Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Texas GOP Mayoral Victories

Along the US-Mexican border

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2021 — On Saturday, Republican candidates picked up three victories in a trio of Texas mayoral runoffs, the most surprising of which came in the Mexican border city of McAllen where the Hispanic population is close to 85 percent.

McAllen City Commissioner (Council) Javier Villalobos, a former Hidalgo County Republican Party chairman, won the mayoral runoff election with a 51-49 percent victory. This on the heels of the Texas-Mexico border region voting much more Republican in 2020 than in previous electoral history. From the congressional district that houses McAllen, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) won his November re-election contest with only a 50.5 – 47.6 percent victory margin.

In Ft. Worth, an election that broke more definitively along partisan lines, though all of the mayoral elections in the state are nonpartisan in that the candidate’s political party affiliation does not appear on the ballot, Republican Mattie Parker defeated Tarrant County Democratic Party chair Deborah Peoples. The spread was 54-46 percent in a contest where turnout more than doubled the aggregate mayoral vote of four years ago. Voter participation was up in all three of the Texas city runoff elections, but none like the huge increase in Ft. Worth.

The least partisan of the races occurred in Arlington, where former police officer and local businessman Jim Ross defeated Arlington City Councilman Michael Glaspie, also with a 54-46 percent margin. In this election, law enforcement seemed to dominate the campaign as five different police and fire associations rallied to support Ross.

As mentioned above, South Texas voting ventured more toward the Republicans in November even though Democrats still proved victorious in the region. Biden’s margin over then-President Trump dropped as low as 50-48 percent in Rep. Gonzalez’s 15th District, and under 52 percent in three of the four CDs that touch the Texas-Mexico border.

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S-1: An Unintended Consequence?

By Jim Ellis

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY)

June 7, 2021 — Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has scheduled the controversial federal elections bill, S-1, the companion measure to the House-passed HR-1, for debate on June 21, which appears to be a curious move. At this point, it seems improbable that the leadership can break the filibuster rule, and without doing so, how does the bill pass?

If such an observation is correct, then what does Sen. Schumer gain from bringing the bill to the floor, and will there be unintended consequences? These are questions to be answered after the bill is debated and either passed, dispensed with, or put on hold for a future legislative maneuver.

As we know, the filibuster rule is surviving because Democrats Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) won’t support changing the rule. Both senators, at least at this point, seem intransigent in their position.

Sen. Manchin just this week verbally shot back at reporters for continually asking him if he is changing his stance on the filibuster rule. “I’m not separating our country, OK?” Manchin said. “I don’t know what you all don’t understand about this. You ask the same question every day. It’s wrong.”

The Daily Kos Elections site yesterday published a filibuster-related response from Sen. Sinema to an Arizona constituent identifying himself through an email address as Triumph110. Below is an excerpt from a very long historically based response:

“I have long said that I oppose eliminating the filibuster for votes on legislation. Retaining the legislative filibuster is not meant to impede the things we want to get done. Rather, it’s meant to protect what the Senate was designed to be.

“I believe the Senate has a responsibility to put politics aside and fully consider, debate, and reach compromise on legislative issues that will affect all Americans. Therefore, I support the 60-vote threshold for all Senate actions. Debate on bills should be a bipartisan process that takes into account the views of all Americans, not just those of one political party. Regardless of the party in control of the Senate, respecting the opinions of senators from the minority party will result in better, commonsense legislation.

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NM-1: A Pattern?

By Jim Ellis

Albuquerque, New Mexico-anchored NM-1 Congressional District

June 4, 2021 — Several media reports — typified by an MSNBC website analysis article that Steve Benen authored after Tuesday’s New Mexico special election — are trying to make the point that Melanie Stansbury’s landslide victory is a potential benchmark for future Democratic victories. Such a conclusion is a stretch.

The two-pronged premise is that Stansbury was so strong that she even ran ahead of President Biden’s performance in the district, and that the Republican campaign’s emphasis on the crime problem and the national effort to defund the police proved a political failure.

While Stansbury, a two-term state representative, scored a 60-36 percent win in the Albuquerque anchored congressional district that former Rep. Deb Haaland (D) resigned to become US Interior Secretary, her performance is not unusual. In fact, her vote total was less than two points above the mean average Democratic congressional percentage since the party converted the seat from the Republicans back in 2008.

