Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Still Counting . . .

By Jim Ellis

i-vote-i-countJune 21, 2018 — Even in the age of advanced technology, vote counting can be a surprisingly long process. Despite political primaries being conducted weeks ago in California (June 5) and Maine (June 12), as of this writing, election officials still have not determined a winner, or second general election qualifier, in at least three campaigns.

In California, the 48th Congressional District’s second general election qualifier remains undeclared. There, Democratic businessmen Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead are fighting to determine which of the two will advance from a pool of 15 candidates challenging veteran Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

On election night, Rohrabacher clinched first place with 30.3 percent of the vote over the field of 15, while Rouda placed second. With the California process being notoriously slow because of the large number of mail ballots that must be counted and are allowed to be postmarked the day of the election and received through that following Friday, it appeared evident that the substantial number of outstanding votes could well change the outcome for the second place qualifier. Hence, the abnormally long post-election process began.

Today, the official count, though still not complete, now finds Rouda re-capturing second place, this time by a scant 69 votes of the more than 173,000 votes cast, counted, and recorded district-wide, and the 57,285 ballots divided only between Rouda and Keirstead.

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Wisconsin Gerrymandering Ruling;
Greitens Still Lingering

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Congressional Districts

Wisconsin Congressional Districts

June 20, 2018 — The United States Supreme Court issued their long-awaited ruling on the Wisconsin political gerrymandering case on Monday, and it basically sends the parties back to the drawing board. At one time it was thought that Wisconsin was the vehicle for the high court to issue a definitive ruling regarding political gerrymandering, which continues to be the subject of many live redistricting lawsuits. Instead, on a rare 9-0 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that the plaintiffs did not have the necessary standing to bring the action.

The plaintiffs came from four Wisconsin Assembly districts who claimed they were personally harmed by the state legislative boundaries the legislature and governor adopted back in 2011. The court ruled that such plaintiffs did not have adequate standing to bring a statewide lawsuit.

The court did issue some orders, however, that will make later political gerrymandering suits more difficult to bring because certain technical standards must now be met in future action. As part of the plaintiffs’ standing ruling, the justices vacated the lower court ruling that ordered the state assembly districts re-drawn. It is now likely that political boundaries around the country are finally set for the 2018 election.

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US Senate Candidate Ratings

By Jim Ellis

daily-kos-fox-news-pollingJune 19, 2018 — Two organizations just released 2018 US Senate race ratings, and though the differences are few it is worth analyzing the aggregate comparison.

Fox News and the Daily Kos Elections site published their updated ratings at the end of last week. Fox is a bit different in that they do not distinguish a “safe” race from one where the current favorite is a “likely” winner. Therefore, they have only five categories instead of the traditional seven.

While both organizations place eight Senate races in their Toss-up category, there are differences. The most glaring variance appears to be the Nevada race featuring Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Jacky Rosen (D-Henderson). The other is the Tennessee open campaign that finds Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Brentwood) and former governor, Phil Bredesen (D), vying to replace retiring Sen. Bob Corker (R). The Tennessee primary is not scheduled until Aug. 2, but there is no doubt that both will advance into the general election.

Daily Kos rates the Nevada race a toss-up, but Fox favors Rep. Rosen as it puts the campaign into the Lean Democratic column. The Fox rating is curious in that current polling is tight, Sen. Heller is the incumbent, winning in 2012 even though President Obama scored a 52-46 percent victory in the state over Mitt Romney, and he also has three other statewide conquests to his credit, as secretary of state, dating back as far as 1994.

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Do Democrats Have a Chance in SC-1?

By Jim Ellis

South Carolina 1st District Republican nominee, state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville)

South Carolina 1st District Republican nominee, state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville)

June 18, 2018 — A day after US representative and former governor Mark Sanford (R-Charleston) was denied re-nomination, becoming the second incumbent in this election cycle to fall before the national vote even begins (in May, North Carolina Rep. Bob Pittenger, R-Charlotte, was the first to lose) the chairman of the South Carolina Democratic Party was claiming that his political organization is now staring at a conversion opportunity.

“It is a perfect storm and an opportunity for us to pick that seat up,” said Trav Robertson, the SC Democratic chairman in an interview last week with the Huffington Post.

