Category Archives: Senate

Rep. Yoho to Retire; Texas Filings

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 12, 2019 — Keeping his pledge to serve only four terms in the House, Florida Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville) announced in a local radio interview earlier this week that he will not seek re-election next year. Also, the 2020 Texas candidate filing deadline came on Monday, and lists of the qualifying candidates are now becoming public.

REP. YOHO, FL-3

Florida Rep. Ted Yoho (R-Gainesville)

There had been some speculation brewing as to Yoho’s plans for 2020 with some suggesting he might eschew his original pledge. Making this now the 37th open House seat and second in Florida, potential candidates will have until May 1 to file for the Aug. 25 primary.

The eventual Republican nominee will clearly have the inside track to hold this seat for the GOP. Florida’s 3rd District is strongly, and consistently, Republican. President Trump scored 56.2 percent of the vote in 2016. This number is almost identical to the 56.6 percent that Mitt Romney posted against President Obama in 2012, and John McCain’s 54.6 percent that he garnered in the 2008 presidential election.

Rep. Yoho has averaged 61.0 percent of the vote here over four elections, but the district was significantly changed in the 2015 mid-decade court-ordered redistricting plan. In the current configuration, Yoho averaged almost exactly what the Republican presidential candidates scored: 57.2 percent in his two elections since the boundary alteration.

The 3rd District occupies five whole counties and parts of a sixth. The major population center is the city of Gainesville in Alachua County. The remaining portion of the CD is nestled squarely in the north/central section of the Florida peninsula.

Three Republicans had already announced their candidacies, but none seems particularly viable. The contender raising the most money through the Sept. 30 financial disclosure period is businesswoman Amy Pope Wells, but her receipts showed just under $40,000 raised for the campaign with a cash-on-hand figure of just under $8,500.

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Kelly Loeffler In; Rep. Heck Out

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to the U.S. Senate to succeed retiring Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is leaving office at the end of the year due to health issues.

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 6, 2019 — As expected, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) announced that businesswoman Kelly Loeffler is his choice to succeed Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) when Isakson resigns at the end of the year due to health problems.

Also, in Washington state, four-term Rep. Denny Heck (D-Olympia) announced that he will not seek re-election. In a released statement, while criticizing President Trump, Heck indicated that the ongoing investigations of which he has been a part as a member of the House Intelligence Committee, has caused him to become weary.

Georgia Senate

Loeffler’s pick is somewhat controversial among Republicans since President Trump and many state conservative leaders were publicly backing Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) for the seat. Additionally, the congressman has hinted in media interviews that running against the appointed senator in the 2020 special election to fill the balance of the term is not out of the realm of possibility.

Conservatives are expressing doubt about Loeffler, citing her past donations to certain Democratic candidates, support for Planned Parenthood, and weakness, from their perspective, on other social issues. For her part, Loeffler is pledging full support to passing the Trump agenda and voting to approve additional federal judges and Trump Administration appointments.

Loeffler will serve throughout 2020 and be eligible to compete in the special election to serve the final two years of Sen. Isakson’s term. The governor has scheduled a jungle primary to run concurrently with the 2020 general election. If no candidate receives majority support on Nov. 3, then the top two finishers will advance to a run-off election on Jan. 5. Should the general election go badly for Senate Republicans, it’s possible that the Georgia run-off could determine majority control.

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Is Sen. Kamala Harris Protecting
Her California Senate Seat?

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California

Dec. 5, 2019 — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the first of what one might consider the top-tier candidates to end her presidential effort, but the announcement timing on Tuesday likely has more to do with her 2022 Senate race than the presidential contest.

The California candidate filing deadline is tomorrow, so Sen. Harris deciding to end her presidential effort means she won’t be on the Golden State presidential primary ballot, and thus avoids an embarrassing loss within her own constituency. Recent polling was forecasting her in the single-digit range even in California.

Obviously, losing any race in one’s home state reveals political weakness, and though she is virtually invulnerable against a Republican in the 2022 general election, the same might not be true if her opponent were a strong Democrat.

Under the California election system that features the jungle primary concept, variations of which are also seen in Washington state and Louisiana, members of the same party can advance into the general election. Florida voters will have the opportunity of adopting that jungle primary concept via ballot initiative next year.

Because California and Washington hold regular primaries before the general election, a pair of candidates always advance irrespective of percentages attained. Conversely, Louisiana holds one election concurrent with the general, meaning a candidate exceeding 50 percent is elected outright; otherwise the top two finishers advance into a December run-off election.

