Tag Archives: Dr. Al Gross

Utah’s Sen. Lee in Competitive Primary; Cheney’s Tumbling Numbers in WY

By Jim Ellis — June 13, 2022

Senate

Utah: McMullin Competitive with Sen. Lee — A new Dan Jones & Associates survey for the Deseret News and the Hinckley Institute of Politics (May 24-June 4; 810 registered Utah voters; live interview) suggests that the Utah Democrats’ move to forego fielding their own party nominee and instead coalescing behind Independent former presidential candidate Evan McMullin was the right course of action. The general election ballot test finds Sen. Mike Lee leading McMullin only 41-37 percent. It is probable that Sen. Lee is in better standing than this poll indicates, but it does appear that the Democrats’ coalition move apparently makes this race significantly more competitive.

House

Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY), one of 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach former President Donald Trump.

WY-AL: Rep. Cheney Decimated in New Poll — A new survey from the Fabrizio Lee & Associates firm conducted for the Wyoming Values PAC (June 1-2; 400 likely Wyoming Republican primary voters; live interview and text of a repeat universe from the Dec. 14-15 poll) reveals a brewing landslide for challenger Harriet Hageman in her Aug. 16 Republican primary contest with at-large US Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson). The poll shows just how upset the Wyoming Republican voter base is with Rep. Cheney, as her personal favorability of 26:73 percent favorable to unfavorable is even worse than her atrocious job approval rating of 27:70 percent.

On the ballot test, Hageman leads the congresswoman 56-28 percent with state Sen. Anthony Bouchard (R-Laramie) trailing badly at the eight percent support level. This is a significant improvement for Hageman, who led in the December poll only 34-26 percent. The Fabrizio Lee numbers are also consistent with a recent Club for Growth survey that found an almost identical 56-28 percent division in favor of Hageman.

AL-5: New Runoff Data — The May 24 open 5th Congressional District Republican primary ended with Madison County Commission chairman Dale Strong and former Assistant US Army Secretary Casey Wardynski advancing into a June 21 runoff. Strong led in the first vote, 45-23 percent, which was five points short of clinching the party nomination outright. The Cygnal research organization conducted their survey (June 4-6; 400 likely AL-5 GOP runoff voters) and it posts Strong to a 46-31 percent lead, similar to the actual primary election’s finish. The winner replaces current representative and US Senate contender Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) in the northern Alabama congressional district.

AK-AL: Special Primary Election — The special primary, the first step in replacing the late Rep. Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), will be held Saturday. Voting in the all-mail primary has been going on for the past several weeks, and is scheduled to culminate this weekend. The huge field of 48 candidates, all placed on the same ballot in a jungle primary format, will be whittled to four, as the state’s new top-four qualification system is in use for the first time.

It appears likely that former governor and 2008 vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, party-endorsed Republican candidate Nick Begich III, and Independent surgeon Al Gross, who was the 2020 Democratic nominee for Senate, will advance into the special general election to be held concurrently with the regular state primary on Aug. 16. The fourth qualifying position appears up for grabs, with Anchorage Democratic City Assemblyman Chris Constant, state Sen. Josh Revak (R-Anchorage), who Anne Young, the late congressman’s widow, endorses, state Rep. Adam Wool (R-Fairbanks), and several others all vying for the final chance to slip into the general election.

The special general will be a regular in-person vote. If no one receives majority support in that election, the Ranked Choice Voting system takes effect. All voters will have ranked their choices from 1-4, and the process continues through rounds and candidate elimination until one contender breaks the 50 percent majority support level.

FL-2: Rep. Lawson Announces Bid — In another indication that the congressional redistricting map Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) drove through the legislature will be the plan at least for the 2022 election despite its legal challenges, Rep. Al Lawson (D-Tallahassee), whose 5th District was collapsed in the draw, has announced his re-election intentions. He will challenge GOP Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Panama City) in the new 2nd District.

This new 2nd contains Rep. Lawson’s home city of Tallahassee, a Democratic domain, but is also rated as R+16 from the FiveThirtyEight data organization, and earns a 54.5 percent R – 43.8 percent D rating from Dave’s Redistricting App. Former President Trump would have carried this new district 55-44 percent in the 2020 election. Looking at these ratings and numbers suggests that Rep. Lawson has a difficult road ahead of him if he is to return to the House next year.

Sarah Palin to Run for House

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate, is now running for the open at-large US House seat in The Last Frontier state.

By Jim Ellis

April 5, 2022 — Former Republican vice presidential nominee and ex-Alaska governor, Sarah Palin, filed at Friday’s candidate declaration deadline to enter the special election being held June 11 to replace the late at-large congressman, Rep. Don Young (R-AK).

Along with Palin, 17 others also filed. The state officials will release the qualified list at some point this week. Of the preliminary group, nine are Republican, eight are Independent or from minor parties, and just one, local Anchorage Assemblyman Chris Constant, is a Democrat.

