Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Primary Results in Ohio, Indiana;
An Odd Lt. Gov. Appointment in NY

By Jim Ellis
May 4, 2022

Primaries

Author J.D. Vance, Ohio Senate Candidate

Ohio: Vance, Ryan Move to General — Best-selling author J.D. Vance, armed with an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, won the open Ohio US Senate Republican nomination last night with a 32-24-23 percent victory over former state Treasurer Josh Mandel and state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls). Businessman Mike Gibbons, who spent almost $17 million of his own money on the race, finished fourth with 12 percent, ahead of ex-Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken who posted only six percent support.

Polling proved to be accurate. The late race surveys were consistently showing Vance breaking into the lead, and the ballot tests were projecting he would win a close finish over Mandel and Sen. Dolan, which happened.

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan

For the Democrats, as expected, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) was an easy winner, capturing 70 percent of the Democratic vote from a turnout that was significantly lower than the party performance in the most recent 2018 midterm election. Thus, Vance and Ryan now advance into what should be a competitive general election.

Turning to Cleveland, which hosted the most competitive Democratic congressional primary, freshman Rep. Shontel Brown (D-Warrensville Heights/Cleveland) easily turned back former state senator and 2020 Bernie Sanders for President campaign national co-chair Nina Turner by a landslide 66-34 percent margin. The two ran against each other in the 2021 special election that first elected Rep. Brown.

In the Toledo-anchored 9th District, Iraq War veteran and Trump campaign activist J.R. Majewski (R) claimed the Republican nomination, defeating both state Rep. Craig Riedel (R-Defiance) and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green). Majewski now advances into the general election against the Democratic US House member who has served longer than anyone in her party. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) was first elected in 1982. This will be a highly competitive general election in a new 9th CD that carries a R+6 rating.

Former Trump White House aide Max Miller (R), armed with the former president’s endorsement, easily won the Republican nomination since incumbent Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) surprisingly decided to retire after filing for re-election. Miller now becomes the heavy favorite to capture the R+14 open seat in the general election.

Staying in the northern Ohio region, the new open 13th District that looks to be playing as an even political domain, will feature a battle between state Rep. Emilia Sykes (D-Akron), who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, and TV commentator and former Miss Ohio in the USA beauty pageant, Michelle Gesiotto Gilbert, who captured the party nomination against six Republican opponents as another Trump-endorsed Ohio candidate. The Sykes-Gilbert contest begins as a toss-up general election campaign.

Indiana: Ex-Sen. Houchin Wins Open Seat GOP Nod — The Hoosier State battle in the southeastern corner of the state to succeed retiring Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (R-Jeffersonville) ended as many predicted. There, resigned state Sen. Erin Houchin, a former congressional aide to ex-Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN), won the Republican primary last night, defeating former Congressman Mike Sodrel and Bronze Star medal winner Stu Barnes-Israel, 37-26-21 percent.

Houchin now becomes the prohibitive favorite in the open 9th District general election. She will face educator Matthew Fyfe who won the Democratic primary but raised and spent less than $50,000 for his primary campaign.

In the northwestern 1st District, US Air Force Reserve Lt. Col. Jennifer-Ruth Green easily defeated former La Porte Mayor Blair Milo, 47-22 percent, to capture the Republican nomination. She advances to face freshman Rep. Frank Mrvan (D-Highland/Gary) who is on the ballot for a second term. The congressman was renominated in an 86 percent landslide.

Governor

Ohio: Gov. DeWine’s Unimpressive Win — Incumbent Mike DeWine successfully won re-nomination for a second term, but with only 48 percent support from within his own party. Had the anti-DeWine voters coalesced behind one candidate, it is now apparent that such an individual may have denied the governor a primary victory. Former US Congressman Jim Renacci scored 28 percent of the vote and farmer Joe Blystone posted 22 percent.

For the Democrats, Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley easily defeated former Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley with 65 percent of the vote. Whaley carried all but eight of the state’s 88 counties, including nipping Cranley in his home county of Hamilton. Whether or not Mayor Whaley can force Gov. DeWine into a tight November contest remains to be seen, but she did exhibit strength within her party while the governor’s performance among Republicans was clearly disappointing.

House

NY-19: Rep. Delgado Chosen as Lieutenant Governor — Yesterday, Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) chose US Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-Rhinebeck) as her new lieutenant governor. Delgado replaces her first choice, Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin (D) who was indicted for bribery and forced to resign. The selection of Rep. Delgado is an interesting one in that the appointment creates another vacancy in the US House and forces an additional special election. Currently, four Republican and one Democratic House seats are vacant for various reasons.

