Category Archives: 2022

Senate Money

By Jim Ellis

April 23, 2021 — Continuing our analysis of early 2022 campaign cycle fundraising based upon the first quarter 2021 Federal Election Commission disclosure reports, today we look at the key US Senate contests.

Tracking the Senate race dollars is much different than the House because the FEC groups incumbent statewide campaigns by election cycle. Therefore, the receipts column covers the period from when the incumbents last ran through March 31, 2021. This means the senators are reporting dollars raised from Jan. 1, 2017 through the first quarter deadline. For candidates just entering the 2022 campaign — those in the open seats for example — the disclosure period begins Jan. 1, 2021.

Therefore, the receipts category is not as telling for Senate campaign standing as it is for the House campaigns. Thus, the key category to gauge where the Senate candidates stand in relation to the 2022 campaign cycle is their cash-on-hand total.

The chart below focuses on the races thought to be competitive for the 2022 election. As we have seen in modern times, the financial aspect of Senate campaigns is less important than for the House in determining or projecting final outcome because so much is now spent on the statewide races even in the smallest of states.

Typically, Senate nominees from both parties consistently have more than adequate financial resources with which to communicate their messages. Furthermore, the current income/spending figures as they relate to candidate committees don’t account for the large amount of outside independent expenditures that now accompany almost all competitive US Senate campaigns, which certainly can alter final outcome.

In terms of clarification, Sen. Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) total of $27,517,878 includes the amount raised for his statewide runoff campaign that was decided on Jan. 5, 2021. This explains why his receipts total is so high, and far beyond any other incumbent or candidate listed on the chart.

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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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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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Assessing Arizona

By Jim Ellis

Sen. Mark Kelly (D) won the special election in November to fill the balance of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term in office. He again comes before the voters in this election cycle to stand for a full six-year term.

April 13, 2021 — The Club for Growth released the results of their new Arizona Republican primary poll on Friday, and it draws attention to a race that should become a top-tier 2022 campaign.

As you will remember, Sen. Mark Kelly (D) won the special election in November to fill the balance of the late Sen. John McCain’s (R) final term in office. Therefore, he again comes before the voters in this election cycle to stand for a full six-year term. Kelly, a retired astronaut and husband of former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), defeated appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R), 51-49 percent, in a result much closer than the polling predicted.

WPA Intelligence conducted the Club for Growth 2022 poll during the April 5-6 period of 505 likely Republican primary voters via live interview. They tested Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) against Gov. Doug Ducey. The results found the congressman holding a 46-45 percent lead over the governor and, in what seems to be a clear indication that base Republican voters still follow ex-President Donald Trump’s lead, the margin swells to 59-32 percent if the latter man endorses Rep. Biggs.

It is important to note, however, that Gov. Ducey has already announced that he is not running for the Senate. National Republican leaders are attempting to convince the governor to reverse his decision, but his entrance in the Senate race, at least for now, appears highly unlikely. Rep. Biggs has not given a firm public indication if he will become a statewide candidate.

Currently, the only Republican to announce for the Senate is software engineer Rob Paveza. While the pace of this eventual competitive contest is slow in the early going when compared to states such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina, a full year remains before candidate filing closes in Arizona, a state that hosts an August primary.

Those mentioned as possible candidates aside from Rep. Biggs include Attorney General Mark Brnovich, State Treasurer Kimberly Yee, state Republican Party chair and former Senate candidate Kelli Ward, ex-US representative and 2002 gubernatorial nominee Matt Salmon, State Adjutant General Michael McGuire, and solar energy company executive Jim Lamon, all according to the Politics1 blog.

Sen. Kelly was one of the top fundraisers of the 2020 election cycle, obtaining more than $101,000,000 for his campaign committee. Only Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff (D) and Raphael Warnock (D), who both were forced to compete in general election runoff campaigns, and South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison, the current Democratic National Committee chairman, raised more. Already for 2022, Sen. Kelly announced that he pulled in $4.4 million during the first quarter of this year.

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A Wisconsin Senate Struggle:
Sen. Ron Johnson Trailing … Again

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson (R)

April 5, 2021 — Another tough statewide campaign appears to be brewing in the Badger State.
Thomas Nelson is the Outagamie County, Wisconsin, executive (Appleton area) and a former Wisconsin state assembly majority leader who is assessing his chances of challenging Sen. Ron Johnson (R) next year. For his part, Sen. Johnson has not indicated whether he will seek a third term. He has hinted both toward running again and keeping the pledge he made during his first campaign in 2010 to serve only two terms.

Nelson just released the results of an internal Change Research poll that posts him to a four-point 48-44 percent lead over Sen. Johnson. Looking back to the senator’s last election campaign (2016), trailing in a survey is nothing new. It was the repetitive data continually pegging him as trailing that led to the National Republican Senatorial Committee abandoning him as a lost cause until the late polls showed him rebounding with at least a chance to win.

In the end, Johnson defeated former Sen. Russ Feingold (D), 50-47 percent, in one of the most surprising results of campaign year 2016.

Wisconsin is likely the least accurately polled state during the past few elections. In the aforementioned Johnson-Feingold race, a total of 74 surveys were publicly released, and 70 of them showed Sen. Johnson trailing. In the same election year, 33 research studies were placed in the public domain for the presidential race and only the Trafalgar Group, just as the campaign was closing, correctly projected Donald Trump with an edge.

In 2020, a total of 70 presidential polls were released and 66 gave Joe Biden the lead. He did carry the state, but only by 20,682 votes translating into a 0.7 percent margin. The final 20 polls, all conducted after Oct. 1, found President Biden carrying a 7.0 percent average advantage, well beyond the polling margin of error in relation to the final result.

Therefore, with a consistent pattern of underestimating Republican strength, seeing Sen. Johnson trailing by only four points in the early stages of the 2022 campaign suggests his actual standing is likely much better.

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