To the argument that Stansbury’s victory margin was larger than President Biden’s 60-37 percent spread against then-President Trump, and it was only one percentage point better, it is not unusual for a House campaign to outperform the top of the ticket. In most instances, the congressional winner is better known than his or her competitor, has greater funding and outside support, and is consistently in position to overwhelm the opposition. Such is rarely the case in a national presidential campaign or in a major statewide contest for senator or governor.

The crime issue was certainly a focal point of Republican nominee Mark Moores, an Albuquerque state senator. The national party, however, did very little to support Moores, virtually conceding the race from the outset based upon the voting history here for more than a decade.

For an underdog candidate in Moores position, emphasizing the crime issue, on paper, made sense as a point of attack. Albuquerque, according to FBI statistics has the ninth worst violent crime statistics in the country, meaning 1,352 crimes per 100,000 residents according to the latest available figures (2019). To put this number in perspective, Chicago, which has drawn much national media attention for its high murder rate, ranks 31st on the same scale, at 943 crimes per 100,000 city residents.

Perhaps one reason the crime issue did not propel the Moores candidacy is there was no serious effort to defund the Albuquerque Police Department, nor is there the sharp racial tension that is present in some of the cities where we saw serious problems along with a local movement to reorder policing.

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Stansbury Wins New Mexico Special

By Jim Ellis

New Mexico state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D), winner of Tuesday’s special election.

June 3, 2021 — The New Mexico special election went as expected Tuesday, as state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque) defeated state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque) by a 60-36 percent count, which is consistent with the partisan early vote turnout.

The overall participation factor exceeded 131,000 voters, or 28.2 percent of the district’s registered voter universe, which is relatively high for a special election. It appears that over 70 percent of the people participating in the electoral contest cast an early ballot.

Stansbury, twice elected to the state House of Representatives, was victorious in the special Democratic district convention whose delegates were empowered with choosing a party nominee to replace resigned Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque). Haaland vacated the House upon being confirmed as US Interior Secretary in the Biden cabinet.

The Stansbury congressional victory margin came from population-dominant Bernalillo County, where more than 90 percent of the CD-1 residents live. Stansbury captured 61 percent of the vote here. In the smaller rural counties, Moores took three of four, but the aggregate vote total from each of those entities was individually less than 2,500 cast ballots.

The Democratic mean average in the seat since partisan conversion in 2008 is 58.2 percent, so Stansbury ran about two points above the benchmark. The state’s current governor, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, represented the 1st District for three terms and scored the single-highest Democratic election percentage during the 13-year post-conversion period. She tallied 65.1 percent in 2016, the same election in which Hillary Clinton posted a 52-35 percent CD-1 result and 48-40 percent statewide.

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NM-1 Special Election Tuesday

New Mexico state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D)

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2021 — The latest in the series of special elections to fill US House vacancies was held yesterday, and the race has an obvious favorite.

On the ballot: state Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-Albuquerque); state Sen. Mark Moores (R-Albuquerque); ex-Land Commissioner Aubrey Dunn, a former Republican who is running as an Independent; and Libertarian Party nominee Chris Manning.

The major parties nominated their candidates in special convention soon after incumbent Rep. Deb Haaland (D-Albuquerque) resigned to accept her appointment as Interior Secretary in President Biden’s cabinet.

Rep. Stansbury prevailed in a close multi-candidate Democratic convention, ultimately defeating state Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Albuquerque) in a final round of delegate voting. Many believed winning the Democratic convention was tantamount to claiming the special election. Sen. Moores was an easy winner on the Republican side.

All indications pointed to a Stansbury victory, which is what played out last evening. The only recent publicly released poll before yesterday’s election, one that RRH Elections conducted (May 18-21; 555 likely NM-1 voters, interactive voice response system), found the Democratic nominee holding a 49-33 percent lead over Moores.

Secondly, the district has moved sharply to the left over the past decade, as the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections suggest. In the ’16 campaign, Hillary Clinton defeated Donald Trump here, 52-35 percent. This past November, the Biden margin over ex-President Trump soared to 60-37 percent. The last Republican to represent the 1st District was former Rep. Heather Wilson (R-Albuquerque) who left the House in 2008 to run unsuccessfully for US Senate.

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