Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Governors’ 2014 Scorecard

The 2014 gubernatorial cycle is shaping up to become one of the most competitive in recent years.

Now that the 2013 governors’ races are in the books, it’s a good time to look at the state chief executives from a national political perspective. At the beginning of the cycle, the Republicans held 30 state houses versus 20 for the Democrats, the best GOP showing in the modern political era. With Terry McAuliffe’s victory in the Virginia open race last week, Democrats have already gained one governor’s post, meaning the updated margin is now 29R-21D.

At this early point in the campaign cycle, it appears that as many as 13 races, nine Republican-held and four Democratic, should be rated as highly competitive. The most vulnerable of all incumbents standing for re-election are governors Rick Scott (R-FL) and Tom Corbett (R-PA), who trail potential Democratic opponents in all surveys. The most vulnerable Democratic seat is the Arkansas open (Gov. Mike Beebe, D, is ineligible to seek a third term), where former GOP Rep. Asa Hutchinson (R-AR-3) consistently polls ahead of ex-Rep. Mike  Continue reading >

Another House Member Set to Retire; A New Political Carter in Georgia

Rep. Howard Coble (R-NC-6), who has represented the Greensboro, N.C. area since his first “landslide” election in 1984 that featured a victory margin of less than 100 votes, announced that he will retire at the end of the current Congress. Coble, now 82 and dealing with health challenges, will close out 30 consecutive years of congressional service when his final term in office comes to an end at the beginning of 2015.

Though the 6th District is safely Republican and should not cause the national party any trouble in the replacement campaign, the Coble announcement yields the third such new open seat just this week. The grand total of 2014 open districts has now increases to 23, 16 of which are Republican held.

We can expect a spirited Republican primary, which is often the case when a region has not been open at the congressional level for a long period of time. Possibly the leading contender, and an individual who appears poised to run, is  Continue reading >

Post-Election Day Surprises

Rep. Jon Runyan

Rep. Jon Runyan

NJ-3

New Jersey Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ-3) yesterday became the second sophomore Republican to announce that he will voluntarily retire at the end of the current Congress. Like Arkansas Rep. Tim Griffin (R-AR-2), Runyun was a clear favorite to win a third term in the House but has decided to end his congressional career. The Garden State congressman indicated that he wants more time with his family and was quoted as saying, “politics shouldn’t be a career and I never intended to make it one.”

Rep. Runyan was elected to the House in 2010 after spending 14 years playing in the National Football League, most notably with  Continue reading >

Election Night Analysis

Election Night 2013 may have turned out somewhat differently than political polling projected in terms of margin, but the actual voting yielded few surprise winners.

New Jersey

In New Jersey, as expected, Gov. Chris Christie (R) romped to a second term, defeating state Sen. Barbara Buono (D) 60-38 percent. The only question would be whether the governor could bring new Republican state legislators with him, but the legislative chambers remained virtually intact. The initial unofficial count shows the GOP gaining one state Senate seat and two Assembly positions, but strong Democratic majorities remain in both bodies.

Virginia

In Virginia, though polls were suggesting a Terry McAuliffe win of greater than five points over Ken Cuccinelli – the final Washington Post poll projected a 12-point gap, for example – the actual Democratic margin of victory was only three points,  Continue reading >

Crist Announces, Scott Pounces

Just a day before the odd-numbered year election, former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist announced his political comeback attempt. Crist, who previously was elected as a state senator, attorney general, and governor when a member of the Republican Party before losing a race for US Senate as an Independent, now as a Democrat, is attempting to re-claim the office he left in 2010.

The toughest thing for any party-switcher is winning the first nominating election before the candidate’s new partisan electorate. Crist is off to a fast start in locking down the key Democratic leaders and, so far, faces only state Sen. Nan Rich as an active Democratic opponent though four others have also announced their candidacies for the nomination.

Crist made his official announcement yesterday in his home county of Pinellas, and several Democratic officials including former Attorney General Bob Butterworth, an ex-US congressman, several mayors, and party county chairmen were on hand to support his entry into the race. But the party support is not universal, as Sen. Rich vowed to continue her campaign.

Crist struck the theme that he will be “the people’s governor,” and referred to GOP Gov. Rick Scott, who he said came to the office as an outsider but has since strayed from his original intent. “He went from taking over Tallahassee to becoming the example of what’s wrong with the place,” Crist said about Gov. Scott in comments from his announcement address as reported in the Miami Herald newspaper.
 Continue reading >