Category Archives: Retirement

Polls Confirm AZ Senate Race Tightening; Grassley Expands Lead in Iowa; Sen. Sasse to Resign;
Dems Up in NH

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Oct. 10, 2022

Senate

Venture capitalist Blake Masters (R) | Sen. Mark Kelly (D)

Arizona: Confirming Data — CBS News/YouGov released a survey of the Arizona Senate race last week (Sept. 30-Oct. 4; 1,164 registered Arizona voters; online) found GOP challenger Blake Masters pulling to within a 51-48 percent margin of Sen. Mark Kelly (D). CNN also publicized their Arizona survey (conducted by SSRS; Sept. 26-Oct. 2; 795 likely Arizona voters; live interview & text) that largely confirms the aforementioned results. In the CNN/SSRS poll, Sen. Kelly holds a 51-45 percent advantage.

Iowa: Grassley Expands Lead — In a national race that has not drawn much attention from pollsters, the Cygnal polling organization (Oct. 2-4; 600 likely Iowa voters) did test the Hawkeye State electorate and finds Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), running for an eighth term since originally being elected in 1980, leading retired Adm. Mike Franken (D) by a 54-40 percent count.

Though Sen. Grassley’s favorability rating has dropped to 50:44 percent favorable to unfavorable, the ballot test suggests he is still in strong position to win re-election in November. Adm. Franken’s favorability index is a similar, but lower at 33:28 percent. Cygnal reports the Republicans have a plus-13 on the generic ballot question, which should help the party’s candidates throughout the entire ballot.

Nebraska: Sen. Ben Sasse to Resign — Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse (R), who was first elected in 2014 and re-elected in 2020, announced late last week that, pending approval from the University of Florida Board of Trustees, he will resign his seat before the end of the year to become the University of Florida’s new president.

His leaving the Senate will mean that either outgoing Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) or the presumed incoming governor, Jim Pillen (R) — the University of Nebraska Regent who is heavily favored to win the gubernatorial election — will appoint a replacement. Since the current term for this seat does not expire until the beginning of 2027, the seat will go to special election in 2024 to fill the balance of the term. This particular Class II Senate seat next comes in-cycle in 2026.

House

NH-1 & 2: Dems Up in Both CDs — The St. Anselm College Survey Center conducted another of their regular New Hampshire electorate polls (Sept. 27-28; 901 registered New Hampshire voters; 450 NH-1 registered voters; 451 NH-2 registered voters; online) and while the electorate overwhelmingly believes the country is on the wrong track (20:69 percent), the state’s two Democratic US House incumbents appear in strong shape for re-election.

In the eastern 1st District, two-term Rep. Chris Pappas (D-Manchester) holds a 49-41 percent lead over former Trump White House aide Karoline Leavitt (R). In western District 2, five-term Rep. Annie Kuster (D-Hopkinton/Concord) holds a stronger 49-35 percent advantage over former Hillsborough County Treasurer Robert Burns (R).

RI-2: Republican Fung with Lead — Fleming Associates just completed a research survey for Rhode Island’s Roger Williams University (Sept. 29-Oct. 2; 254 likely RI-2 voters). The poll has less than the 300 minimum respondents one likes to see in a congressional study, but the results of this flash poll find Republican Allan Fung, the former Cranston mayor and two-time GOP gubernatorial nominee, holding a 46-40 percent lead over state Treasurer Seth Magaziner (D).

Though RI-2 is a heavily Democratic seat (D+17, according to the 538 data organization) Republicans have been targeting this open seat race for months because several polls have produced what they believe is promising data. The seat is open because Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) is retiring after serving what will be 11 full terms.

Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs Suspends Campaign for Re-election

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) to retire.

April 8, 2022 — Expressing frustration with the Ohio courts and constituent complexion of his new district, six-term Buckeye State Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Lakeville) on Wednesday surprisingly became the 22nd Republican US House member who has decided not to seek re-election.

This retirement announcement is different from all the others — 31 Democrats have also made public their decision to leave the House at the end of the current session — because Gibbs had filed for re-election and Ohio early voting has already begun.

