Tag Archives: Iowa

2022: The Unannounced

By Jim Ellis

July 19, 2021 — The Fox News website ran a story late last week saying that there remain five in-cycle US senators who have not yet revealed their political plans for 2022. Below is a review of those senators’ political situations and clues that could provide a glimpse whether they are headed toward re-election or retirement.

The best hints will be forthcoming in a matter of days as the second quarter campaign financial disclosure reports will be released shortly on the Federal Election Commission website. Last Thursday was the deadline for filing the reports for the period covering April 1 through June 30.

The five senators, listed alphabetically by state are Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), John Thune (R-SD), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), and Ron Johnson (R-WI).


Sen. Murkowski:

State: Alaska
Appointed: 2002
Re-elected: 2004, 2010, 2016
Age at time of 2022 election: 65
Victory Margin 2016: 44.4 – 29.2%

Announced Major Opponents:
• Karl Speights (R) – Retired Air Force officer
• Kelly Tshibaka (R) – Former AK Administration Commissioner

It is assumed that Sen. Murkowski will run for re-election, though her return path to Washington may be a difficult one to traverse. Last night, her campaign spokesperson stated that the Senator’s second quarter disclosure report would show $1.15 million raised for the quarter with $2.3 million cash-on-hand. These are financial numbers that suggest she will seek re-election.

Alaska has changed its nominating system and will be the first state to adopt a “top four” primary procedure. Similar to California, Louisiana, and Washington that use the jungle primary format to send the top two candidates to the general election, Alaska will instead advance the top four from the slate primary. The change virtually ensures that Sen. Murkowski will not again lose the Republican primary as she did in the 2010 election. In that year, she was forced to run a highly efficient general election write-in operation to win her second full term.

Early polling numbers find Sen. Murkowski with very poor favorability numbers among Republicans and running a distant third behind Kelly Tshibaka (R), who is already the state Republican Party’s officially endorsed candidate. Dr. Al Gross (D), the 2020 Senate nominee, has not yet committed to running again, but he, too, runs ahead of the Senator in the previously released surveys.

While the top four system guarantees Sen. Murkowski will secure a ballot position for the general election, winning her re-election is in doubt.


Sen. Grassley:

State: Iowa
First Elected: 1980
Re-elected: 1986, 1992, 1998, 2004, 2010, 2016
Age at time of 2022 election: 89
Victory Margin 2016: 60.1 – 35.7%

Announced Major Opponents:
• Jim Carlin (R) – State Senator; former State Representative
• Glenn Hurst (D) – Minden City Councilman; Physician
• Dave Muhlbauer (D) – Ex-Crawford County Commissioner; Farmer

Last week Sen. Grassley stated that he would make his political plan public before Nov. 1. Despite his advanced age, it is presumed in all sectors now that Sen. Grassley will seek re-election. He has filed a 2022 campaign committee with the FEC, has a semi-updated website, and it will be interesting to see how active his fundraising became in the second quarter. His March 31 report revealed a cash-on-hand figure of $2.04 million to begin the re-election cycle.

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Senate: Recapping the Latest

By Jim Ellis

June 21, 2021 — We have seen quite a few recent US Senate moves that help set the picture for a very competitive 2022 election cycle that will almost certainly break the current 50-50 chamber tie. Below is a recap of the action:

Alabama: Katie Britt (R), the former president and CEO of the Alabama Business Council joined the race and immediately secured the endorsement of her former boss, retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R). Before joining the Business Council, Britt was the senator’s chief of staff. She joins Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville) and former US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard in the GOP field. No Democrat has yet announced.

Arizona: Two-term Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) announced his candidacy in the past week, giving the GOP a candidate who has won statewide to face freshman Sen. Mark Kelly (D), who stands for a full six-year term in 2022 after winning the 2020 special election. Also in the Republican field are retired Air Force Major General Mick McGuire and solar energy company executive Jim Lamon. Venture capitalist Blake Masters and US Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Gilbert) remain as possible candidates.

