Category Archives: Senate

Missouri Senate: Long In, Wagner Out

By Jim Ellis

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), announced that he will run for the Senate in Missouri.

Aug. 6, 2021 — The open Missouri Senate race saw significant change in the past couple of days with two announcements: one from a person launching his Senate campaign while another declared for a different political contest.

Five-term US Rep. Billy Long (R-Springfield), who represents the second safest Republican district in the Missouri congressional delegation, announced that he will run for the Senate, entering the already crowded open contest for the right to succeed retiring Sen. Roy Blunt (R).

US Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), another individual long said to be considering the Senate contest, announced instead that she will run for a sixth term from her St. Louis suburban congressional district.

Rep. Wagner has faced two competitive electoral contests in 2018 and 2020, winning with 51 and 52 percent of the vote, respectively, in a district that is becoming politically marginal. Then-President Trump carried the MO-2 district by just a handful of votes in 2020 after winning it 53-42 percent in 2016. With Republicans holding the redistricting pen and Missouri not losing a congressional seat, Rep. Wagner’s CD should become more favorable for her in the next election under new boundaries.

Long will oppose former governor, Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and fellow US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) at this point in the Senate Republican primary. Though Rep. Wagner has removed herself from consideration, 8th District US Rep. Jason Smith (R-Salem), who holds Missouri’s strongest Republican congressional seat, is still viewed as a potential senatorial candidate.

It appears that Rep. Long starts in an underdog position if looking solely at fundraising and available resources. AG Schmitt raised $1.33 million through the June 30 Federal Election Commission second quarter reporting period and held $1.2 million in his campaign account. Rep. Hartzler added $1.05 million in receipts and holds over $1.4 million in her campaign committee. Greitens, who resigned his governorship under a cloud of sexual scandal just a year into his term, raised only $476,000-plus since entering the Senate race, but major GOP donor Dick Uihlein has already pledged to contribute $2.5 million to a pro-Greitens outside super PAC.

While Rep. Smith has not yet revealed his 2022 political plans, he is raising money, and would at least financially stand near the top of the current candidate field. He has raised over $600,000 since the beginning of the year but possesses over $1.6 million in his congressional account, all of which could be transferred to a Senate committee.

Continue reading

Alaska Senate: A Re-Emergence

By Jim Ellis

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate

Aug. 4, 2021 — The Alaska Survey Research firm released a new Alaska Senate poll finding Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) improving her standing, but an even more drastic potential development has surfaced.

The poll (July 11-21; 947 registered Alaska voters, online) shows Sen. Murkowski posting her best numbers of the year, leading former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R), 36-27 percent. Tshibaka, already the candidate who the Alaska Republican Party and former President Donald Trump have officially endorsed, was leading the senator in earlier published surveys (Change Research: May 22-25; 1,023 likely Alaska voters, Tshibaka 39-19 percent. Cygnal: released March 29; 500 registered Alaska voters, Tshibaka 34-19 percent).

In the July ASR poll, state Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) and former Senate nominee Joe Miller (R/Libertarian) trailed the two leaders with 19 and 18 percent, respectively. Under Alaska’s new top-four primary system, all four of these candidates, however, would advance into the general election.

In even better news for Sen. Murkowski, the ASR poll tested her against Tshibaka in a head-to-head match-up and the incumbent would defeat the challenger, 55-45 percent. The bad news for Murkowski is the new Alaska voting system will not allow for such a pairing. Beginning with the 2022 election, all candidates run on a jungle primary ballot in the Aug. 16, 2022, nomination contest and the top four contenders, regardless of percentage attained will advance into the general election. Therefore, testing for a one-on-one ballot test should no longer be applicable in analyzing the Alaska electoral system.

Beyond the poll, a new development could be on the Alaska political horizon. Over the weekend, former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, addressed a group of evangelical Christian leaders. Asked if she would run for the Senate, Palin retorted, “if God wants me to run for the US Senate next year, I will.” She then, however, scolded the leaders saying, “I would say you guys better be there for me this time, because a lot of people were not there for me last time.”

