Tag Archives: Donald Trump

New Mexico Lines Completed

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 15, 2021 — Though only a three-congressional district state, New Mexico is playing an important role in the 2021 redistricting cycle. The state is one of only four where Democrats fully control the redistricting process and can make gains.

The map that passed the legislature Monday and which was immediately sent to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) for her signature appears to clinch the one-seat gain that national Democrats need from the state. On the other hand, it is likely that at least one of their current seats becomes more vulnerable.

Though Democrats have 15 legislative trifectas — that is where they hold the offices of governor, state Senate, and state House of Representatives — they effectively have only four for redistricting. In five of their trifecta states, redistricting has been sent to a citizens or politician (New Jersey) commission. In another six, they are maxed, meaning the Democrats already have all the seats that they can possibly win in each domain.

Ironically, the current Land of Enchantment map needed only minor adjustments to bring the redistricting plan into legal population compliance. The state’s per district resident quota is 705,841 individuals, and the three current districts were only between 3,082 and 11,290 people away from being in full compliance. Districts 2 and 3 needed to shed a combined 11,290 individuals to District 1, and the map would have balanced.

Instead, the Democratic leadership made major changes all centered around transforming freshman Rep. Yvette Herrell’s (R-Alamogordo) 2nd CD into a Democratic advantage. The US Department of Justice just filed suit against the Texas redistricting map under a partisan gerrymander argument, so it is curious to see whether they follow the same course and bring forth a similar partisan gerrymander lawsuit in New Mexico and Illinois, places where Democrats control the redistricting pen.

New Mexico is also interesting in that all three of the state’s delegation members, Reps. Melanie Stansbury, (D-Albuquerque) and Teresa Leger Fernandez (D-Santa Fe), as well as Herrell, are freshmen. In fact, Stansbury is even behind the other two in seniority since she won her seat in a June 1 special election to replace resigned Rep. Deb Haaland (D), who left the House to become US Interior Secretary in the Biden Administration.

For the first time, the redesigned New Mexico congressional map splits the state’s dominant city of Albuquerque. Drawing the southern 2nd District into the Albuquerque metropolitan area provides the Democrats the ability to enhance the party’s chances of flipping the seat. Throughout New Mexico’s history, the city has been fully contained within the 1st Congressional District.
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Rep. Devin Nunes to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Ten-term US Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA)

Dec. 8, 2021 — Ten-term US Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) will leave Congress at the end of this year according to an announcement made late Monday.

Rep. Nunes, the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee and the man who appeared to have the inside track to become chairman of the House Ways & Means Committee if the Republicans re-gain the chamber majority next year, will become CEO of the Trump Media & Technology Group that former President Donald Trump is launching.

While the congressman, who was first elected in 2002 to his Central Valley California seat, will leave the legislative scene, he certainly will still be very active in politics as he attempts to position a new social media platform that will give right of center individuals a greater voice in the public issues discussion arena.

“The time has come to reopen the Internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship,” Nunes was quoted as reported in the New York Post. “The United States of America made the dream of the Internet a reality and it will be an American company that restores the dream. I’m humbled and honored President Trump has asked me to lead the mission and the world-class team that will deliver on this promise,” Nunes concluded.

Rep. Nunes’ departure creates major change in the Central Valley’s politics. His current 22nd District is one of the just seven California districts that Trump carried in the 2020 presidential election campaign.

One would think that a special election would be called with a year remaining on the term, but in a similarly timed situation in 2020, when then-Rep. Duncan Hunter (R) resigned in January, such was not the case. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D), taking advantage of a quirk in California election law, was able to leave Hunter’s 50th District – like the Nunes seat, a safe Republican domain – vacant for the balance of the entire year.

Considering that the likely special election winner in the Nunes Fresno County-anchored district would be a Republican, and cognizant of the ongoing redistricting process, it is entirely possible that Newsom will again let the seat remain vacant for all of 2022.

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Perdue to Challenge Kemp in Georgia

By Jim Ellis

Former US Sen. David Perdue (R-GA)

Dec. 7, 2021 — Something that has been rumored about and speculated upon for weeks has finally come to fruition. Defeated Sen. David Perdue has formally announced that he will challenge Gov. Brian Kemp in next year’s Republican primary.

The serious primary challenge is part of the aftermath from the 2020 election controversy where Gov. Kemp’s perceived handling of the voter fraud complaints and challenges left a significant portion of the Republican base expressing discontent. Former President Donald Trump has many times attacked Kemp on the subject and is one of the key people behind Perdue’s fledgling gubernatorial candidacy. Trump is expected to play a large role in the primary.

