Author Archives: Jim Ellis

PA Rep. Lamb Draws Challenger

By Jim Ellis

Scott Timko (R) | Rep. Connor Lamb (D)

Aug. 2,7 2019 — Pennsylvania Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), who came to recent national political prominence when he upset a Republican special election nominee and then defeated an incumbent GOP House member in a newly created Allegheny County-anchored district in the regular cycle, has drawn a 2020 opponent for re-election.

Rep. Lamb, who campaigns as a moderate Democrat, defeated state Rep. Rick Saccone (R) by 755 votes in an early 2018 special election and knocked out then-Rep. Keith Rothfus (R) 56-44 percent last November, could face a novice Republican candidate in his 17th CD where Donald Trump slipped past Hillary Clinton, 49-47 percent.

Former Air Force pilot and local small business owner Scott Timko (R) declared his candidacy on Friday in a campaign that could become interesting. If Timko raises enough money to become competitive, the district voters appear to be much closer to he and Trump ideologically than they are to the national Democratic agenda.

Rep. Lamb keeps his distance from the national Democrats, but Timko is already attempting to push him leftward, pointing out that Lamb supports the national leadership and won’t even accept PAC contributions from private sector corporate employees who voluntarily support their company’s political action committee.

The 17th District was created in the Pennsylvania state Supreme Court’s early 2018 mandated congressional district re-draw. Just about three-quarters of the district’s population resides in Allegheny County, and covers the outer Pittsburgh suburbs from northeast of the city all the way around to the southwest. CD-17 also includes all of Beaver County that stretches to the Ohio border, and a sliver of Butler County.

As mentioned above, President Trump won a close victory within the 17th District confines, hence Lamb’s 2018 victory margin over Rep. Rothfus was more substantial than expected. Under the court’s redistricting plan, the new 17th contained 56 percent of the territory that Rothfus represented for three terms in his original 12th District, while Lamb had only 20 percent carry over from the 18th District to which he was elected shortly before the new map was created.

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Colorado Elector’s Case
Stirs the Electoral College Pot

By Jim Ellis

Colorado Elector Michael Baca / 9NEWS

Aug. 26, 2019 — Reports came out late last week that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals sitting in Denver ruled in favor of a former Colorado Elector, Michael Baca, who filed a constitutional lawsuit against the state. In the 2016 Electoral College vote, the Colorado Secretary of State removed Baca from the delegation after he informed state authorities that he would not vote for Hillary Clinton when the Electoral College met.

Thirty states, including Colorado, have a statutory requirement that the official electors, in Colorado’s case nine individuals, cast their vote for the presidential candidate who carried the state. In the 2016 election, Hillary Clinton carried the Centennial State over Donald Trump, 48-43 percent.

Baca was coalescing with other electors around the country, the so-called “Hamilton Electors,” who thought they could convince enough members in Trump states to vote for another candidate in order to force him below the 270 minimum electoral vote threshold. In the election, Trump’s victory states awarded him 306 electoral votes. Places like Colorado, however, that went for Clinton, would do Trump no damage if its electors did not carry through with the voters’ expressed desire, illustrating one of several ways that the “Hamilton” strategy was fundamentally flawed.

After Baca’s removal, he quickly filed his lawsuit arguing that his constitutional rights were violated because the state has no authority to bind its electors. Baca lost at the federal district level but now has won a 2-1 appellate decision before a three-judge panel.

What happens now? The 10th Circuit is in conflict with a previous Washington state Supreme Court ruling that came to the opposite conclusion. Thus, it is likely that the US Supreme Court will be petitioned though the Washington ruling, because it comes from a state court, is a lesser factor in the federal domain.

The Colorado elector legal action, like the Compact Coalition that is attempting to convince states holding a majority of electoral votes to agree to have their electors vote for the national popular vote winner regardless of how the individual state voted, is designed to eliminate the Electoral College’s power and change the US voting system to a straight popular vote.

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Inslee Bows Out of Presidential Race

By Jim Ellis

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D)

Aug. 23, 2019 — The Democratic National Committee leaders’ strategy to substantially increase the presidential debate qualification requirements in order to decrease the unwieldy and bloated candidate field is working.

The prerequisites to prove that a campaign has more than 130,000 donors and that each candidate reaches a minimum of two percent support from four of eight designated pollsters paid another dividend Wednesday as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee became the third Democratic candidate to officially exit the race.

Not making the debate stage signifies that a candidate has no chance to become a top-tier candidate. Without national exposure, also-ran candidates have little opportunity to increase name identification and familiarity in order to raise enough money to deliver a message, motivate people to work on their campaign, and attract serious media attention both nationally and in the important local markets within key states.