Florida: US Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando), the former police chief whose husband is mayor of Orange County and the former county Sheriff, formally announced her US Senate challenge to Sen. Marco Rubio (R). Former congressman Alan Grayson and Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell are also Democratic US Senate candidates, among others.

Georgia: Former University of Georgia football star and NFL player Herschel Walker (R) is re-locating back to his home state from Texas ostensibly to soon announce a challenge to freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) who, like Sen. Kelly in Arizona, must stand for a full six-year term in 2022 after winning a 2020 special election. Also in the GOP nomination race are state Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, construction company owner Kelvin King, and financial executive and former Trump White House staff member Latham Saddler.

Iowa: Sen. Chuck Grassley (R), who will be 89 at the next election, appears poised to seek an eighth term. At this point, state Sen. Jim Carlin (R-Sioux City) is an announced Republican primary challenger, and ex-Crawford County Supervisor Dave Muhlbauer (D) is the lone Democratic announced candidate. Former one-term US Rep. Abby Finkenauer is a potential candidate along with current US Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines), and Waterloo Mayor Quentin Hart.

Missouri: Six-term US Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Harrisonville/Columbia) is the latest Republican to join the open field with Sen. Roy Blunt (R) retiring. She will oppose former governor, Eric Greitens, Attorney General Eric Schmitt, and St. Louis attorney Mark McCloskey, with US Reps. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin), Billy Long (R-Springfield), and Jason Smith (R-Salem) remaining as possible candidates.

Former St. Louis area state Sen. Scott Sifton is the lone prominent announced Democrat. Ex-governor, Jay Nixon, and Kansas City Mayor Quentin Lucas are potential Democratic candidates.

Nevada: The Republican leadership believes that former Attorney General and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Adam Laxalt, grandson of the late former Sen. Paul Laxalt (R), will soon announce his Senate candidacy to oppose first-term Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D).

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Latest Senate News – Part I

By Jim Ellis

May 27, 2021 — Incumbents, candidates, and potential candidates are making political moves in some key upcoming 2022 Senate races, which makes now a good time to review the latest happenings. Today we look at the significant developing races alphabetically from Alabama through Nevada. Tomorrow, we cover the remainder.

• Alabama: Sen. Richard Shelby (R) is retiring, and the early Republican primary battle looks to be a match between Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Huntsville), armed with an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, and ex-US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard who is promising to personally spend $5 million on her campaign.

No Democrat has yet come forward to declare a candidacy. US Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Birmingham), the lone Democratic member of the congressional delegation, has already said she that will seek re-election next year and not run statewide.

• Arizona: Sen. Mark Kelly (D), who won the 2020 special election, must stand for a full six-year term in this election cycle. At this point, four Republicans are in the mix. Term-limited Attorney General Mark Brnovich appears poised to enter the race. Venture capitalist Blake Masters, with presumed major backing from billionaire donor Peter Thiel, is likely to run, as is retired Air Force Major General Michael McGuire. Solar energy company executive Jim Lamon has already announced his candidacy.

This will be a top-tier 2022 Senate campaign and is considered a must-win for both parties.

• Florida: The Sunshine State has been drawing a great deal of political media attention of late, all concerning House members looking to run statewide. It now appears set that Rep. Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) is in the governor’s race, while Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) seeks re-election, and Rep. Val Demings (D-Orlando) appears set to announce her challenge against two-term Sen. Marco Rubio (R).

The Florida Senate race will be competitive because campaigns in this state are always close and Rep. Demings will be a strong opponent. Incumbent Sen. Rubio, however, begins with a clear advantage.

• Georgia: Like Sen. Kelly in Arizona, freshman Georgia Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) won the special 2020 election to serve the balance of an unexpired term. He, too, must stand for a full six-year term next year.

At this point, now that former Rep. Doug Collins says he won’t run, most of the attention centers around former Georgia football legend Herschel Walker (R) and whether he will return from Texas to challenge Sen. Warnock. Walker promises a decision by summer.

