Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Elections: Johnson Wins in Chicago, Democrat Wins Crucial Wisconsin Judicial Race; Trump Gets Post-Indictment Bounce; House News

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, April 5, 2023

Election Results

Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D) will succeed Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D).

Chicago Mayor: Johnson Wins Close Election — Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas was attempting to complete a worst-to-first showing from his last place finish in the 2019 Chicago mayor’s race, but fell just under three percentage points of accomplishing his goal. The winner, with 51.4 percent of the runoff vote, is Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson (D), who will now succeed Mayor Lori Lightfoot (D) after her defeat in the initial round of voting.

Johnson’s combined support from the Chicago Teachers Union and the black and Hispanic communities, together of which accounts for approximately 60 percent of the city’s population, led to his victory. Commissioner Johnson is himself a former teacher and union organizer.

Wisconsin Supreme Court: Democrat Wins — Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Janet Prostasiewicz won a rather easy 55-45 percent victory last night in what many believe was a crucial election. The victory now gives the Democrats the majority on the state Supreme Court for the first time in 15 years. Abortion, again, was a major topic in the race with Prostasiewicz positioning her opponent, former defeated Supreme Court Judge Dan Kelly, as an extremist. Kelly raised little money for the race, but had major outside support. Prostasiewicz and the Democrats had a major resource advantage, and ran the campaign as if it were closer to a partisan congressional race than a judicial battle.

It is probable that we will now see a redistricting lawsuit filed and the state’s 6R-2D map overturned. Prostasiewicz indicated during the campaign that she thought the congressional map was “unfair.”

It appears Republicans won a state Senate special election that would give them a Super Majority within the body. This would allow them to override many of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ potential vetoes. With 99 percent of the vote counted, Republican Dan Knodl held 50.4 percent of the vote.

President

State Polling: Trump’s Indictment Bounce — Though now under indictment, former President Donald Trump sees his polling numbers continue to improve, this time in three states. His lead over Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and others, has grown according to new surveys from Massachusetts and New Hampshire, while his deficit has closed in the Sunshine State.

Opinion Dynamics, polling for the Boston Herald newspaper (released April 3; 475 likely Massachusetts Republican primary voters) sees Trump’s Massachusetts lead expand to 45-21-9-3 percent over Gov. DeSantis, former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, and ex-Vice President Mike Pence. In a two-way test, Trump led DeSantis, 46-32 percent.

In New Hampshire, St. Anselm’s College conducted one of their regular Granite State surveys (March 28-30; 1,320 registered New Hampshire voters; live interview via cellphone). Here, Trump’s advantage is 42-29 percent, with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu pulling 14 percent.

The Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Florida survey (March 27-30; 625 registered Florida voters with a 507 over-sample of Republican voters for the GOP primary questions; live interview) sees DeSantis, with a strong GOP approval rating of 87:7 percent favorable to unfavorable, leading former President Trump 44-39 percent before the governor’s home state electorate.

House

MI-10: New Democrat Comes Forth — Last November freshman Rep. John James (R-Farmington Hills) won a very tight 49-48 percent election victory over former judge and prosecuting attorney Carl Marlinga (D). He has now already drawn two opponents even though Marlinga is expected to return to seek a re-match.

Earlier in the week, former state representative candidate Diane Young (D) announced her congressional candidacy. Previously, attorney and 2022 congressional nominee against Rep. Lisa McClain (R-Bruce), Brian Jaye (D), declared his candidacy in the adjoining 10th CD. It is already clear that regardless of how many Democrats come forward to attempt to challenge Rep. James, the 2024 Democratic nominee will almost assuredly again be Marlinga. He will once more give Rep. James a very competitive battle in the general election.

NY-3: Rep. Santos Has Primary Challenge — It is a foregone conclusion that embattled freshman New York Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island) is the most vulnerable House member for the coming 2024 election. While two Democrats have previously announced their candidacies, the first Republican challenger stepped forward yesterday.

Afghan War veteran and former JP Morgan Vice President Kellen Curry declared himself a candidate for the Republican nomination. It is expected that we will see a crowded Republican primary form long before the June 2024 New York primary. Defeating Rep. Santos in the primary may be the only way the GOP has of potentially salvaging the seat.

Opponents Line Up to Challenge Rogers; Re-Match Developing in NJ; Santos Opponent Rises; Potential OH-9 Challenger Bows Out

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, April 4, 2023

House

Kentucky Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Somerset)

KY-5: Multiple Challengers Opposite Rep. Rogers — Eastern Kentucky US Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Somerset) is the Dean of the House of Representatives. First elected in 1980, he has rarely been challenged since, though already we see four Republican opponents lining up to do so next year. Last week, the fourth of these candidates, airline pilot David Kraftchak, announced his candidacy.

