A Trio of House Happenings

In honor of Independence Day, this will be the last Political Update for this week. The normal schedule will resume Monday, July 7. Enjoy the holiday!



The gloves are officially off in the western Michigan Republican primary challenge to Rep. Justin Amash. Businessman Brian Ellis released a new ad featuring former Marine combat veteran Ben Thomas.

While it’s certainly not a new concept to promote an ad with a military veteran spokesperson, a former Marine’s personal hard-hitting attack against a specific incumbent congressman is rare, if not unique. Thomas goes so far as to call Amash a “disgrace”, and accuses him of not supporting the men and women on the ground in war theaters.

The ad can be viewed above. The Michigan primary is Aug. 5. Though Ellis has been consistently trailing Amash in public polls, it is clear that momentum is building in his favor and the final result is likely to be close.


The American Action Network went into the field to survey former Illinois Rep. Bob Dold’s (R) chances of winning back the seat he lost to current Rep. Brad Schneider (D), and found that his prospects are growing. According to a Harper Polling study (June 24-25; 400 likely IL-10 voters), Dold is already leading Rep. Schneider by a 42-39 percent margin.

The data is laced with bad news for Schneider. His job approval ratio is only 28:28 percent favorable to unfavorable; GOP gubernatorial nominee Bruce Rauner leads Gov. Pat Quinn (D) 47-39 percent within the district boundaries; and President Obama, despite carrying this northern Chicago suburban district 57-41 percent in 2012 (and 63-36 percent in 2008), now sees his job approval ratio dropping into upside down territory. According to this Harper poll, 44 percent of the respondents approve of the president’s performance in office versus 46 percent who disapprove.

The 10th District was radically changed in 2011 redistricting to favor a Democratic candidate, and Schneider was able to eke out a close 50.6-49.4 percent victory over the then-freshman Republican incumbent. According to post-election and pre-2014 political polling the CD is performing more like a swing seat despite its Democratic registration advantage, which is clearly helping Dold. Expect the race to be close all the way to Election Day. This contest is a bona fide Republican conversion opportunity.


After his sexual scandals came to public light in his middle Tennessee district, two-term Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R) was viewed as not having much of a political future. When challenger Jim Tracy, a state senator who came close to winning the 6th District Republican congressional nomination in 2010, established an early 4:1 fundraising advantage it appeared that the Congressman had even slipped to underdog status in his own party primary race.

A poll of 1,337 previous Republican primary voters taken during the June 5-6 period, but released only now, gives DesJarlais a surprisingly large 45-20 percent lead over Tracy, however. The survey was conducted by a firm called Right Way Marketing, but they appear to specialize in running sales programs and delivering inbound and outbound call services. The TN-4 poll appears to be their new venture into the political polling world. The poll’s sponsor is the Nashville-based organization Citizens for Ethics in Government, an independent group supporting DesJarlais.

Tracy’s campaign manager rejects the findings, saying that the poll has “failed to prove its legitimacy, source or methodology.” On the other hand, the Tracy operation has yet to release any polling data of its own.

Further campaign controversy is erupting over the president’s Common Core national education standards. The Citizens for Ethics in Government’s chairman claims that Tracy supports the concept, yet the Tennessee chapter of Americans for Prosperity just named the senator one of four “Senate Champions for Prosperity”. One of the reasons for attaining such a status is the state legislator’s opposition to the Common Core standards.

The next month promises to be an interesting period in central Tennessee. The primary is Aug. 7, and the state features no run-off system. So, the candidate garnering the highest number of votes, irrespective of percentage, is nominated. With five opponents, the splitting of the opposition vote will likely help Rep. DesJarlais, at least to a small degree

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