Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Notable Candidate Filings

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) faces little in the way of strong competition in 2022.

March 15, 2022 — Candidate filing closed in three states on Friday — California, Georgia, and Idaho — and we see some highly competitive primary and general election campaigns occurring in each.

Despite 26 candidates filing against him, appointed California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) has done a good job of securing his Democratic base. As a result, he faces no serious opponent. The only way Sen. Padilla would lose in the state’s jungle primary system is if another strong Democrat surfaced and forced him into a double-Democratic general election. No such individual filed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also faces little in the way of strong competition even though he has 25 opponents.

The Georgia governor’s race features the most important May 24 primary campaign, a Republican battle between Gov. Brian Kemp and former US Sen. David Perdue. Three minor candidates are also on the ballot, and they could be a factor to force a runoff if the Kemp-Perdue race evolves into an even contest. In that scenario, a secondary election on July 26 would occur should both Kemp and Perdue be stopped short of 50 percent support.

Former Georgia state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The state’s US Senate contest is already winnowing down to a battle between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and retired pro football player Herschel Walker (R).

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little faces a Republican primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Sen. Mike Crapo has four Republican primary opponents but is in strong shape for both re-nomination and re-election to a fifth term.

In the House races, veteran Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) will face a familiar foe in the Republican primary. Bryan Smith, who challenged the congressman in the 2014 Republican primary and attracted some national attention and support before falling 62-38 percent, returns for a re-match eight years after their original political battle.

Back in California in the US House races, it appears there are seven districts that will host competitive general election campaigns and many more that could send a pair of the same party’s members to the November election from the June 7 jungle primary.

Only one of the projected partisan general election battles comes in an open seat. The 3rd District, which begins in the Sacramento suburbs and stretches down along the Nevada border all the way into southern California, will yield a competitive Republican battle between state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones for one of the general election finalist positions. The state Democratic Party has endorsed physician Kermit Jones. The new 3rd, where Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) could have run, is rated an R+8 district.

Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) will likely face San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R) in the D+8 District 9 that retiring Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) currently holds.

Continue reading

DCCC’s Red to Blue Targets

By Jim Ellis

March 14, 2022 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their first targets in what they call their Red to Blue program or, in other words, the districts they hope to convert from Republican to Democrat. Curiously, two districts on the list are already blue.

Below is a look at the DCCC’s dozen released targets:


CA-22: Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.4% in District 21

• FiveThirtyEight: D+10
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 42.3% R / 55.1% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)

By the numbers, this is one of the Democrats’ best national targets, but Rep. Valadao has consistently won in Democratic seats. He lost in 2018, but won the seat back two years later. Assemblyman Salas is the Democrats’ top recruitment target. Despite the lopsided Democratic numerical advantage, the finish here will again likely be razor-thin.


CA-45: Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County)
2020 Win Percentage: 51.1% in District 48

• FiveThirtyEight: D+5
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 45.8% R / 52.2% D
Endorsed Candidate: Jay Chen – Community College Trustee

Freshman Rep. Steel is another Republican to whom the California Citizens Redistricting Commission members were not kind. Moving into the more inland Orange County district from her coastal seat, Steel has been a well known figure in Orange County politics for many years, particularly with her service time on the Orange County Board of Supervisors before winning the congressional seat.

A D+5 seat is exactly the type the Republicans must win to achieve their goal of re-taking the majority. With national redistricting cutting against them, the GOP must win a sizable number of the 22 seats so far within the Even to D+5 category.


CO-7: Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) – Open Seat
2020 Win Percentage: 59.1%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 43.8% R / 51.7% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Brittany Petterson (D-Lakewood)

This district does not really belong on the list since it is already a blue seat. Democrats are favored to hold the seat and Sen. Petterson is clearly their candidate to do so.


IA-1: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% (6 votes districtwide) in District 2

• FiveThirtyEight: R+4
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 49.7% R / 46.8% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City)

Rep. Miller-Meeks won the closest race in the country in 2020, a literal six-vote affair against former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D). This year, the congresswoman will see a different opponent since Hart chose not to return for a re-match. State Rep. Bohannan has two Democratic opponents, but she should have little trouble in winning the party nomination on June 7.

This will be another close eastern Iowa campaign, and this district is actually one point more Democratic than the previous 2nd according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization. This is a top Democratic target, but Rep. Milller-Meeks will be favored assuming the political climate remains favorable for Republicans.


IA-2: Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% in District 1

• FiveThirtyEight: R+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 51.1% R / 45.4% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha)

In the first redistricting map presented last year, Rep. Hinson would likely have been defeated. With the legislature rejecting that draw, a new one emerged. This gives the congresswoman a more favorable seat but one this is still highly competitive. Democrats have recruited a strong candidate in Sen. Mathis. She has no primary opposition at this time. In a favorable GOP political climate, this seat would become difficult for the Democrats to convert despite its statistical closeness.
Continue reading

Georgia Turning, Again?

By Jim Ellis

Herschel Walker (R), former University of Georgia and ex-NFL football star and current Senate candidate, enjoys his largest lead of the early election cycle.

March 11, 2022 — It was well publicized in the 2020 election cycle that the state of Georgia is beginning to swing toward the Democrats, but a new Democratic poll contains some evidence that predicting a long-standing transformational flip may have been premature. Now, the new polling suggests that Georgia voters could be open to a Republican comeback.

