Category Archives: House

Primary Preview – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 30, 2016
— Today, we cover the second half of the competitive Florida campaigns, with just a word about Arizona. The Washington Post ran an article yesterday chronicling Sen. John McCain as being “in the fight of his life.” It does not appear that McCain is in any danger of losing the primary today, and his general election polling puts him in his strongest position of this election cycle. Therefore, the Post story seems ill timed.

Also in Arizona, and not covered yesterday, despite a moderate independent expenditure leveled against Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Prescott), the congressman is also expected to easily survive his primary challenge. Gosar’s opponent, former local official Ray Strauss (R), has attracted just over $100,000 in support of his own campaign, far less than the independent expenditure. The general election will not be competitive.

Florida

• FL-9: The new 9th District, which stretches from east Orlando south through Kissimmee, west to Winter Park and then east to the Yeehaw Junction, is a few points less Democratic than the seat Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Orlando) currently represents. His departure to the Senate race makes this one of seven open Florida congressional districts. While Alan Grayson will not represent this district in the next Congress, another Grayson may. A poll released last week found the congressman’s new wife, physician Dena Grayson, leads the Democratic primary field, thus making her at least a slight favorite. Former congressional aide Susannah Randolph and state Sen. Darren Soto are the other viable candidates in the Democratic field. Today’s Dem primary victor will win the seat in November. Safe Democratic

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Primary Preview – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 29, 2016 — Arizona and Florida voters go to the polls tomorrow in what has become the most important of the late summer primaries.

Today, we cover Arizona and half of the competitive Florida campaigns. Tomorrow, the remaining Sunshine State races will be updated. Resulting from the court-ordered mid-decade redistricting changes and an unusually large number of open seats, competition is developing in no less than 17 of the state’s 27 congressional districts. Both states also host critical Senate contests.

Arizona

• Senate: Sen. John McCain (R) is seeking a sixth term after originally winning in 1986, four years after his initial election to the House. What was thought to be a potentially competitive Republican primary at the outset seemingly fizzled when McCain drew a lesser primary opponent. For a time, it appeared that either Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Mesa) or Rep. David Schweikert (R-Fountain Hills/Scottsdale) might enter the statewide contest, but neither chose to do so. In fact, Rep. Salmon would later decide to retire altogether.

Former state Senator Kelli Ward, who resigned her position in order to spend her full energies in challenging McCain, has raised about $1.5 million, but it would likely require more in the way of resources and outside support to deny the veteran incumbent and former Republican presidential nominee a re-nomination victory. Expect Sen. McCain to do better than his 56 percent Republican primary performance in 2010.

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Indiana Poll: Republicans Gaining, Bayh Up

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 19, 2016 — Monmouth University (Aug. 13-16; 403 likely Indiana voters; 351 drawn from registered voters list; 52 random digit dial cell phone responses) released their new Indiana voter survey and the results report varying degrees of Republican improvement, though the polling sample may skew slightly toward the GOP.

Indiana is a very important 2016 political state. Among the 23 states that appear to be bedrock Republican for the presidential race — and must all vote for Donald Trump if he is to have any chance of winning the national election — Indiana is the only one to stray away from the party nominee in this century. In 2008, Hoosier State voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain by a 50-49 percent margin.

Therefore, with Indiana being a must-win Republican state for Trump, it likely factored into Trump’s decision to choose its governor, Mike Pence, as his vice presidential running mate.

We continue to see strong evidence that the Democratic move to replace former Rep. Baron Hill (D-Bloomington) for ex-senator and governor Evan Bayh, just hours before the ballot finalization deadline, has made the state pivotal in determining which party controls the new Senate majority. Prior to the Bayh move, it appeared that Rep. Todd Young (R-Bloomington) was cruising to a general election victory, thus keeping retiring Sen. Dan Coats’ (R) seat in the GOP column.

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Cheney Results In;
Alaska Primary Decided

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 18, 2016 — Liz Cheney, daughter of former vice president, US defense secretary, and five-term Wyoming congressman, Dick Cheney, successfully captured Wyoming’s open seat Republican congressional nomination Tuesday night. The first-place finish, though nowhere close to garnering a majority of the votes cast, is enough to earn her the primary victory. Becoming the GOP nominee is tantamount to winning the seat in November since Wyoming will undoubtedly vote Republican once again this year.

