Category Archives: Election Analysis

Kelly & Kelly for Senate; Challenger to NJ Rep. Pascrell, 87, May Emerge; Chicago Mayoral Battle Continues; Two in Florida Runoff Battle

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Senate

Scott (left) and twin brother, Arizona Sen. Mark Kelly

Texas: Democrats Searching for Candidate — Just like the Wisconsin Republicans in their quest to find a standard bearer to challenge Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) next year, the Lone Star State Democrats are continuing their search for a strong challenger to oppose Sen. Ted Cruz (R). Still not successfully recruiting either Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas) or former HUD Secretary and ex-San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the Democrats are now floating the idea of astronaut Scott Kelly, the twin brother of Arizona senator and former astronaut Mark Kelly (D).

Though Scott Kelly, who for a time was the world record holder for being in space for the longest duration (340 days), has not made any confirming statement that he is taking the same political path as his brother, if the Democratic leadership were to convince him to run, that would make an interesting race.

House

NJ-9: Potential Challenge for Rep. Pascrell — In mid March, we reported that 14-term New Jersey Congressman Bill Pascrell (D-Paterson) announced that he would seek re-election next year at age 87. He may not have a free ride, however. Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh is reportedly weighing his chances of challenging Rep. Pascrell in the 2024 Democratic primary.

Prior to being elected to Congress for the first time in 1996, Pascrell was simultaneously the mayor of Paterson and a state assemblyman. In 2012, when New Jersey lost a seat in national reapportionment, Rep. Pascrell and then Rep. Steve Rothman (D) were paired in the new 9th District. Initially, Rep. Pascrell was considered the underdog in the incumbent vs. incumbent Democratic primary, but the elder congressman would prevail in the end with a landslide 62-38 percent victory. Rep. Pascrell has not been seriously challenged since.

Mayor

Chicago: Vallas and Johnson Continue to Battle — The Chicago municipal contest, where voters have already defeated Mayor Lori Lightfoot, continues to brandish polling showing a very tight runoff contest between former Chicago Public Schools CEO Paul Vallas and Cook County Commissioner Brandon Johnson. Several published polls disagree as to who is leading whom in the race. The latest Victory Research survey (March 20-23; 806 Chicago likely runoff voters) sees Vallas leading 46-44 percent. IZQ Strategies (March 15-16; 680 likely Chicago runoff voters) arrives at the same 46-44 percent ballot test result, but they find Commissioner Johnson holding the slight edge.

Vallas has recently been able to cross racial lines by attracting endorsements from African American former officeholders Jesse White, who served six terms as the Illinois Secretary of State, and ex-Congressman Bobby Rush, who was in office for 30 years. Crime is a big issue in the contest and could be the defining one. The runoff is scheduled for April 4.

Jacksonville: Two Advance — The Jacksonville mayoral primary was held during the week, and Democrat Donna Deegan topped the field of candidates with 39 percent of the vote. Daniel Davis (R), the local Chamber of Commerce CEO, was second with 25 percent. Since neither candidate received majority support, the two will advance to a May 16 runoff election. Combined, Republican candidates received 51 percent of the vote as compared to the combined Democratic percentage of 48. Republican incumbent Lenny Curry is ineligible to seek a third term.

Familiar Challenger in CA-41;
Special Election RI-1 Candidates Grow, Skepticism in WI-3 Race;
New Orleans Recall Effort Fails

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 24, 2023

House

California Lake Elsinore City Councilman Tim Sheridan (D)

CA-41: Rep. Calvert Draws Familiar Challenger — Lake Elsinore City Councilman Tim Sheridan (D), who challenged Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Corona) twice in the pre-redistricting and much more Republican 42nd District, announced this week that he will return to again run for the House in 2024.

In November, Rep. Calvert survived his second closest re-election effort, a 52-48 percent win over former federal prosecutor Will Rollins (D) in the new 41st District that is fully contained within Riverside County. We could see action in the all-party jungle primary because Rollins is also considering waging a return re-match with the 16-term incumbent.

