Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Joe Biden’s Best Move

Sept. 1, 2015 — An idea for Vice President Joe Biden has begun to float around while he considers whether to run for the nation’s top office. A suggested Biden strategic move would not only rob Hillary Clinton of significant support, but also simultaneously neutralize Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT).

The strategy comes in three parts. First, Biden would announce for president and immediately name Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) as his running mate. This would be an overt attempt to cover the female base, thereby giving voters who want a woman on the ticket some reason to consider ditching Clinton in favor of Biden.

Additionally, identifying Warren as his vice presidential running mate would assuage the Democrats’ liberal base, including the growing far left sector. This voter segment is where Sen. Sanders draws the bulk of his support. Thus, adding Warren to Biden’s presidential ticket would act as a wedge designed to weaken both the former First Lady and the self-proclaimed socialist lawmaker.

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Hassan Waiting Too Long?

Aug. 31, 2015 — New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) continues to remain non-committal about whether she will seek re-election or challenge Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), and her ambivalence could be hurting her. Long saying she would decide when the state budget situation was resolved (she signed the budget bill on July 9), Hassan has yet to give any indication of what she might do. Refusing to wait any longer, others are stepping up.

Earlier this week, state Rep. Frank Edelblut (R) announced his gubernatorial candidacy regardless of what Hassan decides. Previously, US Rep. Annie Kuster (D-NH-2), long thought of as a challenger to Sen. Ayotte should Hassan stay put, announced that she will seek re-election next year irrespective of what statewide position may or may not be open.

Now a new Public Policy Polling survey (Aug. 21-24; 841 registered New Hampshire voters) that skews decidedly to the Democratic side finds Hassan making no gains against Sen. Ayotte, still trailing her by just one point, 44-43 percent. Normally, this would be considered good news for a potential challenger but, in this case, the opposite might well be true.

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Portman and Toomey Numbers

Aug. 28, 2015 — New Ohio and Pennsylvania Senate data just entered the public domain. Last week, Quinnipiac University released their presidential polling results for the three key swing states: the aforementioned two, and Florida. Now they publicize the secondary data from the Aug. 7-18 sampling period (Ohio – 1,096 registered voters; Pennsylvania – 1,085 registered voters).

Ohio Senate

The Ohio results are a bit confusing. While Sen. Rob Portman (R) enjoys a hefty 42:19 percent personal favorability ratio and a 45:26 percent job approval score, he rather surprisingly trails ex-Gov. Ted Strickland (D) 41-44 percent. The former Ohio chief executive, who fell to current incumbent John Kasich (R) in 2010, has a 44:32 percent personal mark, respectable, but not as good as Portman’s total.

This is the second released survey that places Portman behind Strickland. Quinnipiac also conducted that poll (June), finding a 46-40 percent Democratic advantage.

The ballot test(s) could be the result of a partisan skew, or simply an anomaly. What does ring true, however, is that the Ohio Senate race will be close. As was the case in 2010, Portman had a slight lead for most of the campaign but pulled away for good in the final two weeks to defeat then-Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D), by a substantial 57-39 percent margin.

The race financials are not so close. Sen. Portman, one of the better Republican political fundraisers in the country, banked more than $5.7 million since the beginning of the year with over $10 million cash-on-hand. Strickland is far behind, raising $1.7 million since entering the race but having only $1.2 million in his campaign account.

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Biden Making Moves

Aug. 27, 2015 — Major speculation continues to swirl around Vice President Joe Biden. Meetings of key potential supporters now occur with great frequency, and talk of a ticket involving Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren was jump-started when the two held a private meeting just last week. Therefore, it appears only a matter of time before a Biden for President campaign formally launches.

Hillary Clinton continues to stumble along the campaign trail, which is making Democratic leaders nervous, and willing to consider alternatives. But could a late-forming Biden campaign actually be successful? The answer is: possibly. It is conceivable that VP Biden could end up being in exactly the right place at exactly the right time … at least as far as the Democratic nomination is concerned.

The Democrats choose their convention delegates very differently than Republicans. Their process features greater party leadership control, so Clinton is in more trouble in the Democratic process than she might be running on the Republican side. While the GOP, featuring 17 candidates with a current front-runner who can’t reach 50 percent, could well be headed to a brokered convention, it is unlikely that Democrats will find themselves embroiled in such a predicament even though they will have three major candidates fighting through a grueling primary and caucus schedule.

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North Dakota Dominos

Aug. 26, 2015 — Gov. Jack Dalrymple’s (R) semi-surprising announcement Monday that he is not going to seek a second full term is launching North Dakota politicos into motion. The biggest question surrounds US Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), and whether she will enter what is now an open race for governor.

Though North Dakota has become a solidly Republican state, Heitkamp successfully won her Senate seat in 2012 nipping then-at-large Rep. Rick Berg (R), 50-49 percent. But, the governor’s office is what drives her political desire. From her post as the state’s two-term attorney general, Heitkamp ran for ND’s top office in 2000, but a diagnosis of breast cancer slowed her ability to compete. She fell to current Republican Sen. John Hoeven (55-45 percent) for what would be his first of three terms as the state’s chief executive.

Earlier in the year, speculation began growing that Sen. Heitkamp was considering challenging Gov. Dalrymple. Even though she would have been a distinct underdog, her proven ability to win difficult races in a conservative state is established. At the very least, she would have been a formidable candidate and not have had to risk her Senate seat.

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