The Upstate 19th District may undergo significant change when the new congressional maps are court drawn later this month. The move to choose a House member is curious in that it creates further uncertainty for the Democrats now that their 22D-4R map has been disqualified as a partisan gerrymander. The current 19th District is rated R+4, while the re-drawn district on the rejected map rates D+4. Under a new draw, this seat will almost assuredly become a top Republican conversion target. Delgado was first elected to the House in 2018.

Vance on the Move Up in Ohio; Kemp Leads in Georgia While McKee Trails in Rhode Island; Redistricting News

By Jim Ellis

May 3, 2022:

Senate

Author J.D. Vance, Ohio Senate Candidate

Ohio: Vance Continues Upward Swing — A pair of ending polls were released late last week as the Ohio Senate candidates move toward today’s primary election. Fabrizio Lee & Associates survey (April 25-26; 800 likely Ohio Republican primary voters) and Emerson College (April 28-29; 885 likely Ohio Republican primary voters) both see author J.D. Vance forging into the lead.

FL&A, polling for the Protect Ohio Values PAC, posts Vance to his largest lead of the campaign, 31-19-12-12-8 percent over former state treasurer, Josh Mandel, businessman Mike Gibbons, state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), and ex-Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, respectively. Emerson College sees a similar division, but with Vance holding a much smaller edge, 24-22-18-14-7 percent over Mandel, Dolan, and Gibbons, with Timken again trailing behind. It has become clear that both Vance and Dolan have upward momentum, while Gibbons and Timken have lost their earlier political steam. Mandel continues to poll relatively well but appears unable to expand his base of support.

The numbers are close enough that any of the current top four candidates, meaning Vance, Mandel, Dolan, and Gibbons could win the nomination vote.


Governor

Georgia: Gov. Kemp Takes Commanding Lead — Survey USA largely confirms the University of Georgia poll that found Gov. Brian Kemp (R) establishing a firm lead in his battle against former US Sen. Davide Perdue, who former President Donald Trump endorses. The S-USA poll (April 22-27; 2,000 Georgia adults; 1,587 registered Georgia voters; 559 likely Georgia Republican primary voters; online) posts Gov. Kemp to a strong 56-31 percent advantage, suggesting that he would win the Republican nomination outright on May 24. Should all candidates be held under the majority mark, however, the top two would advance to a July 26 runoff election.

The general election ballot test gave Gov. Kemp a 50-45 percent edge over former state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams (D).

Rhode Island: Gov. McKee Trailing — A Lake Research Partners survey for the Nellie Gorbea gubernatorial campaign was released on Friday (April 11-14; 600 likely Rhode Island Democratic primary voters; live interview) and the results project Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee as falling behind Secretary of State Gorbea as the candidates move toward the late Sept. 13 Democratic primary. The ballot test posts Gorbea to a 30-24-10 percent edge over Gov. McKee and ex-Secretary of State Matt Brown. All other candidates fell below the 10 percent threshold. Gov. McKee ascended to his position in March when then-Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to accept her appointment as US Commerce Secretary.


Redistricting

New York: Deadlines; Primary Moved — Steuben County Surrogate Court Judge Patrick McAllister, who first declared the New York congressional and state Senate maps unconstitutional in reference to the New York constitution, now has the responsibility of drawing the new plans. He has appointed Dr. Jonathan Cervas of the Institute of Politics and Strategy at Carnegie Mellon University as the special master who will prepare the maps for judicial review. He was given a May 16 deadline to submit the plans, and the court has set May 20 as the date to publicly announce the final maps for the 2020 election cycle.

Additionally, the judge moved the date of at least the congressional and state Senate primary from June 28 to Aug. 23. The legislature now has the opportunity of moving the races not affected by the congressional and state Senate redistricting maps to join those who are now scheduled for Aug. 23. If the legislators take no action, New York will have two primary dates this year.


States

Georgia: Sec of State Race Runoff Bound — As mentioned above in the Georgia governor’s section, Survey USA conducted a statewide Peach State poll. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (R), who was at the focal point of the state’s post-election voting controversy, has captured the lead in the Republican primary ballot test, but with just 31 percent. While enjoying an 11-point lead over US Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro), Raffensperger is well short of reaching the 50 percent mark in order to clinch the nomination. Therefore, the most likely scenario is he and Rep. Hice will advance to a July 26 runoff election.