If the former football star chooses to pass, Rep. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler/Savannah) says he will run. Banking executive Latham Saddler and construction company owner Kelvin King are the announced GOP candidates. The list of potential Republican candidates is long with state House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) being the latest to discuss the race with national GOP leaders.

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IA-2: Hart Concedes;
NM-1: Dems Nominate

Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa)

By Jim Ellis

April 2, 2021 — Former Iowa state senator, Rita Hart (D), withdrew her challenge late Wednesday afternoon, before the House Administration Committee pertaining to Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) six-vote victory in the November election. Also, the New Mexico Democratic State Central Committee met virtually over the past two days in order to choose a congressional nominee to fill the state’s 1st District vacancy. The seat is in special election cycle because Deb Haaland resigned her federal legislative office in order to join the Biden cabinet as Interior Secretary. Details below:

Iowa

In a released statement, IA-2 challenger Hart said, “Despite our best efforts to have every vote counted, the reality is that the toxic campaign of political disinformation to attack this constitutional review of the closest congressional contest in 100 years has effectively silenced the voices of Iowans.”

In actuality, the miniscule victory margin is the first such result of this type since 1984, not in 100 years, when in a similar case the House of Representatives decided in early 1985 that then-Rep. Frank McCloskey (D-IN) was re-elected with a four-vote margin.

The IA-2 result was a point of controversy ever since the new Congress was sworn into office on Jan. 3. Instead of challenging the six-vote margin in the Iowa court system, Hart chose to bring her complaint directly to the House of Representatives. She claimed that Iowa election authorities has not counted 22 legal ballots that would have changed the final outcome. The officials retorted that they rejected the ballots for various reasons of noncompliance with state election laws.

After the body’s internal organization process was completed, the House Administration Committee voted on a 6-3 party line vote to hear Hart’s case. There had been much chatter in the news media and blogosphere during the past two weeks about the Democratic leadership wanting to award the seat to Hart, thus displacing Rep. Miller-Meeks who had been provisionally seated on Jan. 3 pending the outcome of the Hart challenge.

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IA-2 Controversy Heating Up

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman, Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 31, 2021 — Iowa Democratic congressional candidate Rita Hart’s 2020 election result challenge has recently attracted significant media attention. With rhetoric sharpening on both sides over Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) state certified six-vote victory, let’s examine where the situation stands.

To review, Miller-Meeks held a 47-vote edge on the original canvass, a total that was reduced to just six votes after the state’s full recount. Miller-Meeks was certified the victor based upon the original final total, and then re-certified post recount. The bipartisan Iowa state canvassing board issued both certifications on unanimous votes.

The losing Democratic nominee, former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Hart, filed her challenge directly with the US House instead of turning to the Iowa court system. She claims there are 22 uncounted votes that would change the outcome. The local Iowa election authorities rejected these ballots for various reasons. At the time of commencement for the new Congress, the House seated Miller-Meeks provisionally until the Hart challenge is resolved.

The motion was referred to the House Administration Committee, a panel of six Democrats and three Republicans. California Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, is the committee chair. Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) is the ranking Republican member. The committee held one hearing on the challenge and agreed on a partisan roll call vote to conduct an investigation and hear her case. The committee has not voted to remove Rep. Miller-Meeks, nor has the case been sent from the committee to the House floor.

Should the complaint come before the full body, and with a 6-3 Democratic majority on the Administration Committee, chances are strong that the Hart case will advance, the Democratic leadership may have a difficult time in obtaining the votes to remove Miller-Meeks.

They certainly would face a united Republican conference, meaning 211 votes assuming that Miller-Meeks would not be allowed to vote on her own seating. If they move after the April 24 Louisiana special election where a double-Democratic runoff assures them of gaining an extra seat and increasing the majority conference total to 220, they could afford to lose no more than four Democratic votes in order to successfully take the seat from Miller-Meeks and award it to Hart.

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Will Miller-Meeks’ 6-Vote Win Stand?