Continue reading

Lamb Decision Affects Redistricting

Pennsylvania Congressional Districts


By Jim Ellis

Aug. 2, 2021 — Last week’s news reports indicating that western Pennsylvania US Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Mt. Lebanon/Pittsburgh) will enter the open Senate race on Aug. 6, could mean the congressional district he leaves behind becomes a redistricting victim.

Assuming the reports are accurate, and the congressman does launch a Senate campaign, he will be the only Pennsylvania US House delegation member to create an open seat. All others appear poised to run for re-election. This means the Lamb district will likely become the top option for elimination since reapportionment reduces by one the 18-member Keystone State delegation.

The Census Bureau is now telling the states they will finally begin receiving their redistricting data the during the week of Aug. 16. It appears the total data transmission will come in two waves, so all states should have what they need to begin holding public input hearings in early September, and then drawing districts. This is more than six months behind a typical redistricting calendar.

Based upon the latest available information, the state will have 17 congressional districts with a population number of what appears to be just under 765,000 individuals. Looking at the current 18 districts, all must gain population, hence the reason the state is losing another CD. Since 1930, Pennsylvania has lost more congressional districts than any other state.

The region requiring the least new population is Pennsylvania’s southeastern sector, in and around the city of Philadelphia. The western segment is the area that needs the most population with the exception of Rep. Scott Perry’s (R-Dillsburg/Harrisburg/York) south-central 10th District that will require the lowest human increase, most likely fewer than 20,000 persons.

The three seats needing the greatest influx are all in west Pennsylvania, surrounding the city of Pittsburgh. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson’s (R-Howard) predominantly rural 15th CD looks to be the district most in need of additional residents, likely over 85,000 individuals. Next is Rep. Mike Kelly’s (R-Butler) 16th District that begins north of Pittsburgh and moves all the way to Lake Erie. This seat would need approximately 80,000 more people. Third is the district south of Pittsburgh to the West Virginia border, Rep. Guy Reschenthaler’s (R-Peters Township) 14th CD, that must also gain another 80,000 bodies.

Lamb’s 17th District that encompasses almost half of Allegheny County, all of Beaver County, and a sliver of Butler, needs over 50,000 more people, which pairs well with Rep. Mike Doyle’s (D-Pittsburgh) downtown 18th District that will likely require approximately 65,000 new residents. Therefore, eliminating District 17 with now no incumbent to protect it would allow the downtown seat to be filled and remain solidly Democratic, but also meet the population needs in the districts to the south, southeast, and north of Pittsburgh.

Politically, such a configuration would likely change the 9R-9D delegation to 9R-8D, and that will be a hard sell for the Republican legislature to make to Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf, especially when he knows a partisan Democratic state Supreme Court could well have the final say once the inevitable lawsuits are filed.

Such a configuration involving the elimination of current District 17 works fairly seamlessly, though, particularly if the final map improves for the Democratic incumbents in the politically marginal eastern PA seats of District 7 (Rep. Susan Wild-D; Allentown/ Bethlehem/Easton), and 8 (Rep. Matt Cartwright-D; Scranton/ Wilkes-Barre/Mt. Pocono). This might be enough to sell a map that forces the Democrats to take the one-seat loss in the west.

There are many ways to re-configure congressional maps, and we will soon see many versions coming from Pennsylvania and all other multi-district states. Rep. Lamb’s move to the Senate race, however, if in fact he ultimately makes the statewide jump, will significantly change the course of Pennsylvania congressional redistricting.

WI-Senate: Lt. Gov. Announces

By Jim Ellis

Wisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes

July 22, 2021 — As expected, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes (D) declared his candidacy Tuesday for a Wisconsin Senate seat. Incumbent Sen. Ron Johnson (R) has yet to say if he will seek a third term (when he first ran in 2010, he committed to serving only two terms) but there is no question whatever the senator decides that the Wisconsin race will be highly competitive and become a national campaign.

Before the eventual Democratic nominee even gets the opportunity to face Sen. Johnson, he or she must traverse a difficult primary battle that won’t conclude until August of next year. Already vying for the party nomination in addition now to Lt. Gov. Barnes are state Treasurer Sarah Godlewski, state Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson, and Milwaukee Bucks basketball club senior executive and former Obama White House aide Alex Lasry. Still others may enter.

