Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Presidential Primary Plans in Flux; NV-1 2022 Candidate Files Again;
VA-4 Special Updates;
Gov. Baker Goes to NCAA

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Dec. 19, 2022

President

Primary Schedule: Push-Back Could Change Announced Plan — Apparently, the Democrats haven’t quite settled on the 2024 primary schedule due to objections from certain party leaders about South Carolina being moved to the number one position. Last week, President Biden made a specific schedule change suggestion involving several states that the initial Democratic National Committee policy panel approved. The plan called for South Carolina, New Hampshire, Nevada, Georgia, and Michigan, in that order, being allowed to host primary elections prior to a larger number of states voting on Super Tuesday in early March.

Now, it appears that a move potentially involving Georgia, Nevada, or North Carolina ultimately becoming the first state on the Democratic calendar could potentially alter the not-yet-adopted presidential primary voting schedule. Therefore, while it looked as if the Biden suggestions were headed for full DNC adoption, that might not prove to be the final decision. Stay tuned.

House

NV-1: Challenger Files 2024 Committee — Businessman Mark Robertson (R), who lost to Rep. Dina Titus (D-Las Vegas) by a 52-46 percent count in November, has filed a new congressional committee for 2024. Robertson’s action does not mean he is committed to running again, but certainly leaves the door open for a seamless transition into another campaign. Short-term, it provides a legal fundraising vehicle.

Redistricting changed the 1st District from a D+22 seat, according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, to its current D+4, thus making it a competitive CD for the next several elections. Whether Robertson again becomes an official candidate or not, Rep. Titus can expect another competitive challenge coming her way in 2024.

VA-4: Democrat Drops Out — Approaching the quickly called Dec. 20 firehouse special election primary, where only five polling stations are open throughout the sprawling district that stretches from Richmond to the North Carolina border, state Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond), one of the leading candidates, withdrew from the race and endorsed state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond). She now appears as the party leaders’ selected choice.

Republicans voted in their firehouse primary Saturday. The scheduled Feb. 21 special congressional election is on the ballot to replace the late Congressman Donald McEachin (D-Richmond).

States

Massachusetts: Gov. Baker in Line for New Position — Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker (R) has accepted a new position that takes him both out of politics and the private business sector. Beginning in March, he will become the new President of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).

Now that football is administered through the College Football Association, the NCAA has much less influence over the domain of college athletics. His biggest challenge in this new position is making sure the organization does not lose control over the annual national college basketball tournament, which is currently the NCAA’s largest event.

Opposition Candidates Announce to Run Against VA Sen. Kaine; Quick “Firehouse” Primary Set; Retiring Congressman Plans Mayoral Run

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 16, 2022

Senate

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D)

Virginia: Many Announce Against Sen. Kaine — For a Senate race that appears safe in this early part of the 2024 election cycle, the Virginia contest is surprisingly already drawing a great deal of candidate interest. It’s unlikely that any of the five Republicans and one Democrat who have announced their candidacies can defeat Sen. Tim Kaine (D), but we are at least assured of seeing a multi-candidate Republican nomination battle.

Of the five announced candidates, only two, financial advisor and retired Army officer Eddie Garcia and attorney and Navy veteran Chuck Smith, seem credible enough to become potentially viable candidates.

House

VA-4: Republicans Schedule Quick Firehouse Primary — Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) call to the political parties to choose their nominees by Dec. 23 for the Feb. 21 special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) has given the party leaders precious little time, but now both entities have scheduled “firehouse primaries.” As reported yesterday, the Democrats will hold their primary next Tuesday, Dec. 20. Now the local Republicans are moving even quicker. They will hold their special primary tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 17.

The schedule is ridiculously short and does not give the candidates time to campaign nor the voters an adequate ability to know who is running and where to vote, since the polling places in a “firehouse” primary are very scarce. At this point, Democrats have five candidates and Republicans four.

Governor

Louisiana: Sen. Kennedy Releases Another Poll — While Sen. John Kennedy (R) says he will make a decision about running for governor after the first of the year, he continues to release polling data showing him holding a lead against a field of prospective open seat 2023 gubernatorial candidates.

