Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Gov. Christie Rumors Gain Momentum

Despite repeatedly denying that he will run for President during this election cycle, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is again the subject of intense speculation that it is imminent that he will throw his hat into the ring. Interestingly, this time the rumors are flying from both the left and the right. Yesterday on his national radio program, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh said sources were telling him that Christie is making moves to enter the race. Back in Trenton, New Jersey’s capital city, state Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) said that the governor’s recent budgetary actions suggest that he is running for President.

If Gov. Christie entered the race, it would add yet another surprising twist to an already unpredictable presidential election cycle. With his strength in the Northeast, a Christie candidacy would be most detrimental to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who must capitalize on his strength in the north and east in order to neutralize what appear to be sure losses in the south. Since New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut are all winner-take-all Republican primary states, and represent a grand total of 173 delegates, a Christie sweep of his home turf would immediately make him a formidable force.

If Christie, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and ex-VP nominee Sarah Palin all were to run for President, in addition to Romney, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN-6), the race would be thrown into absolute chaos. Moves by any non-candidate entering the race will have to occur within the next month if any of them are to have a realistic chance of winning.
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Rep. Hahn Won’t Challenge Waxman in California

On Monday, the California Citizens Redistricting Commission approved the final version of the Golden State’s congressional and legislative maps. Surprisingly, a resulting electoral situation that appeared likely to occur apparently won’t.

One of the many congressional incumbent pairings looked to feature Democratic representatives Henry Waxman and Janice Hahn squaring off against each other in the new 33rd CD. Though Hahn’s home was placed in the new 44th and Waxman’s in the new 28th, it is CA-33 that contains the preponderance of both of their old districts. Though Hahn would not be paired in the 44th district, the territory is overwhelmingly minority and a good bet for either an African-American or Hispanic state legislator or local official to win.

Waxman was placed with fellow Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff in a district that is largely comprised of the latter’s political base. Thus, it seemed that the best scenario for Hahn and Waxman was to oppose each other in the district where both were more familiar to area voters. Yesterday, Rep. Hahn announced she will stay in the 44th district and seek re-election there, ending speculation that she and Waxman would tangle.

Ms. Hahn, just elected to Congress in a July special election, has no easy path to re-election next year. The district she has chosen is heavily Democratic, but not an area that she has previously represented. The racial complexion suggests an Anglo candidate will have difficulty. The non-Hispanic White percentage of those over 18 years of age is only 9.02 percent. Hispanics dominate the district, registering 64.5 percent of the eligible voting population. Blacks are a full 18.5 percent.

Already, African-American Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D) has announced his intention to run for Congress. Rep. Laura Richardson, another Los Angeles-area Democratic congresswoman who did not receive a favorable redistricting draw, could also run in the 44th.

Rep. Hahn has made a rather eye-opening choice. The state’s new primary law that advances the two top vote-getters into the general election regardless of political party means that Hahn is likely to face a minority opponent one-on-one in the November election, should she get that far. Pure mathematics suggest that such a match-up would likely be unfavorable to Ms. Hahn and will limit her congressional tenure to less than one full term.

The candidate filing deadline is still months away, so decisions made now can certainly change. Today, however, Janice Hahn has likely made herself an endangered political species.
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The Democrats Win in Wisconsin – Round II

The second stage of the Wisconsin state Senate recall elections was held last night, and the challenged Democratic incumbents held both contested seats. State senators Jim Holperin and Bob Wirch won their respective recall elections with 55 percent and 58 percent of the vote, respectively.

The Holperin victory was the more impressive of the two since his northern Wisconsin district is far more conservative than Wirch’s Racine/Kenosha seat. The 12th state Senate district gave Supreme Court Justice Bob Prosser (R) a solid victory in his hotly contested re-election battle held earlier this year. In 2010, Sen. Ron Johnson and Gov. Scott Walker easily carried the region with both scoring victory percentages in the high-50s. But the string of GOP victories did not carry over to the recall election.

In the Wirch race, SD-22, the result was much easier to predict. This region is solidly Democratic and polling never indicated that Sen. Wirch was in serious trouble.

Now that all eight recalls have been run, six incumbents held their seats. The only two senators to lose, both last week, are Republicans Dan Kapanke, who represented a strong Democratic seat, and scandal-tainted Randy Hopper. The Republicans retain control of the Senate chamber, however, but with a much smaller 17-16 margin.

