Category Archives: Mayor

Bass for Mayor; Redistricting Update

By Jim Ellis

California Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles)

Sept. 29, 2021 — Reports were surfacing last week that California Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who had been on candidate Joe Biden’s short list for the vice presidential nomination, was deciding whether to eschew re-election next year for a chance to run for LA mayor. Now, she has made the decision. On Monday, Rep. Bass formally entered the citywide race.

The mayor’s election likely will be semi-open. Mayor Eric Garcetti (D) has been nominated as US ambassador to India, and upon obtaining his Senate confirmation, the City Council will be empowered to appoint an interim mayor. That individual will have the opportunity of then seeking a full four-year term during the regular election cycle. Certainly, Rep. Bass could be a potential appointee. Should Mayor Garcetti not receive a timely confirmation as ambassador, he would be ineligible to seek a third term, so in any event, the mayor’s contest will be highly competitive.

From a federal perspective, Bass running for mayor means her 37th Congressional District will be open. Of the 18 congressional districts that are wholly or partially contained within Los Angeles County, 17 of them need a population influx. With California losing a seat, it appears that the Los Angeles area will absorb the reduction.

Since Rep. Bass is the first Golden State House member to announce that he or she won’t seek re-election, her 37th District that needs 38,173 people to meet the state’s CD population quota of 760,350 people for the new 52 district map – a west Los Angeles County seat centered around the Culver City community – now becomes a prime target for elimination.

In the mayor’s race, Bass will at least face Los Angeles City Council President Pro Tempore Joe Buscaino, LA City councilman and former state Senate president and ex-US Senate candidate Kevin de Leon, and LA City Attorney Mike Feuer. It is likely others will enter the race once the political situation surrounding Mayor Garcetti is defined, and the congressional and legislative redistricting picture becomes clearer.

Redistricting Update

Several states are making progress in drawing new congressional maps. Colorado will send a final plan to the state Supreme Court as early as today. Indiana and Maine are close to finalizing maps that will strengthen both states’ political divisions, 7R-2D in the Hoosier State, and 2D-0R in the latter.

Oregon is also moving toward completion of a map that may prove a reach for the Democratic majority. Gaining a sixth seat in national reapportionment, the Democrats are trying to craft a 5D-1R map. Though Republicans have a significant base in the state, the Democrats maintain a tight grip on the statewide races thanks to dominant Portland, which serves as the lynchpin to their Beaver State political success.

Therefore, though the Dems have a clear edge in five of the new CDs, the early partisan analysis figures suggest that the Republicans would have at least an outside chance of prevailing in one of the districts, most likely that of Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Canby/Salem), and possibly in the new 6th District open seat. More will be known when in depth political data is available and candidates begin to come forward.

The Texas Republican Senate’s congressional map was unveiled yesterday. As predicted, the GOP map drawers used the state’s two new seats as somewhat of a buffer, at least in the Austin area, to strengthen districts that were showing weakness. Should this map be enacted, Reps. Chip Roy (R-Austin), Michael McCaul (R-Austin), John Carter (R-Round Rock), and Roger Williams (R-Austin) all receive much stronger Republican seats. In exchange, one of the new seats goes to Travis County and will await a new Democratic inhabitant.

The other new seat appears destined for Harris County. There, sophomore Rep. Lizzie Pannill Fletcher (D-Houston) moves from a political marginal district to a rock solid Harris-Ft. Bend County Democratic District. This allows the second new seat to fall to a Republican and be fully contained within Harris County. In the northern part of the region, Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Houston) receives a substantially better district, and assumes part of Republican Montgomery County.

In the Dallas-Ft. Worth Metroplex, the region doesn’t get a new district, but a reconfiguration allows all incumbents, both Republicans and Democrats, to improve upon their present internal political standing.

This Texas map is a long way from enactment. The state House Democrats are unified to vote against any Republican map, and while the GOP has the strength to pass what they want in the Senate, the state House is a different story. It is likely we will see the current 30-day special session end in deadlock, with another 30-day session to follow. The Democratic strategy is to force the redistricting process to court, while the Republicans will attempt to pass a series of maps into law. Expect this story to be with us for many weeks to come.

Newsom Wins Recall; Other Elections

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D)

Sept. 16, 2021 — California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) easily avoided being recalled in last night’s statewide election, but the margin will likely close once all of the ballots are received and finally counted. The reported results are largely from mail ballots received well before election day. The posted turnout totals exceed 9 million voters, and this number will continue to grow.

The NO option on the recall ballot, meaning the vote individuals cast in order to keep Gov. Newsom in office, is running just under 64 percent, but under the California system of ballot signature verification it will be several weeks before we see official final totals. California also allows a long post-election period for ballots postmarked on election day to be received. It is clear, however, that Newsom will survive in office by a wide margin, but with an end-result closer margin than we see in early returns.

Though the replacement election became moot with the recall being rejected, conservative commentator Larry Elder was the clear leader, recording a tick under 47 percent of the vote. The next closest candidate was Democrat Kevin Paffrath with 10 percent. Former San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer (R) finished third with just under 9 percent. John Cox (R), who was one of the leading recall effort funders and the finalist against Newsom in the 2018 election, fell back to less than 4.5% of the vote. Media star Caitlin Jenner (R), who proved not to be a serious candidate, scored just 1.1% in the replacement election.

