Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Minnesota Already in High Gear

By Jim Ellis

April 10, 2017 — We’re 19 months from the next election, yet already major Minnesota political moves are being made. Though state law does not limit its governors to eight years in office, incumbent Mark Dayton (D) has already announced he will not seek a third term next year. His retirement decision is setting political musical chairs in motion.

Additionally, the Democratic Farm Labor Party, the state’s dominant political apparatus, was shaken in November as President Trump came within just 45,000 votes of winning the state and, in fact, carried five of Minnesota’s eight congressional districts. Together, these events have put much of the state’s liberal political establishment on edge.

Last week we reported that six-term Rep. Tim Walz (D-Mankato) formally announced his gubernatorial campaign and immediately took positive steps toward becoming a major contender. Walz arranged for fellow Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Detroit Lakes) to announce his support, which has strategic value. So does former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak (D) expressing public support for Walz’s gubernatorial aspirations.

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The Gloves Come Off in GA-6

By Jim Ellis

April 7, 2017 — National fundraising has exploded in the GA-6 special election, especially for the Democrats. Candidate Jon Ossoff (D), who has won unanimous support from national liberal groups, reports now raising more than $8 million for his special election campaign. Republicans have already spent over $4 million, meaning that this campaign will likely set a national record for special election expenditures.

Democrats believe their chances of electing investigative filmmaker Ossoff are strong, while Republicans are countering with a barrage of heavy media attack ads designed to tarnish the highly touted candidate’s image. (See example below)

Georgia’s 6th District is a traditionally Republican north Atlanta suburban seat that Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price represented since his original election in 2004. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R) were the previous incumbents.

The Dems find themselves in a position of having a candidate around whom they can coalesce while the Republicans see five serious candidates within a field of 11. As we have reported several times, all polling shows Ossoff leading the race in the 40 percent range, but it is highly unlikely that he can touch the 50 percent threshold in order to win the seat outright on April 18. If not, then he and the top vote-getting Republican will advance to a June 20 run-off election. Polls show dead-heat ballot test pairings between Ossoff and the strongest Republican candidates.

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GA-6 Polling Takes Shape

By Jim Ellis

April 6, 2017 — As has been the case for the past few weeks, the GA-6 special election to replace Health & Human Services Secretary Tom Price (R) has received the most attention of the five special elections currently in-cycle. Two more polls were just released, and the trend line pattern is beginning to stabilize.

Some are speculating that Democrat Jon Ossoff has a chance to win the seat outright on April 18, meaning garnering over 50 percent of the vote even though 18 candidates are on the ballot. Though all polling shows that Ossoff would finish first if the election were today, none find him within striking distance of the 50 percent threshold. Because the pollsters are not including all 18 names on their ballot test questions, for obvious reasons, the top candidates’ support is likely a bit over-stated.

The liberal organization, moveon.org, released a Lake Research poll (March 26-28; 350 likely GA-6 special election voters) that posts Ossoff at 40 percent, far ahead of Republican and former Secretary of State Karen Handel who registers 18 percent. State Sen. Judson Hill (R), former state Sen. Dan Moody (R), and businessman and local city councilman Bob Gray (R) all follow with 8, 7, and 7 percent, respectively. Combining the listed Democrats and Republicans, the Ds would maintain a bare 42-40 percent edge.

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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.

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