RI-1: Special Election Candidate Count Expands to Six — As we reported yesterday, the RI-1 special election will be scheduled when Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) resigns from the House on June 1. This week, another four individuals announced their special Democratic primary candidacies already bringing the field’s total number to six.

Those previously declaring are Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D) and state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket). The latest to enter are state Rep. Nathan Biah (D-Providence), corporate Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) consultant Nick Autiello, financial consultant Allen Waters, and bus driver Mickeda Barnes. Also as mentioned yesterday, the special election will effectively be decided in the Democratic primary from a seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+32.

WI-3: Potential Challenger Candidates Skeptical — The 3rd District of Wisconsin occupies the state’s southwestern region and while often voting Republican for president, the electorate returned Democratic Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) to office 13 consecutive times. Kind retired in 2022, and the Democratic leadership basically conceded the seat to Republican Derrick Van Orden in that the national party spent no money to protect a seat their member held for 26 consecutive years. In the end, Van Orden did win, but his victory margin fell far below predictions in defeating state Sen. Brad Pfaff (D-La Crosse) 52-48 percent.

It appears that Pfaff and two other former congressional candidates, La Crosse City Councilman Mark Neumann and small business owner Rebecca Cooke, are considering entering the 2024 congressional race. All, however, are saying they won’t run unless they are assured of national outside party support.

Mayor

New Orleans: Recall Effort Fails — The move to force a recall vote against Crescent City Mayor LaToya Cantrell (D) came to an abrupt end at the petition signature deadline. The recall organization fell woefully short of recruiting the 45,000 registered voter signatures necessary to force a confirmation election. The Cantrell opposition group was only able to qualify approximately 27,000 signatures, or just 60 percent of the required number. The next regular mayoral election is scheduled for 2025.

Michigan State School Board President Considers Senate Run; Washington Sen. Cantwell Cruising; Ex-Gov. Walker Says No;
House Candidate Announcements

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, March 23, 2023

Senate

Michigan School Board President Pamela Pugh (D)

Michigan: State School Board President Considers Senate — Michigan School Board President Pamela Pugh (D), who has won two statewide elections to the state school board, a post that features eight-year terms, says she is considering entering the Democratic primary for US Senate.

At this point, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) is unopposed for the party nomination, but Pugh says she is concerned with the lack of African American representation throughout the state. Even the congressional delegation has no black Democrats despite the two Detroit-anchored congressional seats featuring plurality African American populations. The only black in the congressional delegation, freshman Rep. John James, is a Republican.

Washington: Sen. Cantwell (D) Cruising in New Poll — Public Policy Polling, the regular survey research firm for the Northwest Progressive Institute, released their latest Washington statewide study (March 7-8; 874 registered Washington voters; live interview & text) and tested the 2024 Senate race featuring four-term incumbent Maria Cantwell (D). Paired with former Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), who is reportedly considering the challenge, PPP finds Sen. Cantwell holding a comfortable 50-35 percent advantage.

The 2022 Washington Senate race was billed as a competitive contest between Sen. Patty Murray (D) and Republican Tiffany Smiley, but ended in a 57-43 percent result. Since Republicans have a target-rich Senate cycle in 2024, it is doubtful the party will invest any serious resources toward a Cantwell challenge.

Wisconsin: Ex-Gov. Walker Says No — While Republicans are searching for a candidate to challenge two-term Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D) in a race that could become competitive, one prominent Republican closed the door on a candidacy. Former two-term Gov. Scott Walker (R), who twice was elected governor but was defeated for a third term after not faring well in the 2016 presidential race, says he will not run for the Senate next year. The two potential GOP candidates most talked about are Walker’s former lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, and businessman Scott Mayer.

House

MI-7: Mayor Won’t Run — Recently, Lansing Mayor Andy Schor (D) launched a congressional exploratory committee since Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Lansing) will vacate the 7th Congressional District seat in order to run for the state’s open Senate seat. Typically, filing such a committee is the first step to announcing a candidacy, but in this case the opposite has occurred. Clearly, Mayor Schor did not find the results for which he had hoped, and announced Monday that he would not be a candidate for the 2024 open seat.

