Category Archives: Senate

General Election Preview:
Iowa, Montana, North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

June 14, 2015 — In addition to the California races we described in the last Update, key general election campaigns are now underway in Iowa, Montana and North Carolina since their nominees were also chosen on June 7. New Mexico and South Dakota likewise held June 7 primary contests, but all of their incumbents appear safe for re-election.

Iowa

Senate: Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Charles Grassley (R), who has come under heavy fire for his handling of Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, may face a more competitive 2016 political contest than first believed. Originally elected the same night that Ronald Reagan first won the presidency in 1980, Sen. Grassley has never faced a difficult re-election. This year, however, Democrats believe they have an opportunity to make the race competitive.

Their new nominee is former Lt. Gov. Patty Judge, who served one-term under Gov. Chet Culver (D) but was swept from office with him in 2010. Previously, Judge had been appointed as state Agriculture Secretary by then-Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), who, himself, currently serves as President Obama’s top agriculture cabinet member.

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Post-Primary Race Previews – California

By Jim Ellis

June 13, 2016 — The June 7 primary results set the stage for several interesting California general election campaigns. Tomorrow, we will review the other June 7 primary states and their key general election contests.

The competition to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) features two Democrats advancing to the general election for the first time in state history. Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) placed first and second in the jungle primary field of 34 Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Harris’ 40 percent performance was stronger than polling projected, while Rep. Sanchez’s 19 percent of the joint vote fulfilled her forecast.

Without any suspense as to whether or not the Democrats will hold the Boxer seat, it is unlikely the national Democratic Party apparatus or outside Super PACs will involve themselves in the race. This should be more of a help to Sanchez than Harris. Though Harris is the clear favorite to win the general election, Rep. Sanchez has the correct profile for a modern day California statewide candidate.

Hailing from southern California, where approximately 60 percent of the state’s residents live and a region starved for a statewide office holder, Sanchez, coming from Orange County, has the opportunity to make geography a political asset.

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Murkowski’s Surprise Challenge; North Carolina Ruling

By Jim Ellis

June 6, 2016 — As the June 1 filing deadline was just minutes from closing, an unexpected individual came forward to declare a Republican primary challenge to Sen. Lisa Murkowski.

Former Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (R), the 2014 Republican lieutenant governor nominee (he and Gov. Sean Parnell lost to Democrat Byron Mallot and Independent Bill Walker, respectively), announced opposite incumbent Murkowski for the Aug. 16 Republican nominating election.

This challenge is significant for several reasons. First, Sullivan is an accomplished Alaska politician, serving as mayor of the state’s lone major city for six years after spending almost a decade as a member of the Anchorage city assembly.

Second, during her last nomination campaign, Sen. Murkowski fell to a little known former local judge, Joe Miller, in the 2010 Republican primary. Miller scored a shocking 51-49 percent win with just under 110,000 voters participating, after taking clear advantage of the building Tea Party wave. But, Murkowski refused to give up. Armed with millions of dollars, strong support at home and from Washington, the senator embarked upon an Independent write-in effort that proved highly successful. Just 10 weeks after her stunning defeat, Murkowski rebounded to score a 39-35-23 percent general election victory over Miller and Democratic nominee Scott McAdams, the mayor of Sitka.

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Recruiting Rubio

By Jim Ellis

June 2, 2016 — As usual, a new Florida political campaign projects as a razor-thin general election contest. The Sunshine State electorate may well again determine the nation’s political fate but this time not only for a presidential campaign. Their open US Senate race could decide which party controls the majority for the upcoming 115th Congress.

Republican leaders, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), are reportedly putting the full court press on incumbent ssfenator and defeated presidential candidate Marco Rubio (R-FL) to change his mind about not seeking re-election.

Apparently the leaders are less than pleased with the open race’s development, seeing little from Lt. Gov. Carlos Lopez-Cantera (R), and finding Rep. David Jolly (R-FL-13) making public pronouncements that he will no longer personally raise money for the campaign. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL-6) had raised over $4 million before the end of March, has the support of important conservative organizations such as the Club for Growth, along with Tea Party grassroots support. But, the leadership feels it may be too easy for the Democrats to paint him as an extremist, thereby lessening his victory chances in the general election.

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An Incumbents’ Night

By Jim Ellis

May 26, 2016 — It was an incumbents’ night on Tuesday. For example, despite wide dissatisfaction with their federal elected officials, particularly among Republican voters, incumbents again scored well in the Georgia primary.

Georgia

Several House members have now been effectively re-elected for another term. Representatives Buddy Carter (R-GA-1), Jody Hice (R-GA-10), and David Scott (D-GA-13) faced no primary opposition and have no major party opponent for the fall campaign, thus effectively winning a new term.

Rep. Doug Collins (R-GA-9) prevailed in his multi-opponent re-nomination battle. He scored 61 percent of the vote against former Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA-10), who previously represented about half of this seat pre-redistricting and was attempting an ill-fated political comeback after losing the 2014 Senate Republican primary. Broun notched 22 percent, while the remaining three candidates split the outstanding 17 percent. With no Democratic opposition for November, Collins also won his re-election last night.

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Today’s Primaries

By Jim Ellis

May 24, 2016 — Voters in several states go to the polls in primary elections today, but only one group will vote for president.

Washington

Washington State Republicans will visit the polling places and cast ballots in the presidential contest even though the delegates were just chosen over the weekend. Though the state convention participants overwhelmingly chose Sen. Ted Cruz supporters as national delegates, they will still be bound to the voters’ choice on the first ballot at the Republican National Convention.

Turnout will likely be low because the nomination of Donald Trump is now a foregone conclusion, and the state primary, featuring the US Senate and House races, will not occur until Aug. 2. Therefore, today’s vote is a stand-alone Republican presidential contest since Democrats have previously voted in caucus.

Washington is a 20 percent threshold state, and there is a reasonable chance that Trump will be the only contender to exceed the minimum percentage. If so, he would be awarded all 11 at-large delegates.

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More on Tuesday’s Primaries

By Jim Ellis

May 19, 2016
— Once again Sen. Bernie Sanders performed well against presumptive nominee Hillary Clinton in Tuesday’s primaries. While even Sanders is all but conceding a Clinton ultimate Democratic presidential nomination victory, he nonetheless won the Oregon primary. In the face of the latest Fox News poll (May 6-9; 304 likely Oregon Democratic primary voters) predicting a 15-point Clinton advantage, Sanders appears to have won by six. The final tally, because of Oregon’s all-mail voting system will take time to fully record.

In Kentucky, Sanders actually gained the lead with 95 percent of the precincts reporting, but in the end Clinton pulled out what appears to be a 1,900-vote victory. The count is not final at this writing, however.

Even though Clinton again badly under-performed in what should be a victory lap for her, she still moved closer to her goal of capturing the 2,383 delegates needed to secure the nomination. There is no doubt she will deliver, but it’s going to take her until the primary season’s last day (June 7) to officially clinch, something that was not predicted at the beginning of the campaign. Most analysts believed she would become the presumptive nominee back on Super Tuesday (March 1).

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