Category Archives: House

Yesterday’s Illinois Primary

By Jim Ellis

March 21, 2018 — Land of Lincoln voters went to the polls yesterday to vote in the nation’s second primary of the 2018 midterm election season.

2018-elections-open-seats-185The headliner of Election Day was the gubernatorial primary, as Gov. Bruce Rauner (R), sporting poor job approval ratings but having virtually unlimited financial resources, squared off against conservative state Rep. Jeanne Ives (R-Wheaton). Ives received early support in the form of a $2.5 million donation from mega-donor Dick Uihlein, but her standing did not greatly improve in the past weeks, meaning her long-shot campaign remained as such entering Election Day.

Because of significant dissatisfaction with Gov. Rauner within the GOP base constituency, Ives was projected to perform better than a typical candidate challenging a sitting governor in a party primary. Yet, her performance was not strong enough to deny Rauner from advancing into the general election. Rauner scored only a 51.5 – 48.5 percent win over Ives in a primary result that indicates the state chief executive’s GOP political base is eroding.

Yesterday’s most competitive race wasn’t the one most had predicted — on the Democratic side of the gubernatorial primary. Venture capitalist J.B. Pritzker had spent over $65 million of his own money in this campaign, and was fortunate to have drawn two equivalently strong intra-party opponents.

A new poll from Victory Research (March 13-16; 1,204 registered Illinois voters) — the last before the vote — found Pritzker with only a 32-26-22 percent lead over Chicago businessman Chris Kennedy, who had advertised heavily and featured footage in his promotional ads of his late father, US attorney general and Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, and state Sen. Daniel Biss (D-Chicago). Biss had shown surprising strength for a legislator without statewide name identification. But Pritzker won the party nomination with 45.4 percent of the vote, a much larger total than the polling had predicted.

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New York Rep. Slaughter Passes;
Nevada’s Sen. Heller Dodges Primary

By Jim Ellis

March 20, 2018
— Veteran New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) who, at 88 years of age was the oldest member of the House of Representatives, passed away on Friday after suffering a fall-related concussion earlier in the week.

Veteran New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) | Facebook

Veteran New York Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-Rochester) | Facebook

Rep. Slaughter, a native of Kentucky, was first elected to the House in 1986 from a Buffalo-Rochester district where she unseated first-term GOP Rep. Fred Eckert. She held the seat ever since, and had announced plans to run again this year. Slaughter became the first woman to chair the House Rules Committee, a position she held while the Democrats held the majority from 2007-2011.

Her one close re-election call came in 2014, when she surprisingly survived by just 871 votes. She rebounded in 2016 to defeat the same opponent, Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini (R), 54-42 percent. Prior to her service in Congress, Slaughter spent two terms in the New York State Assembly and one in the Monroe County Legislature.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) will now call a special election for the winner to serve the balance of the term and presumably run in the 2018 regular election. In accordance with New York election law, the Monroe County political leadership will choose party nominees. Therefore, no primary elections will be held.

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PA: Lamb, Saccone Decide; Others, Too

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court

New Pennsylvania Congressional Map | Source: Pennsylvania State Supreme Court


By Jim Ellis

March 19, 2018 — Though Tuesday’s special election results in western Pennsylvania are not yet even finalized, the two candidates, and others, are making decisions about where to run in the regular election cycle. After the state Supreme Court created a new congressional map for the coming election, they lengthened the candidate filing period from one that closed March 6 to a new deadline of tomorrow, Tuesday, March 20.

Republicans are formally challenging the new map in federal court. A three-judge federal panel has already heard their arguments and the GOP leaders also filed a motion to stay the state court’s mapping decision with the US Supreme Court. Since no ruling has yet come from either judicial panel, incumbents and candidates must move forward with the qualifying process assuming the new map will stand.

Under Pennsylvania election law, congressional candidates must obtain 1,000 valid signatures from registered party members to qualify for the ballot. Since such a process obviously requires time, all candidates, including Rep.-Elect Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) and defeated Republican candidate Rick Saccone, must determine where they will run under this new and very different Keystone State congressional map.

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Lamb, Barely

By Jim Ellis

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

March 15, 2018 — Democrat Conor Lamb appears to have captured the 18th District special election held Tuesday in southwestern Pennsylvania, besting Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg); but it will likely be a couple days before the result is finalized. The margin stands at 641 votes in Lamb’s favor of 228,177 ballots cast with all precincts reporting and absentee votes counted, meaning a recount could be ordered.

Democrats will claim that this special election result sets the groundwork for the “blue wave” they have been predicting because their candidate converted a district that President Trump carried by 20 points and where resigned Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) didn’t even draw an opponent during the past two elections.