Blueprint Polling released their new Georgia statewide study earlier this week, and projects that GOP candidate Herschel Walker enjoys his largest lead of the early election cycle but it’s only a three-plus percentage point edge, well within the polling margin of error. The Blueprint survey (March 2-8; 662 definite (90 percent) and probable (10 percent) Georgia voters; live interview) produces a ballot test featuring Walker holding a 48.5 – 45.4 percent slight advantage over Sen. Raphael Warnock (D).

The most surprising part of the Warnock-Walker crosstabs was the Republican leading among younger voters. Walker led Warnock by just over one percentage point among those aged 18-34, typically a group that widely supports Democrats, and trails only among those aged 45-54. Among the highest turnout age sector, those 65 and older, Walker held a five-point advantage.

While Sen. Warnock still held a slight edge among Independents, 42-40 percent, Walker attracted 12 percent of Democratic votes while Sen. Warnock could manage only 9.5 percent among Republicans. The two were tied among college educated voters, a strong improvement for the Republican in this category, while Walker led by five points among those who had not attended or graduated from college.

But this result is far from the poll’s most interesting piece of information. Rather, the question about who the respondents would support in a presidential re-match produces an eye-opening result. This is particularly true when remembering that Georgia came down to an official, though disputed, small margin of 11,779 votes in Democratic candidate Joe Biden’s favor from just under 5 million ballots cast.

Continue reading

Oklahoma Senate Special Challenged

By Jim Ellis

Veteran Oklahoma Sen. Jim Inhofe (R)

March 10, 2022 — The lawyer who defended 1995 Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, the perpetrator who was later executed in 2001, has petitioned the Oklahoma Supreme Court challenging the state’s new special election law.

Last year, the Oklahoma legislature passed a bill that now allows US Sen. Jim Inhofe (in this case) to irrevocably declare that he would resign his position at the end of the year in order to conduct a concurrent special election to coincide with the current election calendar. Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) signed the bill into law.

Attorney Stephen Jones, himself a former US Senate candidate — he challenged then-Sen. David Boren in the 1990 Democratic primary and attracted just 17 percent of the vote — filed his challenge late Monday, and asked the high court to freeze the current Senate candidate filing period with respect to the special election. The legal move was made just after Gov. Stitt officially set the special election to run concurrently with the 2022 regular midterm election calendar.

Individuals have until April 15 to file for this year’s elections, and several, US Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Westville), state Sen. Nathan Dahm (R-Broken Arrow), former National Security Council staff head Alex Gray, and Inhofe former chief of staff Luke Holland, have already announced that they will enter the special Senate election. The Oklahoma primary is June 28. If no candidate receives majority support, the top two finishers advance to an Aug. 23 runoff election.

The legislature passed the bill last year, and Gov. Stitt signed the legislation that created the current system — which is, that if a letter is filed with the proper state authorities prior to March 1 of an even-numbered year containing a date certain as to when the office holder will officially resign, the succeeding special election to replace that person can proceed within the regular election calendar even though the person affected remains in office. Sen. Inhofe met those required conditions.

Continue reading

North Carolina Races – Part II

Click on above image or here to go to FiveThirtyEight interactive redistricting map.


By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2022 — Today’s update is the second part of our look at the new North Carolina political map. In this edition, we examine the state’s 14 new US House districts.

Incumbents who look to be in strong position under the new map and won’t get much of a challenge are the following (the rating figure comes from the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization):

  • Rep. Deborah Ross (D-Raleigh; D+24)
  • Rep. Greg Murphy (R-Greenville; R+29)
  • Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-Banner Elk; R+24)
  • Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro; D+9)
  • Rep. David Rouzer (R-Wilmington; R+16)
  • Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Union County; R+38)
  • Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-Lake Norman; R+43)
  • Rep. Alma Adams (D-Charlotte; D+25)

The state will feature four open seats in the 2022 election. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-Wilson) is retiring after serving what will be nine full terms, leaving his 1st District as an open seat. Rep. Butterfield complained that the original draw makes the seat less favorable for an African-American candidate to win. The new district increases the black population percentage by a point, to just over 41 percent. The total minority population registers almost 50 percent of the new 1st, with a 49.9 percent number.

Four Democrats filed for the seat, and the leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Don Davis (D-Snow Hill) and ex-state senator and 2020 US Senate candidate Erica Smith. Seven Republicans filed including 2020 nominee Sandy Smith, who held Rep. Butterfield to a 54-46 percent re-election victory, and Rocky Mount Mayor Sandy Roberson. FiveThirtyEight rates this seat as D+5, so we can expect the GOP to target this race.

Rep. David Price (D-Chapel Hill) is also retiring. He is completing 17 non-consecutive terms in the House, having lost his seat in the 1994 election after originally coming to the House in the 1986 vote. He returned to Congress in the 1996 election. Eight Democrats are vying for the party nomination and the seat in the May primary.

Since the new 4th is rated D+30, claiming the Democratic nomination is tantamount to winning the general election. The leading candidates appear to be state Sen. Valerie Foushee (D-Carrboro), Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam, and country singer and 2014 congressional nominee Clay Aiken.

Continue reading