By Jim Ellis

IA-2 Republican congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks

March 12, 2021 — Yesterday, the House Administration Committee met virtually to consider Iowa Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks’ (R-Ottumwa) motion to dismiss the Federal Contested Elections Act challenge from Democrat Rita Hart in relation to the state certified results of the 2020 congressional election in Iowa’s 2nd District. The committee voted 6-3 on partisan lines to postpone the dismissal action.

To review, Rep. Miller-Meeks’ victory margin is only six votes of 394,800 ballots cast. Hart is challenging the results before the House Administration Committee claiming that 22 ballots, enough to overturn the final result, were legal but not counted.

Yesterday’s hearing was procedural in that committee chair Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) moved to postpone hearing the dismissal motion in order for the members to fully consider Hart’s argument of contestant. Rep. Lofgren indicated that both the Iowa Republican and Democratic Parties, along with Iowa election officials, will be sent identical questionnaires to fully investigate the matter. This means we can expect a much longer process to fully examine the contested ballots, allow testimony, and review the Iowa recount process.

Committee Minority Ranking Member Rodney Davis (R-IL) countered, indicating that the Iowa officials have twice counted the votes and, as committee member Bryan Steil (R-WI) reported, recount boards in all 24 counties that form the 2nd District – three member panels comprised of a Miller-Meeks’ appointed member, a Hart appointed member, and a county appointed member – all agreed on the final totals in each local entity.

Davis further explained to the committee members and listening audience that Hart, a former Iowa state senator and 2018 nominee for lieutenant governor, had eschewed the available legal process, which is to petition the Iowa court system. Davis said he concludes Hart made the decision to come directly to the House because she knew the courts would reject her legal arguments.

The Iowa recount process changed the original totals. The first reported outcome revealed a 44-vote Miller-Meeks margin. It then dropped to 30 votes during the recount and Scott County (Davenport), the district’s largest entity, reduced the number even further culminating in the current six-vote final result that the Iowa secretary of state certified as official, with which the bipartisan Iowa Election Canvass Board unanimously concurred. On Jan. 3rd, the House voted to provisionally seat Miller-Meeks until the Hart challenge is resolved.

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Judge Orders Tenney Certified

By Jim Ellis

Former New York Rep. Claudia Tenney (R)

Feb. 9, 2021 — After more than three months of legal wrangling about whether former Rep. Claudia Tenney (R) defeated 116th Congress Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D-Utica) in New York’s 22nd Congressional District, a judicial ruling on Friday afternoon at last paves the way for a final certification from the New York State Board of Elections.

The NY-22 campaign is obviously the last to receive an initial final count. Another result, from the IA-2 contest that came down to a six-vote margin, is before in the House of Representatives. In this instance, the state of Iowa long ago certified that victory margin and Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa) is provisionally seated pending a challenge referred to the House Administration Committee.

Returning to the New York situation, State Supreme Court of Oswego County Justice Scott DelConte early last week ordered election representatives from the eight counties, all or parts of which comprise the 22nd District, to appear in his court and certify the final totals, but he then suspended the order. This, after Brindisi appealed indicating that such a decision would cause him “irreparable harm.” Justice DelConte responded, saying he would take the motion under advisement until Feb. 5.

With his new ruling, Justice DelConte re-affirmed the previous order for the counties to send their certified totals to the state Board of Elections. The aggregate electoral sum will reflect a Tenney victory margin of 109 votes. The initial public count on Election Night ended with her leading by over 28,000 votes, which would drop to her trailing by just 14 tallies when the outstanding mail ballots from several counties were added. The post-election tabulation that included late-arriving votes from overseas and other ancillary ballots was then adjusted into a Tenney 12-vote edge and later 29, before yielding to an unofficial preliminary final count of a 122-vote spread.

Now, after the Justice has ruled on all contested votes – more than 600 after the two parties agreed on resolutions to an additional 500-plus ballots – a Tenney victory margin of 109 votes becomes the official final tally that will be transmitted to the state.

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