Category Archives: House

Recapping the Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 6, 2020 — Five states held their primary elections on Tuesday night and many were close, most of which are now complete. Additionally, electorates in several safe open House seats chose a party primary winner who will be the next representative. Therefore, we want to recap the final action along with a projection for the general election.


ARIZONA

Arizona Senate candidate, retired astronaut Mark Kelly (D); appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R)

Senate: Appointed Sen. Martha McSally scored a 76 percent victory in the Republican primary against minimal opposition, while retired astronaut Mark Kelly was unopposed on the Democratic side. Arizona will host a major national Senate campaign in the fall, and Kelly has the early sustained polling lead.

Even with him facing no opposition on Tuesday, Democratic turnout rose nine percent when compared to 2018, but 55,617 more people voted in Tuesday’s GOP primary. This, after more Democrats had voted early according to pre-election ballot tabulations. Because of the large number of mail ballots present in this election, it is likely that the final count is incomplete.

AZ-1: Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-Sedona) scored only a 59 percent Democratic primary win over former Flagstaff City councilwoman Eva Putzova on Tuesday, despite a better than 2:1 spending advantage. Attorney Tiffany Shedd won the Republican nomination. This district could become competitive, but Rep. O’Halleran is the clear favorite for re-election. The expansive eastern Arizona district leans Democratic as the party’s 3,000-plus vote edge in primary turnout suggests.

AZ-2: Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-Tucson) was easily re-nominated on Tuesday and is a heavy favorite in the general election. Defense contractor Brandon Martin won the Republican primary, but he faces a very uphill climb against Kirkpatrick in November. Despite more Republicans than Democrats voting statewide, Democrats outpaced Republican turnout in this district by a substantial 75,780 to 58,277.


KANSAS

Senate: Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) convincingly won the controversial Republican primary, and advances into a general election race with state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills), a physician and former Republican. This will be a competitive general election despite the strong Republican voter history because Bollier already has over $4 million cash-on-hand to begin the November campaign cycle. We will soon see new polling here. The last published poll pairing Marshall and Bollier came from the Civiqs research organization at the beginning of June: Marshall 42-41 percent.

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Wacky Wins in a Senate Primary; Incumbents Watkins & Clay Lose

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 5, 2020 — We review last night’s primary action in the states of Kansas, Missouri, Michigan, Arizona and Washington:


KANSAS

Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend)

The 2020 election cycle’s wackiest Senate primary ended last night with a big victory for Kansas Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend) as he defeated former secretary of state and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Kris Kobach and Kansas City Plumbing Company owner and self-funder Bob Hamilton in the statewide Republican primary.

The Marshall victory margin is 40-26-19 percent over the two men, while former Kansas City Chiefs football player and state Turnpike Commission chairman Dave Lindstrom captured 6.7 percent of the vote, best among the also-ran candidates.

The race featured both parties making seven-figure media buys. The national Republican leadership, however, came in to run negative spots against Kobach, a risky strategy in case he would become their nominee. It was clear that Republican survey research provided virtually the same results that Democrats were seeing, namely Kobach winning his primary would give the Democrats the inside track toward snatching away what should be a safe Republican seat.

The other unusual Kansas Senate facet was seeing Democratic organizations come into the state to actively boost Kobach in the GOP primary. He lost the 2018 governor’s race to Democrat Laura Kelly, and the party leaders believed Kobach would be the weakest general election candidate to oppose their party’s consensus nominee, state Sen. Barbara Bollier (D-Mission Hills). Now, she must run against the Republicans’ presumed strongest candidate, Rep. Marshall.

Interestingly, the most recent publicly released poll, which dated back to the beginning of June from the Civiqs organization surveying for the Daily Kos Elections website, found Rep. Marshall and Sen. Bollier falling into a virtual tie. It is likely, however, as the new Republican nominee, that Marshall will become a clear favorite to win in November.
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Primary Preview – Part II

Bob Hamilton, self-funding and running clever ads, such as the one above, could be the spoiler in today’s Kansas Democratic senate primary race.


By Jim Ellis

Aug. 4, 2020 — We wrap up our two-part report about today’s August 4th primary with coverage of the Arizona and Kansas nominating elections.


