Tag Archives: Austin

Youngkin Wins in Virginia;
New Jersey’s Races are Teetering;
Ohio Congressional Races & More

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 3, 2021 — Republican Glenn Youngkin claimed the Virginia governor’s race with his victory over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), becoming the first Republican to win a Virginia statewide office since the 2009 election.

In New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciattarelli is fighting Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to a virtual tie, but outstanding ballots suggest the Democratic governor may barely hang on to win a second term. It was a surprisingly strong showing for Ciattarelli in such a heavily Democratic state. Though both houses of the New Jersey legislature will remain under Democratic control, Republicans appear to have added seats in both chambers.

While mail votes are still being tallied and other ballots can be received in Virginia until Friday, it appears Youngkin did exceed the 50 percent plateau with McAuliffe about two percentage points behind. The Youngkin victory helped pull his lieutenant governor Republican partner, Winsome Sears, over the top to claim the state’s second position.

The Virginia attorney general’s race features another Republican, state Delegate Jason Miyares, leading incumbent Mark Herring (D), who is running for a third term. This is the closest of the three races, so uncounted mail ballots and votes to be received after election day could make a difference. Some entities have projected Miyares a winner, and he is certainly in the better position, but the final outcome may not yet be conclusive.

Several other races are still close, but Republicans may have converted the six seats they need to re-claim the state House majority. In any event, the party gained seats.

Turnout was higher than expected in Virginia. More that 3.2 million ballots have been tabulated, meaning that more than 73 percent of the number of people who voted in the record setting 2020 election returned to cast their votes in the 2021 governor’s race. When comparing the 2017 gubernatorial election to the 2016 presidential, the return rate was 66 percent.

OHIO

In the US House, two new Ohio members-elect completed their special election victories with ease. In the vacant Cleveland-Akron seat that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D) represented, Democratic Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, as expected, easily won the congressional special general election with 79 percent of of the vote.

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Today’s Election Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — Today is a significant Election Day, and the menu of races stretches beyond a Virginia governor’s race that has attracted the lion’s share of political attention.

While the VA governor’s race will of course be top of mind as results come in tonight and analysts attempt to assign precursor status to the contest regardless of the final result, other campaigns will also be of significance.

In the Virginia race, if Republican Glenn Youngkin scores an upset win, and the late indications are clearly moving his way, it may be cast as an affront to the Biden Administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress relating to their legislative agenda. In actuality, it is a more locally based issue, education, that should correctly be cast as the linchpin to describe a Youngkin victory.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) debate comment saying he did not believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” will actually prove to be the key turning point to a Youngkin victory should it materialize. In McAuliffe wins, then the talk of a coming Republican wave election next year will certainly dissipate at least in the short term.

In addition to the Virginia governor’s race, the remainder of the statewide ticket, the lieutenant governor and attorney general races could be of significance. If Winsome Sears (R), running for lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares (R), running for attorney general, both win their races to compliment a Youngkin victory, then talk of a clear precursor or budding Republican wave election will carry a more serious tone.

New Jersey voters will decide their governor’s contest as well. In Jersey, late polling, after seeing some closer numbers not even 10 days ago, seems to show Gov. Phil Murphy (D) pulling away from Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the closing week. The final result will likely be closer than most analysts would have projected at the beginning of the odd-numbered year election cycle, however.

In both Virginia and New Jersey, voters will also be electing members of the state legislature. In the Old Dominion, only the House of Delegates is on the ballot, as state senators, with their four year terms, won’t face the voters as a unit until the 2023 election cycle.

In the Garden State, both parties are projecting they will gain seats, but no one believes the strong Democratic majorities in the state Senate and Assembly are in any danger. In the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans need to convert a net six seats to re-claim the majority they lost in the 2019 election.

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A Highly Anticipated Challenge:
Texas Rep. Chip Roy vs. Wendy Davis

By Jim Ellis

July 24, 2019 — Late last week, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee brain trust, members of the House Majority leadership including Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and most of the Texas Democratic delegation, announced they are supporting an event to encourage former Lone Star State gubernatorial candidate and ex-state Sen. Wendy Davis to run for Congress.

