Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Senior-Most Republican House Member, Rep. Young, Dies; Surprising LA-5 Primary Results

Rep. Bill Young

Rep. Bill Young

Last week, the House Republicans’ most senior member, Florida Rep. Bill Young, announced that he would retire at the end of the current term and not be on the congressional ballot for the first time since 1970. On Friday, the 82-year-old congressman passed away due to complications from a serious back operation. Young had endured chronic back problems ever since surviving a small plane crash the year he was first elected to federal office.

In the entire House, only representatives John Dingell (D-MI-12), John Conyers (D-MI-13), and Charlie Rangel (D-NY-13), had more seniority than Young. The late congressman was the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee chairman. He served as full Appropriations Committee chairman from 1999-2005.

Young’s western Tampa Bay peninsula district now becomes the House’s fourth vacant seat. Gov. Rick Scott (R) soon will call a special election to fill the position for the remainder of the term. Political musical chairs were already beginning to move due to the incumbent’s retirement announcement, but now potential candidates will be forced to quickly make decisions as we head toward a special election.

All eyes will be on former state chief financial officer and gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink (D) who last week expressed interest in running for Congress, a month  Continue reading >

Three Real Primary Dust-ups

Though the government shutdown delayed filing of the candidates’ quarterly disclosure reports with the Federal Election Commission, some of the dollars and cents information has already started flowing into the media. Of all the data being reported, three specific campaigns are noteworthy because challengers to incumbents within their own party are already reporting more money raised and in the bank than for their respective opponent.

MI-11

The first salvo has been fired in Michigan in attorney David Trott’s (R) challenge to freshman Rep. Kerry Bentivolio (R), and it is a serious blow. According to published reports, the challenger is going to post raising over $648,000, including a substantial contribution from himself – although the exact amount was not released – with $452,000 cash-on-hand. Bentivolio had a very poor second quarter, raising only $39,000, and reporting approximately $59,000 in his campaign account. We will soon see the extent of his third quarter take.

Rep. Bentivolio is often described as an “accidental congressman” because he entered office under unusual circumstances. Filing as a Tea Party challenger against then-Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R), Bentivolio became the only qualified Republican candidate on the ballot when the incumbent failed to submit enough valid nominating petition signatures. He then went on to win the general election with strong help from the Liberty for All Super PAC, which spent more than $600,000 as an independent expenditure on his behalf.

It is unclear if the congressman will receive such support this time around, but it is becoming apparent that he will need major assistance in order to compete against Trott. Armed with heavy establishment Republican Party support, Trott will soon be sporting the type of campaign resources usually reserved for an incumbent. A primary challenger victory is highly possible in this suburban Detroit district.

TN-4

Another Republican congressman who might be denied renomination is Tennessee sophomore Rep. Scott DesJarlais. A scandal broke late in his first re-election bid, one  Continue reading >

Booker Wins in NJ; Sink Heading to Congress?

New Jersey

For the past three weeks virtually all the pollsters surveying the special New Jersey Senate campaign projected an 11-point victory for Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), and that’s exactly what happened.

Last night, Booker defeated former Bogota Mayor Steve Lonegan (R) by a 55-44 percent margin. The electoral result allows him to fill the remaining portion of the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s (D) final term in office. He will be eligible to run for a full six-year term in November 2014.

Booker began the special election as the heir-apparent to this seat, and commanded early polling leads that exceeded 20 points. His advantage then decreased to low double-digits, and that’s where it stood until the end of the campaign. Republicans never put up much of a fight for the seat, virtually conceding the race to Booker from the time Gov. Chris Christie (R) decided to call a special election to fill the remainder of the term. He could have made an interim appointment that would have lasted through the 113th Congress, but decided to allow the people to choose Lautenberg’s successor.

Christie did appoint then-state Attorney General Jeff Chiesa (R) to serve in the Senate on an interim basis. He will depart when Booker is officially sworn into office. Last night’s election results return the Senate Democrats to a 55-45 advantage.

More than 1.3 million individuals cast ballots in the special general election, just about 24 percent of the registered voter base. Turnout was about average considering there was little suspense or competitive excitement associated with the campaign.