Lashing out at the state Supreme Court that has delayed for weeks in providing 2022 candidates a clear direction with regard to the redistricting maps, Gibbs said in his retirement announcement statement, “It is irresponsible to effectively confirm the congressional map for this election cycle seven days before voting begins, especially in the Seventh Congressional District, where almost 90 percent of the electorate is new and nearly two-thirds is an area primarily from another district, foreign to any expectations or connection to the current Seventh District.”

Rep. Gibbs has a valid point about the state Supreme Court. After rejecting the original congressional map under partisan gerrymandering reasoning, the legislature returned a second map, and the court did not render a decision, even after again rejecting the alternative version maps for the state House and Senate. Therefore, the congressional incumbents and candidates have been languishing for weeks not knowing precisely the location of the new district lines, and long past the candidate filing deadline that occurred on March 4.

The court justices then informed the Democratic plaintiffs regarding their lawsuit challenging the congressional lines, after waiting for several weeks with no action, that the original decision on the first map constituted their final ruling, thus the plaintiffs would have to file a new lawsuit for them to consider further arguments to the second plan. The Democratic plaintiffs did file again, but even preliminary action of any kind is reportedly now months away. Hence, the second map is, at least for now, in place for the 2022 election cycle.

The court and legislature were also in a battle over whether the high court even has jurisdiction to order new maps. Under the Ohio Constitution, the courts do not have authority to draw new redistricting maps. They may only remand any rejected map back to the legislature. Thus, the continuing saga of 2022 Ohio redistricting.

Considering Gibbs’ late withdrawal, Secretary of State Frank LaRose (R) immediately announced that the congressman’s name cannot be removed from the ballot, and any vote cast for him would now not be counted. The move puts former Trump White House aide and Marine Corps veteran Max Miller in the favorite’s position for the Republican primary.

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Rep. Mo Brooks Lagging in New Poll

By Jim Ellis

Alabama Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville)

March 16, 2022 — Alabama US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) was one of the first of the 2022 candidates who former President Trump endorsed, but now it’s possible that the six-term congressman may not even qualify for the US Senate runoff.

In the battle to replace retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R), a McLaughlin & Associates poll conducted over the weekend (March 10-13; 500 likely Alabama Republican primary voters, live interview & text) finds a new leader in the Senate race with the original favorite dropping to a poor third-place standing.

The McLaughlin ballot test sees former “Black Hawk Down” pilot and Alabama defense business owner Mike Durant leading former Business Council of Alabama President & CEO Katie Britt, 34-32 percent, with Rep. Brooks trailing with just 18 percent support.

Recently, Trump publicly criticized the Brooks campaign, and reports suggest the former president feels he may have endorsed too early in this race. Previous anecdotes also indicated he was very impressed with Britt, Sen. Shelby’s former chief of staff, after meeting with her.

Perhaps the worst news for Brooks within the McLaughlin results are the favorability ratings. While Durant and Britt recorded a positive index of 52:14 percent and 49:21 percent, respectively, the northern Alabama congressman, who was defeated in the 2017 special US Senate election, posts an upside-down 37:45 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.

Trump, however, is still favorably viewed in Alabama. In 2020, the Yellowhammer State was his eighth best performance electorate, where the then-incumbent president claimed 62.0 percent of the vote. In the current McLaughlin survey, Trump scores a whopping 89:10 percent positive rating for the job he did as President.

McLaughlin also tested the GOP gubernatorial primary in which incumbent Kay Ivey is facing a challenge from real estate developer Tim James, son of former Gov. Fob James, and ex-US ambassador to Slovenia, Lindy Blanchard. The ballot test finds the governor winning the May 24 primary outright, posting a wide 60-13-10 percent margin against James and Blanchard, respectively.

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An Alabama Barnburner

By Jim Ellis

Alabama US Senate candidate Mike Durant

Feb. 16, 2022 — A trio of polls released in the past three weeks now suggest that any one of the top Alabama US Senate candidates can win the Republican nomination.

With Democrats basically conceding the general election because none of their four filed candidates can be considered a legitimate threat to score an upset win in November, the GOP nomination contest will decide who will succeed retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R).

The Alabama Republican Senate primary is now turning into a serious three-way affair, as former “Black Hawk Down” pilot Mike Durant apparently has become a legitimate contender. According to most recent three surveys, what originally looked to be a potential outright win for US Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) on May 24 now appears surely headed for a June 21 secondary runoff election.

