Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Illinois Files

Dec. 7, 2015 — Candidate filing for the 2016 Illinois election calendar has now closed, meaning we have a slate of Democratic and Republican candidates for all federal offices.

In the US Senate contest, both parties have three candidates. Sen. Mark Kirk is seeking a second term on the Republican side. He faces two minor primary challengers in management consultant James Marter and former congressional candidate Liz Pahlke. The Democrats, as expected, are Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), state Sen. Napoleon Harris, and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp. The general election will feature Sen. Kirk and Rep. Duckworth.

House Primaries

Turning to the House races, eight incumbents drew primary challenges, three of which appear formidable.

In Chicago’s 1st District, veteran Rep. Bobby Rush has drawn a trio of Democratic primary opponents. The most serious is Chicago Alderman Howard Brookins Jr. In the last election, Brookins circulated nominating petitions in anticipation of a Rush retirement announcement, but then chose not to file when the congressman decided to seek re-election.

This year, it was thought he might be following that same path but he did not. Brookins is in the contest and will make the challenge. It is doubtful that he can deny Rep. Rush re-nomination. Even President Obama failed to do so back in 2000. Obama, then a state senator, drew only 30 percent against the strong incumbent. The other 1st District Democratic challengers are frequent candidate Harold Bailey and former congressional candidate Patrick Brutus.

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Florida Lines Finally Approved

Dec. 4, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court finally enacted a congressional redistricting plan on Tuesday. The process began in early July when the high court struck down eight of the state’s congressional districts and now culminates in approving a lower court judge’s statewide plan that changes 22 of the Sunshine State’s 27 CDs.

Currently, the delegation stands at 17R-10D. Democrats are poised for gains, but the actual increase may be smaller than intended. Two South Florida seats, those of Republicans Carlos Curbelo (FL-26), a freshman, and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (FL-27), a 14-term veteran and former chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, appear designed to elect Democrats but these districts have a history of bucking voting trends at the congressional level. Though Rep. Ros-Lehtinen’s 27th CD voted 53 percent for President Obama in 2012, the congresswoman didn’t even draw an opponent in 2014 and notched a 60-37 percent win when last contested.

There is little doubt that Democrats will convert Districts 10 and 13, while Republicans will take back District 2, a seat they lost in the 2014 election.

The Orlando-anchored 10th District becomes 15 points more Democratic on the Obama scale and switches 13 points when looking at gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist’s (D) performance in his 2014 statewide losing effort. Incumbent Rep. Dan Webster (R) can’t win this seat, but he may survive by moving into neighboring District 11, an open CD because Rep. Rich Nugent (R) is not seeking re-election. The 11th gains a significant chunk of Lake County from Webster’s current 10th, meaning the congressman will have a foothold in the new district. If he can win nomination, FL-11’s Republican history will allow him to continue his congressional career.

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Illinois Sen. Kirk Attacks Duckworth;
Comstock’s Interesting Challenger

Dec. 3, 2015 — Sen. Mark Kirk (R) just launched a major media attack against Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL-8), this one regarding the Syrian refugee issue. The ad (above) is telling because it provides us a glimpse into the Kirk campaign research and strategy.

Targeting the congresswoman now conveys the assumption that Rep. Duckworth will win the Democratic nomination on March 15. This is a rather obvious conclusion due to her perceived political strength and because her two primary opponents, though potentially formidable under different circumstances, both occupy the same demographic and geographic segments. State Sen. Napoleon Harris and Chicago Urban League President Andrea Zopp are each African American and hail from the state’s largest city.

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Early Primary Races

Dec. 2, 2015 — The early presidential calendar brings March congressional primaries to seven states. Instead of doubling the election cost with a stand-alone presidential primary followed by a commensurate state nomination event later in the year, several legislatures decided to move their entire cycle to an unusually early calendar slot.

The March primary states, aside from Texas and Illinois, which normally hold their nomination voting then, are: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, North Carolina and Ohio.

March 1

Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby faces Republican primary opposition from four opponents, one of whom, businessman Jonathan McConnell, could self-fund a campaign should he choose to do so. This is a good example of where the short time frame hurts potential challengers. Sen. Shelby should have little problem disposing of his competition to win re-nomination for a sixth term. Should Shelby fall below 50 percent, a run-off election would be held on April 12.

All seven House members are seeking re-election. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-AL-1), Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL-2), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) and Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-AL-4) all face Republican opposition. All are favored to win without a run-off.

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Issues and Attitudes

Dec. 1, 2915 — The results of a new exhaustive national survey were released over the Thanksgiving Day holiday break providing some thought-provoking conclusions.

The YouGov international polling organization in conjunction with London’s The Economist newspaper conducted the major American electorate Internet-based poll (Nov. 19-23; 2,000 adult respondents) containing 100 questions, the answers to which were quickly released and reported upon. (An additional 21 questions were asked according to the analysis, but not included in the report.)

Many of the questions provided an interesting snapshot into how a large segment of the American public is presently thinking. The responses pertaining to candidate ballot tests and individual approval ratings, however, are not of particular significance because the sample contains only 71 percent registered voters. Therefore, they will not be discussed here.

When asked about the one most important issue to each individual respondent, 16 percent said the economy, another 16 percent said terrorism, and 15 percent said Social Security. While a majority (54 percent) do not believe a government shutdown will occur, 31 percent said that Republicans in Congress would be to blame if one were to happen. But, an almost equal 30 percent would attest such responsibility to President Obama. An additional 26 percent said both would be accountable. This is a much different outlook than would be cast from the national media, which would heavily focus upon Republicans as the motivating force to cease operating some government services in order to achieve certain policy objectives.

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