Category Archives: 2022

Scandal-Tainted Ex-Gov. Eric Greitens Declares for Senate in 2022

By Jim Ellis

Ex-Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens (R)

March 25, 2021 — Former Gov. Eric Greitens, originally threatening to challenge Sen. Roy Blunt in the 2022 Missouri Republican primary, launched his US Senate campaign Tuesday for what is now an open seat. Sen. Blunt’s decision to not seek re-election obviously drastically changes the Missouri political landscape and opens the door for what could be a nasty GOP primary with a potential ending that could jeopardize what should be a relatively safe Republican seat.

Greitens first ran for office as a conservative retired Navy SEAL and author in 2016, coming from behind to win the Republican nomination for Missouri governor against a crowded field.

Cast as an underdog in that year’s general election to then-Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster, polls suggested he would lose from beginning to end. On election night, however, Greitens scored a 51-46 percent upset victory simultaneously with Donald Trump winning the presidency and Sen. Blunt being re-elected in a close fight.

After attaining the governorship, events turned against the fledgling politician. Reports began surfacing that he, as a married man, was having an affair with his hairdresser. Allegations then came forward that he had briefly held her against her will, taking pictures of her in compromising positions and blackmailing her with threats to make the photos public.

Soon after, Greitens was indicted, and largely due to poor relations with legislative leaders in his own party who were even beginning to prepare impeachment articles, it became evident that a year and several months into his term a forthcoming resignation appeared inevitable. He left office on June 1, 2018.

Later, the charges against him were dropped mostly due to prosecutorial misconduct matters that forced the government to forfeit its case. Despite never being convicted, the sordid affair situation can certainly reappear in a new political campaign. Early analysis suggests that a Greitens victory in the Republican primary could cause the party to potentially lose the seat in the 2022 general election.

The primary situation could be exacerbated if the GOP field becomes crowded as is usually the case in an open race for a seat under the party’s control. Those reported to be considering the Senate race are state Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and US Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin/St. Louis County) and Jason Smith (R-Salem), among others. Such a split field could allow Greitens to again win the party nomination with only a plurality.

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2022: Three More House Retirements

By Jim Ellis

March 24, 2021 — A trio of veteran House members announced Monday that they won’t seek re-election in 2022. Reps. Tom Reed (R-NY) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) will retire, while Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) declared his candidacy for the Georgia Secretary of State position.


Rep. Tom Reed (R-NY)

Tom Reed was first elected in 2010 and, at the time of his initial campaign, took a six-term limit pledge. The next election brings him to the end of his originally promised congressional service calendar. Earlier in the year, however, Rep. Reed had been making overtures about running for governor, especially when incumbent Andrew Cuomo (D) began running into political trouble. Rep. Reed even went so far as to begin hiring statewide campaign staff.

Late last week, however, accusations of him being drunk in public and becoming inappropriate with a female lobbyist several years ago began to surface. Originally, Rep. Reed said such accusations were false, but yesterday accompanied his retirement message with an apology for his past behavior.

The Reed retirement decision is likely good news for neighboring GOP Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-New Hartford). You will remember that she defeated former Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) by just 109 votes in the November election, a race that consumed more than three months to determine the final outcome. She originally won the 22nd District in 2016, but lost to Brindisi, then a state assemblyman, in 2018.

New York looks to lose at least one seat in reapportionment, and the Reed and Tenney districts rank 27th and 26th in population, respectively, among the 27 New York congressional seats. With Reed departing, the upstate map becomes much easier to draw in that his seat can be collapsed into hers, presenting Tenney with a larger but very likely more Republican district from which she could seek re-election.

Under this scenario, should it occur as described, her most serious competition would very likely come in the Republican primary instead of the general election. Securing local party support in her new counties would become Tenney’s first step in securing the GOP nomination under such a redistricting projection.


Rep. Filemon Vela (D-TX)

Rep. Vela’s retirement announcement after what will be five complete terms in the House comes as a surprise. He did, however, experience his tightest election of his five victories in November, but still won with a 55-42 percent majority. President Biden, however, only carried the 34th District, anchored in Brownsville on the Texas-Mexico border, with a 52-48 percent margin, down from 59-38 percent victory spread Hillary Clinton recorded in 2016.

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California Recall Getting Interesting

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

March 17, 2021 — Just days before reaching the recall petition deadline, Emerson College for the Nextar Media Group, an entity that owns several news stations throughout California, conducted a poll regarding the respondents’ predispositions about removing Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) from office.

The poll, conducted March 12-14 of 1,045 registered Golden State voters, finds Gov. Newsom’s position becoming more tenuous as the recall organizers prepare to deliver the last of their petitions today that will likely lead to a removal election.

It appears the proponents have a strong chance of qualifying. Last week, they reported gathering 2.055 million signatures. The minimum number of valid signatures to force an election is 1,495,709, which represents 12 percent of the total number of people voting in the preceding gubernatorial election, 2018 in this case. The organizers say they can withstand a 25 percent rejection rate and still qualify the recall. Of the signatures so far delivered and checked, the acceptance rate is 82 percent, far above the minimum needed to qualify.

According to the Emerson poll, the gap between those who would vote to retain Gov. Newsom and remove him has narrowed. Emerson found 42 percent of the respondents expressing a preference against recalling Gov. Newsom, while 38 percent favor doing so.