FarmPAC, the political arm of the Alabama Farmers Federation, this week began to publicize their Cherry Communications survey (Feb. 2-6; 600 likely Alabama Republican primary voters, live interview). The results post Congressman Brooks to a tight 34-29-24 percent lead over former Business Council of Alabama president and CEO Katie Britt, whom FarmPAC supports, and Durant, who now runs a defense engineering company headquartered in Alabama. In this survey, Durant again emerges as an additional contender with staying power who can clear a victory path.

As February began, Britt released her internal Deep Root Analytics survey (Jan. 29-31; 2,088 likely Alabama GOP primary voters; live interview, automated response calls and online) that gave her a slight 29-28-23 percent split over Brooks and Durant. Finally, WPA Intelligence, polling for the Club for Growth who supports Rep. Brooks (Jan. 25-27; 513 likely Alabama Republican primary voters live interview), saw the congressman holding a 35-30-25 percent edge over Durant, who vaulted into second place in this poll, and Britt.

All three candidates have strong positives and the financial wherewithal to remain competitive until voters first cast their ballots at the end of May. Two of the three, Brooks and Britt, can expect to benefit from active outside support, while Durant is already funding his effort to the tune of just over $4 million with likely more to come.

Britt is the leading fundraiser. At year’s end, she had raised just under $5 million, all from donors, and reported approximately $4.1 million cash-on-hand. Sen. Shelby has also committed to spending $5 million from his own campaign treasury as an independent expenditure to support Britt, his former chief of staff.

Rep. Brooks, never known as an aggressive fundraiser, had brought in $2.15 million at the end of 2021, with almost $2 million remaining in his treasury. The Club for Growth is likely to spend seven figures in their own independent expenditure to aid the congressman’s statewide effort.

As mentioned above, Durant has invested over $4 million into his effort according to his December year-end financial disclosure report, which represented virtually all of his campaign treasury. He has already spent well over $1 million on a media blitz that has successfully placed him in serious contention.

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Two More House Dems to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 20, 2022 — Setting off a game of political musical chairs, eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced Tuesday that he will not seek a ninth term later this year. Rhode Island US Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) also announced that he will not seek re-election later this year.

CA-9; CA-13; current CA-22

Eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced his retirement this week.

Originally elected to a Bay Area-anchored district in 2006 when he defeated veteran Rep. Richard Pombo (R), McNerney’s then-11th District was moved into the San Joaquin Valley because of 2011 redistricting. The new 9th District will still be anchored in the city of Stockton, but the updated version is somewhat more Republican than the current CA-9. The Congressman would have been favored for re-election, however.

Immediately upon McNerney’s announcement, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock), who had decided to seek re-election in the new 13th District after his current 10th District was divided into various parts under the new redistricting plan, declared that he will run to succeed the retiring congressman. The 9th CD is slightly more Democratic than the CA-13, but it is still cast as a relatively competitive general election seat.

With Rep. Harder abandoning his re-election plans in CA-13, state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) quickly announced that he will run for Congress in the suddenly open district that stretches north to south from Modesto to Fresno through Merced and Madera Counties.

California’s Central Valley is in a state of political flux. With the special election for resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) underway in the neighboring current 22nd District and the candidates having no place to run in the regular election, the 13th District could now become an attractive landing spot for one or more of the GOP special election contenders.

A Republican will be an underdog in the new 13th, but at least the candidate would have a fighting chance to win a full term and the opportunity of seeking re-election if successful.

Former Rep. Nunes’ CA-22, a Republican seat that occupies parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties, was torn to pieces as part of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission plan, as was Rep. Harder’s CD in the agricultural region’s northern section. As a result, a Republican district, numbered 5, was created northeast of Fresno to the outskirts of Sacramento that Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) will claim. This is where Rep. Nunes would have run for re-election had he stayed in Congress.

Two swing Democratic districts, the aforementioned 9th and 13th, and two stronger Democratic seats — the 21st that contains downtown Fresno where Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) will seek re-election, and the new 22nd District to the west from where Republican Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) is endangered in the general election — were also created.

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