Author Archives: Jim Ellis

McClain Declines Michigan Senate Run; Boebert Challenged in CO-3; Pappas Gets Republican Challenger; Matos Review Reversed

By Jim Ellis — Monday, July 31, 2023

Senate

© Theresa Finck Photography 2018, Lisa McClain for Congress

Michigan: Rep. McClain Declines Senate Run — Two-term Michigan US Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce), who represents the region commonly referred to as “the thumb” since the state’s Lower Peninsula configuration resembles a human hand, said yesterday that she will not enter the open US Senate race next year. The move presumes that she will seek re-election to the House in 2024.

Rep. McClain had been mentioned from time to time but was not considered as having a serious desire to run for the Senate, so her decision to pass on the statewide run is not surprising. As the Republican Conference Secretary, Rep. McClain is part of the GOP majority leadership team.

House

CO-3: Dem Primary Forming to Challenge Rep. Boebert — Grand Junction Mayor Mary Anna Stout (D) announced late last week that she will run for the US House. Her main opponent in the Democratic primary is 2022 nominee Adam Frisch, who only lost to Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) by 546 votes in the closest US House race in the country. Beginning this campaign, Frisch has already raised a whopping $2.6 million in the 2nd Quarter and has $2.5 million cash-on-hand, or more than $1 million over what Rep. Boebert has in her account ($1.4 million). Three other minor Democrats are also announced candidates.

There are two options for qualifying for the Colorado ballot. First, is through garnering the requisite number of delegate votes at the Democratic Party district convention, or second, through obtaining petition signatures from registered voters in the particular district. It is a virtual certainty that Frisch will dominate the convention, so the others will likely choose the petition route. The CO-3 race will probably be the top Democratic conversion target in the country next year despite a R+15 rating from the FiveThirtyEight data organization.

NH-1: Rep. Pappas Draws GOP Opponent — Former New Hampshire Executive Councilor and ex-state Sen. Russell Prescott (R) announced that he will again enter the 1st District congressional race. He ran in 2022 but finished a poor fourth in the Republican primary with only 10 percent of the vote. Prescott and incumbent Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) are well known to each other. They served together on the state’s Executive Council, the position Pappas held before his election to the House in 2018.

Prior to redistricting, the 1st District had defeated more incumbents than any seat in the country during the past decade. Therefore, the campaigns here are always competitive. Rep. Pappas won a surprisingly strong 54-46 percent victory last November over former Trump Assistant Press Secretary Karoline Leavitt (R).

RI-1: Board of Elections Reverses Course — After voting 5-1 to review the signature petition process for Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos’ (D) special election congressional campaign, the Board members reversed themselves 24 hours later. Their stated reasoning is that the local boards had already done the job of culling through the names and referring those they found irregular to law enforcement.

The reversal sets the stage for Matos being approved for the ballot. Early polling casts her as the race leader. A dozen Democrats have already been awarded a ballot position. The special Democratic primary to replace resigned Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) is scheduled for Sept. 5. The special general will be Nov. 7, but winning the Democratic primary will prove tantamount to claiming the seat.

Presidential Trends

By Jim Ellis — Friday, July 28, 2023

President

Are Trump and Biden locks for their respective parties?

Presidential Trends: Biden, Trump Party Nominations Look Inevitable — Heading toward August of the off-year, we are seeing clear presidential trends already developing.

President Joe Biden will be renominated. Despite Robert F. Kennedy Jr. being in the primary race and attracting some media attention, the Democratic process will almost assuredly be a non-event.

Trends are also clear for former President Donald Trump. He continues to lead in all polling and has actually gotten stronger within the party base after the series of indictments were leveled against him.

The Morning Consult data and research firm released a graph of the candidates’ progress from December of 2022 through the present. The latest result from their daily online track finds Trump now approaching 60 percent support nationally. In December, he was right at 50 support, but then generally dropped into the 40s through February but has continued to gain strength ever since.

The perennial second-place candidate, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, is now trending in the opposite direction. Beginning with 30 support national support in late December, Gov. DeSantis now finds himself languishing in the teens according to most GOP surveys.

