Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Missouri Anxiety

By Jim Ellis

Ex-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R)

March 21, 2022 — In 2016, retired Navy SEAL Eric Greitens was an upset winner in the Missouri governor’s contest and was quickly looked upon as a rising national Republican political star, but the glow would soon fade. Nineteen months later Gov. Greitens would resign his office in disgrace as a pre-election extra-marital affair came to the forefront followed by associated criminal charges relating to actions toward the woman and alleged campaign finance violations.

Later, the criminal charges were dropped because the prosecuting St. Louis District Attorney’s proven corrupt actions transformed into official prosecutorial misconduct. The embarrassing details that surfaced around the Greitens affair, however, underscored with him having a pregnant wife at home, ruined his previously stellar reputation.

Despite his tarnished personal image, Greitens was not finished with electoral politics, and decided to enter the open US Senate race after Sen. Roy Blunt (R) chose not to seek re-election to a third term. Speculation had been rampant earlier in the cycle that Greitens was even considering launching a primary challenge against the veteran politician if Sen. Blunt had run again. Had such a contest come to fruition, Greitens was viewed as having little to no chance of pulling an upset victory.

When the resigned governor entered the open seat Senate campaign, many Republican leaders began expressing trepidation that if he won the nomination the door would open to the party losing the general election against the eventual Democratic nominee. With virtually any other Republican standard bearer, the Missouri race would be considered safely Republican.

The new Trafalgar Group survey (March 9-13; 1,075 likely Missouri Republican primary voters, live interview, interactive voice response, online and text) gives credence to the previous analysis. Paired individually with two Democrats, Greitens only ties former St. Louis area state Sen. Scott Sifton, 45-45 percent, and holds the smallest of leads, 46-45 percent, over Iraq/Afghan War veteran Lucas Kunce.

In contrast, US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) would defeat Sifton, 57-37 percent, and Kunce, 56-39 percent. Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) would also easily top the two Democrats (against Sifton: 54-40 percent; opposite Kunce: 55-40 percent).

However, a previous February Trafalgar poll (Feb. 22-24; 1,026 likely Missouri Republican primary voters) posted Greitens to a 31-23-17 percent Republican primary lead over Schmitt and Rep. Hartzler, respectively.

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Pennsylvania Candidate Filings Close

Click on image to go to FiveThirtyEight.com’s interactive redistricting map.


By Jim Ellis

March 18, 2022 — Pennsylvania’s candidate filing period closed late Tuesday, yielding official May 17 primary candidates for the Keystone State’s federal and state offices. A total of 11 contenders are competing in the Republican gubernatorial primary, while Attorney General Josh Shapiro is unopposed on the Democratic side. Gov. Tom Wolf (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

The Senate race is also a crowded affair, with seven Republicans compared to five candidates in the Democrat primary. The Senate contest is also open because Sen. Pat Toomey (R) is not seeking a third term. A total of 66 Democrat, Republican, and some minor party candidates filed for the congressional races. The state’s Independent and minor party filing deadline does not conclude until Aug. 1.

Among the Republican gubernatorial candidates are two former US House members, Lou Barletta and Melissa Hart, two state senators, Doug Mastriano (R-Fayetteville) and Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte), former US Attorney Bill McSwain, Montgomery County Commissioner Joe Gale, and former Delaware County Commissioner Dave White. Shapiro will begin the general election campaign as the favorite, if for no other reason than seeing the eventual Republican nominee having to fight through a tough crowded primary.

The Senate race features primaries on both sides. The Democrats are in basically a two-way affair between Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, who leads in all polls and fundraising, and US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh). Both Democrats are from western Pennsylvania, but Fetterman should have the advantage in the vote-rich southeastern PA region considering his statewide ties, thus making him the favorite for the party nomination.

Two candidates on the Republican side have been spending heavily to attempt to separate themselves from the rest of the field, and they look to have succeeded. Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick is leading in the latest two statewide surveys over television doctor Mehmet Oz. Former US Ambassador to Denmark Carla Sands and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos are the trailing candidates.

The Pennsylvania Senate general election will be one of the most important in the nation, and the results will go a long way toward determining which party will control the majority in the next Congress.

In the congressional races, Reps. Brendan Boyle (D-Philadelphia), Dwight Evans (D-Philadelphia), Mary Gay Scanlon (D-Swarthmore), Dan Meuser (R-Dallas), Lloyd Smucker (R-Lancaster), John Joyce (R-Hollidaysburg/Altoona), Guy Reschenthaler (R-Peters Township), Glenn Thompson (R-Howard/State College), and Mike Kelly (R-Butler) all should have easy rides to re-election. Rep. Reschenthaler has no Republican or Democratic opposition post-filing. Rep. Joyce faces only one minor Republican opponent.

Rep. Fred Keller’s (R-Middleburg) safe Republican 12th District was eliminated because Pennsylvania lost a seat in national reapportionment. He originally was going to challenge Rep. Meuser in the 9th District Republican primary, but later decided to retire.