All of the replacement candidates were at a disadvantage in terms of financial resources. Though Elder raised a reported $18 million, an impressive amount in a short time frame, Gov. Newsom spent possibly as much as $80 million.

The rules for Newsom, however, were different. Because he was the recall subject, and the people were deciding the question as to whether or not he alone should remain in office, the campaign financial structure for him was that of a referendum. Therefore, he could raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals and entities. The replacement candidates, because they were running in an election campaign, were bound by the state campaign finance laws that feature contribution amount limits.

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NYC Ranked Voting – Any Difference?

NYC Democracy produced a voter palm card to help guide voters in a ranked-choice voting scenario.

By Jim Ellis

July 9, 2021 — The Ranked Choice Voting system was on major display in the New York City primary races that began with early voting on June 12 and ended yesterday with declaration of winners. Adding early voting and Ranked Choice Voting in lieu of traditional ballot casting created a 26-day election period, but did the expanded voting cycle change any results?

Ranked Choice Voting is a variation of an instant runoff, a concept that dates back to a similar system first used in Australia in 1918. The idea is to prevent a person from winning a plurality election with a just a small percentage, i.e., Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams would have won the New York City mayoral Democratic primary with 30.8 percent of the vote on the single election day of June 22 had the traditional system been in place. This means that 69.2 percent of voters chose another candidate.

Instead, after the 26-day election period, Adams still won the party nomination under Ranked Choice Voting but with a convoluted 50.5 percent majority vote at the conclusion of a marathon counting process.

For years, mostly southern states have used a runoff system to correct the problem of a candidate winning an election with a small percentage, such as NYC’s Adams’ 30.8 percent recorded on June 22. In those places, a secondary election is held between the top two finishers at a later date. Ranked Choice Voting allegedly produces a majority result, but without the expense of running a second election.

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NYC and Ranked Choice on Ballot

NYC Democracy produced a voter palm card to help guide voters in a ranked-choice voting scenario.

By Jim Ellis

June 22, 2021 — New York City Democrats go to the polls today to cast their ballots in the party’s mayoral primary as 13 candidates compete to succeed term-limited Mayor Bill de Blasio (D). With voter registration figures giving Democrats an almost 7:1 advantage, there is little doubt that the eventual Democratic primary winner will win the mayoral general election on Nov. 2.

More, however, is on the ballot than just deciding which of the candidates will advance into the Autumn election. The Democrats are using a ranked choice voting system that has been tried in other places around the county, such as the state of Maine and 32 mostly local jurisdictions. With 13 candidates vying for the mayoral nomination, however, and at least four being within the margin of error in the most recent polling, this New York City race could be the system’s most significant test.

Ranked Choice Voting is an electoral procedure where voters rank the candidates in their order of preference. In this case, Democratic voters will record their first preference with the number 1, and then follow through individually with the remaining dozen.

The system works as follows: when the ballots are fully counted, assuming no one receives an outright majority, which is a virtual certainty with so many candidates in contention, the 13th-place finisher will be eliminated from further competition. Election officials will then locate all ballots where the last place finisher was chosen first. Those voters’ second choices are then recorded and added to the original count. This process continues until a top candidate reaches the 50 percent plateau.

Considering that New York City election officials took six weeks to determine a winner in Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-Manhattan) 12th District congressional Democratic primary last year, for example, this complicated counting process could go on for some time before a winner is ultimately announced.

Pollsters attempted to gauge the voters’ ranked choice predilections in rather complicated questioning, and most estimated that the counting process would consume 10-12 rounds. Polling accuracy is unclear at this point because few research firms have attempted to measure the ranked choice system. Therefore, today’s race could have a wild card ending especially when voters go deep into their ratings.

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Texas GOP Mayoral Victories

Along the US-Mexican border

By Jim Ellis

June 8, 2021 — On Saturday, Republican candidates picked up three victories in a trio of Texas mayoral runoffs, the most surprising of which came in the Mexican border city of McAllen where the Hispanic population is close to 85 percent.

McAllen City Commissioner (Council) Javier Villalobos, a former Hidalgo County Republican Party chairman, won the mayoral runoff election with a 51-49 percent victory. This on the heels of the Texas-Mexico border region voting much more Republican in 2020 than in previous electoral history. From the congressional district that houses McAllen, Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-McAllen) won his November re-election contest with only a 50.5 – 47.6 percent victory margin.

In Ft. Worth, an election that broke more definitively along partisan lines, though all of the mayoral elections in the state are nonpartisan in that the candidate’s political party affiliation does not appear on the ballot, Republican Mattie Parker defeated Tarrant County Democratic Party chair Deborah Peoples. The spread was 54-46 percent in a contest where turnout more than doubled the aggregate mayoral vote of four years ago. Voter participation was up in all three of the Texas city runoff elections, but none like the huge increase in Ft. Worth.

The least partisan of the races occurred in Arlington, where former police officer and local businessman Jim Ross defeated Arlington City Councilman Michael Glaspie, also with a 54-46 percent margin. In this election, law enforcement seemed to dominate the campaign as five different police and fire associations rallied to support Ross.

As mentioned above, South Texas voting ventured more toward the Republicans in November even though Democrats still proved victorious in the region. Biden’s margin over then-President Trump dropped as low as 50-48 percent in Rep. Gonzalez’s 15th District, and under 52 percent in three of the four CDs that touch the Texas-Mexico border.

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