In 2022, physician Rich Van Dam challenged the congressman, along with three others, and together the group held Rep. Rogers to an 82 percent landslide victory. With the congressman turning 86 years old before the next election, it appears these challengers are anticipating a potential retirement announcement, since it is unlikely they will have much success at the ballot box.

NJ-7: A Budding Re-Match — New Jersey’s 7th Congressional District is a definable swing seat, and it is appearing more likely that in 2024 we will see the rubber match between current Rep. Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield) and ex-Rep. Tom Malinowski (D). The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat R+3 while Dave’s Redistricting App calculates a 50.8R – 46.6D partisan lean.

While Malinowski has not yet officially announced his 2024 campaign, reports coming from the region suggest he is laying the groundwork for another political contest. Kean and Malinowski traded 51-49 percent victories in the 2020 and 2022 elections. We can expect another close battle here next year should this candidate lineup again come to fruition.

NY-3: New Rep. Santos’ Opponent Announces — While clearly Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island) has attracted the most attention of any new member in the current Congress, individuals willing to challenge him in the next election haven’t been particularly quick to come forth. Late last week, however, college professor Will Murphy became the second Democrat to declare himself a candidate, joining Nassau County Legislator John Lafazen in the party primary.

It is likely that Rep. Santos will draw a strong Republican primary opponent, but many are waiting to see the ethics investigation results involving the new congressman that will be forthcoming at some point. Regardless of what happens or who decides to run, we are guaranteed of seeing a highly competitive 2024 congressional campaign in this Long Island CD.

OH-9: Legislator Won’t Return for a Re-Match — Veteran Ohio US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) did not fare well in the 2021 redistricting plan; her new 9th District was made decidedly Republican, but she was still able to easily turn back Republican J.R. Majewski, who proved to be a weak opponent. One of the individuals who lost to Majewski in the Republican primary was state Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green). Sen. Gavarone announced last Thursday that she would not return to again run for Congress, but will seek re-election to the state Senate.

Many believed the crowded primary that allowed Majewski to defeat more established candidates through vote splitting cost the Republicans an opportunity of converting the western Ohio congressional district. This year, Majewski says he is planning to run again but hasn’t yet formally announced, and Republican leaders are looking for a stronger candidate to challenge Rep. Kaptur, who was first elected to the House in 1982. She is the longest serving Democratic member.

Earlier in the week, former Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski announced his candidacy. State Rep. Derek Merrin (R-Waterville), the chairman of the Ohio House Ways & Means Committee, is also a potential candidate.

Utah GOP County to Censure Romney; Rhode Island Election Calendar;
2026 Race Already Underway in Ohio

By Jim Ellis — Monday, April 3, 2023

Senate

Utah Sen. Mitt Romney (R) | Facebook

Utah: GOP County to Censure Sen. Romney — The Utah Republican Party’s conservative flank is beginning to take action against GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, as he considers whether to seek a second term next year. The Emery County Republican Party will consider a resolution to officially censure Sen. Romney with language that includes the phrase, “ … providing aid and comfort to Democrats by voting for Trump’s ‘20/’21 impeachment, for not helping Trump in 2020, and marching in an openly communist and anti-American BLM protest” during that same year.

This act may be the first of other such moves to portray Romney as being outside of the Republican mainstream, thus paving the way for a GOP primary challenger. Former US representative and Fox News contributor Jason Chaffetz has been mentioned as a possible Romney challenger.

House

RI-1: Governor Announces Special Election Calendar — With so many individuals either announcing or moving toward a congressional special election candidac — 11 at last count — Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee (D) last week announced the voting schedule he plans to call when Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) resigns on June 1 to accept a position leading a granting foundation.

The governor will schedule the special primary on Sept. 5 this year, with the special general slated for the regular election on Nov. 7. The Democratic primary will decide the election since the 1st District will heavily favor the party’s eventual nominee. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+32.

Governor

Ohio: 2026 Race Already Underway — Lt. Gov. John Husted (R) launched his campaign last week for governor even though the election is still almost four years away. Gov. Mike DeWine (R) was elected to a second term in November, but is ineligible to seek a third term.

Husted is not the only candidate getting a head start. Previously announcing that they would run for governor in the 2023 are former Department of Homeland Security official and conservative think tank president Matt Mayer (R) and Iraq War veteran Jeremiah Workman (R).

