Author Archives: Jim Ellis

The Races

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2016 — In addition to being the final major presidential primary yesterday, five states were deciding congressional primaries. The North Carolina campaigns were covered in our report yesterday.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton both clinched their respective political party nominations as expected last night through major primaries in California, Montana, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota (Democratic Caucus only), and South Dakota.

California

The state’s jungle primary format qualified the top two finishers in every race for the November general election, irrespective of political party preference. The most competitive situations follow:

The open Senate race (Sen. Barbara Boxer-D retiring) will likely advance a pair of Democrats to the general election for the first time in state history. Both Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46) are expected to respectively place first and second. The fact that California allows voters to postmark their mail ballots on Election Day means a count that will take days to finalize. Ms. Harris would be favored in such a general election contest.

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Hillary Takes Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands; A North Carolina Preview

By Jim Ellis

June 7, 2016 — Hillary Clinton won the Puerto Rico primary Sunday, capturing just under 60 percent of the vote. She unofficially defeated Sen. Bernie Sanders in pledged delegates, 36-24, and captured an additional five Super Delegates. Two Puerto Rico convention voters remain uncommitted.

The former secretary of state also won the US Virgin Island caucus on Saturday, and comes away with at least six of the seven pledged delegates who were at stake. Sen. Sanders scored one convention vote. Two Super Delegates indicated support for Clinton, with the remaining three classified as uncommitted.

Combined, she gained 42 pledged delegates and likely another seven Super Delegates for an aggregate weekend total of 49 votes. She is now and additional 49 delegate votes away from clinching the nomination, which she will do early tonight.

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Murkowski’s Surprise Challenge; North Carolina Ruling

By Jim Ellis

June 6, 2016 — As the June 1 filing deadline was just minutes from closing, an unexpected individual came forward to declare a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (R), the 2014 Republican lieutenant governor nominee (he and Gov. Sean Parnell lost to Democrat Byron Mallot and Independent Bill Walker, respectively), announced opposite incumbent Murkowski for the Aug. 16 Republican nominating election.

This challenge is significant for several reasons. First, Sullivan is an accomplished Alaska politician, serving as mayor of the state’s lone major city for six years after spending almost a decade as a member of the Anchorage city assembly.

Second, during her last nomination campaign, Sen. Murkowski fell to a little known former local judge, Joe Miller, in the 2010 Republican primary. Miller scored a shocking 51-49 percent win with just under 110,000 voters participating, after taking clear advantage of the building Tea Party wave. But, Murkowski refused to give up. Armed with millions of dollars, strong support at home and from Washington, the senator embarked upon an Independent write-in effort that proved highly successful. Just 10 weeks after her stunning defeat, Murkowski rebounded to score a 39-35-23 percent general election victory over Miller and Democratic nominee Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka.

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Sanders’ Final Strategy

By Jim Ellis

June 3, 2016 — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) has repeatedly said he plans to take his campaign to the Democratic National Convention, but what he really expects to attain from doing so has been a relative mystery. Now, however, according to the Wall Street Journal and other sources, his plan is beginning to come into focus.

As we head into the final major primary day on next Tuesday, Hillary Clinton stands with 2,291 to 2,312 pledged and Super Delegate votes to Sanders’ 1,544 or 1,545 total, depending upon what count you view. Many media outlets have differing delegate tabulations because their Super Delegate information is inconsistent. Most of the Super Delegates can change their votes, so there is an inherent variance in the true vote count.

On Tuesday, Democratic voters in Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, New Jersey, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, New Mexico and California will vote. It is likely that Clinton will score enough delegates from the first three voting entities of that day, the USVI, Puerto Rico, and New Jersey in the Atlantic and Eastern time zones, respectively, to officially claim the nomination.

But, Sanders won’t necessarily be through, if his convention plan gains legs. His strategy is to force a rules fight and move to bind the Super Delegates to their respective statewide vote totals instead of allowing the vast majority of them to remain as free agents.

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Recruiting Rubio

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2016 — As usual, a new Florida political campaign projects as a razor-thin general election contest. The Sunshine State electorate may well again determine the nation’s political fate but this time not only for a presidential campaign. Their open US Senate race could decide which party controls the majority for the upcoming 115th Congress.

Republican leaders, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), are reportedly putting the full court press on incumbent ssfenator and defeated presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) to change his mind about not seeking re-election.

Apparently the leaders are less than pleased with the open race’s development, seeing little from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), and finding Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) making public pronouncements that he will no longer personally raise money for the campaign. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6) had raised over $4 million before the end of March, has the support of important conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth, along with Tea Party grassroots support. But, the leadership feels it may be too easy for the Democrats to paint him as an extremist, thereby lessening his victory chances in the general election.

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Kristol’s Candidate

By Jim Ellis

June 1, 2016 — Weekly Standard magazine founder and editor Bill Kristol has been banging the proverbial drum for an Independent candidate to challenge Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, thus leading to a Memorial Day weekend Twitter war of words. Kristol tweeted that a new “independent candidate – an impressive one with a strong team … ” is emerging, with Trump responding that “dummy Bill Kristol’s” effort will cost the Republicans the presidency and the Supreme Court.

Kristol maintains an independent candidate could still start from scratch at the beginning of June and actually win the race despite the logistics inferring otherwise.

Considering the independent ballot qualification deadlines have passed in many states, acquiring 50-state ballot access at this late date would be nearly impossible. In states where one can no longer qualify, an aspiring candidate would need court intervention to supersede state law, and under what grounds?

When former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was considering an Independent run, for example, his political professional team told him to decide before April 1 if he were to have any chance of gaining national ballot placement. He did. In the last week of March, Bloomberg announced that he would not run.

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Debbie’s Downfall?

By Jim Ellis

May 31, 2016
— Is Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL-23) headed for defeat in this year’s Democratic primary? Even though there has been a great deal of recent controversy swirling around the South Florida congresswoman, who is also the Democratic National Committee chair, the answer is no.

Among other issues breaking against her, the congresswoman is coming under major attack for, in Sen. Bernie Sanders’ words, “rigging” the election for Hillary Clinton. This charge relates to the presidential campaign rules vis-à-vis delegate apportionment and Super Delegates. Sanders supports his bias charge by reminding anyone who’ll listen that Wasserman Shultz was one of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign co-chairs back in 2008, thus highlighting the strong personal relationship between the two.

Wasserman Schultz is also facing resignation calls from her position as national party chair. Though no major Democratic leader has called for her resignation, virtually none have rallied to her defense, either. Instead, people like Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Leader-in-Waiting Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and to a large extent President Obama, simply refuse to make any comment about the situation.

Now, the national barbs are spilling over into her own US House re-nomination primary. Her major Democratic opponent, law professor Tim Canova, had already raised more than $1 million even before Sen. Sanders publicly endorsed him last week. Canova claims to have obtained an additional $250,000, mostly through Internet contributions, since receiving Sanders’ open support.

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