Category Archives: Primary

Countering the Record

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, May 18, 2023

Elections

Jacksonville, Fla., former local news anchor Donna Deegan (D).

The media is covering Tuesday’s elections — particularly in Jacksonville, Fla. and Colorado Springs, Colo. — as Democratic or liberal upsets, but much more exists below the political surface that the analysts are either ignoring or missing.

To recap, Democratic former local news anchor Donna Deegan scored a 52-48 percent victory over Republican Chamber of Commerce CEO Daniel Davis. The media analysts portrayed the race as an upset since the Republicans held the Jacksonville mayor’s office for the past eight years in the person of term-limited incumbent Lenny Curry.

In actuality, the upset was Curry winning the past two elections, and not Deegan scoring this most recent victory. Though the Republicans now have a 400,000-plus person voter registration advantage statewide in Florida, Democrats considerably outnumber Republicans, by approximately five percentage points, within Jacksonville.

Additionally, the combined minority population in the city, led by the African-American contingent at 31 percent, now comprise a slight majority. Considering that Democrats do much better than Republicans within these communities, a victory for them in the citywide mayor’s race is less than surprising.

Furthermore, Deegan did not emphasize typical Democratic themes in her communication points. Rather, she issued detailed plans on infrastructure, affordable housing, downtown redevelopment, emergency health service, and creating a plan for attracting further state and federal aid for local projects. Therefore, her broad-based plan was more comprehensive and sellable than her Republican opponent’s approach.

In Colorado Springs, Independent candidate Yemi Mobolade, easily defeated Republican former Secretary of State Wayne Williams. Though Mobolade grew up in the socialist country of Nigeria, his campaign talking points were hardly based upon those values.

Mobolade is the city’s Small Business Development administrator who emphasized business, community and leadership development, entrepreneurship, and ministry in his successful mayoral campaign. His was not a left of center message, and though Republicans lost this mayoral race, it was not a liberal who won.

Philadelphia’s Democratic mayoral primary ended much differently than polling projected. Though the data consistently showed as many as five candidates having a chance to win the primary, the final result proved decisive. Former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker captured the party nomination in rather easy fashion, a 33-23-22-11-9 percent margin over former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart, ex-City Councilmember Helen Gym, former City Councilman Allan Domb, and businessman Jeff Brown.

All of the politicians are “formers” because Philadelphia has a resign-to-run ordinance in effect for city officials. Therefore, in order to seek a different office than the one held an official must resign before declaring a new candidacy.

In Philadelphia, the analysis coverage was not necessarily miscast, but a key point was glanced over. That is, the candidate furthest to the left and the one who drew the most support from the vocal progressive left movement, which included endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), was former City Councilwoman Helen Gym. In what is a liberal city, Gym fared poorly, attracting only 21 percent of the vote in what was for her, a disappointing third-place finish.

The winner, Parker, campaigned much differently — as a centrist who said she wants to “stop the sense of lawlessness that is plaguing our city.” She pushed the themes of increasing law enforcement and cracking down on the city’s rapidly rising crime rate. Likely as a result, she attracted much of the Philadelphia political establishment’s support. Term-limited Mayor Jim Kenney (D), while not formally endorsing anyone in the race, admitted to the local media that he cast his own ballot for Parker.

While Republicans lost mayoral elections in two cities they had controlled for the past eight years, the reasons leading to victories for those who won on Tuesday night appear beyond the typical ideological paradigm. As in most elections, success rewarded the candidate(s) whose messages best met the voters’ needs. Once again, we see that this is the lesson future candidates need to understand.

Trump Continues to Lead in Republican Primary Polls; Rep. Santos Charged; New Candidate in VA-7;
A Very Tight Philly Mayoral Race

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, May 11, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump

Morning Consult Poll: Trump Opens Biggest Lead — Though former President Donald Trump may not be doing well in the courts, he continues to build a strong lead in Republican primary polls. The Morning Consult tracking survey (May 5-7; 3,574 US registered voters who identify or lead Republican; online) finds Trump hitting the 60 percent mark against Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and the second-tier candidates. The former US chief executive holds a 60-19 percent margin over DeSantis. Former Vice President Mike Pence and, surprisingly, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy lead the second-tier group with five percent support each.