Southern incumbents who are forced into secondary votes typically fail to finish on top, so even if he places first on May 24, Raffensperger will likely be regarded as an underdog for the run-off election.

Wisconsin Senate Race Tightens; House News; Surprising Governor Approval Ratings; New York Redistricting Map Rejected

By Jim Ellis

May 2, 2022:

Senate

Wisconsin: Dem Race Tightening — Marquette Law School released its quarterly survey of the Wisconsin electorate (April 19-24; 805 registered Wisconsin voters; 363 likely Democratic primary voters; live interview) and sees a tightening Democratic US Senate primary. The ballot test gave Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes only a 19-16 percent lead over Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball club executive Alex Lasry. The result represents a net seven-point swing in Lasry’s favor since the last Marquette survey in February. Lasry has been advertising heavily in media buys. This race has time to gel. The Wisconsin primary is not until Aug. 9. The winner faces Sen. Ron Johnson (R) in November.

House

NC-11: Rep. Cawthorn in Position for Plurality Win — The Differentiators Data research organization, polling for GOPAC (April 25-26; 400 NC-11 likely Republican primary voters; live interview and text), finds that a majority of GOP sampled voters saying they would not vote to re-nominate Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville), but his hard-core support group appears large enough to allow him to win a plurality election.

When asked if they would support Rep. Cawthorn in the North Carolina primary, 61 percent said they would choose another candidate. The 39 percent coalition that would vote to re-nominate him is large enough to win the primary in a state that has a runoff law, but with only a 30 percent threshold. With seven opponents opposing him, Rep. Cawthorn is clearly playing to his benefit.

Governor

Wisconsin: Kleefisch Continues to Lead — As mentioned above in the Wisconsin Senate section, Marquette Law School released a new Wisconsin survey (4/19-24; 805 WI registered voters; 375 likely Republican primary voters; live interview) and former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch continues to lead the party nomination race. The numbers haven’t changed much since February, though this poll was taken before construction company executive and 2004 US Senate nominee Tim Michels entered the race. The ballot test finds Ms. Kleefisch holding a 32-10% lead over businessman and frequent candidate Kevin Nicholson. The winner will face Gov. Tony Evers (D) in the general election in what will be a highly competitive race.

Approval Ratings: Top 11 Governors are all Republican — The latest Morning Consult Governor approval ratings are out, and Republican governors led by Charlie Baker (R-MA), Phil Scott (R-VT), Larry Hogan (R-MD), and Jim Justice (R-WV) head a group of 11 GOP state chief executives who are the top rated in the nation. Of the 11, six are on the ballot for re-election this year including Gov. Scott, who has still not indicated that he will run for a fourth two-year term. Chris Sununu (R-NH), Kay Ivey (R-AL), Mark Gordon (R-WY), Doug Burgum (R-ND), and Mike DeWine (R-OH) are the other top-rated governors seeking re-election.

On the other end of the spectrum, the only two who have negative ratings above 50 percent, Govs. Kate Brown (D-OR) and David Ige (D-HI), are both retiring.

Redistricting

New York: High Court Rejects Dem Map — The New York Court of Appeals, the highest judicial body in the state, upheld the two lower court decisions to invalidate the Democrats’ 22D-4R congressional map. The high court ruled that the legislature did not have the power to usurp the created redistricting commission even though the members could not complete their task by the assigned date. The CoA also ruled that the map is a partisan gerrymander. The court remanded the map back to the lower court and instructed a special master be hired to draw the new congressional and state Senate maps. The court also recommended the June 28 state primary be moved to a time in August.

Palin Gets Endorsement; Hawaiian Announces for Congress; More

By Jim Ellis

April 29, 2022:

House

HI-2: Another Announces for Congress — Confident that freshman Rep. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo) will soon declare his intention to run for governor, former state Sen. Jill Tokuda (D) formally exited the lieutenant governor’s race and announced that she will enter the 1st Congressional District contest.

Though Rep. Kahele is still technically a congressional candidate, Tokuda follows the
lead of state Sen. Jarrett Keohokalole (D-Kailua), state Rep. Angus McKelvey (D-Lahaina),
and Honolulu City Council chairman Tommy Waters (D) who have all entered what they
believe will be an open congressional race. The Hawaii candidate filing deadline is June 7
for the Aug. 13 statewide primary, so Rep. Kahele will soon have to make known his
2022 political plans.