His latest survey, again from Torchlight Strategies (Dec. 6-9; 861 likely Louisiana 2023 gubernatorial election voters; live interview and text), projects Sen. Kennedy to be holding a 42-22-14 percent lead over state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) and attorney general and former US Congressman Jeff Landry (R) in what will be an Oct. 14, 2023 jungle primary. In potential runoff pairings, which would be scheduled for Nov. 18 of next year, Sen. Kennedy would lead AG Landry 46-21 percent and Secretary Wilson by a much larger 58-27 percent.

These numbers, and the fact that Kennedy is releasing them, clearly suggests that the senator will affirmatively announce his gubernatorial campaign in January. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Cities

West New York: Retiring Congressman Plans Mayoral Run — Though New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) is retiring from the House of Representatives this year after serving eight terms, he is apparently not finished with elective politics. Reports suggest that Sires will soon announce his candidacy for mayor of West New York, a town in New Jersey — one of the elected positions he held before winning his seat in Congress.

Sires served as mayor from his original election in 1995 until he won the US House position in 2006. Beginning in 2001, he was also an elected member of the New Jersey state Assembly, where he became Speaker in 2002.

DeSantis’ Big Lead Suspect; Recount Confirms Rep. Boebert’s Victory;
A Rapid-Fire Special Primary; Lightfoot Looking Shaky in Chicago

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Dec. 15, 2022

President

Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL)

USA Today Poll: DeSantis’ Big Lead Suspect — Suffolk University, polling for USA Today (Dec. 7-11; 1,000 registered US voters; 374 likely Republican primary voters; live interview) finds Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) leading both President Biden and former President Donald Trump in their latest published survey.

The general election data that finds DeSantis leading President Biden, 47-43 percent, is the more legitimate number. The Republican primary result, which tested only 374 individuals nationally and shows DeSantis holding a huge 56-33 percent advantage over Trump, should be discarded because it is not statistically sound.

The Morning Consult organization also released a survey, this with a much greater sample size (Dec. 9-11; 4,215 self-identified Republican voters; online) and arrived at an opposite conclusion vis-à-vis the hypothetical Republican nomination battle. Including many candidates, Morning Consult finds Trump holding a 49-31 percent lead over Gov. DeSantis, with former Vice-President Mike Pence recording eight percent. All other candidates posted a preference factor of two percent or less.

House

CO-3: Recount Confirms Rep. Boebert’s Victory — The mandatory recount in Colorado’s 3rd District is complete, and the final tally confirms Rep. Lauren Boebert’s (R-Silt) close victory over former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch (D). The recount changed only four votes to the original tally, thus making Rep. Boebert’s margin of victory 546 votes. Frisch had conceded the election weeks ago, but Colorado election law mandated the recount because the two candidates were separated by less than half a percentage point. The Democratic nominee says he is open to seeking a re-match in 2024.

VA-4: Dems Schedule Rapid-Fire Special Primary — Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) calling a Feb. 21 special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) has spurred the local 4th District Democratic committee to call a very quick “firehouse primary.” A Virginia “firehouse primary” is a term given to a primary election that has very few polling places. Gov. Youngkin’s order set Dec. 23 as the deadline for choosing party nominees.

The Democratic nomination battle, which will likely determine the next congressional member, is now scheduled for Dec. 20, giving the candidates only a week to campaign. The leading contenders are state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), and Delegate Lamont Baxby (D-Richmond). Republicans have yet to determine their nomination process.

Cities

Chicago: Rep. Garcia Leads Mayor’s Race in Union Poll — Though the poll is just about a month old, the International Union of Operating Engineers Local 150 just released their Impact Research study of the impending Chicago mayor’s race. The survey (Nov. 10-17; 700 likely Chicago local election voters; live interview and text) found US Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) leading Mayor Lori Lightfoot 25-18 percent within a field of nine candidates. The data suggests the two would advance to an April 4 runoff election from the non-partisan Feb. 28 election.

In the hypothetical runoff, Rep. Garcia would lead Mayor Lightfoot by a whopping 55-25 percent margin. The controversial mayor posts very poor job approval ratings, with 68 percent disapproving of her performance in office. She received positive ratings only from the black community, and even there registered just a 50 percent favorable score. A total of 84 percent of white voters and 72 percent of Hispanics disapprove of how she has handled her mayoral duties.

