Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Chambliss, Harkin to Retire; Senate Dominoes Falling

The past few days brought two Senate retirement announcements as both Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) made public their intentions not to seek another term. When the 113th Congress ends in January 2015, Harkin will conclude 40 years of congressional service: 30 in the Senate and 10 in the House. Sen. Chambliss will complete two senatorial terms after serving four as a Representative for a grand total of 20 years in elective federal office.

Georgia

The Georgia race likely will be decided from the Republican nomination process, and at least two current GOP House members, Reps. Tom Price (R-GA-6) and Paul Broun (R-GA-10), are likely Senate contenders. Reps. Jack Kingston (R-GA-1), Phil Gingrey (R-GA-11), and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA-3) are also potential candidates, as are former presidential aspirant Herman Cain and ex-Secretary of State Karen Handel. Democratic Rep. John Barrow (D-GA-12), who successfully held a newly configured Republican-leaning seat in 2012, says he will not run statewide but is planning to seek re-election in 2014.

Iowa

The open Iowa campaign will be much different from the Georgia situation as competitive party primaries are expected as well as a tough general election race. It is not out of the realm of possibility that all four of Iowa’s sitting US Representatives Continue reading >

Halvorson Strategy Working Early

Debbie Halvorson

Debbie Halvorson

The first two election surveys have been released for the Feb. 26 special Democratic primary race in Illinois’ 2nd Congressional District, and the polling leader in both instances isn’t who one would expect. Former Rep. Debbie Halvorson (D-IL-11), hoping to split the 60 percent-plus, majority African-American voter contingent among at least six well-known black candidates and win with a small plurality coalition of white voters, appears to be in early position to achieve her strategic objective.

The Normington-Petts Democratic survey research firm just completed an internal poll (Jan. 8-10; 400 likely Democratic primary voters) for candidate Toi Hutchinson, who Continue reading >

Lautenberg Attacks Booker

Just after a new Quinnipiac University survey (Jan. 15-21; 1,647 registered New Jersey voters; 616 Democratic primary voters) gave Newark Mayor Cory Booker a 51-30 percent lead over Sen. Frank Lautenberg in a hypothetical Democratic primary pairing, an awakening incumbent struck back. The senator, who most believe will retire rather than face what appears will be a very divisive party primary against Booker, responded to the mayor’s semi-offensive in a key interview.

Speaking with a National Journal reporter, Lautenberg said of Booker, “He’s got a lot of work to do — a lot of work that should have been done and hasn’t been done [with reference to solving the city of Newark’s problems]. The senator went onto say that Newark is a “city in desperate need of attention.” He further said that “maybe if the mayor can solidify the fact that he wants to improve Newark by being there, things would be different. But he’s free to do as he wants to do.”

Lautenberg will be 90 years old before the next election, which polling shows is a decided negative among all voter segments. Booker has said both that he does not want to challenge Lautenberg, but has the desire to run for the Senate, and in 2014.

The early sparring suggests that this would be a divisive primary if it were to occur, but the most likely course of action still points to Lautenberg, perhaps reluctantly, deciding to retire.

Age Matters in the NJ Senate Race: Booker Way Ahead

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D)

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D)

Quinnipiac University polled New Jersey voters including a subset of self-identified Democratic primary participants (Jan. 15-21; 1,647 registered New Jersey voters; 616 Democratic primary voters), questioning them about a proposed nomination battle between Sen. Frank Lautenberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker. So far, Booker has said he will defer to the elder senator, but has also made it clear that he wants to run for the Senate in 2014. Lautenberg is expected to retire, and numbers such as the ones Quinnipiac produced should hasten his departure.

According to the data, Booker would defeat Lautenberg 51-30 percent if the statewide Democratic primary were held in this current time period. Perhaps even more troubling for the senator is the fact that he trails Booker by more than 20 points even though his job approval is positive. Concerns about his age — Lautenberg will be 90 at the time of the next election – are clearly weighing upon the electorate.
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Netanyahu’s Hold Tenuous; New Franken Polling

Looking at an important election beyond our borders, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud-Beytenu Party seemed to be holding steady in first place with 31 seats, but fewer than the 32-35 range that was projected. In the 2009 election, Likud scored 27 seats, but after officially joining forces with Yisrael Beytenu chairman Avigdor Liberman the combined total expanded to 42 of the 120 seats in Israel’s Knesset. Netanyahu was then able to add other center-right parties to form the current government.

This time the eventual coalition will look much different. Some even believe disgruntled Likud supporters may look for a leadership alternative to Netanyahu. The key to forming the next coalition will be surprise second-place finisher Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, which earned 19 seats. The Labor Party, predicted to finish second, placed third, winning 17 seats. Netanyahu has already asked Lapid to join his government, and preliminary indications are that he will. With the center-left parties scoring either 58 or 59 seats, however, the Prime Minister has a very thin margin from which to form a government. As the leader whose party finished first in the balloting, Netanyahu has 42 days to form a governing coalition.

Voter turnout was high, estimated at 66.6 percent of the eligible electorate, meaning almost 3.77 million participants. This Continue reading >