ARIZONA

The US Senate race is on the ballot, though the nominations in both parties are virtually set and have been for months. There is action in three of the state’s nine congressional districts, however.

Senate: Appointed Sen. Martha McSally (R) will easily win nomination tonight. She faces only skincare company CEO Daniel McCarthy, who has raised just over a half-million dollars for his effort. Sen. McSally has attracted over $30 million and brandishes more than $11 million in the bank. That is the good news for her; the bad is her consensus Democratic opponent, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, has brought in an incredible $46 million and had over $21 million remaining in his campaign account at the end of June.

This is a top-tier challenge race, and a Democratic must-win, but not much will be settled tonight.

According to the Phoenix-based Data Orbital polling firm, over 2.6 million absentee ballots have been requested for the primary, and 1.06 million have been returned for a participation rate of 45.6 percent. Therefore, the state already has a primary voter turnout rate of 26.7 percent. Democrats have a 9,900-unit advantage in returned ballots to date.
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Primary Preview – Part I

Negative ad in the MO-1 race by Rep. Lacy Clay (D)

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2020 — Voters in five states go to the polls tomorrow, and we preview Michigan, Missouri, and Washington today. Tomorrow’s report will cover Arizona and Kansas.


MICHIGAN

The US Senate race is on the ballot, though the nominations in both parties are already set. We do, however, see action tomorrow in six of the state’s 14 congressional districts.

• Senate: Neither first-term Sen. Gary Peters (D) nor Republican John James faces primary opposition. Both officially will advance into what will be a competitive general election. Pre-COVID, this race was tight in polling, but Sen. Peters has built a clear advantage since. This race is a must-win for Democrats. Should James break through in this contest the Republican majority will likely continue.


• MI-3: This western Michigan seat anchored in Grand Rapids is open because Republican-turned-Libertarian Congressman Justin Amash is not seeking re-election. The GOP needs to convert the 3rd District back into their column and features a five-person primary that looks to have whittled down into a battle between real estate analyst and Iraq War veteran Peter Meijer, whose family owns the Meijer grocery store chain that has 253 locations throughout the Midwest, and state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis (R-Grand Rapids).

The winner faces Democratic attorney Hillary Scholten, who is unopposed in her party primary. The district leans Republican, but this race is ascending the Democratic national target list.


• MI-6: A bogus poll was released in late July that found teacher Jen Richardson leading Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) by 20 points, but it is unlikely that she even comes close to winning tomorrow’s Democratic primary. State Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo) is the favorite for the party nomination, and this race will become competitive in the general election. The 6th CD is a Republican district that is moving toward the political center. Rep. Upton, originally elected in 1986, is on the ballot seeking an 18th term.


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Rep. Omar’s Interesting — And Challenging — Open Minnesota Primary Approaching on Aug. 11

“… We can translate our calls for justice into legislation …” — Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-5) in a recent campaign ad.

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 3, 2020 — In the congressional district where the George Floyd killing that ignited massive demonstrations around the country occurred, Minnesota’s controversial 5th District Congresswoman Ilhan Omar faces a serious Democratic primary challenger in the state’s Aug. 11 primary.

MN-5 Democratic challenger to Rep. Ilhan Omar, Antone Melton-Meaux

There has been political talk and news coverage that Rep. Omar, who has become a national political figure and one of the symbols of the Democratic Party’s leftward lurch, could be threatened in this primary election; there are some outward signs that attorney Antone Melton-Meaux has a chance to deny her re-nomination. On the other hand, the only available published poll finds the congresswoman well ahead suggesting there is little chance she would be defeated.

Melton-Meaux has attracted funding from around the country and raised a huge amount — $3.7 million. Since the district is geographically small and covers the city of Minneapolis with population slivers from two adjoining counties, Ramsey and Anoka, the local media market is very efficient for this contest, and he has been using it extensively. Since Minnesota has an open primary – a state that doesn’t register voters by political party meaning people can vote in the primary of their choice – there are few ad viewers who can’t vote in this primary. Therefore, such a system adds a type of wild-card flavor to the campaign.

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Committee Continuity – Part II

By Jim Ellis

July 29, 2020 — Completing our two-part series on changes we may see on some key House and Senate committee panels, today we look at the financial, commerce, and legal committees.