Governor

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate

Alaska: GOP Co-Endorses — After the Alaska Republican Party, which has also endorsed businessman Nick Begich, III over former governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, in the US House special election, had already officially endorsed the party’s incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R), the political entity has now expanded its official support list. In addition to the governor, the Alaska GOP voted to also endorse Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, who is the governor’s Republican primary challenger.

Connecticut: New General Election Poll — Fairfield, Connecticut’s Sacred Heart University released a new poll of the governor’s campaign, which is expected to become competitive once we enter the post-primary period. The survey (March 24-April 11; 1,000 Connecticut residents; online) finds Gov. Ned Lamont (D) opening with a substantial lead over businessman and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Bob Stefanowski (R). The ballot test finds the governor holding a 48-30% advantage.

The poll, however, has a questionable methodology. The sampling period of 18 days is very long, and the respondent universe did not segment for likely or even registered voters. Therefore, the result likely places Gov. Lamont in a better position than he might be before a better segmented poll.

Nebraska: Gov Primary Tight — State Sen. Brett Lindstrom (R-Omaha) released a new internal poll of the upcoming May 10 Republican primary that features a very tight contest among himself, businessman Charles Herbster, and former University of Nebraska Regent Jim Pillen. The Data Targeting/Neilan Strategy Group poll (April 19-20; 858 likely Nebraska Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system) finds Sen. Lindstrom claiming a small lead at 28-26-24 percent edge over Herbster and Pillen, who both have significant support.

The results are a marked improvement for Herbster, who former President Trump endorses, after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment. A previous poll showed him losing support. The eventual Republican nominee becomes a prohibitive favorite to win the general election and succeed term-limited Gov. Pete Ricketts (R).

Ohio: DeWine Leading Gov Primary but Below 50 percent — Fox News released the results of their new Ohio poll (April 20-24; 906 likely Ohio Republican primary voters; live interview) that finds Gov. Mike DeWine leading his Republican primary opponents, former US Rep. Jim Renacci and farmer Joe Blystone by a 43-24-19 percent margin. This represents a downward trend for the governor of a net 11 points from March’s Fox Poll. Combined, the opponents equal DeWine’s support, but with the anti-incumbent vote split, it is likely that the governor wins a plurality nomination race next Tuesday.

Democrats Back Independent in Utah; House Race News; Kansas Redistricting Map Rejected

By Jim Ellis

April 28, 2022:

Senate

Utah Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin

Utah: Democrats Back Independent — The Utah Democratic nominating convention over last weekend voted with a 57 percent majority not to field a party candidate against Sen. Mike Lee (R), but instead form a coalition to back Independent candidate Evan McMullin.

The move was the first of its kind in Utah political history. The delegates clearly agreed with the argument that the party was better coalescing behind McMullin, a 2016 Independent presidential candidate and former Republican who placed a strong third in the state (21.5 percent) behind Republican Donald Trump (45.5 percent) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (27.5 percent than nominating their own Democratic contender. They understood that supporting Democrat Kael Watson and producing a three-way campaign meant a sure victory for Sen. Lee.


House

FL-5: US Rep. Al Lawson May Challenge Fellow Incumbent — Florida US Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) has difficult choices ahead of him in determining where to seek re-election in the north Florida region. The new Florida congressional map collapses his current district. The Politico publication reports that Lawson is leaning toward challenging Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) in the new 2nd District, an R+16 CD but one that includes Rep. Lawson’s home base of Tallahassee.

MA-4: No Re-Match — Former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell, who lost the 2020 Democratic primary to current US Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Newton) by just one percentage point, announced that she will not return for a re-match. Therefore, Rep. Auchincloss becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-nomination and re-election. The Massachusetts primary is not until Sept. 6, and the candidate filing deadline is May 31.

MN-1: No Official GOP Endorsement — First Congressional District Republicans convened over the weekend to potentially endorse a candidate in the special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester). Though state Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) attracted 55 percent of the delegate vote, it was not enough to secure the official endorsement. Doing so requires 60 percent. This means we will see an open special election primary on May 24 with no officially endorsed candidate, though Rep. Munson appears to be a clear front runner.

Utah: Two Reps Under-Perform at Convention — US Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo), posted only 41 percent of the convention vote on the first ballot, which was just enough to avoid an embarrassing defeat, since he did not also opt to obtain petition signatures. The later rounds pushed him to 45 percent, but the congressman still must win a Republican primary against the man whom he defeated in a 2017 special election and the 2018 GOP primary, — former state Rep. Chris Herrod. Despite Rep. Curtis’ poor showing at the party convention, he is still expected to win the primary and general elections.

