Category Archives: 2022

Democrats Back Independent in Utah; House Race News; Kansas Redistricting Map Rejected

By Jim Ellis

April 28, 2022:

Senate

Utah Independent Senate candidate Evan McMullin

Utah: Democrats Back Independent — The Utah Democratic nominating convention over last weekend voted with a 57 percent majority not to field a party candidate against Sen. Mike Lee (R), but instead form a coalition to back Independent candidate Evan McMullin.

The move was the first of its kind in Utah political history. The delegates clearly agreed with the argument that the party was better coalescing behind McMullin, a 2016 Independent presidential candidate and former Republican who placed a strong third in the state (21.5 percent) behind Republican Donald Trump (45.5 percent) and Democrat Hillary Clinton (27.5 percent than nominating their own Democratic contender. They understood that supporting Democrat Kael Watson and producing a three-way campaign meant a sure victory for Sen. Lee.


House

FL-5: US Rep. Al Lawson May Challenge Fellow Incumbent — Florida US Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee) has difficult choices ahead of him in determining where to seek re-election in the north Florida region. The new Florida congressional map collapses his current district. The Politico publication reports that Lawson is leaning toward challenging Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) in the new 2nd District, an R+16 CD but one that includes Rep. Lawson’s home base of Tallahassee.

MA-4: No Re-Match — Former Brookline Selectwoman Jesse Mermell, who lost the 2020 Democratic primary to current US Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-Newton) by just one percentage point, announced that she will not return for a re-match. Therefore, Rep. Auchincloss becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-nomination and re-election. The Massachusetts primary is not until Sept. 6, and the candidate filing deadline is May 31.

MN-1: No Official GOP Endorsement — First Congressional District Republicans convened over the weekend to potentially endorse a candidate in the special election to replace the late Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester). Though state Rep. Jeremy Munson (R-Lake Crystal) attracted 55 percent of the delegate vote, it was not enough to secure the official endorsement. Doing so requires 60 percent. This means we will see an open special election primary on May 24 with no officially endorsed candidate, though Rep. Munson appears to be a clear front runner.

Utah: Two Reps Under-Perform at Convention — US Rep. John Curtis (R-Provo), posted only 41 percent of the convention vote on the first ballot, which was just enough to avoid an embarrassing defeat, since he did not also opt to obtain petition signatures. The later rounds pushed him to 45 percent, but the congressman still must win a Republican primary against the man whom he defeated in a 2017 special election and the 2018 GOP primary, — former state Rep. Chris Herrod. Despite Rep. Curtis’ poor showing at the party convention, he is still expected to win the primary and general elections.

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Ohio Poll Indicates Changes; Oregon 5th CD Shows Disappointing Development; More

By Jim Ellis

April 27, 2022:

Author J.D. Vance, Ohio Senate Candidate

Ohio: Poll Posts Dolan to GOP Lead; Fox Shows Vance as Being Up — The Blueprint Polling firm tested the Ohio Republican field for the upcoming Senate primary next week (April 21-24; 634 likely Ohio Republican primary voters; live interview), and yet another candidate has been identified as moving into first place. This is the first survey that projects state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who is a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians baseball club, in the top position and the fourth of the five major candidates who in one poll or another has led the field.

In this study, Sen. Dolan posts 18 percent support, just a point ahead of author J.D. Vance, with businessman Mike Gibbons, former state Treasurer Josh Mandel, and ex-Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken following with 13, 12, and 7 percent preference.

Fox News was also in the field during virtually the same time period (April 20-24; 906 likely Ohio Republican primary voters; live interview), but they produce a much different result. According to this poll, it is Vance, who picked up former President Donald Trump’s endorsement just a handful of days before the poll period, in the lead at 23 percent with Mandel, Gibbons, Dolan, and Timken trailing with 18-13-11 and 8 percent, respectively.

As both the Blueprint and Fox analyses illustrate, with less than one week remaining in the campaign, realistically four of the candidates still have a chance to catch a flyer at the end and claim the nomination. Early voting continues for the May 3 primary election.


House

OR-5: Biden Endorses Rep. Schrader — In a disappointing development for challenger Jamie McLeod-Skinner, President Biden just involved himself in the impending May 17 Oregon primary by endorsing veteran Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby) over the more progressive contender who is an attorney and former local city manager. The two are vying to win the party primary for the newly constructed 5th District that is rated D+3, making it the most competitive seat in the Beaver State.

