Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Utah’s Sen. Lee in Competitive Primary; Cheney’s Tumbling Numbers in WY

By Jim Ellis — June 13, 2022

Senate

Utah: McMullin Competitive with Sen. Lee — A new Dan Jones & Associates survey for the Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics (May 24-June 4; 810 registered Utah voters; live interview) suggests that the Utah Democrats’ move to forego fielding their own party nominee and instead coalescing behind Independent former presidential candidate Evan McMullin was the right course of action. The general election ballot test finds Sen. Mike Lee leading McMullin only 41-37 percent. It is probable that Sen. Lee is in better standing than this poll indicates, but it does appear that the Democrats’ coalition move apparently makes this race significantly more competitive.

House

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.

WY-AL: Rep. Cheney Decimated in New Poll — A new survey from the Fabrizio Lee & Associates firm conducted for the Wyoming Values PAC (June 1-2; 400 likely Wyoming Republican primary voters; live interview and text of a repeat universe from the Dec. 14-15 poll) reveals a brewing landslide for challenger Harriet Hageman in her Aug. 16 Republican primary contest with at-large US Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson). The poll shows just how upset the Wyoming Republican voter base is with Rep. Cheney, as her personal favorability of 26:73 percent favorable to unfavorable is even worse than her atrocious job approval rating of 27:70 percent.

On the ballot test, Hageman leads the congresswoman 56-28 percent with state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie) trailing badly at the eight percent support level. This is a significant improvement for Hageman, who led in the December poll only 34-26 percent. The Fabrizio Lee numbers are also consistent with a recent Club for Growth survey that found an almost identical 56-28 percent division in favor of Hageman.

AL-5: New Runoff Data — The May 24 open 5th Congressional District Republican primary ended with Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong and former Assistant US Army Secretary Casey Wardynski advancing into a June 21 runoff. Strong led in the first vote, 45-23 percent, which was five points short of clinching the party nomination outright. The Cygnal research organization conducted their survey (June 4-6; 400 likely AL-5 GOP runoff voters) and it posts Strong to a 46-31 percent lead, similar to the actual primary election’s finish. The winner replaces current representative and US Senate contender Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) in the northern Alabama congressional district.

AK-AL: Special Primary Election — The special primary, the first step in replacing the late Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), will be held Saturday. Voting in the all-mail primary has been going on for the past several weeks, and is scheduled to culminate this weekend. The huge field of 48 candidates, all placed on the same ballot in a jungle primary format, will be whittled to four, as the state’s new top-four qualification system is in use for the first time.

It appears likely that former governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, party-endorsed Republican candidate Nick Begich III, and Independent surgeon Al Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for Senate, will advance into the special general election to be held concurrently with the regular state primary on Aug. 16. The fourth qualifying position appears up for grabs, with Anchorage Democratic City Assemblyman Chris Constant, state Sen. Josh Revak (R-Anchorage), who Anne Young, the late congressman’s widow, endorses, state Rep. Adam Wool (R-Fairbanks), and several others all vying for the final chance to slip into the general election.

The special general will be a regular in-person vote. If no one receives majority support in that election, the Ranked Choice Voting system takes effect. All voters will have ranked their choices from 1-4, and the process continues through rounds and candidate elimination until one contender breaks the 50 percent majority support level.

FL-2: Rep. Lawson Announces Bid — In another indication that the congressional redistricting map Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) drove through the legislature will be the plan at least for the 2022 election despite its legal challenges, Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee), whose 5th District was collapsed in the draw, has announced his re-election intentions. He will challenge GOP Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) in the new 2nd District.

This new 2nd contains Rep. Lawson’s home city of Tallahassee, a Democratic domain, but is also rated as R+16 from the FiveThirtyEight data organization, and earns a 54.5 percent R – 43.8 percent D rating from Dave’s Redistricting App. Former President Trump would have carried this new district 55-44 percent in the 2020 election. Looking at these ratings and numbers suggests that Rep. Lawson has a difficult road ahead of him if he is to return to the House next year.

