Author Archives: Jim Ellis

CA-34 Results

By Jim Ellis

April 5, 2017 — Los Angeles County voters in the first of the five national special congressional elections went to the polls yesterday, and two of the 23 candidates -– the pair who spent the most money –- advanced to a June 6 run-off. With turnout falling short of even 10 percent of the 305,641 registered voters, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D) and former Los Angeles Planning Commissioner Robert Lee Ahn (D) advanced to the secondary election. The candidates are vying to replace former Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) who is now California’s Attorney General.

With all 192 precincts reporting but provisional and late arriving ballots remaining to be counted, Gomez attracted 28 percent support and, as expected, clinched the first run-off position. Ahn, who spent more than $300,000 of his own money and raised an additional $330,000, captured 20 percent, more than doubling third place finisher Maria Cabildo’s (D) total.

Because California allows mail ballots to be postmarked on Election Day, county election officials will still tabulate any vote received in their office by April 7. Therefore, it is theoretically possible that the candidates’ positioning could still change, but highly unlikely considering the large margin between second and third place.

Former Los Angeles City Council aide Sara Hernandez (D), who was third in fundraising with over $425,000 raised, finished fourth but with just 1,525 votes, only five ballots ahead of Bernie Sanders campaign official Arturo Carmona. Ex-White House aide Alejandra Campoverdi (D), who spent more than $260,000, finished a disappointing tenth with just 679 votes. The lone Republican from the field of 23 candidates, William Morrison, who spent no money, placed eighth.

The 34th District, with 46 percent of its residents being foreign born, is 64 percent Hispanic and 20 percent Asian. More than 58 percent of the voters are registered Democrats and just 9 percent are Republican.

CA-34 Votes Today

By Jim Ellis

April 4, 2017
— The first of five federal special elections is underway today in Los Angeles, as voters in California’s 34th Congressional District begin the process of electing a replacement for ex-Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles), who is now the state Attorney General.

No less than 23 candidates are vying for the office, 19 of them Democrats. This is not particularly surprising considering the 34th gave only 11% of its votes to President Trump. A low turnout is expected, because this district historically has one of the smallest voter participation factors in the state.

A turnout well below 20 percent for today’s jungle primary is expected, meaning a likely total of approximately 60,000 voters, and probably considerably fewer. The state scheduled March 6 to begin the early voting period, and ballots, if they are postmarked no later than today, will be counted if received at the County Election Office on or before April 7. The primary election results must be certified on or before April 13.

Continue reading

Dems Majority Chances

By Jim Ellis

April 4, 2017 — With so much talk reverberating about the Democrats’ chances of converting the vacant GA-6 seat (former Rep. Tom Price-R) in the coming April/June special election, conjecture about the party’s 2018 majority chances will soon follow.

Through a strong political effort and robust national fundraising operation that has to date produced over $4 million, Democrat Jon Ossoff has made himself a factor in Georgia but whether he actually wins the Republican seat is still far from certain.

Even if Ossoff fails but comes close in the final result, we will begin to see commentators and writers put forth the notion that Democrats could have a legitimate chance of converting the House majority in the 2018 mid-term elections. They will point to modern electoral history, which reminds us that big gains for the out party in a new president’s first mid-term election often occur. They will cite what will undoubtedly be low job approval numbers for President Trump as further support for the Democratic majority hypothesis, explaining that all of the aforementioned creates a poor political climate for Republicans.

Continue reading

Not So Quiet Now

By Jim Ellis

April 3, 2017 –News coming from Montana last week has put this seemingly quiet special election congressional campaign squarely on the political map.

It has largely been believed that the Democrats are effectively conceding three of the four specials now occurring because President Trump chose the previous incumbents for cabinet positions. On the other hand, CA-34, which opened when Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles) became California attorney general, is a district where Republicans barely attract double-digit support. This special election campaign will likely feature two Democrats advancing to the run-off election, and is not in play for the GOP.