Cruz Polling Up for Renomination, Down for President; Ariz. Dem Primary Looking Competitive; VA-4 Special Election Scheduled;
Sen. Braun Announces Candidacy

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022

President

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz (R)

Texas: Cruz Polling Up for Renomination, Down for President — According to a Texas-based Republican pollster, Sen. Ted Cruz is in strong shape among prospective GOP primary voters for renomination, but not for a presidential campaign. The CWS Research firm recently conducted a Texas poll (Nov. 8-29; 860 likely Texas 2024 Republican primary voters; interactive voice response system and online) and finds the senator posting a strong 81 percent renomination score, but only records three percent support for another presidential bid.

The CWS poll leader is former President Donald Trump at 37 percent preference with Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis following closely with 34 percent. Former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-UN Ambassador and South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley also finish slightly ahead of Sen. Cruz in his home state. Pence draws five percent backing and Haley four percent, as compared to Sen. Cruz’s three percent.

Senate

Arizona: Dem Primary Could Be Competitive — Apparently Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix) is not the only Arizona Democratic congressman considering a run for the Senate. According to a report from the Daily Kos Elections site, Rep. Greg Stanton (D-Phoenix) — who served six years as mayor of Phoenix and nine years on the Phoenix City Council before being elected to the US House in 2018 — has conducted a statewide US Senate poll. If he were to run in what would now be an open US Senate Democratic primary since new Independent incumbent Sen. Kyrsten Sinema will advance directly into the general election, a tough battle would develop in an August 2024 primary between the two Phoenix-based congressional Democrats.

Rep. Stanton was re-elected in November with a 56-44 percent margin against a credible Republican, businessman Kelly Cooper. This, after his district was changed from a D+15 to a D+1 rating according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization calculations, meaning he rather impressively exceeded expectations.

House

VA-4: Special Election Scheduled — Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has surprisingly scheduled the special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) for Feb. 21. With Democrats certain to hold this seat in the special election, it was thought Gov. Youngkin would delay a bit longer, possibly to early April, in order to give the Republicans a further one-seat edge in the House party division count.

With the Feb. 21 general election date that will fast approach, the political parties must quickly assemble and determine how their nominees will be chosen. At this point, their realistic options are to nominate in a special district convention or hold a “firehouse primary,” that is an election with very few polling places around the district.

The Democratic nomination will be the contest to watch, since the 4th District is rated as D+30. At this point, state Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond) have announced their intention to file as candidates. For the Republicans, two-time nominee Leon Benjamin and insurance agent and frequent candidate Ron Wallace have declared that they will run.

Governor

Indiana: Sen. Braun Announces — First-term Hoosier State Sen. Mike Braun (R) made his obvious intentions to run for governor official Monday with his formal announcement. He will be a strong favorite for the Republican nomination, which gives him the inside track in the general election.

There is a good possibility that his Democratic opponent will be former US senator and current Ambassador to the Holy See, Joe Donnelly. The Holy See is the government of the Roman Catholic Church, which is led by the Pope in his role as the bishop of Rome. Ironically, this would set a re-match between the two men of the 2018 Senate race, a campaign that Sen. Braun won with a 51-45 percent victory margin. The Braun announcement now sets into motion a competitive Senate campaign that will likely feature a crowded Republican primary.

Former Indiana Gov Considering Senate Run; Repubs Search for Senate Challenger in PA

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022

Senate

Former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R)

Indiana: Former Governor Making Moves — After going through a very quiet 2022 election, the Indiana political scene is fast becoming a focal point of the early 2024 election cycle. Reports from the state surfaced late last week that former Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), who has ruled out a run for his former job, is making moves to assess his chances in an open US Senate race. Sen. Mike Braun (R) won’t seek re-election in order to mount his own campaign in the open governor’s race. Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, but has not wholly closed the door on entering the Senate race.

The Republican nominee, to be chosen in an early May 2024 primary, will be the heavy favorite to win both the open Senate and governor’s positions. Therefore, much attention will be paid to the GOP primary as it continues to evolve over what will now be a long period.

