Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Lamborn Reinstated in Colorado;
Similar Problems Emerge in MI-1

By Jim Ellis

Six-term GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)

Six-term GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs)

May 4, 2018 — A Colorado federal court judge has reinstated Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) to the 5th Congressional District Republican primary ballot in a ruling that was issued late Monday night. The judge indicated that the state’s law requiring petition circulators to be Colorado residents is unconstitutional.

Earlier, the state court declared that some of Rep. Lamborn’s petition signatures were disqualified because certain paid petition circulators were not Colorado residents. Therefore, all signatures obtained by the non-qualified circulator(s) were declared ineligible even though the individual signers met the proper legal requirements. The rejected number took Lamborn below the minimum 1,000 valid petition signatures necessary for ballot placement; hence, his disqualification from the primary election.

The Lamborn Campaign responded with a federal lawsuit citing the First Amendment rights of both the signers and circulators to participate in the political process. The judge agreed with the plaintiff’s argument, which is consistent with several other similar past rulings from other states.

There is likely to be an appeal filed, but the situation must be finally resolved before May 12, the state’s deadline for printing the June 26 primary ballots.

The 5th District contains all of El Paso County and the city of Colorado Springs along with Chafee, Fremont, and Teller counties and a small portion of Park County. The seat is solidly Republican, meaning the GOP nomination process is the determining factor regarding who represents the district. State Sen. Owen Hill (R-Colorado Springs) and El Paso County Commissioner Darryl Glenn, who was the 2016 Republican US Senate nominee, are opposing the six-term congressman for the party nomination.

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Former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson Announces Comeback

By Jim Ellis

May 3, 2018 — Acerbic former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) officially announced his political comeback after creating subterfuge about which congressional contest he would actually enter.

Former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) | Facebook

Former Florida Congressman Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) | Facebook

Originally, Grayson stated he would run in CD-11 against Rep. Dan Webster (R-Clermont) in what must be regarded as a safe Republican seat. Even while saying he would file there, Grayson indicated that he was just using a potential campaign against Rep. Webster, the man who unseated him from his original 8th District seat in 2010, as a placeholder. Upon Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Lakeland) surprisingly announcing his retirement, Grayson then publicly toyed with the idea of running in what will be an open Republican 15th District, which borders his former 9th CD but then extends well westward almost to Tampa.

With time running out, the former representative and US Senate candidate has finally made his plans clear … unless, of course, he changes his mind again before Friday’s candidate filing deadline expires. As many people always believed would be the case, Grayson announced that he would challenge freshman Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee) for the 9th District seat that he previously represented for two terms.

The ex-congressman said he is not so much “taking on” Soto, but is “ … running for my old seat. That seat doesn’t belong to anybody in particular. It’s up to the voters,” Grayson said, in a local news interview about his latest candidacy.

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Handicapping the Governors’ Races

By Jim Ellis

May 2, 2018
— Now just a week away from the major primaries beginning, it’s a good time to set the stage for the important 36 gubernatorial campaigns that will be settled in November. Beginning May 8, voters in a total of 29 states will participate in primary elections to choose party nominees throughout May and June.

2018-GUBERNATORIAL-racesTerm limits are mostly responsible for creating open races in 16 states, or almost half of the places hosting gubernatorial elections this year. Four more feature incumbent governors running for the first time, each being lieutenant governors who ascended to the position when their predecessors left office before the current term expired.

Looking at the total picture, 15 Republicans and four Democrats look to be either safe or probable winners in November. Three appear to be pure toss-up contests. Below is a synopsis of the states yielding the most competitive races:

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The Coming New Specials

By Jim Ellis

May 1, 2018 — Just when we thought the number of special elections was lessening when Debbie Lesko won the AZ-8 election last week to replace resigned Arizona Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria), new vacancies are popping up.

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), abruptly resigned Friday.

Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), abruptly resigned Friday.

On Friday, Pennsylvania Rep. Pat Meehan (R-Chadds Ford), who had previously announced his retirement for term’s end, abruptly resigned when learning the House Ethics Committee was going to launch an investigation into the severance payment awarded to one of his staff employees. The source of this particular recompense was the special taxpayer funded congressional account found to cover members’ special staff settlements.

