Category Archives: House

Moving to the General

By Jim Ellis

June 4, 2020 — The June 2nd primary featured 10 states, and now the candidates are set for November. Below is a recap of the races from Tuesday’s primary that project as competitive this fall, and an early prognosis for each.


IN-5:

• St. Sen Victoria Spartz (R) vs. Christina Hale (D)
Trump ’16: 53-41%    |   2018 Congressional: 57-43% R (Brooks)

Ukrainian born state Senator Victoria Spartz topped a field of 15 Republican candidates with 41% on Tuesday night, after a nasty primary that resulted in some of the other contenders running ads touting that they were born in America. Democrat Christina Hale, a former state Representative and 2016 Lt. Governor nominee, had an easier time in her primary, and won with 39% of the vote, which was slightly under pre-election estimates.

Ms. Spartz is the favorite to win in November in a traditionally Republican district, but one that is moving more toward the center. Democrats will see how this race begins to unfold, but this is a seat on their secondary target list. We can expect Spartz to be tested early, and if the numbers suggest an opening, the Democrats will go for an upset win.


IOWA-SENATE:

• Sen. Joni Ernst (R) vs. Theresa Greenfield (D)
Trump ’16: 51-42%    |    2016 US Senate: 60-36% R (Grassley)

Iowa is one of three Republican firewall states to keep the Senate majority, with Montana and Maine being the other two. Sen. Joni Ernst seeks her first re-election and is now paired with Des Moines real estate executive Theresa Greenfield. The Democratic establishment backed Greenfield, but she came under attack in the primary and defeated two opponents with 47% of the vote, a bit under pre-election projection.

All races in Iowa are competitive, so we can expect intense political competition here from the presidential race all the way through each of the state’s four House districts. Polling will show the Senate race as close until Election Day, but what should be another Trump victory here will help set the table for the remainder of the races. Sen. Ernst is rated as a slight favorite as the general election now officially begins.


IA-1:

• Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D) vs. St. Rep. Ashley Hinson (R)
Trump ’16: 49-45%     |     2018 Congressional: 50-45% D

Freshman Rep. Abby Finkenauer (D-Dubuque) defends her seat for the first time and faces a top opponent in Republican state Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Cedar Rapids), a former television news anchor. The 1st District looked to be the safest Democratic seat in the state after 2011 redistricting, but the electorate hasn’t voted that way. This will be a top tier Republican challenge race, and one to watch. Rep. Finkenauer certainly begins with the incumbent’s advantage, but the IA-1 campaign is a top national GOP target. If the Republicans are to have any chance of re-taking the House majority, Ms. Hinson will have to win.


IA-2:

• Rita Hart (D) vs. St. Sen. Marianette Miller-Meeks (R)
Trump ’16: 49-45%     |     2018 Congressional: 54-42% D (Loebsack)

The 2nd District, located in Iowa’s southeastern sector, is the district that has played best for Democrats during the decade despite President Trump carrying it in 2016.

Democrats feature former state Senator and 2018 Lt. Governor nominee Rita Hart who was even unopposed in an open seat primary. Republicans counter with first-term state Senator Marianette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa), who begins her fourth race for the congressional seat. Ms. Hart is the clear favorite here, and Dr. Miller-Meeks will have to prove her credibility nationally after three losses. If she does not begin the general election in competitive fashion, this race will quickly turn Ms. Hart’s way.
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New Mexico’s 2nd: Too Cute By Half?

By Jim Ellis

Freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) faces the full-on press of a GOP battle to challenge her.

May 29, 2020fh — The Democrats, or at least those who run the Patriot Majority organization, have made a high-risk move in trying to influence the outcome of the 2nd District Republican primary next week, so we shall soon see if their gamble pays dividends.

The GOP battle to challenge freshman Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D-Las Cruces) is largely between the 2018 nominee who lost what was a Republican seat, former state Rep. Yvette Herrell, and Claire Chase, who chairs the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association. Clearly the Democratic leadership believes Herrell is the weaker candidate, which is why their agents are actively engaged in ironically trying to define her as the true Trump Republican candidate.

President Trump has not endorsed in this race, but him doing so has been magic for candidates receiving such Republican primary support. The Patriot Majority media buy, which approaches $200,000 and appears to concentrate on targeted radio and digital advertising in order to best communicate with conservative audiences, emphasizes that Herrell is the candidate most in lockstep with the president. The ad script also attempts to put Chase on the defensive for making past negative comments about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.

NM-2 has the potential of becoming one of the top challenge races in the country and is likely a must-win if the Republicans are going to make any serious run at re-taking the House majority. And, recalling that Trump won this district by slightly more than 10 percentage points means the progressive left involvement in the GOP primary to implement a strategy of identifying a particular candidate as the stronger Trump supporter does carry its risks for the general election.

The Patriot Majority super PAC organization was formed during the 2010 election cycle. During the succeeding elections cycles, the entity is reported as spending well over $6 million, the overwhelming percentage of which being used to attack Republican candidates.

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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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