Pennsylvania: Republicans Searching for Challenger Candidate — The Pennsylvania Republican Party is planning to make a major run against Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D) in 2024 and are already searching for a strong challenger. Former hedge fund CEO David McCormick, who came within 900 votes of winning the 2022 Republican primary, is certainly a possible option, but the latest reports suggest that state Treasurer Stacy Garrity would be an attractive potential Senate candidate. We can expect a competitive GOP primary to develop, and yet another hard-fought general election in two years here not only for President, but also again for a critically important US Senate seat.

States

Pennsylvania House: Majority Depends Upon Deceased Representative — The 203-member Pennsylvania House is facing a dilemma. The Democrats scored a one-seat majority in the election and, on paper, have a 102-101 edge. Unfortunately, veteran Rep. Anthony DeLuca (D-Penn Hills), passed away just before the election; he represented that 102nd vote. Running against a Green Party candidate, DeLuca was re-elected with 85 percent of the vote even though he had already passed away.

Additionally, Pennsylvania law allows candidates to simultaneously run for more than one office in the same election. This means two more Democratic House vacancies have occurred. State Rep. Summer Lee (D-Braddock) resigned her state House seat because she was elected to Congress. State Rep. Austin Davis (D-McKeesport) left the House to assume his new position as lieutenant governor.

A further problem at the state house is that the Speaker of the House sets the special election calendar to fill vacancies in the chamber and not the governor. Therefore, the legislators are embroiled in a dispute over whether or not these special elections can even legally be called since no official Speaker has been elected. Republicans have rejected the Democratic Leader’s special election schedule and Democrats opposed the outgoing GOP Speaker’s special election plan even though both had placed the elections on the same day.

Sen. Sinema Officially Becomes an Independent; Rep. Khanna Considers Senate Race; Automatic Recount Beginning in Rep. Boebert’s CO-3

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Dec. 12, 2022

Senate

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ)

Arizona: Sen. Sinema Officially Becomes an Independent — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Friday announced that she is leaving the party and will represent Arizona as an Independent. As her standing before the Democratic Party electorate is poor, this move seems to clearly indicate that she is preparing for a re-election campaign. According to job approval ratings that were taken from polls conducted well before the November election, Sen. Sinema’s numbers had dropped to the point where she would be a severe underdog in a Democratic primary against her likely intra-party opponent, US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix). In a three-way race against Gallego and a Republican nominee, however, her re-election chances significantly improve.

Little will change in terms of her voting record, but the campaign strategy completely transforms for all involved. Not having to worry about re-nomination, Sen. Sinema will advance directly into the general election assuming she can obtain valid registered voter petition signatures from 45,000 Arizonans. She can begin signature gathering right away, so even this large number should be attainable over such a long duration.

Rep. Gallego, who had been rumored as a Sinema Democratic primary challenger, continues to move forward with his Senate plans. While admittedly convening a Senate planning group, the congressman says he will not formally decide about running until after the first of the year. Republican Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb also confirms he is considering entering the Senate GOP primary.

Regardless of who decides to run, the 2024 Arizona Senate race will be another contest attracting huge national attention. Sen. Sinema’s move to the Independent ballot line certainly increases her chances of winning, but she is certainly no lock to claim a second term in the next election.

California: Rep. Khanna Considers Senate Race — California Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), who was just elected to a fourth term in the House, said over the weekend that he would consider running for the Senate in 2024 if incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), who will be 91 years of age at the time of the next election, decides to retire as expected.

Rep. Khanna further said he would more than likely seek re-election in 2024, but the door is clearly open to him exploring a senatorial run in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic battle should the seat open. The congressman has been a strong fundraiser, averaging a total receipts figure of over $4 million per election cycle for his four successful congressional campaigns along with $5-plus million remaining in his federal account, so he would have the financial base to begin a statewide run.

House

CO-3: Automatic Recount Beginning — The recount for the close CO-3 congressional race featuring Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) and Democratic former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch is close to completion in the district that covers Colorado’s Western Slope region. Though Frisch has already conceded the race to Rep. Boebert, the recount is taking place under the state’s election law that mandates a re-tabulation for any contest that falls within a margin of just one-half a percent.

Though Rep. Boebert’s 548-vote lead from 327,124 ballots cast is expected to stand, the 27 involved counties that comprise the 3rd District must continue the recount. Frisch says he is likely to run again in 2024. The recount process must be completed by tomorrow so the election certification process can be completed.