House

NY-3: Rep. Santos Charged — Rep. George Santos (R-Long Island) was charged with federal crimes under a sealed indictment. A 13-count indictment was unsealed Wednesday in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York charging Santos with seven counts of wire fraud, three counts of money laundering, one count of theft of public funds, and two counts of making materially false statements to the House of Representatives. It is presumed that Rep. Santos will not resign his seat while he fights the charges. Even before the indictment, four Democrats and two Republicans had already announced their 2024 candidacies. We can expect more potential candidates to soon come forward.

VA-7: Rep. Spanberger Draws Second Opponent — Businessman Bill Moher became the second Republican to announce his congressional candidacy opposite three-term Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen). Previously in the race was Army veteran Shaliek Tarpley (R). Unless the Republicans find a top-tier 2024 candidate, it is unlikely the party will be able to unseat Rep. Spanberger in the post-redistricting seat where she will have had the opportunity of representing for a full term by the time of the next election. Rep. Spanberger was re-elected in 2022 with a 52-48 percent margin in a campaign where combined campaign spending exceeded $12 million not counting independent expenditures.

Cities

Philadelphia Mayor: Polling Shows Pre-Primary Dead Heat — A new Data for Progress survey (April 26-29; 560 Philadelphia likely Democratic mayoral primary voters; online & text) finds a tie at the top of the Democratic primary candidate field as the contenders head toward next Tuesday’s primary election day. The poll’s sponsor, former Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym and ex-City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart were tied with a support figure of 21 percent. Close behind is former City Councilwoman Cherelle Parker with 19 percent. Ex-Councilman Alan Domb, businessman Jeff Brown, and state Rep. Amen Brown followed with 13, 9, and 2 percent backing, respectively. Current Mayor Jim Kenney is term limited and cannot run.

Previously, a Survey USA poll (April 21-23; 1,013 Philadelphia likely mayoral Democratic primary voters; online) arrived at a similar conclusion, but saw an 18-17-15-14 percent split featuring Rhynhart, Parker, Gym, and Domb consecutively within the polling margin of error. It appears the Democratic nomination is within reach of several candidates as we move into the final week of campaigning. The winner will face former City Councilman David Oh who is unopposed for the Republican nomination. He will automatically move into the November general election.

Trump’s Florida Endorsements; Mastriano Candidacy Could Hinder Republicans; Jungle Primary System Being Considered in Montana, SD

By Jim Ellis — Monday, April 24, 2022

President

Former President Donald Trump

Donald Trump: Scoring Florida Congressional Endorsements — Former President Donald Trump is playing the endorsement game to “one up” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, and he has been quite successful in recruiting Sunshine State delegation congressional endorsements. How much such support will help the former President is yet to be determined, but he now has 11 Florida House members in his camp versus just one for the state’s governor.

Those publicly endorsing Trump are Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-Ft. Walton Beach); John Rutherford (R-Jacksonville); Mike Waltz (R-St. Augustine Beach), from the district that DeSantis previously represented; Cory Mills (R-New Smyrna Beach); Gus Bilirakis (R-Palm Harbor); Anna Paulina Luna (R-St. Petersburg); Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota); Greg Steube (R-Sarasota); Byron Donalds (R-Naples); Brian Mast (R-Ft. Pierce); and Carlos Gimenez (R-Miami). The lone DeSantis endorsement comes from freshman Rep. Laurel Lee (R-Tampa).

Pennsylvania: Trump Concerned About Mastriano — Reports are surfacing on Twitter that former President Trump is expressing anxiety that state senator and former gubernatorial nominee Doug Mastriano (R-Chambersburg) would hurt his own campaign if he were to run for the Senate and win the party nomination. Sen. Mastriano is a strong supporter of Trump’s, but his poor 2022 general election campaign for governor netted him only a 56-42 percent loss to then-Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D).

Again having Mastriano on the general election ballot would likely cost Republicans up and down the entire ballot because another poor campaign for one of the top offices would likely depress GOP turnout.

Senate

Montana: Top-Two Primary Bill Tabled — The state House policy committee considering whether Montana should employ the top-two jungle primary system in the US Senate race as a test case this year has run into a snag. All but one Republican committee member joined with the Democrats to table the bill that would enact such a plan.

Democrats claim the Republicans are trying to change the primary system in order to stop a Libertarian Party candidate from garnering its customary three percentage points in the general election, most of which hurts a Republican nominee.

The measure had already passed the Senate. The bill’s author said he doesn’t believe the idea is dead and could still pass the 68R-32D state House of Representatives before the legislature adjourns. Sen. Jon Tester (D) is seeking a fourth term in next year’s election. Should this measure pass, the results will likely directly affect his campaign.

