Tag Archives: Jeff Jackson

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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Trump Endorsement Matters in North Carolina Senate Primary

By Jim Ellis

Former President Donald Trump’s endorsement changes the face of the race for Senate in North Carolina.

June 16, 2021 — North Carolina US Rep. Ted Budd’s (R-Advance) Senate campaign released an internal Meeting Street Insights poll (June 9-10; 500 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters, live interview) Monday that finds former President Donald Trump’s endorsement completely changes the 2022 statewide Republican primary.

Rep. Budd is challenging former Gov. Pat McCrory and ex-US Rep. Mark Walker for the GOP nomination succeeding Sen. Richard Burr (R) who is not seeking re-election to a fourth term.

According to Meeting Streets, former Gov. McCrory would lead the field, as other polls have shown, by a wide margin. On the first ballot test, McCrory scores 45 percent preference as opposed to 19 perecent for Rep. Budd, while 12 percent choose ex-representative Walker.

The picture drastically changes, however, when the pollsters ask if the respondent is aware that former President Trump has endorsed Rep. Budd. Only 20 percent of the sampling universe expressed knowledge of this development. On what the pollster terms the “educated” ballot test, meaning the respondent is told that Trump has, in fact, endorsed Rep. Budd, we see the drastic transformation.

With the Trump endorsement becoming known, Rep. Budd soars to the lead with 46 percent support, while McCrory drops to 27 percent, and ex-Rep. Walker falls to eight percent.

McCrory’s campaign fielded a Public Opinion Strategies survey in early April (April 6-8; 500 likely North Carolina Republican primary voters, live interview) and found the former governor leading 48-13-9 percent over Walker and Budd, respectively.

This was followed later in the month by a Spry Strategies study (April 21-24; 700 likely Republican North Carolina primary voters; combination live interview and interactive voice response system) that found a 40-11-5 percent split, again with Rep. Budd trailing his two opponents.

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Rep. Murphy to Challenge Sen. Rubio

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park)

May 14, 2021 — According to the Axios news site, insiders close to Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Winter Park) say that she has made the decision to challenge Sen. Marco Rubio (R) next year and will formally announce her campaign next month. The move had been expected for some time.

Rep. Murphy, a native of the country of Vietnam, was first elected to the House in 2016, defeating veteran Republican incumbent John Mica after the state Supreme Court had re-drawn the Florida congressional districts and made the 7th CD more Democratic. She unseated Rep. Mica 51-49 percent, and then scored re-election victories of 58 and 55 percent in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

A strong fundraiser, Rep. Murphy obtained over $3 million for both of her incumbent re-election campaigns. She ended the 1st quarter 2021 with a cash-on-hand figure of $1.43 million. Sen. Rubio posted $3.9 million in his campaign account during the same reporting period.

Assuming Murphy does enter the race next month, Democrats will have a credible challenger to Sen. Rubio, but one who still must be considered a decided underdog. In 2010, Sen. Rubio, then a state representative, defeated then-governor Charlie Crist, who was running as an Independent, and Democratic Congressman Kendrick Meek by a 49-30-20 percent margin. He was re-elected in 2016 with a 52-44 percent vote spread over then-congressman Patrick Murphy (D).

Florida races, as we know, are always competitive and usually very close, though the state has been trending more Republican over the past several elections. A Rubio-Stephanie Murphy race promises to become a national campaign.

With the Democrats apparently attracting a strong candidate in Florida, it is a good time to review the other key races.

In Pennsylvania, both parties are headed for very crowded primaries as each works to nominate a candidate to hopefully succeed retiring Sen. Pat Toomey (R). Afghan War veteran Sean Parnell entered the Republican primary earlier this week, but his only venture into elective politics was recording a two-point loss to Rep. Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh) last November in an Allegheny County suburban district.

Rep. Lamb, himself, may join the Democratic Senate campaign, meaning both parties are going to host political dogfights for the party nomination. In any event, however, the Pennsylvania race will be a top-tier national campaign.

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Senate Action

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown)

By Jim Ellis

April 29, 2021 — While most of the political world was focused on the census’s national apportionment announcement, several Senate moves of merit were also made this week.

In Ohio, US Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown) finally made his fledgling US Senate campaign official. Originally saying he would announce sometime in March only to postpone formal entry to an undetermined time, Ryan finally made his declaration on Monday. Once former Ohio Health Director Amy Acton — who was running slightly ahead of Rep. Ryan in early Democratic primary polling — said that she was not going to run, that paved the way for the 10-term congressman to open with an apparently clear path to the Democratic nomination.

Simultaneously, in Georgia, another announcement was made but one that contained a surprising message. Former Rep. Doug Collins (R), who placed third in the 2020 US Senate jungle primary, also declared his political intentions for 2022 on Monday. While observers were expecting the former four-term congressman to enter the current Senate race, he instead said he will not run for any office next year but didn’t close the door on returning to elective politics in another election cycle.

Yesterday, in another largely expected move, former North Carolina state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D), who lost her position in November by a scant 401 votes statewide, announced via video that she will enter the open Tar Heel State Senate race.

The three moves help further set the stage for a trio of critical Senate contests that will each contribute mightily toward determining which party breaks the 50-50 tie and assumes control of the body after the next election.

Despite Rep. Ryan looking as the candidate to beat for the Ohio Democratic nomination, the general election won’t be easy. Additionally, this political cycle could be different in terms of political options for Ryan. He has several times dipped his toe in the statewide or national waters only to return to the safety of his House district. With it now a certainty that Ohio will lose another congressional seat, and with at least one scenario suggesting that the eliminated seat could become Rep. Ryan’s 13th District, his usual fail-safe move might not again be available.

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