VA-4: Special Election Candidates Beginning to Come Forward — While Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has yet to call a special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) who passed away in late November, several individuals have come forward to announce their candidacies.

The first is state Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond), who has been a long-time supporter and confidant of Rep. McEachin’s. State Sen. Jennifer McCellan (D-Richmond), who placed third in the 2021 Democratic gubernatorial primary, also says she will enter the special congressional election. Before winning her state Senate seat in 2017, McClellan served six terms in the state House of Delegates.

For the Republicans, who have little chance in a 4th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+30, their two-time nominee and Christian pastor Leon Benjamin says he will enter the special election field.

Virginia’s 4th Congressional District begins in Richmond and then travels south all the way to the North Carolina border. The CD includes the cities of Richmond, Petersburg, and Emporia, along with the Colonial Heights, Chester, and Lawrenceville communities.

North Carolina Redistricting Again Front and Center: A Deeper Dive

North Carolina Congressional District Plan Court-Ordered in 2022, used for the 2022 election (click on map to go to the state’s interactive map)


By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 9, 2022

Redistricting

North Carolina: Redistricting Under Scrutiny — During the past decade, no state has been forced to draw more redistricting maps than the Tar Heel State of North Carolina. Since the 2010 census, the Republican legislature and the Democratic state Supreme Court have gone back and forth over what is a partisan gerrymander or a legal district.

The North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case was heard before the US Supreme Court on Wednesday, and it is a potential landmark case — but some North Carolina state political sources suggest the arguments may go by the proverbial wayside. The high court will rule before the end of June, but before such a decision is rendered the new North Carolina legislature may draft updated redistricting plans for the US House, state Senate, and state House of Representatives. Since the current set of court maps are only interim plans, the legislature can replace them with permanent draws at any time. 

One of the Republicans’ more important victories in the November election was winning a majority on the North Carolina state Supreme Court. Now, with five Republican justices and two Democrats, many in the legislature believe the time will be right to craft new redistricting maps, plans they believe will this time pass legal muster through a different and more favorable state Supreme Court. 

If this occurs as described, and new maps are enacted – remember, in North Carolina, the governor has no veto power over redistricting legislation – it is possible that the action could render as moot the case before SCOTUS. If so, the issue of whether the Constitution views state legislatures as solely independent when handling redistricting could well go unanswered.

The North Carolina state Supreme Court rejected the Republican legislature’s plan again last year. Under that draw, which the court deemed a partisan gerrymander, the Republicans could have won 10 of the state’s 14 congressional districts. North Carolina was one of the states that earned a new seat in national reapportionment. Therefore, a 10-4 split would have meant a net gain of three Republican seats when compared to the previous court map upon which the 13-member NC congressional delegation had last run.

Instead, under the state Supreme Court’s draw, the new Tar Heel State delegation features seven Democrats and seven Republicans. The map awarded the new 14th District to the Charlotte area as a safe D+11 seat according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization calculation. State Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte), who was originally a 2022 candidate for the US Senate, won the new district with an easy 58-42 percent victory.

The other seat to go Democratic was the created open 13th CD, located in the south Raleigh suburbs that stretched to include the Democratic city of Fayetteville. The court balanced the district by adding Republican Johnston County. FiveThirtyEight rated this seat R+3, but Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel (D-Raleigh) defeated Republican Bo Hines by a 51.6 – 48.4 percent margin.

The other major affected area that changed between the original Republican map and the state Supreme Court’s draw was the Greensboro-anchored seat of Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro). Under the Republican plan, this district would have favored a Republican candidate, and Rep. Manning would have had a difficult run for re-election. The Court altered this seat, too, thus giving Rep. Manning an even better district than the one to which she was originally elected — a 6th District seat now rated as D+9.

If the congressional map is in fact re-drawn early in the new state legislative session, we can expect these geographic areas again to be the most affected. If the Republican legislative leaders make a move to finalize permanent redistricting maps, then it might be some time before the issue of independent state legislatures relating to redistricting again comes before the high court. 

Or, if SCOTUS still issues a ruling on the North Carolina case irrespective as to what the legislature does, it could force even further changes in what may again be a new Tar Heel State congressional map.