States

South Dakota: Clears the Way for Top-Two Nominating System — The South Dakota Secretary of State approved the petition to begin gathering signatures to put a measure on the ballot that would change the way primaries are conducted in the Mount Rushmore State. Proponents of the top-two all-party jungle primary system, while at least temporarily on hold in Montana, can now move forward in South Dakota. To qualify a constitutional amendment measure for the state ballot, 35,000 valid registered voter signatures must be brought forth before the assigned deadline. The purpose of this effort is to qualify the top-two concept for the November 2024 ballot.

The Republicans, who dominate the state’s politics, are officially opposed to the measure. The state Republican Party chairman pledges to fight the ballot initiative and will likely get the party on public record in opposition to the proposed election system change.

Currently, California and Washington have adopted this system that originated in Louisiana. Alaska adopted a hybrid version of the all-party primary with four candidates qualifying for the general election, as opposed to two as in the other states. In all domains, the top finishers advance regardless of political party affiliation.

DNC Votes For New Primary Schedule; Potential New Candidate in Montana; Indiana’s Spartz to Retire From House

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2023

President

Democratic National Committee chair Jaime Harrison speaks at the DNC’s winter meeting, in Philadelphia.

DNC: Votes to Change Primary Schedule — At the Democratic National Committee’s Winter Meeting in Philadelphia over the weekend, the membership officially adopted President Biden’s recommendations for a new pre-Super Tuesday primary voting schedule. As part of the major action, party members removed the Iowa Democratic Caucuses from their traditional first voting state slot. This means the Hawkeye State nomination schedule is forced to move after the Super Tuesday date of March 5, 2024.

The new schedule propels South Carolina, home to DNC Chairman Jaime Harrison, as the first primary state, which will presumably be scheduled for Feb. 3, 2024. New Hampshire and Nevada would share a primary date almost exactly a year from now, on Feb. 6, 2024. Georgia would then vote on Feb. 13, with Michigan following on Feb. 27. The Committee is giving both New Hampshire and Georgia, which are asked to comply with the new DNC schedule, until June 3, 2023 to enact new election laws. Considering the two states have Republican governors and legislatures, it appears such approval will not be easy to obtain. The Michigan legislature and governor have already taken action to move their primary.

On the other hand, Republicans are keeping the traditional early schedule of Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina. This means we could see at least some of these states holding separate nominating events for each party.

Senate

Montana: Potential New Candidate — The National Journal is reporting that first-term state Attorney General Austin Knudsen, the former eastern Montana Roosevelt County District Attorney, is considering a US Senate run. Most of the attention, in terms of potential opponents for Sen. Jon Tester (D), has centered around US Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-Glendive) and Ryan Zinke (R-Whitefish). A spokesperson for AG Knudsen did not confirm or deny the report, only to say that “announcements regarding future plans will come at a later date.”

The Montana race will be a top Republican conversion target in 2024. Sen. Tester said he will make a decision about seeking a fourth term before the end of March. Should Knudsen enter the Senate race, he would risk his current position as his office is also on the ballot in 2024.

House

Indiana Rep. Victoria Spartz (R)

IN-5: Rep. Victoria Spartz (R) to Retire — Second-term Indiana US Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville) announced on Friday that she will not enter the open US Senate primary, and won’t even seek re-election to the House. Rep. Spartz had previously confirmed that a Senate race was under consideration, but she was not viewed as a particularly strong potential candidate. The surprise decision, however, was her saying that she will retire completely from elective politics when her current term ends. The congresswoman said she has teenage daughters who need her guidance at home.

Indiana’s post-redistricting 5th CD is securely in the Republican column. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as R+22, and Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 57R – 40D. The major population centers are the communities of Fishers, Muncie, Noblesville, and Kokomo.

The Spartz retirement decision means six seats will already be open in the 2024 election cycle. Aside from the Indiana congresswoman leaving the House, Reps. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), Jim Banks (R-IN), and Alex Mooney (R-WV), have all formally announced their intentions to run for the Senate.

States

North Carolina: State Supreme Court will Reconsider Election Rulings — In a continuing game of political football between what was the Democratic controlled state Supreme Court and the Republican legislature, the new Supreme Court voted to reconsider two election-oriented decisions that the previous panel rendered at the end of its tenure in January. The previous court, a 4D-3R majority, struck down the North Carolina state Senate map as a partisan gerrymander, and determined the state’s voter ID law is unconstitutional. The new court, a 5R-2D majority, will now reconsider each of those rulings.

