Category Archives: House

Another Vacancy

By Jim Ellis

Texas Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/ Rockwall)

May 26, 2020 — US Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-Heath/Rockwall) of Texas, just confirmed as the country’s new Director of National Intelligence, has already resigned from the House meaning that the state’s 4th Congressional District will now be open for the general election.

Almost as quickly as Rep. Ratcliffe’s post-confirmation resignation occurred, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) announced that he will not call a special election to fill the balance of the term. Therefore, the 4th District seat will remain vacant until the next Congress convenes in January. This is the third seat that won’t be filled this year, and it joins CA-50 (Rep. Duncan Hunter’s resignation) and NC-11 (Rep. Mark Meadows resignation) as incumbent-less seats until 2021. All three districts are safe or likely Republican.

Since the Texas primary was held on March 3 and Rep. Ratcliffe was re-nominated with majority support, the CD-4 congressional race will not advance to a July 14 runoff election. Therefore, the district’s Republican Executive Committee will convene on Aug. 8, according to Texas Republican Party chairman James Dickey, in order for the members to choose the party’s general election replacement nominee.

Because TX-4 is a safe Republican seat (Trump ’16: 75-22 percent — Ratcliffe ’18: 76-23 percent), this committee will almost assuredly be choosing the next congressman. And the eventual GOP nominee who emerges from the committee replacement process will have one of the easiest paths into the US House of any new member.

A large field of prospective office holders will declare their candidacies. Already announced are Rockwall City Councilman Trace Johannesen, retired Navy SEAL Floyd McLendon, Navy veteran T.C. Manning, and attorney Jason Ross. McLendon has already been on the ballot this year. He lost the 32nd District congressional Republican primary on March 3 to businesswoman Genevieve Collins who is now challenging freshman Rep. Colin Allred (D-Dallas).

Texas’ 4th District begins in the far eastern suburbs of Dallas, and then stretches all the way to Arkansas and along the Red River that forms the Texas-Oklahoma border. In between the cities of Rockwall and Heath in the southwest the district roams to Texarkana located in Texas’ far northeast corner. Along the way, small towns with well-known names appear, such as Atlanta, Naples, Paris, Pittsburg, and New Boston.

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Poll: Feenstra Tops Rep. King in Iowa

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Steve King (R-Kiron) – in trouble in Iowa

May 22, 2020 — The June 2 primaries are fast approaching, and though very few House incumbents are in danger of joining Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL) as a member who lost re-nomination in 2020, there is a serious intra-party challenge unfolding in northwest Iowa.

Hawkeye State veteran Congressman Steve King (R-Kiron) has been in political trouble during this entire term after making racially charged statements that led to the Republican conference stripping him of his committee assignments. Just within the past 10 days, King was again rebuffed in his attempt to re-claim his former duties.

The controversy is largely responsible for King drawing a very serious challenge from state Sen. Randy Feenstra (R-Hull/Sioux County). Feenstra has served six two-year terms in the state Senate, and previously as the Sioux County treasurer and Hull City administrator.

Through the March 31 candidate filing period, Feenstra had raised over $844,000 for his primary campaign and still had more than half to spend. Rep. King, on the other hand, was virtually out of money. His cycle receipts were under $302,000 and he had less than $27,000 in the bank.

Several polls have been released since the race took shape early this year and, up until now, all were from the Feenstra campaign pollster, American Viewpoint. At the end of January, due to his strong name identification from representing the district since the beginning of 2003, Rep. King posted a 53-22 percent advantage.

Three months later, AV detected King’s lead over Feenstra had dissipated to 41-34 percent. During the first week of May, the race grew even tighter with the challenger pulling to within three points, 39-36 percent. Feenstra was also picking up key endorsements, such as those from the US Chamber of Commerce and the Business-Industry Political Action Committee (BIPAC). He also earned support from the National Right to Life Committee and secured an “A” rating from the NRA on the conservative social issues front.

Clearly, Feenstra’s momentum train is building steam and Wednesday a Public Opinion Strategies poll for the America’s Future Fund organization (May 16-18; 400 likely IA-4 Republican primary voters) found the challenger actually moving past Rep. King, 41-39 percent. POS segmented their numbers and it becomes clear that this will be a turnout primary.

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Super June & Oregon Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

May 21, 2020 — With so many early primary states moving their elections to June due to the coronavirus shut down, no less than 24 states will hold their nominating event in the upcoming month, making this the most active primary month during the election cycle.

