Category Archives: House

The Impeachment Ten

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY)

March 4, 2021 — Another credible opponent for Wyoming at-large Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) came forward earlier this week, which continues the onslaught of political activity against the 10 House Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching then-President Donald Trump for his perceived role in the Jan. 6 Capitol uprising.

Already, Rep. Cheney has four credible opponents. The latest to announce is state Rep. Chuck Gray (R-Casper). He joins state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie), former Pavillion mayor Marissa Joy Selvig, and energy consultant Bryan Miller.

Of the four, Sen. Bouchard and Rep. Gray are the most credible, but the large field assembling against her actually helps Rep. Cheney. Considering that Wyoming is a plurality primary state, a person is nominated by simply obtaining the highest number of votes regardless of percentage attained. Therefore, with Cheney’s opposition split among multiple candidates, the chances of her winning re-nomination with less than a majority becomes a plausible outcome.

The other nine pro-impeachment members are in different situations. From this group, only New York Rep. John Katko (R-Syracuse) has not yet drawn Republican primary opposition.

Three others are from states with primary structures that will help them advance into the general election. Reps. David Valadao (R-CA), Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA), and Dan Newhouse (R-WA) will file under a top-two qualifying system.

Rep. Valadao represents a Bakersfield-Fresno district that voted heavily in favor of both President Biden and Hillary Clinton, the latter back in 2016. With all candidates on the same ballot, and not being from a strong Trump district, it is less likely that his vote to impeach the sitting Republican president will greatly affect him.

In the race are former Rep. T.J. Cox (D), the man who lost to Valadao by a percentage point in 2020 after defeating him by an even closer split in 2018, former state Assemblywoman Nicole Parra (D), and ex-Fresno City Councilman and 2020 congressional candidate Chris Mathys (R).

Washington Rep. Beutler, under the same top-two primary system as California’s Valadao, has already drawn three Republican opponents, none of whom have held elective office. We can expect a strong Democrat to emerge here, meaning the eventual preliminary vote division should provide Rep. Beutler with a relatively easy road into the general election.

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Ryan Hedging on Senate Run

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown)

March 2, 2021 — Last month, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) indicated that he would launch a statewide campaign for retiring Sen. Rob Portman’s (R) open seat in March. Now, he looks to be backpedaling.

In an interview with the Spectrum News Service, Rep. Ryan said, “we’ll make a decision here, I guess, in the coming weeks. I don’t think a March kickoff is going to happen.”

Such equivocation has seemingly been the congressman’s standard operating procedure over the years. Several times before he has been looking seriously at races for the US Senate, governor, and even lieutenant governor, but has always retreated to the relative safety of his House seat.

He did briefly campaign for president in 2020 but dropped out of the race when it was obvious his message was falling on deaf ears, exiting in plenty of time to meet the Ohio candidate filing deadline. Last November, Rep. Ryan went onto win a more competitive House race than he normally sees, defeating former state Rep. Christina Hagan (R), 52-45 percent.

Going back to the House race, if that’s what Rep. Ryan ultimately decides, may look different in 2022. If redistricting actually happens, considering all of the Census Bureau delays, Ohio faces the loss of another congressional seat in reapportionment, and it may well be Ryan’s.

His current 13th District stretches from the Pennsylvania border, encompasses Youngstown and the congressman’s hometown of Warren, and then captures a large part of the Akron metropolitan area. From preliminary census reports, it appears OH-13 will require an influx of more than 75,000 people once the final numbers are calculated. The Ryan district looks to rank 13th in population of the 16 Ohio congressional districts.

Perhaps a bigger problem for the 10-term incumbent, and what makes his 13th District vulnerable to collapse, is the adjacent 11th District that houses the western side of Akron in Summit County, is the least populated seat in Ohio and will need to gain as many as 100,000 individuals.

Therefore, collapsing the 13th District portion of Akron into the 11th in order to keep the city and at least most of the county together would be a sensible draw, thus leaving Rep. Ryan’s eastern district sector as a standing fragment. Since Districts 14 to the north, 6 and 7 to the south, and 16 to the west will all require more population, eliminating District 13 becomes a plausible option.