GOP Dogfight Continues in Arizona; Rep. Cori Bush’s Competitive Primary

By Jim Ellis — June 10, 2022

Senate

Arizona: GOP Dogfight Continues — A new Data Orbital poll (June 1-3; 550 likely Arizona Republican primary voters) again finds a three-way virtual tie for the party’s US Senate nomination that will be decided on Aug. 2. In the last 10 published polls, all three top candidates, Attorney General Mark Brnovich and businessmen Blake Masters, who now has former President Trump’s endorsement, as well as Jim Lamon have led in at least two polls apiece.

The latest Data Orbital results also suggests that any of the three can win the primary. In their ballot test results, Lamon leads AG Brnovich and Masters, 20-18-15 percent. The eventual winner will challenge Sen. Mark Kelly (D) in what promises to be a competitive general election campaign.

House

Freshman Missouri Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) has a competitive race on her hands.

MO-1: Rep. Bush’s Tenuous Lead — A new internal campaign poll suggests that controversial freshman Missouri Rep. Cori Bush (D-St. Louis) has a competitive race on her hands as the candidates look ahead to the Aug. 2 state primary. State Sen. Steve Roberts (D-St. Louis) released a Lincoln Park Strategies poll (May 24-29; 500 MO-1 registered voters; live interview) that finds the congresswoman leading by only a 36-19 percent spread over the poll sponsor, and that obviously places the incumbent far below the 50 percent threshold. Three other Democrats are also on the ballot, suggesting that the winner can claim the party nomination with only a plurality margin.

This survey suggests that the MO-1 Democratic primary, for the second consecutive election cycle, will be competitive. In 2020, Bush upset veteran Congressman Lacy Clay in the party primary that paved the way for her easy general election victory. The Democratic primary controls the general election since the district is rated D+52.

NY-23: State Chair Langworthy New Nominee — The local Republican chairmen whose counties comprise the current 23rd Congressional District have decided that newly announced congressional candidate Nick Langworthy — the New York Republican Party chairman — will be the party’s special election nominee for the race to succeed resigned Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning). Langworthy will face retired Air Force Colonel Max Della Pia whom the Democratic chairmen had previously selected. Under New York election law, the county parties choose nominees in the event of a vacancy.

Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) scheduled the special to be concurrent with the regular congressional primary on Aug. 23. We can expect both Langworthy and Della Pia to win their respective regular election primaries, so we can count on seeing the two battle not only on Aug. 23, but also for the general election. Langworthy now becomes a big favorite in the southwestern upstate district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as R+23. Dave’s Redistricting App scores it 55.37 percent R and 41.98 percent D. Former President Trump carried the new 23rd District in 2020 by a 55-43 percent count.

Redistricting

Louisiana: Federal Judge Rejects Map — A federal judge has struck down the Louisiana legislature’s 2022 congressional map under the argument that another minority seat can be drawn in the state. The current map and the new plan features a 5R-1D delegation split with the lone Democratic seat, which is 58.6 percent black and 70.2 percent minority, stretching from New Orleans to Baton Rouge. The judge ruled that such a plan violates the Voting Rights Act.

Expect the Republicans to appeal to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals. The US Supreme Court has already agreed to hear a similar Alabama case, and this one will set the record for Voting Rights interpretation. Therefore, the chances of the Appellate Court staying the new Louisiana ruling and reinstating the map for the 2022 elections are high. Under the rejected plan, all six of the state’s incumbents would have safe seats in which to run for re-election.

Skewed Polling Questions in Florida? Internal GOP Battle Brewing in NH

By Jim Ellis — June 9, 2022

Senate

Sen. Marco Rubio (R) | Rep. Val Demings (D)

Florida: New Poll, Similar Result — The Florida Senate race will be an expensive fight – each candidate had already raised over $30 million before the end of March – but polling continues to suggest that incumbent Sen. Marco Rubio (R) holds relatively small but consistent margins over US Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando). Public Policy Polling released a new survey for Giffords PAC, a group supporting Rep. Demings (May 26-27; 655 registered Florida voters; interactive voice response system), that finds Sen. Rubio holding a 47-41 percent advantage. This is consistent with other polling.

The pollsters then asked a series of gun control questions designed to push the respondent toward Demings. Even after the barrage of inflammatory questions, Sen. Rubio still held a 44-42 percent edge.

