Author Archives: Jim Ellis

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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Rep. Lamborn Disqualified in CO-5

By Jim Ellis

Six-term GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) looks to be in a serious primary challenge.

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

April 25, 2018 — The Colorado state Supreme Court, reversing a lower court opinion, disqualified Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs) Monday from the June 26 primary ballot.

While Lamborn submitted more than enough legal names to meet the state’s petition requirement of 1,000 nomination signatures from 5th District registered Republicans, apparently the consulting firm Lamborn hired to collect the names, Kennedy Enterprises, employed some circulators who are not Colorado residents. According to state election law, such circulators must live in the state. Therefore, the high court invalidated all petitions that the non-residents circulated, enough to drop Lamborn’s valid signature total below the minimum prerequisite.

The congressman indicated that he will file a lawsuit in federal court to overturn the ruling. In the past, federal courts have upheld petitions under similar circumstances citing the circulators and petition signers’ 1st Amendment right of free speech to support political candidates of their choice.

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Romney Forced to Utah Primary;
Curtis, Too, in the US House

By Jim Ellis

Former presidential nominee and governor, Mitt Romney

Former presidential nominee and governor, Mitt Romney

April 24, 2018 — Over the weekend, delegates to the Utah state Republican Party nominating convention gathered in the Maverik Center, an arena that is home to the minor league Utah Grizzlies hockey club in West Valley City, a Salt Lake City suburb, to potentially choose general election candidates in contests from US Senate to the state legislature.

In the biggest of the races, former presidential nominee Mitt Romney was forced into a June 26 primary and will face state Rep. Mike Kennedy (R-Lindon), a physician, who actually was the delegates’ first choice.

After multiple rounds of voting that eliminated 10 other senatorial candidates, Kennedy placed first with 51 percent delegate support as opposed to Romney’s 49 percent. To win the nomination in convention without going to a primary election, a candidate needs 60 percent of the delegate vote, a number that neither Kennedy nor Romney came close to attaining.

Romney, knowing that he would have trouble at the convention because the average convention delegate is more conservative than he, a former Massachusetts governor and two-time presidential candidate, also opted to qualify for the ballot via petition. His operation easily gathered the necessary number of signatures to gain ballot access, and exceeded it to the point of collecting over 28,000 verified names.

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Show Me the Money!!

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) -- money in the bank

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) — money in the bank

By Jim Ellis

April 23, 2018 — The new first quarter Federal Election Commission campaign disclosure reports are now in the public domain, and the Daily Kos Elections website has compiled the financial statistics for all the competitive races as is their usual practice.

Taking their work a bit further, we have categorized various groups of House members and candidates in terms of their cash-on-hand figures. At first analysis, it appears Republican incumbents across the board are taking the Democrats’ threats seriously, as overall fundraising for both parties is extremely high at this point in the election cycle. No fewer than 35 incumbents and candidates have more than $1.5 million in the bank as we just now enter the second quarter of the campaign year.

More than $4 Million Cash-on-Hand (CoH)

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) – $4.5 million


More than $3 Million CoH

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO) – $3.39 million
Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) – $3.26 million
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY) – $3.15 million


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Indiana: Wild and Entertaining

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2018 — A new Gravis Marketing survey (April 6-11; 411 likely Indiana voters) produced a result in the Senate Republican primary ballot test that appears to have even surprised the pollsters.

The sample size of 411 likely voters includes all parties, so looking only at the GOP primary means the respondent cell size could number less than 200. This would make the results largely meaningless because the sampling universe would be too small to draw reasonably accurate conclusions. Gravis did not release the sampling numbers associated with the Republican primary questions, likely for obvious reasons.

But the results are interesting, nonetheless, and could give us a clue that former state Rep. Mike Braun, whose creative advertising has not only attracted attention but is strategically brilliant (see below), has a real chance to upset Republican congressmen Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/ Muncie). According to the Gravis results, Braun leads Reps. Rokita and Messer 26-16-13 percent in anticipation of the May 8 Indiana state primary.

https://youtu.be/jvKHqChRrYg

The Senate GOP primary turned into a three-way race almost from day one. Braun, then a state representative who would resign his seat to concentrate on the Senate campaign, owns a successful manufacturing business and spent heavily early to become known statewide.

As the campaign began, the thinking was that Rokita and Messer would target one another, assuming that both would view the other as his chief competitor. For Braun, it was believed that he would adopt the approach of staying above the negative fray and giving Republican voters an alternative from two individuals who would engage in what would likely become a bitter campaign.

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