Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Sanford Does it Again!

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford is in trouble again. Allegedly violating his divorce agreement with his ex-wife Jenny Sanford, the former South Carolina Republican governor now faces a trespassing hearing two days after the May 7 special election. In response to the latest controversy, the National Republican Congressional Committee released a statement saying they will not fund the special election. This all but assures Democratic nominee Elizabeth Colbert Busch will now win what should be a safe Republican seat.

Though it appeared Republican voters were willing to give Sanford the second chance he requested, it is highly unlikely that they will award him a third such opportunity. Thus, the string of bad Republican luck and performances they have experienced in special elections during the past few years looks to be continuing.

If Busch Wins

Let’s turn the clock ahead to the regular election next year, when Republicans should be well positioned to reclaim the seat from a Congresswoman Busch. With many potential candidates such as former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, state Sen. Larry Grooms, state Rep. Chip Limehouse, and businessman Teddy Turner, among others waiting in the wings, it appears the GOP will field a strong opponent to Busch in the regular election.
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Money Talks

The first quarter financial disclosure statements have been filed for House incumbents and challengers and, as always, the fundraising amounts tell many tales. Naturally, the most prolific fundraisers are elected partisan leaders or committee chairmen, but this report is more indicative about those in marginal districts or who are committed to, or considering, a bid for statewide office. The axiom of the most committed candidates being the best early fundraisers again rings true during the current period.

Looking at the rank-and-file House incumbents and candidates, particularly those newly-elected congressmen, it appears that $300,000 raised for the quarter beginning Jan. 1, 2013 is the benchmark. Grading on a curve, anyone attaining or exceeding this level has earned first tier political status.

Best Fundraisers

The top fundraising House district can be found in the Denver suburbs, where 6th District Rep. Mike Coffman (R) and Democratic challenger Andrew Romanoff (D), the former state House Speaker and defeated Senatorial candidate (2010; losing the Democratic nomination to then-appointed Sen. Michael Bennet), both exceeded $500,000 in recorded campaign receipts for the first quarter.

Coffman raised $510,000, just behind Romanoff’s $514,000. The challenger has about a $100,000 edge in cash-on-hand. The court-drawn redistricting map presented Coffman with a much more Democratic district than the one to which he was originally elected in 2008. He was victorious in 2012, obviously, but did not reach the 50 percent plateau, winning re-election with 48 percent of the vote. The mid-term turnout pattern should help Coffman, but Romanoff is likely a stronger opponent than former state Rep. Miklosi, the congressman’s opponent last November.

The runner-up district is New York’s 11th CD, where Rep. Michael Grimm (R)  Continue reading >

Pew Study Shows Federal Government at All-Time Low

The Pew Research Center for the People & the Press just released the results of their new regular study (from surveys conducted on March 13-17, 1,501 adults; and March 28-31, 1,001 adults) that questioned respondents on their views and impressions about the federal, state, and local governments. The favorability response hit a new low for the federal government, but the sentiment did not carry over to state and local public sector bureaucracies.

According to the data, only 28 percent of the respondents now have a favorable opinion about the federal government. In contrast, 57 percent have a positive impression of state government and an even higher 63 percent maintain an affirmative opinion about local government.

State and Local Attitudes

There are partisan divisions within the data, but they are almost solely reserved for the federal government. For the first time since Barack Obama became president more Democrats view the national authority in negative terms: 41 percent positive compared to 51 percent negative. Republicans continue to be almost unanimous in their unfavorable opinion about the US public sector. Only 13 percent of GOP respondents, according to the current Pew data, view the federal government approvingly.

But, these partisan splits are not evident when examining attitudes toward the states or localities. In fact, Republicans have a slightly better view of state government than do Democrats (57 percent versus 56 percent). Independents hold the best opinion, recording a 59 percent positive rating. Regarding local government, the respondents’ sentiments are even more positive. Here, it is the Democrats who rate the locals the highest (67 percent), followed by Republicans (63 percent), and Independents (60 percent positive).
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A Tale of Two Governor’s Races

Rep. Charles. A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger (D) | Gov. Chris Christie (R)

Rep. Charles. A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D)                       Gov. Chris Christie (R)                    

Maryland

Late last week, Rep. Charles. A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger (D-MD-2) confirmed that he is considering a race for governor next year. Incumbent Martin O’Malley (D) is term-limited, and the open race already is attracting a great deal of attention, particularly from Democrats. Virtually all of the strong candidates hail from the Washington, DC suburbs, while Ruppersberger would, at this point, be the only contender from the Baltimore metropolitan area. The geographic split would give him a clear advantage if the DC-area vote becomes split.

Ruppersberger won election to his sixth US House term last November. He represents the largest portion of Baltimore County of any Maryland congressman, in addition to having more than 83,000 residents from Baltimore city. His district also covers significant portions of Anne Arundel and Hartford Counties, with a sliver of Howard County.

The congressman defeated state Sen. Nancy Jacobs (R) 65.6-31.1 percent in November, but the Republican spent less than $300,000 on her challenge.

Other Democratic likely candidates are Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who already has scheduled his formal announcement for early May, Attorney General Doug Gansler, state Del. Heather Mizeur and Howard County Executive Ken Ulman. The Democratic primary will almost assuredly  Continue reading >

Baca May Challenge Gary Miller in California

Former representative Joe Baca (D-CA-43), who lost his 2012 re-election campaign to fellow Democrat Gloria Negrete McLeod in the post-redistricting 35th CD (California’s new election law now allows two members of the same party to qualify for the general election under certain circumstances), said last month that he would seek a re-match. Now, he may change targets. Instead of again battling Rep. McLeod, Baca might launch a challenge to Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-31) in the adjoining district.

Under the 2011 redistricting map, California’s 31st Congressional District, fully contained within San Bernardino County, already possesses the most interesting voting history of any new Golden State seat. Despite it being heavily Democratic (Obama ’12: 57.2 percent, making it the most Democratic seat represented by a Republican in Congress), CA-31 qualified two Republicans for the general election. Rep. Gary Miller, coming into the seat from his redistricting-collapsed 42nd District, won a 55-45 percent victory over Republican state Sen. Bob Dutton last November. Miller’s performance in the 2012 election is rather extraordinary considering he literally represented no one in this new district during his previous service.

Originally, the 31st paired Baca with then-Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-CA-41), in what was viewed as a “lean Democratic” seat. With Hispanics constituting 49.3 percent of the population base, the seat appeared to be designed for a Democrat, but its previous voting history suggested a Republican could win. In addition to representatives Baca and Lewis, former Rep. David Dreier (R-CA-26) also represented a significant portion of the new 31st and it, for a time, was considered a potential landing district for him, too.

Baca’s decision to run in the new 35th CD, a district where just under 61 percent of the constituency hails from his old 43rd District, was a surprise. Despite him representing a large chunk of the new district, it was clear he would have to oppose  Continue reading >