Tag Archives: COVID

Ciattarelli, McAuliffe Win Respective Primaries for Governor in NJ, VA

Jack Ciattarelli , New Jersey

By Jim Ellis

June 9, 2021 — As expected, former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe, and ex-New Jersey state assemblyman, Jack Ciattarelli, won their respective Democratic and Republican primaries for governor last night in the two states holding major 2021 elections.

McAuliffe will face Republican Glenn Youngkin, who was nominated in a May hybrid party convention, while Ciattarelli will challenge Garden State Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who seeks a second term.

Former Virginia governor, Terry McAuliffe

Virginia, which is the only state that limits its governors to one consecutive term, sees McAuliffe, also a former Democratic National Committee chairman, returning to the campaign trail after a break in service. He was governor from 2013-2017, yielding to current Gov. Ralph Northam (D) four years ago. In last night’s vote, McAuliffe captured 62.3 percent of the vote against four challengers including scandal tainted Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax who attracted less than 18,000 votes (3.5 percent) and finished a poor fourth.

When compared to the 2017 Democratic primary, the 2021 cycle turnout lagged. Once the final votes are posted, it will be clear that Democratic participation was down approximately 10 percent from four years ago. This is largely because the governor’s race was not particularly competitive. It has been a foregone conclusion for months that McAuliffe would easily capture the party nomination.

The lieutenant governor’s contest went to state Delegate Hala Ayala (D-Woodbridge) as she defeated fellow state Delegate Sam Rasoul (D-Roanoke) 39-25 percent, in a field comprised of six candidates. The attorney general’s race was relatively close and showed weakness for incumbent Mark Herring as he defeated state Delegate Jay Jones (D-Norfolk), 56-43 percent, a poor showing for a two-term incumbent in his own party. The primary result suggests that Herring could find himself in a general election battle with GOP nominee Jason Miyares, a state Delegate from Virginia Beach.

Continue reading

NM-1: A Pattern?

By Jim Ellis

Albuquerque, New Mexico-anchored NM-1 Congressional District

June 4, 2021 — Several media reports — typified by an MSNBC website analysis article that Steve Benen authored after Tuesday’s New Mexico special election — are trying to make the point that Melanie Stansbury’s landslide victory is a potential benchmark for future Democratic victories. Such a conclusion is a stretch.

The two-pronged premise is that Stansbury was so strong that she even ran ahead of President Biden’s performance in the district, and that the Republican campaign’s emphasis on the crime problem and the national effort to defund the police proved a political failure.

While Stansbury, a two-term state representative, scored a 60-36 percent win in the Albuquerque anchored congressional district that former Rep. Deb Haaland (D) resigned to become US Interior Secretary, her performance is not unusual. In fact, her vote total was less than two points above the mean average Democratic congressional percentage since the party converted the seat from the Republicans back in 2008.

To the argument that Stansbury’s victory margin was larger than President Biden’s 60-37 percent spread against then-President Trump, and it was only one percentage point better, it is not unusual for a House campaign to outperform the top of the ticket. In most instances, the congressional winner is better known than his or her competitor, has greater funding and outside support, and is consistently in position to overwhelm the opposition. Such is rarely the case in a national presidential campaign or in a major statewide contest for senator or governor.

The crime issue was certainly a focal point of Republican nominee Mark Moores, an Albuquerque state senator. The national party, however, did very little to support Moores, virtually conceding the race from the outset based upon the voting history here for more than a decade.

For an underdog candidate in Moores position, emphasizing the crime issue, on paper, made sense as a point of attack. Albuquerque, according to FBI statistics has the ninth worst violent crime statistics in the country, meaning 1,352 crimes per 100,000 residents according to the latest available figures (2019). To put this number in perspective, Chicago, which has drawn much national media attention for its high murder rate, ranks 31st on the same scale, at 943 crimes per 100,000 city residents.

Perhaps one reason the crime issue did not propel the Moores candidacy is there was no serious effort to defund the Albuquerque Police Department, nor is there the sharp racial tension that is present in some of the cities where we saw serious problems along with a local movement to reorder policing.

Continue reading

Census Delays: Some Ramifications

By Jim Ellis

June 1, 2021 — As we know, the Census Bureau has delayed in meeting its public reporting deadlines, which causes ramifications in the political world. As a result, the state officials responsible for redistricting could well find themselves placed behind the proverbial eight ball as the new year approaches.

Reapportionment is the term used to explain the entire decennial process. Reapportionment, as the US Supreme Court defined it in their 1999 ruling on the US Census Bureau v. House of Representatives case, is basically divided into two parts. The first, which was finally completed and released on April 26, is the allocation of congressional seats to the states. The second is the re-drawing of congressional, state, and local district boundaries most often referred to as redistricting.

To complicate matters even further, the delayed allocation proved much different – affecting six seats to be exact – than predictions. It was believed for at least two years that Texas would gain three seats in the 2020 reapportionment and Florida two, with Arizona, Colorado, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon adding one seat apiece. The actual numbers found Texas gaining two, Florida one, and Arizona none. The other one-seat gaining states were correctly predicted.