No one has yet announced for the 7th District. It is presumed that 2022 Republican candidate Tom Barrett, now a former state senator, will again make a run for the seat. He lost 51-46 percent to Rep. Slotkin last November.

RI-1: Second Special Election Candidate Announces — Though Rhode Island Rep. David Cicilline (D-Providence) will not resign from the House until June 1 to accept a position running a large Rhode Island non-profit organization, two Democratic candidates wanting to succeed him in Congress have now announced for the impending special election. Last week, Lt. Gov. Sabina Matos (D) declared her candidacy, and now state Sen. Sandra Cano (D-Pawtucket) has followed suit.

Once Rep. Cicilline officially resigns, Gov. Dan McKee (D) will then schedule a special election to fill the seat for the balance of the current term. The special election will be decided in the Democratic primary in a safe seat that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+32.

Speculation That Chaffetz Will Run for Office Again in Utah; GOP’s Super Majority in LA; Nunn Challenges in Iowa; Kistner Lining up to Run Again

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Governor

Utah’s Jason Chaffetz (R)

Utah: Gov. Cox to Seek Re-Election, but Chaffetz is the Story — Gov. Spencer Cox (R) announced on Friday that he will seek a second term next year, but more of the political attention centers around former congressman and current Fox News commentator, Jason Chaffetz (R). There has been much speculation, and not denied, that Chaffetz is considering launching a Republican primary challenge against either Gov. Cox or Sen. Mitt Romney (R). Therefore, it appears the 2024 Utah nomination convention and Republican primary will feature some meaningful political action.

House

IA-3: Swing District Freshman Draws Challenger — Freshman US Rep. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) was one of the few challengers to win a House seat in 2022 when he scored a 49.6 – 48.9 percent win over two-term Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines), a margin of 2,145 votes from more than 315,000 ballots cast. On Friday, mental health therapist Tracy Limon (D) announced her congressional candidacy, the first individual to come forward for the 2024 election. This could be a signal that former Rep. Axne will not return for a re-match, since the Democratic primary would likely be cleared for her if she desired to make a comeback.

MN-2: Kistner Considers Third Run — Navy veteran and businessman Tyler Kistner (R) has lost two close congressional races to Minnesota Rep. Angie Craig (D-Prior Lake), and confirms that he is considering launching another re-match in 2024. The 2020 election proved his better showing, losing 48-46 percent. In the redistricted 2nd District, which now stretches from the Wisconsin border southwest to include the southern St. Paul and Minneapolis suburbs, the result was not as close, 51-46 percent, in the congresswoman’s favor. A Kistner third run would not likely change the result, as he received 46 percent in both of his elections. Republicans might find more success in 2024 with a fresh candidate.

States

Louisiana: Party Switch Gives Rs Super Majority — State Rep. Francis Thompson of Dehli is the longest-serving state legislator in Louisiana state history, being first elected in 1975. On Friday, he left the Democratic Party and became a Republican. The move gives the Republicans a two-thirds majority in the House, and makes it easier to override Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards’ vetoes. The move won’t change many issue voting patterns, however, since Rep. Thompson has always been one of the more conservative legislators. During his tenure in the legislature, Thompson has served in both the House and Senate.

Lt. Gov. a Potential Senate Candidate in Wisc.; Mayor Sheila Jackson Lee?; Reeves Rebounds in Mississippi; West Virginia Candidate Decisions

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Senate

Wisconsin’s former Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch (R)

Wisconsin: Former Lieutenant Governor Potential Senate Candidate — We reported late last week that business owner Scott Mayer is considering competing for the Wisconsin US Senate nomination in a race that has not yet begun. Now we see reports surfacing that former Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) is “leaving the door open” to considering a bid against Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D).

Kleefisch, who served as lieutenant governor under then-Gov. Scott Walker (R) from 2011 to 2019, but who lost the 2022 GOP nomination for governor to businessman Tim Michels — who would then lose the general election to Gov. Tony Evers (D) — is currently leading the 1848 Project organization, a Wisconsin-based conservative action group.