The Presidential Campaign Goes On

Former President Donald Trump

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 31, 2023

President

Donald Trump: Indictment — Yesterday’s indictment of former President Donald Trump will undoubtedly change the presidential campaign picture, but predicting any eventuality at this early juncture of the juxtaposition between the legal and political processes is difficult.

In the past few weeks, Trump has been trending upward in national Republican primary polling. Earlier in the year, survey results were flip-flopping between he and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis in terms of which man was leading on ballot tests before a national Republican electorate.

As we approached yesterday’s indictment, both the horse race numbers, ostensibly between Trump and DeSantis, and even the personal favorability indexes were showing noticeable improvement in the former president’s favor.

In fact, the recent Fox News Poll posted Trump to a 30-point national Republican advantage over Gov. DeSantis (conducted by Beacon Research and Shaw & Company Research for Fox News; March 24-27; 1,007 US registered voters; approximately 423 Republican primary voters; live interview: Trump 54; DeSantis 24; former VP Mike Pence 6; ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley 3; former Congresswoman Liz Cheney 3 percent).

It will be interesting to see just how the media coverage of the indictment, arraignment, legal arguments and eventual trial changes the political picture. There is no question that the associated events and their ultimate outcome will have at this point an undetermined major impact upon the nomination campaign’s outcome. It will doubtlessly also affect the general election contest.

What we do know is the previous early polling pattern is still present. Yesterday, a new Georgia Republican presidential primary poll was released, and we again see Gov. DeSantis performing better on a state basis than he does nationally.

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Christie: “Stop Trump”; The Jan. 6 Effect in OH-9; RI-1 Candidate List Grows; Chicago Runoff on Tues.

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 31, 2023

President

Gov. Chris Christie

Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie

Chris Christie: Unique Pitch — Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) is making appearances in New Hampshire and telling Republicans that they “need him” on the debate dais in order to “stop Trump.” It is unlikely that such a strategy will bear much political fruit, but it is certainly possible that Christie will enter the presidential race.

House

OH-9: New Candidate Emerges — Ohio US Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) is one of only five Democrats who represent seats that former President Donald Trump carried in 2020. Post-redistricting, Rep. Kaptur found herself placed in a seat that is strongly Republican, but was fortunate in drawing GOP candidate J.R. Majewski, who was part of the January 6 raid on the Capitol. She easily dispensed with her opponent, 57-43 percent, despite the district’s R+6 partisan lean.

A new contender came to the forefront yesterday, which will likely make the 2024 race much more competitive. In what is expected to be the first of several Republican candidates to announce, former Walbridge Mayor Dan Wilczynski yesterday made his declaration.

Rep. Kaptur is the Dean of House Democrats. She was first elected in 1982, thus serving her 21st two-year term.

RI-1: Candidate List Continues to Grow — Despite Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) not resigning his seat until June 1, the list of impending special election candidates continues to grow. Woonsocket Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt (D) is adding her name to the list of those either announcing for the seat or considering entering the campaign. Her addition expands the candidate and potential candidate list to nine Democrats. At a D+32 rating, Rep. Cicilline’s successor will be determined in the special Democratic primary.

Baldelli-Hunt is the aunt of Rocco Baldelli, who is the manager of the Minnesota Twins Major League Baseball club. Gov. Dan McKee (D) will issue the special election calendar as soon as Rep. Cicilline officially resigns.

Cities

Chicago: Conflicting Surveys — Yesterday, we covered a poll released by Emerson College, which posted former Chicago Schools CEO Paul Vallas to a 46-41 percent lead over Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Now we see a new survey coming into the public domain that shows Johnson in better standing.

Northwestern University’s Center for Diversity and Democracy and several Black and Latino non-profit organizations contracted with the BSP survey research firm (March 15-23; 1,500 registered Chicago voters; live interview, email, and online panel) and produced data that finds the two candidates locked in a 44-44 percent dead heat.

The runoff election is Tuesday, and we are guaranteed a tight finish between the two jungle primary finishers. In the qualifying election, incumbent Lori Lightfoot (D) was defeated.

Two More Presidential Prospects; New Candidate for NC Gov’s Race; Chicago, Houston Mayoral News

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, March 30, 2023

President

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC)

New Prospects: Two Schedule Trips to Primary States — A pair of new Republican potential presidential candidates appear to be exploring the national campaign hustings. Reportedly, Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R) are beginning to test the political waters with appearances in the early primary states.

Should they move forward, former President Trump will likely be the big winner. The greater number of individuals who have little chance of winning the nomination but still become candidates makes it easier for Trump to score plurality victories and secure the highest number of delegates.