Cheney scored 40 percent of the vote, far ahead of second-place finisher Leland Christensen’s 22 percent. The latter is a veteran state senator. Placing third was state Rep. Tim Stubson (17 percent), followed closely by attorney Darin Smith (15 percent). Five minor candidates came after Smith with college professor Mike Konsmo, obtaining under two percent of the vote, being the largest vote-getter within the also-ran group.

In 2014, Cheney aborted a challenge to veteran Republican US Sen. Mike Enzi and controversy arose that the candidate, who has lived in Virginia most of her life, was not a true Wyoming resident, nor was she and her family committed to living there. Cheney’s regular presence in the state and actually residing there after the 2014 election cycle put her in strong position to run for the at-large US House seat once incumbent Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Cheyenne) decided not to seek a fifth term.

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Hawaii Nominates Candidates;
Alaska, Wyoming to Follow

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 16, 2016 — Hawaii’s primary voters went to the polls over the weekend to nominate their state and federal general election candidates.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D) easily won re-nomination from the Democratic Party, recording just over 80 percent of the vote to secure his bid for a full term. He now faces the Republican primary winner, John Carroll, a former state senator who is a frequent federal candidate. Sen. Schatz will have little trouble winning the general election. He was appointed to the seat when Sen. Daniel Inouye (D) passed away in 2012, and won the 2014 special election to serve the balance of the current term.

Two years ago, interim-Sen. Schatz defeated then-Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Honolulu) for the party nomination, but the former congresswoman now appears headed back to Washington. She won a landslide Democratic primary victory Saturday (74.6 percent) for her former congressional seat.

With the general election now just a formality in the heavily Democratic 1st District, Hanabusa will join the current Congress upon winning the concurrent special held in conjunction with the regular election on Nov. 8. Hanabusa will fill the remainder of the late Rep. Mark Takai’s (D-Aiea) first and final term in office. The congressman passed away from pancreatic cancer on July 20.

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Ryan Crushes; Other Results

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 11, 2016
— House Speaker Paul Ryan recorded an 84-16 percent landslide victory against Republican primary opponent Paul Nehlen Tuesday night in southern Wisconsin. Nehlen was on his way to approaching the $1 million mark in campaign expenditures, but it did little to help expose any weakness in the Ryan political base.

Ryan followed the lead of his predecessor, former House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH-8), when faced with a similar primary circumstance in 2014. Boehner re-invented himself as the local congressman for that particular race, returning to his roots in western Ohio and never mentioning his GOP opponent in ads or speeches. In fact, never did Ryan even indicate that he was the House Speaker, instead confining his personal description to that of local congressman.

Nehlen attacked heavily on immigration and trade, but it was Ryan’s years of work in the district and never losing touch with his political base and core constituency that allowed him to record such a big primary victory. In fact, the current Speaker actually ran 13 points ahead of the former Speaker’s final primary performance against a more difficult political opponent.

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Ryan Primary; 4 States Vote

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 10, 2016 — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI-1) won re-nomination easily in his Wisconsin district by a margin of 84-16 percent. Businessman Paul Nehlen (R), a first-time candidate who made immigration and trade policies the centerpiece of his campaign, opposed him.

Nehlen had attracted a great deal of local and national attention, particularly when regularly holding events in front of Ryan’s Janesville home. The congressman countered with running positive television ads, using his extreme financial advantage to his benefit, never advertising that he is the Speaker of the House, and relying upon a strong connection with his district Republican voters who have nine times nominated and elected him to the House.

Ryan raised almost $15 million and spent $8 million through July 20, but determining actual re-election expenditures versus national political commitments and expenses is difficult at this point. By contrast, Nehlen had raised and spent close to $900,000 through the same date, a very respectable amount for a challenger to a top House leader.

Turning to northeastern Wisconsin, Rep. Reid Ribble’s (R-Sherwood/Green Bay) open 8th District voters also chose nominees. Democrats have coalesced around Outagamie (Appleton) County Executive Tom Nelson, who is unopposed in the party primary. Already raising just over $600,000, Nelson will be a competitive general election factor in a district that has five times elected a Democrat since 1974.

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