Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Wrong Candidate in
The Nevada Senate?

April 14, 2015 — Retiring Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) already have endorsed former state Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto to replace the outgoing Minority Leader, but have they chosen the right person? A new poll casts doubt.

The Nevada consulting group calling themselves “Silver Bullet” conducted a poll of between 500-600 Nevada Democrats (the exact number of people polled is not specified) on April 7 and found that Masto is not the top choice of Nevada Democratic primary voters, and by quite a margin. The only other survey question asked presidential preference, and the Silver Bullet conclusions appear consistent with other independent data giving their polling methodology some credibility. According to the result, Hillary Clinton would lead Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) among Nevada Democrats, 55-14 percent.

Instead of professing support for Masto in the Senate race, the respondents, on a 44-20 percent split, prefer Rep. Dina Titus (D-NV-1). For her part, Titus, a former gubernatorial nominee, is clearly sending signals that she would like to run. Saying publicly that she is seriously considering entering the Senate campaign, while her Washington fundraising staff members aggressively tell PAC directors that the congresswoman could well become a Senate candidate, suggests a Titus for Senate campaign is certainly within the realm of possibility.
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While Other Candidates Opt In,
Four Decide to Opt Out of Running

April 13, 2015 — While individuals such as Hillary Clinton and senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) are officially becoming presidential candidates, several potential US Senate and House candidates pursued a different course over the weekend.

Florida Senate

For Florida Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater (R), Sen. Rubio’s presidential announcement appeared to provide him an opening to run for what will now be an open US Senate seat next year. But, Atwater is rather surprisingly backing away from entering the race.

Despite early polls suggesting he might be the strongest Republican who could attempt to succeed Rubio and with supporters already forming a federal Super PAC on his behalf, Atwater, citing family considerations, announced over the weekend that he will not enter the Senate race next year.
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Capps Out in California;
The Cortez Masto Effect In Nevada

April 10, 2015 — Veteran California Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), aged 77, announced Wednesday that she will not seek re-election to an eleventh term in office next year for her CA-24 seat. The congresswoman entered the House via a special election victory in 1998 after her husband, Rep. Walter Capps (D-CA), passed away suddenly; he was first elected in 1996 but suffered a fatal heart attack at the Washington Dulles Airport less than a year after winning his seat. Lois Capps finished her husband’s term and has been re-elected ever since.

The 24th District contains Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, along with part of Ventura. The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made this district much more competitive as Capps’ 55 and 52 percent victory margins in the past two elections suggest. The 2001 congressional map created a coastal district for Capps (then numbered CA-23), slanting the seat to the ideological left in order to help the Democratic incumbent hold the seat. Thanks in large part to map construction, Capps had little in the way of challenges throughout the decade.

But it was becoming clearer that Republicans have a chance to convert the new 24th as a direct result of including all of the more conservative San Luis Obispo County in the district. Republican Chris Mitchum, son of deceased actor Robert Mitchum, pulled 48 percent against the congresswoman in the last election despite spending less than one-quarter the amount of money of his opponent. A stronger candidate could possibly have done better perhaps even scored an upset over Capps in what became a very favorable Republican year.
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Analysis of the Rand Announcement; Rahm Rolls in Chicago

April 9, 2015 — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), as expected, officially announced his 2016 presidential campaign in front of a raucous crowd of supporters in Louisville earlier this week. He also confirmed that he intends to seek re-election to the Senate.

The latter may be a difficult feat, since Kentucky law prohibits individuals from appearing for more than one office on the same ballot. If the state Republicans changed their nominating system from a primary to a caucus, Paul could get around that requirement, but the result would become problematic for the Kentucky GOP, ironically, if Sen. Paul were to win the party presidential nomination. Kentucky election law contains no provision for replacing a party nominee who prematurely withdraws from a race.

But Sen. Paul’s presidential prospects are what’s at top of mind during this period, and opinions vary as to whether he has a legitimate chance of winning the nomination and the presidency itself.
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Ups and Downs in Ohio,
Pennsylvania Senate Races

Ohio Senate

April 8, 2015 — Quinnipiac University conducted a new Ohio poll (March 17-28; 1,077 Ohio registered voters) and finds that the state’s electorate apparently has a short memory.

In 2010, the Ohio voters defeated former Gov. Ted Strickland (D) after a single term, yet this poll gives him a strong 49:29 percent favorable to unfavorable approval rating and posts him to a significant 48-39 percent lead over Sen. Rob Portman (R). This is a surprising result because all other early polls give the senator a slight advantage, at the very least.

In looking closely at the survey, there appears to be little reason why the presumed Democratic nominee would maintain such a discernible edge. The large polling sample is split virtually evenly between the two parties – 28 percent Democratic, 27 percent Republican, 35 percent Independent — which is reflective of Ohio’s swing nature. The sample has no detectable anti-Republican bias, as shown in Gov. John Kasich’s (R) positive personal ratings and those of others. Kasich’s job approval ratio is an outstanding 61:28 percent.
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