Wisconsin has been the site of very close election in the latter part of the decade. Two presidential campaigns and a gubernatorial race fell within one percentage point (2016 Presidential: Trump: 47.2 – 46.5 percent; 2020 Presidential: Biden 49.4 – 48.8 percent; 2018 Governor: Tony Evers-D: 49.5 – 48.4 percent; 2016 US Senate: Johnson: 50-47 percent), and another photo finish is expected for 2022.

Polling will again be another question mark since the survey research community’s joint record in Wisconsin has been poor since 2016.

In the Trump-Clinton race, pollsters ran 32 polls and Donald Trump led in none, yet he won the state. In the 2016 Senate race, Sen. Johnson was ahead only once in 29 public polls, yet claimed a three-point re-election victory when the actual votes were tabulated. Again, in the 2020 presidential race, while correctly predicting that Biden would carry Wisconsin, their average margin was way off the mark, finding the Democrat leading by a mean average of 6.7 percentage points in eight polls conducted after Oct. 20. The actual Biden victory margin was just beyond 22,000 votes.

Continue reading

2022: The Unannounced

By Jim Ellis

July 19, 2021 — The Fox News website ran a story late last week saying that there remain five in-cycle US senators who have not yet revealed their political plans for 2022. Below is a review of those senators’ political situations and clues that could provide a glimpse whether they are headed toward re-election or retirement.

The best hints will be forthcoming in a matter of days as the second quarter campaign financial disclosure reports will be released shortly on the Federal Election Commission website. Last Thursday was the deadline for filing the reports for the period covering April 1 through June 30.

The five senators, listed alphabetically by state are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).


Sen. Murkowski:

State: Alaska
Appointed: 2002
Re-elected: 2004, 2010, 2016
Age at time of 2022 election: 65
Victory Margin 2016: 44.4 – 29.2%

Announced Major Opponents:
• Karl Speights (R) – Retired Air Force officer
• Kelly Tshibaka (R) – Former AK Administration Commissioner

It is assumed that Sen. Murkowski will run for re-election, though her return path to Washington may be a difficult one to traverse. Last night, her campaign spokesperson stated that the Senator’s second quarter disclosure report would show $1.15 million raised for the quarter with $2.3 million cash-on-hand. These are financial numbers that suggest she will seek re-election.

Alaska has changed its nominating system and will be the first state to adopt a “top four” primary procedure. Similar to California, Louisiana, and Washington that use the jungle primary format to send the top two candidates to the general election, Alaska will instead advance the top four from the slate primary. The change virtually ensures that Sen. Murkowski will not again lose the Republican primary as she did in the 2010 election. In that year, she was forced to run a highly efficient general election write-in operation to win her second full term.

Early polling numbers find Sen. Murkowski with very poor favorability numbers among Republicans and running a distant third behind Kelly Tshibaka (R), who is already the state Republican Party’s officially endorsed candidate. Dr. Al Gross (D), the 2020 Senate nominee, has not yet committed to running again, but he, too, runs ahead of the Senator in the previously released surveys.

While the top four system guarantees Sen. Murkowski will secure a ballot position for the general election, winning her re-election is in doubt.


Sen. Grassley:

State: Iowa
First Elected: 1980
Re-elected: 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2016
Age at time of 2022 election: 89
Victory Margin 2016: 60.1 – 35.7%

Announced Major Opponents:
• Jim Carlin (R) – State Senator; former State Representative
• Glenn Hurst (D) – Minden City Councilman; Physician
• Dave Muhlbauer (D) – Ex-Crawford County Commissioner; Farmer

Last week Sen. Grassley stated that he would make his political plan public before Nov. 1. Despite his advanced age, it is presumed in all sectors now that Sen. Grassley will seek re-election. He has filed a 2022 campaign committee with the FEC, has a semi-updated website, and it will be interesting to see how active his fundraising became in the second quarter. His March 31 report revealed a cash-on-hand figure of $2.04 million to begin the re-election cycle.

Continue reading