Category Archives: Senate

Super Tuesday State Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 28, 2020 — While the Democratic presidential primaries have dominated the political media coverage for next Tuesday’s big election, five states are also holding their regular primary elections including four with Senate races.

Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will begin choosing their nominees for the Senate and their entire slate of down ballot races. Each is a run-off state, and two of the aforementioned, Alabama and Texas, appear headed for a secondary Senate primary contest later in March and May, respectively. The regular California primary is also scheduled, but there is no Senate election in the Golden State this year. We will, however, see 53 sets of US House general election participants advance to the general election from their top-two jungle primary system.

In Alabama, former US attorney general and senator Jeff Sessions is attempting a political comeback. Retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville and US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) are his chief opponents. Former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge Roy Moore is also on the ballot, but polling suggests he will not even break into double digits.

Sessions ad

Sessions launched two new ads in the last couple days, one that promotes himself as a strong supporter of, and the best person to implement the Trump agenda. The second is an attack ad against Tuberville, hitting him with audio of the retired coach saying we need immigrants coming across the border for certain jobs and that Tuberville actually lives and pays taxes in Florida.

Tuberville ad

Earlier, Tuberville was running a statewide ad reminding the electorate that President Trump fired Sessions as attorney general and that choosing him for the post was the president’s top regret during his tenure in office. Rep. Byrne has been simultaneously running a negative spot jointly attacking both of his top opponents.

The most likely pair to advance into the run-off are Sessions and Tuberville. The secondary election is scheduled for March 31.

Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) is virtually re-elected. Democrats failed to file a candidate against him, meaning Tuesday’s primary is a non-event for the first-term senator. He will advance into the general against only minor party opposition.

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Sessions in Trouble

By Jim Ellis

Former US attorney general and Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R)

Feb. 13, 2020 — Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategy conducted a new poll (Feb. 4-6; 400 likely Alabama Republican primary voters) of the Alabama Senate race and though former US attorney general and ex-Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions, still leads in what is a tightening Republican primary, peeling away the underlying data suggests that he could find rough going in an inevitable run-off election.

The M-D results find Sessions leading only 31-29 percent over former Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) trails with 17 percent, but well ahead of former Alabama Supreme Court chief judge and 2017 special election Senate nominee Roy Moore who posts just five percent support.

Sessions’ numbers have declined significantly since he entered the race, obviously suggesting a downward trend pointing to a more serious situation when further seeing that his name identification is universal.

With a significant double-digit margin between the top two poll finishers and Rep. Byrne, it becomes highly likely that both Sessions and Tuberville would advance to a run-off election. Neither is positioned to win the nomination outright, however. With Sessions nowhere close to a majority and, after considering his long political history in the state and 100% name identification among Republican primary voters and his current tepid ballot test numbers, it would not be surprising to see Tuberville overtake him in a one-on-one battle.

Another clue that Sessions has political problems is his favorability index as detected in the Mason-Dixon poll. According to their cell responses, Sessions carries a 49:18 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio among Republican primary voters, which looks positive on the surface, but after overlaying the pervasive name ID percentage it becomes clear that half of the respondents fail to have a positive impression.

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Biden’s Survival Path

By Jim Ellis

2020 Presidential Candidate and former vice president, Joe Biden (D)

Feb. 11, 2020 — Former Vice President Joe Biden said his campaign took a “gut punch” with his fourth-place finish in the Iowa Caucuses and, in the nationally televised debate on Friday night from New Hampshire, lowered future expectations when indicating that finishing close to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) in the state’s first-in-the-nation primary would be an acceptable showing.

Recent polls suggest Sen. Warren will do no better than third place, meaning Biden, who can no longer be considered the national front runner, again looks to be lagging behind in fourth place among the Democrat candidates. Does another fourth-place finish doom his national campaign? Would Biden have a path to the nomination even if failing to win yet again in Nevada on Feb. 22?

The answers to the two queries are no and yes, and South Carolina is the key. After a win in the Palmetto State, he would then need to strongly springboard into Super Tuesday just three days hence on March 3. On that day, citizens in 14 states and one territory are scheduled to cast votes, and half of those states are in the South, a region where the former vice president has been dominant in polling.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), the likely national leader headed to Super Tuesday, should find some relative strength in the southern states, and billionaires Tom Steyer and Michael Bloomberg will likely also break the 15 percent threshold in some of these places and others to score a limited number of bound delegate votes. If Biden wins most or all of the southern states with approximately 30 percent of the aggregate vote, it would likely give him approximately 200 delegates, a number that certainly could boost his viability within a national context.