Republicans will now counter saying that Lamb didn’t run like a liberal Democrat but was able to bring the large conservative western PA Democratic voter contingent — those who came out in droves to support President Trump, for example — back into his party’s column. During the campaign, Lamb publicly indicated that he would not support Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as a way to convince the behaviorally conservative regional voter that he is not a national Democrat. Additionally, Lamb’s deep family ties to the Democratic base helped him as well. His grandfather is a former state House majority leader, and his uncle is the Pittsburgh City controller.

President Trump will undoubtedly take some credit for the close outcome. Prior to his visit to the district, pollsters were showing a much larger lead for Lamb than the preliminary final outcome produced. The final Monmouth University poll, for example, predicted a six to seven-point Lamb lead if the Democrats “surged” in turnout as they have done in other special elections around the country.

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CATCHING UP WITH THE PA-18 ELECTION

By Jim Ellis

Former Pennsylvania Assistant US Attorney Conor Lamb (L) | Former Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Saccone (R)

Former Pennsylvania Assistant US Attorney Conor Lamb (L) | Former Pennsylvania Rep. Rick Saccone (R)

March 14, 2018 — The Keystone State special congressional election was held yesterday, as southwestern Pennsylvania voters went to the polls to choose a replacement for resigned Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh).

Before PA-18 Election Day, Democrats appeared to have the better candidate in the person of attorney Conor Lamb, whose grandfather was a former state House Democratic leader and uncle is the Pittsburgh City Controller.

Simultaneously, this election carried major national ramifications, yet the winner’s success might be short-lived, when one can be identified, which likely will take a day or two longer. With 100 percent of the vote in, Lamb leads Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg) 113,111 (49.8 percent) to 112,532 (49.6 percent) a difference of only 579 votes as of this writing. Absentee and provisional ballots are still being counted. So there’s a chance that Saccone could overtake Lamb, however, that’s unlikely.

Democrats predicted victory before yesterday’s election, citing polls showing Lamb holding a slight lead over Saccone. The last survey, coming from Monmouth University (March 8-11; 372 likely PA-18 voters), gave Lamb leads of two to seven points, depending upon the overlaid turnout model. Obviously, the more energized and aggressive Democratic participation model gave Lamb the stronger edge. Under a low turnout model, the lead dropped to two points. Pennsylvania is one of 13 states that has no early voting system, so there were no tangible pre-election turnout indicators for this contest.

The Lamb campaign approached $5 million in dollars raised for the race versus Saccone directly commanding resources in the $1 million range. The national Republican Party organizations and conservative groups entered the district to even the spending, so it’s likely we’ll see total combined expenditures approach or exceed the $15 million mark.

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The California Candidates

By Jim Ellis

March 13, 2018 — California candidate filing closed on Friday, and the jungle primary scheduled for June 5 will be a crowded affair.

California Congressional Districts

                                    California Congressional Districts

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), seeking a fifth full term in office, will face 39 Democrat, Republican, minor party, and Independent opponents on the qualifying election ballot. The top two finishers on June 5, regardless of political party affiliation, will advance to the general election. At this point, chances are strong that Sen. Feinstein and state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) will be the qualifying candidates.

The open governor’s race is even more crowded. Sixty candidates returned documents for ballot placement. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) is favored to finish first, but the major remaining question concerns whether Republicans can coalesce behind one candidate to at least compete in the general election. Seventeen Republicans and 15 Democrats will be listed on the ballot if all submitted the proper qualifying documentation. The remaining contenders belong to a minor party or are Independents. The most likely pair to advance is Lt. Gov. Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, thus creating the double-Democratic general election campaign that Republican leaders hope to avoid.

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New Poll Confirms Toss-Up in PA-18

By Jim Ellis

March 9, 2018 — The PA-18 special election will be decided on March 13, falling between the Texas primary this past Tuesday and the Illinois state primary on March 20. And, as the two candidates, Republican state Rep. Rick Saccone (R-Canonsburg) and Democratic former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, head for the finish line, late polling suggests this contest is a pure turnout battle.

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

Pennsylvania’s current 18th District, in the southwest corner of the state.

The current 18th District lies in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania, encompassing a portion of Pittsburgh. The district contains parts of four different counties: Allegheny, Westmoreland, Washington, and Greene.

Though this Pennsylvania region is culturally Democratic, Republicans have moved the 18th District from marginal status to secure in the past few elections. President Trump easily won here in 2016, and resigned Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pittsburgh) didn’t even draw an opponent in his past two campaigns. The congressman’s forced resignation over a sordid extra-marital affair led to this special election.

Under Pennsylvania election law and process, the political party leaders convened district conventions in November to choose their special election candidates. The Republicans went with state Rep. Saccone who, until the 18th District opened, had been a US Senate candidate. Democrats turned to 33-year-old former federal prosecutor Conor Lamb, whose grandfather is a previous state House Democratic Leader. His uncle, Michael Lamb, is the Pittsburgh City Controller.

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