Author Archives: Jim Ellis

No Labels Party Announcement; California House Primaries Projected; Close IL-12 Poll;
Rosendale Challenger in Montana

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 8, 2024

President

No Labels Party: Announcement Today — Later today, the centrist No Labels Party, the leadership of which has been working to secure ballot position around the country, is scheduled to make an announcement about their future plans. It is unlikely that they will announce a presidential ticket to compete with President Joe Biden, former President Donald Trump, Independent Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and others, but they are likely to reveal the voting preference of their members to move forward with entering the presidential campaign. If so, the declaration of the presidential ticket will come at a later date.

House

California: House Primaries Projected — The Associated Press has projected several more qualifiers in California House races from the all-party jungle primary. In Rep. Adam Schiff’s (D-Burbank) open 30th District, with 68 percent of the vote counted, Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Burbank) has qualified for the general election, topping a field of 15 candidates. She now becomes a prohibitive favorite in the general election from a Los Angeles County congressional district where President Biden recorded 72 percent of the vote in 2020.

Fortunately for Friedman, Republican Alex Balekian is projected to have topped state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-Glendale) for the second qualifying position. Balekian uniting the small number of district Republicans was enough to propel him past a fractured Democratic field. In the general election, however, a Republican has almost no chance of winning the seat.

Farther south in San Diego, the AP has projected that auto dealer and 2022 state Senate finalist Matt Gunderson (R) has qualified as Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-San Juan Capistrano) general election opponent. Unlike District 30, the San Diego-Orange County 49th District is much more competitive. Rep. Levin will again be favored to win the general election, but this contest could become close. Though losing a state Senate race in 2022 with similar boundaries to District 49, Gunderson attracted 48 percent of the vote. Rep. Levin won his previous re-election with 52.6 percent of the vote against frequent congressional candidate Brian Maryott (R).

IL-12: Close GOP Primary Poll Released — Illinois pollster M3 Strategies released a survey of the 12th Congressional District Republican primary between Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) and former state senator and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey. The poll (March 2-4; 473 likely IL-12 voters) projects Congressman Bost to be holding only a 45-39 percent edge over Bailey. When undecideds are pushed for an answer, Bost’s lead expands to 54-46 percent, largely on the strength of the oldest voting demographic segment.

The 12th District is one of three seats in Illinois that will elect a Republican, so this race will be decided in the March 19 Republican primary.

MT-2: Rosendale Primary Building — Rep. Matt Rosendale’s (R-Glendive) jump in and out of the Senate race and lack of clarity over whether he would seek re-election after leaving the statewide contest has led to him having at least one major primary opponent. State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, one of nine Republicans who had announced their congressional candidacy when Rosendale appeared headed for the Senate race, declared yesterday that she will file as a candidate on Monday and force a primary challenge.

None of the other candidates have definitively said they are leaving or staying in the congressional race, so Monday’s Montana candidate filing deadline will prove interesting. Former Congressman Denny Rehberg, State Auditor Troy Downing, and state Senate President Pro Tempore Ken Bogner (R-Miles City) are among the contenders who have yet to confirm or deny that they are continuing their congressional campaign now that the incumbent has decided to return.

Arizona Sen. Sinema Out of Running; More Super Tuesday News

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, March 7, 2023

Senate

Arizona: Sen. Sinema Bows Out — In addition to all the election results on Super Tuesday, Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I), not seeing a victory path for herself, announced that she would not seek a second term. The Independent senator thanked Arizonans in a video message (above) for allowing her to serve for 20 years in the state House of Representatives, the US House, and the US Senate. At least in the short term, the Sinema departure appears to give Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) the inside track to winning the Arizona Senate seat over former GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake.

The Sinema retirement decision means there are eight open Senate seats among the 34 statewide campaigns in the current election cycle.

President

Nikki Haley, Dean Phillips: Exit Presidential Race — Yesterday brought two campaign suspension announcements that at least unofficially clinch the respective Democratic and Republican presidential nominations for President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Both Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN) and ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (R) indicated they are ceasing campaign activity, and thus ending any competition in the presidential nomination campaign.

Trump looks set to become the Republican presumptive party nominee on March 12, while President Biden will do so on March 19. The presumptive nominee is the individual who has secured a majority of legally bound first ballot delegates (1,968 for the Democrats; 1,215 for the Republicans), which guarantees a candidate the party nomination.

Rep. Phillips, who is not running for re-election to the House, publicly endorsed President Biden, while Haley did not announce support for Trump in her suspension declaration address, and said, “It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him. And I hope he does that.”

