Author Archives: Jim Ellis

LaHood Scores in Illinois;
The Fox News Dubious Debate Plan

July 9, 2015 — As expected, Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood (R) cruised to an easy special election primary victory Tuesday in the vacant Peoria-anchored congressional district. Rep. Aaron Schock’s (R) March resignation created the vacancy, which is the only unrepresented seat in the entire US House.

LaHood, whose father, Ray LaHood, represented the seat for 14 years before becoming President Obama’s Transportation Secretary, topped 69 percent of the vote against two weak GOP opponents who spent less than $50,000 combined on their campaigns. Democrats officially nominated educator Rob Mellon, an Army Reserve officer who lost his party’s congressional primary in 2014.

LaHood will easily defeat Mellon, but must wait until Sept. 10 for the next vote in what is an unusually long special election cycle. His eventual victory will bring the House party division back to 247R-188D, the spread generated on Election Night 2014.
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Heck Joins Nevada Senate Race;
Stunning New Florida Poll

July 8, 2015 — Nevada Rep. Joe Heck (R-NV-3), after a long consideration period, announced his intention this week to seek the Republican nomination for U. S. Senate. Heck will run for the seat being vacated by retiring Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid who, of course, served prominently as Majority Leader during the 2007-2015 period.

Rep. Heck had always been high on the National Republican Senatorial Committee’s candidate recruitment list, right after Gov. Brian Sandoval (R). After long denying he had an interest in running for the federal post, Gov. Sandoval last month publicly removed himself from consideration, thus opening the way for Heck.

It further appears that the Nevada general election is now set. Both Heck and former Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto (D) appear to be consensus candidates for their respective parties and both potential Democratic and Republican politicians are now looking more intently at Heck’s open congressional seat rather than the statewide campaign.
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The American Political State

July 7, 2015 — As we pass the 4th of July break and the celebration period of our country’s history, it’s always an appropriate time to review the current status of American politics. As we look forward to another important election in 2016, including the voters selecting a new president, we find both uncertainty and definition.

It’s anyone’s guess right now as to who wins the presidency. Additionally, US Senate control is up for grabs with majority Republicans defending 24 of the 34 in-cycle states.

Conversely, the House Republican majority is stable, particularly with the recent US Supreme Court decision approving congressional redistricting commissions. The rejection of the Arizona Republicans’ legal argument means that congressional boundaries in the Grand Canyon State, California, New Jersey and Washington – all multi-congressional district states that employ redistricting commissions – will remain intact throughout the remainder of the decade. Lines could change because of court decisions in Virginia, and other southern states could conceivably follow suit, but majority status is unlikely to be affected in the short-term.
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Hillary: Not So Fast

July 6, 2015 — All of a sudden at the 4th of July holiday break, we’re seeing some major action on the Democratic presidential front. One candidate is filling arenas and making gains in the polls, a new contender made official his campaign and a major luminary is now sending signals that he will enter the presidential fracas at the end of the month.

The activity may be a signal that Democratic insiders and polling respondents are becoming less confident that Hillary Clinton can win the 2016 general election, more than witnessing any one opponent with a chance of becoming strong enough to make the nomination race a true contest.

First, in Iowa, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is drawing crowds in the thousands as he rails in speeches against Wall Street and stakes out the far left’s faction within the Democratic base. The response to his personal appearances is reflected in polls, but the Sanders’ message may not be the main underlying reason for his commensurate support level increase.
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CNN Poll: Hillary Cruising
… Well, Not Really

July 6, 2015 — CNN/Opinion Research Corporation (ORC International) released their new monthly poll just before the Independence Day break, and the data detects major improvements for Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but the polling methodology is largely the reason for the gains.

The CNN/ORC polls traditionally begin with surveying all adults, and then drill down to isolate registered voters. This has the effect of reducing the sampling pool well below 1,000 national respondents. They again do so in this poll.

During the period of June 26-28, a group of 1,017 adults from across the US was randomly selected. Of those, 890 were registered voters.
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Christie In; Trump Ties for Second in Michigan

July 2, 2015 — Returning to his high school roots in Livingston, NJ Tuesday, Gov. Chris Christie officially became the 16th Republican presidential candidate when he declared his political intention at a rally-style announcement event. It is apparent that three more current or former governors will soon follow suit, bringing the record-size field of candidates to 19. Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, John Kasich of Ohio, and former Virginia chief executive Jim Gilmore will each enter the race in July.

Saying that he’s “ … not looking to be prom king of America,” Gov. Christie elaborated, telling the assembled group and media that, “I mean what I say and I say what I mean and that’s what America needs right now.”

Christie has a long way to go in order to propel himself into the top tier of Republican candidates. Languishing in mid-single digits in most polls, usually with an upside-down personal favorability ratio, Christie will have a difficult time developing a path to the GOP nomination. Positioning himself to the left of the typical Republican primary voter with a brash personal style that many people find offensive, the Jersey governor will have to rebuild his personal image before he can hope to effectively compete for the nomination.
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SCOTUS: Arizona Ruling Upholds Initiative

July 1, 2015 — The US Supreme Court released their long-awaited ruling on the Arizona redistricting case on Tuesday. In a common 5-4 decision, the high court allowed the Arizona Independent Redistricting Commission (AIRC) to stand and, as a result, similar commissions in other multi-district states (California, New Jersey, Washington) have affirmed legitimacy. The practical result is that congressional districts in these aforementioned places will stay intact for the remainder of the decade.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the majority. Her final two sections illuminate the crux of the ruling (see below), that the initiative process allowing the voters to decide legislative issues is the major tenet of this case and not just the Arizona redistricting circumstance.

The Arizona Legislature brought the suit, and the SCOTUS decision affirmed that the body had legal standing to bring such action. Their argument was that the US Constitution gave exclusive power to the state legislature to redistrict post reapportionment.
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