Category Archives: Election Analysis

Pennsylvania Rep. Marino to Resign

By Jim Ellis

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court (click on image to see full size)

Jan. 22, 2019 — Five-term Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino (R-Williamsport) announced that he is leaving Congress next week to accept a professional position in the private sector. Marino was first elected to the House in 2010, after serving five years as the US Attorney for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, and 11 years as District Attorney of Lycoming County.

In the Republican wave election of 2010, Marino ousted then-Rep. Chris Carney (D) by a 55-45 percent margin and has averaged 66.1 percent of the vote in his subsequent re-elections. The 2018 Pennsylvania court-ordered redistricting plan re-numbered his 10th Congressional District to 12 and created a seat where 68 percent of the constituency carried over from the previous district.

In 2017, President Trump nominated Rep. Marino as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, commonly referred to as the nation’s “drug czar.” But the congressman withdrew his name when experiencing some negative reaction during the confirmation process.

The 12th District will now go into a special election cycle. After the seat becomes officially vacant on Jan. 23, Gov. Tom Wolf (D) will have 10 days to issue a writ of election to fill the newly open seat. The various political parties will meet in special conventions to choose their nominees, with the winners proceeding to an election date that the governor will assign. It is most likely he will schedule the 12th District special to run concurrently with the Pennsylvania municipal primary, which is calendared for May 21.

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The Justice Democrats

By Jim Ellis

The Justice Democrats logo (click on image to go to their website)

Jan. 18, 2019 — Similar to the time when the Republicans controlled the House, it appears the most ideologically committed faction of the Democratic Party is already beginning to target the more centrist majority members for primary defeat.

The Justice Democrats organization spokespeople reiterated yesterday that they will be opposing certain incumbents in Democratic primaries beginning with Texas Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-Laredo).

The group boasts of having newly-elected Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) as members after the pair defeated Reps. Joe Crowley (D-Queens) and Mike Capuano (D-Somerville) in their respective 2018 primaries. The Justice Democrats also list veteran Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Ro Khanna (D-CA), and Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) as members along with newly elected freshmen Ilhan Omar (D-MN), and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI).

The Justice Democrats have a published issue agenda that includes “Medicare for All”, guaranteed living wages, federal guaranteed jobs, taxpayer financed higher education for anyone who wants to attend a university or college, their “Green New Deal” pertaining to environmental policy, and law enforcement reform, among other issues.

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Senate: Early Handicapping

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 17, 2019 — The 2020 Senate election cycle features 34 races instead of 33 because of the Arizona special, and this time it is the Republicans who must defend the preponderance of seats. In 2018, Democrats held 26 of the 35 seats up for election; in this cycle, Republicans must protect 22 of the 34 Senate positions.

Republicans are first risking two open seats, those of Sen. Pat Roberts in Kansas and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. At this point, both should remain in the GOP column. They also face a slew of competitive races in as many as eight incumbent states. Democrats, on the other hand, must defend in one highly competitive campaign, that of Sen. Doug Jones in Alabama, and a potentially viable contest in Minnesota.

But the most vulnerable Republican races will attract serious political attention. Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (AZ), Sen. Cory Gardner (CO), and North Carolina first term incumbent Thom Tillis are facing difficult election or re-election campaigns, in addition to Sen. Jones.

Martha McSally lost the 2018 Arizona Senate race to new Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D) by 55,900 votes of more than 2.384 million ballots cast, or a margin of 2.4 percentage points. This, however, in the same election where Republican Gov. Doug Ducey scored a strong 56-42 percent re-election victory.

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The Presidential Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Former vice president and ex-Delaware senator Joe Biden is expected to make his 2020 presidential plans known at some point in February

Jan. 16, 2019 — As predicted, a great deal of action on the presidential front has already occurred in January, and we’re likely to see more very soon.

So far this month, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and former Housing & Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro announced their presidential campaigns. Billionaire Tom Steyer, thought to be preparing a run, publicly stated that he would not do so.

There are so many potential political players, however, it is difficult to tell them without a scorecard, as the old saying goes.

Below is an updated list of the 31 Democrats who have taken action on the presidential front or are rumored to be doing so in the near future.

Most Likely to Run (listed alphabetically)

  1. Former Vice President Joe Biden – expected to make his plans known at some point in February
  2. Ex-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg – already reportedly exploring what he will must do to divest himself of his media empire before running
  3. Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) – expected to soon announce an exploratory committee if not an actual campaign committee. The NJ legislature and governor changed New Jersey election law to allow individuals to run for offices simultaneously. Sen. Booker is up for re-election in the 2020 election cycle.
  4. Ex-Secretary Julian Castro – announced candidacy
  5. Ex-Congressman John Delaney (D-MD) – announced candidacy; been traveling in Iowa and New Hampshire for most of last year
  6. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) – stated in a CNN interview that she will run for president and will shortly make a formal announcement
  7. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) – expected to soon form exploratory committee
  8. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) – planning presidential campaign announcement for the Martin Luther King holiday in her birthplace of Oakland, CA
  9. Former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) – expected to soon announce presidential exploratory committee
  10. Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) – stated publicly that he will form an exploratory committee
  11. Ex-Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA) – making public moves to enter the presidential race
  12. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I/D-VT) – says he will run if he doesn’t believe any of the other candidates can defeat President Trump. Expected to again make the race.
  13. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) – has formed presidential exploratory committee, and is expected to become an official candidate

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NC-9: Vacant for the Year?

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 15, 2019 — The 9th District of North Carolina, still with uncertified electoral results from November, could conceivably remain vacant until the November municipal elections as the situation continues to unfold.

The NC State Board of Elections was supposed to have met on Friday, and at that point would likely have scheduled a new election, but the panel itself is a political football. A state judge acted to dissolve the membership by refusing to issue a stay of his previous ruling.

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris has filed a court challenge to the Board of Elections not certifying his win in NC-9 and claiming his 905-vote lead should stand.

The panel became a tug of war between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican dominated state legislature even before the NC-9 controversy arose. During the transition between the time that Cooper unseated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in the 2016 statewide election and his taking office Republican legislators changed certain laws. One of those moves concerned the Board of Elections’ composition.

A judge eventually ruled that the legislature acted unconstitutionally regarding some of the changes including the legislation regarding the Board of Elections. The board was supposed to be dissolved after the election certification period, but the NC-9 problem earned the group a stay of the original ruling. The judge, however, did not see fit to allow them to continue in the new year.

At the end of the year, with Republican legislators desiring to change the special election law that would allow an open primary system instead of the general election rerun that would have been the previous board’s only option had they ordered a new vote, a new election law was enacted.

In a deal with the Democrats, the Republican leadership passed a bill that allows the open primary in exchange for giving Gov. Cooper what he wanted in terms of Board of Elections’ personnel. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both houses, but the governor vetoed. The legislature immediately overrode his action.

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