House

TX-18: Mayor’s Option Still Open — Texas US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston) is not commenting about further reports suggesting she will enter the open mayor’s race later this year. At the same time, she is not denying interest in doing so, and reports suggest that the congresswoman is telling close supporters that she is actively considering the race. The candidate filing period does not conclude until August, so quite a bit of time remains for her to enter the citywide campaign. Mayor Sylvester Turner (D) is ineligible to seek a third term, and is reportedly considering challenging Sen. Ted Cruz (R) next year.

Governor

Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D)

Mississippi: Reeves Rebounds — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted a new Mississippi governor’s poll for the Magnolia Tribune (March 6-9; 625 registered Mississippi voters; live interview) and sees Gov. Tate Reeves (R) rebounding from a January Tulchin Research survey. The Mason-Dixon ballot test posts Gov. Reeves to a seven-point lead over Mississippi Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley (D), 46-39 percent. The Tulchin poll staked Presley to an early 47-43 percent advantage.

In the M-D poll, the governor has leads throughout the state with the exception of the state’s 2nd Congressional District (Rep. Bennie Thompson-D), that occupies most of the Mississippi Delta area. In that region, Presley pulls a 15-percentage point lead. Gov. Reeves is strongest — a pair of 15-point spreads — in the Tennessee border region and on the Gulf Coast. With party nominations secure for both Gov. Reeves and Presley, the two are already waging a general election battle that will be settled on Nov. 7.

West Virginia: AG Morrisey Leads in New Poll — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R), who lost to Sen. Joe Manchin in a close 49-46 percent result in 2018, claims to be deciding among seeking a re-match in the Senate race, or running for the open governor or 2nd Congressional District positions, or simply seeking re-election.

A newly released National Research poll that was conducted in late February for the Black Bear PAC (Feb. 23-28; 600 likely West Virginia Republican primary voters) projects Morrisey to be holding a 28-15-11-6 percent advantage in an open governor’s primary against state Delegate Moore Capito (R-Charleston), the son of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R); Secretary of State Mac Warner (R); and businessman Chris Miller, son of Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington).

Though Morrisey has yet to commit to a race, this poll suggests his gubernatorial prospects are positive. Incumbent Gov. Jim Justice (R) is ineligible to seek a third term, and is likely to challenge Sen. Manchin.

A Changing South Texas

By Jim Ellis — Monday, March 20, 2023

States

Demographics: A Shifting South Texas Electorate — Typically, not much used to happen politically in the Texas’ Rio Grande Valley congressional districts that touch the US-Mexico border, but such is not the case anymore.

Republican freshman Rep. Monica de la Cruz (R-McAllen) converted what became an open 15th District, which stretches from the San Antonio area all the way to the border.

We began seeing the political waves shifting in the 2020 presidential election when then-President Trump ran well ahead of a typical Republican national nominee in a region that was historically solid Democratic. In the five congressional districts that touch the Texas-Mexico border, President Biden was able to break 52 percent in only one of the seats, and that one is in the El Paso-anchored 16th District.

The trend carried over into the 2022 election where almost all of the state’s political action was centered in the border districts, and it’s not just because the cross points are being challenged and overrun with foreigners illegally coming into the United States. Largely due to the Biden Administration’s energy policies and the Democrats’ “Green New Deal” that is causing the area to lose energy-related jobs, Republicans are making political gains. In what were once highly safe Democratic CDs, we now see heightened political competition.

The region is changing to such a degree that now even one of the area’s Republican congressmen, Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-San Antonio) — in the district that stretches from San Antonio all the way to El Paso and contains more of the border territory than any district in the country — is facing a new primary challenge from his political right. This seat has been competitive for years in the general election, but now is settling itself as the South Texas region’s most reliable Republican seat.

Republican freshman Rep. Monica de la Cruz (R-McAllen — above), who converted what became an open 15th District that stretches from the San Antonio area all the way to the border in and around the McAllen area, looks to be in solid position for re-election next year.

