapiro who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Redistricting

New York: Draft Map Sent to Judge — The special master hired to draw a replacement New York map after the judiciary ruled the legislature’s plan was a partisan gerrymander, presented his effort to the presiding judge yesterday, meeting the previously assigned deadline. The judge is now accepting public comments and pledged to finalize the congressional and state Senate plans by Friday. The congressional map improves the political situation for Republicans, giving them at least one more seat than the Democratic draw, but putting possibly as many as 10 of the 26 seats into potential competition.

The map also pairs two sets of Democratic incumbents. In New York City, Reps. Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney are placed in one district. Both said yesterday that they would run. The new district contains 61 percent of Maloney’s district and 39 percent of Nadler’s. It is safely Democratic in the general election.

Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-Westchester County) finds himself having to choose a Democratic pairing either against Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-Cold Spring) or Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers), or possibly running in an open 18th District that is relatively far from his current CD. If this map is adopted, we will see a much different New York election cycle than what was originally intended.