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Campaign Dollars – Quarter 1

By Jim Ellis

April 25, 2022 — The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has released the campaign finance reports for the quarterly period ending March 31, and the Daily Kos Elections site analysts have published their regular comprehensive summaries for all Senate and House incumbents and candidates.

In the Senate, the top fundraisers for the campaign-to-date are familiar names, and they are repeating their overwhelming performance from the 2020 election cycle. For the 2022 race, Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) reports $44.2 million in receipts with a cash-on-hand total of $25.6 million. Both are higher than any individual running for the Senate in the 2022 cycle. Sen. Mark Kelly (D-AZ) is close behind, raising $39.0 million for the campaign cycle with $23.3 million in his treasury.

Based upon state population segments, Sen. Kelly is actually the stronger of the two because he comes from a smaller state. Dividing the funding evenly by congressional district, Sen. Kelly averages $4.3 million per his state’s nine congressional districts, while Sen. Warnock posts $3.2 million per Georgia’s 14 CDs.

The next most prolific fundraisers come from the same race. Florida Congresswoman Val Demings (D-Orlando) is the top money producing challenger in the country, posting $30.5 million in receipts for the campaign cycle. Her opponent, Sen. Marco Rubio (R), is virtually even with her, attracting $29.3 million. Cash-on-hand is about dead even, too. Rep. Demings reports $13.2 million in her account; Sen. Rubio, $13.1 million.

For the Republicans, the top challenger fundraiser, though he is leagues behind general election opponent Sen. Warnock, is Georgia’s Herschel Walker with $14.2 million raised.

The aggregate group of Senate candidates raising the most in one challenger contest is found in Wisconsin, as Democrats Alex Lasry, state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes have cumulatively brought in $18.2 million. Lasry, an executive with the Milwaukee Bucks professional basketball club, has gross receipts of over $9 million, but $5.8 million is self-sourced. Godlewski reports $5.1 million in total dollars raised, but $3.3 million comes from herself. Lt. Gov. Barnes has raised $4 million without any self-funding. For his part, Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has obtained $10.8 million for his 2022 re-election campaign.

The most prolific open seat fundraisers are in Pennsylvania and Ohio. The combined candidate dollar total in the Keystone State exceeds $45 million, but almost $18 million of that total is self-funded from Dr. Mehmet Oz (R) and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick (R). The group from Ohio is close behind with $44.8 million obtained. In this case, we see a combined self-funding total that exceeds $21 million.

On the House side, a total of 32 incumbents and challengers raised over $1 million just during the first quarter. Naturally, the party leaders, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy ($4.3 million), Minority Whip Steve Scalise ($3.4 million) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi ($3.3 million) are the most prolific.

Majority Leader Steny Hoyer ($510,000) and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn ($284,000) are clearly not in the top echelon, but are likely spending their time raising funds for their leadership PACs or the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Additionally, with Democratic incumbents and candidates raising considerably more than their Republican counterparts, the individual campaigns need less from Washington.

The top non-incumbents breaking the $1 million mark for the quarter are Jessica Cisneros, now in a Texas Democratic runoff with Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo) and Marcus Flowers, who is challenging Georgia Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Rome), both at $2.4 million.

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Michigan Candidate Filing Closes

By Jim Ellis

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D)

April 22, 2022 — Major party candidate filing has now closed in the Wolverine State, and we see some highly competitive contests forming for November.

With no senator on the 2022 ballot, the governor’s race tops the ballot. No fewer than 10 Republicans filed in an attempt to oppose Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) in the November election. The governor drew no Democratic opposition for the Aug. 2 state primary.

The leading GOP contender appears to be former Detroit Police Chief James Craig, but he must first secure the Republican nomination.

Within the large field, he can expect competition at least from chiropractor and well-known anti-lockdown activist Garrett Soldano, former Berrien County Commissioner and ex-state police captain Mike Brown, and online talk show host Tudor Dixon. The general election yields a race that promises to be one of the top campaigns in the country and polling suggests that the projected Whitmer-Craig contest is already a toss-up.

We will also see serious November competition in most of the state’s 13 congressional districts on a map the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission members purposefully drew to feature the maximum number of tight political districts.