FL-13

The retirement of Florida’s 43-year congressional veteran Bill Young (R) opens his politically marginal 13th Congressional District for the first time in more than four decades, and a new development likely makes it the best Democratic conversion opportunity in the country.

At the beginning of the week, 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee and former Florida Chief Financial Officer  Continue reading >

Results From MA-5; Major New Senate Polls

MA-5 Special Election

The race for the Democrat nomination last night, tantamount to special election victory in the Boston suburban 5th Congressional District, was projected to finish within a razor-thin margin. It didn’t.

State Sen. Katherine Clark, riding a large turnout from her Malden-Melrose political base, pulled away from Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian when the last quarter of the vote was counted to clinch the Democratic nomination with 32 percent of the vote. Koutoujian finished 10 points behind at 22 percent. In third, exceeding his polling expectations, was state Rep. Carl Sciortino notching 16 percent. State senators Will Brownsberger and Karen Spilka brought up the rear with 15 and 13 percent, respectively. Spilka was the most disappointing performer based upon previous polling releases. Her own two Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research Group surveys both showed her in second place, just a single point behind the leader.

Not only did Sen. Clark prove to be the strongest candidate, her polling firm, GBA Strategies, turned in the most accurate data. In their released poll of voters over the Sept. 23-25 period, GBA correctly projected Clark’s lead to be far greater than one point, as she led Spilka 27-18 percent with Koutoujian a close third posting 16 percent.

On the Republican side, attorney Frank Addivinola easily claimed his party’s nomination, securing 49 percent of the vote as compared to physicist Mike Stopa’s 26 percent, and former US Marine Tom Tierney’s 25 percent. Sen. Clark and Addivinola now advance to the Dec. 10 special general election, but that vote will not likely be much of a contest as Clark is now the prohibitive favorite to win the seat.

Democrat turnout dwarfed that of Republicans, as 69,525 members of their party cast ballots within the crowded field of candidates. The GOP turnout only reached just 9,692 voters, a testament more to the low number of registered Republicans as opposed to an abnormally low participation rate. The grand total of 79,217 voters is  Continue reading >

Special Election Today in MA-5

Continuing our coverage of this week’s special elections, voters go to the polls today in Sen. Ed Markey’s (D) former Boston suburban House district to begin the process of choosing a new member for the first time in almost 37 years. Markey, who originally entered the House in 1976, was elected to the Senate in June replacing former Sen. John Kerry (D) who President Obama appointed as Secretary of State.

It is likely that the first-place finisher in today’s Democratic vote will also win the special general on Dec. 10. Massachusetts’ 5th District is heavily Democratic: Obama ’12, 65 percent; Obama ’08, 66 percent; Markey ’12, 71 percent; Markey ’10 (District 7), 64 percent; Markey ’08 (District 7), 75 percent. Therefore, tonight’s Democratic victor becomes the prohibitive in December.

Seven Democrats vie for the party nomination, and internal campaign polls have shown five of those candidates to be within single digits of each other, meaning any one could conceivably win.

Four of the five strongest competitors are currently state legislators, three from the Senate. Katherine Clark, Karen Spilka, and Will Brownsberger are the senators; Carl Sciortino is a member of the state House of Representatives; and Peter Koutoujian is sheriff of Middlesex County.

The campaign polls made public, all from reputable survey research firms, have shown Sen. Clark holding the lead, but her margins have almost all been within a single point or two over both Sen. Spilka and Sheriff Koutoujian. Rep. Sciortino, by virtue of running a clever ad featuring his Tea Party member father that captured many voters’ attention thus causing his numbers to spike, and Sen. Brownsberger are within striking distance.

As is the case in all special elections, turnout will be key. Whichever of these candidates does the best job of getting their voters to the polls will be the winner. It is probable that less than 20,000 votes will crown a nominee. Since Massachusetts has no run-off system, a plurality of votes is all that’s necessary to win a party nomination.

On the Republican side, attorney Frank Addivinola, physicist Mike Stopa, and former Marine Tom Tierney are battling for their party’s nomination. The Republicans  Continue reading >