Category Archives: Impeachment

SC Filing Closes; Rep. Rice in Battle

By Jim Ellis

South Carolina’s 7th District contest will be the race to watch on June 14. (Go to Interactive Map on FiveThirtyEight.com)

April 4, 2022 — South Carolina election officials late last week published the 2022 qualified candidates list after filing closed the previous day, and there are several points of note for the June 14 primary election.

While several notable Republican figures were at one point talking about challenging Gov. Henry McMaster in this year’s GOP primary, none did, and he should have an easy re-election campaign not only in the primary, but the general election, too.

McMaster, as the state’s lieutenant governor in 2017, ascended to the governorship to fill the unexpired portion of then-Gov. Nikki Haley’s second term after she resigned to become US Ambassador to the United Nations. This allowed Gov. McMaster to serve the final two years of the Haley term and run for a pair of consecutive stints in his own right. After winning again this past November and serving the next full term, Gov. McMaster will be the longest-serving state chief executive in South Carolina history.

Sen. Tim Scott (R) is poised to win a second full term. He is unopposed in the Republican primary and his strongest general election competition comes from state Rep. Krystle Matthews (D-Ladson). Sen. Scott was originally appointed to the Senate in 2013, serving the four-year balance of Sen. Jim DeMint’s (R) term after the latter’s resignation. Scott was easily elected in his own right in 2016 with a 61-37 percent victory.

In the House races, primary challenges are on tap for Reps. Nancy Mace (R-Charleston), William Timmons (R-Greenville), Jim Clyburn (D-Columbia) and Tom Rice (R-Myrtle Beach). Reps. Joe Wilson (R-Springdale), Jeff Duncan (R-Laurens), and Ralph Norman (R-Rock Hill) are unopposed for re-nomination. Rep. Duncan has no opposition in June or November.

Rep. Mace is fighting a challenge from 2018 GOP congressional nominee Katie Arrington, a former state representative who is a Trump appointee and has the former president’s endorsement.

Freshman Rep. Timmons faces three GOP opponents, two of whom have run unsuccessfully in other elections. The congressman will face business consultant Ken Hill (D) in the general election.

Rep. Clyburn, the House Majority Whip, sees two Democratic opponents file against him, but he will have little trouble in winning both the primary and general election.

Rep. Rice, on the other hand, has major competition. One of the 10 House Republicans to vote in favor of impeaching then-President Trump over the Jan. 6 situation, the congressman was originally facing a dozen GOP opponents. At the end of the filing process, six would not follow through with their challenge, but six did become official qualified candidates, including his three main competitors, state Rep. Russell Fry (R-Surfside Beach), former Myrtle Beach Mayor Mark McBride, and Horry County School Board chairman Ken Richardson.

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Rep. Beutler Trailing in New Poll

Six-term Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver)

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 9, 2021 — Another of the House Republican Trump impeachment supporters appears to be having trouble back home. A new Trafalgar Group poll (Oct. 30-Nov. 2; 682 likely WA-3 primary voters; combination live interview, interactive voice response system, and text) finds six-term Washington Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-Battle Ground/Vancouver) placing third in a field of four as a prelude to next year’s jungle primary.

According to Trafalgar, former Green Beret Joe Kent (R), who has former President Trump’s endorsement, leads the candidate field with 35 percent preference. Next is Democrat Brian Hennrich, a movie theatre technician, who records 24 percent. For this poll, Hennrich realistically serves as a placebo candidate to test Democratic support. Rep. Beutler then places third with 23 percent and another Republican, pastor and author Heidi St. John, posts 10 percent support. An additional eight percent said they would vote for “another Democrat.”

Surveys such as this will likely spur the Democrats to recruit a much stronger candidate in what plays as a marginal southwestern Evergreen State congressional district.

Washington is one of three states that employs a top-two jungle primary system. All candidates are placed on the same ballot and the top two finishers, regardless of percentage or party, advance into the general election. Therefore, this poll would suggest that Rep. Beutler, at least today, could be eliminated before the general election cycle even officially begins. Washington has a late primary, Aug. 2, 2022, so plenty of time remains for the congresswoman to right her political ship.