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TX-6: Rep. Wright’s Widow to Run

By Jim Ellis

The late Rep. Ron Wright (R-TX) is sworn-into Congress Jan. 3, 2021 by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (left) as Wright’s wife, Susan Wright, holds the Bible. Rep. Wright, 67, had been hospitalized with COVID-19; Susan Wright also had been hospitalized after contracting COVID-19. (Photo/Facebook)

Feb. 24, 2021 — The Texas Tribune newspaper broke the story this week that Susan Wright, widow of deceased Congressman Ron Wright (R-TX), will announce her candidacy as soon as this week for the yet unscheduled special election to succeed her late husband.

Ms. Wright will be the second recent widow running this year. Rep-Elect Luke Letlow’s death has led to a March 20 Louisiana special election in that state’s northeastern 5th District. Julia Letlow (R), the late-congressman-elect’s wife, is a candidate in that race and the favorite to prevail.

In US history, 39 widows have succeeded their late husbands in the House, and another eight in the Senate. One such widow, Doris Matsui (D-CA), is currently serving her ninth congressional term.

A large Republican potential field of candidates was thought to be building for the Texas special election, but with Susan Wright’s intention on becoming a candidate, that may block some of the local officials from the race. Freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie), who opposed Mr. Wright in the 2018 election and forced him into a runoff, and Katrina Pierson, the former Trump campaign spokeswoman, remain likely candidates, however.

At least two Democrats, 2018 congressional nominee Jana Lynne Sanchez and school district official Shawn Lassiter, have announced their candidacies and both are likely to remain in the race. The 2020 party nominee, Stephen Daniel, has also not ruled out running.

Now that the congressman has been laid to rest, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) will schedule the special election. The most likely date will be May 1st, in order to conform with the Uniform Election Day, which hosts local elections from around the state. All 6th District candidates will be on the same ballot and if any one candidate receives majority support, that individual will be elected outright. Otherwise, the top two finishers will advance to a runoff election that will be part of Abbott’s scheduling pronouncement. Assuming a May 1 special election, the secondary runoff would occur in late June or early July.

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Assessing The Cross-Voting Districts

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 23, 2021 — The Daily Kos Elections website staff have just completed the calculations they perform after every presidential election: that is, determining how all 435 congressional district electorates voted for president, and then cross-referencing that result with their US House vote.

In the 2020 election, they find that more than 96 percent of the districts voted for the same party’s candidate for President and US House, thus leaving 16 in the “cross-district” category. Nine of the 16 voted for President Biden but then chose a Republican House member. In seven others, the electorates backed former President Trump but reverted to the Democrat’s column for their US House Representative.


The districts that went for Biden for President
and a Republican for House are:

• CA-21: President Biden: 54.4% – David Valadao (R): 50.5%

It’s not a surprise to see this Bakersfield-Fresno district on the cross-district list. When Valadao first represented the seat, the CD was either the first or second-most Democratic seat in the nation to elect a Republican congressman.

• CA-25: President Biden: 54.0% – Rep. Mike Garcia (R): 50.0%

The more extraordinary vote here was Rep. Garcia overcoming a strong Biden vote in a district that has been trending Democratic for the past several elections. Hillary Clinton also won here with a 50-44 percent margin four years earlier. Garcia survived the 2020 election by a mere 333 votes. This district is likely to change significantly in redistricting.

• CA-39: President Biden: 54.1% – Young Kim (R): 50.6%

Republican Kim returned this Orange/LA County seat to the GOP column after a term under Democratic representation. The voters here also went for Hillary Clinton in 2016 with a 51-43 percent spread even while simultaneously re-electing then-Rep. Ed Royce (R-Yorba Linda), 57-43 percent.

• CA-48: President Biden: 49.7% – Michelle Steel (R): 51.1%

The coastal Orange County district somewhat returned to its Republican roots when the electorate swung back to Republican Michelle Steel after electing Democrat Harley Rouda in 2018. Previously, Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) held the district, or those with similar confines, for 30 years. President Biden carried the seat by 1.5 percentage points in November, similar to Hillary Clinton’s 2016 margin.

• FL-27: President Biden: 51.3% – Maria Elvira Salazar (R): 51.4%

The congressional vote was the outlier here as this seat was drawn as a Democratic district as part of the state Supreme Court’s mid-decade re-districting directive. Expect the Republican map drawers to improve this seat for freshman Rep. Salazar (R-Miami).