Georgia Gov Brian Kemp

Sen. Perdue lost his seat in the 2020 post-general runoff to Jon Ossoff (D) by a 50.6 – 49.4 percent count (54,944 votes of a total turnout of 4.48 million) after placing first in the general election by almost two full percentage points. Georgia has a majority victory rule, however, that requires all candidates to win their elections with more than 50 percent. In the November vote, Sen. Perdue fell just one-quarter percent short of securing outright victory.

One of the reasons he lost is the state’s strongest Republican counties didn’t perform in the runoff as strongly as did the best Democratic counties. Many Republicans, it is believed, did not return for the runoff because they listened to some of the key Trump leaders, including the former president himself, argue that the Georgia election system is “rigged.”

Gov. Kemp was elected in 2018, winning the primary largely because he positioned himself far to the right, thus successfully appealing to the ardent Trump Republican voter. After moderating for the general election campaign, Kemp defeated former state House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams (D) by just 54,723 votes, an almost identical number to the difference between the Ossoff-Perdue election two years later. She, like Trump, challenged the election results.

The relationship between Gov. Kemp and Trump first became strained when the former disregarded the latter’s endorsed candidate for the US Senate appointment: then-Rep. Doug Collins who was in the running to replace resigned Sen. Johnny Isakson. The three-term senator, former House member and state legislative leader, was forced to leave office for health reasons, thus allowing the governor to appoint an interim successor.

Instead of Collins, Gov. Kemp chose billionaire businesswoman Kelly Loeffler, who would go onto lose her special election runoff campaign to current Sen. Raphael Warnock (D).

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The “Fail Up” Senate Candidates

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 16, 2021 — There is an interesting phenomenon developing in the 2022 US Senate races, and that is the number of currently leading primary nomination candidates who have lost their last race. No less than five current US Senate contenders, all topping the latest polling, were defeated the last time they were on the ballot, some even in political campaigns for offices with less prominence.

In recent election years, we’ve seen a number of candidates lose a race and then attempt to “fail up” in the next campaign year. Most of the time, the same result occurs. The seemingly lone exception to the rule is Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff (D), who lost a special election for the US House in 2017 only to run for the Senate in 2020 and be elected.

Turning to 2022 and the unusually high number of such “fail up” candidates allows us to see if this pattern can reverse itself, or if the vast majority of these contenders will again find themselves on the short end of the vote totals when their election cycle ends either in the nomination contest or general election.

The 2022 “fail up” Senate candidates are Abby Finkenauer (D) in Iowa, Adam Laxalt (R) from Nevada, Pat McCrory (R) and Cheri Beasley (D) in North Carolina, and Pennsylvania’s Sean Parnell (R). Dr. Al Gross, who lost the 2020 Senate race in Alaska is a possibility to enter the 2022 race in the Last Frontier, but so far has not announced his candidacy.

Finkenauer, a Democrat, is a former state representative and congresswoman from Dubuque, Iowa. She was elected to the House in 2018, only to lose her seat after one term, 50-47 percent, to current US Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids).

Finkenauer is leading in early polling for the Senate Democratic nomination as she and retired Navy admiral and defeated 2020 US Senate candidate Mike Franken battle to challenge venerable Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who has won seven US Senate elections. Early polling finds Finkenauer trailing by close to 20 points.

Laxalt was elected Nevada’s attorney general in 2014, but with only 46 percent of the vote in a place where his party swept all of the statewide offices in that election year with his being the lowest victory percentage. Laxalt then entered the open 2018 governor’s race but lost to current incumbent Steve Sisolak (D), 49-45 percent. The latest polling (September) finds him trailing Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) by five points in a Mellman Group survey but holding a two-point lead in a study from WPA Intelligence.

North Carolina actually features candidates in both parties leading in nomination polling after losing their last race. McCrory is the former governor who lost his 2016 re-election campaign, even while Donald Trump and seven other Republicans were winning their statewide elections.

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Illinois Redistricting Advances;
Rep. Kinzinger Out

Latest Illinois Congressional redistricting map

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — On Friday, the Illinois legislature voted to send a new congressional redistricting map to Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D), altering what they had drawn at the beginning of last week. This third map design came largely because of objections from both Reps. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) and Marie Newman (D-La Grange) who had been paired in one Chicago suburban district for the 2022 party primary.

A recent court decision rejecting the Illinois state legislative maps influenced the Democratic leadership to draw a second congressional map. A 10-year argument as to whether a second Hispanic seat should be drawn in Chicago this time became the principle discussion point.

