Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Add IL-17 to the List of Vacancies

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2021 — Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Moline), just emerging from her closest re-election victory in November – a 52-48 percent win over Republican Esther Joy King – surprisingly announced Friday that she will not seek re-election to a sixth term next year. Bustos was the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chair for the 2020 cycle and appeared positioned for further leadership or strong committee positions in the future.

Her absence in the next cycle from a state that is losing a congressional district means her politically marginal western Illinois CD (Trump ’20, 50-48 percent; Trump ’16, 47.4 – 46.7 percent) that stretches throughout the Iowa border region and is anchored in the area known as the Quad Cities, could drastically change in the next redistricting.

For her part, King immediately declared her candidacy for the open seat election. The Bustos retirement coupled with Rep. Charlie Crist’s (D-FL) expected gubernatorial announcement would create 16 open or vacant US House seats, eight from each party.

TX-6: Double R Runoff

By Jim Ellis

Susan Wright

May 4, 2021 — Republicans are guaranteed to hold Texas’ vacant 6th Congressional District in the succeeding runoff election as two GOP candidates advanced from the 23-person jungle primary election on Saturday night. Susan Wright, widow of late Congressman Ron Wright (R-Arlington), finished first, as expected, with just over 19 percent of the vote.

Accompanying Wright into the runoff contest is freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). He scored a vote percentage of 13.9 in slipping past the top Democrat, 2018 congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez, who finished just 354 votes behind in third place.

Ellzey was elected to the legislature in November, but immediately jumped into the congressional race when Rep. Wright passed away. In 2018, Ellzey ran for the 6th District open seat when veteran Rep. Joe Barton (R) retired, finishing second and forcing Rep. Wright, then the Tarrant County Tax Assessor, into a runoff election. Rep. Wright won the runoff 52-48 percent, which was a much closer finish than initially anticipated.

The Saturday night primary proved big for Republicans. Combined, their candidates received 61.9 percent of the 78,374 votes cast according to the initial final count. Democrats finished well below expectations with only a combined 37.3 percent split among their 10 candidates.

These totals are quite different than Rep. Wright’s victory margins in both 2020 and 2018, when he recorded almost identical splits of 53-44 percent and 53-45 percent, respectively. Former President Donald Trump carried the district with a 51-48 percent spread in November but a much stronger 54-42 percent in 2016.

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TX-6 Primary Saturday

By Jim Ellis

May 3, 2021 — The special jungle primary to begin the process of replacing the late Texas Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington) began Saturday as 11 Republicans, 10 Democrats, a Libertarian, and an Independent scratched and clawed to obtain one of the two available runoff positions.

With 23 candidates on the ballot and nobody even reaching 30 percent in published polling, there was virtually no chance any of these contenders win outright with a majority vote. Therefore, a secondary election between the top two finishers will be called as soon as the vote totals are made official. Gov. Greg Abbott (R) then will schedule the special runoff election for what appears to be a period in late June.

The candidate attracting the most attention is the late congressman’s wife, Susan Wright (R). She scored a major endorsement last week as former President Donald Trump announced his support for her candidacy. The Trump move was a major blow to candidate Brian Harrison (R), who is a former official in the Trump Administration’s Health and Human Services Department and an ex-White House aide to then-President George W. Bush.

Wright garnered 19.2 percent of the vote Saturday, which was enough to give her a first-place finish.

Aside from Wright and Harrison, who finished a distant fourth with 10.8 percent of the vote, the other significant Republican candidate is freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie). He ran for the congressional seat in 2018 when Rep. Wright was first elected, forcing him into a runoff and losing just 52-48 percent to the eventual general election winner.

Just as he did then, Ellzey finished second, with 13.8 percent of the vote. Wright and Ellzey both will advance to the runoff, likely in late June.

Recently, both the Club for Growth and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) have come out opposing Ellzey’s candidacy, with the former launching an opposition independent expenditure.

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Census Patterns

By Jim Ellis

April 30, 2021 — Monday’s Census Bureau’s congressional apportionment and state population report continues to be digested, and its many surprises will potentially lead to legal action from unanticipated sources.

First, the ongoing Alabama lawsuit against the census counting methodology, among other issues, will likely be drastically altered since the Yellowhammer State did not lose its seventh district. An in-person hearing has been scheduled for Monday, May 3, in the state capital of Montgomery.

Second, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) is already making noises that his state will sue over the apportionment formula that eliminated one of his state’s congressional districts by just 89 individuals. Others are questioning how the state, where projections forecast a loss of potentially two congressional districts, landed exactly on the national growth average and came within just a few people of not even losing one seat.

The 50-state population segmentation is interesting in that it again provides us clear growth and mobility patterns. Regionally, the immense area starting in the center of the country and moving west to the Pacific Ocean is the big population gainer. The Midwest and Northeast is the major loser, with the South and Southeast producing mixed data.

In the 17 states beginning at the eastern border of North Dakota and moving down all the way to Texas’ eastern border and then back through the entire west but not including Alaska and Hawaii, the regional population growth rate was 10.6 percent, or 3.2 points above the national growth rate of 7.4 percent.

If, however, the five states within this sector that fell below the national growth rate are removed, California (6.1 percent growth rate), Oklahoma (5.5 percent), Kansas (3.0 percent), New Mexico (2.8 percent), and Wyoming (2.3 percent), the regional average for the 12 states that exceeded the national growth rate becomes 13.4 percent, or a full six points above the US benchmark.

Therefore, the fact that this western region gained five of the seven new congressional seats is consistent with the recorded sector growth data.

The South/Southeast segment, which includes 11 states, produced inconsistent regional data. Area-wide, the average growth rate was 6.7 percent, or 0.7 percent below the national average. This is a surprising number considering the region gained two congressional seats in reapportionment.

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Senate Action

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown)

By Jim Ellis

April 29, 2021 — While most of the political world was focused on the census’s national apportionment announcement, several Senate moves of merit were also made this week.

In Ohio, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) finally made his fledgling US Senate campaign official. Originally saying he would announce sometime in March only to postpone formal entry to an undetermined time, Ryan finally made his declaration on Monday. Once former Ohio Health Director Amy Acton — who was running slightly ahead of Rep. Ryan in early Democratic primary polling — said that she was not going to run, that paved the way for the 10-term congressman to open with an apparently clear path to the Democratic nomination.

Simultaneously, in Georgia, another announcement was made but one that contained a surprising message. Former Rep. Doug Collins (R), who placed third in the 2020 US Senate jungle primary, also declared his political intentions for 2022 on Monday. While observers were expecting the former four-term congressman to enter the current Senate race, he instead said he will not run for any office next year but didn’t close the door on returning to elective politics in another election cycle.

Yesterday, in another largely expected move, former North Carolina state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D), who lost her position in November by a scant 401 votes statewide, announced via video that she will enter the open Tar Heel State Senate race.

The three moves help further set the stage for a trio of critical Senate contests that will each contribute mightily toward determining which party breaks the 50-50 tie and assumes control of the body after the next election.

Despite Rep. Ryan looking as the candidate to beat for the Ohio Democratic nomination, the general election won’t be easy. Additionally, this political cycle could be different in terms of political options for Ryan. He has several times dipped his toe in the statewide or national waters only to return to the safety of his House district. With it now a certainty that Ohio will lose another congressional seat, and with at least one scenario suggesting that the eliminated seat could become Rep. Ryan’s 13th District, his usual fail-safe move might not again be available.

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