Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Lt. Gov. Reeves Advances in Mississippi

By Jim Ellis

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves (R)

Aug. 29, 2019 — As expected, Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves won Tuesday’s Republican gubernatorial run-off election, defeating former state Supreme Court judge Bill Waller Jr. by a 54-46 percent count. During the Aug. 6 primary, Reeves captured 49 percent of the vote, just one point shy of being nominated outright in the first election.

Lt. Gov. Reeves had the Republican establishment behind him, including public support from term-limited Gov. Phil Bryant and former governor and ex-Republican National Committee chairman Haley Barbour. Additionally, both he and Waller attempted to be viewed as the most conservative candidate in the race and ran as strong supporters of President Trump.

Therefore, a 54-46 percent win appears to be a slight under-performance, particularly when the drop-off turnout rate when compared to the primary election was only 15.3 percent. Tuesday’s turnout reached 324,353 voters, meaning that 58,727 fewer people cast ballots when compared to the early August Republican primary, which is a relatively small number.

Reeves now advances into the Nov. 5 general election where he will face the Democratic nominee, Attorney General Jim Hood. Hood has been commonly referred to as the “most successful Democrat in the South” because he has won four consecutive statewide elections in Mississippi. He was easily nominated in this year’s original gubernatorial primary, winning 69 percent of the vote against seven opponents, but the total vote in the Democratic primary was less – 21,963 votes less — than even last night’s Republican run-off.

The lieutenant governor carried 65 of Mississippi’s 82 counties against Judge Waller, though five of the locality results denoted a winner garnering less than 51 percent of the vote. In one county, Quitman, Reeves’ victory margin was just one vote.

In what could be a rather ominous sign for the general election, Reeves did poorly in and around the state’s capital and largest city, Jackson, its county (Hinds) and the two suburban entities bordering it, Madison and Rankin counties. He lost all three of these counties, though the aggregate vote totals in Hinds were low.

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Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy to Resign

Wisconsin’s US 7th Congressional District

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 28, 2019 — Five-term Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wausau) announced Monday that he is resigning from Congress effective Sept. 23. Rep. Duffy indicated his reason for leaving mid-term is that his wife and his expectant child, their ninth, has already been diagnosed with challenging health issues.

Therefore, his 7th Congressional District will go to special election once Gov. Tony Evers (D) sets the schedule. The congressional vote will likely coincide with the state’s spring election, where statewide and district judges are on the ballot and many localities use the dates to hold their own elections. The Wisconsin calendar pinpoints the Spring Primary for Feb. 18, 2020, while the Spring General election will run concurrently with the Wisconsin presidential primary on April 7.

The Badger State’s 7th CD occupies a full quarter of the state’s land area, beginning on the shores of Lake Superior and stretching to Buckhorn State Park close to Wisconsin’s center. The district covers a large land mass and is populated with small towns spread throughout the 26 counties that it covers or touches. WI-7 contains 21 whole counties and parts of five others. Its largest city, Wausau, which is Congressman Duffy’s hometown, has just under 40,000 people.

The district’s electorate now votes solidly Republican but, before Rep. Duffy was elected in 2010, this seat remained in Democratic hands for 41 consecutive years in the person of former Rep. David Obey (D) who first won in a 1969 special election and retired in the 2010 cycle. The district’s pre-Obey history, however, was solidly Republican. A member of the GOP had represented the seat for 82 of its first 96 years of existence.

Since the Duffy resignation was unexpected, no potential successors are being discussed, but that situation will quickly change.

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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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