A dozen of the states are still observing their regular political calendar, but 12 more moved into June from earlier dates. Therefore, the following adjusted calendar has been locked into place:


JUNE 2

Connecticut (presidential only)
Idaho (from May 19; though mail voting began on the original primary day)
Indiana (from May 5)
Iowa
Maryland (from April 28)
Montana
New Mexico
Pennsylvania (from April 28)
Rhode Island (presidential only)
South Dakota
West Virginia (from May 12)


JUNE 9

Georgia (from May 19)
Nevada
North Dakota
South Carolina


JUNE 20

Louisiana (presidential only)


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The Maine Event

By Jim Ellis

Maine Congressional Districts

May 20, 2020 — The small state of Maine, with its two congressional districts, is going to attract a great deal of political attention between now and the election. Not only is the Pine Tree State one of the firewalls for Republican Senate majority hopes, the domain, one of two places that splits its electoral votes, will likely play a major role in determining the presidential election outcome, as well.

Maine and Nebraska divide their electoral votes such that the winning statewide candidate earns two electoral votes, while the victor in each congressional district is awarded one EV for as many districts as they carry. Maine, as mentioned, has two districts, and Nebraska three.

These districts came into play both in 2008 and 2016, when Barack Obama carried the 2nd District of Nebraska against John McCain in the former year, and Donald Trump took the 2nd District of Maine opposite Hillary Clinton in 2016. While neither CD became a factor in determining each of those elections, these CDs breaking differently than their state in a tight national election could result in the Electoral College ending in a tie.

The 48 other states and the District of Columbia use the winner-take-all system. Any state could divide their electoral votes like Maine and Nebraska, but those are the only two who choose the split vote method.

In the current presidential election scenarios, whether or not President Trump again carries ME-2 could determine if he is re-elected. Under one scenario, former vice president Joe Biden could win the national race even if he failed to carry Wisconsin so long as he takes the 2nd District of Maine and 2nd District of Nebraska. Doing so, along with winning the other swing states that touch a Great Lake, meaning Michigan and Pennsylvania, he would secure exactly 270 electoral votes, the bare minimum to claim national victory.

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Is A Budding Red Rebound Emerging?

By Jim Ellis

May 19, 2020 — Two years ago, several national political prognosticators were predicting a strong Democratic election, i.e., “a blue wave,” by using special election results, mostly from state legislative campaigns, as one of their fundamental support arguments. As we know, the forecast proved correct.

To what degree the special election totals were a precursor is difficult to say, but it is reasonable to believe that real-time results are a better voting trend indicator than publicly released polls, many of which are methodologically flawed. Therefore, it is worth analyzing similar voting patterns as we approach the 2020 election.

North Carolina Rep. Dan Bishop (R-Charlotte)

The victory of Republican Mike Garcia in California last week marked the first congressional special election of this election cycle to flip from one party to the other. Republicans have won five of the six special US House contests, including those of Garcia and Wisconsin state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Minocqua), who easily claimed his state’s vacant 7th District, last Tuesday.

The other significant special election occurred late last year. Though Rep. Dan Bishop’s (R-Charlotte) victory in North Carolina came in a seat that historically produced Republican victories, he was certainly considered an underdog at the outset of the special election campaign. He rebounded, however, to score a two-point victory, nonetheless, which in many ways makes it as noteworthy as the Garcia win.

The NC-9 election was necessitated because voter fraud in the 2018 general election prevented the Republican candidate from being certified the winner. After almost a year of keeping the seat vacant, the state’s Board of Elections called a new election that Gov. Roy Cooper (D) scheduled for Sept. 10, 2019.

In the campaign, Bishop was outspent $7.5 million to $2.7 million and that was on top of the $6.1 million Democrat Dan McCready expended in the 2018 general election. Furthermore, Democratic strategists predicted victory in this race because the Charlotte-Fayetteville seat contains a large suburban population, the type of district where their candidates certainly excelled in 2018, and President Trump’s job approval ratings were languishing around the 40 percent mark at the time. All things considered, the Bishop victory should not be characterized as a routine Republican hold.