Pennsylvania hosts four major congressional races: two open seats and two top challenger efforts against vulnerable Democratic incumbents.

Rep. Lamb’s open 17th District, which sits west of Pittsburgh and stretches to the Ohio border, has a rating of D+1 according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization; this is the type of seat that Republicans must convert if they are to win the majority in November.

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Illinois 2022 Candidate Filings Close

Illinois Congressional redistricting map; to see an interactive map, click here: FiveThirtyEight

By Jim Ellis

March 17, 2022 — Candidate filing in Illinois closed on Monday, and while the post-filing qualification process (most notably insufficient or invalid petition signatures) could disqualify some of those submitting documents, the candidate field for the delayed June 28 primary election is basically set.

Originally, the Illinois primary was scheduled for its typical calendar slot in March, but the legislature decided to delay the primary before redistricting began, incorrectly anticipating that they would have trouble completing the process. Instead, the Illinois Democratic political leadership produced and passed into law arguably the most gerrymandered map in the country.

Though Illinois is a strongly Democratic state, Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) will seek a second term opposed by a surprisingly large Republican field. The most notable contenders, though none are likely to topple the governor in November, are state Sen. Darren Bailey (R-Louisville), Aurora Mayor Richard Irvin, former state Sen. Paul Schimpf, and venture capitalist Jesse Sullivan.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D) is on the ballot for a second term and has drawn a field of eight Republican candidates, with the likely leader being attorney Kathy Salvi, wife of former US Senate nominee Al Salvi, a favorite of conservatives. Sen. Duckworth will be safe for re-election.

While the US House map is designed to produce 14 Democrat victories in the delegation’s 17 seats, adopting the maximum partisan map could make some of the majority party seats weak, thus creating some unexpected competition in the general election.

Incumbents with safe seats are:

  • Rep. Robin Kelly (D-Matteson)
  • Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Danny Davis (D-Chicago)
  • Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Schaumburg)
  • Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Evanston)
  • Rep. Brad Schneider (D-Deerfield)
  • Rep. Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro)

The lineup features four open seats and two paired incumbent situations. Rep. Bobby Rush (D-Chicago) is retiring after serving 15 terms in the House. The Democrat primary will determine his successor, and the fight is among 20 candidates, including former Chicago Workforce Partnership CEO Karin Norrington-Reaves, who Rep. Rush has endorsed; Jonathan Jackson, son of Rev. Jesse Jackson and brother of former Chicago US Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr.; and state Sen. Jacqui Collins (D-Chicago).

The new 3rd District is a created open seat — one drawn through redistricting. This seat is 44 percent Hispanic and is designed as the city’s second Hispanic influenced district. The leading candidates for the seat, again to be decided in the Democrat primary, are state Sen. Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago) and Chicago Alderman Gil Villegas.

The new 13th CD is also a created open seat, and one that stretches from Champaign through Decatur then Springfield and all the way into the Illinois side of the St. Louis suburbs. The district is also designed to elect a Democrat, but the general election could become at least somewhat competitive. Former Obama Administration official Nikki Budzinski appears to have the inside track to the party nomination, thus making her the favorite in the general election.

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Rep. Mo Brooks Lagging in New Poll

By Jim Ellis

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)

March 16, 2022 — Alabama US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) was one of the first of the 2022 candidates who former President Trump endorsed, but now it’s possible that the six-term congressman may not even qualify for the US Senate runoff.

In the battle to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), a McLaughlin & Associates poll conducted over the weekend (March 10-13; 500 likely Alabama Republican primary voters, live interview & text) finds a new leader in the Senate race with the original favorite dropping to a poor third-place standing.

The McLaughlin ballot test sees former “Black Hawk Down” pilot and Alabama defense business owner Mike Durant leading former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt, 34-32 percent, with Rep. Brooks trailing with just 18 percent support.

Recently, Trump publicly criticized the Brooks campaign, and reports suggest the former president feels he may have endorsed too early in this race. Previous anecdotes also indicated he was very impressed with Britt, Sen. Shelby’s former chief of staff, after meeting with her.

Perhaps the worst news for Brooks within the McLaughlin results are the favorability ratings. While Durant and Britt recorded a positive index of 52:14 percent and 49:21 percent, respectively, the northern Alabama congressman, who was defeated in the 2017 special US Senate election, posts an upside-down 37:45 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.

Trump, however, is still favorably viewed in Alabama. In 2020, the Yellowhammer State was his eighth best performance electorate, where the then-incumbent president claimed 62.0 percent of the vote. In the current McLaughlin survey, Trump scores a whopping 89:10 percent positive rating for the job he did as President.

McLaughlin also tested the GOP gubernatorial primary in which incumbent Kay Ivey is facing a challenge from real estate developer Tim James, son of former Gov. Fob James, and ex-US ambassador to Slovenia, Lindy Blanchard. The ballot test finds the governor winning the May 24 primary outright, posting a wide 60-13-10 percent margin against James and Blanchard, respectively.

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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.

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