Texas freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) and ex-state Sen. Wendy Davis (D)

Even before the event, held last night, got underway, Davis had confirmed that she would challenge freshman Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) who won a close 50-48 percent open seat victory in 2018 from a district that stretches from San Antonio to Austin and through the Texas Hill Country.

Davis was the 2014 Texas Democratic nominee for governor but went down to a crushing 59-39 percent defeat at the hands of then-attorney general Greg Abbott (R). At the time, Davis was a Ft. Worth area state senator who had gained statewide publicity for attempting a 2013 solo filibuster to block a bill that would have outlawed abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, in addition to other restrictions.

The publicity jettisoned her into becoming a statewide candidate but ended in a 20-percentage point loss. Now the party leadership is hoping to make her a viable congressional candidate some 200 miles from her legislative district. Davis was elected twice to her Ft. Worth area Texas senate seat, defeating an incumbent Republican in her first election in 2008 and winning re-election in equally close proportion.

Interestingly, the vote totals for and against her hardly changed from 2008 to 2012. In her first election, Davis attracted 147,832 votes. In her successful re-election bid, she received 147,103. Though her Republican opponents were different individuals, including an incumbent in 2008, they too, received almost an identical number of votes: 140,737 (2008) and 140,656 (2012). Texas is one of two states, California being the other, where the state Senate seats are more populous than congressional districts. After losing the gubernatorial race, Sen. Davis chose not to seek re-election in 2016 and moved to the Austin area.

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Action Breaking in Texas

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2017
— Early last week, the three-judge federal panel considering the Texas redistricting lawsuit issued a ruling, one that contained a rather major surprise.

It was expected that Reps. Blake Farenthold (R-Corpus Christi) and Lloyd Doggett’s (D-Austin) districts would certainly be ordered re-drawn for racial gerrymandering reasons, but it was assumed that Rep. Will Hurd’s (R-San Antonio) 23rd District would also be in the same predicament. In a ruling that certainly caught the Democratic plaintiffs off guard, the court allowed the current 23rd to stand while striking down the other two. The panel also left north Texas in tact, another region the Democrats wanted re-configured.

Now with some certainty that the district will remain intact – though it could tangentially change as a result of re-crafting Doggett’s nearby 35th District – candidates already are starting to make their moves regarding challenging vulnerable two-term incumbent Hurd.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-San Antonio)

Congressman Hurd was first elected to represent his sprawling central-west Texas district, a seat that stretches more than 550 miles from San Antonio to El Paso, in 2014 when he upset then-Rep. Pete Gallego (D-Alpine), 50-48 percent, yielding a margin of just over 2,400 votes. This past November, Rep. Hurd again beat Gallego, this time 48-47 percent, a spread of just over 3,000 votes. Knowing that the turnout would literally double in the presidential year from the previous mid-term, many observers expected Gallego to re-claim the seat and were again surprised when the re-match evolved into a rerun.

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The Texas Re-Draw

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 21, 2017 — The special three-judge panel considering Texas redistricting, which long ago declared the state’s 35th Congressional District as a racial gerrymander, issued a ruling earlier this week that contains re-drawing deadlines.

Early in the decade the panel declared District 35, a seat containing parts of both Austin and San Antonio connected by a thin strip traveling south on Interstate 35 between the two cities and represented by veteran Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin), as violating parts of the Voting Rights Act. The ruling cited the intent of map creators to draw the seat using race as a primary basis. The evidence for such a decision consisted of emails among Republican staff members in the state legislature and Congress that proclaimed such a desire.

At the heart of the current issue is then-Attorney General Greg Abbott’s (R) decision to adopt the court’s temporary correction map as the state’s official plan. Once the legislature and governor agreed with his idea, the temporary map became permanent, which theoretically ended the process. The flaw in Abbott’s strategy, however, is the court declared at the time of issuance that the fixes were temporary and all of the problems were not corrected, meaning the plan was designed only to get through the 2014 election after which time the legislature was to create a permanent map.

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