The trajectory for most of the second-tier candidates has also been upward. Aside from Gov. DeSantis, who has fallen, and former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, who have remained virtually stagnant, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum have all improved their standing. Ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has bolted onto the scene but appears to be running to deny Trump, and while he is moving into the middle of the pack, it is difficult to see how his support grows from the Republican Party’s relatively small “Never Trump” faction.

As we know, national polls do not deliver any delegate votes to the candidates. Those, of course, are won at the state level through public voting, so it is important to follow the state data to get a true indication of the nomination contest’s ebbs and flows.

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Burgum Qualifies for GOP Debate; Support for Montana Senate Candidate Wans; Democratic Competition in CA-22; Returning Candidate in FL-9

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, July 27, 2023

President

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R)

Gov. Doug Burgum: Qualifies for GOP Debate — North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum’s campaign team announced that the candidate has qualified for the first Republican debate on Aug. 23 in Milwaukee. Gov. Burgum is showing an uptick in backing from both Iowa and New Hampshire and has attracted enough small dollar contributions and polling support to qualify for a podium on the debate stage.

Gov. Burgum is the seventh debate participant joining former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. Ex-Vice President Mike Pence remains the most well-known candidate who has not yet qualified.

Senate

Montana: Club for Growth Hedges on Support for Rosendale — The Club for Growth leadership several months ago said they would back US Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) to the tune of $10 million if he decided to challenge Sen. Jon Tester (D), as he did five years ago. In the 2018 election, Rosendale, then the state auditor, lost to Sen. Tester, 50-47 percent.

Now, CfG president David McIntosh, himself a former Republican congressman, is hedging on such a support level, saying that retired Navy SEAL and aerospace company CEO Tim Sheehy is an impressive candidate and Rep. Rosendale is needed in the House. Rosendale has long been a presumed Senate candidate but has yet to come forward and formally announce his political plans.

House

CA-22: Democratic Competition — In November, Golden State Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) defeated then-state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D), 51.5 – 48.5 percent, in a district the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+10. Salas, who many regard as the congressman’s most difficult opponent from the group of candidates he faced during his five victorious federal campaigns, has already announced that he is returning for a rematch. Now, however, further competition looms on the horizon. State Sen. Melissa Hurtado (D-Sanger/Bakersfield) is reportedly preparing to announce for Congress and will enter the March 5, 2024, all-party jungle primary.

While Hurtado’s Senate district covers just over 96 percent of the 22nd Congressional District, she was only re-elected in November by just a 22-vote margin from more than 138,000 ballots cast. Therefore, it appears that Salas should still be favored to advance into the general election against Rep. Valadao.

FL-9: Republican to Try Again — Former state Rep. John Quinones (R), who ran for the 9th District seat in 2012 but lost soundly (63-37 percent) to then-Rep. Alan Grayson (D), is returning to run again in 2024, this time hoping to challenge incumbent Rep. Darren Soto (D-Kissimmee). The 9th District, which contains the south Orlando area, was the most over-populated of the 27 Florida congressional districts prior to reapportionment and redistricting. It has 30 percent different territory from when Quinones ran the first time.

Rep. Soto was re-elected to a fourth term in November with a 54-46 percent margin, which was much lower than expected against an opponent who spent less than $600,000. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates FL-9 at a substantial D+16, with a partisan lean calculation from Dave’s Redistricting App of 58.8D – 39.2R.

Matos Under Scrutiny in RI; Republican Challengers Align in CA-9; Democrat Battle Brewing in NY-4; Kentucky, New Hampshire Gov. News

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, July 26, 2023

House

Rhode Island Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D)

RI-1: Matos’ Signatures Undergoing Greater Scrutiny — Earlier, we reported that Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D), a candidate in the special election to replace resigned Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline (D), is under scrutiny about the legality of her petition signatures. Now, the situation has become more serious. Yesterday, the Rhode Island Board of Elections members voted 5-1 to investigate her petition filing.

The Board will order research on each of the submitted petition signatures to ensure the required number of legal entries are present. If short of the required 750 number, Matos would be disqualified from participating as a candidate in an election where she appears as the clear leader. A total of 12 Democrats have preliminarily been approved for the special election ballot. The Democratic primary, winning of which is tantamount to claiming the seat, is scheduled for Sept. 5.

