Category Archives: Presidential campaign

Alabama & Arkansas: The Filings

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 15, 2019 — Candidate filing for the 2020 election cycle is now closed in two states, Alabama and Arkansas, and several individuals unexpectedly became candidates.

First, in the presidential race, not only did former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg file in Alabama, as was widely reported last week, but he also submitted papers for the Arkansas presidential primary. This doesn’t necessarily mean he will enter the national race, but it certainly gives him the option to become an active candidate.

Reports are now surfacing, however, that Bloomberg will not file for the New Hampshire presidential primary at today’s deadline. This move is even more surprising in light of his filing in Alabama and Arkansas. Polling must tell him he would be shut out in the Granite State and, with only a total of 24 first-ballot delegates, skipping the state would not greatly affect his potential delegate acquisition count.

Another surprise came in Arkansas where, at least for now, first-term Sen. Tom Cotton (R) has no Democratic opponent. When filing closed, Fayetteville Democrat and former congressional candidate Josh Mahony complied with the deadline requirements and said in his exit statement said he had been working the state for six months in order to lay groundwork for his statewide campaign. Before the day ended, however, he decided to rescind his candidacy.

Mahony said a family issue keeps him from running, but the Arkansas Republican Party had also just filed an ethics complaint against him, so it is possible that this development also had some influence on his decision to leave the race. In any event, Mahony is no longer a candidate even though he would have been unopposed for the Democratic nomination.

At this point, the Democrats have no Senate candidate, but state law will allow the party members to meet and choose a new nominee to oppose Sen. Cotton. Either way, Cotton’s re-election prospects appear completely sound.

Of course, the Alabama Senate race, now that former US attorney general and Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, is returning in an attempt to re-capture his previous position, has drawn the most political attention. The entire Republican field for the office includes the aforementioned Sessions, Secretary of State John Merrill, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), former Auburn head football coach Tommy Tuberville, ex-state Supreme Court Chief Judge and 2017 special Senate nominee Roy Moore, state Rep. Arnold Mooney (R-Shelby County), and businessman Stanley Adair.

The other somewhat surprising filing came in Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District, where state Sen. Joyce Elliott (D-Little Rock) will run to oppose three-term Rep. French Hill (R-Little Rock). The 2nd District, which is comprised of the Little Rock metropolitan area, is the most politically marginal of Arkansas’ four congressional districts.

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Buttigieg Pulls Ahead

By Jim Ellis

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg

Nov. 14, 2019 — As more potential Democratic presidential candidates, like former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, ex-Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, and even Hillary Clinton begin to re-emerge on the campaign’s outer horizon, the party nomination contest is moving into a sustained state of flux.

It is obvious that the potentially returning candidates are flirting with a new effort because they don’t perceive any of the active contenders as being in position to win the nomination outright or who can successfully oppose President Trump in the general election.

Now, we see a new complicating factor as an Iowa poll released Tuesday finds South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg grasping the lead away from both former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA).

According to the new Monmouth University survey (Nov. 7-11; 451 likely Iowa Democratic caucus attenders) Buttigieg claims first place with a 22 percent preference factor. Biden and Warren follow with 19 and 18 percent, respectively. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) secures fourth position with 13 percent.

The Monmouth poll is attracting headlines because it produces a new leader, and thus a new story line for a media horde always looking for a different narrative or angle. It may, however, be premature to suggest this one poll is the beginning of a new trend in the Democratic battle especially when it is the only survey drawing such a conclusion.

Two other pollsters ran surveys in a similar time frame and arrive at entirely different results. The Morning Consult large sample online survey (Nov. 4-10; 16,400 likely Iowa voters) projects a ballot test standing like we saw when the campaign was in its early stage: Biden 32 percent; Sanders 20 percent; Warren 19 percent; Buttigieg eight percent.

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The Great Lakes’ Poll

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 12, 2019 — The Cook Political Report in conjunction with the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation of San Francisco sponsored a four-state survey, called the “Blue Wall Voices Project,” covering key Great Lakes states to determine Democratic presidential primary standing within the region among other issues.

The poll has an unusual methodology in that the survey period was long (Sep. 23-Oct. 15) and the 3,222 registered voter respondents, who were invited to participate, could do so through an online link or by calling to speak with an interviewer. The four selected states were Michigan (767 registered voter respondents; 208 likely Democratic primary voters), Minnesota (958; 249), Pennsylvania (752; 246), and Wisconsin (745; 274). The survey questionnaire contained 36 questions about issues, candidates, approval perception, and demographics, many with several subsets.

In terms of general election positioning, the results in all four states lead to the conclusion that President Trump is in need of refining his message since the respondents’ answers cut severely against his perceived positions on trade, immigration, and foreign affairs in particular.

Short-term, the Democratic presidential responses were of greatest interest and, in all four of these important states, we see a legitimate multi-candidate contest developing with less than three months until the first votes are cast in the Iowa Caucus.

While signs are beginning to surface that Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar is gaining some traction in Iowa, a must for a Midwestern candidate, her home state poll shows her moving into the delegate apportionment mix.

