Category Archives: Senate

Dueling Dual Polls

By Jim Ellis

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

June 14, 2021 — We open the week looking at conflicting polls from two Midwestern statewide races. The Michigan Republican Party published a survey that conflicts with earlier data we’ve seen about their state’s gubernatorial race, and the two leading Ohio Republican Senate contenders both released recent surveys that best tell their own campaign story.

In the Wolverine State, the Competitive Edge Research & Communication firm, polling for the Michigan Republican Party (May 26-June 4; 809 likely Michigan voters), projects retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R), who is soon expected to announce his bid for governor, leading incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D) by a spread beyond the polling margin of error, 45-38 percent.

Curiously, the MIGOP leadership also released the ballot test that featured the party’s 2020 and 2018 US Senate nominee, John James. Here, the CERC finds Gov. Whitmer leading James, 50-45 percent. James has not indicated that he is going to enter the gubernatorial race, so it is surprising to see the Republican Party releasing data that puts one of their top political figures in a weaker position. James lost the 2020 Senate race to incumbent Gary Peters (D) by a tight 50-48 percent count.

In May, the Target Insyght survey research company (May 9-11; 800 registered Michigan voters) painted a different picture, forecasting a 48-42 percent lead for Gov. Whitmer over Craig and 49-39 percent against James.

The difference could be attributed to James retiring as chief of police after the TI poll was conducted and before the CERC survey was taken. Former chief Craig is a well-known and popular figure in Detroit, and the accolades given him for his tenure could certainly have helped his polling data at least on a short-term basis.

Additionally, Gov. Whitmer has been caught in several inconsistencies regarding her COVID shutdown policies, which were some of the most drastic in the country. More than once, she was found not following the letter of her own directives for herself and family.

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Poll: Murkowski Trailing Badly

By Jim Ellis

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

June 10, 2010 — A new Alaska statewide political survey suggests that Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) is in serious danger of losing her coming re-election campaign.

Change Research, polling for the 314 Action Fund, an organization committed to electing more scientists to public office, conducted a study of the Alaska electorate and found incumbent Sen. Murkowski, who is looking to win a fourth full term, (R) faring poorly.

The poll (May 22-25; released June 9; 1,023 likely Alaska voters, online) tested Murkowski against announced Republican opponent Kelly Tshibaka, the former Alaska Commissioner of Administration, Dr. Al Gross, the 2020 Senate Democratic nominee who lost 54-41 percent to Republican incumbent Dan Sullivan, and John Wayne Howe of the Alaska Independence Party.

In 2020, Alaska voters adopted a new ballot procedure initiative that changes the state’s nomination system into a unique “top four” jungle primary. This means the four candidates attracting the most votes in the initial election all advance into the general election.

With Sen. Murkowski having trouble within her own Republican Party, this system prevents her from again facing a closed partisan primary like the one she lost in 2010, since it is difficult to fathom she or any other incumbent failing to even place fourth in a primary election. In the year she lost re-nomination, Sen. Murkowski was able to quickly rebound and win as a write-in general election candidate.

While the top-four system likely helps Sen. Murkowski, the new general election system may not play to her favor. After the top four candidates qualify, the ranked-choice voting system takes effect to decide the general election. This means voters will rank the candidates from 1 through 4.

Once the fourth place finisher is determined, assuming no one has reached 50 percent, those voters who rank the fourth place finisher as number 1 have their ballots retrieved and their second choice is added to the remaining totals. This process continues in rounds until one candidate secures majority support.

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S-1: An Unintended Consequence?

By Jim Ellis

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY)

June 7, 2021 — Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has scheduled the controversial federal elections bill, S-1, the companion measure to the House-passed HR-1, for debate on June 21, which appears to be a curious move. At this point, it seems improbable that the leadership can break the filibuster rule, and without doing so, how does the bill pass?

If such an observation is correct, then what does Sen. Schumer gain from bringing the bill to the floor, and will there be unintended consequences? These are questions to be answered after the bill is debated and either passed, dispensed with, or put on hold for a future legislative maneuver.

As we know, the filibuster rule is surviving because Democrats Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) won’t support changing the rule. Both senators, at least at this point, seem intransigent in their position.

Sen. Manchin just this week verbally shot back at reporters for continually asking him if he is changing his stance on the filibuster rule. “I’m not separating our country, OK?” Manchin said. “I don’t know what you all don’t understand about this. You ask the same question every day. It’s wrong.”

The Daily Kos Elections site yesterday published a filibuster-related response from Sen. Sinema to an Arizona constituent identifying himself through an email address as Triumph110. Below is an excerpt from a very long historically based response:

“I have long said that I oppose eliminating the filibuster for votes on legislation. Retaining the legislative filibuster is not meant to impede the things we want to get done. Rather, it’s meant to protect what the Senate was designed to be.