Super Tuesday: GOP Turnout Overwhelms — In looking at the 14 Super Tuesday states where both parties held nomination events, in only two, California and Massachusetts, did more Democrats vote than Republicans. Among the more than 14.65 million people who voted in a major party Super Tuesday event, 60.6 percent chose to vote in the Republican primary. In even stalwart Democratic states such as Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, Vermont, and Virginia, more voters cast a Republican ballot than a Democratic. This is a bad sign for President Biden, as primary turnout often is a good indicator of voter enthusiasm.

Republican Leadership: Sen. Barrasso Not Running for Leader — Wyoming Sen. John Barrasso announced yesterday that he would not join the Republican Caucus battle for Leader to replace Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Instead, Sen. Barrasso announced that he will run for the Caucus’s number two slot, that of Senate Republican Whip. In the race for Leader are Sens. John Thune (R-SD) and John Cornyn (R-TX). Reports suggest that Sen. Rick Scott (R-FL) is also considering entering the race. Of the three potential Leader campaign combatants, Sen. Scott is the only one seeking re-election this year.

Super Tuesday Voting

Nikki Haley suspends her campaign. (CBS video)

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 6, 2024

President

Biden, Trump: Almost Clean Sweeps — President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump both took major steps forward to clinching renomination with almost clean sweeps in the Super Tuesday voting entities. Both men were respectively one entity short of winning every primary and caucus.

Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley topped former President Donald Trump in the Vermont Republican primary, and President Biden lost the American Samoa Caucus to unknown candidate Jason Palmer. Irrespective of those bumps along the nomination road, both President Biden and former President Trump are on track to become their party’s presumptive nominee before March 20.

Haley, calling for Trump to mend fences with those who supported her throughout the primary process, announced this morning that she was suspending her campaign for the presidency. “The time has now come to suspend my campaign,” she said. “Our congress is dysfunctional and only getting worse. … Our world is on fire because of
America’s retreat. If we retreat further, there will be more war, not less. … We must bind together as Americans. Our country is too precious to let our differences divide us. It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond it who did not support him. And I hope he does that.”

Senate

California: Schiff, Garvey Advance — Because the California counting system requires such a long period due to signature verification for the millions of mail-in ballots cast throughout the country’s most populous state, it may be several weeks before we have final totals. That means some of the many competitive races on the ballot may be undecided for quite a long period though most contests already have a projected winner.

The state’s premier campaign is the open Senate race where appointed Sen. Laphonza Butler (D) is not seeking a full term. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) chose her as the interim senator when incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) passed away in September.

With more than half the votes recorded, both Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) and retired baseball star Steve Garvey (R) have been projected to capture ballot positions in the general election. At this point, Rep. Schiff has 33 percent of the vote to Garvey’s 32 percent. They defeated Reps. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) who attracted 14 and seven percent of the vote, respectively. The final tallies could change, but it appears clear that Schiff and Garvey will continue onto the general election while all other contenders are now officially eliminated.

Texas: Allred Wins Outright — In a result that would have to register as a mild surprise, US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) secured majority support in the crowded US Senate Democratic primary to clinch the party nomination outright. He will now challenge Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in November.

House

Alabama: Moore Wins; CD-2 in Runoffs — The 1st District paired incumbents battle ended differently than polling suggested as Rep. Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) recorded a close victory over fellow Congressman Jerry Carl (R-Mobile). The two were tossed into the same district as a result of the court-ordered redistricting map designed to create a new majority minority seat. Rep. Moore, at this writing, looks to have secured a 52-48 percent victory margin.

Though Carl represents 59 percent of the new district and Moore the remainder, Moore performed much better in the portion of the new district that he currently represents. Therefore, Moore’s strong margins in familiar territory were enough to overcome Carl’s Mobile-area base. Rep. Moore is now a lock to win the general election.

The new open 2nd District will, as expected, feature runoff elections for both parties. The Democrats will host a secondary runoff race between former Obama Justice Department official Shomari Figures and state House Minority Leader Anthony Daniels (D-Montgomery).

For the Republicans, ex-state legislator Dick Brewbaker has qualified for the runoff but a tight battle for the second position exists between conservative attorney Caroleene Dobson and state Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Baldwin County), and it will require political overtime to determine which of the latter two advances.

The runoff elections are scheduled for April 2. The eventual Democratic nominee will be a heavy favorite to clinch the seat in November.

Governor

North Carolina: Nominees Chosen Today — As expected, the open governor’s primary yielded a general election that will feature Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson for the Republicans and Attorney General Josh Stein as the Democratic nominee. Both easily won their respective primary elections last night. A tight general election is forecast.