The June 11 special primary will be interesting since it is the first test of Alaska’s new electoral system that places everyone together on a jungle ballot and sends the top four, regardless of party preference, to the special general election. The special primary will be conducted through the mail.

The special general will be run concurrently with the Alaska regular primary election on Aug. 16. Therefore, those casting ballots will both choose a special election winner and nominees for the regular election at the same time, but in two separate votes.

Should no one from the top four reach the 50 percent threshold in the special general election, then the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) system is utilized to choose a winner. The voters rank their choices one to four. Without anyone getting majority support, the last-place finisher is eliminated, and those ballots ranking that candidate first are located, and their second choices are added to the candidate totals. This process continues in rounds until one of the candidates obtains majority support. At that point, said candidate is awarded the seat and will serve the balance of the current term.

The filing deadline for the regular primary is June 1, and those running in the special, including Palin, may or may not file for the regular term. At this point, all are expected to do so.

In addition to Palin, some of the key candidates include Dr. Al Gross, who was the Democratic nominee for Senate in 2020 and raised and spent almost $20 million in his unsuccessful challenge of Sen. Dan Sullivan (R). In this special election, Dr. Gross is running as an Independent.

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Alaska Special Election Set

By Jim Ellis

Alaska’s At-Large Congressman, the late Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon)

March 24, 2022 — Decisions have been made about the special election calendar to replace the late at-large Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon).

Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) has set June 11 as the special primary election day, and the vote will be conducted through the mail. Alaska’s new top-four jungle primary system will be in play, meaning that four competitors will advance into the special general election, regardless of party affiliation.

The special general will be run concurrently with the Aug. 16 regular primary election, meaning candidates will be placed separately on the ballot for both the special election and the regular full term.

If no candidate receives majority support in the Aug. 16 special election, the Ranked Choice Voting System will take effect. Voters would rank their choices from first to four just for the special general. Since no one would have received 50 percent, the last-place finisher is eliminated and the ballots that ranked the last place finisher as their first choice are located, and only their second choices are then added to the total. This process continues until one of the candidates reaches 50 percent.

This means that voters will rank the four finalists for the special general and then vote for one of the regular primary candidates for the Nov. 8 election during the same voting process on Aug. 16, or the date on which they choose to vote early.

Since Alaska’s at-large House seat has not been open since the 1973 special election when Rep. Young was originally elected, a large special election field will form. Already, Nick Begich III, grandson of Rep. Young’s first Democratic opponent back in 1972, then-Congressman Nick Begich (D) who perished in a plane crash shortly before the regular general election, is in the field but as a Republican. He had announced against Young in the Republican primary before the congressman’s death.

Also saying he will run both in the special and regular elections, as did Begich, is Anchorage City Assemblyman Chris Constant (D).

The Democratic/Independent 2020 US Senate nominee who raised and spent over $19.5 million to unsuccessfully challenge GOP Sen. Dan Sullivan, surgeon Al Gross, publicly said that he, too, plans to enter the open seat campaign. Dr. Gross begins the race with a reported $200,000 (approximate) in remaining campaign funds, obviously a big advantage.

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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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Alaska Senate: A Re-Emergence

By Jim Ellis

Sarah Palin, former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate

Aug. 4, 2021 — The Alaska Survey Research firm released a new Alaska Senate poll finding Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) improving her standing, but an even more drastic potential development has surfaced.

The poll (July 11-21; 947 registered Alaska voters, online) shows Sen. Murkowski posting her best numbers of the year, leading former State Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka (R), 36-27 percent. Tshibaka, already the candidate who the Alaska Republican Party and former President Donald Trump have officially endorsed, was leading the senator in earlier published surveys (Change Research: May 22-25; 1,023 likely Alaska voters, Tshibaka 39-19 percent. Cygnal: released March 29; 500 registered Alaska voters, Tshibaka 34-19 percent).

In the July ASR poll, state Sen. Elvi Gray-Jackson (D-Anchorage) and former Senate nominee Joe Miller (R/Libertarian) trailed the two leaders with 19 and 18 percent, respectively. Under Alaska’s new top-four primary system, all four of these candidates, however, would advance into the general election.

In even better news for Sen. Murkowski, the ASR poll tested her against Tshibaka in a head-to-head match-up and the incumbent would defeat the challenger, 55-45 percent. The bad news for Murkowski is the new Alaska voting system will not allow for such a pairing. Beginning with the 2022 election, all candidates run on a jungle primary ballot in the Aug. 16, 2022, nomination contest and the top four contenders, regardless of percentage attained will advance into the general election. Therefore, testing for a one-on-one ballot test should no longer be applicable in analyzing the Alaska electoral system.

Beyond the poll, a new development could be on the Alaska political horizon. Over the weekend, former Alaska governor and 2008 vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, addressed a group of evangelical Christian leaders. Asked if she would run for the Senate, Palin retorted, “if God wants me to run for the US Senate next year, I will.” She then, however, scolded the leaders saying, “I would say you guys better be there for me this time, because a lot of people were not there for me last time.”

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