In the 2011 redistricting plan, such a seat wasn’t drawn, and also wasn’t part of this year’s original Illinois congressional map. Seeing the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF) already threatening to sue over the first draw even before a final map had been adopted clearly was a factor in creating a second plan that did feature an additional Hispanic seat.

While this new third congressional version did assuage Rep. Casten and MALDEF, such was not the case for freshman Rep. Newman. She remains paired, but now with Rep. Jesus “Chuy” Garcia (D-Chicago) in an inner city Hispanic district. This is an even more difficult situation for Newman. She appears to be a leadership target likely because she defeated Chicago machine Democrat Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, and this latest map could well be a payback for her challenging the local party authorities.

Another political casualty is Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon). Facing a paired situation with Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) in a Republican primary for the newly drawn 16th District — mostly foreign territory for Kinzinger in a seat that stretches from the Wisconsin border all the way to central Illinois — the congressman announced on Friday that he will not seek re-election to a seventh term.

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Is the McCrory Lead a Mirage
In North Carolina Senate Race?

By Jim Ellis

Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory

Oct. 28, 2021 — Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign did something rather strange this week.

They released their internal Pubic Opinion Strategies poll, which in and of itself is not unusual, and extolled how well McCrory was running, but they did not publish the ballot test numbers in the polling synopsis. Why? Because the figures aren’t as good as meets the eye.

Once found, the ballot test shows McCrory leading Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance), 40-25 percent, a 15-point edge, which was truthfully cast as a double-digit lead. The underlying story, however, is that the ballot test actually represents a net gain of 20 percentage points for Budd.

In April, POS released their first public poll of the GOP primary and it showed McCrory leading Rep. Budd, 48-13 percent. Comparing the latest 40-25 percent result shows some sustained momentum for Rep. Budd in that McCrory’s support has dropped eight points while his own climbed a dozen.

A third candidate, former Rep. Mark Walker, only registered eight percent in this poll, but it is possible that he will not even file for the Senate at the Dec. 17 deadline. If the legislature moves forward with a version of the redistricting plan that puts the Greensboro area seat back in play for Republicans – a court decision robbed Walker of the House seat he held for three terms with their ruling changing the state’s congressional map before the 2020 election – it is quite possible that Walker would have the option of returning to a winnable House contest.

If Walker were to abandon the Senate race, it would be another plus for Rep. Budd. It is likely that more Walker voters will gravitate toward Budd than McCrory since they clearly are familiar with the former governor but chose not to back him in the three-way contest.

Pat McCrory was elected governor in 2012, but lost to then-Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) on the same night that Donald Trump claimed North Carolina against Hillary Clinton. In fact, Republicans won eight of 12 statewide elections that evening, with McCrory being the only GOP incumbent to fall.

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Illinois Democrats
Alter Congressional Map

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 27, 2021 — A legal setback in court at the end of last week over the Illinois state legislative maps has apparently been part of the reason the Democratic leadership issued a new congressional map this Monday. The changes are very significant leading to three sets of incumbent pairings.

The overall partisan goal of creating a 14D-3R map from the current 13D-5R map looks on paper to be achieved, at least using the 2020 presidential race as a benchmark. The statisticians at Dave’s Redistricting App released their quick calculations to support the partisan division, but in previous data sets we saw the underlying races trending more Republican in some districts than the presidential race alone would have suggested.

Under this supposition, thinking the underlying races may show greater Republican strength when they are fully calculated, the new Illinois map may be a bit more competitive than meets the eye.

The big change is the creation of a second Hispanic plurality open seat in Chicago. The Mexican American Legal Defense Foundation was preparing to file suit on the first plan charging that, among other points and for the second time in two decades, the legislature bypassed the opportunity of drawing a second Hispanic seat in the city even though the numbers were clearly supporting such an addition. The various pressure points caused the leadership to draw a new map containing the second Hispanic district.

This draw causes a Democratic incumbent pairing in Chicago. Freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange), who defeated former Rep. Dan Lipinski in the 2020 Democratic primary, would be placed in the same district as second-term Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove). Originally, Rep. Newman was paired with GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) in a general election battle that would have favored her.

This new 6th District is one of the seats that could play a bit more competitive than the 55-43 percent Biden-Trump result last November yields. Certainly, the pairing winner, and Rep. Casten is at least considered the early favorite, would have a big advantage in the general election. A strong Republican candidate and a wave GOP election could make even the general election in this district interesting.

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