Inslee follows Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) and former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper in making the decision to bow out of the race, and there are likely to be several more following suit once it becomes even more evident that the lower-tier candidates will no longer have the opportunity to climb onto the national debate stage.

Gov. Inslee, in an interview on MSNBC’s “The Rachel Maddow Show” Wednesday, stated ” … it’s become clear that I’m not going to be carrying the ball. I’m not going to be the president, so I’m withdrawing tonight from the race.” He is expected to announce that he will seek a third term as Washington’s governor.

The Inslee withdrawal is not a surprise to anyone, apparently even to the candidate himself. He remained non-committal about ruling out running for a third gubernatorial term, which froze most of the Washington Democratic potential aspirants in place. The rhetoric blocked them from overtly assembling a statewide campaign since most correctly interpreted the political tea leaves as meaning that Inslee would, in fact, be back to seek re-election.

With 10 candidates now qualified for the next debate since former HUD Secretary Julian Castro just joined the top-tier candidates of Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Pete Buttigieg who are also joined by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), ex-Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), and businessman Andrew Yang, it remains to be seen just how many of those who won’t meet the qualifications will continue.

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Nevada Looms Large for Biden, Harris

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 22, 2019 — The Nevada Caucus is third on the presidential nomination schedule and it appears the Silver State nomination event will carry more weight than it has in past elections.

After the Iowa Caucus (Feb. 3) and New Hampshire primary (Feb. 11), the candidates will stream into Nevada for the Feb. 22 caucus event that is traditionally held on a Saturday.

Nevada could be critically important for two of the candidates, former Vice President Joe Biden and California Sen. Kamala Harris, should the first two states evolve as currently predicted.

Kicking the cycle off in Iowa, Biden may find himself in a similar position to that of Hillary Clinton in 2016. Coming into the state as the clear front runner, Clinton stumbled in Iowa as she technically won the caucus vote, but only after a series of coin flips were conducted to break ties … and she won them all.

The rules are different in 2020, and it will be easier for more people to participate, but Iowa voters tend to like the Midwestern candidates, something Biden is not. Additionally, with Sen. Sanders proving he has a base in the state and two Midwestern candidates in the field, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the chances of Biden faltering here are actually quite high.

Then the candidates will move to Sens. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren’s (D-MA) New England backyard in New Hampshire. In 2016, Sen. Sanders upended Clinton with a 60 percent victory, so Biden’s ability to derail both Sanders and Warren in this state will prove to be a difficult task. Therefore, it is entirely possible that Biden could move into Nevada in search of a badly needed win.

Sen. Harris has a major advantage in that her home state of California will award 416 first-ballot delegates, a figure 45 percent larger than even the second-largest state, which is Texas. But, in order to maximize this advantage, Sen. Harris will have to be competitive in the First Four states.

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The Committed Choices

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 21, 2019 — The Pew Research Center conducted a national poll, of which many Democratic presidential primary questions were asked, but one was particularly interesting.

The survey was taken from a universe of 5,766 panelists who agreed to respond to online Pew polls. For this study, conducted during the July 22 through August 4 period, 4,175 of those individuals did in fact respond, or 72.4 percent of those queried. From this respondent subset, 1,757 individuals who self-identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning voters were questioned about the presidential primary.

The ballot test was not particularly noteworthy in that the results were mostly in line with other national polls being reported within the same time frame. According to Pew, former Vice President Joe Biden led the group, but with just a 26 percent preference score, followed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at 16 percent, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) posting 12 percent, and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) claiming 11 percent support. All others, including South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg polled in single digits.

But the most interesting question had to do with the individuals’ committed choices. The group was asked about their enthusiasm toward the candidates and whether they were attracted to only their stated choice or if other Democratic contenders also excited them. This question was asked to gauge strength of support.

The aggregate response showed that 35 percent were only enthused about their candidate of choice, while 63 percent said several of the candidates enthused them. Though he finished a rather distant third on the overall ballot test, it is Sen. Sanders who registers the most committed support.

A majority of the Sanders voters, 51 percent, responded that they are only enthused about his candidacy and feel the same about none of the other Democratic contenders. He is the only candidate to command a such a high committed support percentage.

Biden registered 45 percent who said they are only enthused for him, but 53 percent said others attracted their attention, as well. The candidate who had the least committed support, despite her defined rise in most national polls, was Sen. Warren. Only 19 percent of her voters say they are only committed to her, while 80 percent of her contingent are also enthused by other candidates. Sen. Harris scored slightly better, with 22 percent saying only she enthuses them, while 78 percent of her voters see other candidates they also like.

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