Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Why the Panic?

By Jim Ellis

June 23, 2016 — It is clear that most Republican insiders, and many elected delegates preparing for the national convention in Cleveland, appear terror stricken over the Trump campaign’s current status. Now, a long-shot move is underway to attempt to change the GOP convention rules so all delegates would be free to vote as they choose, thus dissing state laws and binding planks in a last-ditch attempt to deny Donald Trump the nomination.

Trump, himself, is being portrayed as showing signs of panic with his abrupt firing of campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, but this act is likely a response to the poor fundraising operation that came directly under the departed top staff man’s purview. The Trump campaign reports an embarrassingly low $1,289,507 million cash on hand.

But is there reason for such panic? As often seems the case, the people directly involved in the political process appear to pay more attention to media stories than to numbers and maps because the empirical data is telling quite a different story.

Quinnipiac University just released polls in three key states, all taken between June 8-19. Their new Florida poll (975 registered Florida voters) finds Hillary Clinton leading Trump 47-39 percent, a significant gain in this most important of swing states, but the relatively modest eight point spread is her best showing, by far.

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How Rubio’s Decision Affects Others

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2016 — It appears that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio (R) will change course and run for re-election after repeatedly saying he would not. GOP leaders, fearing they would lose the seat without him, have apparently prevailed upon him to seek re-election after exerting intense pressure. We will know for sure very shortly, because the state’s candidate filing deadline closes Friday afternoon.

But, Rubio’s decision will not only affect the Senate race. Two House district campaigns could also drastically change if he launches a new campaign.

Already, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) has left the Senate race and returns to his Pinellas County congressional district to fight an uphill battle for re-election in an unfavorable post-redistricting seat. The state Supreme Court drew a new 13th CD that greatly favors the Democrats, and party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist will be Jolly’s general election opponent.

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Ins, Outs and Maybes

By Jim Ellis

June 21, 2016 — Florida Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) announced Friday that he would officially end his US Senate bid and return to protect his seat in the House of Representatives. The move had been predicted for the past week.

With the state Supreme Court re-drawing his 13th CD to the Democrats’ liking, Rep. Jolly’s re-election prospects appeared dim so the Senate race looked to be a viable possibility. When the congressman announced, however, that he would no longer personally raise funds for his statewide effort, leaving that task to “staff and Super PACs”, it became clear that his Senate campaign would go nowhere.

When the city of St. Petersburg was added to District 13 in the mid-decade redistricting plan, party switching former Gov. Charlie Crist decided to enter the open congressional race as a Democrat. In the new configuration, President Obama averaged 55 percent of the vote in his two elections, up from breaking even here when the previous 13th was a statewide vote microcosm.

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Florida Speculation Growing

By Jim Ellis

June 20, 2016 — The Florida Senate race could soon be changing in a major way. With the June 24 filing deadline closing in on all Florida politicos, Sen. Marco Rubio (R) is running out of time to decide whether he will reverse his previously stated position and seek re-election.

The stage is set for his return, but is re-entering the Senate race the right move for him? Certainly Republican leaders think Rubio running again would be best for the party. The Florida campaign is going to be one of the most important and talked about during the general election cycle and Senate Republican leaders such as Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have made no secret of their position that Rubio should run.

Now we see at least two active Senate participants saying they would end their campaigns if the senator were to declare. Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), who Rubio has repeatedly praised as being a worthy successor, made the public statement earlier this week that should the incumbent and former presidential candidate want back in, he will exit, stage right.

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Nevada’s Critical Role in November

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2016 — As we examine the 2016 political landscape, it appears that Nevada, the small four-congressional district western state of 2.8 million people, will play a defining role in electing a president, determining which party controls the United States Senate, and whether or half of its House seats swing.

The developing Senate contest between Rep. Joe Heck (R-Henderson) and former two-term Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) became official in Tuesday’s statewide primary. Masto and Heck each recorded landslide victories in their respective nomination contests and have now begun the arduous general election campaign. The state also hosts two nationally significant House races.

In the 3rd Congressional District, businessman and frequent candidate Danny Tarkanian upset state Senate Majority Leader Mike Roberson to win the Republican nomination from the politically marginal district that encompasses south Las Vegas and the succeeding territory all the way to the Arizona and California borders. Tarkanian will now face software developer Jacky Rosen (D) in the general election. Until Rep. Heck made his district politically secure, the 3rd delivered victory percentages of only 47.4, 48.1, and 50.4 from 2008 through 2012.

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Incumbent Loss; Favorites & Upsets

By Jim Ellis

June 16, 2016 — Digging a little deeper for a more detailed look at Tuesday’s primary results:

District of Columbia

In what proved to be a meaningless District of Columbia primary, presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton destroyed Sen. Bernie Sanders with a 79-21 percent win from almost 100,000 votes cast.

The contest concluded all primaries and caucuses and sends Clinton to the national convention in Philadelphia with more than enough pledged votes and Super Delegate support to claim an official first ballot victory in late July.

Virginia

The big news came from the Virginia Tidewater where eight-term veteran Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Chesapeake) suffered a crushing 53-41 percent defeat in his new Virginia Beach district, becoming the cycle’s second special redistricting casualty following Rep. Renee Ellmers’ (R-NC-2) loss last week.

The winner is Virginia Beach first-term state Delegate Scott Taylor (R) who spent less than 20 percent of incumbent Forbes’ $2 million total. The court-ordered mid-decade redistricting plan forced Forbes out of his 4th District. The new CD-4 includes the cities of Petersburg and part of Richmond, which virtually assures the Democrats of victory. Thus, Rep. Forbes decided to move into the open Virginia Beach anchored 2nd District an area that he had never represented in his 15-year congressional career, but which seemed to be his best available chance of prolonging his career.

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Another Day, Another Primary Slate

By Jim Ellis

June 15, 2016 — A review of yesterday’s slate of primaries:

District of Columbia

Yesterday marked the final presidential primary as Democrats trudge to the polls in the District of Columbia. Forty-six Democratic delegates are at stake, 26 of whom are Super Delegates.

But the DC count wouldn’t and didn’t change anything. If Sen. Bernie Sanders had captured the entire slate, it wouldn’t change the final result. That didn’t come close to happening, however, as presumptive Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton destroyed Sanders with a 79-21 percent win from almost 100,000 votes cast. Clinton won with the balance of Super Delegates providing her the margin to exceed the 2,383 votes required to secure the party nomination.

Virginia

The Old Dominion’s unusual nomination system where the party leadership in each district can decide to hold a primary or convention culminated with voting in three CDs yesterday.

The most interesting was in the open Virginia Beach 2nd District where Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA-4) attempted to win re-nomination from a new CD. The court-ordered mid-decade redistricting turned Rep. Forbes’ previous domain into what should now become a decidedly Democratic seat. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Virginia Beach) deciding to retire after three terms gave Forbes the opportunity to jump into an available political situation.

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