Author Archives: Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Stivers to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus)

April 21, 2021 — The growing list of US House vacancies has risen again, but this one came as a surprise. Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), who had raised close to $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2021 in testing the waters for a possible US Senate campaign, has decided to leave elective politics altogether.

Effective May 16, Stivers will resign from the 15th District in the Buckeye State’s US House delegation in order to become President/CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. His about-face from joining the open Senate race leaves former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken and ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel in the GOP field along with author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who appears ready to enter.

Also in the contest are businessmen Mike Gibbons, a 2018 US Senate candidate, and Bernie Moreno. North Ohio state senator and Cleveland Indians baseball club minority owner Matt Dolan is also a possible Republican candidate. Democrats appear to be coalescing around Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown), though he has yet to formally announce his Senate campaign.

The Stivers move could open the door for one or more of his congressional colleagues who have been considering the Senate race, namely Reps. Mike Turner (R-Dayton), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), and David Joyce (R-Russell Township).

The Stivers’ seat will become the fifth vacated House district once he departs in the middle of May and the Louisiana congressional vacancy (LA-2) is filled in a special election this Saturday, April 24. Currently, in addition to Rep. Stivers, seven House members have announced they will not be standing for re-election in 2022, either retiring or seeking a different office.

Once Rep. Stivers officially resigns, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will schedule a replacement special election for the balance of the term. It is more than likely he will follow the same calendar set for the state’s other congressional vacancy, the 11th District of former representative and now-Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland/Akron).

The 11th CD schedule calls for a partisan primary on Aug. 3 with the general election Nov. 2. Ohio election law allows for special elections to be called only in certain months, hence the long cycle for these vacant seats.

The 15th District sits largely in the center of the state and occupies approximately 20 percent of Franklin County, including part of the city of Columbus, and also contains all or portions of 11 other counties. The seat encompasses the rural areas west, southwest, and southeast of the Columbus metro area. It is traditionally Republican, though a version of the seat elected Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy in the 2008 election after eight-term Rep. Deborah Pryce (R) had retired. Kilroy defeated Stivers, then a state senator, in a close 46-45 percent result. He returned for a re-match in 2010 and won a convincing 13-point victory, ousting Kilroy after just her first term in office. Since his first victorious congressional election, Stivers averaged 63.1 percent of the vote over five re-election campaigns.

In presidential elections, the 15th District backed Donald Trump in both of his national elections, 56-42 percent last November, and 55-40 percent against Hillary Clinton in 2016. We can expect a crowded special Republican primary with the eventual nominee beginning the general cycle as the favorite. Democrats can be expected, however, to field a credible nominee and will likely make a concerted effort to win the special election.

Though Ohio is set to lose a congressional district in reapportionment, the 15th, which touches the main growth region of the state, in and around Columbus, will likely remain relatively intact. According to the latest available Census records, the 15th would need to gain less than 10,000 residents, while adjacent Districts 3 (Rep. Joyce Beatty-D) and 12 (Rep. Troy Balderson-R), the only two over-populated CDs in Ohio, must shed people.

The Very Real Challenges Of 10 Reps Who Voted to Impeach Trump

By Jim Ellis

Former President Trump

April 20, 2021 — The 10 House Republicans who voted for ex-President Trump’s second impeachment have drawn national media attention, and the newly disclosed first quarter campaign finance numbers give us a sense of which incumbents have a significant challenge ahead of them while others look ahead to clear sailing.

To refresh memories, the 10 GOP impeachment supporters are: Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), Liz Cheney (R-WY), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), John Katko (R-NY), Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Peter Meijer (R-MI), Dan Newhouse (R-WA), Tom Rice (R-SC), Fred Upton (R-MI), and David Valadao (R-CA). Of these, all have declared opposition with the exception of Rep. Katko.

Based upon fundraising, which is an excellent indication of a candidate’s early support and whether the contender is making the right moves to position him or herself properly against an incumbent, we see two members, and possibly a third, who appear to have capable opponents.

Ohio’s Max Miller, the former Trump White House aide, is the top fundraiser among the nine challenger contests. He reports more than $500,000 in receipts with just over $438,000 remaining in his campaign account for a battle with two-term incumbent Rep. Gonzalez. For his part, the congressman raised well over $600,000 in the first quarter and his cash-on-hand exceeds $1 million.

