Category Archives: House

The Unique New York Special;
Other Key Primaries Today

By Jim Ellis

June 23, 2020 — Voters in five states — New York, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Virginia — will cast nomination votes today, and some interesting races are on tap.

NEW YORK

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx), faces challenges from former CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera and two minor candidates today.

Though the intra-party challenges to Reps. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx) have drawn the most political attention, Buffalo area state Sen. Chris Jacobs (R) is embroiled in a unique special congressional election to replace resigned-Rep. Chris Collins (R).

The special wasn’t designed to have such an interesting, and largely confusing format, but a quirk in New York election procedure has caused Jacobs to be campaigning simultaneously before two different electorates. He faces Democratic former Grand Island town supervisor Nate McMurray, who held Rep. Collins to a 48-47 percent victory in 2018 in the special general, and two strong Republican challengers in the regular 2020 primary.

It’s not particularly unusual to see a special election and a regular primary election being run concurrently, but it is strange to see a special general and a regular primary paired. Therefore, this forces Jacobs to campaign closer to the political center, a place where he typically falls, in his battle with McMurray to serve the balance of the current term, while also protecting his right flank against two opponents who are attacking him for being outside the Republican Party mainstream. McMurray has no such problem because he is unopposed on the Democratic side.

The 27th District is vacant because Rep. Collins resigned the seat when pleading guilty to an insider financial trading federal charge. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) scheduled the replacement election on the same day as the regular primary. Since the New York political parties give power to choose replacement nominees to the various county chairmen in the district, there is no special election primary. Therefore, voters only cast one ballot to fill a congressional vacancy.

While Sen. Jacobs needs the Republican rank and file to turn out heavily to support him against McMurray, two GOP candidates not chosen by the party leaders, Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and attorney and former town judge Beth Parlato, are consistently hitting him from the right, thus cross pressuring his message to the GOP base.

In the closing days, Parlato, who also carries the Conservative Party ballot line, has launched an additional attack on Jacobs indicating that he’s being investigated for voter fraud. While a citizen charge was filed, the local District Attorney has already dropped the action as having no substantiation. Still, Jacobs’ has had to defend himself on another political front.

The 27th District is an upstate seat that begins in the eastern Buffalo suburbs and extends north all the way to Lake Ontario, and then drops south of Rochester and east as far as the town of Canandaigua. The district includes four whole counties and parts of four others, including Erie and Niagara. It is a reliably Republican district (Trump ’16: 60-35 percent; Romney ’12: 55-43 percent).

The CD did flip to the Democrats, however, the last time a special congressional election was held here. Kathy Hochul, now New York’s lieutenant governor, won the seat in 2011. She was then subsequently defeated in the 2012 regular election by Collins, however.
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NY-16: Poll Finds Rep. Engel Trailing

Jamaal Bowman campaign-financed attack ad example against veteran Rep. Eliot Engel, hitting him for remaining in Maryland during the rise in COVID-19 cases and then only returning to the district when his political position became endangered


By Jim Ellis

June 19, 2020 — An internal poll for New York Congressional District 16 challenger Jamaal Bowman suggests we could see an upset in next Tuesday’s Democratic primary.

As the race between Bowman, a former middle school principal, and veteran Rep. Eliot Engel (D-Bronx) becomes more contentious and competitive, the challenger’s campaign this week publicized the results of their recent Data for Progress survey (released June 17; 525 NY-16 likely Democratic primary voters). The poll projects Bowman as establishing a clear lead over Rep. Engel, who was first elected to the House in 1988 after spending the previous 12 years in the New York state Assembly.

The DfP data shows Bowman holding a 41-31 percent lead over Congressman Engel in the closing days of the Democratic primary. When asked of the 27 percent who responded that they were still undecided, 40 percent of those individuals indicated they were leaning toward Bowman as compared to just 18 percent who said the same of Rep. Engel. Adding leaners to the secondary ballot test produces a substantial 52-36 percent advantage for Bowman.

The Engel campaign questions the accuracy of the Data for Progress survey because the questionnaire only gave respondents the choice of Bowman and Rep. Engel, even though two other candidates are also on the primary ballot.

Looking deeper at the data, Bowman leads Rep. Engel 56-10 percent among African Americans and 37-29 percent among Hispanics. Rep. Engel maintains an advantage with white voters, 52-30 percent. The district’s Citizen Voting Age population segments as 43.1 percent white, 31.2 percent black, and 20.0 percent Hispanic.

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KEEPING PACE WITH GEORGIA,
NEVADA, AND DRAMA IN VIRGINIA

By Jim Ellis

June 17, 2020 — We continue to see vote counting ramifications stemming from the extensive mail electoral procedures employed in several states. A full week after the Georgia and Nevada primary elections concluded, a second previous result was reversed, while across the country in the Silver State a congressional contest winner finally emerges.

GEORGIA

Carolyn Bourdeaux wins Georgia’s 7th CD Democratic nomination outright.

