Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Rep. Neugebauer to Retire;
Fiorina Shock Poll

Sept. 21, 2015 — West Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Lubbock) became the fifth House member this month to announce his retirement, making public his decision yesterday. The congressman is not exercising his prerogative to seek an eighth term in the House, and will end his congressional career when the legislative session concludes at the beginning of 2017.

Neugebauer was first elected in a 2003 special election, replacing resigned-Rep. Larry Combest (R-Lubbock) who had left the House mid-term from his agriculture dominated district. Combest was the former chairman of the House Agriculture Committee when he retired from Congress.

Neugebauer, previously a Lubbock City Councilman, won a difficult special election in a very different 19th CD. At the time, both the cities of Lubbock and Midland were housed in the same CD. Neugebauer defeated Midland businessman Mike Conaway (R) in that election, but the latter would then win his current post-redistricting 11th District in 2004. Conaway is now the current House Agriculture Committee chairman.

The same redistricting plan that elected Conaway forced the just-elected Neugebauer into a district with 13-term Rep. Charlie Stenholm (D-Abilene). But, the new boundary configuration was not kind to the veteran Democrat, and the freshman handily defeated him 58-40 percent. Rep. Neugebauer would never again experience a close election.

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Florida Shock Poll;
Rep. Benishek to Retire

Sept. 17, 2015 — Tuesday, before last night’s Republican debate, Public Policy Polling released their new Florida survey (Sept. 11-14; 814 registered Florida voters; 377 likely Republican Florida primary voters; 368 likely Democratic Florida primary voters) and delivered what could be haunting news to both former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio. The new ballot test result finds Donald Trump and Dr. Ben Carson leading the pair of home state politicians.

According to the PPP numbers, Trump takes 28 percent of the Florida Republican vote, followed by Dr. Carson who secures 17 percent. Trailing in third place with only 13 percent support from his home state GOP electorate is Bush, while Sen. Rubio drops to 10 percent. Though the percentages are not as dramatic as polls witnessed in Iowa and New Hampshire earlier in the week, Trump and Carson total 45 percent of the Sunshine State GOP vote. The third outsider candidate who is part of the trio never holding an elective office, Carly Fiorina, garners seven percent from this sampling universe, which again gives the never-electeds a majority (52 percent).

Looking at the delegate count, the Florida winner takes the primary season’s biggest prize because the state’s 99 Winner-Take-All delegates would be assigned to the person finishing first, regardless of the percentage attained.

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Sanders, Trump Gaining Strength

Sept. 16, 2015 — Two new major media polls were released yesterday that show Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders opening up a lead in Iowa as well as New Hampshire, while Donald Trump is expanding his Republican advantage virtually everywhere.

The ABC News/Washington Post national survey (Sept. 7-10; 1,003 adults; 821 registered voters; 356 registered or leaning Democrats; 342 registered or leaning Republicans in combined telephone and online contact) finds former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leading Sen. Sanders and Vice President Joe Biden 42-24-21 percent, respectively. These numbers confirm almost to the digit the figures Monmouth University reported last week in their national survey.

The most troubling finding for Clinton in this study is her declining support among women. Compared to the July ABC/Washington Post poll, her allegiance among females has fallen 29 percentage points.

For the Republicans, again similar to the Monmouth findings in the previous week, Trump leads Dr. Ben Carson 33-20 percent, with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in third place with a small eight percent preference. Again, the three Republicans who have never held an elective office, Trump, Carson, and former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, together command 55 percent of the Republican electorate.

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Perry Done; Maryland Senate
Candidate News

Sept. 15, 2015 — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry wound up leading the Republican presidential candidates, but not in the way he planned. Last Friday, Perry became the first contender to suspend his campaign, thus effectively ending his presidential aspirations.

Money was the chief reason for the early exit, as his direct campaign had virtually no resources to keep operating. Ironically, his outside PAC did have the finances, but the non-coordinated effort could not legally keep the Perry mother ship alive.

The former governor may have actually ended his 2016 presidential campaign in July from two years past when he decided not to seek a fifth term as Texas’ chief executive.

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LaHood Wins; GOP Coalition Building

Sept. 14, 2015 — The last US House vacancy was officially filled last night when Illinois state Sen. Darin LaHood (R) easily won the special election in the Peoria-anchored district left vacant when then-Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL-18) resigned over improper expenses.

LaHood, the son of former representative and US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, had an easy run from the beginning of the special election cycle. With no strong opponents filing in either the Republican primary or for the general election, the Peoria state senator’s pre-candidate filing operation positioned him as a consensus candidate virtually from the beginning.

LaHood garnered 69 percent of the vote against educator Rob Mellon (D), sweeping an 18th District that travels around and among the cities of Peoria, Springfield, and Normal before encompassing the rural region to the Missouri border.

The final turnout of 50,747 voters is a little more than half the average total of what we generally see for a special congressional election. The fact that this low-key campaign produced virtually no competition left no doubt about the final conclusion, hence the low voter participation rate.

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