• NE-2: President Biden: 52.2% – Rep. Don Bacon (R): 50.8%

In a significant way, Nebraska’s 2nd District may have clinched the Presidency for Joe Biden. Nebraska is one of two states that split their electoral votes and when this CD went for Biden, opposite from the rest of the state, it made the Trump national victory path very difficult. Rep. Bacon survived another close election in the Omaha metro district, winning here for the third time with 51 percent or less.

• NY-24: President Biden: 53.4% – Rep. John Katko (R): 53.1%

Despite a nine-point win for President Biden in this Syracuse anchored district (53.4 – 44.4 percent), four-term Rep. Katko recorded a 10-point victory in his own right marking the widest swing of any cross-district.

• PA-1: President Biden: 52.4% – Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick (R): 56.6%

In a similar result to that found in NY-24, third-term Rep. Fitzpatrick was again able to swing the electorate hard in his direction and win a comfortable re-election victory despite the opposite result at the top of the ticket.
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How Low Can You Go? Below 50% …

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 22, 2021 — Now that the 2020 vote totals are finalized, analysis can be conducted to unearth what clues the election just completed provides for the 2022 cycle.

In looking at all 435 US House districts, we see that 168 electoral contests were decided with the winner receiving less than 60 percent of the vote. A total of 53 campaigns featured the victor receiving 52 percent or less. These 53 results yielded 27 Democratic wins and 26 for the Republicans. Of those, eight, four for each party, produced a plurality result with neither candidate obtaining majority support. It is these latter eight elections where we concentrate our focus.

A ninth seat, that of Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), did yield a majority winner, but with a scant six-vote margin, which was obviously the closest election of the 2020 cycle. Democrat Rita Hart is challenging the outcome before the House Administration Committee claiming that 22 uncounted ballots would give her a nine-vote victory, but so far, the situation has not been addressed. It goes without saying that Iowa’s 2nd District will be a major target for both parties in 2022.

Below is a quick synopsis of what one would think are top electoral targets for 2022, but, as you will see, many of these seats will either drop from the competition board or become a lesser target due to redistricting and other factors.


IA-3: Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) – 48.9%

Rep. Axne was re-elected to a second term in a virtual rerun of her 2018 campaign against then-Rep. David Young (R). As one of four top Iowa Democratic office holders, rumors are already surfacing that Rep. Axne could run for the Senate or governor, particularly if octogenarian Sen. Charles Grassley (R) decides to retire. Axne is not closing the door on a statewide run.

If she does run for the Senate or challenge Gov. Kim Reynolds (R), a 3rd District congressional race becomes very different. Additionally, it appears that this Des Moines-anchored seat will have to yield approximately 60,000 residents to the adjacent seats in redistricting. The three other Hawkeye State CDs all need more population, from between 5 and 40,000 people per seat. Losing this many 3rd District inhabitants could make the seat less Democratic depending upon how the lines are drawn.

Iowa has the reputation of having the fairest redistricting system. A state legislative committee staff is given authority to draw maps based upon the straight census numbers without deference to the incumbent’s political standing or personal residence. The legislature, without amendment, must then approve or disapprove of the committee staff’s new map.

Regardless of the redistricting outcome, the IA-3 race again promises to be a national congressional campaign.


MN-1: Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-Blue Earth/Rochester) – 48.6%;

MN-2: Rep. Angie Craig (D-Eagan) – 48.2%

The two plurality Minnesota seats will undergo drastic redistricting changes as their state appears set to lose a CD in reapportionment. With the 1st District requiring more than 125,000 additional inhabitants and the 2nd as many as 90,000, the two southern Minnesota seats will look very different in 2022. Additionally, with the legislature being the only one in the country where each political party controls one legislative chamber, the configuration of the next congressional map could be drawn in many different ways.

Obviously, both Reps. Hagedorn and Craig are in vulnerable political situations, with the former wanting to see more Republicans added to his district, while the latter needs an influx of Democrats coming her way.

Regardless the redistricting picture, these two seats will again likely be prime electoral targets.


NV-3: Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas) – 48.7%

Nevada’s 3rd Congressional District has been the site of close elections throughout the previous decade. Containing part of southern Las Vegas, the seat covers all of the state’s southern triangle region that lies between California and Arizona.

Nevada will not gain a seat in this year’s reapportionment as it has in the past two census decennials. There will be significant movement among the districts, however, with the 3rd being the prime focus. The latest population figures suggest that CD-3 will have to shed approximately 90,000 residents to other districts.

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