Washington: New Poll, Similar Result — Public Policy Polling, conducting another in a series of their polls for the Northwest Progressive Institute (June 1-2; 1,039 registered Washington voters; live interview & text), again finds Sen. Patty Murray (D) leading the 2022 general election contest over Republican Tiffany Smiley but without her usual overwhelming majority. The new results post the senator to a 50-41 percent lead, which is consistent with their previous polls conducted earlier in the year. Sen. Murray is the clear favorite to win a sixth term, but we can expect to see an unusually competitive general election in one of the Democrats’ most reliable political states.

House

NH-2: Internal Battle Brewing — With New Hampshire redistricting finally complete, and both of the state’s congressional districts remaining in the competitive mode, an ideological Republican primary is forming to challenge Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton). At the end of last week, Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns, who defines himself as a “staunch conservative” announced his congressional campaign for the GOP nomination. He will challenge the party establishment’s candidate, Keene Mayor George Hansel, who holds Gov. Chris Sununu’s endorsement and is a self-described “pro-choice Republican.”

Though Rep. Kuster could be vulnerable in this D+2 western state CD, the state primary isn’t until Sept. 13. Therefore, this budding Republican primary challenge will go on for quite some time, thus allowing the congresswoman to build a further advantage in a shortened general election campaign.

NY-23: Rep. Chris Jacobs Decides to Retire — Rep. Chris Jacobs (R-Orchard Park), who was just elected to his first full term in 2020, announced that he is now abandoning plans to run in the new post-redistricting 23rd District largely due to fallout over his position on the gun control issue and related impending legislation. This opens a safely Republican and vacant 23rd District and completely changes both the regular election primary and the upcoming special election both concurrently scheduled for Aug. 23.

Now it appears the special election will be the determining factor. Before Rep. Jacobs’ retirement decision, he had announced for the new 23rd CD but would not participate in the special election after incumbent Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning) resigned. The reason: Jacobs is still serving out the final term in District 27. The 27th CD was eliminated in redistricting because New York lost a congressional seat in national reapportionment.

The political parties choose special election nominees in New York without a special primary election, so it appears the 10 Republican County chairmen whose entities comprise the current 23rd CD will likely be determining who wins the succeeding special election, and therefore the new regular general election as well.

A Look at Primary Results
From Across Seven States

By Jim Ellis — June 8, 2022

Primary Results

Wealthy developer, former Republican and now Independent Rick Caruso surprised many by claiming first place in the open Los Angeles mayor’s race last night.

California: The Golden State’s Mixed Results — Wealthy developer, former Republican and now Independent Rick Caruso surprised many by claiming first place in the open Los Angeles mayor’s race last night; he topped US Rep. Karen Bass (D) by five percentage points. Far left San Francisco District Attorney Chesa Boudin was recalled with 60 percent of the vote, and the down-ballot congressional results look to yield some interesting general election campaigns.

On positive notes for the GOP, former state Assemblywoman Connie Conway successfully won the special congressional election in the 22nd District and will assume office immediately after race certification to fill the unexpired portion of resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ final congressional term. Additionally, Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), in a district that was made more Democratic through redistricting, finished substantially ahead at this point, 50-35 percent, over former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D), the opponent he has twice beaten including a 333-vote win in 2020. An estimated quarter of the vote remains to be added, so these numbers will change at least to a degree, but the pair will again advance into the general election.

Two Central Valley seats have very low vote totals reporting, but both are interesting. In the most Democratic district in the nation that a Republican represents, Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) badly trails state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield), 47-26 percent, but with less than 15,000 votes counted. Surprisingly, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) holds only a 36-29 percent edge over San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R), but with less than 14,000 votes tabulated. In the neighboring new 13th District, Republican farmer/businessman John Duarte appears positioned to capture second place and is running just two percentage points behind state Assemblyman Alex Gray (D-Merced) with over half the votes counted. This appears to be a competitive race come the fall.

