Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Trump’s Florida Endorsements; Mastriano Candidacy Could Hinder Republicans; Jungle Primary System Being Considered in Montana, SD

By Jim Ellis — Monday, April 24, 2022

President

Former President Donald Trump

Donald Trump: Scoring Florida Congressional Endorsements — Former President Donald Trump is playing the endorsement game to “one up” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and he has been quite successful in recruiting Sunshine State delegation congressional endorsements. How much such support will help the former President is yet to be determined, but he now has 11 Florida House members in his camp versus just one for the state’s governor.

Those publicly endorsing Trump are Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach); John Rutherford (R-Jacksonville); Mike Waltz (R-St. Augustine Beach), from the district that DeSantis previously represented; Cory Mills (R-New Smyrna Beach); Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor); Anna Paulina Luna (R-St. Petersburg); Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota); Greg Steube (R-Sarasota); Byron Donalds (R-Naples); Brian Mast (R-Ft. Pierce); and Carlos Gimenez (R-Miami). The lone DeSantis endorsement comes from freshman Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Tampa).

Pennsylvania: Trump Concerned About Mastriano — Reports are surfacing on Twitter that former President Trump is expressing anxiety that state senator and former gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano (R-Chambersburg) would hurt his own campaign if he were to run for the Senate and win the party nomination. Sen. Mastriano is a strong supporter of Trump’s, but his poor 2022 general election campaign for governor netted him only a 56-42 percent loss to then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D).

Again having Mastriano on the general election ballot would likely cost Republicans up and down the entire ballot because another poor campaign for one of the top offices would likely depress GOP turnout.

Senate

Montana: Top-Two Primary Bill Tabled — The state House policy committee considering whether Montana should employ the top-two jungle primary system in the US Senate race as a test case this year has run into a snag. All but one Republican committee member joined with the Democrats to table the bill that would enact such a plan.

Democrats claim the Republicans are trying to change the primary system in order to stop a Libertarian Party candidate from garnering its customary three percentage points in the general election, most of which hurts a Republican nominee.

The measure had already passed the Senate. The bill’s author said he doesn’t believe the idea is dead and could still pass the 68R-32D state House of Representatives before the legislature adjourns. Sen. Jon Tester (D) is seeking a fourth term in next year’s election. Should this measure pass, the results will likely directly affect his campaign.

States

South Dakota: Clears the Way for Top-Two Nominating System — The South Dakota Secretary of State approved the petition to begin gathering signatures to put a measure on the ballot that would change the way primaries are conducted in the Mount Rushmore State. Proponents of the top-two all-party jungle primary system, while at least temporarily on hold in Montana, can now move forward in South Dakota. To qualify a constitutional amendment measure for the state ballot, 35,000 valid registered voter signatures must be brought forth before the assigned deadline. The purpose of this effort is to qualify the top-two concept for the November 2024 ballot.

The Republicans, who dominate the state’s politics, are officially opposed to the measure. The state Republican Party chairman pledges to fight the ballot initiative and will likely get the party on public record in opposition to the proposed election system change.

Currently, California and Washington have adopted this system that originated in Louisiana. Alaska adopted a hybrid version of the all-party primary with four candidates qualifying for the general election, as opposed to two as in the other states. In all domains, the top finishers advance regardless of political party affiliation.

RFK Jr. Formally Announces Run for President; Trump Leads in NH, SC Polls; New Entry in Ohio Senate Race;
House Candidate Activity

By Jim Ellis — Friday, April 21, 2023

President

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Formally Announces — The son of former US Attorney General and New York Sen. Robert F. Kennedy officially entered the Democratic presidential primary yesterday. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. gained national attention for his anti-vaccination stance but is unlikely to be a serious threat to President Biden. He could, however, do some damage in New Hampshire and Georgia if the two states don’t adhere to the Democratic National Committee primary schedule, thus likely forcing the president to skip those primaries.

The adjusted DNC schedule bounces New Hampshire from the first primary position and adds Georgia to the pre-Super Tuesday calendar, among other changes. New Hampshire will not easily relinquish its traditional position — and doesn’t have to, because the individual states, and not the political parties, control their own primary election schedule. The Georgia legislature and governor may not approve the schedule because doing so would force the state to finance two primaries, since the Republicans are not adding the Peach State to the pre-Super Tuesday schedule.

New Hampshire: Trump Leading in New Poll — A new University of New Hampshire Granite State poll (April 13-17; 818 likely New Hampshire Republican primary voters; online) sees former President Donald Trump continuing to lead the proposed Republican presidential primary field, while home state Gov. Chris Sununu breaks into double-digits ascending to third place. Trump would lead Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Gov. Sununu, 42-22-12 percent. No other potential candidate reaches five percent support. On the Republican side, New Hampshire will remain as the first-in-the-nation primary.

