Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Missouri Senate: Long In, Wagner Out

By Jim Ellis

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), announced that he will run for the Senate in Missouri.

Aug. 6, 2021 — The open Missouri Senate race saw significant change in the past couple of days with two announcements: one from a person launching his Senate campaign while another declared for a different political contest.

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), who represents the second safest Republican district in the Missouri congressional delegation, announced that he will run for the Senate, entering the already crowded open contest for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R).

US Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), another individual long said to be considering the Senate contest, announced instead that she will run for a sixth term from her St. Louis suburban congressional district.

Rep. Wagner has faced two competitive electoral contests in 2018 and 2020, winning with 51 and 52 percent of the vote, respectively, in a district that is becoming politically marginal. Then-President Trump carried the MO-2 district by just a handful of votes in 2020 after winning it 53-42 percent in 2016. With Republicans holding the redistricting pen and Missouri not losing a congressional seat, Rep. Wagner’s CD should become more favorable for her in the next election under new boundaries.

Long will oppose former governor, Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and fellow US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) at this point in the Senate Republican primary. Though Rep. Wagner has removed herself from consideration, 8th District US Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem), who holds Missouri’s strongest Republican congressional seat, is still viewed as a potential senatorial candidate.

It appears that Rep. Long starts in an underdog position if looking solely at fundraising and available resources. AG Schmitt raised $1.33 million through the June 30 Federal Election Commission second quarter reporting period and held $1.2 million in his campaign account. Rep. Hartzler added $1.05 million in receipts and holds over $1.4 million in her campaign committee. Greitens, who resigned his governorship under a cloud of sexual scandal just a year into his term, raised only $476,000-plus since entering the Senate race, but major GOP donor Dick Uihlein has already pledged to contribute $2.5 million to a pro-Greitens outside super PAC.

While Rep. Smith has not yet revealed his 2022 political plans, he is raising money, and would at least financially stand near the top of the current candidate field. He has raised over $600,000 since the beginning of the year but possesses over $1.6 million in his congressional account, all of which could be transferred to a Senate committee.

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Brown, Carey Win In Ohio

Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in Ohio’s 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2.

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2021 — Primary voters in two Ohio districts, for all intents and purposes, chose replacements Tuesday for resigned Reps. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) and Steve Stivers (R-Columbus).

County Councilwoman and Cuyahoga County Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown scored a convincing win in the 11th District Democratic primary, virtually assuring her of a special general election victory on Nov. 2 in a seat that is safe for her party. Ohio Coal Association chairman Mike Carey did likewise in the 15th District Republican primary that occupies much of the Buckeye State’s southern sector.

Despite polling showing Brown trailing former state Sen. Nina Turner but consistently gaining momentum, it was obvious that the winner’s campaign peaked at precisely the right time. With 75,064 people voting in the Democratic primary, Brown scored a 50.2 – 44.5 percent victory. The other 11 candidates split the remaining 5.3 percent.

The 11th District contains most of the city of Cleveland in Cuyahoga County and part of Akron in Summit County. Brown’s Cuyahoga total percentage spread of 50.4 – 44.1 almost exactly mirrored the district-wide vote. Conversely, Turner scored a very tight 48.8 – 40.0 percent plurality in Summit County, a difference of just 54 votes.

Turner, the former national co-chair of the Bernie Sanders for President campaign attracted support from the Democratic socialist movement, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and the Justice Democrats PAC. She began the campaign as almost a prohibitive favorite, leading by a 50-15 percent margin in a late May Tulchin Research organization survey. Once the final financial totals are known, it will be clear that Turner outspent the winner by a better than 2:1 margin.

Brown, receiving backing from the more establishment-oriented Democrats including House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus, and former Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, among others, began to chip away at the former state legislator’s lead about six weeks before the election and made steady gains through the closing period as polling highlighted.