SENATE COMMERCE, SCIENCE & TRANSPORTATION

Republicans – Just three of the 14 majority Republicans are on the ballot this year, and two are in competitive races. Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) is in one of the most difficult campaigns in the country, while Alaska first-term incumbent Dan Sullivan (R) is a clear favorite to win in November despite early polling showing a potentially close race. There are no open seats among the Republican committee members.

Democrats – The Democrats have 12 members, and Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell would replace chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) if her party assumes control in November.

The Dems also have just three of their Commerce Committee members in-cycle, and two are in competitive campaigns. First-term Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) faces a difficult challenge from manufacturing company owner John James (R). Sen. Peters appears secure in polling now, but the race is likely to close. The contest was in toss-up mode before the COVID shutdown. The other competitive race is a Democratic primary, as Sen. Ed Markey faces a difficult toss-up challenge from Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton).


HOUSE ENERGY & COMMERCE

Democrats – This is one of the most important committees in the House, and majority Democrats hold a 31-24 advantage. The Dems are looking at four vacancies as Reps. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM-3) and Joe Kennedy III (D-MA-4) are running for the Senate, Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA-2) is retiring, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY-16) was defeated in the June 23 New York primary. Just one majority member, Rep. Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ-1), could face a competitive opponent. The Arizona primary is Aug. 4, and we will know more once we see who wins the Republican nomination.

Republicans – Six Republicans will leave the House at the end of this term, including Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR-2). Rep. Greg Gianforte (R-MT-AL) is running for governor, while Reps. John Shimkus (R-IL-15), Pete Olson (R-TX-22), Bill Flores (R-TX-17), and Susan Brooks (R-IN-5) are retiring. Michigan Reps. Fred Upton (R-MI-6) and Tim Walberg (R-MI-7) have credible opponents, and Shimkus, particularly, is embroiled in a tough race. Rep. Richard Hudson (R-NC-8) also has drawn an opponent of stature, but he remains a heavy favorite for re-election.
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Committee Continuity – Part I

By Jim Ellis

July 28, 2020 — Since elections always bring changes in the House and Senate committee structures, it is appropriate to begin looking at which key policy panels have the most known approaching changes.

In today’s Update, we begin to look at two anchor financial committees in each house and touch upon the internal political musical chairs. We look at the known committee vacancies due to retirement or primary defeat and identify the members who face competitive political situations. Obviously, a change in party control will fundamentally cause the greatest change, but we will look at those effects once we are closer to the election.


SENATE FINANCE

• Republicans – The GOP has a 15-13 majority on the Finance Committee under the leadership of veteran Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA). Two Republicans are retiring, Sens. Pat Roberts (R-KS) and Mike Enzi (R-WY), and one, Montana Sen. Steve Daines is in a highly competitive re-election contest against term-limited governor and former presidential candidate Steve Bullock (D). Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) will have a substantial amount of money spent against him, but he is considered a likely winner at this time. Of the committee’s 15 Republicans, only four are in-cycle this year.

• Democrats – This side is even more stable. None are retiring, and just one of their 13 members, Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, is in-cycle. He is in a non-competitive situation. Should the Democrats gain the majority, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) would become the new Finance Committee chairman.


HOUSE WAYS & MEANS

• Democrats – On this important exclusive committee, the majority Democrats command a 25-17 advantage. They have only one sure vacancy, and that because of Rep. John Lewis’ (D-GA) recent death. Just two of the members have re-election races that can be considered competitive. Ironically, one of those is a Democratic primary challenge to committee chairman Richard Neal (D-MA-2).

Though it is unlikely that Neal will be denied re-nomination in the Massachusetts primary on Sept. 1, his opponent, Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, has managed to raise over $840,000 for his campaign at the June 30 second quarter financial reporting deadline. If Neal is upset in the primary, Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-TX-35) would be the next most senior member since Rep. Lewis has passed.

Rep. Steven Horsford (D-NV-4) has already lost this seat once as an incumbent. He faces former state assemblyman Jim Marchant in a northern Las Vegas-anchored district that has yet to re-elect an incumbent since its creation in the 2011 redistricting plan. Rep. Horsford is the clear favorite, but the contest merits attention.

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