In the California 2022 Senate race, for example, two candidates will move into the general election from their March or June primary (California has continually alternated their primary election dates between the two months, depending upon the political situation at the time the legislature acted) so long as more than one candidate files. Thus, a strong Democrat — and California has many such individuals — could challenge Sen. Harris, draw a relatively meager percentage in the primary while finishing second, and then rally to make a serious general election challenge against her.

Other previous presidential candidates have often found the political going much tougher than expected when returning home to seek re-election after engaging in the national contest, and it remains to be seen if Sen. Harris will find her road to re-election any bumpier.

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Pompeo for Senate?

By Jim Ellis

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Nov. 25, 2019 — Ever since Kansas Sen. Pat Roberts (R) announced last January that he would retire at the end of the current Congress there has been consistent speculation that US Secretary of State and former Wichita area congressman, Mike Pompeo, would resign his national position and return to Kansas to run for the open seat. Despite repeated denials from Secretary Pompeo, the speculation would not die.

Now, it appears the rumors of him entering the race have greater foundation, as more concrete stories that he will soon resign and announce his candidacy are regularly surfacing. The Senate Republican leadership is clearly in favor of the Pompeo move, originally fearing that former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach could win a crowded August Republican primary with only a vote plurality and then perform as badly in the general election as he did when he lost the 2018 open governor’s race.

With Republicans holding 53 of the chamber’s 100 seats but having to defend 23 incumbents and open seats on the 2020 Senate election map versus only 12 for the Democrats, the GOP cannot afford an electoral debacle in what should be a safe seat. It was only two years ago that another flawed Republican Senate candidate bungled the Alabama special election, thus allowing Democrat Doug Jones to win the position that Sen. Jeff Sessions had resigned to become US Attorney General.

Currently, eight individuals have announced for the Republican nomination led by Kobach, US Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Great Bend), and state Senate President Susan Wagle (R-Wichita). Polling and local political intel suggests that Pompeo would have little trouble winning the nomination, and the seat, if he were to enter the race. If he does become a candidate, some of the others, and particularly Rep. Marshall, would have time to exit the race and pivot back toward seeking re-election to their current position.

Originally, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner (R) had been in the Senate race – in fact, he was the first to enter the contest immediately after Sen. Roberts made public his intentions – but he has already exited and, at the behest of former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R), is now challenging freshman Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Topeka) for re-nomination in the 2nd Congressional District.

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Filings & Primaries

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 22, 2019 — As we approach the end of this year, two states have already held their 2020 candidate filings and six more will do so in December. This sets the stage for eight statewide primaries in March, four from large states. Mississippi, with a March 10 primary, set its filing deadline for Jan. 10.

In total, and in addition to the presidential campaign, filings during this period in these states have occurred or will occur for six Senate races and 151 US House districts. All five Super Tuesday primary states will host US Senate contests and hold an aggregate of 113 congressional districts.

Alabama and Arkansas have already filed, and the major stories coming from these places as already covered were former US Attorney General and senator, Jeff Sessions, again declaring for his former position and the lone Democrat challenging Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton (R) dropping out of the race just two hours after he had filed. In the pair of states, two House incumbents, Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham) and Arkansas Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro), are totally unopposed in their 2020 campaigns.

The other states heading for December candidate filing deadlines are Illinois on Dec. 2; California, Dec. 6; Texas, Dec. 9; and Ohio, Dec. 11. North Carolina is currently scheduled for Dec. 20, but it is conceivable that the pending redistricting lawsuits could potentially postpone the state primary and thus the qualifying candidate deadline.

The five Super Tuesday (March 3) primary states are: Alabama, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, and Texas.

Alabama has the first Senate primary and that will likely determine which two of the six major Republican candidates move into an April 14 run-off election. Currently, polling suggests that former Sen. Sessions and Auburn University retired head football coach Tommy Tuberville would advance to a run-off. Secretary of State John Merrill, US Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Mobile), and former state Supreme Court Chief Judge and 2017 US Senate special election nominee Roy Moore round out the group of main competitors. The eventual nominee will face Sen. Doug Jones (D) in the November campaign.

Two open seat congressional races, both in South Alabama, will almost assuredly go to run-offs, though the eventual Republican nominee in the respective districts will be heavily favored to replace Reps. Byrne and Martha Roby (R-Montgomery), who is retiring.

The March 3 primary is relatively inconsequential in Arkansas since it appears the general election is relatively set. Since the Democrats have no candidate in the Senate race, the party structure will meet to nominate a consensus candidate for a ballot slot in the general election.

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