In the end, the Democrats boycotting their duties and running away to Illinois did not hurt them, since none were recalled. On the other hand, the Republicans, led by Gov. Walker, made fundamental change in the state’s public employee collective bargaining structure and then took the Democrats/unions hardest retaliatory punch and survived.

It will be interesting to see if the entire controversial process brings about any further national ramifications.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.

More Senate Chaos in Michigan

When former Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-MI-2) announced that he had reversed course and decided to challenge Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) after originally saying he wouldn’t, it appeared the Republicans finally had the candidate they wanted to make a run at what should be a vulnerable incumbent. But such is apparently not the case. Clark Durant, a prominent Detroit attorney and Republican stalwart in addition to becoming private school entrepreneur, is likely to enter the GOP primary.

Further complicating matters for Hoekstra is the type of support that Durant can bring to the race. Already, former Republican National Committeewoman Betsy DeVos, wife of former GOP gubernatorial nominee Dick DeVos (who is also the son of billionaire Amway founder Richard DeVos), says she will back Hoekstra’s opponent. So will former US senator and energy secretary Spence Abraham and ex-state Republican Party chairman Saul Anuzis.

Should Durant actually enter the race, the nomination will be contested, meaning that serious Republican resources will be spent in the primary instead of against Stabenow. Such a situation would further insulate the senator for the general election and be yet another intangible that has gone her way since the beginning of this year. Continue to rate the Michigan 2012 Senate race as Likely Democratic.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.

Saturday: The Turning Point

Clearly the most important day of the 2012 Republican presidential nomination campaign occurred Saturday. Rep. Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN-6) victory at the Iowa Straw Poll sent former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty packing, while 1,200 miles away at the Red State Gathering event in Charleston, SC, Texas Gov. Rick Perry formally joined the race.

Rep. Bachmann’s preliminary Hawkeye State victory was no surprise. It had been clear for weeks that she and Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX-14) had the strongest vote-gathering potential within the regular universe of Straw Poll attendees. Ironically, it was Pawlenty who had the best campaign organization and spent more than any other candidate – far above $1 million. The fact that he finished a distant third (2,293 votes to Bachmann’s 4,823 and Paul’s 4,671) caused him to officially end his campaign on Sunday.

The high Straw Poll turnout proved to be the event’s biggest revelation. Many political pundits and outside observers were predicting a lower than average rate of participation in the days approaching the carnival-style political affair held at Iowa State University in Ames, saying that none of the candidates were exciting the rank and file GOP voters.

In 2008, when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney won the Straw Poll, more than 14,000 people voted, with as many as 20,000 on the grounds. At its historical high point in 1996, more than 30,000 individuals cast ballots but that was when candidates were allowed to bus and fly people in from all over the country. Beginning in 2000, participation was limited to Iowa registered voters. Some predicted that overall turnout for the current event could be as low as 10,000. But on Saturday, 16,829 people cast ballots.

Aside from Pawlenty, the event’s biggest loser could well be Mr. Romney. Making the decision to bypass the Straw Poll and participate only in the pre-event debate held last Thursday evening, Romney scored just 567 votes. Though he and two other candidates, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and ex-Gov. Jon Huntsman, refused to participate in the Straw Poll, the Iowa Republican Party officials still added their names to the official ballot. Gov. Perry and former V-P nominee Sarah Palin, neither of whom were candidates at the time of the state party ballot deadline vote, were not placed on the ballot.

Though Perry’s name was not on the Straw Poll ballot, an independent expenditure group supporting his running for President, called Americans for Rick Perry (AFRP), did organize for purposes of convincing Perry supporters to attend the event and write-in the governor’s name. Because AFRP is not officially tied to the candidate, obtaining tent space on the event grounds was not allowed. With no ability to work inside the gates and not even having a candidate, AFRP still was able to deliver 718 write-in votes. This total was better than what was recorded by three campaigns whose candidate actually participated in the Thursday debate and were on the official ballot: Romney, Gingrich (385 votes), and Huntsman (69).

Certainly Saturday’s biggest winner was Michele Bachmann. The biggest loser was Tim Pawlenty. But the underlying story is Perry and Romney. Gov. Perry, via a write-in campaign organized solely from the outside by an unconnected group in just three weeks, scored a respectable number of votes by all accounts. Romney, by finishing under Perry, creates a greater image of vulnerability and poses questions about his strategic decision to skip the Iowa Straw Poll. He has made past comments that he would also bypass the significant straw poll events in Florida and Michigan. It will be interesting to see if the Iowa results prompt a change of plans from the Romney camp.
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For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com.