CA-9: Candidate Withdraws; Endorses — Pastor Brett Dood, who had previously declared his congressional candidacy to compete against Rep. Josh Harder (D-Tracy), has announced that he will end his campaign. Dood then said he would support Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln (R) who became a congressional candidate last week. Republicans now appear to be uniting behind Lincoln, meaning they will have a credible challenger against Rep. Harder in a district that can become competitive.

In 2021 redistricting, Rep. Harder fared poorly and moved into the 9th District to run after veteran Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) announced his retirement. Though Rep. Harder had less than 28 percent of the crossover population from his previous 10th District, he still recorded a 55-45 percent victory over San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R) but needed to outspend him by a 6:1 ratio in order to do so.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-9 as D+8. Though in an underdog position, this is the type of seat Republicans need to put in play to protect their small majority.

NY-4: Dem Battle Brewing — There was no doubt that freshman Rep. Anthony D’Esposito (R-Island Park) was going to face a major re-election battle in 2024. He was the 2022 election cycle’s big upset winner in defeating former Hempstead Town Supervisor Laura Gillen (D) in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+10. Now, however, it appears that Gillen, who has announced she will return for a rematch, will face her own major challenge in the Democratic primary.

Though he has not yet made an official announcement, two-term state Sen. Kevin Thomas (D-Levittown) has filed a congressional committee with the Federal Election Commission. Expect this race to draw significant national political attention from beginning to end.

Governor

Kentucky: GOP Poll Shows Closing Race — The Republican State Leadership Committee released a new Public Opinion Strategies survey (July 19-20; 500 Kentucky registered voters; live interview) showing a closing of the 2023 governor’s race between incumbent Gov. Andy Beshear (D) and Attorney General Daniel Cameron (R). The ballot test finds the governor holding only a 49-45 percent edge. The poll counters another POS poll from late June for a public interest group that posted Gov. Beshear to a 52-42 percent lead. The election is scheduled for Nov. 7.

New Hampshire: Former US Sen. Ayotte Enters Open Gov Race — Former New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R), who won a landslide 2010 victory with a 60-36 percent spread but lost her seat six years later to current incumbent Maggie Hassan (D) in a razor-thin 49-48 percent margin, announced Monday that she will return to active politics with a run for governor. Four-term incumbent Chris Sununu (R), who is not seeking a fifth two-year term, leaves behind what promises to be a hotly contested general election as well as two competitive party primaries.

In addition to Sen. Ayotte entering the governor’s race, former state Senate President and 2022 US Senate candidate Chuck Morse is also an announced Republican candidate. The Democrats already feature a race for their party nomination between Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington.

Slotkin Posts Larger Lead in Senate Campaign; Alabama Redistricting Map Passes; Matos Challenged in Rhode Island; Maloy Challenged in Utah

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Senate

Michigan Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing)

Michigan: Slotkin Posts Larger Lead — Mitchell Research conducted a new poll of the Michigan electorate (July 11-13; 639 likely Michigan voters; SMS text) and finds Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) recording a 44-38 percent lead over former Rep. Mike Rogers (R) and an even larger 41-28 percent advantage over ex-US Rep. Peter Meijer (R). Both are potential Senate candidates. The accuracy level of this poll could be questioned, however. The sample number of 639 is low for a purely electronic poll, and the all-text questionnaire did not accept any respondent who failed to answer all of the survey’s 22 questions.

House

Alabama: New House Redistricting Map Passes Legislature — On Friday, the Alabama legislature passed a new congressional map as directed, but the controversy appears far from over. The US Supreme Court decision that there could be another minority seat drawn on the Alabama map was addressed in the special session that Gov. Kay Ivey (R) called to comply with the SCOTUS ruling.

Assuming the governor signs the new legislation creating the map, the Democratic plaintiffs have already said they will object to the new plan. The initial challenge to this new map will return to the three judge panel who originally declared the Alabama map unconstitutional.

It will be up to the three Republican judges to determine if this plan meets the guidelines that the SCOTUS ruling outlined. We can expect detailed and possibly contentious arguments to occur when attorneys from both sides again appear before the judicial panel. The Alabama primary is being held concurrently with Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024, so expect the new lawsuit to be quickly filed.