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Ohio Poll Indicates Changes; Oregon 5th CD Shows Disappointing Development; More

By Jim Ellis

April 27, 2022:

Author J.D. Vance, Ohio Senate Candidate

Ohio: Poll Posts Dolan to GOP Lead; Fox Shows Vance as Being Up — The Blueprint Polling firm tested the Ohio Republican field for the upcoming Senate primary next week (April 21-24; 634 likely Ohio Republican primary voters; live interview), and yet another candidate has been identified as moving into first place. This is the first survey that projects state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who is a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians baseball club, in the top position and the fourth of the five major candidates who in one poll or another has led the field.

In this study, Sen. Dolan posts 18 percent support, just a point ahead of author J.D. Vance, with businessman Mike Gibbons, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, and ex-Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken following with 13, 12, and 7 percent preference.

Fox News was also in the field during virtually the same time period (April 20-24; 906 likely Ohio Republican primary voters; live interview), but they produce a much different result. According to this poll, it is Vance, who picked up former President Donald Trump’s endorsement just a handful of days before the poll period, in the lead at 23 percent with Mandel, Gibbons, Dolan, and Timken trailing with 18-13-11 and 8 percent, respectively.

As both the Blueprint and Fox analyses illustrate, with less than one week remaining in the campaign, realistically four of the candidates still have a chance to catch a flyer at the end and claim the nomination. Early voting continues for the May 3 primary election.


House

OR-5: Biden Endorses Rep. Schrader — In a disappointing development for challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, President Biden just involved himself in the impending May 17 Oregon primary by endorsing veteran Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) over the more progressive contender who is an attorney and former local city manager. The two are vying to win the party primary for the newly constructed 5th District that is rated D+3, making it the most competitive seat in the Beaver State.

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Florida & NY Redistricting News, Alaska GOP Endorsement and More

By Jim Ellis

April 26, 2022:

Redistricting

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

Florida: DeSantis’ Signs Map — On Friday, Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) took the final step toward adopting the new Florida congressional plan by signing the bill that the legislature passed. Immediately, several groups, the League of Women Voters of Florida, Black Voters Matter Capacity Building Institute, Equal Ground Education Fund, and Florida Rising Together, along with several individuals filed suit in state court to overturn the map. They claim the new draw violates the “Fair Districts” amendment to the Florida Constitution that voters passed in 2010, which pertains to gerrymandering and minority representation. It is likely the Florida state Supreme Court will ultimately decide the matter.


New York: Appeals Court Upholds Map Rejection — A five-judge New York Appellate Division panel upheld a lower court ruling that the new congressional map violates the New York constitution as an illegal partisan gerrymander. The congressional plan would likely elect 22 Democrats and 4 Republicans. The current map divides 19D-8R. New York lost one congressional district in national reapportionment.

Democratic leaders are already saying they will appeal to the state’s highest court, the New York Court of Appeals. Resolution of the Empire State map situation could be key to the impending midterm congressional election cycle. Under New York procedure, the map still stands because it has not yet been fully decided in the appeals process.


AK-AL: AK Republican Party Endorses Begich — The Alaska Republican Party took an official stand in the special election that is scheduled for June 11th, with the succeeding four-person runoff on the political calendar for August 16th. The AK GOP endorsed software executive Nick Begich III, the grandson of the late former Congressman Nick Begich (D), and nephew of ex-Democratic US Senator Mark Begich.

The Alaska Republican State Central Committee took the action even though former Governor and 2008 Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin is also in the huge field of 48 candidates all vying to replace the late Congressman Don Young (R). Earlier in the week, Ms. Palin’s former in-laws, Jim and Faye Palin, also publicly announced they are backing Mr. Begich. One way the party justified their endorsement is to explain that Mr. Begich was the only one of the 13 GOP contenders to follow the party procedure for requesting formal support.


Governor

Alabama: Gov. Ivey in Position for Outright Win — A new internal Tarrance Group survey for Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) re-election campaign (4/18-20; 600 AL likely Republican primary voters; live interview) finds the incumbent in position to win re-nomination outright in the May 24th Republican primary election. Failing to reach the 50% support mark would send the nomination battle into a secondary June 21st runoff election between the top two finishers.

The Tarrance results project Gov. Ivey holding a 57% preference figure. Following are former US Ambassador to Slovenia Lindy Blanchard with 14% and businessman Tim James, son of former Alabama Governor Fob James, posting 12% support. The Republican nomination battle in the Yellowhammer State is tantamount to winning re-election in November.