“I believe the Senate has a responsibility to put politics aside and fully consider, debate, and reach compromise on legislative issues that will affect all Americans. Therefore, I support the 60-vote threshold for all Senate actions. Debate on bills should be a bipartisan process that takes into account the views of all Americans, not just those of one political party. Regardless of the party in control of the Senate, respecting the opinions of senators from the minority party will result in better, commonsense legislation.

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Latest Senate News – Part II

By Jim Ellis

May 28, 2021 — Today, we complete our two-part series pertaining to the latest Senate happenings, covering the latter half of the alphabet from New Hampshire through Wisconsin.

• New Hampshire: If Gov. Chris Sununu (R) decides to challenge Sen. Maggie Hassan (D), then the Granite State will likely become the Republicans’ best national conversion opportunity. In the only two publicly released polls this year testing such a pairing, Gov. Sununu leads in both.

Though New Hampshire has trended more Democratic at the top of the ticket in the past few elections and President Biden scored a better than expected 53-45 percent win here in November, Gov. Sununu has claimed three consecutive elections, including a 65 percent victory last year. The governor indicated he will make a decision about a Senate challenge during the summer. Should Sununu not make the race, Sen. Hassan becomes a clear favorite to win a second term.

• North Carolina: In another key Republican open seat, the North Carolina race appears to feature tough primaries in both parties. For the Republicans, whose eventual nominee will attempt to hold retiring Sen. Richard Burr’s (R) seat, former Gov. Pat McCrory, Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), and ex-Rep. Mark Walker reside in the top tier, with the former state chief executive enjoying big leads in early polling.

For the Democrats, the primary appears to be winnowing down to a contest between former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, who lost her seat in November by just 401 votes statewide, and state Sen. Jeff Jackson (D-Charlotte).

This will be another toss-up, top-tier Senate race regardless of who emerges from each of the competitive nomination contests.

• Ohio: The Buckeye State’s open US Senate race is beginning to crystallize. The Democratic side is headed for consensus around US Rep. Tim Ryan’s (D-Warren/ Youngstown) candidacy.

The Republicans look to have at least four strong candidates, former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken, ex-state Treasurer and 2012 US Senate nominee Josh Mandel, author J.D. Vance, and possibly state senator and Cleveland Indians baseball club co-owner Matt Dolan (R-Chagrin Falls).

Businessmen Michael Gibbons and Bernie Moreno are also announced candidates, but they appear as second-tier contenders at this time. US Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) remains a potential candidate. It appears that former US representative and 2018 US Senate nominee Jim Renacci is moving toward a Republican primary challenge against Gov. Mike DeWine in lieu of again running for the Senate.

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Latest Senate News – Part I

By Jim Ellis

May 27, 2021 — Incumbents, candidates, and potential candidates are making political moves in some key upcoming 2022 Senate races, which makes now a good time to review the latest happenings. Today we look at the significant developing races alphabetically from Alabama through Nevada. Tomorrow, we cover the remainder.

• Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby (R) is retiring, and the early Republican primary battle looks to be a match between Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), armed with an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, and ex-US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard who is promising to personally spend $5 million on her campaign.

No Democrat has yet come forward to declare a candidacy. US Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), the lone Democratic member of the congressional delegation, has already said she that will seek re-election next year and not run statewide.

• Arizona: Sen. Mark Kelly (D), who won the 2020 special election, must stand for a full six-year term in this election cycle. At this point, four Republicans are in the mix. Term-limited Attorney General Mark Brnovich appears poised to enter the race. Venture capitalist Blake Masters, with presumed major backing from billionaire donor Peter Thiel, is likely to run, as is retired Air Force Major General Michael McGuire. Solar energy company executive Jim Lamon has already announced his candidacy.

This will be a top-tier 2022 Senate campaign and is considered a must-win for both parties.

• Florida: The Sunshine State has been drawing a great deal of political media attention of late, all concerning House members looking to run statewide. It now appears set that Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) is in the governor’s race, while Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) seeks re-election, and Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) appears set to announce her challenge against two-term Sen. Marco Rubio (R).

The Florida Senate race will be competitive because campaigns in this state are always close and Rep. Demings will be a strong opponent. Incumbent Sen. Rubio, however, begins with a clear advantage.

• Georgia: Like Sen. Kelly in Arizona, freshman Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) won the special 2020 election to serve the balance of an unexpired term. He, too, must stand for a full six-year term next year.

At this point, now that former Rep. Doug Collins says he won’t run, most of the attention centers around former Georgia football legend Herschel Walker (R) and whether he will return from Texas to challenge Sen. Warnock. Walker promises a decision by summer.

If the former football star chooses to pass, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler/Savannah) says he will run. Banking executive Latham Saddler and construction company owner Kelvin King are the announced GOP candidates. The list of potential Republican candidates is long with state House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) being the latest to discuss the race with national GOP leaders.

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