Conversely, Alabama, California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and West Virginia were all expected to lose one seat apiece. The actual report found Alabama, Minnesota, and Rhode Island each retaining the same number of seats they held in the 2010 reapportionment, while the others did lose a single district apiece.

The Census Bureau claims that COVID is largely responsible for their delays, but the state of Alabama, in their pending lawsuit against the federal statistical entity, disagrees. Alabama claims the deadline violations occurred because of the Bureau’s attempt to impose, for the first time in history, differential privacy over the data. This means, under the argument of protecting individual privacy, data would be deliberately scrambled, and certain information not publicly released.

Differential privacy alone would make redistricting extremely difficult for state map drawers because the released census tract numbers, now by definition, wouldn’t equal the state population figures brought forth earlier in the year. The effect would cause political havoc throughout the country. A court ruling on the Alabama case is expected shortly.

Because of a successful legal challenge from Ohio, the Census Bureau has agreed to make the data necessary for redistricting available to the states by Aug. 15 instead of the Oct. 1 date indicated when allocation was announced.

Continue reading

TX-6: Analyzing a Mild Upset

By Jim Ellis

May 5, 2021 — With many observers in and out of Texas conceding that Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez had a chance to finish first in Saturday’s special jungle primary to begin the process of replacing the late Rep. Ron Wright (R-Arlington), it came as at least a mild surprise to see her failing to even qualify for the secondary election. The final result yielded two Republicans advancing from the huge field of 23 candidates.

Finishing first was Susan Wright (R), the late congressman’s widow, which was not a particularly surprising result as virtually every analyst and available polling data conceded her one of the two runoff positions.

The race got particularly nasty, however, towards the end. An anonymous robocall – one without a legal disclaimer – flooded the district a day before the election claiming Ms. Wright murdered her husband to redeem a $1 million insurance policy. The call text said she deliberately contracted COVID in order to intentionally infect her husband. Rep. Wright died in early February after a long battle with cancer and COVID. Ms. Wright’s attorneys have referred the matter to the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the Tarrant County District Attorney.

Freshman state Rep. Jake Ellzey (R-Waxahachie) edged Sanchez for second place; Ellzey ran against Ron Wright when the congressional seat was last open in 2018 and forced him into a runoff.

For more than a generation, the 6th District was a Republican bastion. Rep. Joe Barton (R), Rep. Wright’s predecessor and former boss when the latter man served as a congressional district office director, held four variations of the 6th over a long 34-year congressional career. The electorate began to turn when Rep. Wright won two underwhelming victories and Democrats significantly closed the partisan gap at the presidential level (’20, Trump 51-48 percent; ’16, Trump 54-42 percent).

Continue reading

Rep. Zeldin Declares for Governor

By Jim Ellis

Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)

April 12, 2021 — Long Island US Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) announced late last week that he will run for governor next year in hopes of facing beleaguered New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D). The move appears to be a risky one in that Zeldin would be jettisoning a relatively safe Republican congressional seat that is almost redistricting proof for a statewide race in very unfriendly political territory for his party.

Should Gov. Cuomo survive the impeachment offensive against him and seek and win re-nomination, then Zeldin would be in position to wage a competitive challenge campaign. Against any other Democrat, however, the pendulum undeniably swings back to the left.

Rep. Zeldin’s 1st Congressional District is essentially secure under almost any potential redistricting map because water borders the far eastern Long Island seat on three sides. Therefore, the only way the district can move is west meaning the core constituency remains intact. Of course, a lot depends upon whether New York loses one or two seats in reapportionment.

The only way to fundamentally change the 1st is to cut Districts 1 and 2 (Rep. Andrew Garbarino; R-Sayville/Islip) horizontally but doing so could conceivably make Democratic Reps. Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Kathleen Rice’s (D-Garden City) districts more Republican. Irrespective of what occurs with redistricting, Rep. Zeldin is likely risking a relatively secure political future in what possibly becomes a Republican controlled House of Representatives.

The Zeldin announcement, however, doesn’t mean he, or any other potential candidate, couldn’t change their minds. Candidate filing in New York for the 2022 election cycle will be set for April of next year prior to the June primary, and the region’s politics will change a great deal during the time interval between now and then.

At this point, the Cuomo situation seems to have stabilized. No longer are we seeing daily announcements of different women coming forward to accuse the governor of inappropriate sexual oriented behavior. Furthermore, the investigation into the COVID-related nursing home deaths, a more serious situation than the sexual impropriety allegations, will take a long time to unfold.

With the governor steadfastly refusing to resign, the state Assembly has introduced articles of impeachment against him. In the past two weeks, key legislative leaders have said that such a procedure is likely to consume months rather than weeks, so the odds of Cuomo being able to hold on throughout the remainder of the term are increasing.

Continue reading