In two contests, the major party general election pairings are already set. First District US Rep. Jack Bergman (R-Watersmeet/ Upper Peninsula) must subdue a challenge from Marquette County Medical Director Bob Lorinser (D). In an R+24 district, according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, where the congressman exceeded 61 percent of the vote in 2020, Rep. Bergman becomes a prohibitive favorite for re-election in November.

What began as an incumbent pairing between Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) and Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) because the state lost a seat in national reapportionment, is now a general election that will produce little in the way of political suspense.

With Upton recently announcing his retirement and state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo) deciding to exit the congressional race and seek re-election to his current position, those moves have surprisingly left Rep. Huizenga unopposed for re-nomination in the new 4th CD. His general election opponent will be retail banker Joseph Alfonso (D) in a race that should offer only minimal competition for the six-term incumbent.

Reps. John Moolenaar (R-Midland), Tim Walberg (R-Tipton), Debbie Dingell (D-Dearborn), and Lisa McClain (R-Bruce) face little in the way of competition for both re-nomination and re-election. Rep. Dingell, however, is placed in a new 6th District that contains 44 percent new territory and is without the family’s home base of Dearborn. A member of the Dingell family has represented Dearborn as a part of their district in Congress consecutively since 1933.

Freshman Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Grand Rapids) received one of the tougher draws on the new map. His 3rd District, while still anchored in Grand Rapids, moves from an R+9 rating to D+3. He first must secure re-nomination over former Trump Administration official John Gibbs and attorney Gabi Manolache. Meijer then will again face his 2020 opponent, Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten, who held him to a 53-47 percent victory in the more Republican 3rd District version. The new 3rd contains 50 percent new territory for the congressman, including the Democratic city of Muskegon.

Even though Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly/Lansing) loses her home base, finds herself in a district with 38 percent new territory, and must compete in an R+7 new 7th District, she actually gains a political point when compared to the current 8th District that she now represents. Still, winning re-election with just a 51-47 percent spread and facing tougher Republican competition from state Sen. Tom Barrett (R-Lansing) means this race will become a top GOP national target.

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Self-Funding Candidates Saving GOP

By Jim Ellis

April 21, 2022 — The first-quarter financial reports are now public and we see a stark difference between Democrats and Republicans in funding for the key May primary Senate races, particularly in Pennsylvania and Ohio. If it wasn’t for self-funding candidates in these two states, the GOP would be in trouble.

In Pennsylvania, Democratic Lt. Gov. John Fetterman holds strong polling leads over his primary opponents as well as a major fundraising advantage over all contenders. According to the Federal Election Commission’s March 31 campaign finance reporting, Fetterman has raised just over $15 million for his US Senate effort.

His receipts total is well over $9 million more than his chief Democratic primary opponent, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), and his $5.7 million aggregate figure. The third competitive Democrat, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), has obtained $1.8 million. None of the three Democrats have self-funded their races to any degree.

The Pennsylvania Republicans, on the other hand, offer a stark contrast. While the top two GOP resource candidates, television doctor Mehmet Oz and ex-hedge fund CEO David McCormick, report aggregate receipts in the same realm as Fetterman, the sources are very different.

Dr. Oz posts total receipts through March 31 of $13.4 million and McCormick has $11.3 million. The difference, however, is that 82 percent of Dr. Oz’s money comes from him, and 61 percent of McCormick’s money is self-donated, mostly in the form of campaign loans.

The same pattern also appears for the third-highest funded Republican candidate, former US Ambassador Carla Sands. She reports $4.62 million in receipts, but 85 percent of that total comes from her personal funds. The fourth-place candidate, former lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos, is the only one with a majority percentage of his dollars coming from contributors. He has raised $3.4 million, with 62 percent coming from individuals other than himself.

The story is the same in neighboring Ohio. There, the two top fundraising Republicans report self-funding as their major source.

Businessman Mike Gibbons leads all candidates in total receipts with $17.4 million raised. In his case, all but $1 million, or 94 percent of his aggregate total, comes from his own funds. The second-highest Republican in terms of dollars raised is state Sen. Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls), who is a minority owner of the Cleveland Guardians MLB baseball club, with $11.1 million in receipts. He also has self-donated, mostly in terms of personal loans, 94 percent of his campaign treasury.

We also see the same pattern appear for the Ohio Democrats that exists in Pennsylvania. US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) is the consensus party candidate, way ahead of former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official and 2020 congressional candidate Morgan Harper in terms of polling and money.

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