The Washington districts won’t likely change a great deal in redistricting. Washington redistricts by commission, and has since 1991. Because none of the state’s 10 districts need a major population influx, it is probable that most of the seats, and especially District 3 (largely because it must only shed 2,222 individuals) will remain relatively constant.

The 3rd District is nestled into the southwestern corner of the state, bordering Oregon and the Pacific Ocean. The seat needing to gain the most people is Rep. Derek Kilmer’s (D-Gig Harbor) 6th District, but the 33,730 residents it requires is still a relatively small number in comparison to some other states.

Currently, the Beutler district votes as a marginal Republican seat. Former President Trump carried WA-3 in 2020 with a 51-47 percent margin after posting a 50-42 percent showing against Hillary Clinton in 2016. Rep. Beutler, in what was billed as a competitive race at the beginning of the 2020 election cycle, scored a 56-43 percent re-election victory. She has averaged 57.6 percent of the vote in her six successful congressional elections.

Fundraising so far has been significant. The September 30 FEC reports find Rep. Beutler already raising $1.73 million for the cycle with $1.38 million cash-on-hand. Kent has also done well, especially for a challenger, raising $1.09 million with $837,000 in the bank. St. John (R) has also raised a respectable $334,000, and held just over $213,000 in her campaign account at the reporting period’s end.

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Impeachment Republicans’ Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump

Oct. 15, 2021 — As we know, 10 House Republicans voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump over the Jan. 6 US Capitol controversy and now it appears that the nine running for re-election are currently facing a bumpy political road.

Reports have surfaced in the political media that identify billionaire Peter Thiel, a Trump supporter, as contributing to the campaigns of the Trump-endorsed candidate opposing at least two of the Impeachment Republicans, Reps. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA). The big question is whether Thiel and other like-minded mega donors will fund Super PAC efforts against the House incumbents who supported the impeachment resolution.

Already, Thiel is reportedly committing $10 million to a Super PAC supporting Arizona Senate candidate Blake Masters. He faces a credible field in the GOP primary, including Attorney General Mark Brnovich, solar company owner Jim Lamon, retired Arizona National Guard Adjutant General Mick McGuire, and State Corporation Commission member Justin Olson.

It is unknown whether Thiel will put that type of money behind the Trump endorsed House candidates trying to deny the impeachment Republicans re-nomination, but he has made the maximum campaign contribution to at least two of the contenders, Harriet Hageman, who is opposing Rep. Cheney, and retired Army officer Joe Kent, Rep. Herrera Beutler’s GOP challenger.

Let’s look at how the 10 are currently faring in their re-election efforts:

• CA-21 – Rep. David Valadao: With California’s top-two qualifying system there are effectively no Republican or Democratic primaries. The candidates finishing first and second from the June primary will advance into the general election regardless of party affiliation. There is little chance of denying Rep. Valadao one of the two finalist positions, but he will face a difficult general election campaign irrespective of the Trump-backed efforts.

• IL-16 – Rep. Adam Kinzinger: Reports suggest that the Democratic state legislative leadership is attempting to collapse Rep. Kinzinger’s seat since Illinois loses a seat in reapportionment. He faces a multi-candidate Republican field, but the redistricting lines will be the biggest factor in whether or not Rep. Kinzinger continues his congressional career. The situation won’t be fully known until the redistricting plan is formally introduced and passed into law.

• MI-3 – Rep. Peter Meijer: Freshman Rep. Meijer may have the most favorable situation of all the impeachment Republicans. While he does have primary opposition, none of the candidates appear particularly formidable. Additionally, the preliminary redistricting maps suggest that while Meijer’s district will significantly change, he will still have a Republican seat anchored in Grand Rapids. Adding the city of Kalamazoo would make re-election more competitive, but the overall district would still favor a Republican nominee in most instances.