Redistricting is a factor in the results, and if the GOP map drawers had known what would happen in a special election in the Brownsville-anchored 34th District early in 2022, they would likely have crafted different boundaries.

Mayra Flores

As a result, Republican Mayra Flores, who made national news in 2022 when she scored an upset special election win in the 34th, ultimately fell 51-43 percent to fellow Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) in the general election. Rep. Gonzalez, seeing the trends in his 15th CD, decided to run for re-election in the more Democratic 34th after then-Rep. Filemon Vela resigned the seat to accept a position in the private sector.

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Desantis-Trump Conflicting Results; 2022 PA Candidate Won’t Run Again; Decision Time in Wisconsin, Texas

By Jim Ellis — Friday, March 17, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump; Florida Gov. Ron Desantis (R)

National Polls: Conflicting Results — While national polls don’t mean much in terms of projecting who will win a presidential nomination because the ultimate winner is decided through accumulating delegate votes through the states, we now see a released pair of interesting Republican nomination surveys conducted during the same period.

The CNN national survey (conducted by SSRS; March 8-12; 1,040 registered US voters; live interview & online) showed that the ballot test favored Gov. Ron DeSantis, who led former President Donald Trump 39-37 percent. Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and ex-Vice President Mike Pence were a distant third and fourth with 7 and 6 percent, respectively.

Conversely, Quinnipiac University, in the field with their national poll (March 9-13; 677 Republican and Republican-leaning voters; live interview) projects a completely different ballot test result. The Q-Poll sees Trump holding a strong 46-32 percent lead over Gov. DeSantis, with Haley and Pence following at 5 and 3 percent, respectively.

Because the sample sizes are typically small for national polls, and therefore possess high error factors, we can expect to see continued diverse survey results as the campaign continues to take shape.

Senate

Pennsylvania: 2022 Senate Candidate Won’t Try Again — Businesswoman and political activist Kathy Barnette, who placed a credible third place with 25 percent of the vote behind both Dr. Mehmet Oz and former hedge fund CEO David McCormick in the 2022 Pennsylvania Republican US Senate primary, says she will not return to run again next year. The National Republican Senatorial Committee and the major outside GOP support organizations are attempting to recruit McCormick into next year’s challenge race against Sen. Bob Casey Jr. (D).

Doug Mastriano, the ‘22 Republican gubernatorial nominee and a state senator from Chambersburg, says he is considering a comeback. Republican leaders are working to ensure a Mastriano repeat does not happen since he was defeated 56-42 percent in the general election and failed to run a competitive campaign. In any event, Sen. Casey will be favored for re-election.

Wisconsin: Businessman Considering Challenge to Sen. Baldwin — Business owner Scott Mayer (R) confirms he is considering competing for the Wisconsin US Senate nomination in a race that has not yet seen much activity. Mayer is capable of self-funding his race, though he says it’s “not something he is comfortable with.” He has been told he might have to fund as much as $20 million to run a competitive race.

At this point, no notable Republican has come forward to declare their Senate candidacy. Since Wisconsin always features close races, it is probable that this contest has the eventual potential of becoming a top-tier targeted campaign.

House

TX-34: Ex-Rep Leaning Against Re-Match — Republican Mayra Flores made national news in 2022 when she scored an upset special election win in the Texas Rio Grande Valley 34th District that is anchored in the city of Brownsville. In the regular election, however, she fell 51-43 percent to fellow Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) who decided to run in the 34th instead of his previous 15th CD.

The principal reason for Flores losing was redistricting. The 34th went from a D+5 to a D+17 under the FiveThirtyEight data organization statistical calculation making the seat difficult for any Republican to attain.

Seeing the political reality, Flores is indicating that she is unlikely to run again in 2024. In order to make the adjacent 15th CD more winnable for a Republican, which happened with the election of Rep. Monica de la Cruz (R-McAllen) in November, the 34th became more Democratic. The redistricting map was drawn long before Flores won the special election, hence the lopsided partisan lean for a district the GOP was able to convert.