Super Tuesday Preview – Part II

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Today is Super Tuesday, and while presidential nomination races are occurring in 16 states and one territory we continue our look into the five states holding their full ballot 2024 nomination elections. Yesterday, we analyzed Alabama, Arkansas, and California. Today, North Carolina and Texas.

North Carolina

(Click on map to see full size.)

Aside from the presidential primary, the open governor’s race leads the Tar Heel State ballot today. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term, so each party hosts a primary to nominate a successor.

In what will probably prove to be the most competitive of the 2024 governors’ races, the North Carolina electorate will nominate candidates tonight. Very likely, we will see the respective Democratic and Republican primaries turn to Attorney General Josh Stein (D) and Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R). North Carolina, which always hosts very close statewide campaigns, will again do so in this open governor’s battle.

The new North Carolina congressional map is the Republicans’ saving grace for the 2024 US House picture. The party is projected to gain at least three seats in the Tar Heel delegation and most of the districts will see nominees emerge tonight. The state does have a runoff rule, but with only a 30 percent threshold it typically does not come into play.

The new map makes freshman Rep. Don Davis’ (D-Snow Hill) 1st District more competitive, and Republicans have a two-way primary between two-time congressional nominee Sandy Smith and businesswoman and retired Army Col. Laurie Buckhout. Rep. Davis will be favored in the general election, but we can expect a much more competitive political environment to develop in this Virginia border seat under the new district confines.

Incumbents Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh), Greg Murphy (R-Greenville), Valerie Foushee (D-Hillsborough), Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk), David Rouzer (R-Wilmington), Richard Hudson (R-Southern Pines), and Alma Adams (D-Charlotte) will have little trouble winning tonight and in November.

Freshman incumbent Chuck Edwards (R-Flat Rock), who unseated then-Rep. Madison Cawthorn in the 2022 Republican primary, faces primary competition from mortgage broker Christian Reagan. In the general election, state Rep. Caleb Rudow (D-Asheville), unopposed in tonight’s Democratic primary, will challenge Edwards. We can expect to see some competition in this race, but the first-term incumbent is the clear favorite to win a second term.

Redistricting has created four open seats, two of which because the incumbents are opposing each other for state attorney general. Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte) leaves open a safely Republican seat that will largely be decided tonight. Six Republicans are on the ballot with the leading candidates appearing as state Rep. John Bradford (R-Mecklenburg County), former Union County Commissioner Allan Baucom, and Baptist pastor Mark Harris who ran in 2018 and ostensibly won the general election but was barred from taking office due to vote fraud charges.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman) is retiring after serving what will be 10 full terms and leaves basically a two-way contest in his wake for the safely Republican 10th District. State Rep. Grey Mills (R-Mooresville) and firearms manufacturer Pat Harrigan, previously a candidate in the Charlotte-anchored District 14, are battling for the party nomination tonight. The winner will succeed McHenry in the next Congress.

The most crowded open seats lie in the Greensboro area’s 6th District where Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro) is retiring because the new 6th is unwinnable for a Democrat. In fact, the party is not even fielding a candidate. Therefore, the winner among the six contenders vying for the party nomination, including former Congressman Mark Walker, will have an unopposed run in November.

The open 13th District, where Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary) is bypassing a difficult re-election run to instead challenge Sen. Thom Tillis (R) in 2026, features 13 Republican candidates. This is the most likely primary that evolves into a runoff election because there is no clear leader. The eventual GOP nominee wins in November, but it is probable we will not see a nominee emerge tonight.

The most likely open seat nominee is state House Speaker Tim Moore (R-Cleveland County) who is the prohibitive favorite to win the Republican nomination in the new Charlotte anchored 14th CD. He should have little trouble capturing the district in the general election.

Texas

Sen. Ted Cruz (R) stands for a third term and will easily win renomination tonight. For the Democrats, the party faithful could send the top two finishers, likely US Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) and state Sen. Roland Gutierrez (D-San Antonio), into a secondary runoff election.

To win the Texas Senate nomination outright, a candidate would have to receive majority support. With a dozen candidates on the ballot, it will be tough for anyone to break the 50 percent threshold. If a runoff proves necessary, the election will be held on May 28. Though the Democrats will field a credible opponent to Sen. Cruz — most likely Rep. Allred — it will be a tall order to win a Texas statewide election in a presidential year especially with Republicans pulling stronger support among Hispanics.

The congressional delegation features three open seats, all in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Ft. Worth) is retiring after serving what will be 28 years in the House. The heir-apparent for the seat appears to be Tarrant County state Rep. Craig Goldman who could win the Republican primary outright tonight.