South Carolina: Trump Leads Home State Opponents — The recently released National Public Affairs survey (April 11-14; 538 registered South Carolina voters likely to vote in the Republican primary; online & text) finds former President Trump again topping the Palmetto State field with 40 percent of the vote, a full 20 points ahead of DeSantis.

South Carolina candidates Nikki Haley (the state’s former governor), and Sen. Tim Scott, who has filed a presidential exploratory committee, would command 18 and 16 percent, respectively. Though the two still trail badly in their home state, the NPA ballot test posts the South Carolina pair to their strongest showing to date.

Senate

Ohio: Businessman Moreno Joins GOP Race — Buckeye State businessman Bernie Moreno (R), who for a short time was in the 2022 Senate race but dropped out before the first ballots were cast, announced that he will join the 2024 Republican primary with the hope of challenging Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in the general election. While a candidate in the previous campaign, Moreno spent $4 million of his personal fortune on his political effort.

Currently in the race is state senator and 2022 US Senate candidate Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls) who has already invested $3 million of his own money into the ’24 Senate race. Thus, it appears we have two major self-funders set to battle each other for what should be a valuable GOP nomination in what portends to be one of the hottest general election Senate races in the country.

House

IL-7: Exploratory Committee Filed: — Veteran Illinois Congressman Danny Davis (D-Chicago) was first elected to the US House in 1996 after serving both as a Cook County Commissioner and on the Chicago City Council. Though his district is heavily Democratic and safe from a Republican opponent, Rep. Davis did have a relatively close call in the 2022 Democratic primary when he defeated community organizer Kina Collins by a 52-45 percent count. In 2020, he defeated the same opponent with a 60-13 percent victory margin.

At the age of 81, he is considered a retirement prospect for the 2024 election. That being the case, Chicago City treasurer and former state Rep. Melissa Conyears-Ervin (D) formed a congressional exploratory committee for the 7th District. This is a March 2024 Democratic primary campaign to watch.

IN-3: Former Rep. Stutzman Launches Comeback — Indiana Republican Marlin Stutzman, who served three terms in the US House before losing the 2016 US Senate Republican primary to then-Congressman Todd Young, announced yesterday that he will attempt to reclaim the seat he vacated eight years ago. The race, however, will be no “gimme” for the former congressman and ex-state legislator. Already announced as candidates are state Sen. Andy Zay (R-Huntington) and former Circuit Judge Wendy Davis, among others.

In a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates R+34, the successor to Rep. Jim Banks (R-Columbia City), who is now running for Senate, will be decided in the May 2024 Republican primary.

MI-10: Another Democrat Surfaces to Challenge Rep. James — A third Democratic candidate came forward to compete for the party nomination to challenge Michigan freshman US Rep. John James (R-Farmington Hills). Emily Busch, a gun control activist and defeated state representative candidate, said she will run for Congress next year. Already in the Democratic primary are attorney Brian Jaye and financial consultant and ex-state representative candidate Diane Young.

It is likely that 2022 nominee and former judge and prosecutor Carl Marlinga will return for a re-match. He will be heavily favored in the Democratic primary, having lost to James by just a half-percentage point. The 10th District 2024 campaign again promises to be highly competitive and is a national Democratic congressional target.

Q2 Senate Candidate Financial Filings

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, April 20, 2023

Senate

Financials: What the Numbers Show — The Daily Kos Elections website compiled the just-released second quarter Federal Election Commission campaign financial disclosure summaries for the in-cycle Senate races, and the funding reports again tell many interesting stories.

One of the first clues analysts consider is whether the quarter fundraising suggests retirement possibilities. One 2024 total, in particular, stands out as a strong possibility.

Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who has been in elective office consecutively since 1967 when counting his service in the Maryland House of Delegates, the US House, and the Senate, raised only $14,000 in the 2nd Quarter. He still maintains just under $1 million in his campaign account, however. Sen. Cardin, who will be 81 years old at the time of the next election and says he will announce his 2024 political plans shortly, now looks to be a strong retirement possibility.

Just to the north, Delaware Sen. Tom Carper (D) is also mentioned as a retirement prospect. He raised only $193,000 in the 2nd Quarter but has just over $600,000 in the bank. In an at-large state, his financial situation is not particularly low. Still, at 77 years of age at the time of the next election and having been in elective office for 47 consecutive years, retirement is certainly a possibility.

