Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Rounds Starting Strong in South Dakota Senate Race

Gov. Mike Rounds

Gov. Mike Rounds

With former South Dakota Gov. Mike Rounds (R) just completing a series of Washington, DC visits to the PAC community drumming up support for his already announced US Senate run, Public Policy Polling released a survey (March 18-19; 1,069 registered South Dakota voters; 501 Republican primary voters; 390 Democratic primary voters) of the state’s electorate that shows early signs of a GOP conversion race.

Sen. Tim Johnson (D) has promised to soon make clear whether he will seek re-election, originally saying he would do so “at the end of March.” Most local and national political observers believe that he will retire for health reasons.

In a hypothetical ballot test between the senator and Rounds, it is the Republican who already holds the strong early lead. According to PPP, Rounds would defeat Sen. Johnson 52-41 percent in a current contest. If Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD-AL) were the Republican senatorial nominee, she would outpace the incumbent by four points, 49-45 percent.

Should the senator retire, two Democrats are most often mentioned as potential candidates: former Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin and US Attorney Brendan Johnson, the senator’s son. Herseth Sandlin, who held the at-large House seat for three full terms  Continue reading >

Mark Sanford: Anything but Conventional

Disgraced former South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford successfully cleared the initial obstacle on his political comeback trail earlier this week, but how will he fare in the fast-approaching Republican run-off?

On the heels of his first-place finish in the special 1st Congressional District Republican primary election, the ex-governor and congressman, who is trying to rehabilitate himself politically from his international extra-marital affair that ended his marriage and soured his final year in office, must now win over a significant segment of Republican voters who supported another candidate.

Curtis Bostic, the former two-term Charleston County councilman who placed a distant second to Sanford, is tasked with converting an even larger portion of that same group. Though both man’s message is identical — each claims to be the strongest candidate in relation to cutting government spending — their campaign strategic and tactical challenges are much different.

On Tuesday, 53,657 Republicans participated in the special primary election. From that group, 19,812 individuals, or 36.9 percent voted for Sanford. Bostic attracted 7,149 votes (13.3 percent). Though placing second by less than one percent over third-place finisher Larry Grooms caused the triggering of an automatic recount under South Carolina election law, the latter conceded defeat, hence the original vote tallies will stand. The remaining 26,696 people, or 49.8 percent, chose a Republican candidate other than the first- and second-place finishers. It is the members of this group who will likely determine the run-off result.

As is the case in all run-off elections, the secondary turnout will be smaller than the original primary voting universe. In South Carolina, the typical drop-off from primary to secondary election tends to only be in the 15 percent range, however. In fact, the last time a run-off occurred in the 1st Congressional District (2010) the drop-off  Continue reading >

What Sanford’s First-Place Finish Means

Mark Sanford (R)

Mark Sanford (R)

Former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) easily claimed the top position in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District’s special primary last night, capturing 37 percent of the vote within a huge field of sixteen Republican candidates. He will advance to the April 2 run-off election against former Charleston County Councilman Curtis Bostic, who nipped state Sen. Larry Grooms for second place.

The former governor and three-term congressman broke 40 percent in his home of Charleston County, the district’s most populous region. But, in terms of the fast approaching run-off election, even his 41 percent finish in Charleston is light years away from scoring a 50 percent plus one majority vote. District-wide, 63 percent of the Republicans who went to the polls chose a candidate other than Sanford, even though the former governor has universal name identification. Still, considering the hardened negative image after his extra-marital affair with an Argentine mistress became international news, Sanford’s showing last night does indicate that he retains a base of residual support.

Bostic, the man the ex-governor will face in the run-off election, claimed 13 percent of the vote, edging state Sen. Grooms’ 12 percent. Teddy Turner, the son of media mogul Ted Turner, finished fourth with 8 percent. It was a disappointing night for the  Continue reading >

Sanford’s First Step in S.C. Comeback Attempt

The preponderance of political opinion suggests that disgraced former Gov. Mark Sanford (R) will advance into the second round of voting as a result of today’s special primary election in South Carolina. Sanford is among 16 Republicans vying to become the party nominee for the right to replace former Rep. Tim Scott (R), who is now an appointed US senator.

The ex-two-term governor, who spent three terms in the House during the 90s (1995-2001), ended his tenure in statewide public office with revelations of a wild extra-marital affair with a South American mistress. The associated events became national news and ended up costing the governor his marriage as well as a great deal of personal credibility. Now, he’s looking for a political comeback and, if local predictions prove accurate, he may be taking the first step to achieving his goal tonight.

Even if he advances, Sanford will be a decided underdog in the run-off regardless of who becomes the other qualifier. For a person with universal name ID to finish more than 15 points away from majority support in a first election normally dooms said candidate to defeat in the succeeding run-off. In this case, noting South Carolina’s traditionally short run-off periods, the second election is scheduled for April 2.

The strongest candidates, other than Sanford, appear to be state Sen. Larry Grooms, state Rep. Chip Limehouse, former state Sen. John Kuhn, and Teddy Turner, son of media magnate Ted Turner. State Rep. Peter McCoy and Rep. Andy Patrick are also in the field of candidates but neither has made any impact on the fundraising circuit, gathering less than $65,000 apiece.

The Democratic side is also drawing some attention. Though their eventual nominee will be a decided underdog in the May 7 special general election, Elizabeth Colbert-Busch, sister of Comedy Central TV personality Stephen Colbert, is poised to capture her party’s nomination. Like the top  Continue reading >

SCOTUS Hears Arizona Voter Law Today

ariz-birth-cert

It appears that the US Supreme Court will soon resolve several election law conflicts. On the heels of hearing Shelby County, Alabama’s challenge to the Voting Rights Act, America’s top nine Justices today listen to oral arguments in an important case that could lead to major changes in voter registration procedures. Both cases will likely be decided before the court’s current term adjourns at the end of June.

The Arizona voting public, via a 2004 ballot initiative, approved a measure that instituted proof of US citizenship requirements before beginning the voter registration process. The law differs from what many states have instituted relating to proving identity before voting because individuals in Arizona must document their citizenship even before registering.

The voter-passed law requires all registrants to prove their US citizenship either through presenting a driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, naturalization number or tribal card when the individual first registers to vote in the state. Lower courts have partially struck down the measure, ruling that the Arizona law conflicts with the National Voter Registration Act of 1994 because the latter merely requires affirmation of citizenship under penalty of perjury, but does not mandate presenting documentation. Therefore, the lower courts have said that the Arizona requirement cannot apply to federal elections.

The rulings are leading to a system of having separate state and federal registration forms, which has already caused confusion among Grand Canyon State election authorities according to a long Arizona Republic news article describing the situation. The federal registration form,  Continue reading >