Author Archives: Jim Ellis

New York’s 9th CD Keeps Redistricting in State of Flux

Bob Turner

The New York political parties have chosen nominees for the Sept. 13 special election to replace resigned Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY-9). State Assemblyman David Weprin is the Democratic standard bearer as designated by the party chairmen in Queens and Kings counties. He also won the Working Families and Independence parties ballot lines. For the Republicans and Conservatives, 2010 nominee Bob Turner gets the nod. It was the New York Conservative Party that led the way for the 70-year-old Turner, nominating him first. Republicans, needing to avoid a split among the right-of-center voters, followed suit over the weekend. Turner spent just shy of $380,000 in his last campaign, including a $103,000 loan from himself. Weiner expended $1.45 million and scored a 57-37 percent win over the Republican/Conservative vote. The congressman’s 2010 percentage was the lowest among all winning New York City incumbent Democrats.

Mr. Weprin, the son of former Assembly Speaker Saul Weprin (D), was elected to the legislature in February 2010, and then won a full term in the regular election. He spent eight years on the New York City Council but lost a bid for comptroller in 2009. He begins the special election campaign as a heavy favorite.

The nomination process ended much differently than originally predicted. Wanting a caretaker who wouldn’t seek re-election in 2012 so that the 9th CD could be collapsed in redistricting, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-NY-7), also the Borough of Queens Democratic chairman, was eyeing the Queens portion of District 9 for his own new seat. A Weprin victory now suggests that New York congressional redistricting will remain in a state of flux. At 54 years old it is unlikely, should he win, that Weprin will be thinking of retiring after only a year in federal office, especially since he will relinquish a state Assembly seat even before completing an initial two-year term. Because New York is losing two seats in reapportionment, the only thing we know is that two sitting incumbents will not return to the next Congress. Which two are still anyone’s guess.
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Election Tomorrow in California’s 36th CD

California's 36th CD (govtrack.us)

On Feb. 8, Rep. Jane Harman (D) announced that she would resign her seat in the House of Representatives in order to become the president of a foreign affairs think tank. Tomorrow, her congressional replacement will finally be chosen. In what was predicted to be a walk in the park for Democrats because of the district’s historical voting pattern, the race has instead become close. Although Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D) should win, Republican businessman Craig Huey appears to be positioned to score an upset victory. Even if he loses, Mr. Huey may still be in play for the November 2012 election, however, as the proposed redistricting changes will make the seat more competitive.

When California changed their primary law to allow the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to qualify for the general election, the 36th district, a seat that gave President Obama 64 percent of its votes in 2008 and saw only one major Republican candidate get even 40 percent (President George W. Bush in 2004), was predicted to send two Democrats into the second election. Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D), who represented most of this South Bay coastal region in the state Assembly and Senate before winning statewide, and Councilwoman Hahn were the favorites to advance to the special general election. When the primary votes were counted in late May, however, Craig Huey had slipped past Bowen and found himself winning the right to challenge Hahn.

For her part, Ms. Hahn — whose father, the late Kenneth Hahn, was the long-time Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chairman, and whose brother Jim was a one-term mayor of Los Angeles — is not a particularly strong candidate. She has twice lost bids for higher office, the 36th CD back in 1998 after Ms. Harman had vacated for an unsuccessful run for governor, and a 2010 Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor. Now, embroiled in controversy over her support for a highly suspect program that pays gang members and ex-convicts to act as gang interventionists, Hahn has become locked in a battle with an unknown Republican opponent in a campaign that she should win easily.

The current 36th district is highly Democratic. The new district, should the draft redistricting map be enacted into law, will encompass Palos Verdes Republican voters who previously were melded into another district. The new seat would still lean Democratic but will be much more competitive.

There have been no recently released polls for this campaign. Hahn has been conducting internal surveys but refuses to publicize the results, another indication that the race is trending much closer than one would expect. On the money front, Hahn has raised $1.1 million, while Huey banked $840,000 according to late June public disclosure financial reports. All of Hahn’s funding is from sources other than herself, including almost $300,000 from PACs and party donations, while almost $700,000 of Huey’s grand total is self-contributed.

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, the real race in this southwestern LA County region will occur next year in the regular election. For the first time in more than two decades, several California congressional seats will enter the competitive ranks, and this particular district is likely to be among them.
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Tuesday’s California Special Election is Just a Beginning

The special election to replace Rep. Jane Harman (D), who resigned her seat earlier this year to accept a position with a foreign affairs think tank, will be held this coming Tuesday. Early voting is currently underway and the preliminary numbers surprisingly show Republican ballots almost equaling Democratic absentees according to the first tabulation. It is, of course, unknown for whom each person actually voted, but does provide an indication about the total turnout trend. With a 45-28 percent advantage in voter registration over Republicans, Democrats should easily win this seat. The candidates are Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D) and businessman Craig Huey (R).

Mr. Huey is even a surprise to have advanced into the run-off. In California’s new top-two primary system, political party is irrelevant in terms of qualifying for the general election. In a district such as this, it was originally believed that two Democrats would be squaring off on Tuesday but Huey pulled the upset.

Hahn’s campaign strategy suggests the race is close. She is running attack ads while emphasizing that she serves on the “non-partisan” LA City Council. This is a surprising approach for a candidate running in a district that so favors her own party.

Even if Huey loses but comes close on Tuesday, this race should be a key target in the regular election, assuming the proposed redistricting map is enacted. Under the re-draw, what will be the new 36th district becomes much more Republican than under the current boundaries, suggesting a high degree of competition for next year. So, as in the upcoming NV-2 special election slated for Sept. 13, whoever wins this CA-36 vote on Tuesday will effectively mark the beginning of their campaign season and not the end. We will have much more on this race in our Monday update.
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Tennessee’s Redistricting Could Cause GOP Primary Challenges

With the Volunteer State’s redistricting process just beginning, rumors are flying that at least two of the state’s four freshman Republicans could be facing serious primary challenges once the districts are re-drawn.

In the Chattanooga-anchored 3rd district, freshman Rep. Chuck Fleischmann may be facing an intra-party challenge from Weston Wamp, son of former Rep. Zach Wamp (R). The latter Wamp served in Congress for 16 years, winning his first election in the Republican landslide year of 1994. He vacated the seat in 2010 for a gubernatorial run, falling in the GOP primary to now-Gov. Bill Haslam.

In the 4th district, which will likely change significantly, freshman Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) may face stiff competition from state Sen. Bill Ketron in next year’s Republican primary. The new district is likely to be more to Ketron’s liking than are the current boundaries. As a member of the Senate State and Local Government Committee that has jurisdiction over redistricting, he will have a major say as to how the seat is drawn.
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Disabled Veteran Tammy Duckworth Seeks Office

In the Chicago suburbs, former 2006 congressional candidate Tammy Duckworth (D), who lost to Rep. Peter Roskam (R-IL-6) 49-51 percent in their open seat contest of that year, is again entering elective politics. She will now run in the newly created 8th district in Illinois, which should elect a Democrat in the general election.

Already in the race is former Deputy state Treasurer Raja Krishnamoorthi (D) who is set to report more than $400,000 raised for this campaign. Duckworth was one of the strongest Democratic fundraisers in the nation during the ’06 cycle, attracting more than $4.65 million in her losing House campaign. The new candidate, a disabled Iraq War veteran, recently resigned her position as Assistant Secretary for the Department of Veterans Affairs in order to return to Chicago to run for office.
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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