Author Archives: Jim Ellis

A Race or Not for the Massachusetts Senate?

The Massachusetts special Senate election is scheduled for June 25, and there is rather a large discrepancy amongst the myriad of polls that have just recently been released. Depending upon which survey you want to believe, the race is either Rep. Ed Markey’s (D-MA-5) to lose, or one in which he is dangerously close to falling behind Republican nominee Gabriel Gomez.

Here are the most recent polls:

  • McLaughlin & Assoc. – June 4-5; 400 likely Massachusetts voters – Markey 45% – Gomez 44%
  • Public Policy Polling – June 3-4; 560 Massachusetts likely voters – Markey 47% – Gomez 39%
  • New England College – June 1-2; 786 Massachusetts registered voters – Markey 53% – Gomez 40%
  • UMass (by YouGov) – May 30-June 4; 357 Massachusetts likely voters – Markey 47% – Gomez 36%

As you can see, Markey’s advantage varies from one to 13 points. All of the studies agree that the Democrat is leading, but is the race of razor-thin proportion, or does the suburban Boston congressman enjoy a comfortable lead?

When considering polls released prior to these four, it does appear that Gomez is becoming a formidable challenger. Almost all of the post-April 30 primary day surveys have shown him to be within single-digits of Markey, an unusual circumstance for a Republican in Massachusetts.

But the major point of contention surrounds the Republican and right-of-center organizations and whether or not they will actively support Gomez. So far, there is little evidence of independent expenditure activity for the Republican nominee, but there is still time for such to occur.

Questions remain for the National Republican Senatorial Committee brain-trust, however. Is the polling foretelling a close race, or are the current numbers fool’s gold? And, even if Gomez somehow pulls the upset, would such a victory mean anything more than “renting” the position  Continue reading >

Christie Appoints Chiesa; Holt Joins the Race

Gov. Chris Christie

Gov. Chris Christie

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) yesterday appointed Attorney General Jeff Chiesa (R) to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) who was laid to rest on Wednesday. Chiesa is a long-time associate of the governor’s, having served with him in a law firm and Christie’s US Attorney’s office before being appointed attorney general. Chiesa said he will not enter the special election, therefore he will serve only through the conclusion of the short special election cycle now scheduled for Oct. 16.

Also yesterday, Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ-12) sent an email message to supporters announcing himself as a candidate in the New Jersey special Senate election and asking for help in collecting the 1,000 valid registered voter signatures to qualify him for the ballot.

In his email, Holt said his reason for running “is simple.” He believes that he is “… the best candidate to continue the passionate advocacy for progressive values that Sen. Lautenberg exemplified.”

As you will remember, Gov. Christie scheduled the 2013 vote to replace Lautenberg despite the seat being in-cycle during 2014. The governor is now taking political heat because he is spending $24 million in taxpayer dollars to hold a special vote just three weeks before the regular Nov. 5 statewide election, when Christie himself faces the voters. His motive in not joining the two elections is clearly to avoid an increased turnout from Democrats desiring to elect their Senate nominee, and who would likely vote for gubernatorial nominee Barbara Buono while in the voting booth.
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Four New Senate Polls

Four pollsters released new data in four different Senate states, each giving us some previously unknown information. Most of the results show an undefined electorate, but the one covering the upcoming Bay State special election shows a widening chasm between the two candidates.

Massachusetts

With the special senatorial election now four weeks away on June 25, New England College (June 1-2; 786 registered Massachusetts voters via automated interviews) released the findings of their latest poll. Their results show Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) increasing his lead over Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez. According to the automated results, Markey now enjoys a 53-40 percent advantage, up from the single-digit spreads that previous surveys had projected.

The two candidates are vying for the right to succeed veteran Sen. John Kerry (D), who was appointed US Secretary of State earlier in the year. The winner serves the remaining segment of the current term, which ends when the 113th Congress adjourns. The new senator can then stand for a full six-year term in November of 2014.

Michigan

Public Policy Polling (May 30-June 2; 697 registered Michigan voters; 334 Republican primary voters) tested the open Senate race and found good news and bad news for Rep. Gary Peters (D-MI-14). The good news is that he leads all Republican potential candidates. The bad news is that he is unknown to two-thirds of the polling respondents.

Earlier this week, former Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land (R) announced her senatorial candidacy and she fares best against the Detroit congressman. According to PPP, Peters sports a 41-36 percent advantage over Land. He leads representatives Dave Camp (R-MI-4) 43-31 percent; Mike Rogers (R-MI-8) 42-32 percent; and Justin Amash (R-MI-3) 42-30 percent. In the Republican primary, Land finishes behind the three Congressmen (Camp 21 percent; Rogers 18 percent; Amash 16 percent; Land 15 percent), but it  Continue reading >

Republican Smith Wins Missouri Special Election

Rep. Jason Smith

Rep. Jason Smith

For virtually the first time since this 113th Congress began in early January, the House of Representatives now has all 435 seats filled. Last night, Missouri Republican state Rep. Jason Smith won the 8th Congressional District special election easily outpacing his Democratic state House colleague, Steve Hodges.

Smith scored an impressive 67-27 percent victory in what has become a solidly Republican southeastern Missouri seat as evidenced in Mitt Romney defeating President Obama here 66-32 percent last November.

The special congressional election never captured much attention. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R) announced her resignation in December in order to accept a job in the private sector, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) then scheduled a very long special election cycle. Smith won his party caucus in early February, and Hodges followed suit on the Democratic side the following week. Thus, the four-month special election began.

The fact that the contest never created any controversy clearly favored the majority party candidate, and Smith took full advantage of his opportunity. Turnout was very low, with only 62,764 votes being recorded. Normally, participation in special congressional elections nears 100,000 voters. The previous special vote, the May 7 South Carolina contest that elected Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC-1), saw more than 143,000 ballots cast, for example.

Representative-elect Smith should have little trouble holding this seat in the 2014 regular election and will likely be safe in his new position at least until the districts are redrawn in 2021.

NJ’s Christie Takes Action

Only a day after New Jersey Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) passed away, Gov. Chris Christie (R) held a news conference earlier this afternoon to announce his Senate succession plans. While saying he had the legal authority to appoint a successor to serve the balance of Lautenberg’s term, the governor instead called a special election, saying that “18 months was too long a time for an appointed senator to serve.”

Therefore, within the legal time constraints of calling the special election today, the nominating vote will be Aug. 13, with the special general senatorial election following on Oct. 16. The regular general election, featuring Christie himself, is Nov. 5.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker will run for the Democrats. Likely entrants are representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ-6) and Rush Holt (D-NJ-12). Since the US House members will not have to risk their seats to run in the short special election, some of the Republicans might also enter the race.

Christie’s move is a good one for his own campaign. He allows the people a vote, but avoids a spike in Democratic turnout because the special Senate vote will not conflict with his election.

The governor also said he will soon appoint a replacement to serve until the special election concludes. He stipulated that he will not put a “caretaker” condition upon his eventual selection. Therefore, the person he appoints could also run in the special election.