RI-1: Matos’ Signatures Challenged — As last week closed, controversy arose in the special election to replace resigned Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline (D). Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos, who polling suggests has opened a large lead over the field of 21 other Democrats, now may face a challenge over whether her required 750 petition signatures are all from legally registered voters.

Matos’ campaign spokesperson said they will review the signatures to ensure that she has met the legal requirement. If the challenge proves valid and Matos is disqualified, the race becomes wide open. The Democratic primary, the winning of which is tantamount to claiming the seat, is scheduled for Sept. 5.

UT-2: Lawsuit Filed Challenging Maloy’s Legitimacy — One of the special election Republican candidates who lost the Utah Republican Party’s 2nd District endorsing convention and did not file petition signatures to continue his candidacy, has now filed a lawsuit challenging the officially endorsed candidate, Celeste Maloy who is resigning Rep. Chris Stewart’s (R-Farmington) legal counsel.

Two weeks ago, objection to Maloy’s voter registration status arose since she last cast a ballot in Utah during the 2018 election. She moved to the Washington, DC area to work for Rep. Stewart, thus explaining her absence from the state. Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson (R), who is the state’s chief elections officer, approved her petition, thus allowing her candidacy. Now, however, former candidate Quin Denning (R) is filing an official legal challenge to her status. He is claiming that Maloy reactivated her Utah voter registration at her sister’s house three days after filing her candidacy documents.

Former state Rep. Becky Edwards and ex-Republican National Committee chairman Bruce Hough have qualified via petition for the Sept. 5 special primary election. The Democrats have nominated state Sen. Kathleen Riebe (D-Cottonwood Heights). Rep. Stewart is scheduled to resign on Sept. 15.

Brown Becoming Leading Senate GOP Candidate in Nevada; Redistricting Activist Challenges in Michigan; Kuster Stands Pat; Competition in NY-16; NC Gubernatorial Race Update

By Jim Ellis — Monday, July 24, 2023

Senate

Afghan War veteran Sam Brown (R)

Nevada: Brown Becoming GOP Candidate of Choice — Afghan War veteran Sam Brown (R), disfigured through his war injuries, is becoming the leading Nevada Republican US Senate candidate just since his official announcement on July 10.

According to published reports, he is already the leading fundraiser in the Republican field and has the endorsement of National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman Steve Daines (R-MT), the Americans for Prosperity organization, and individual senators such as Marsha Blackburn (R-TN). The eventual Republican nominee will oppose first-term Sen. Jacky Rosen (D) in the general election. For Republicans to gain the Senate majority, the Nevada seat must become a prime target.

House

MI-4: Redistricting Activist to Challenge Rep. Huizenga — Attorney Jessica Swartz (D), who was one of the prime movers behind the successful ballot initiative to convert the Michigan redistricting system to a citizens’ commission, announced that she will challenge US Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) next year.

Originally, Rep. Huizenga appeared to be the odd man out as national reapportionment cost Michigan a congressional seat. The map led to he and veteran Rep. Fred Upton (R) being paired in the new southwestern Michigan’s 4th CD. However, with Rep. Upton opting for retirement after serving 36 years in the House, that ultimately left the seat to Huizenga, who was re-elected with a 54-42 percent victory percentage last November even though he had not previously represented 75 percent of the new constituency. Expect this race to draw some national attention in 2024.

NH-2: Rep. Kuster Staying Put — Saying that Democrats already have “two great candidates,” US Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton) said late last week that she would not enter the open governor’s race now that four-term incumbent Chris Sununu (R) has announced his retirement. It is presumed that Rep. Kuster will seek re-election to a seventh term in the House.

In her comments, Rep. Kuster was referring to Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington who are declared Democratic gubernatorial candidates. Republican former state Senate President Chuck Morse immediately announced his candidacy when Gov. Sununu made his retirement plans public. Ex-US Sen. Kelly Ayotte may also soon join the open Republican primary.

NY-16: Potential Tougher Challenger for Rep. Bowman — Last year, New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-Yonkers) turned back two Democratic primary challengers by a 54-25-19 percent margin in what proved to be a moderately competitive campaign. This cycle, his competition may be more formidable.

