Author Archives: Jim Ellis

PA-Senate: Republicans in Trouble

Former US Ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands — a Pennsylvania senate candidate to watch.

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29, 2021 — The Keystone State of Pennsylvania, with an open Senate and governor’s race, will be a focal point of the 2022 election cycle, and last week the Republicans’ early problems grew worse.

The Pennsylvania GOP began this election cycle in a seemingly underdog position as they fought to hold the Senate seat from which two-term incumbent Pat Toomey (R) is retiring; now they are clearly playing from behind.

Iraq War veteran Sean Parnell (R) had former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and was leading the Republican primary in early polling. However, due to losing a child custody judgment rendered at the beginning of this week after a contentious trial in which his ex-wife had accused him of domestic abuse, Parnell withdrew from the Senate contest.

It’s a loss for his party, but Parnell wasn’t even the best of candidates. In his first bid for public office, running for the 17th Congressional District seat against Allegheny County area incumbent Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), now himself a Senate candidate, Parnell came close but lost 51-49 percent. Based upon a close defeat in a winnable district, he decided to make a statewide Senate run.

Two other primary opponents, former lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos and Army veteran, Trump campaign activist, and former congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, also lost their most recent political races. Therefore, the original three leading Republican candidates in either polling or fundraising hadn’t ever won a race and were falling well behind their Democratic counterparts.

The Democrats feature the overall early race leader, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. He commands first position in primary and general election polling and has raised way more campaign capital than all of his opponents, over $9.2 million through the Sept. 30 financial disclosure period.

John Fetterman, however, isn’t without his own flaws. In 2013, when he was mayor of Braddock, a borough southeast of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County and located on the Monongahela River, Fetterman pulled a loaded weapon on an unarmed African-American jogger after hearing gunshots fired in his neighborhood. The Fetterman campaign has already produced a short video explaining the incident in anticipation of this becoming an issue in his 2022 statewide effort.

Rep. Lamb is running second to Lt. Gov. Fetterman in polling and dollars raised, almost $7 million behind his chief Democratic rival. The latest poll, from the Civiqs organization (Oct. 31-Nov. 1; 929 likely Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters, online) found Fetterman way ahead of Rep. Lamb, 52-12 percent, with other announced and possible candidates, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, and potential contender Sharif Street, a state senator and son of former Philadelphia Mayor John Street, all polling at five percent or less.

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ARKANSAS REDISTRICTING

The legislature passed a congressional map that Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) allowed to become law without his signature. The map improves Rep. French Hill’s (R-Little Rock) 2nd District, analyzing from his Republican perspective, while keeping the three other seats solidly in the GOP column.

Rep. Bruce Westerman’s (R-Hot Springs) 4th District needed to gain the largest number of people, 66,283, while Rep. Steve Womack’s (R-Rogers/Fayetteville) had to release the most: 85,266 individuals.

Arkansas will return a 4R-0D map that should last most of the decade.

ALABAMA REDISTRICTING

In early November, Gov. Kay Ivey (R) signed the legislation containing the new congressional map that will leave the state’s seven districts relatively intact.

The biggest adjustment came in Rep. Terri Sewell’s (D-Birmingham) district that needed an influx of 53,143 residents to reach the state’s per district population quota of 717,754 individuals. Rep. Barry Moore’s (R-Enterprise/Dothan) seat needed an additional 24,288 people to reach population equivalency. The most over-populated CD’s were Reps. Mo Brooks’ (R-Huntsville) 5th District that was forced to shed 43,348 residents, and Gary Palmer’s (R-Hoover) Shelby County anchored seat that released 22,956 people to other districts.

The Alabama map will return a strengthened 6R-1D delegation to the House and has a good chance to remain that way for the ensuing decade.

Welch In; Johnson Out; McBath Switches Districts in Georgia


NOTE: Ellis Insight will be taking a break starting tomorrow through the weekend. We’ll return on Monday, Nov. 29. Happy Thanksgiving to all!


By Jim Ellis

Nov. 24, 2021 — Vermont Congressman Peter Welch announces his Senate candidacy, two-term Georgia Rep. Lucy McBath announces a switch from her GA-6 district to GA-7 as a result of redistricting, and 85-year-old veteran Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson announces her retirement. Details below:

Vermont Senate

As expected, Vermont at-large Congressman Peter Welch (D-Norwich) announced his US Senate candidacy this week and becomes the prohibitive favorite to succeed retiring Sen. Patrick Leahy (D). With Welch representing the same statewide constituency as a senator, the move to the chamber of the states should be seamless.

It does not appear that Welch will have major opposition. At this point, Sanders for President campaign activist Niki Thran, a physician, is the only announced Democratic candidate. The more serious potential contenders are likely to opt for the now open at-large House seat.

Rep. Welch was first elected to the US House in 2006, and has cruised to re-election ever since. He was originally elected to the state Senate in 1980, and served 10 years. He became the Senate Democratic Leader for one two-year term.

In 1988, Welch ran for the US House, but lost the Democratic primary. He returned in the governor’s race two years later, this time winning the Democratic nomination but losing the general election. He would return to the state Senate in 2001 when then-Gov. Howard Dean (D) appointed him to fill a vacancy. He was then elected as a member of the Vermont legislative body in 2002, and became the Senate’s President Pro Tempore, a position he held until winning his first US House race.

GA-6

In a surprising response to the Georgia state House voting in favor of the new congressional redistricting map, two-term Rep. Lucy McBath (D-Marietta) announced, even before Gov. Brian Kemp (R) approves the final legislation, that she will depart her current 6th District since its new constituency trends strongly Republican.

Instead, she will challenge freshman Rep. Carolyn Bourdeaux (D-Suwanee) in adjacent District 7 in next year’s Democratic primary. McBath will run to the left of her new opponent, who she will attempt to paint as being too conservative before the primary electorate.

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Two More Maps Advance

Georgia Congressional redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 23, 2021 — The late redistricting season continues to move along at a brisk pace, and two more states are poised to enact new congressional plans this week.

The Georgia state House, after the state Senate passed the proposed congressional map on Friday, was expected to vote on the legislation yesterday and send it to Gov. Brian Kemp (R) for final approval. The Oklahoma legislature, late last week, passed its congressional and state legislative maps in special session and sent them to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R). He is expected to sign the plans into law.

Georgia did not gain a seat in reapportionment despite significant growth in the Atlanta area. In the state’s major metroplex, the congressional districts fully contained within or touching the area counties gained almost 200,000 people dispersed within six districts. The rural CDs, particularly in the southern part of Georgia, however, all needed to gain individuals in order to meet the state population quota of 765,136 individuals per congressional district.

Oklahoma was both a long way from gaining and losing a seat, so the state remains constant with five congressional districts, now three of which come into Oklahoma County, the entity housing the state’s largest metropolis, Oklahoma City.

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