North Carolina redistricting has been a decade-long battle between the state Supreme Court and the legislature. In the Tar Heel State, the governor has no veto power over redistricting. Now that the high court is in Republican hands, it is likely the justices will interpret the laws closer to what the Republican majority in the legislature has repeatedly enacted. This, and the US Supreme Court hearing the North Carolina partisan gerrymandering case, is likely to soon stabilize the NC redistricting and election law situation.

Sinema Being Cut Off; VA-4 Counting Underway & Continuing; Surprising National Gallup Poll Results

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 23, 2022

Senate

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I)

Arizona: Sinema Being Cut Off — With Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent, reverberations already are being felt pertaining to her 2024 re-election campaign. Two of her consulting firms have left her, understanding that they would be eliminated from consideration for contracts within the Democratic Party establishment for servicing a candidate who is not a member of the party. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the data firm that controls the national Democratic Party voter file will now deny the Sinema campaign access to their services after Jan. 31.

These developments are not surprising since she will no longer be a Democrat, but further underscores that she will not caucus with the Democratic conference, a move that the Senate’s other two Independents, Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME) continue to make. Therefore, the latter two are treated as Democratic incumbents in relation to consultant contracts and party resources.

Forfeiting these types of resources will leave Sen. Sinema on her own as she mounts a re-election effort. Obviously, she knew this would happen when making the decision to become an Independent, and these latest developments further suggest that we will see a true three-way 2024 race among Sinema and eventual Democratic and Republican nominees.

House

VA-4: Counting Begins, No Tabulations Released — Despite monumental societal technology improvements that we ubiquitously experience, vote counting continues to return to a bygone era. Election officials announced that counting more than 26,400 ballots cast in the VA-4 Democratic firehouse primary for the special election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) will take some days.

The local party reported that just five volunteers are handling the counting, and as of this writing, had completed processing about 4,000 ballots. No results were released, however. Some numbers may trickle out today or over the weekend.

The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), are expected to battle for the nomination victory among the four candidates on the ballot. The Democratic nominee will have the inside track toward winning the Feb. 21 special election. The Republican nominee is the party’s previous congressional candidate and local pastor Leon Benjamin. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 4th District as D+30.

National Parties

Gallup Survey: Republicans Better Viewed — The well-known Gallup research organization continually polls the country, testing and monitoring the electorate’s responses to issues of the day along with analyzing voting trends.

In a surprising post-election survey series result, considering the Republicans generally under-performed expectations in the November election, Gallup finds that a plurality of their latest national poll respondents (post-election poll; Nov. 9-12; 1,000 US adult respondents, part of the ongoing Gallup Poll Social Series project originally began in 2001) find the GOP in a slightly more favorable position than the Democratic Party.

According to this latest data, the Republican Party records a 42 percent favorable view within the sampling universe as compared to 39 percent who have a similar view of the Democratic Party. The number is the opposite of Gallup’s average since this question was first tested in 2011. During the overall time period between 2011 and the present, the Democrats hold a 44-40 percent average advantage on the favorability question.

Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech; McCarthy Vote Count on Shaky Ground; VA-4 Update

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

Senate

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D)

Vermont: Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was first elected in 1974 and went onto win seven more statewide elections. He is the third-longest serving senator in the history of the United States — in office for 48 years — and now is retiring as a historic figure in American politics. Sen. Leahy made his farewell speech on the Senate floor Tuesday in the waning days of his final term. The new dean of the Senate will be Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who was first elected in 1980. Two other top-10 senators in seniority, Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) are also retiring when this Congress officially ends at the end of the year.

House

Speaker Race: McCarthy Vote Count Appearing Weak — More media attention is being paid to the impending House Speaker’s race to be settled when the new House convenes on Jan. 3, 2023. Earlier in the week, Speaker-Designate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has the official Republican conference nomination for Speaker by virtue of winning a 188-31-5 vote in defeating Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and others, released a list of his strongest supporters. For his part, Biggs pledges to challenge McCarthy in the January roll call vote signaling the beginning of the Congress.