Westchester County Executive George Latimer (D), who defeated a Republican incumbent in 2017 and then won a 62-38 percent re-election campaign, confirms that he is considering challenging Rep. Bowman. Prior to his election to local office, Latimer served in both the New York Assembly and state Senate. Westchester County, the population of which is just short of 1 million residents, dominates the 16th CD. A total of 91 percent of the district lies in this one county, with the remaining territory crossing into the Bronx borough.

Governor

North Carolina: New Candidate Emerges — Former state Sen. Andy Wells announced late last week that he will enter the Republican gubernatorial primary. This sets up a re-match of sorts with Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson. The two ran against each other in the 2020 lieutenant governor’s primary, a political battle that Robinson won by almost a 2:1 ratio. Also in the race is former Congressman Mark Walker. Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro at this point is unopposed but may have opposition from former state Supreme Court justice Mike Morgan. The 2024 governor’s race is open because incumbent Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Poll Shows Presidential Race Tightening; Ohio Senate Race Still a Toss-Up; Big Lead for Mondaire Jones; Gov. Sununu Declines to Run Again

By Jim Ellis — Friday, July 21, 2023

President

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R)

New Hampshire: UNH Poll Shows GOP Race Tightening — A University of New Hampshire Granite State Poll was released during the week (July 13-17; 2,208 registered New Hampshire voters; 898 likely Republican primary voters; 743 likely Democratic primary voters; online), and it shows a tightening of the Republican presidential contest. According to this data, former President Donald Trump’s lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has dropped to 37-23 percent. The second tier has also moved up. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, ex-New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy and ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley all posted between eight and five percent support.

On the Democratic side, 65 percent of President Joe Biden’s voters say they will vote for him as a write-in if he doesn’t participate in the New Hampshire primary. This would likely be enough for him to beat Robert F. Kennedy Jr, even without the president’s name on the ballot. New Hampshire is not likely to agree with the new Democratic National Committee primary schedule, so Biden may not participate.

Senate

Ohio: New Poll Continues to Show Toss-Up Race — Suffolk University, polling for USA Today (July 9-12; 500 Ohio mostly likely voters; live interview), finds Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in a dead heat match with newly announced US Senate candidate Frank LaRose (R), Ohio’s Secretary of State. According to the results, the two candidates would each attract 45 percent of the vote. If state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) were the Republican nominee, Sen. Brown would lead 46-43 percent. Should businessman Bernie Moreno win the GOP primary, Sen. Brown’s margin against him in a general election pairing would be 48-41 percent.

The poll tested the Republican primary, but the sample cell is too low (190) to make a definitive judgment. The basic results give LaRose just a 19-14-9 percent edge over Sen. Dolan and Moreno, respectively. A majority of 56 percent, however, said they were undecided. Ohio will be one of the top Senate races in the 2024 general election.

House

NY-17: Ex-Rep Opens with Big Dem Primary Lead — Former US Rep. Mondaire Jones (D), in a comeback attempt in his former Rockland/Westchester County district after losing re-election last year in New York City, released a survey of Democratic voters. The results of the Public Policy Polling study (July 14-15; 570 likely NY-17 Democratic primary voters) gives Jones a strong 43-8 percent ballot test advantage over local school board member Liz Gereghty, who is also the sister of Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D). The Democratic primary winner will face freshman Rep. Mike Lawler (R-Pearl River) in what promises to be a tight general election.

Governor

New Hampshire: Gov. Sununu Won’t Run Again — As expected, four-term Granite State Gov. Chris Sununu (R) announced Wednesday that he will retire when his term ends at the end of next year. Gov. Sununu is only the second chief executive in state history to serve four two-year terms. The other was Democratic Gov. John Lynch, who was in office from 2005 to the beginning of 2013.

Gov. Sununu was first elected in a close 2016 election, but then recorded three successive victories with substantial margins. He briefly considered entering the 2024 presidential campaign before deciding against launching a national effort.

Immediately, former state Senate President Chuck Morse (R), who actually served two days as governor when then-Gov. Maggie Hassan (D) resigned early to be sworn into the Senate, confirmed that he will run. Morse last ran for the Senate in 2022 but suffered a one-point loss in the Republican primary. Ex-US Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) is also a potential gubernatorial candidate. Previously announced Democratic gubernatorial candidates are Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig and Executive Councilor Cinde Warmington. Expect this open governor’s race to yield a hard fought toss-up campaign.