Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Senate Barometer

Sen. Cory Gardner Senate campaign attack ads hitting former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper hard (see COLORADO writeup below)


By Jim Ellis

June 18, 2020 — Next to discussion of the presidential race, the political contests attracting the most political attention and debate are the 2020 US Senate campaigns.

As we know, Republicans have a 53-47 Senate majority, meaning the Democrats will have to convert a net three GOP seats if Joe Biden wins the presidency, or four if President Trump is re-elected. Many believe that the winning presidential candidate will also sweep in a Senate majority for his party.

Below is an update of the key races:


• ALABAMA: In many ways, this could be the most important race on the board. Republicans must convert this seat back to their column in order to provide a greater cushion toward protecting their chamber majority. Sen. Doug Jones (D), who scored a fluke special election win in 2017, stands for a full six-year term in November.

Republicans are in a runoff election that will be decided on July 14, postponed from the original March 31 date. In the March 3 primary, retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville placed first over former attorney general and ex-Alabama senator Jeff Sessions within a field of seven total candidates, 33-32 percent.

Runoff polling, however, gives Tuberville a large lead as the contenders enter the last month of the secondary election campaign. The May 26-27 OnMessage survey gave Tuberville a 49-43 percent edge, down considerably, however, from the 55-32% margin the former coach posted in a Cygnal research group poll conducted over the May 7-10 period.

Tuberville, with President Trump’s endorsement and running an ad saying Sessions’ appointment as AG is the president’s top regret since taking office, clearly has the advantage. In the general election, this race is a must-win for the GOP. If converted, the Republican majority expands to 54, which will be critical for their chances to hold.


• ARIZONA: Things continue to break retired astronaut Mark Kelly’s (D) way in the early going opposite appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R). Being one of the top national fundraisers with $31 million raised and millions more coming into the state in the form in independent expenditures, Kelly is the favorite to convert the seat in November. He has led in the last 11 publicly released polls, the latest coming from the Civiqs organization, polling for the Daily Kos Elections website (June 13-15), which posts Kelly to a 51-42 percent advantage.


• COLORADO: Sen. Cory Gardner (R) seeks a second term, and with the state’s electorate moving decidedly to the left since the incumbent’s original election in 2014, the Colorado race sets up well for Democratic conversion.

There is some weakness developing, however, surrounding Sen. Gardner’s likely Democratic opponent, former governor and presidential candidate John Hickenlooper. Recently, the Colorado Ethics Commission ruled that Hickenlooper, while governor, twice violated the state’s gift ban, which has caused him negative statewide publicity.

Now, the National Republican Senatorial Committee has launched an ad campaign underscoring the commission finding just as the former governor approaches his June 30 primary election against former state house speaker Andrew Romanoff. Sen. Gardner also is on the air in a new ad highlighting Hickenlooper’s statements during the presidential campaign when he was quoted extensively as saying he didn’t want to be a US senator. Taking this into consideration, more people are looking toward the Democratic primary, in which Romanoff is gaining some momentum. This general election is a must-win for the Democrats.
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KEEPING PACE WITH GEORGIA,
NEVADA, AND DRAMA IN VIRGINIA

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2020 — We continue to see vote counting ramifications stemming from the extensive mail electoral procedures employed in several states. A full week after the Georgia and Nevada primary elections concluded, a second previous result was reversed, while across the country in the Silver State a congressional contest winner finally emerges.

GEORGIA

Carolyn Bourdeaux wins Georgia’s 7th CD Democratic nomination outright.

In the immediate days following the Georgia primary, it was consistently reported that 7th District 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux had failed to win outright her Democratic primary and that she would be forced to an Aug. 11 runoff election with state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross). Now, that projection has been reversed.

A similar situation occurred in the state’s 13th District where veteran Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) was projected to have fallen into a runoff election only to see the outcome change when thousands of post-election ballots came streaming into the government offices. The now presumably final totals find both Bourdeaux and Rep. Scott exceeding 51 percent of their respective primary vote.

Bourdeaux now wins the Democratic nomination outright and advances into the general election against Republican Rich McCormick. McCormick is a physician and retired Navy officer who won his open seat primary with clear majority support on election night.

Two years ago, Bourdeaux came within just 420 votes of unseating Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville), which may be one reason why the congressman is retiring this year. McCormick defeated six other Republicans in last week’s primary with 55 percent of the vote, meaning he will be a very substantial candidate in the general election. Therefore, avoiding being bogged down for almost two months to win her nomination would have been a major setback for Bourdeaux’s general election chances.

NEVADA

In northern Las Vegas, after a full week of counting mail votes, it has become apparent that former state assemblyman Jim Marchant has won the Republican primary in the 4th Congressional District, thus earning the opportunity of challenging Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) in the fall. Marchant defeated insurance agency owner Sam Peters and a host of others by a 34-29 percent margin, with the other candidates splitting the remaining 37 percent.

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Rep. Riggleman Loses Re-nomination

By Jim Ellis

Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas)

June 16, 2020 — Despite Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas) being the incumbent representative for the state’s 5th District, losing his party’s re-nomination for a second term on Saturday came as no surprise.