McCarthy’s list of his strongest supporters, those who say they will vote for no other in what could become a lengthy process should the Speaker election progress through multiple rounds, is smaller than one would have otherwise surmised. The total only identified 54 such Republican members, not even a full quarter of the conference. Some believe this number signifies weakness as opposed to strength. In a Fox News article by Chad Pergram published Tuesday, the reports suggest the number of Republican members who could vote for someone else on the floor could be as high as 20, though only five have publicly expressed at least preliminary public opposition.

The last time a Speaker election went multiple rounds occurred in 1923. The voting will continue until some candidate receives majority support of the present and voting House members. No doubt, this will be the most interesting Speaker election we will have witnessed to date in the modern political era.

VA-4: Counting Didn’t Begin Until Yesterday — The Democrats held their “firehouse primary” Tuesday to choose a special election nominee to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond), but considering we now regularly see the slow counting of votes during the present political period, the tabulation process did not begin until a day later.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) is the party leadership’s choice and faces a challenge from controversial state Sen. Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), who was once convicted of having sexual relations with a minor (a girl who he later married), was summarily forced to resign his seat in the House of Delegates but then won it back as an Independent in the special election to elect a successor. He later resigned again and moved into a Richmond Senate district where he would then defeat a Democratic incumbent. Former state delegate Joe Preston and businessman Tavorice Marks also are in the race.

The Democratic winner will face the new Republican nominee, pastor Leon Benjamin who has twice been the GOP’s congressional candidate in this district. In a D+30 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the winner of this Democratic nomination has the clear inside track for the special election on Feb. 21.

Opposition Candidates Announce to Run Against VA Sen. Kaine; Quick “Firehouse” Primary Set; Retiring Congressman Plans Mayoral Run

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 16, 2022

Senate

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine (D)

Virginia: Many Announce Against Sen. Kaine — For a Senate race that appears safe in this early part of the 2024 election cycle, the Virginia contest is surprisingly already drawing a great deal of candidate interest. It’s unlikely that any of the five Republicans and one Democrat who have announced their candidacies can defeat Sen. Tim Kaine (D), but we are at least assured of seeing a multi-candidate Republican nomination battle.

Of the five announced candidates, only two, financial advisor and retired Army officer Eddie Garcia and attorney and Navy veteran Chuck Smith, seem credible enough to become potentially viable candidates.

House

VA-4: Republicans Schedule Quick Firehouse Primary — Gov. Glenn Youngkin’s (R) call to the political parties to choose their nominees by Dec. 23 for the Feb. 21 special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) has given the party leaders precious little time, but now both entities have scheduled “firehouse primaries.” As reported yesterday, the Democrats will hold their primary next Tuesday, Dec. 20. Now the local Republicans are moving even quicker. They will hold their special primary tomorrow, Saturday, Dec. 17.

The schedule is ridiculously short and does not give the candidates time to campaign nor the voters an adequate ability to know who is running and where to vote, since the polling places in a “firehouse” primary are very scarce. At this point, Democrats have five candidates and Republicans four.

Governor

Louisiana: Sen. Kennedy Releases Another Poll — While Sen. John Kennedy (R) says he will make a decision about running for governor after the first of the year, he continues to release polling data showing him holding a lead against a field of prospective open seat 2023 gubernatorial candidates.

His latest survey, again from Torchlight Strategies (Dec. 6-9; 861 likely Louisiana 2023 gubernatorial election voters; live interview and text), projects Sen. Kennedy to be holding a 42-22-14 percent lead over state Transportation Secretary Shawn Wilson (D) and attorney general and former US Congressman Jeff Landry (R) in what will be an Oct. 14, 2023 jungle primary. In potential runoff pairings, which would be scheduled for Nov. 18 of next year, Sen. Kennedy would lead AG Landry 46-21 percent and Secretary Wilson by a much larger 58-27 percent.

These numbers, and the fact that Kennedy is releasing them, clearly suggests that the senator will affirmatively announce his gubernatorial campaign in January. Incumbent Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) is ineligible to seek a third term.

Cities

West New York: Retiring Congressman Plans Mayoral Run — Though New Jersey Rep. Albio Sires (D-West New York) is retiring from the House of Representatives this year after serving eight terms, he is apparently not finished with elective politics. Reports suggest that Sires will soon announce his candidacy for mayor of West New York, a town in New Jersey — one of the elected positions he held before winning his seat in Congress.

Sires served as mayor from his original election in 1995 until he won the US House position in 2006. Beginning in 2001, he was also an elected member of the New Jersey state Assembly, where he became Speaker in 2002.