The other seemingly significant contender is technology executive and Army veteran Joe Kent who is challenging six-term Washington Rep. Beutler. He raised over $269,000 as compared to the congresswoman’s $744,755. On hand, Kent has almost all his money remaining having spent only about a net $20,000 at this early point in time. Washington has a jungle primary, so the chances of qualifying two Republicans for the general election or Rep. Beutler not advancing are scenarios currently difficult to fathom.

The leading incumbent fundraiser of the group is House Republican Conference chair Cheney, who posted campaign receipts of more than $1.5 million, and holding well over $1.4 million in her campaign account. Combined, her top two Republican opponents raised a total of more than $500,000 and would have over $320,000 cash-on-hand if they would coalesce behind just one candidate. A crowded field, especially in light of her strong 1st quarter fundraising performance, puts Rep. Cheney in a favorable position for renomination even though support to replace her is clearly significant.

The Illinois crowded field against Rep. Kinzinger also plays to his advantage. Of his six announced opponents, only community affairs consultant and previous congressional candidate Cynthia Lauf has attracted more than $150,000. With Rep. Kinzinger holding over $2.5 million in his campaign account and no single strong opponent emerging means the congressman remains in advantageous position for renomination.

The only one of the group who may not benefit from having multiple challengers is South Carolina’s Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach). Horry County School Board chairman Ken Richardson appears to be the most formidable of the possible opponents, raising over $154,000 with just under $90,000 remaining in the bank.

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What Rep. Kevin Brady ‘s
Retirement From TX-8 Means

Texas’ 8th Congressional District – more change likely coming …

By Jim Ellis

April 16, 2021 — Veteran Texas Congressman Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands), who is the Republican’s ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, announced Wednesday that his current 13th term will be his last as a member of the House. Brady, first elected in 1996 after serving three terms in the Texas House of Representatives, will retire at the end of the 117th Congress with 26 years of seniority.

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-The Woodlands)

Rep. Brady is now the fifth Republican to announce he won’t seek re-election, but three of those are running for different offices. Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) is a declared US Senate candidate; Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) is running for Georgia Secretary of State; and Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) has announced he plans to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) next year. Joining Brady in retiring from Congress is New York Rep. Tom Reed (R-Corning). The 6th District of Texas, due to Rep. Ron Wright’s (R-Arlington) death, is in special election and will likely be filled sometime in late June or early July.

Two Democrats are retiring, another Texan, Rep. Filemon Vela (D-Brownsville) and Arizona’s Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson). Four Democratic seats are currently in special election cycles, however: LA-2 (Rep. Cedric Richmond), NM-1 (Rep. Deb Haaland), OH-11 (Rep. Marcia Fudge), and FL-20 (Rep. Alcee Hastings). The first three Democratic vacancies are due to Biden Administration appointments of the listed members, while Rep. Hastings passed away last week.

Brady first came to office in an unusual manner. After qualifying for the original runoff election from the early March 1996 Texas primary, he defeated his Republican opponent with 53 percent of the vote in the secondary election a month later.

Post nomination, a federal court ruled that several Lone Star State districts were illegal for racial representation reasons and an immediate re-draw was ordered. Though Brady’s 8th District was not one of the seats deemed illegal, re-drawing an adjacent district labeled as such affected his seat. Therefore, he was again forced to run in another primary and runoff election, the latter against the same opponent he defeated earlier in the year. In all, Brady had to run in four elections all in the same year to capture the 8th District for the first time.

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Polling Acceptability Standards Measured Across States

By Jim Ellis

April 15, 2021 — Five key Democratic pollsters recently released a report from a post-election meeting held to determine why their 2020 survey results again so often fell below acceptable accuracy standards.

Go to Democracy Docket to see all results by clicking on image above.

Representatives from the Democratic polling firms of ALG Research, Garin-Hart-Yang Research Group, GBAO Strategies, Global Strategy Group, and the Normington Petts firm met to develop a plan to correct some of their methodological flaws in order to provide more accurate information to their clients and the public in future elections.

Their key conclusion was that, generally, the polling community failed to accurately depict enough conservative/right-of-center vote coming from rural areas. They make the point that in politically changing places like Arizona and Georgia, the aggregate data was quite accurate, but they collectively missed in more rural Republican-leaning states such as Iowa.

While the polling firm reps stressed the point that their collective numbers were strong in the metropolitan areas, there seems to be, however, a further detail left unsaid or possibly unnoticed. That is, the polling community seemed to correctly project the outcomes in states that have one large central metropolitan area that is self-contained within a single media market such as Arizona (Maricopa County), Colorado (Denver Metro), Georgia (Atlanta Metro), and Nevada (Clark County), but not in states with diverse geographical configurations.