Largely blamed upon his presiding over a same-sex marriage involving two of his campaign volunteers, Rep. Riggleman fell at odds with the district Republican Party leaders. Virginia has the most unique nomination system in the country. There is no standardized primary, and each set of congressional district party authorities can conduct a virtually autonomous process for choosing its partisan general election candidates.

The congressional district committees can nominate in a standard primary or through what they call a “firehouse primary,” where only a few voting places are established throughout the jurisdiction, or, in what often happens on the Republican side, a district convention. Usually the party leaders work with their incumbents to choose the system that will benefit the top officeholder in the region, but not in Riggleman’s case.

In fact, the 5th District Republican committee chose exactly what would be to Rep. Riggleman’s greatest detriment. Because of the COVID-19 situation, they were unable to host a typical district convention. Therefore, the committee adopted what they termed a “drive-in convention,” where the delegates would come from throughout the district to just one specific location, drive into a building parking lot, and cast their ballot.

The fix against Riggleman went so far as to hold the drive-in convention in the church parking lot of where his challenger, Campbell County Supervisor and Liberty University athletic official Bob Good, is a member. Campbell County is in the far western end of the district, near the city of Lynchburg, and is more closely aligned with the 6th District.

The location decision meant the vast majority of delegates, and everyone from Riggleman’s geographic strength, would have to drive several hours in order to simply deposit their ballot envelope. The 5th stretches all the way to the Washington, DC outer Virginia suburbs, but the main population anchor is in and around the city of Charlottesville.

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In Georgia, It’s Perdue vs. Ossoff

By Jim Ellis

2020 Georgia Democrat Senate candidate Jon Ossoff

June 15, 2020 — By the end of last week, enough returns were tabulated from Tuesday’s Georgia Democratic primary election to project that documentary film maker and former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff has secured the Democratic US Senate nomination with just over 51 percent of the statewide vote. He defeats former Columbus mayor, Teresa Tomlinson, and ex-lieutenant governor nominee, Sara Riggs Amico, to win the party nomination outright.

On election night and since, Ossoff teetered around and over the 50 percent mark, but finally cemented the necessary margin as the counted vote totals had exceeded 99 percent. Had he finished with just 49 percent, it was still possible that a runoff could have been avoided. Second-place finisher Tomlinson could have immediately conceded the runoff since it was obvious that Ossoff would have been a prohibitive favorite moving forward into an Aug. 11 secondary election.

You will remember Jon Ossoff as a candidate who ran in the 6th District 2017 special election when then-Rep. Tom Price (R-Roswell) was appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services and resigned from the House. The succeeding special drew national attention and resulted in Ossoff raising $36 million for the lone congressional race. Despite the huge resource advantage, Ossoff lost to then-former Secretary of State Karen Handel (R), who would in turn lose the next regular election to Democrat Lucy McBath.

For the 2020 Senate race, Ossoff’s fundraising is still good, but not nearly as impressive as when he became a national congressional candidate. For the current campaign, Ossoff attracted slightly over $4 million, significantly more than Tomlinson’s $2.5 million but well behind incumbent Republican David Perdue’s $13.2 million raised. All of the financial figures were current through the pre-primary May 20 filing deadline.

In 2014, David Perdue defeated Democrat Michelle Nunn, daughter of former veteran senator, Sam Nunn (D). While projected as a close race, and one that could even be forced to a post-election runoff (Georgia is one of the few states that requires their general election candidates to obtain majority support) Perdue won the seat by eight percentage points, 53-45 percent.

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GA-13: Rep. Scott in Runoff

By Jim Ellis

GA-13 Rep. David Scott (D)

June 11, 2020 — Voting problems in Atlanta delayed counting and reporting from Tuesday’s primary, but it is now clear that nine-term veteran Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) has been forced into an Aug. 11 runoff election with a candidate who spent less than $1,000 on her primary campaign.

With votes still being counted, Rep. Scott garnered only 46.8 percent of the vote to date, with the remaining 53.2 percent being divided among three Democratic challengers. Advancing into the runoff is former state representative Keisha Waites, who managed to attract 31.1 percent of the vote despite spending only $875.00 on her race.

In third place is former local county Democratic Party chairman Michael Owens (14.1% percent), who has previously challenged Rep. Scott in a party primary, while former East Point mayor Jannquell Peters finished fourth (8.0 percent). The latter two candidates have been eliminated.

Though tabulating continues, almost 88,000 votes have been recorded in this primary race, suggesting that turnout is robust. In the only recent Democratic primary from this congressional district, back in 2014, the total turnout was under 36,000 individuals. Combined, the latter two candidates, Owens and Peters, spent approximately $60,000. By contrast, Rep. Scott spent almost $900,000 so far on his 2020 political effort.

As mentioned above, the only other time Scott was challenged for re-nomination since his original 2002 congressional campaign came in 2014. The congressman defeated Owens in that year, 82-18 percent. In his nine general election victories, Scott has averaged 79.4 percent of the vote, including running unopposed three times.

The 13th District is a suburban Atlanta district that sits south and southwest of the city before moving westward and then north to encompass part of Cobb County. The CD contains all of Douglas county and parts of five others, including Cobb, Fulton, and Fayette. The Citizen Age Voting statistics record a 58.1% percent population figure for African Americans here as compared to 33.4 percent for non-Hispanic whites.

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