In the immediate days following the Georgia primary, it was consistently reported that 7th District 2018 nominee Carolyn Bourdeaux had failed to win outright her Democratic primary and that she would be forced to an Aug. 11 runoff election with state Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero (D-Norcross). Now, that projection has been reversed.

A similar situation occurred in the state’s 13th District where veteran Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) was projected to have fallen into a runoff election only to see the outcome change when thousands of post-election ballots came streaming into the government offices. The now presumably final totals find both Bourdeaux and Rep. Scott exceeding 51 percent of their respective primary vote.

Bourdeaux now wins the Democratic nomination outright and advances into the general election against Republican Rich McCormick. McCormick is a physician and retired Navy officer who won his open seat primary with clear majority support on election night.

Two years ago, Bourdeaux came within just 420 votes of unseating Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Lawrenceville), which may be one reason why the congressman is retiring this year. McCormick defeated six other Republicans in last week’s primary with 55 percent of the vote, meaning he will be a very substantial candidate in the general election. Therefore, avoiding being bogged down for almost two months to win her nomination would have been a major setback for Bourdeaux’s general election chances.

NEVADA

In northern Las Vegas, after a full week of counting mail votes, it has become apparent that former state assemblyman Jim Marchant has won the Republican primary in the 4th Congressional District, thus earning the opportunity of challenging Rep. Steven Horsford (D-Las Vegas) in the fall. Marchant defeated insurance agency owner Sam Peters and a host of others by a 34-29 percent margin, with the other candidates splitting the remaining 37 percent.

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Rep. Riggleman Loses Re-nomination

By Jim Ellis

Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas)

June 16, 2020 — Despite Virginia Rep. Denver Riggleman (R-Manassas) being the incumbent representative for the state’s 5th District, losing his party’s re-nomination for a second term on Saturday came as no surprise.

Largely blamed upon his presiding over a same-sex marriage involving two of his campaign volunteers, Rep. Riggleman fell at odds with the district Republican Party leaders. Virginia has the most unique nomination system in the country. There is no standardized primary, and each set of congressional district party authorities can conduct a virtually autonomous process for choosing its partisan general election candidates.

The congressional district committees can nominate in a standard primary or through what they call a “firehouse primary,” where only a few voting places are established throughout the jurisdiction, or, in what often happens on the Republican side, a district convention. Usually the party leaders work with their incumbents to choose the system that will benefit the top officeholder in the region, but not in Riggleman’s case.

In fact, the 5th District Republican committee chose exactly what would be to Rep. Riggleman’s greatest detriment. Because of the COVID-19 situation, they were unable to host a typical district convention. Therefore, the committee adopted what they termed a “drive-in convention,” where the delegates would come from throughout the district to just one specific location, drive into a building parking lot, and cast their ballot.

The fix against Riggleman went so far as to hold the drive-in convention in the church parking lot of where his challenger, Campbell County Supervisor and Liberty University athletic official Bob Good, is a member. Campbell County is in the far western end of the district, near the city of Lynchburg, and is more closely aligned with the 6th District.

The location decision meant the vast majority of delegates, and everyone from Riggleman’s geographic strength, would have to drive several hours in order to simply deposit their ballot envelope. The 5th stretches all the way to the Washington, DC outer Virginia suburbs, but the main population anchor is in and around the city of Charlottesville.

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GA-13: Rep. Scott in Runoff

By Jim Ellis

GA-13 Rep. David Scott (D)

June 11, 2020 — Voting problems in Atlanta delayed counting and reporting from Tuesday’s primary, but it is now clear that nine-term veteran Rep. David Scott (D-Atlanta) has been forced into an Aug. 11 runoff election with a candidate who spent less than $1,000 on her primary campaign.

With votes still being counted, Rep. Scott garnered only 46.8 percent of the vote to date, with the remaining 53.2 percent being divided among three Democratic challengers. Advancing into the runoff is former state representative Keisha Waites, who managed to attract 31.1 percent of the vote despite spending only $875.00 on her race.

In third place is former local county Democratic Party chairman Michael Owens (14.1% percent), who has previously challenged Rep. Scott in a party primary, while former East Point mayor Jannquell Peters finished fourth (8.0 percent). The latter two candidates have been eliminated.

Though tabulating continues, almost 88,000 votes have been recorded in this primary race, suggesting that turnout is robust. In the only recent Democratic primary from this congressional district, back in 2014, the total turnout was under 36,000 individuals. Combined, the latter two candidates, Owens and Peters, spent approximately $60,000. By contrast, Rep. Scott spent almost $900,000 so far on his 2020 political effort.

As mentioned above, the only other time Scott was challenged for re-nomination since his original 2002 congressional campaign came in 2014. The congressman defeated Owens in that year, 82-18 percent. In his nine general election victories, Scott has averaged 79.4 percent of the vote, including running unopposed three times.

The 13th District is a suburban Atlanta district that sits south and southwest of the city before moving westward and then north to encompass part of Cobb County. The CD contains all of Douglas county and parts of five others, including Cobb, Fulton, and Fayette. The Citizen Age Voting statistics record a 58.1% percent population figure for African Americans here as compared to 33.4 percent for non-Hispanic whites.

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