Meehan also pledged to repay the $39,000 payment that is the investigation’s basis within the next 30 days. Now that Meehan has exited the House, the Ethics Committee no longer has jurisdiction. He joins former Texas Congressman Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) who resigned in early April also to avoid a congressional investigation.

Oklahoma Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-Tulsa) resigned his seat in late April to accept his position in the Trump Administration as the new NASA Administrator. Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) says he will resign his seat at an unspecified date in early May, presumably because he will be accepting a position in the private sector. As we know, the late New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) passed away on March 16.

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The Coming Primaries

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185April 30, 2018 — Completing the Arizona special congressional election earlier this week is the precursor to the beginning of the primary season’s most prolific period: the nomination voting scheduled for May and June.

With two primary elections already in the books — the March nomination contests in Texas (March 6) and Illinois (March 20) — 11 additional states vote in May with 18 more coming in June. Once the final June primaries are completed on June 26, a total of 31 states will have nominees.

There are only run-offs scheduled in July before 14 more states vote in August. Massachusetts, Delaware, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island still hold September primaries, while the unique Louisiana election calendar continues to feature a jungle primary concurrent with the general election followed by a December run-off for those races where a candidate does not obtain a majority.

New York is the only state with two primaries. The federal primary for the Senate and House is scheduled for June 26. The statewide contests, including the governor’s race, will nominate in a separate vote on Sept. 13.

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Conflicting Polls in West Virginia

By Jim Ellis

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin (D)

April 27, 2018 — The nomination races in the May 8 primary states are heating up as Election Day draws near, and one of the more interesting campaigns is in West Virginia. There, three major Republican candidates are vying for the party nomination to earn the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in November.

Two polls were released earlier in the week, each projecting a different leader. The first came from National Research, Inc. for GOPAC, a long-established political organization that supports Republican candidates. The survey (April 17-19; 411 likely West Virginia GOP primary voters) gives Attorney General Patrick Morrisey a 24-20-16 percent lead over US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington) and former Massey Energy company CEO Don Blankenship who recently spent time in a Nevada prison for his role in a mine explosion that killed 29 of his company’s workers in 2010. Five years later, Blankenship was found guilty of conspiring to willfully violate government safety standards. He received the maximum sentence, which resulted in a one-year prison term and a $250,000 fine.

The second poll comes from Fox News, employing their normal research process. The media organization conducts its surveys in collaboration with two polling firms, one a Democratic research organization, Anderson Roberts Research, and the other Republican, Shaw & Company Research. In West Virginia, their poll was in the field over the April 18-22 period and interviewed a more robust 985 likely West Virginia Republican primary voters.

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AZ-8: Lesko Wins

By Jim Ellis

Arizona Republican candidate Debbie Lesko wins AZ-8

Arizona Republican candidate Debbie Lesko wins AZ-8

April 26, 2018 — Arizona Republican former state Senate President Debbie Lesko defeated physician Hiral Tipirneni (D) last night, 53-47 percent, to win the vacant 8th District seat that former Rep. Trent Franks (R-Peoria) resigned in January.

Lesko held the seat for Republicans with a high turnout of 173,708 voters, but her six-point win is being cast in the media as an under-performance. Dr. Tipirneni, however, ran a significant campaign and will spend a projected financial number in the $1 million range. Therefore, it’s not particularly surprising that a credible candidate spending significant resources would place in the mid-high 40s despite her opponent’s party being dominant in the region. Lesko will likely spend a bit less than Dr. Tipirneni but received stronger outside support, particularly from the national Republican Party apparatus.

Though Rep. Franks averaged 69.2 percent during his three terms with the district in its present configuration, he did so against candidates who spent virtually no money. In 2014, when he drew 75 percent of the vote, he didn’t have a Democratic opponent. When Franks first won in open configuration back in 2002, his initial win percentage was 59 percent against a candidate who spent only $40,000.

The most recent polls correctly forecast the outcome. Emerson College, the pollster conducting the only two publicly released polls during the period immediately preceding the election (April 19-23; 400 likely AZ-8 special election voters: Lesko 49 percent, Tipirneni 43 percent), correctly predicted a Lesko six-point victory. A week earlier the same pollster (Emerson College; April 12-15; 400 likely special election voters) actually found Dr. Tipirneni forging a small one-point lead.

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