States

North Carolina: New Gubernatorial Candidate Enters — Tar Heel State Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R) has received the preponderance of early attention regarding the 2024 open Republican gubernatorial nomination, but another individual has jumped ahead of him to become the first official GOP candidate. State Treasurer Dale Folwell declared his gubernatorial candidacy Monday, thus setting up a tough primary battle with Robinson, who is set to soon officially announce his bid.

The lone Democrat in the race, Attorney General Josh Stein, is well on his way to becoming a consensus party candidate. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is ineligible to seek a third term. As with all North Carolina statewide races, the 2024 battle will yield a tight final result.

Cities

Chicago: Breaking Vallas’ Way — Two positive occurrences happened Monday for Chicago mayoral candidate Paul Vallas, now just one week away from runoff election day. First, Emerson College released their new survey conducted for the WGN Television in Chicago and The Hill newspaper in Washington, DC. The study (March 23-25; 1,000 likely Chicago voters; multiple sampling techniques) posts Vallas to a 46-41 percent lead over Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. The polls have see-sawed throughout the runoff period.

Secondly, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) has announced his public support of Vallas, thus bringing him more key Illinois Democratic establishment support. The election is scheduled for April 4.

Houston: Rep. Jackson Lee (D) to Run for Mayor — As has been anticipated for several months, Texas US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) announced Monday that she will enter the 2023 open Houston mayor’s race. The congresswoman will not have to risk her US House seat to run for the post, but must resign if elected. If this occurs, a special election will then be scheduled to fill the unexpired portion of her congressional term. Already, a field of 11 individuals have announced their mayoral candidacies even though candidate filing doesn’t conclude until Aug. 21.

The major candidates, in addition to Rep. Jackson Lee who was first elected to Congress in 1994, include state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston), former city councilwoman and ex-US Senate candidate Amanda Edwards, Houston Metro Board member and ex-Texas Democratic Party Vice Chairman Chris Hollins, and attorney Lee Kaplan. Incumbent Mayor Sylvester Turner is ineligible to seek a third term.

No-Go For Ro; Hogan Says No; Benson Takes a Pass; Justice Moving Closer

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 29, 2023

Senate

California US Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont)

California: Rep. Khanna to Remain in House — California US Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) announced over the weekend that he is ending consideration of entering the state’s open US Senate race and, instead, will back his San Francisco Bay Area colleague, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), in her statewide campaign. Rep. Khanna says he plans to seek re-election to the House in 2024, which he claims is the best place for him to serve.

Khanna’s move further crystallizes an open all-party March 5 primary race among Reps. Lee, Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Adam Schiff (D-Burbank). A credible Republican candidate has not yet come forward. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the Senate’s top senior Democrat, is retiring.

Maryland: Ex-Gov. Hogan Again Says No — Republican leaders are again trying to recruit former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) into the Maryland US Senate race. It appears, however, they will not have any better luck convincing him to challenge veteran incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D) in the 2024 campaign than they did in recruiting him against Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) last year.

Hogan reiterated that he has no interest in running for the Senate, and that includes an open-seat scenario. Sen. Cardin, who will be 80 years old at the time of the next election, is a retirement prospect.

Michigan: Another Takes a Pass — On Friday, Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson (D), who had not previously closed the door on entering the open Senate race, said that she would not run. The move strengthens Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) who, at this point, is the only announced Democratic candidate. Michigan Education Board President Pamela Pugh and actor and author Hill Harper are the remaining noteworthy potential candidates.

For the Republicans, state Education Board member Nikki Snyder is the only declared candidate. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) is not seeking re-election to a fifth term. Rep. Slotkin is the clear early favorite for the Democratic nomination and to win the general election in November of 2024.

West Virginia: Gov. Justice (R) Moving Closer to Senate Candidacy — Reports are coming from West Virginia, and even quoting Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) as a source, that Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is ineligible to seek a third term in 2024, is moving closer to entering the US Senate contest. Apparently, he held a meeting with the National Republican Senatorial Committee leadership and has been communicating directly with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) about the next campaign.

Earlier, it was reported that Gov. Justice would not announce for the Senate until he had shepherded his major tax cut proposal through the legislature. Now that the revenue bill has passed, it appears the governor will soon declare his federal candidacy.

In order to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the general election, he must initially move past US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town). The congressman, who declared for the Senate right after the November election and has support from the Club for Growth political action organization, will be a formidable opponent. Gov. Justice, however, has universal name identification and a favorable image throughout the state. He is the obvious favorite.

Manchin appears to be the most vulnerable of the Democratic senators standing for re-election, and the West Virginia race is becoming a must-win for the Republicans if they are to take advantage of a favorable 2024 Senate map that forces them to defend only 11 of 34 in-cycle seats next year.