Sen. Mitt Romney (R) has also not been a proactive fundraiser, attracting only $111,000 within the quarter just ended. His cash-on-hand figure of $604,000 is also low, but Sen. Romney has the ability to raise a great deal of money in a short period, and has already filed a 2024 campaign committee with the FEC. He says he will make a final decision about whether to seek a second term “during the summer.”

A senator who has been coy about her 2024 plans is Arizona’s Kyrsten Sinema, who left the Democratic Party in December to become an Independent. Some believed there was a question about whether she would seek re-election but seeing a $2 million 2nd Quarter and just under $10 million cash-on-hand strongly suggests that the first-term Grand Canyon State senator will compete for re-election.

The most active 2nd Quarter fundraisers were Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) at $15.5 million reported raised, but that figure includes an $11 million transfer from her existing US House committee. Her opponent in the open California Senate race, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), is the second-most prolific fundraiser, with $6.5 million in reported 2nd Quarter income.

Following are Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT; $5.0 million), Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ; $3.7M), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH; $3.5M), Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI; $3.0M), and Sens. Jacky Rosen (D-NV; $2.4M), Christopher Murphy (D-CT; $2.3M), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI; $2.1M), and Sinema ($2.0M).

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AZ Polls Show Trump Over Desantis, But Desantis Over Biden; Ex-House Member Considers PA Senate Bid; Tiffany Readying for Senate Run in Wisc.; Kentucky Governor Poll

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, April 19, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump; Florida Gov. Ron Desantis (R)

Arizona: Trump Up in AZ GOP Primary Poll; DeSantis Leads in General — Two presidential polls were released in critically important Arizona, one for the Republican primary and the other isolating the candidates against President Biden. It is abundantly clear that Republicans must bring the Grand Canyon State back into their Electoral College coalition if they are to have any chance of winning the 2024 national election.

The Republican primary survey posts former President Donald Trump to a substantial advantage over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. Desantis, however, would lead President Biden in a general election poll, while Trump would not.

JL Partners (April 10-12; 550 registered Arizona Republican and Undeclared voters) finds Trump holding a 47-24-4-4-3-2 percent advantage over Gov. DeSantis, ex-Vice President Mike Pence, former US Rep. Liz Cheney, ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, respectively, in the GOP primary study. Public Opinion Strategies surveyed the state’s general electorate (April 11-13; 500 likely Arizona voters; live interview) and forecasts Gov. DeSantis leading President Biden, 48-42 percent, while Trump trails 45-44 percent.

Senate

Pennsylvania: Ex-Rep. Rothfus Considering Senate — Republican Keith Rothfus served three terms in the US House from 2013 to 2019. He was defeated for re-election in 2018 when the state Supreme Court map collapsed Rep. Rothfus’ Pittsburgh area seat with that of fellow Rep. Conner Lamb (D). In that Democratic wave election year, Rep. Lamb defeated Rothfus with a 56-44 percent margin. The victorious congressman would then lose the 2022 US Senate Democratic primary to current incumbent John Fetterman, however.

Though the national and state Republican leadership are making it clear they would like to see 2022 Senate candidate David McCormick return to challenge Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D), Rothfus is indicating that he would have the ability to become a consensus candidate. There is yet no word from McCormick himself if he will again become a Senate contender. The Republican leadership certainly wants to put this seat in play but defeating Sen. Casey will be a tall order regardless of who becomes the GOP nominee.

Wisconsin: Rep. Tiffany Okays Senate Website — Reports are surfacing that Wisconsin US Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua) has approved the purchase of US Senate campaign domain names. The Congressman indicated, however, that this act does not necessarily mean he will actually become a statewide candidate.

Tiffany won a special election to the 7th Congressional District in 2020 with 57 percent of the vote, and then a full term with 61 percent later that year. He was re-elected in 2022 with a 62 percent vote margin. Should he run for the Senate and win the Republican primary, Rep. Tiffany would then face Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) who recently announced that she will compete for a third term.

Governor

Kentucky: AG Cameron Securing First Place in New Poll — Now less than one month before the 2023 Kentucky statewide primary election, a new Emerson College poll (April 10-11; 900 likely Kentucky Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system & text) sees Attorney General Daniel Cameron continuing to lead the GOP gubernatorial primary despite being under intense attack from his main opponent.

The poll results find AG Cameron leading former UN Ambassador Kelly Craft 30-24 percent. Trailing are Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles (15 percent), disbarred attorney Eric Deters (6 percent), and state Auditor Mike Harmon (2 percent). The winner of the May 16 primary battle will then challenge Gov. Andy Beshear (D) in the November general election.

