Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Scorecard – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is the Democratic front-runner in the 2020 presidential campaign.

May 20, 2019 — It is often said, “you can’t tell the players without a scorecard,” and that is certainly becoming the case with the presidential campaign. A 24th candidate entered the national political fray just late last week — New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Greeted with the reminder that the last Quinnipiac University poll of New York City residents found that 76 percent of those polled didn’t want the mayor to run for president, de Blasio launched his late-starting campaign with a video of him talking about “putting working people first,” interspersed with video footage of being chauffeured around the city in a limousine. Saddled with poor approval ratings within his home base and a late start, de Blasio is the longest of shots to become a viable candidate.

It is likely that the de Blasio declaration is the last significant announcement, meaning all of the major players are finally in the race. Seeing two dozen candidates – and while many media networks report different numbers, the total clearly exceeds 20 – it is a good time to review the field (alphabetically) and summarize how the plethora of candidates is doing. We’ll go through the first 12, and tomorrow finish up the field:

• Former Vice President Joe Biden: The clear early race leader. Biden received the announcement bump that he desired and is proving to be the man to beat. Still, much will happen before he can legitimately clinch the party nomination. In the first 24 hours after his announcement, the former VP raised $6.3 million.

• Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO): A prostate cancer diagnosis and surgery delayed Sen. Bennet’s entry into the race, so his campaign is just getting underway. He is a second-tier candidate who is unlikely to seriously challenge for the nomination.

• Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ): Has not gotten much early attention, but reports suggest his campaign is among the best organized in terms of ground operation. Sen. Booker could surprise in the national candidate forums and, despite current low polling performance, might become a factor as the campaign develops.

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Weekly Political Synopsis,
Period Ending May 17, 2019

By Jim Ellis

PRESIDENT
• Gov. Steve Bullock: As has been expected for some time, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock (D) officially announced his presidential effort this week, becoming the 23rd Democratic candidate. Bullock made the argument that he will be an effective national candidate because he’s won two elections in a conservative state and has been able to earn legislative achievements, like Medicaid expansion, in negotiating with Republican leaders.

• Mayor Bill de Blasio: Following Gov. Bullock, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio released an announcement video at the end of the week making him the 24th Democratic presidential candidate for the 2020 election cycle. His declaration centered around being the candidate for “working families,” and cited the $15 minimum wage, a free pre-K school program, a comprehensive healthcare program that especially covers mental health, and paid sick leave.

• Florida: Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to see strong polling numbers, with the latest data coming from Florida. The Tel Opinion Research organization is reporting its latest results (released May 8; 800 likely Florida Democratic primary voters) that show Biden pulling away from his Democratic opponents on an open-ended ballot test poll. An open-ended ballot test is one where the respondent is not given the candidates’ names. That approach tests for committed strength.
According to Tel Opinion, Biden leads Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), 39-16 percent, with Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) each pulling only five percent support. South Bend (IN) Mayor Pete Buttigieg follows at three percent preference. All of the candidates scored well on the favorability index scale. Biden is viewed positively with an 81:13 percent ratio, where Sen. Sanders’ score is 68:23 percent.

SENATE
• Arizona: Phoenix-based pollster OH Predictive Insights released their latest data from their May 1-2 poll (600 likely Arizona voters) where they queried the respondent universe about the impending Senate race between appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) and retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D). Though we are more than a year before Arizona’s 2020 late August primary, the chances are strong that the aforementioned will be their respective party standard bearers.
According to the OH poll results, the early race again earns toss-up status. The sample breaks 45-44 percent in Sen. McSally’s favor, which is virtually identical with the firm’s late February poll giving the incumbent a 46-44 percent edge.

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Will Schilling Become a 2-State Rep?

By Jim Ellis

Republican Bobby Schilling

May 14, 2019 — In a dozen instances throughout American history a person has been elected to the House of Representatives from one state, departed Congress for whatever reason, moved to another domain, and then won an additional congressional election, or elections, from the adopted place.

Republican Bobby Schilling served one term in the House from western Illinois’ 17th District, losing his re-election bid in 2012. Relocating across the Mississippi River to Iowa in 2017, former Representative Schilling is reportedly looking to make a political comeback. It is expected that he will soon announce his candidacy for the Hawkeye State’s open 2nd Congressional District.

