Tag Archives: John Duarte

McCarthy’s Math

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022

House

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA)

Leadership — The announcement from several Republicans saying they will not vote for Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in the election for Speaker of the House even after he was overwhelmingly chosen the party nominee for the position makes the mathematics of his achieving a majority vote a bit tricky. The leadership election will be decided when the new members are sworn into office on Jan. 3. 

The sudden and unfortunate passing of Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA) reduces the number of members taking the oath of office on commencement day to 434. Even so, McCarthy would still need 218 votes if all are present and voting. Therefore, the McEachin death does not reduce McCarthy’s majority quota, but it could become a factor if a “present” vote strategy were to come into play.

Another complicating factor is the outcome of the lone outstanding House race, the CA-13 contest in the Fresno Valley. Republican candidate John Duarte, a local farmer and agri-businessman, predicted that he will eventually win the election once officials finally count all the ballots. 

Duarte supports his prediction by pointing out that most of the uncounted ballots are from Fresno and San Joaquin Counties in areas where the Republican performed better than his opponent, state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). Currently, the district-wide count is stalled with Duarte clinging to a 593-vote lead. If the remaining votes from the five counties perform like the counted ballots, Duarte would win by approximately 483 votes. There is, however, no guarantee that the uncounted ballots will fall in similar fashion, thus the race is still up for grabs.

A Duarte win, however, would increase the Republican Conference size to 222, and that extra vote would be important for the McCarthy-Speaker equation. It is also possible that recounts and legal challenges to individual ballots will hold up the certification of a winner in that race for an undetermined amount of time, thus possibly delaying a new member from being sworn in until after the Speaker vote. If this were to happen, the total House membership would drop to 433, and McCarthy would then need 217 votes to establish a majority as opposed to 218.

His bigger problem is that six Republican members have publicly stated they either will not support him in the floor vote or questioned his leadership ability. According to press reports, the four saying they will not support McCarthy on the floor are Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ), Matt Gaetz (R-FL), Bob Good (R-VA), and Ralph Norman (R-SC). The pair publicly questioning his leadership ability are Reps. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) and Chip Roy (R-TX). 
 
There has been some talk that members voting “present” would actually reduce the number of votes to determine a voting majority. While this theory would be open to legal or parliamentary challenge, for the purposes of this example let’s see if such a strategy would work.

If the six members either committing to vote against McCarthy, or possibly doing so, were to simply vote present, and the majority number is truly reduced, then McCarthy would look to have 216 votes as compared to the Democratic likely Speaker candidate, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries’ (D-NY), 212 votes. Within this scenario, the “present” strategy would work because the aggregate counted votes would be 428, thus making the majority number 215.

If those six members, or any others, would vote for an individual other than McCarthy when answering the initial House roll call, then the result would be costly. Under this vote count, McCarthy would be one short of securing the majority.

The other idea being bandied about is having some of McCarthy’s supporters vote “present” in order to reduce the number necessary for securing a majority vote. This would be a very dangerous strategy because his margin is so small that he would come precariously close of dropping below Mr. Jeffries’ 212 votes, assuming the Democratic Conference votes in lock-step. Even one miscount on the roll call vote could elect Jeffries if this idea were attempted.

If McCarthy has 216 votes and the six opposition Republicans were to all vote for other individuals, then the supporter “present” strategy simply wouldn’t work because the McCarthy-committed vote would drop commensurately with the number needed for a majority.

Therefore, the only true path for McCarthy to win the Speakership race is to, first, ensure that no other fall-off is coming from the Republican ranks; second, that no other GOP candidate emerges with potentially more strength; third, that no hybrid coalition forms with the Democrats; and fourth, reaching an arrangement with his six Republican opponents to at least vote “present” in order to allow for a smaller majority number. 

Murkowski Re-Elected, Peltola Wins Full Term in Alaska; CA-13 is The Last Outstanding Race to be Called

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022

Senate

Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Sen. Murkowski Re-Elected — Over the Thanksgiving break, we saw several more races called. The complete results came in Alaska where the final tabulations, including the Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) rounds, were released and contests decided.

As expected, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) was re-elected after nipping former State Administration Director Kelly Tshibaka (R), 43.4 – 42.6 percent in the aggregate vote, a margin of 1,914 votes. In the first RCV round, with fourth place finisher Buzz Kelley’s (R) votes being distributed, the race became even tighter, with Sen. Murkowski’s lead reduced to only 44.5 – 44.3 percent, a spread of just 339 votes. 

The final result was easily predictable, and one could argue Sen. Murkowski really won her re-election when people voted to change the state’s election system in 2020. Initiated with support from the senator’s political organization, the hybrid jungle primary/Ranked Choice Voting system allowed Sen. Murkowski to skip what was her most vulnerable election, a partisan Republican primary. With four people now automatically advancing into the general election, the partisan nomination phase within the traditional election cycle was in effect eliminated. In 2010, Sen. Murkowski lost the Republican primary, but was re-elected when she won a write-in Independent campaign in that year’s general election.

