Category Archives: House

Massachusetts Primary Today

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 1, 2020 — A major political dynasty will end this evening. Today is Primary Day in Massachusetts and the long-awaited Democratic intra-party battle between two icons of Bay State politics, Sen. Ed Markey and Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton) will be decided.

Sen. Markey was first elected to the state legislature in 1972 and has served in elective office consecutively ever since. He spent four years in the state House of Representatives, 36 years in the US House, and was elected in a special US Senate contest in 2013 to replace then-Sen. John Kerry (D) who had resigned to become US Secretary of State in the Obama Administration. Markey was re-elected to a full term in 2014.

Rep. Kennedy is the grandson of Robert F. Kennedy, and thereby related to President John F. Kennedy, and the late Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA). He is the latest member of the famed Kennedy political dynasty. Joe Kennedy III was elected to the House in 2012, replacing retiring Rep. Barney Frank (D-Newton) in the district that contains the cities of Newton and Brookline before moving south to annex Taunton and Fall River. Should he lose tonight, he will be the first Kennedy not to win a Massachusetts campaign.

The race appeared close from the outset, but Sen. Markey appears to be pulling away in both campaign funds ($11.8 million raised through the pre-primary filing period on Aug. 12 to $8.8 million) and polling. Both see significant expenditure organizations conducting independent operations to support their Senate bids.

Since the end of July, Sen. Markey has pulled away. He has led in seven consecutive polls by an average of 8.7 percentage points after trailing in the early stages of the race. The latest poll, from Emerson College (Aug. 25-27; 453 likely Massachusetts Democratic primary voters) gives Sen. Markey a 56-44 percent lead when all respondents were prodded to make a choice. Interestingly, the last poll to find Rep. Kennedy leading also came from Emerson College during the early part of May. Those results show just how much the race has changed. Emerson previously projected Rep. Kennedy to a 58-42 percent advantage.

The Senate race is not the only major campaign on the Massachusetts ballot, however. House Ways & Means Committee chairman Richard Neal (D-Springfield) is striving to avoid becoming the ninth US House incumbent to be denied re-nomination in 2020. He faces a spirited challenge from Holyoke Mayor Alex Morse, who is hitting Rep. Neal from his left and criticizing him for being part of the “status quo.” Like the other Democratic upset winners this year, he Justice Democrats PAC has endorsed Morse, but their spending here appears less than the other campaigns in which they became involved.

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OK-5: Bice Wins Runoff

By Jim Ellis

State Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City) scored a mild upset victory last night in the OK-5 Republican runoff election.

Aug. 26, 2020 — State Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City) scored a mild upset victory last night over former lieutenant governor nominee and businesswoman Terry Neese with a 53-47 percent OK-5 Republican runoff victory. She wins the right to oppose freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma City) in the November election from a district that voted 53-40 percent for President Trump in 2016.

Sen. Bice withstood strong opposition from a Club for Growth independent expenditure totaling just under $1 million, almost all of which was spent on negative media and digital ads, with the goal of denying her the congressional nomination. This, on top of the seven-figure resources that Neese expended for her own campaign.

In the June 30 primary, Neese placed first in a field of nine candidates with 36.5 percent of the vote, while Sen. Bice secured the second runoff position with 25.4 percent more than six percentage points ahead of the third-place finisher. In the primary, 68,032 GOP votes were cast.

Last night, it was the district’s predominant county, Oklahoma, which houses the Oklahoma City metropolitan area, that carried the day for Bice. She scored a 55-45 percent majority of the Republican votes cast in the county, while Neese recorded 57 percent in the district’s two other counties, Pottawatomie and Seminole. Both of those counties, however, are small and accounted for just over 13 percent of the aggregate Republican vote.

At this point in the counting process, and there will likely be votes added to the final total, 51,762 individuals returned for the run-off election, meaning a retention rate of at least 76 percent when compared to the late June primary.

The OK-5 general election now becomes a top-tier Republican challenger race, joining at least 13 other such contests from around the country. Each of these district political battles is of clear importance to any chance the Republicans have of re-gaining the House majority. Realistically, the party must win all of them to even be in position to challenge for the majority, and that also assumes the GOP holds its own defensive toss-up districts.

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House-Critical Runoff in OK-5 Today

By Jim Ellis

OK-5 encompasses just over 91 percent of Oklahoma County, and all of Oklahoma City.

Aug. 25, 2020 — Voters in the Oklahoma City area will go to the polls today to choose a Republican general election opponent for freshman Rep. Kendra Horn (D-Oklahoma City) who scored a major upset victory here in 2018. The Sooner State’s 5th District race is one of the top national congressional races, and a Republican must win if the party is to have any chance of re-taking the House majority they lost two years ago.

The 5th District of Oklahoma had been a Republican domain since 1977 when GOP candidate Mickey Edwards captured the seat after 47 consecutive years of Democratic representation, though in the final two years of Rep. John Jarman’s 26-year congressional career before retiring, he served as a Republican.

During the interval between Edwards’ election and 2018, four other Republicans were elected here including future Gov. Mary Fallin and current US Sen. James Lankford. In 2018, then-Rep. Steve Russell lost to Horn in a 51-49 percent result, a margin of 3,338 votes.