From a delegate count perspective, even if he fails to break 15 percent to qualify for convention votes in New Hampshire tonight and doesn’t win Nevada, he is still not going to be unreasonably behind. In Iowa, the projected delegate count suggests that former mayor, Pete Buttigieg, will record 14 first-ballot national convention votes, Sanders’ 12, Warren 8, Biden 6, and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), 1.

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Top Senate Fundraisers

Retired astronaut Mark Kelly, a Democrat, announced his candidacy for the party nomination for the Arizona Senate. He tops the 4th Quarter fundraisers list.

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 10, 2020
— Continuing to look at the just released 4th Quarter fundraising figures, below is a chart of the top Senate candidates (30) who raised more than $1 million in the previous quarter.

Of the top 30 Senate fundraisers, 17 are Democrats and 13 are Republicans. The incumbent to non-incumbent ratio is the same as the partisan division, 17 incumbents versus 13 non-incumbents pertaining to the $1 million-plus 4th Quarter 2019 fundraisers. The top two 4th Quarter fundraisers — Arizona retired astronaut Mark Kelly and retired Marine Corps pilot Amy McGrath — are both Democratic challengers.

Among the top 10 Senate fundraisers, both parties place five candidates in the category. In 10 states, opponents both exceeded the $1 million receipt mark for the quarter just ended.

SENATE RECEIPTS (In Millions)

CANDIDATE PARTY STATE INCOME COH
KELLY, MARK D AZ $6.219 $13.609
McGRATH, AMY D KY $6.152 $9.133
McCONNELL, MITCH R KY $4.587 $11.579
McSALLY, MARTHA R AZ $3.990 $7.660
GRAHAM, LINDSEY R SC $3.837 $10.337
HARRISION, JAIME D SC $3.553 $4.700
JAMES, JOHN R MI $3.532 $6.085
GIDEON, SARA D ME $3.439 $2.778
HICKENLOOPER, JOHN D CO $2.756 $3.216
CORNYN, JOHN R TX $2.697 $12.117
PETERS, GARY D MI $2.487 $8.037
KENNEDY, JOSEPH D MA $2.405 $5.544
COLLINS, SUSAN R ME $2.228 $7.195
SHAHEEN, JEANNE D NH $2.040 $5.758
GARDNER, CORY R CO $1.969 $7.752
JONES, DOUG D AL $1.898 $5.477
TILLIS, THOM R NC $1.885 $5.307
PERDUE, DAVID R GA $1.838 $7.830
ERNST, JONI R IA $1.676 $4.856
SMITH, TINA D MN $1.670 $3.623
GREENFIELD, T. D IA $1.605 $2.158
CUNNINGHAM, CAL D NC $1.602 $1.701
HAGERTY, BILL R TN $1.504 $3.010
WARNER, MARK D VA $1.490 $7.460
MARKEY, ED D MA $1.387 $4.550
DAINES, STEVE R MT $1.386 $5.037
HEGAR, MJ D TX $1.142 $1.004
SULLIVAN, DAN R AK $1.129 $5.716
BOLLIER, BARBARA D KS $1.067 $0.810
LUJAN, BEN RAY D NM $1.016 $2.001

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Primary Money Count – Senate

By Jim Ellis

Former Alabama senator, Jeff Sessions (R)

Feb. 7, 2020 — The 4th Quarter campaign disclosure reports are published and today we look at the key early primary Senate states, those that will have an initial vote on Super Tuesday, March 3.

Five states will hold their regular primaries on that day, and four of them have Senate elections. Voters in Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas will take at least the first step in choosing their statewide nominees on Super Tuesday. California, which also holds its regular primary that day does not have a Senate race in this cycle. In Arkansas, Democrats failed to produce a candidate, meaning that Sen. Tom Cotton (R) will head into the general election as a virtually unopposed candidate.

ALABAMA

Alabama hosts a major Republican primary featuring former US attorney general and senator, Jeff Sessions. He is running for the seat he vacated to accept his federal appointment. Sessions is being fiercely challenged, however. Two serious candidates are also vying for the party nomination, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile) and retired Auburn University head football coach Tommy Tuberville. Ex-state Supreme Court chief judge and 2017 Senate special election nominee Roy Moore is back for another attempt, but his previous poor performance and lack of funding has relegated him to lower-tier status.

On the fundraising front, the Federal Election Commission reports find Sessions raising more than $530,000 but has spent more than $812,000. At the end of the year, he held over $2.5 million in cash, but most of those funds were raised during his time as an incumbent Senator.

Coach Tuberville has done an outstanding job of fundraising for a first-time candidate in a crowded field, raising over $1.3 million from individuals and loaning his campaign $1 million. His year-end cash-on-hand (CoH) figure was $1.52 million.

Rep. Byrne has accumulated over $3.3 million for his campaign, including transferring more than $2.2 million from his US House committee. His CoH total is just under $2.1 million.

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