The race’s most recent survey, from the Mellman Group (July 13-17; 400 OH-11 likely voters), gave Turner only a 41-36 percent advantage. A poll generally scoffed at in early July, from the Republican firm TargetPoint, found the two candidates tied at 33 percent. In the end, it was TargetPoint that proved closest to the final mark.

On the Republican side, with just 5,299 voters participating, community activist Laverne Gore was an easy winner, capturing 74 percent support. The Nov. 2 special election is now just a formality in the heavily Democratic district, however, and Brown can count on being sworn into the House toward the end of this year.

In his victory speech, 15th District Republican primary winner Mike Carey gave a large portion of the credit to former President Donald Trump who endorsed him in a crowded field of eleven candidates. “Tonight, the voters of the 15th Congressional District sent a clear message to the nation that Donald J. Trump is, without a doubt, the clear leader of our party,” Carey began his victory speech before his victory party supporters.

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Alaska Senate: A Re-Emergence

By Jim Ellis

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate

Aug. 4, 2021 — The Alaska Survey Research firm released a new Alaska Senate poll finding Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) improving her standing, but an even more drastic potential development has surfaced.

The poll (July 11-21; 947 registered Alaska voters, online) shows Sen. Murkowski posting her best numbers of the year, leading former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R), 36-27 percent. Tshibaka, already the candidate who the Alaska Republican Party and former President Donald Trump have officially endorsed, was leading the senator in earlier published surveys (Change Research: May 22-25; 1,023 likely Alaska voters, Tshibaka 39-19 percent. Cygnal: released March 29; 500 registered Alaska voters, Tshibaka 34-19 percent).

In the July ASR poll, state Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) and former Senate nominee Joe Miller (R/Libertarian) trailed the two leaders with 19 and 18 percent, respectively. Under Alaska’s new top-four primary system, all four of these candidates, however, would advance into the general election.

In even better news for Sen. Murkowski, the ASR poll tested her against Tshibaka in a head-to-head match-up and the incumbent would defeat the challenger, 55-45 percent. The bad news for Murkowski is the new Alaska voting system will not allow for such a pairing. Beginning with the 2022 election, all candidates run on a jungle primary ballot in the Aug. 16, 2022, nomination contest and the top four contenders, regardless of percentage attained will advance into the general election. Therefore, testing for a one-on-one ballot test should no longer be applicable in analyzing the Alaska electoral system.

Beyond the poll, a new development could be on the Alaska political horizon. Over the weekend, former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, addressed a group of evangelical Christian leaders. Asked if she would run for the Senate, Palin retorted, “if God wants me to run for the US Senate next year, I will.” She then, however, scolded the leaders saying, “I would say you guys better be there for me this time, because a lot of people were not there for me last time.”

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Ohio Specials Today

Ohio’s Congressional Districts

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2021 — Though the two Ohio special congressional elections won’t officially be decided until the Nov. 2 general election, today’s nomination contest in both the vacant 11th and 15th congressional districts will unofficially choose the succeeding representatives in the respective Democratic and Republican primary elections.

District 11, the vacated Cleveland-Akron seat because former Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland) resigned to accept her appointment as Housing & Urban Development Secretary, is a solidly Democratic seat (Biden ’20: 80-19 percent; Clinton ’16: 80-17 percent). Though yielding a Democratic primary of 13 candidates, the race is boiling down to a two-way contest between former state senator and 2020 Bernie Sanders for president national co-chair Nina Turner and Cuyahoga County councilwoman and local Democratic Party chair Shontel Brown.

The 15th District lies in southern Ohio and contains some of the south Columbus suburbs of Franklin County along with 11 largely rural counties southwest, south, and southeast of the state’s capital city. The former incumbent here, Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), resigned his office in May to accept a position as president/CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. This, after testing the waters for a US Senate run. OH-15 is a reliable Republican district (Trump ’20: 56-42 percent; Trump ’16: 55-40 percent) that has grown more conservative over time.

Originally, it appeared that former Sen. Turner was a lock in the 11th District. She had big leads in polling and fundraising, but in the past six weeks, Brown has made major strides. While the latest polling still projects her trailing just outside the polling margin of error, the prevailing political trend is definitively moving in the local official’s direction.