In the neighboring 26th District, veteran Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Pilot Point) is retiring after what will be 11 terms in office. A major primary battle is occurring here that will likely head to a runoff election. Businessman Brandon Gill has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement, but that will not likely be enough to propel him over the 50 percent mark. Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s son, Scott Armey a former Denton County Judge (Executive), is in the race, making a return to elective politics after last being on the ballot in 2002.

Rep. Allred leaves his Dallas-anchored seat to a very crowded 10-person Democratic primary. A runoff here is likely, too, with state Rep. Julie Johnson (D-Dallas) and former Dallas City Councilman Kevin Felder possibly being the top two Democratic contenders. A runoff here is almost a certainty with the eventual Democratic nominee having the inside track in the general election.

Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston), who lost badly in the Houston mayoral runoff in December, faces a tough primary challenge from former Houston City Councilwoman Amanda Edwards; this is a race worth paying attention to. We will also see a general election rematch develop in District 34 between two veterans of the House, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) and former US Rep. Mayra Flores (R).

Super Tuesday Preview – Part I

By Jim Ellis — Monday, March 4, 2024

The Super Tuesday primaries are tomorrow and while the presidential nominations appear set, five states will also hold their full ballot 2024 nomination elections. Today, we look at the Alabama, Arkansas, and California primaries. Tomorrow, North Carolina and Texas.

California

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) / Former baseball great Steve Garvey (R)

The Golden State hosts the most action in the Super Tuesday state primaries. A hot open US Senate race is featured, and competition exists in as many as 20 of the state’s 52 congressional races, seven of which are open seat contests.

The final Senate poll, from the University of California at Berkeley’s Institute of Government Studies for the Los Angeles Times (Feb. 22-27; 6,536 registered California voters; 3,304 of whom have already mailed their ballots; online) contains a surprise.

For the first time since this open Senate race began, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) has lost his first place spot. Republican former baseball star Steve Garvey has captured the lead largely because Schiff has been spending heavily to label him as too conservative in an attempt to unify Republicans and block Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) from qualifying for the general election.

The ballot test finds Garvey posting 27 percent support with Rep. Schiff close behind with 25 percent. Porter would be eliminated if this poll’s findings are correct. She attracts 19 percent support, while Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) drops to eight percent preference. Garvey and Schiff would then advance into the general election. An inter-party general election heavily favors Democrats.

In the top two all-party jungle primary House races, several could be headed for general elections featuring members of the same political party.

The districts potentially producing double-Democratic finalists are the 12th (open; Rep. Lee running for Senate),16th (open; Rep. Anna Eshoo-D retiring), 25th (Rep. Raul Ruiz-D being challenged), 26th (Rep. Julia Brownley vs. Councilman Chris Anstead), 29th (open; Rep. Tony Cardenas-D retiring), 30th (open; Rep. Schiff running for Senate), 31st (open; Rep. Grace Napolitano-D retiring), and 34th (Rep. Jimmy Gomez-D again being challenged).

The vacant 20th District (Rep. Kevin McCarthy-R resigned) could potentially produce a double-Republican general election.

Competitive inter-party races already look set in the 3rd (Rep. Kevin Kiley-R vs. Jessica Morse-D), 9th (Rep. Josh Harder-D vs. Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln-R), 13th (Rep. John Duarte-R vs. former Assemblyman Adam Gray-D), 21st (Rep. Jim Costa-D vs. Michael Maher-R), 22nd (Rep. David Valadao-R vs. ex-Assemblyman Rudy Salas-D), 27th (Rep. Mike Garcia-R vs. George Whitesides-D), and 41st (Rep. Ken Calvert-R vs. Will Rollins-D).

In several other competitive seats, the general election slate is uncertain heading into tomorrow’s primary, though all mentioned incumbents will claim the first general election ballot slot. Those are: Districts 40 (Rep. Young Kim-R), 45 (Rep. Michelle Steel-R), 47 (open; Rep. Katie Porter-D running for Senate), and 49 (Rep. Mike Levin-D).

Though the California jungle primary can’t elect any candidate outright, tomorrow’s voting will provide us with a significant number of political answers.

Alabama

In adherence to the US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Alabama racial gerrymandering case, the state’s congressional map has been redrawn. Tomorrow’s focus will be on two major House races, the Republican pairing between Reps. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile) and Barry Moore (R-Enterprise) in a newly crafted 1st District that stretches from Mississippi to Georgia along Alabama’s Florida border, and an open 2nd CD from Montgomery to Mobile that is designed to elect an African American candidate.