In Orange County, incumbent Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra) appears to be placing second in the jungle primary but will advance to the general election. Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County), after trailing most of the night, did place first in her new 45th CD and advances into the general election against Community College Trustee Jay Chen (D) as expected. Former state Assemblyman Scott Baugh, who was thought to be a strong Republican challenger to Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) in the coastal Orange County seat, saw the incumbent top 50 percent, some 20 points ahead of him, meaning this race may not be as competitive in November as once predicted.

The California counting, with almost all votes coming in through the mail and ballots accepted after the election will drag on for a period of weeks, so we won’t have final totals for some time.

Iowa: Admiral Franken Wins — Early in the election cycle, it appeared that former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer had the inside track to the Democratic US Senate nomination, but such was not to be as retired Navy Admiral Michael Franken easily defeated her by a 55-40 percent count to claim the party nomination. He will face Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who won a landslide re-nomination for what would be an eighth six-year term.

The governor and House races, most of which were unopposed last night, all turned out as predicted. Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) runs for a second full term and will square off against Democratic marketing consultant Deidre DeJear. As expected, state Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Altoona) was an easy Republican primary winner in the state’s 3rd District. He will now oppose two-term Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) who has yet to reach 50 percent in any of her campaigns. Freshmen Reps. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) and Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids) will both defend their competitive seats each against a pair of sitting state legislators, state Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City) and state Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha), respectively.

Mississippi: Incumbents Forced to Runoffs — It appears two Mississippi GOP congressional incumbents, Reps. Michael Guest (R-Brandon) and Steve Palazzo (R-Biloxi) will have to run in a secondary election to win re-nomination, an ominous sign for any southern incumbent. Because a majority of the voters chose a candidate other than the incumbent, a runoff vote will occur on June 28 between the top two finishers. Therefore, both Reps. Guest and Palazzo face difficult re-nomination prospects at the end of this month.

Rep. Guest and Navy Reserve officer Michael Cassidy will apparently battle in the 3rd District runoff election though about 15 percent of the estimated turnout is still outstanding. The two candidates are both hovering around the 47 percent mark, so it is unlikely that enough votes remain outstanding to allow one of the two to reach 50 percent. Challenger Cassidy labeled the incumbent as being too moderate, citing his vote to create the January 6 Commission, among other actions to justify his attack. Six-term Rep. Palazzo is under an ethics investigation for using campaign funds for personal use, and managed to only break 30 percent. His opponent looks to be Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell, who is clinging to second position but with almost a quarter of the votes still to be tabulated. Businessman Clay Wagner lags just over 2,000 votes behind Ezell in third position.

Montana: Tight Race Favoring ex-Rep. Zinke — In a surprisingly tight congressional race for Montana’s new western congressional district, a seat the state gained because of its strong population growth in national reapportionment, former US Interior Secretary and ex-Congressman Ryan Zinke appears to be successfully returning to the House but in a very close margin. At this writing, Zinke leads former state senator and frequent statewide candidate Al Olsewski by just about a percentage point as the final votes are being tabulated. The small margin will probably hold meaning that Zinke will become the new 1st District’s official Republican standard bearer. The final primary result should pave the wave for him to complete his political comeback attempt this November.

New Jersey: Key Re-Match Set — Without a statewide race on the ballot in 2022, New Jersey appears politically quiet this year. The top race in the state is a 7th District re-match between Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) and former state Sen. Tom Kean, Jr. (R). The two battled to a 51-49 percent finish two years ago. Kean easily defeated a crowded Republican field to earn another shot at Malinowski who faces his Republican opponent in a less Democratic district post-redistricting. The seat now trends Republican, thus making this one of the GOP’s top conversion opportunities in the nation.

New Mexico: Ronchetti Wins Big — Former Albuquerque TV weatherman Mark Ronchetti, who held Sen. Ben Ray Lujan (D) to a closer-than-expected 52-46 percent win in 2020, romped to a win in the Republican governor’s primary topping the 58 percent mark after failing to qualify for the ballot through the Republican nominating convention. The Ronchetti win sets up a competitive battle with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) in the fall. The governor was unopposed for re-nomination last night.

In the gerrymandered southern 2nd District, freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) will face Las Cruces City Councilman Gabe Vasquez (D) in a district that now leans Democratic with the inclusion of part of Albuquerque. This will be a highly competitive general election campaign and a must-win for Republicans if they are to capture the House majority as many predict.