Costello Challenges Maine’s Sen King; PA Senate Poll; Romney’s Rough Road in Utah; Louisiana Gov. Race Update

By Jim Ellis — Monday, April 17, 2023

Senate

Maine: Sen. King Draws Democratic Opponent — David Costello (D), a former aide to Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley (D) before moving to Maine, announced his candidacy for the US Senate late last week. (See video above.) He hopes to oppose Independent Sen. Angus King, who is expected to seek a third term. Democrats have filed candidates in both of Sen. King’s victorious races, but neither have been competitive. Still, the three-way race including the Republican nominee, was able to keep Sen. King’s winning percentages down to 54 and 51 percent in 2012 and 2018, respectively.

Should Costello be able to mount a significant campaign, the chances increase for Sen. King to drop below 50 percent, and that means Maine’s Ranked Choice Voting system would take effect. In that wild-card system, the end result would not be as easy to predict.

Pennsylvania: First 2024 Poll — On the heels of Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) announcing that he will seek a fourth term, Pennsylvania’s Franklin & Marshall College went into the field with a statewide survey (March 27-4/7; 643 registered Pennsylvania voters; live interview). According to these results, Sen. Casey would lead 2022 Senate candidate David McCormick (R), 42-35 percent. His lead significantly expands to 47-31 percent if his opponent were 2022 gubernatorial nominee and state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R).

Somewhat surprisingly, the poll finds Sen. Casey’s job approval rating at a rather poor 29:48 percent favorable to unfavorable. This compares to Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro’s positive 43:36 percent job approval ratio.

Utah: Sen. Romney Files 2024 Campaign Committee — Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) has filed a 2024 campaign committee with the Federal Election Commission. While this action is not a formal declaration of candidacy, filing a campaign committee is certainly the first step toward him seeking a second term.

It is likely that Sen. Romney will be forced to petition his way onto the ballot since the chances of him coming through the conservative Utah Republican Party nominating convention are slim. Such would lead to a June 2024 Republican primary challenge. The most prominent potential opponent being discussed is former congressman and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz. State House Speaker Brad Wilson (R-Kaysville) has formed a US Senate exploratory committee. Attorney General Sean Reyes (R) is also a potential Senate candidate.

States

Louisiana: Gov Candidate to Switch Races — The surprise announcement from Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin (R) that he is not going to seek re-election has now changed the governor’s race. State House Speaker Clay Schexnayder (R-Gonzales), who was clearly laying the groundwork to enter the open governor’s race, has now adjusted his political course and announced his run for the open Secretary of State’s position.

The top Republicans already in the governor’s race are Attorney General Jeff Landry, state Treasurer John Schroder, and former Chamber of Commerce CEO Stephen Waguespack. Democrats look to be coalescing around former state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term. The Louisiana primary is Oct. 14, 2023. If no candidate receives majority support, a two-person runoff will occur on Nov. 18.

Pompeo Declines to Run;
2022 Candidate Won’t Return;
NY House Races

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, April 18, 2023

President

Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Mike Pompeo: Won’t Run; Youngkin Now on Hold — Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (R) announced Friday that he will not join the 2024 presidential field. Only a long-shot victory path existed for the former Secretary, CIA Director, and US representative from Kansas. Additionally, according to a New York Times report, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has put his fledgling presidential effort on hold and is now apparently unlikely to enter the race.

To date, the only announced candidates are former President Donald Trump, ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley (R), and businessman Vivek Ramaswamy. South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott has filed a presidential exploratory committee. While President Biden has repeatedly said he “plans to run again,” he has still not made a formal announcement. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and ex-Vice President Mike Pence are both expected to join the campaign in the next few weeks.

Senate

Arizona: ’22 Candidate Lamon Won’t Return — Former solar company CEO Jim Lamon, who placed second in the 2022 US Senate race with 28.1 percent of the Republican primary vote, says he will not return for another run this year and is instead endorsing Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb (R). Several other Republicans, including 2022 gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake and senatorial nominee Blake Masters, are reportedly considering the race.

The 2024 Senate race, expected to be one of the most competitive in the country, likely will feature a three-way contest with incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema running as either an Independent or the nominee of the No Labels Party, which has qualified for the ballot in Arizona. Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) is the only announced Democratic contender and is fast becoming a consensus candidate.

House

NY-3: Ex-Rep. Suozzi Now Considering — Looking at the negative media circus that has surrounded freshman New York Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island), which certainly lessens his chances of winning re-election in 2024, former Congressman Tom Suozzi (D), who left the House to run a long-shot 2022 campaign for governor, confirms that he is now considering making a congressional comeback attempt next year.