So far, the GA-6 race has received most of the early attention and appeared to be the only one where Democrats are going all out to win. Consensus Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff has already raised a whopping $4 million, and has a good chance of placing first in the jungle primary scheduled April 18. When Montana at-large candidate Rob Quist announced yesterday that he has already raised more than $754,000, the special election paradigm was altered.

The Democratic state convention chose Quist, a country rock performer and long-time local Montana folk singer, as their nominee at the beginning of the month, just after Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Kingfish) won confirmation as US Interior Secretary. Quist, though never before a candidate for political office, was viewed as someone fresh who could attract interest, which is proving to be the case. He upset 2014 US Senate nominee Amanda Curtis in the state nominating convention, and it now appears that the majority of delegates knew what they were doing.

To raise over $750,000 since March 5 with an average contribution of $40, means the Quist operation is already operating at a surprisingly high level. Though Montana has many media markets, none are particularly expensive. Therefore, Quist already has the resources to make known his message before the May 25 election even if he doesn’t raise much more.

Continue reading

O’Rourke to Run

By Jim Ellis

March 31, 2017 — Reports coming from Texas, as reported in the Houston Chronicle, indicate that three-term Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) will formally announce a challenge to Sen. Ted Cruz (R). Will O’Rourke be a viable challenger, or will his campaign be nothing more than a political suicide run?

It will be interesting to see what type of arguments the El Paso congressman and his Democratic allies use in attempting to convince the Texas electorate to choose a Senate Democratic contender for the first time since the late Lloyd Bentsen (D) was last re-elected in 1988. It has been 26 years since the Democrats won any major Texas statewide election, last occurring in 1990 when Ann Richards became governor. Other Democratic statewide candidates were also swept into constitutional office that year, as they had been for previous generations. George W. Bush unseated Gov. Richards in 1994, which actually began the period of Texas Republican dominance that continues to this day.

Beating Sen. Cruz may actually be more difficult than running against a typical Republican incumbent, meaning one who did not actively oppose President Trump. Democrats who hope to take advantage of what is typically a favorable wave for the out party in a president’s first mid-term election, may have a difficult time wrapping Cruz in such a surge, if it is to form, since he was the president’s chief electoral opponent for the GOP nomination.

Continue reading

Viginia Race Becoming More Interesting

By Jim Ellis

March 30, 2017 — A new poll continues to show that former Virginia US Rep. Tom Perriello (D-Charlottesville) is pulling even with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam in the Democratic gubernatorial primary scheduled for mid-June. Until Perriello became a late entry into the statewide campaign, Northam looked to have an easy ride to the party nomination.

Now, the latest Christopher Newport University survey (March 16-26; 831 registered Virginia voters) finds Northam and Perriello tied at 26 percent preference less than three months before the June 13th statewide primary election.

The March poll is the second that the university has commissioned. Their first, in mid to late January (Jan. 15-28; 1,002 registered Virginia voters; 464 self-identified Democrats and Independents who lean Democratic), found Northam holding an 11-point lead over the former congressman but with 59 percent of the primary electorate undecided.

Continue reading

House Opens – A Growing List

By Jim Ellis

March 29, 2017 — Coming to the end of just the first quarter of the off-election year, already 31 open US House seats could potentially be on the docket for the impending election cycle. Of those, 12 are either in special election or the incumbent has announced his or her intention not to seek another term.

Five of the 12 are currently vacant, and, as we know, special elections have already been scheduled to replace resigned House members who have either accepted cabinet positions from President Trump or a state position (Xavier Becerra becoming Attorney General of California).

The remaining seven, including Minnesota Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) who just announced that he will run for governor next year, have either declared candidacies for another office or will retire.

In addition to Walz, three other representatives have announced gubernatorial candidacies. Repesentatives Michelle Grisham Lujan (D-NM), Jim Renacci (R-OH), and Kristi Noem (R-SD) have all publicly declared their intention to run for their respective state’s top political position.

Continue reading