South Dakota: Incumbents Score Big Wins — In an unsurprising result, both Sen. John Thune (R) and Gov. Kristi Noem (R) scored landslide Republican primary victories with each topping the 70 percent mark in voter support. In the state’s at-large congressional primary, second-term Rep. Dusty Johnson (R-Mitchell) defeated Rapid City state Rep. Taffy Howard with a 59-41% spread to win re-nomination for a third two-year term. All three of the statewide GOP incumbents now become prohibitive favorites for re-election in November.

Seven States Host Primaries;
More House News

By Jim Ellis — June 7, 2022

Primaries

Iowa’s seven-term US Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) will be 89 at the time of the general election.

Voting Today: Seven States Host Primaries — One of the busiest nomination days occurs today and voters will be choosing November candidates in states stretching from California to New Jersey. Those state primaries on the calendar for today include California, Iowa, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, and South Dakota. One special general election will also be determined, that being the race in California’s 22nd District from which former Congressman Devin Nunes (R) resigned at the end of last year. Republican former state Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway is the clear favorite to win the special, but will have no place on a congressional ballot during the regular election.

Some of the more interesting races include Iowa Democrats choosing an opponent for veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), who will be 89 years old at the time of the general election, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, attempting to return to the House of Representatives from Montana; Mississippi Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-Biloxi), fighting for re-nomination amid an ethics investigation; and a host of US House incumbents attempting to win post-redistricting CDs that in some cases are very different than the ones they currently represent.

House

NY-23: Dems Decide on Nominee; Filing Ends Friday — Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) has scheduled the replacement special election for resigned Rep. Tom Reed’s (R) vacant seat to run concurrently with the regular Aug. 23 congressional primary. Under New York electoral procedure, the party leaders nominate candidates for special elections, and the local Democratic leadership has already made their selection. Retired Air Force Colonel Max Della Pia was selected as the special election nominee, and he will face whomever the Republican leadership decides to nominate. Della Pia also said he will file for the regular term, but the voters will choose the nominee for that race, also on Aug. 23.

Several Republicans are in the mix, the most noteworthy name being mentioned of late is New York Republican Party chairman Nick Langworthy. Candidate filing for the regular election ends this Friday, June 10.

The southwestern Upstate district favors the Republicans. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rating is R+23. Dave’s Redistricting App scores it 55.37 percent R and 41.98 percent D. Former President Trump carried the new 23rd District in 2020 by a 55-43 percent count.

SC-7: Rep. Rice Trailing in Primary Poll — With the South Carolina primary fast approaching on June 14, the Trafalgar Group released a new survey of the Palmetto State’s 7th District that features Republican incumbent Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach) who is fighting for re-nomination after being one of the 10 House Republicans to support the second attempt to impeach former President Trump.

According to the Trafalgar data (May 26-29; 572 likely SC-7 Republican primary voters; mixed data collection elements), Rep. Rice trails state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Murrell’s Inlet), Trump’s endorsed candidate, by a substantial 42-25 percent clip within the field of seven Republican candidates. If no one receives majority support, which appears likely according to this poll, the top two will advance into a two-week runoff campaign that will be decided June 28.

Texas: Canvasses for Two Dem Runoffs Finally End — Though recounts are likely to be called, the canvassing process for the state’s two unresolved May 24 runoff elections has concluded. At the end of the counting, both leaders heading into the canvass gained strength.

In Rep. Henry Cuellar’s (D-Laredo) 28th CD, the Congressman increased his lead from a small spread of 177 votes in the unofficial count to 281 votes. In the open McAllen-anchored 15th CD, businesswoman Michelle Vallejo (D) increased her tiny lead from 23 votes to 30. In the latter race, attorney and Iraq War veteran Ruben Ramirez is indicating that he will ask for the ballots to be counted again citing the razor-thin difference between the two competitors. Contenders have until tomorrow to officially request recounts.

Assuming that Cuellar and Vallejo are both certified the winners of their runoffs, which is the likely outcome in both cases, they will face Republican former congressional aide Cassy Garcia (R) and insurance agent and 2020 nominee Monica de la Cruz (R), respectively.