This race is also shaping up as a battle between the two major factions within today’s Democratic Party: the Democratic socialists, led by Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and the political action committee known as the Justice Democrats, opposite the national party establishment featuring such individuals as House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-SC), the Congressional Black Caucus leadership, and Hillary Clinton.

While keeping her ads positive, some of Brown’s outside supporters, namely the Democratic Majority for Israel PAC, have highlighted public comments Turner previously made about President Biden, Vice President Harris, all before they were elected to their present positions, and the Democratic Party in general. Conversely, Brown’s campaign ads highlight her strong support for President Biden and his stated policy agenda.

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Lamb Decision Affects Redistricting

Pennsylvania Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2021 — Last week’s news reports indicating that western Pennsylvania US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon/Pittsburgh) will enter the open Senate race on Aug. 6, could mean the congressional district he leaves behind becomes a redistricting victim.

Assuming the reports are accurate, and the congressman does launch a Senate campaign, he will be the only Pennsylvania US House delegation member to create an open seat. All others appear poised to run for re-election. This means the Lamb district will likely become the top option for elimination since reapportionment reduces by one the 18-member Keystone State delegation.

The Census Bureau is now telling the states they will finally begin receiving their redistricting data the during the week of Aug. 16. It appears the total data transmission will come in two waves, so all states should have what they need to begin holding public input hearings in early September, and then drawing districts. This is more than six months behind a typical redistricting calendar.

Based upon the latest available information, the state will have 17 congressional districts with a population number of what appears to be just under 765,000 individuals. Looking at the current 18 districts, all must gain population, hence the reason the state is losing another CD. Since 1930, Pennsylvania has lost more congressional districts than any other state.

The region requiring the least new population is Pennsylvania’s southeastern sector, in and around the city of Philadelphia. The western segment is the area that needs the most population with the exception of Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg/York) south-central 10th District that will require the lowest human increase, most likely fewer than 20,000 persons.

The three seats needing the greatest influx are all in west Pennsylvania, surrounding the city of Pittsburgh. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson’s (R-Howard) predominantly rural 15th CD looks to be the district most in need of additional residents, likely over 85,000 individuals. Next is Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-Butler) 16th District that begins north of Pittsburgh and moves all the way to Lake Erie. This seat would need approximately 80,000 more people. Third is the district south of Pittsburgh to the West Virginia border, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler’s (R-Peters Township) 14th CD, that must also gain another 80,000 bodies.

Lamb’s 17th District that encompasses almost half of Allegheny County, all of Beaver County, and a sliver of Butler, needs over 50,000 more people, which pairs well with Rep. Mike Doyle’s (D-Pittsburgh) downtown 18th District that will likely require approximately 65,000 new residents. Therefore, eliminating District 17 with now no incumbent to protect it would allow the downtown seat to be filled and remain solidly Democratic, but also meet the population needs in the districts to the south, southeast, and north of Pittsburgh.

Politically, such a configuration would likely change the 9R-9D delegation to 9R-8D, and that will be a hard sell for the Republican legislature to make to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, especially when he knows a partisan Democratic state Supreme Court could well have the final say once the inevitable lawsuits are filed.

Such a configuration involving the elimination of current District 17 works fairly seamlessly, though, particularly if the final map improves for the Democratic incumbents in the politically marginal eastern PA seats of District 7 (Rep. Susan Wild-D; Allentown/ Bethlehem/Easton), and 8 (Rep. Matt Cartwright-D; Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre/Mt. Pocono). This might be enough to sell a map that forces the Democrats to take the one-seat loss in the west.

There are many ways to re-configure congressional maps, and we will soon see many versions coming from Pennsylvania and all other multi-district states. Rep. Lamb’s move to the Senate race, however, if in fact he ultimately makes the statewide jump, will significantly change the course of Pennsylvania congressional redistricting.