Category Archives: House

Trump’s Pledge; Kline to Retire

Sept. 8, 2015 — A quiet political week ended with national Republican Party officials breathing a huge sigh of relief. Last week, Donald Trump agreed to sign the Republican National Committee pledge, committing candidates to eschew an independent candidacy if failing to win the party nomination. The language includes a statement of support for whoever becomes the GOP standard bearer. Obtaining Trump’s agreement was critical because his widely publicized contemplation about running in the general election was sure to doom the Republican nominee if he sought the presidency as an Independent.

But, it likely wasn’t the RNC chairman and leadership who carried the greatest influence with Trump. Rather, key GOP state chairmen who were beginning to draft legally binding pledges were the ones who made the difference.

The RNC pledge is not an authoritative document, and there isn’t much national party leaders can do if Trump decides to change his mind and reverse course later in the process. Ballot access, after all, is controlled by each individual state. But, state-based ballot qualifying measures and pledges do matter, and can be determinant about whether a candidate appears on a specific ballot.

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House: Looking Ahead

Aug. 17, 2015 — With the presidential contest dominating the political news coverage on a daily basis, very little attention has been paid to the US House races. Having what appears to be a secure Republican majority and a low number of open seats, the congressional campaigns will not likely bring much drama in 2016. The states under court-mandated mid-decade redistricting: Florida, Virginia, and possibly Texas, are unlikely to threaten the Republicans’ majority status either, though we could see several seats shift between the parties.

Coming off a 2014 election that sent 59 freshmen into the House and features 239 members who had served three full terms or less when they were sworn into the 114th Congress, the coming election promises much less turnover. In the 2012 election cycle, 62 seats were open followed by another 47 in last November’s vote. (The figures count districts in which an incumbent was defeated in a primary.) So far this year, we see 20 open seats (10R; 10D), not including two vacant districts that were filled in 2015 special elections.

According to our own Ellis Insight political forecast, 234 seats are safe (182), likely (36), or lean (16) Republican, while Democrats see 179 districts coming their way: 155 in the safe category, 16 likely landing in their column, and seven more leaning in their direction.

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Senate No-Go’s in Florida;
A California Democrat Fights Back

Aug. 3, 2015 — Three House members who had been very public about considering US Senate bids in their respective states, yesterday announced their decisions not to pursue a statewide campaign.

In what is becoming the most unpredictable of all Senate races, another surprise occurred in Florida.  Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Pensacola), who had been hiring staff, beginning to raise money, and even assembling an initial campaign schedule suddenly reversed course and will not join the growing field of Republican candidates.

Gainesville Rep. Ted Yoho (R), potentially a victim of the mid-decade, court-ordered congressional redistricting process, also reached the same conclusion about his own prospective Senate campaign.  So did California Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles).

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The Florida Jumble

July 27, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court’s order of a partial re-draw of eight congressional districts has turned the Sunshine State’s politics upside down. With one House member already jumping to the Senate race because he will get an unfavorable draw in his Pinellas County district, another representative may be looking to soon follow suit.

Last week, it was reported that freshman Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee) is confirming that she, too, is considering entering the open Senate campaign.

In its decision, the state Supreme Court took the highly unusual action of actually stating how the 5th District — that of Jacksonville Rep. Corinne Brown (D) — should be drawn. Currently, the controversial district encompasses a portion of Duval County (Jacksonville), travels southwest to annex part of Gainesville, and then meanders further south to capture African-American precincts in the city of Sanford before moving into Orlando. The configuration has withstood several challenges under the Voting Rights Act over the past two decades, which is why it remains, but the state high court ruled two weeks ago that it did not meet the proper redistricting criteria under the 2010 voter-passed initiative.
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Florida Musical Chairs Begin

July 22, 2015 — As predicted, Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) announced his intention to run for Florida’s open Senate seat next year, joining what is becoming a crowded Republican field that may expand even further.

Rep. Jolly was originally elected to his marginal Pinellas County seat in an early 2014 special election after the venerable 21-term Rep. Bill Young (R) passed away. Jolly was an upset winner in the special, defeating former state CFO Alex Sink, who had lost a one-point race for governor in the previous statewide cycle.

Jolly is jumping into the Senate campaign largely because the state Supreme Court just recently declared his district and seven others illegal in accordance with the state’s voter-adopted redistricting initiative. Since the court objects to the Tampa-anchored 14th District jumping across the bridge to annex Democratic St. Petersburg, it is a virtual certainty that the politically marginal 13th will become less Republican. Therefore, Rep. Jolly’s chances of winning re-election in such a newly configured seat all of a sudden become poor.
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Crist for Congress?

July 14, 2015 — The Florida Supreme Court barely had time to announce their decision declaring eight of the state’s congressional districts illegal before the political musical chairs began vibrating.

On Thursday, the high court declared that Rep. David Jolly’s (R) Pinellas County seat, among others, is in violation of the state’s 2010 voter-passed redistricting initiative, which put limits on partisan map drawing. Former governor, Charlie Crist, a Pinellas County resident who has either lost races or was headed for defeat in both the Republican and Democratic parties, and even as an Independent, is reportedly considering running for Congress should the Tampa Bay re-draw favor the Dems. Rep. Kathy Castor’s (D-Tampa) 14th District, that encompasses the cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, was also invalidated.

The court returned the map to the legislature with orders to re-construct eight districts from around the state, four Republican-held seats and four Democratic. The number of additional tangentially affected districts could mean that virtually the entire state will be redrawn within the next 100 days. Since the map is headed back to the legislature, majority Republicans will again have the redistricting pen, but the new final product must be submitted to the judiciary for approval. The new plan will take effect for the 2016 elections.
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“Trumping” North Carolina; Grayson In

July 10, 2015 — Public Policy Polling tested the electorate in their home state of North Carolina (July 2-6; 529 registered North Carolina voters; 288 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters; 286 likely North Carolina Democratic primary voters), a monthly practice for the firm, and detected a new Republican leader moving to the forefront.

Though the GOP candidates are tightly bunched here as polls detect in all key primary states – meaning the 16 tested candidates fall within 16 points from top to bottom – the PPP North Carolina survey finds that businessman Donald Trump has captured first place. This is the first study producing such a result.

Trump attracts 16 percent support from the North Carolina polling respondents with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and current Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker each four points behind at 12 percent. Ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee closely follows with 11 percent, while Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Marco Rubio poll nine percent apiece, and Sen. Rand Paul registers seven percent. The remaining nine candidates fall between 0 and six percent with two contenders, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and ex-New York Gov. George Pataki, each finding no supporters within this North Carolina polling sample.
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