Today’s GOP competitors are former lieutenant governor nominee Terry Neese, from both the 1990 and 1994 elections, and state Sen. Stephanie Bice (R-Oklahoma City). In the June 30 Republican primary, Neese secured 36.5 percent of the vote, outdistancing Bice’s 25.4 percent from a turnout of 68,032 GOP votes cast. A total of seven Republicans were on the ballot. A mandatory 50 percent was required for outright nomination. With no one receiving the required majority, the top two finishers, Neese and Bice, advanced into today’s runoff election.

Both Neese and Bice were the top fundraisers for the primary. For the campaign through the Aug. 5 pre-election period before this runoff, Bice had raised over $1.463 million, just ahead of Neese’s $1.235 million. According to Neese’s financial disclosure report, however, $450,000 of her receipts were self-contributed in the form of a candidate loan. Helping Neese has been an ongoing $982,000-plus media independent expenditure from the Club for Growth whose leadership is opposing Bice. An expenditure of this size obviously gives Neese a huge boost in the runoff election.

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MA-1: Will Rep. Neal Become #9?

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Richard Neal (left) finds himself defending his seat against credible Democratic challenger Alex Morse.

Aug. 25, 2020 — The intense Democratic Senate primary battle between incumbent Sen. Ed Markey and challenger, Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Newton), is not the only Massachusetts competitive intra-party campaign to be decided in the upcoming Sept. 1 nomination election.

House Ways & Means Committee chairman Rep. Richard Neal (D-Springfield) finds himself defending his seat against credible Democratic challenger Alex Morse, the mayor of Holyoke, a city of 40,000-plus people located just eight miles north of Springfield on I-391. Neal is clearly taking this primary seriously and fighting hard to avoid being the ninth House incumbent denied re-nomination in the 2020 election cycle.

Rep. Neal has already spent $4.3 million for his re-nomination campaign as reported in the Aug. 12 pre-primary Federal Election Commission campaign finance disclosure report. Conversely, Mayor Morse has spent just over $1 million, but the contest still appears close.

Now, an outside organization, Democratic Majority for Israel, has launched an attack television ad that hit Morse for a poor attendance record at Holyoke City Council meetings while claiming the local schools are among the lowest performing in Massachusetts. They cite, in support of their contention, the state government coming into the Holyoke district and assuming control of their education system.

Earlier, controversy arose when the College Democrats organization at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, located within the 1st District, accused Morse of sexual impropriety, which resulted in an immediate loss of local and national support. The move backfired, however, when it came to light that no such incidents had occurred during the times when Morse appeared at the university both as a candidate and previously a guest lecturer.

This challenge appears typical of the other three Democratic primaries where candidates successfully opposed veteran incumbents from the political left armed with money and support from national activists and progressive organizations. The three such challenges that transformed into upsets came at the expense of Reps. Dan Lipinski (D-IL; 8 terms), Eliot Engel (D-NY; 16 terms), and Lacy Clay (D-MO; 10 terms). Whether the Morse effort proves as successful remains to be determined.

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Is Minnesota In Play?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2020 — The state of Minnesota has been the most loyal of Democratic states in the presidential election since 1972, but the latest survey research data suggests that the northern domain is returning to the competitive realm this year.

Four years ago, President Trump fell just 1.5 percent short of winning Minnesota, thus providing a sign that the electorate was beginning a possible transformation. That was partially underscored in 2018 even when the party lost two suburban Minneapolis districts but gained two back in the rural north and south. The latter two congressional seats were the only ones Republicans converted from Democrats in the whole nation, except for a Pennsylvania seat that flipped to the GOP because of a court-imposed redistricting map that substantially changed the boundaries.

The 2020 Minnesota polls have seesawed. Mason-Dixon Polling and Research was the first to release a statewide poll this year and did so just before the George Floyd killing occurred in Minneapolis. The M-D survey was conducted over the May 18-20 period and yielded former vice president Joe Biden a five-point lead, 49-44 percent. The Morning Consult organization was also in the field during that same relative period, May 17-26, and found a similar spread between Biden and President Trump, with the former posting a seven-point edge.

Within this same period, the Floyd controversy began on May 25. During the next two months, a pair of Minnesota polls were conducted, and Biden’s lead soared into double digits. Gravis Marketing executed a single-day poll on June 19 and found Biden’s lead had grown to 16 percentage points. Fox News followed with their survey a month later, July 19-20, and found a similar 13-point Biden advantage.

The situation began to change when Morning Consult again tested the Minnesota electorate over the July 17-26 period and saw the race closing back into the three-point range. This survey was confirmed with the Trafalgar Group’s numbers derived from their July 23-25 poll that found a similar five-point margin developing between the two candidates.

The next two, however, from Public Policy Polling and David Binder Research, both conducted during the July 22-31 time frame, produced 10 and 18 point spreads in Biden’s favor. The Binder poll, however, utilized a sample size of only 200 respondents, far below what would be typically required for a reliable statewide poll for a domain housing eight congressional districts.

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