Under Democratic National Committee rules, a candidate must obtain 15 percent of the at-large and congressional district popular vote in order to win committed delegate votes. According to the Cook/Kaiser survey, and including those who say they are leaning toward a particular candidate, Sen. Klobuchar attracts 15 percent among her home state Democratic respondents, in second place behind Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s 25 percent.

The top tier is tightly bunched after Warren. After Klobuchar’s 15 percent, former Vice President Joe Biden notches 14 percent, with Sen. Bernie Sanders right behind at 13 percent. Extrapolating this poll over the period before Minnesota holds its primary on Super Tuesday, March 3, suggests that all four of the contenders will qualify for a portion of the state’s 75 first-ballot delegate votes.

We see a similar split in Michigan, though Klobuchar is not a factor here or in any other tested state. Again, Sen. Warren leads the pack, also with support from a full quarter of the respondents. Following are Biden and Sanders with 19 and 15 percent, respectively. The Wolverine State has 125 first-ballot delegates.

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With Beto Out … Will the Rest
of the Dominoes Start to Fall?

Beto O’Rourke | Facebook Photo

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 5, 2019 — Former US Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) ended his presidential campaign Friday, joining Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), ex-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, US Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA), New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH) as 2020 national contenders who are no longer in the race.

O’Rourke’s concession statement made reference to departing because he no longer possesses adequate resources with which to compete. Beginning as a top tier candidate with a strong financial base, his effort rapidly crumbled largely due to ill-advised comments, poor debate performance, and calling for assault weapon confiscation, which did not reinvigorate his campaign as he expected. O’Rourke had hoped to use the latter issue to begin cracking into the party’s far-left faction that Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) seemingly have cornered.

Democratic leaders had from the outset attempted to persuade O’Rourke to challenge Texas Sen. John Cornyn (R) instead of running for president, but they were ignored. In his statement announcing the end of his national campaign, the former congressman addressed the speculation that he might return to Texas to challenge Cornyn, but again ruled out running for that office or any other in 2020.

How does the Democratic race change now that O’Rourke has departed? Largely, his move could be a precursor of many more exits to come. At this point, it is clear three candidates occupy the top tier and separation exists between them and the rest of the pack. Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sens. Warren and Sanders maintain the top three positions in virtually every poll, and it is reasonable to expect that one of them will eventually become the Democratic nominee.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg has recently made a resurgence after lagging in single digits since the second nationally televised debate in July. Concentrating on fundraising and organization, Buttigieg’s efforts have proven worthwhile. Raising $19.1 million just in the third quarter, placing him behind only Sanders ($25.3 million raised in Quarter 3) and Warren ($24.6 million) during that period, the mid-size city mayor has brought in over $51.5 million since the onset of his presidential campaign.

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Two New House Opens

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) – Democrat running for president in 2020

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2019 — A pair of new open seats, both from the Democratic side of aisle, emerged over the weekend.

First, in a move that had been speculated upon, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in the House in order to concentrate on her presidential campaign.

Second, freshman California Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale), who has been under fire and facing a potential ethics investigation for alleged sexual affairs with members of her congressional staff and campaign team will reportedly resign from Congress at the end of this week. Additionally, her estranged husband is saying she used her past influence to acquire employment contracts for him with the non-profit organization she ran before her election.

Rep. Gabbard, at this point one of the minor presidential candidates, made her mark in the debates for which she qualified to participate. Unless her poll standing improves, she will not be part of the upcoming November and December forums since the Democratic National Committee just announced new polling requirements.

The additional debate conditions mandate that candidates obtain four percent support nationally in a minimum of four designated surveys or attain six percent in two sanctioned polls from the early states, meaning those voting in February: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Recently, local polling suggests that Congresswoman Gabbard’s constituents do not look favorably upon her running for president. Just over 60 percent of the respondents said they preferred she exit the national race. Gabbard was also facing serious congressional primary competition from state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo).

Polling projected her with a definitive lead, 48-26 percent, according to a late September Public Policy Polling survey of the HI-2 constituency but falling below 50 percent is a clear indication of impending weakness. The study also reported that 38 percent of Democrats would have voted to re-elect Rep. Gabbard, but 50 percent indicated they would support someone new.

Sen. Kahele says he will continue in what is now a new open seat campaign to be decided in the Democratic primary. He had raised over $500,000 for his challenge to Rep. Gabbard and has just under $371,000 remaining in his campaign account at the Sept. 30 reporting deadline.

The Hawaii candidate filing deadline isn’t until June 2 for the Aug. 8 state primary. At this point no other Democratic candidate is coming forward, but we can expect a crowded field once potential contenders have an opportunity to assess their own political options. The 2nd District contains part of Oahu and the remainder of the state’s island chain.

Rep. Hill’s district political situation is much different. The northern Los Angeles County seat was reliably Republican when originally drawn before the 1992 election. That was the year when former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Palmdale) was originally elected, and he would win 10 more elections in the 25th CD. After he retired, state legislator Steve Knight (R) won the seat and held it for two terms until Hill unseated him in November.

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