Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Early Senate Rankings

May 26, 2015 — It’s not too early to begin handicapping the 2016 in-cycle Senate races, and projecting whether the Republicans’ can hold their hard-fought majority. Having to defend 24 of the 34 states hosting a Senate race, the Democrats have ample opportunity to convert the four GOP seats they need to re-claim control; or, five if presumed Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton fails to keep the White House.

Beginning in easy fashion, the following Republicans and Democrats appear, at this time, safe for re-election:
Safe Republicans:
• Richard Shelby – Alabama
• John Boozman – Arkansas
• Johnny Isakson – Georgia
• Mike Crapo – Idaho
• Chuck Grassley – Iowa
• John Hoeven – North Dakota
• James Lankford – Oklahoma
• Tim Scott – South Carolina
• John Thune – South Dakota

Safe Democrats:
• Richard Blumenthal – Connecticut
• Brian Schatz – Hawaii
• Chuck Schumer – New York
• Ron Wyden – Oregon
• Patrick Leahy – Vermont
• Patty Murray – Washington
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Winner Take All States Loom Large

May 22, 2015 — Florida’s political and legislative leaders, who acted earlier this week to slot the Sunshine State presidential primary on March 15, could have begun a scheduling trend as states move toward finalizing the 2016 election calendar.

As more Republican prospective contenders enter the race –- we could see as many as 18 candidates — the voting schedule gains in importance. With no clear front-runner, the chances of the GOP nominating in an open or “brokered” convention become greater. Therefore, the critical factor in projecting whether any candidate will be able to secure a majority of the delegates before the Republican National Convention begins in the middle of July will be the number of winner-take-all (WTA) states.

The WTA format merely means that victorious primary candidates collect all of the particular state’s delegate allotment. States still have through most of this year to make a final decision about their primary/caucus schedule and how they will apportion their delegates. But, right now, it only appears that six states are opting for the WTA format.
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Pence Opts In — and Out — of Race;
Florida Makes a GOP Primary Move

May 21, 2015 — On Tuesday, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) announced both that he will compete in a political contest, yet he won’t. After speculating about running for president, Pence formally declared that he will seek re-election as governor. Therefore, he is out of the presidential contest but he certainly remains in the political arena.

So far, the preponderance of prospective Republican candidates have either officially jumped into the race or appear headed in that direction. Two, Pence and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, have decided not to enter the national campaign.

This means the Republican field could still reach as many as 18 candidates. Eleven have either become candidates or, in the case of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, will enter the race soon. Two major potential contenders, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also have yet to formally declare, but will reportedly do so sometime in June.

This will be a record large presidential field and, with no one performing as a clear front-runner, the race may not be finally decided until the very end of the nominating cycle.
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No Clear Winner in Kentucky
GOP Gubernatorial Race

May 20, 2015 — Yesterday the highly contentious Blue Grass State Republican gubernatorial was decided … sort of. With no run-off system in Kentucky election law, the three major candidates who were in a virtual three-way tie in polls before the election wound up with about the same result after the election.

State Agriculture Secretary James Comer was viewed to be the early leader in the race, but accusations from former Louisville Metro Councilor Hal Heiner that Comer physically abused a girlfriend while in college effectively turned the race upside down. Charges and counter-charges flew between the two men for weeks, even including the appearance of the former girlfriend, and the after-effects weakened both candidates. And while the campaign turned nasty, businessman Matt Bevin, the wealthy investor who unsuccessfully challenged Sen. Mitch McConnell in last year’s Republican primary, crafted a positive strategy designed to propel him above the fray created between the other two. You may remember that in the 2014 race, polling showed Bevin running close to the veteran senator but, in the end, the nomination contest evolved into a McConnell landslide.

But this time, the businessman’s plan clearly worked, and it may well have carried him to the nomination. From more than 214,000 Republican votes cast last night, Bevin clings to an 83-vote lead with 100 percent of the precincts reporting. Each man attracted approximately 33 percent of the vote. Heiner, who placed third with 27 percent, conceded. Former state Supreme Court Justice Will Scott finished a distant fourth at seven percent.
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How the Senate is Stacking Up

May 19, 2015 — The 2016 cycle hosts 34 Senate races and, at this point, it appears 16 of them will feature significant competition. From these in-cycle seats, the current majority Republican party must defend 24 positions. To re-capture the majority, Democrats will need to convert four Republican states if the party wins the presidency, and five if it does not.

Below is a major candidate listing within the currently contested 16 states:

ALASKA
• Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)
Possible
• Mike Dunleavy (R) – State Senator
• Joe Miller (R) – Attorney; 2010 US Senate nominee
Unlikely
• Mark Begich (D) – former US Senator

ARIZONA
• Sen. John McCain (R)
Likely
• Kelli Ward (R) – State Senator
Possible
• Fred DuVal (D) – Former Statewide Candidate
Unlikely
• Richard Carmona (D) – Former US Surgeon General
• Ann Kirkpatrick (D) – US Representative, District 1
• Matt Salmon (R) – US Representative, District 5
• David Schweikert (R) – US Representative, District 6
• Kyrsten Sinema (D) – US Representative, District 9
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