Category Archives: Election Analysis

Georgia Developments Unfolding

By Jim Ellis

Rev. Raphael Warnock

Feb. 3, 2020 — Several things became clearer late last week about the Georgia Senate special election.

As expected, Rev. Raphael Warnock, pastor of the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. worshipped, co-pastored with his father, and where his funeral service was conducted, announced his US Senate candidacy.

Rev. Warnock becomes the second major declared Democratic candidate, joining Atlanta businessman Matt Lieberman, the son of 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee and ex-Connecticut senator, Joe Lieberman. Additionally, former US Attorney and ex-state senator, Ed Tarver, also confirmed that he will enter the race within the next few weeks.

A few days ago, as we previously covered, north Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) officially became a candidate, ostensibly challenging appointed Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R).

Also, as we reported, a move is underway within the Georgia legislature to change the scheduled primary date in order to add the Senate special to the regular 2020 election calendar. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) scheduled the special as a jungle primary to occur concurrently with the general election on Nov. 3. All candidates will be on the same ballot with the top two advancing to a Jan. 5, 2021 run-off should no one receive majority support.

Late last week, proponents of the legislation, which most believe would help both Rep. Collins and the Democrats, were confronted with a roadblock that looks to derail their efforts. After the bill passed through the initial policy committee with only one opposition vote, the legislation was returned to the panel for technical reasons.

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Next Week’s Other Election

Key candidates who hope to succeed late Rep. Elijah Cummings in MD-7 iclude rom left: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, Kweisi Mfume, Talmadge Branch, Jill Carter, Terri Hill, Jay Jalisi, Michael Higginbotham, Saafir Rabb


By Jim Ellis

Jan. 31, 2020 — The Iowa Caucus is not the only election happening next week. The day after Iowans gather in their precinct meetings on Monday, Baltimore area voters will go to the polls to choose nominees to replace the late Congressman Elijah Cummings (D-MD) who passed away in early October.

Though Tuesday hosts only the special primary election, the Democratic nominee emerging from that vote will succeed Rep. Cummings in the April 28 special general election from a seat that is virtually unwinnable for a Republican.

Which of the 24 Democrats running will win the nomination is a point of speculation, however. The field includes the late congressman’s widow, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who resigned her position as Maryland Democratic Party chair to run, and the man who Elijah Cummings replaced in a 1996 special election, former congressman, Kweisi Mfume. Mfume resigned from the House to become President of the NAACP, thus necessitating the special congressional election 24 years ago. He would remain in this position until he ran unsuccessfully for Senate in 2006.

Also in the race are state House Majority Whip Talmadge Branch, state Sen. Jill Carter (D-Baltimore), and state Delegates Terri Hill, a Columbia physician, and Jay Jalisi (D-Baltimore County).

The candidate who has so far spent the most money, however, is law professor Michael Higginbotham. He has raised just over $110,000 and loaned his campaign over $500,000. The $600,000+ total is almost $400,000 more than the next closest competitor, ex-congressman Mfume, who reported just over $266,000 in receipts on his Jan. 15 pre-primary financial disclosure filing. The other candidate raising over $200,000 is business consultant Saafir Rabb. All of his funds come from other individuals. Higginbotham and Mfume report having the most cash-on-hand, just over $200,000 apiece.

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Rep. Collins Moves Toward Senate

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins

Jan. 30, 2020 — Reports had become rampant over the past several days that north Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) was going to challenge appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in the upcoming special US Senate election. Just two days ago, Rep. Collins said that he “has no comment … for now,” when asked about his statewide intentions. However, yesterday he confirmed that he would indeed run for US Senate in 2020.

It was clear that Collins had wanted the Senate appointment that Loeffler received, and reports toward the end of the selection process indicated that the final choice was largely between him and Loeffler. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) chose Loeffler, it is reported, in part to promote a woman who he believed could attract more Republican votes in the suburbs, in addition to her family’s substantial wealth giving her a major start-up advantage in campaign resources.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)

Rep. Collins was President Trump’s strongest defender in his position as ranking Republican Judiciary Committee member during the impeachment hearings, and Trump made no secret of his wish to see the congressman appointed.

In the meantime, Democrats have two candidates, with a third on the political horizon. Businessman Matt Lieberman is the son of 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee and former Connecticut senator, Joe Lieberman. Former US Attorney and Georgia state Sen. Ed Tarver is also in the Democratic race, while Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor for Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once served as co-pastor with his father, is poised to enter the race.

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NY-27: Battle Lines Drawn

State of New York congressional districts

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 29, 2020 — Though New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) has not officially called the special election to replace resigned Rep. Chris Collins (R), and the Democrats have not yet officially named their party standard bearer, it is now clear who will be vying for the vacant congressional seat and when the election will occur.

It is all but certain that the governor will schedule the special election concurrently with the state’s presidential primary on April 28. Under New York election law, the party county chairmen meet and together choose their congressional district nominee in the event of a vacancy. In the 27th, eight counties comprise the CD so only eight individuals from each party choose the candidates who will face each other in the special general election. Under this system, the public only votes once.

We learned Monday that the eight Republican county chairmen had selected Erie County state Sen. Chris Jacobs to advance into the special election. Sen. Jacobs had previously indicated that he would not seek re-election to the Senate and instead enter the 2020 regular Republican congressional primary regardless if Rep. Collins was still in office. The congressman later pled guilty to conspiracy to commit insider trading and lying to the FBI and has been sentenced to a prison term. He resigned from the House at the end of September.