According to the Ballotpedia election research organization, during the 2018 voting cycle, 197 special state legislative elections were held around the country, 98 of them in 2017, and 99 in 2018. Republicans risked 110 of the seats, substantially higher than the 87 the Democrats were forced to defend. In 2017, Democrats gained a net 11 legislative seats nationally, and eight more in 2018 for a cycle total of 19 net flips (Democrats actually won 26 Republican-held seats, but the GOP took back seven Democratic districts). It was these numbers that largely led the prognosticators to point to changing trends.

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An Upset Win in California for Garcia

By Jim Ellis

California Republican Mike Garcia

May 14, 2020 — Despite thousands of ballots still to be received and tabulated, California Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith (D-Newhall) conceded the 25th Congressional District special election race to Republican Mike Garcia late yesterday, making this the first time in decades that the GOP has converted a Democratic seat in the deep blue state.

According to the California Secretary of State, the semi-official preliminary totals showed Garcia, a retired Navy fighter pilot, taking 56 percent of the vote from the 143,335 tabulated ballots. Though votes will be flowing into the election center through Friday evening, it became obvious to Smith that there would not be enough late ballots to overcome Garcia’s substantial 17,339-vote advantage.

Though the California registration figures show 420,928 individuals on the voter rolls in this congressional district, meaning a current turnout of 34.1 percent with many more ballots coming, the progression did not appear to yield the huge participation factor Smith needs to turnaround the final election result.

In the March 3 state primary, 156,550 CA-25 voters participated in the regular election, a total not far from the preliminary tabulation we saw in Tuesday’s special general, remembering that the 3/3 vote, at the time, featured a competitive Democratic presidential nomination event. Of the total, 81,994 voted in the Democratic presidential primary in a CD that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) carried over former vice president Joe Biden, 35.6 – 33.6 percent.

On the Republican side, in their non-competitive race, 64,138 individuals voted in the presidential primary with incumbent Donald Trump taking 92.3 percent of the cast ballots.

Other past races find that this special election turnout could still grow substantially. In the 2018 midterm general election that elected Rep. Katie Hill (D), who would become embroiled in a sex scandal that forced her to resign a year later, 245,022 people participated. In the 2016 presidential election year, 261,161 voters cast their ballots in the congressional race.

Therefore, these latter turnout figures imply the participation rate could still grow, but even the larger historical numbers suggest that CA-25 is a mid-level turnout district in relation to the other California congressional districts. In the presidential election year, the district ranked 24th of the state’s 53 CDs in voter participation. In 2018, with their turnout figure approaching presidential election level voting, CD 25 reached 22nd position within the California district universe.

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Mfume Elected; Ohio Races Set

By Jim Ellis

Kwesi Mfume

April 30, 2020 — Maryland held a stand-alone special election Tuesday in the state’s 7th Congressional District to replace the late Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Baltimore) for the balance of the term. Cummings passed away in October and the original special primary was held on Feb. 4.

With more than 100,000 votes counted and more remaining to be tabulated from the all-mail balloting, former congressman Kweisi Mfume returns to the House with 73 percent of the vote. Mfume defeated Republican nominee Kimberly Klacik who did not have a realistic chance in the heavily Democratic district, but she did manage to raise just about $200,000 for her effort.

Candidates for the full term now move onto the June 2 state primary, an election that was originally scheduled to be held yesterday. Gov. Larry Hogan (R) re-scheduled the primary as part of his series of his COVID-19 disease precautions.

In Ohio, Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus) was in a competitive primary against Morgan Harper, a former Consumer Financial Protection Bureau official who raised over $800,000 for his primary challenge. The four-term congresswoman had little trouble winning re-nomination, however, as she captured more than 68 percent of the vote. She is now the prohibitive favorite in the general election against banker Mark Richardson in what is a safe Democratic seat.

Reps. Brad Wenstrup (R-Cincinnati), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), Warren Davidson (R-Troy), Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo), Mike Turner (R-Dayton), Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland), Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville), David Joyce (R-Russell Township), and Steve Stivers (R-Columbus) all had minor primary opposition. Each won with between 83 and 94 percent of the vote.

In the 1st District, two Democrats were vying for the opportunity of challenging veteran Rep. Steve Chabot (R-Cincinnati). Healthcare company executive Kate Schroder claimed the primary with an unofficial and likely incomplete 68-32 percent victory over engineer and Air Force Reserve officer Nikki Foster. The 1st District has become more competitive as evidenced in Rep. Chabot’s 51-47 percent re-election victory in 2018. Therefore, we can expect another hotly contested campaign later this year in the Cincinnati area.

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