• MI-6 – Rep. Fred Upton: Multiple Republican candidates have surfaced against Rep. Upton, but his bigger problem may be redistricting. The Michigan Independent Citizens Commission has released four draft maps, and all pair Rep. Upton with another Republican incumbent, either Reps. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) or John Moolenaar (R-Midland).

Though Trump has endorsed state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo), Upton’s bigger problem would likely be facing another incumbent. It is also possible that Carra finds himself placed in another district.

• NY-24 – Rep. John Katko: Like Rep. Upton, Katko’s biggest re-election problem appears to be redistricting and not the two Republicans who have announced against him. Though the New York preliminary congressional redistricting map has not yet been released, it appears the Democratic leadership is looking to take as many as five of the eight Republican seats away from the GOP.

This very likely means that Rep. Katko would find himself paired with another Republican incumbent, even potentially House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik. Redistricting will likely be the key factor in whether or not Rep. Katko returns to Congress after the next election.

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Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez
Won’t Seek Re-Election

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River)

Sept. 21, 2021 — Saying he believes that former President Donald Trump “shouldn’t ever be president again,” sophomore Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez (R-Rocky River) announced on Friday that he will not seek a third term in the House.

Rep. Gonzalez was one of 10 Republicans to support Trump’s second impeachment, and drew a strong Republican primary opponent as a result. Former President Trump responded to Gonzalez’s statement and decision with his own release saying, “1 down, 9 to go,” in reference to those Republican House members who supported removing him from office after the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion.

Gonzalez is the 19th member who will not be on the next election ballot for the US House seat he now holds, including the three vacancies to be filled in special elections. Of the 19, Republicans currently hold 10 seats as compared to nine for the Democrats. This is the first GOP opening with some competitive potential, however, though the Gonzalez decision will likely have a big impact upon the Ohio redistricting process currently under way within the state legislature in Columbus.

Former White House aide Max Miller had been Rep. Gonzalez’s top Republican competitor. Through the June 30 campaign financial disclosure period, Miller had raised just under $1 million ($951,520), but had only $533,153 remaining in cash-on-hand.

Despite Miller’s strong fundraising effort, Rep. Gonzalez still held the upper hand, reporting $1.22 million raised with over $1.5 million in the bank. Therefore, while the Miller challenge appeared formidable, it was not a foregone conclusion that he would have denied Rep. Gonzalez re-nomination had the congressman decided to continue running.

Rep. Gonzalez’s 16th Congressional District begins in the Westlake area to the west of Cleveland and stretches south toward the rural areas southwest of Canton. It then meanders to the northeast around Akron to end in the city of Edinburg.

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Rep. Collins Moves Toward Senate

By Jim Ellis

Georgia Rep. Doug Collins

Jan. 30, 2020 — Reports had become rampant over the past several days that north Georgia Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) was going to challenge appointed incumbent Kelly Loeffler (R) in the upcoming special US Senate election. Just two days ago, Rep. Collins said that he “has no comment … for now,” when asked about his statewide intentions. However, yesterday he confirmed that he would indeed run for US Senate in 2020.

It was clear that Collins had wanted the Senate appointment that Loeffler received, and reports toward the end of the selection process indicated that the final choice was largely between him and Loeffler. Gov. Brian Kemp (R) chose Loeffler, it is reported, in part to promote a woman who he believed could attract more Republican votes in the suburbs, in addition to her family’s substantial wealth giving her a major start-up advantage in campaign resources.

Georgia Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R)

Rep. Collins was President Trump’s strongest defender in his position as ranking Republican Judiciary Committee member during the impeachment hearings, and Trump made no secret of his wish to see the congressman appointed.

In the meantime, Democrats have two candidates, with a third on the political horizon. Businessman Matt Lieberman is the son of 2000 Democratic vice-presidential nominee and former Connecticut senator, Joe Lieberman. Former US Attorney and Georgia state Sen. Ed Tarver is also in the Democratic race, while Rev. Raphael Warnock, the pastor for Atlanta’s historic Ebenezer Baptist Church where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once served as co-pastor with his father, is poised to enter the race.

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