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One Week Out From Iowa,
It’s Looking Like a Four-Way Split

A four-way split? 2020 Democratic presidential candidates (from left) South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (PBS.org photo)

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 28, 2020 — Now, just about one week from the first votes of the 2020 presidential election campaign being cast in Iowa, the most current polling suggests that we could see a four-way split for delegate apportionment in the first two voting states. After Iowans meet in their precinct meetings next Monday, New Hampshire voters will visit their polling places in the nation’s first 2020 presidential primary eight days later on February 11th.

Two new surveys each come from the two states: YouGov/CBS News and Suffolk University/USA Today in Iowa, and the University of New Hampshire/CNN and Marist College/NBC News in the Granite State.

In Iowa, Suffolk University/USA Today (Jan. 23-26; 500 likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attenders) finds former Vice President Joe Biden leading Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and the rest of the field, 25-19-18-13-8 percent. In third place is former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, while Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) follows, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) takes the drop into fifth place.

Based upon this poll, Biden, Sanders, and Buttigieg would qualify for delegate apportionment, while the actual vote would likely push Sen. Warren over the minimum threshold, as well. Iowa has 41 first-ballot delegates.

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Late Senate Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 27, 2020 — Our final installment pertaining to the in-cycle Senate races covers the contests with primaries from mid-August through September:

AUGUST 6

Tennessee: Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) is retiring and the Tennessee open Senate seat has generated little in the way of political competition. Republican leaders, including President Trump, have joined together in support of former US Ambassador to Japan, Bill Hagerty, and he is a heavy favorite to win the party nomination and the general election. Nashville surgeon Manny Sethi is challenging Hagerty in the Republican primary, but him topping the former ambassador for the party nomination would be a major upset.
Dr. Sethi does have the wherewithal to compete, however. Through September, he loaned his campaign over $1.5 million in addition to raising almost $900,000. For the fourth quarter, Hagerty is going to report over $1.5 million raised with $3 million in the bank.
Democrats have virtually conceded the general election, largely as a response to then-Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) defeating the person they believed was their best possible Democratic candidate in the last election, the state’s former two-term governor, Phil Bredesen. Blackburn’s strong 55-44 percent victory margin against the best they have has clearly dissuaded potential Democratic candidates who may have considered entering this year’s open contest.
Of the three who look to file on April 2, attorney and Iraq War veteran James Mackler, who exited the 2018 Senate race at the party leadership’s behest, is now their candidate of choice but he appears to be a sacrificial lamb at this point.

AUGUST 11

Minnesota: Then-Lt. Gov. Tina Smith (D) was appointed to the Senate in 2018 when then-Sen. Al Franken (D) resigned in disgrace over a sexual harassment scandal. Smith won the subsequent special election, 53-42 percent, over state Sen. Karin Housley (R-St. Mary’s County). She now stands for a full term and will likely draw former one-term US representative and radio talk show host Jason Lewis (R).
The former congressman is capable of running a credible campaign, and should the presidential race again get close in Minnesota as it did in the last election with Hillary Clinton carrying the state by less than two percentage points, the Senate race could conceivably become close. In any event, Sen. Smith is certainly favored to win again, but the campaign bears watching in case developments begin to break the Republicans’ way.

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Mid-Year Senate Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 24, 2020 — The second in our three-part series about the in-cycle Senate races covers the 13 contests with June and early August primary dates:

JUNE 2

Iowa: Sen. Joni Ernst (R) stands for a second term and will likely face Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield (D) in the general election. Greenfield, who aborted a congressional run in 2018 when her campaign effort didn’t collect the requisite number of legal petition signatures, enjoys at least unofficial backing from the Democratic establishment and party leadership. The leaders’ first choice to run, freshman Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines), decided to seek her first re-election instead of jumping into a statewide battle.
Sen. Ernst is favored for re-election but some of her approval ratings have been low. Much will depend upon the national political trend, particularly at the presidential level. Iowa is typically a swing state that has been moving right in most recent elections, though the Democrats did gain two congressional seats in the last election.

Montana: Sen. Steve Daines (R) stands for a second term, and with the Democrats unable to convince outgoing governor and former presidential candidate Steve Bullock to run for the Senate, most of the political attention has shifted to the open governor’s race and at-large US House contest. With Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-Bozeman) again running for governor, both the governor’s office and the state’s lone House seat are open for the coming election.
In fact, when looking at the entire statewide ticket, mostly due to term limits and statewide officials running for other offices, five of the seven statewide races are open contests in 2020. Therefore, the lack of attention and concentration on the Senate race certainly helps Sen. Daines. At this point, with the March 9 candidate filing deadline less than a month away, the type of candidate who could give the senator a serious run has not yet emerged.

New Jersey: Sen. Cory Booker (D) backed away from the presidential contest in order to concentrate on his re-election campaign. While state law was changed to allow candidates to run for offices simultaneously, Sen. Booker decided the time to exit the presidential race was upon him before embarrassing losses in Democratic primary states encouraged stronger primary competition for his re-election back home. Now concentrating on New Jersey full-time, Sen. Booker looks safe for re-election.

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