One year ago (March 17-18, 2020), 52 percent in a Remington Research Group poll said they would oppose recalling the governor with just 31 percent saying they would vote for removal from office. The University of California at Berkeley in late January of this year, found a 49-36 percent split in favor of retaining the governor. In February, however, a WPA Intelligence survey saw the retain lead dwindling to 47-43 percent. Now, Emerson College posts its 42-38 percent number.

Perhaps the more daunting part of the Emerson poll for Gov. Newsom was the 2022 re-elect question. Here, only 42 percent said they wanted to see him re-elected as opposed to 58 percent indicating they prefer someone different.

On the positive note for the governor, his overall job approval rating is still in positive territory, but just barely (45:44 percent); yet even better, a substantial margin of the sampling universe, 57-43 percent, believe California is on the right track.

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Rating Gubernatorial Races, 2021-22

Dr. Larry Sabato’s 2022 Gubernatorial Projection


By Jim Ellis

March 16, 2021 — The University of Virginia’s political prognosticator, Dr. Larry Sabato, released his 2021-22 governors’ race ratings late last week, which appear to be the first in the public domain for the early election cycle.

Currently, Republicans hold a 27-23 advantage in governorships. A total of 38 races are on tap in the 2022 election cycle, two of which will be decided this year (New Jersey; Virginia).

Surprisingly, Dr. Sabato rates the Democrats as completely safe in only one state, Hawaii, while nine Republicans are placed in the commensurate category.

We believe the Democrats are in better position in many of the states, but with a gubernatorial recall election likely to occur in California and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s problems in New York, these two normally secure seats now yield a more uncertain political climate.

Below are the Sabato ratings:


Safe Democratic:

• Hawaii – open – Gov. David Ige (D) term-limited

Expect a crowded and contested Democratic primary in Hawaii with the winner easily claiming the 2022 general election.


Safe Republican:

• Alabama – Gov. Kay Ivey (R) – has not yet committed to a re-election effort
• Arkansas – open – Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) term-limited
• Idaho – Gov. Brad Little (R) is expected to seek re-election
• Nebraska – open – Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) term-limited
• Oklahoma – Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) is seeking re-election
• South Carolina – Gov. Henry McMaster (R) is seeking re-election
• South Dakota – Gov. Kristi Noem (R) is seeking re-election
• Tennessee – Gov. Bill Lee (R) is seeking re-election
• Wyoming – Gov. Mark Gordon (R) is seeking re-election

We are in agreement with all of these ratings.

Republicans are expected to have a competitive open nomination contest in Nebraska.

It appears that former White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the early GOP leader in Arkansas.


Likely Democratic

• California – Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) facing recall election before regular vote
• Colorado – Gov. Jared Polis (D) is seeking re-election
• Connecticut – Gov. Ned Lamont (D) is seeking re-election
• Illinois – Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) is seeking re-election
• Minnesota – Gov. Tim Walz (D) is seeking re-election
• New Jersey – Gov. Phil Murphy (D) is favored for re-election in the 2021 campaign
• New Mexico – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) is seeking re-election
• New York – Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) may be impeached or forced to resign
• Rhode Island – Gov. Dan McKee (D) is seeking election to his first term

At this point, we would move Colorado (Gov. Polis), Connecticut (Gov. Lamont), and Illinois (Gov. Pritzker) into the Safe Democratic category, at least based upon the present campaign status.

California will almost assuredly elect a Democratic governor, but whether that individual is again Gov. Newsom remains a bit of a question mark. The recall effort is likely to qualify later this month which allows the removal election to be scheduled.

New York, once the Cuomo situation is determined, is likely to return to the Safe Democratic column before the 2022 election.

In Rhode Island, new Gov. McKee assumed office after elected Gov. Gina Raimondo (D) resigned to accept her appointment as US Secretary of Commerce. Election year 2022 will feature a competitive Democratic gubernatorial primary, but the party will remain in control regardless of who eventually wins the primary election.
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Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R)

March 10, 2021 — Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R) announced via video yesterday that he is not seeking a third term next year. He will conclude an era of elected public service that spanned 14 years in the House in addition to completing a dozen years in the Senate. Prior to his federal career, he served as Missouri’s secretary of state, was the Greene County clerk, ran for governor, and saw his son elected governor.

The Blunt exit brings the number of Republican open Senate seats to five and could soon go to seven if Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) follow suit. Sen. Grassley will turn 89 years of age before the next election, and Sen. Johnson originally made a two-term promise when he first ran in 2010. The other announced GOP retirees are Sens. Richard Burr (NC), Pat Toomey (PA), Rob Portman (OH), and Richard Shelby (AL).

Without Sen. Blunt in the 2022 race, we can expect a contested Republican primary. Potential candidates include Lt. Gov. Mike Kehoe, Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, the son of former senator and US Attorney General John Ashcroft, and US Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin/St. Louis County), Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-St. Elizabeth/Jefferson City), Sam Graves (R-Tarkio/St. Joseph), Billy Long (R-Springfield), and Jason Smith (R-Salem/Southeast MO) among others.

Resigned Gov. Eric Greitens, who was forced from office due to a sex scandal, was beginning to talk about launching a primary against Sen. Blunt, so in an open-seat situation he will be another person whose name will regularly surface.

We’re seeing almost the opposite response among Democrats. The initial public comments from two of the most well-known Missouri Dems, former Sen. Claire McCaskill and 2016 nominee Jason Kander, who held Sen. Blunt to a tight 49-46 percent win in 2016, both immediately indicated that they will not run in 2022. Thus, a previously announced Senate candidate, former state Sen. Scott Sifton, apparently becomes the early leader for the party nomination.

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