Even though Alabama is a runoff state, the Carl/Moore contest will be decided tomorrow since they are the only two candidates on the ballot. Therefore, the winner will have majority support and become the prohibitive favorite for the general election. Carl currently represents 59 percent of the new district, and Moore, 41 percent. Both have been attacking the other as weak on the southern border.

The most recent poll, from Auburn University at Montgomery with the Survey Research Center at the University of Georgia (Feb. 27; 1,909 likely AL-1 voters; text to web) found a ballot test result that favors Rep. Carl, 43-35 percent, but suggests the final outcome will yield a close result.

In the 2nd CD, we can expect the primary vote to produce runoff elections for both parties. A total of 11 Democrats and seven Republicans are competing for their respective nominations. The field includes two state senators, four state representatives, including the House Minority Leader and Minority Whip, and one local official. The eventual Democratic nominee becomes a clear favorite in the general election.

Arkansas

The presidential contest is the only statewide race on the Arkansas ballot and all four of the state’s US House members are seeking another term. Tomorrow’s only semi-competitive battle occurs in the northwest Arkansas 3rd Congressional District where seven-term US Rep. Steve Womack (R-Rogers) faces state Sen. Clint Penzo (R-Springdale).

The challenger had raised less than $94,000 and had $65,000 cash-on-hand through the Feb. 14 pre-primary filing. This suggests little activity on his part, and we can expect a big Womack victory tomorrow night. No change is expected in the Arkansas delegation for the next Congress.

Williamson “Un-Suspends” Her Campaign; Banks Unopposed in Indiana; McConnell Steps Down; Montana’s Rosendale Seeks Re-Election; Changes in NY-1 Race

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 1, 2024

President

Marianne Williamson / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Marianne Williamson: “Un-Suspends” Campaign — Democrat Marianne Williamson, who suspended her presidential campaign after the Nevada primary, returned to active status on Wednesday. As a non-candidate in South Carolina and Michigan, she placed ahead of Congressman Dean Phillips (D-MN) in both states. Neither, however, have registered even five percent support against President Joe Biden. Williamson’s return to active campaigning will do little to dissuade a Biden renomination. He remains on target to clinch the party nod after the March 19 primaries conclude.

Senate

Indiana: Rep. Banks Unopposed for Senate Nomination — The Indiana Election Commission unanimously removed Republican John Rust from the ballot for failure to meet one of the party standards to qualify as a candidate. That is, Rust could offer no proof that he voted in two consecutive Republican primaries. The Commission’s action means that Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City) will enter the open Indiana Republican Senate primary as an unopposed candidate.

Winning the GOP primary will then give Banks the inside track to winning the Senate seat outright in the general election. This will become one of the easiest open Senate campaigns that we have seen in recent memory. Sen. Mike Braun (R) is bypassing running for a second term to launch a gubernatorial bid.

Sen. Mitch McConnell: Stepping Down from Leadership — Sen. Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) announcement that he will step down as Republican Leader after the elections in November could cause some uncertainty in the GOP fundraising ranks. The Senate Leadership Fund, which several of his key supporters run, raised over $289 million for the 2022 election cycle. In the year 2023 just concluded, the Fund attracted over $37 million. It remains to be seen if the national Republicans’ fundraising drops even more now that donors know McConnell’s time as Leader will be officially coming to an end.

House

MT-2: Rep. Rosendale Will Seek Re-Election — We are now seeing a retirement reversal trend taking hold. Montana US Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive), after entering the Senate race for just a week, will now instead actively pursue a re-election campaign. With the incumbent returning, it remains to be seen just how many of the nine announced GOP candidates, including former at-large Rep. Denny Rehberg, State Auditor Troy Downing, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen, and state Senate President Pro Tempore Ken Bogner (R-Miles City), will continue their candidacies.

Rosendale becomes the third House member to announce that he would not be seeking re-election only to change course and run again. The others are Reps. Pat Fallon (R-TX) and Victoria Spartz (R-IN). Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), who recently announced his own retirement, also may be in the process of changing his mind. The House open-seat count now recedes to 48. If Rep. Green decides to file, the number drops to 47. Once the three special elections are held, the total number of House open seats will reduce further to 44.

NY-1: Former State Senator Drops Challenge — New York former state Sen. Jim Gaughran (D) announced that he is ending his congressional challenge to freshman Rep. Nick LaLota (R-Suffolk County) after seeing the new redistricting map that made Long Island’s 1st District more Republican. In his exit, Gaughran endorsed former CNN anchor John Avlon (D). Also in the 1st District Democratic race are 2020 congressional nominee Nancy Goroff and ex-congressional staff member Kyle Hill. Rep. LaLota is favored for re-election.