If the ex-Illinois representative were to win the Iowa seat, he would become the 13th person in American history to represent two different states in the House of Representatives. It last occurred when former Texas congressman, Ed Foreman (R), won a New Mexico US House seat in the 1968 election. Prior to that, the two-state switch had only happened one other time since the turn of the 20th Century.

Interestingly, the same number of individuals, 12, have represented two states by serving first in the House, moving, and then winning a Senate seat from the secondary place. The most famous of these is Sam Houston, who served in the House from Tennessee and as governor before helping found Texas as a country and state, and then subsequently serving as its president and US senator, respectively.

Schilling, a local restaurant owner, first won his Quad Cities anchored seat in the Republican landslide year of 2010, defeating then-two-term Rep. Phil Hare (D-Rock Island). But, in a redistricting year from a process the Democrats controlled, and with President Obama running for re-election at the top of his home state ballot in 2012, Schilling was unable to politically survive in the more Democratic district.

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McCready, Bishop Advance in NC

By Jim Ellis

Charlotte, NC, state Sen. Dan Bishop

May 15, 2019 — Voters from Charlotte to Fayetteville went to the polls yesterday to choose nominees for North Carolina’s vacant 9th Congressional District. The seat has been unoccupied all year since the state Board of Elections refused to certify the November 2018 results due to voter fraud allegations in one county.

The Democratic side provided no drama because 2018 nominee Dan McCready was unopposed in last night’s special primary. Therefore, he automatically advances into the Sept. 10 special general election.

The 2018 Republican nominee, former pastor Mark Harris who denied Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) re-nomination in the May Republican primary, placed first in November’s final count, but the Bladen County voter fraud allegation claims were serious enough to deny him being officially declared the winner. With such negative publicity generated toward Harris during the post-election counting phase, in addition to some health concerns that recently surfaced, he decided not to run in the special election.

This opened the door for a new face, and Charlotte state Sen. Dan Bishop clinched the party nomination last night with 48 percent of the vote from a Republican field of 10 candidates, four of whom were competitive. Turnout was a low 31,103 Republican voters, 27.5 percent of whom voted before Election Day. Because he exceeded the minimum 30 percent threshold, Bishop now advances into the special general as the Republican nominee and will face McCready on Sept. 10.

In second place, with 20 percent, was Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing, followed by former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour (17 percent), and realtor Leigh Brown (nine percent) who the national Realtors PAC supported with an independent expenditure of more than $1 million.

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Today’s Special Election is Step 1
In Filling Vacant NC-9 Seat

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

May 14, 2019 — Voters go to the polls today in North Carolina’s second 2019 special congressional election primary, this time in the Charlotte-anchored 9th District.

The seat, which begins in southeastern Charlotte and then travels along the South Carolina border to encompass the counties of Union, Anson, Richmond, Scotland, and Robeson, before turning northward to annex parts of Bladen, and Cumberland Counties – the latter entity includes the south Fayetteville suburban population center – has been vacant since the beginning of the year.

Originally, it appeared that Republican Mark Harris, who had denied Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) re-nomination in the 2018 Republican primary, had defeated businessman Dan McCready (D) to keep the seat in the GOP column. But, voter fraud allegations in Bladen County, which have led to criminal charges being filed, caused the state Board of Elections to deny Harris a certificate of election. After a prolonged period, made even longer when the board members were terminated and new appointments made, the panel members ordered a new election.

Today marks the first in what could be a series of three elections to determine who will succeed the defeated Rep. Pittenger. McCready returns for the special election and is unopposed in today’s Democratic primary. Therefore, he will automatically advance to the general election. The Republicans feature a field of 10 candidates, but only three, and possibly four, are in serious contention.

If no Republican receives at least 30 percent of the vote tonight, a run-off between the top two finishers will be held on Sept. 10. If the first-place finisher exceeds 30 percent, the general election, between the Republican winner and McCready, will then move to the aforementioned September date. If no one reaches 30 percent, thus requiring the run-off, the special general will occur on Nov. 5.

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