While the firms tended to miss by relatively large margins in rural states like Montana, and particularly so in that state’s Senate race, they also seemed to fare poorly in places where the population is more evenly spread and have several metropolitan areas. States in this category include several in the Midwest such as Ohio, Michigan, and Wisconsin, along with Florida, a major Sun Belt state.

In the latter place, while the polling was relatively accurate from a margin perspective, the aggregate polling community has consistently missed projecting the main Florida statewide winner(s) in every election since 2014. In each case, Democrats were predicted to win with a close margin while in actuality the Republican candidates claimed the election.

The charts below detail the states hosting the most competitive races and present the mean average polling during 2020 campaign’s final week. This average is then compared with the state’s final results. Notice that in places such as Michigan and Pennsylvania, culling the Democratic research firms from both the Republicans and the local pollsters – the latter of which in many places performed better than the national firms, i.e., in Maine, Iowa, and Kansas – drastically changes the average.

The Democratic pollsters’ meeting primarily revolved around presidential polling because of their uniform belief that former President Donald Trump had such a strong effect, both positive and negative, upon the electorate.

The Senate contests, however, contained some of the bigger polling misses. The most egregious is Maine, where the last week polling average showed Sen. Susan Collins (R) trailing by 5.7 percentage points when she would prove victorious with an 8.6% margin. Once more, we see a big miss in a largely rural state.

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Major Senate Moves

By Jim Ellis

April 14, 2021 — With the Senate tied 50D-50R, and every 2022 campaign potentially meaning a change in majority status, we already see serious political moves being made or at least considered. This week began as being particularly active.

In the Last Frontier State of Alaska, 2020 Independent/Democratic nominee Al Gross, who opposed Sen. Dan Sullivan (R), confirms that he is considering challenging Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) next year. The state’s new top four jungle primary system would virtually guarantee that both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross would advance into the general election should both decide to run. For her part, Sen. Murkowski has not yet formally declared her 2022 political intentions, but she is expected to seek re-election.

Dr. Gross lost to Sen. Sullivan, 54-41 percent, despite exceeding the incumbent’s fundraising totals by almost a 2:1 margin. The Independent/Democrat spent over $19.5 million as compared to Sen. Sullivan’s expenditure total of $10.1 million. A total exceeding $27.2 million was expended from outside organizations, over $18 million of which aided Dr. Gross’ campaign.

Already announced is Republican former State Administrative Director Kelly Tshibaka; a Cygnal research firm survey of 500 Alaska registered voters taken in late March actually found her leading both Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross. The ballot test broke 34-19-18 percent in favor of Tshibaka with Sen. Murkowski and Dr. Gross significantly trailing. Under the new primary system, however, all three of these contenders, and a fourth candidate, would advance into the general election.

Former Kentucky state Rep. Charles Booker, who lost the 2020 US Senate Democratic primary to party nominee Amy McGrath in a close 44-42 percent result, has filed an exploratory committee for purposes of assessing his chances against Sen. Rand Paul (R) in a 2022 campaign.

Booker was literally outspent 10:1 in the Democratic primary, as McGrath hauled in more than $20 million even before advancing into the general election. She never figured on having to spend so much to defeat her intra-party opponent, however. Booker was able to maximize his political base in Louisville and with the African American community statewide to pull within 15,149 votes of McGrath with more than 544,000 people casting ballots in the primary election.

Sen. Paul won his 2014 re-election campaign with a 57-43 percent margin over Lexington-Fayette Urban County Mayor Jim Gray (D), which is the second largest municipality in Kentucky. National Democrats were high on the Gray campaign at its outset, but the race never materialized in what became a landslide Republican election year.

Reports emanating from North Carolina suggest that former Gov. Pat McCrory (R) could declare his Senate candidacy as early as today. McCrory was elected governor in 2012 with a 55-43 percent margin but would lose his attempt at re-election by just 10,263 votes from more than 4.7 million ballots cast, or less than a quarter of a percent.

Largely entangled with the infamous North Carolina bathroom bill that became a national story, the governor could not steer himself clear of the controversy and fell to then-Attorney General Roy Cooper (D). McCrory had previously run for governor in 2008, losing to incumbent Bev Perdue (D) by just three percentage points. Prior to running statewide, McCrory served 14 years as Charlotte’s mayor.

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