Robertson and the local Democrats are claiming that the 1st District is now competitive because Rep. Sanford is out. The 1st stretches from Daufuskie and Hilton Head Islands along the Atlantic coast in the state’s southeastern corner and moves up State Route 17 to the Santee Coastal Reserve while taking in the southern tip of Charleston before jutting up Interstate 26 and State Highway 52 to capture the Goose Creek, Summerville, Moncks Corner, and Bonneau communities.

But it seems the chairman may have it backwards. His “perfect storm” might actually have formed if his candidate, attorney Joe Cunningham, were now facing a weakened Rep. Sanford, who might have won re-nomination with a 50.5 – 46.5 percent spread, instead of losing to state Rep. Katie Arrington (R-Summerville) by such a margin.

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Maine’s Instant Run-Off Examined

By Jim Ellis

MAINEJune 15, 2018 — An interesting situation is developing from the still-in-progress Maine primary that could become a test case for either changing or instituting state run-off electoral systems.

As you know, run-offs ensure that a party nominee obtains a majority or, in the case of North Carolina and South Dakota, a substantial share of the vote. The run-off’s purpose is to prevent a party from nominating a winner in a multi-candidate election who garners only a small plurality.

The South Carolina 4th Congressional District race is a good example of why some states choose a run-off format. On Tuesday, both parties advanced a pair of candidates into respective run-off elections because no one came close to receiving majority support.

For the Republicans, with 13 candidates running to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-Spartanburg), former state Sen. Lee Bright finished first, but with only 25 percent of the vote. In most other states, he would have been nominated. Since, 75 percent of the Republican voters chose another candidate, the run-off ensues. On June 26, Bright and state Sen. William Timmons (R-Greenville), who finished second with 19.2 percent, will decide the party nomination in one-on-one electoral competition. On the Democratic side, candidates Doris Lee Turner (29.4 percent) and Brandon Brown (28.5 percent) advance, while Eric Graben (25.7 percent), Will Morin (9.1 percent), and J.T. Davis (7.2 percent) are eliminated.

Maine is testing a unique new system that prevents situations such as their own that occurred in the past two gubernatorial elections, but avoids the cost of holding another separate election. Political observers will now see if their new idea will work and potentially withstand a legal challenge.

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California Still Counting;
CD-48 Still Undecided

By Jim Ellis

The California state flag

The California state flag

June 13, 2018 — The notoriously long California vote counting system continues to grind along, and a week later a major election is still in doubt — the 48th Congressional District, a seat fully contained within Orange County. Among the 16 jungle primary candidates, incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) has secured the first run-off position and advances into the general election. The ongoing battle is for second place between biomedical company CEO Hans Keirstead and businessman Harley Rouda, both Democrats.

This is an interesting election since the national and state Democratic Parties are split. The California State Democratic Party convention gave its official endorsement to Keirstead, while the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and many Democratic leaders officially backed Rouda.

On election night, Rouda had taken the lead, but the laborious post-election count has now put Keirstead in second place with a growing lead. His previous edge over Rouda was 87 votes. The latest count, released Monday night, increases Keirstead’s edge over Rouda to 372 votes, continuing the pattern of Keirstead moving up in the post-election count.

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Today’s Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 12, 2018 — Today brings another set of primaries, this time from five states: Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia.

MAINE

the-primariesSen. Angus King (I) stands for a second term, and today’s primary will be a non-event. Both the Republicans and Democrats have only one candidate on the ballot. State Sen. Eric Brakey (R-Kennebec County), who was the Maine State Director for the 2012 Ron Paul for President campaign, will be the GOP nominee, while teacher Zak Ringelstein is the Democratic candidate. Sen. King is a prohibitive favorite for re-election.

The open governor’s race is a wild affair for both parties. Gov. Paul LePage (R) is ineligible to seek a third term. The Democrats are fielding seven candidates and the Repblicans, four. Expect the general election to be competitive.

The 2nd District Democratic congressional primary is of keen interest, as a three-way contest culminates among state Rep. Jared Golden (D-Lewiston), wealthy conservationist Lucas St. Clair, and former Islesboro Selectman Craig Olson. The resource battle is between Golden and St. Clair, and both figure to spend more than $800,000 in attempting to secure the party nomination. The winner will challenge two-term Rep. Bruce Poliquin (R-Oakland/Bangor) in the general election.


NEVADA

The Silver State political card is full with contested races for Senate, governor, and three House races.

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