Regardless of whether Suozzi runs, the NY-3 race will be a top Democratic conversion opportunity. It is probable that the Republican leadership will support a new GOP candidate in hopes of saving the seat. Democrats need only to convert five seats to recapture the House majority, and this race is certainly their number one target.

NY-22: New Candidate Emerges — Last November, freshman Rep. Brandon Williams (R-Syracuse) held the state’s new 22nd Congressional District that former Congressman John Katko (R) represented for eight years before retiring. Then, and now, the Syracuse anchored seat leans toward the Democrats (FiveThirtyEight: D+2; Dave’s Redistricting App: 53.4D – 43.1R partisan lean) but has elected a Republican to the US House in the last five consecutive elections.

Late last year, Manlius Town Councilwoman Katelyn Kriesel (D) announced that she would compete for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Williams. Her campaign proved short-lived, however, since she dropped her bid at the beginning of March. Now, a new Democratic contender has emerged. DeWitt Town Councilwoman and US Air Force veteran Sarah Klee Hood (D) came forward at the end of last week to enter the race.

Count on this race being highly competitive in the 2024 general election cycle no matter who ultimately becomes the Democratic nominee.

Sen. Scott Forms Exploratory Committee; Sen. Baldwin to Seek Third Term; Re-Match Brewing in AZ, NY; Ex-Rep. Rouda Injured in Fall

By Jim Ellis — Friday, April 14, 2023

President

South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R)

Sen. Tim Scott: Exploratory Committee Formed — South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott (R) announced the formation of a presidential exploratory committee, which is likely his first official step toward becoming a national candidate. It’s hard to see a Republican nomination victory path for the senator, however. South Carolina is obviously the heart of his support base, but with the state’s former governor, Nikki Haley, already in the race, even that is diminished.

Should Sen. Scott advance into official candidacy, it is likely that former President Donald Trump will be the chief beneficiary. The more crowded the candidate field, the more favorable to Trump.

Senate

Wisconsin: Sen. Tammy Baldwin to Seek Third Term — As expected, Badger State Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) announced this week that she will seek a third term next year. Baldwin was first elected to the Senate in 2012 but has been in elected public office consecutively since 1985. Prior to winning her current position, Baldwin served in the US House, the Wisconsin state assembly, the Dane County Board of Supervisors, and the Madison Common Council.

No Republican has formally come forward, but several individuals are considering the race. Unless the congressional map is redrawn, it is doubtful any member of the US House delegation will run. Former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch is a potential candidate as is businessman Scott Mayer. While Sen. Baldwin will be favored for re-election, the 2024 Senate race could well become highly competitive.

House

AZ-6: Re-Match Brewing — We are seeing several re-matches take place in 2024 US House races, and one in Arizona became official yesterday. Last November, Republican Juan Ciscomani (R-Tucson) defeated then-state Sen. Kirsten Engel (D) by a 50.7 – 49.2 percent count, a margin of 5,232 votes. Now, Engel returns for a second chance.

Arizona’s 6th District sits in the southeast corner of the state and contains approximately half of the city of Tucson. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates it as R+7, but Dave’s Redistricting App sees a closer 50.9R – 47.1D partisan lean. Count on another close finish in this desert congressional district.

CA-47: Ex-Rep. Harley Rouda Forced Out — Former Rep. Harley Rouda (D), who held the former 48th Congressional District for one term, had announced a comeback attempt for next year’s political contest in new District 47. Unfortunately, Rouda was involved in a falling accident in which he sustained head injuries. On the advice of his physicians, Rouda says that he will now not pursue his 2024 candidacy and instead concentrate on returning to full health status.

This development means we will now almost assuredly see an open-seat contest between state Sen. David Min (D-Irvine) and 2022 congressional nominee and ex-state Assemblyman Scott Baugh (R). In the previous election, Baugh lost to incumbent Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) by a 51.7 – 48.3 percent split. Rep. Porter is leaving the House to run for the US Senate.

NY-19: Another Re-Match Brewing — Continuing with re-matches, attorney Josh Riley (D), who lost 49.9 – 48.4 percent to now-freshman Rep. Marc Molinaro (R-Red Hook), announced that he, too, will return for another campaign in 2024.

The Upstate 19th District, anchored in Ulster and Dutchess Counties, is rated as R+1 from the FiveThirtyEight data organization, while Dave’s Redistricting App sees the partisan lean as a much different 52.0D – 44.6R. Democrats are already committed to targeting the Hudson Valley seats, so expect this race to transform into a national congressional campaign.