Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Maryland, Pennsylvania
House Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

Maryland

April 26, 2016 — With representatives Chris Van Hollen (D-Montgomery County) and Donna Edwards (D-Prince Georges County) locked in a Senate Democratic nomination battle that is now favoring the former, we take a look at the state’s House primaries that will be decided in today’s election.

Though all but one Maryland House incumbent faces primary opposition, the real action is in the state’s two open seats. No incumbent primary challenge is viewed to be serious including that of former state Delegate Mike Smigiel who, along with two others, is opposing the lone Republican incumbent in the congressional delegation, three-term Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD-1).

MD-4: The 4th District, Edwards open seat, features former Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, who badly lost the 2014 gubernatorial campaign to now-Gov. Larry Hogan (R). He squares off in a multi-candidate contest with former Prince Georges County State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, College Park state Delegate Joseline Pena-Melnyk, retired Army officer Warren Christopher and psychologist Terence Strait. The winner takes the heavily Democratic seat in the general election. Brown is attempting to resurrect his political career after losing embarrassingly to Hogan even when cast as the early favorite.

MD-8: Van Hollen’s open 8th District is an overwhelmingly Democratic seat anchored in Montgomery County before going all the way to the Pennsylvania border. Today, the multi-million dollar mega-Democratic primary to replace him concludes. Since Maryland has no run-off law, the Democratic nomination, and therefore the seat, will be decided today. Continue reading

Graham Out; Senate Primary Preview

By Jim Ellis

April 25, 2016 — Ever since the Florida State Supreme Court decided to re-draw the congressional boundaries halfway through the decade, freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D, FL-2, Tallahassee) has been in the political wilderness. The court declared eight of the state’s districts unconstitutional last July and finished the new map earlier this year, radically changing the original plan as enacted by the legislative and executive branches.

After the preliminary map became public it was evident that Rep. Graham was becoming a political casualty. Wanting to draw a minority 5th District that stretched from Jacksonville to Tallahassee instead of the traditional draw that began in J’ville and then meandered through Gainesville and Sanford on its way to Orlando, the court sacrificed Graham by removing the Democratic base from the 2nd District seat and transferring it to the new District 5.

Rumors were rampant that Graham, the daughter of former governor and US Sen. Bob Graham (D), would enter the open Senate race. As time passed with no movement in that direction, it was apparent she saw her career heading in a different direction. Yesterday, Rep. Graham announced that she will not seek re-election, and broadly hinted that running in the open 2018 governor’s race is within her political future.

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The Stretch Drive Begins Now

By Jim Ellis

April 22, 2016 — Donald Trump’s major New York Republican primary win on Tuesday (he captured 90 of the state’s 95 delegates, exceeding expectations by at least 10 convention votes) revives talk of a first ballot victory, but is such speculation realistic?

The evening propelled Trump to 847 bound delegates, or 390 away from clinching the GOP presidential nomination. In the remaining 15 states that will complete the primary/caucus process, the Republican front-runner must secure 57 percent of the outstanding convention votes in order to score a first-ballot victory without the aid of unbound delegates.

On April 26, voters in five eastern states will visit the polls. The aggregate bound delegate contingent hailing from Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island through their various apportionment systems is 112. The minimum combined number Trump must secure is 92 from these states.

His 83 percent available delegate quota from the eastern pool is high for two reasons. First, he is heavily favored in all five states headed into Election Day. Second, he must run up the score in the east to neutralize at least three states where he likely won’t do well: Indiana (May 3), Nebraska (May 10) and South Dakota (June 7). Since Nebraska and South Dakota are Winner-Take-All states, it is probable that Trump will be shut out in both places.

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RNC Convention Rules Fight — Already!

By Jim Ellis

April 21, 2016 — There is no doubt that Republicans are headed for a major convention rules fight the week before their national conclave begins, and it appears the brawl is already underway.

Controversy is arising over a proposed rule change to ditch the US House rules that have governed the national convention for decades in favor of Robert’s Rules of Order, which would give more control to the 2,472 individual delegates by allowing them to raise objections and points of order. US House rules give the convention chairman — at this point House Speaker Paul Ryan acting on behalf of the party leaders — the power to deny such motions. RNC Oregon National Committeeman Solomon Yue is officially bringing the idea for rules committee consideration as the panel prepares to meet at the Republican National Committee spring meeting next week in Florida.

Already personalities are clashing as Yue and rules committee chairman Bruce Ash (RNC Arizona committeeman) are accusing RNC Chairman Reince Priebus of stonewalling the measure in order to prevent a full rules committee vote. Priebus and RNC legal counsel John Ryder, the Tennessee national committeeman, claim not referring the proposal to the committee was merely an oversight.

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New York Landslide a Precursor?

By Jim Ellis

April 20, 2016
— Donald Trump exceeded expectations last night in New York by capturing what appears to be 90 of the Empire State’s 95 delegates. Needing to score approximately 80 delegates to get back on track for a long-shot first ballot victory at the Republican National Convention in July, Trump did significantly better in his home state than pre-election projections foretold.

Trump garnered 60.5 percent of the statewide vote, making this the first time he has scored a majority in a primary. Gov. John Kasich (R-OH) was second with 25.1 percent, while Texas Sen. Ted Cruz could manage only a 14.5 percent vote total.

Ironically, the only one of the 62 counties Trump failed to carry was New York County, or Manhattan Borough, which is his home. Gov. Kasich took Manhattan, and won the remaining five NY delegates.

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