House

AK-AL: Rep. Peltola Wins Full Term — After winning the August special election through the Ranked Choice Voting system to replace the late Alaska Rep. Don Young (R), at-large Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel) has now clinched a full term after the state’s preliminary final vote count was released the day before Thanksgiving. The end result was predictable, especially when Rep. Peltola easily placed first in the aggregate count, with a 49-26-23 percent margin over former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) and businessman Nick Begich III (R).

The first round of Ranked Choice Voting, which eliminated distant fourth-place finisher Chris Bye (Libertarian), almost put Peltola over the top. In this round, against both Palin and Begich, Rep. Peltola scored 49.2 percent of the adjusted vote. This result meant eliminating Begich, who was the third-place finisher. The third RCV round easily went to Rep. Peltola, who defeated Palin on a 55-45 percent tabulation. The Peltola victory increases the House Democratic Conference to 213 members as compared to the Republicans’ 221 with one California race remaining outstanding.

CA-13: The Last One Outstanding — We now have 434 US House races projected and the final partisan division count comes down to the end result from California’s new 13th Congressional District in the Fresno area. This post-election period could go on for some time.

The aggregate count, with a projected 96 percent of the votes recorded, although these estimates have not proven particularly reliable throughout the California counting process, gives Republican agri-businessman John Duarte a 593-vote lead over state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced). The county with the largest outstanding vote at a 90 percent estimated recorded figure, is Stanislaus, which slightly favors Gray.

Depending upon this last outcome, the Republican House majority will be either 221-214 or 222-213. Another Speaker vote for California Republican Kevin McCarthy could also be critical in relation to how that internal race unfolds on Jan. 3.

We can expect further days before a preliminary count is revealed, and it is likely we will see a long period of vote challenges from both sides prior to final certification of a winner. The California election certification deadline is Dec. 16.

Governor

Alaska: Gov. Dunleavy Re-Elected Outright — One race that did not need a Ranked Choice Voting round was the Alaska governor’s contest. Incumbent Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R) won a second term in the aggregate count, scoring 50.3 percent of the vote against three other candidates.

In a distant second place was Democratic former state representative Les Gara who posted 24.2 percent of the vote, while former Gov. Bill Walker, again running as an Independent, followed. The latter man recorded 20.7 percent of the aggregate popular vote. In the final general election qualifying position was Republican former Kenai Borough Peninsula Mayor Charlie Pierce who managed to secure only 4.5 percent of the vote.

Gov. Dunleavy, who faced an aborted recall effort early in his tenure, is the first re-elected Alaska chief executive since Democratic Gov. Tony Knowles won a second term in 1998.

Warnock Leads in New Runoff Poll; WVa. Gov. Considers Senate Race;
Kiley Wins CA-3 – Republican Majority Now at 221; Questions Over McCarthy’s Leadership

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Nov. 28, 2022

Senate

Georgia freshman Sen. Raphael Warnock (D)

Georgia: Sen. Warnock Leads in New Poll — The Fabrizio Lee (R) and Impact Research (D) polling team conducted another survey for the AARP organization, this time of the Georgia Senate runoff election scheduled for Dec. 6.

According to the joint poll (Nov. 11-17; 500 likely Georgia runoff voters; live interview), the first published study of this race since the general election yielded a 49.4 – 48.5 percent result for Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) over retired professional football player Herschel Walker (R), the incumbent again posts a small advantage. The AARP ballot test finds Sen. Warnock’s lead a reaching 51-47 percent. As is the case with all runoff elections, voter turnout will likely be the determining factor.

West Virginia: Gov. Justice Considering Senate Race — While Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) has already announced his bid to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) next year, Gov. Jim Justice (R), who is ineligible to seek re-election in 2024, indicated last week that he, too, is considering launching a Senate campaign.

Gov. Justice’s approval numbers are high – rated as the sixth most popular governor nationally at 65:29 percent favorable to unfavorable according to the Morning Consult quarterly ratings for the period ending Sept. 30, 2022 – so he would certainly be a formidable candidate for the Republican nomination and against Sen. Manchin. A Triton Polling & Research organization August poll found Gov. Justice leading Sen. Manchin 47-32 percent in an early hypothetical race survey, for example.

House

CA-3: Republican Kevin Kiley Declared Winner — The Associated Press, in a race that appeared to be clinched days ago, finally projected California Republican state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay/Sacramento) as the winner of the newly created open 3rd Congressional District that stretches from the northern Sacramento suburbs all the way into southern California via the Nevada border. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates CA-3 as an R+8 district, so the outcome of Kiley defeating Democratic physician and Iraq War veteran Kermit Jones is hardly a surprise result.

The Kiley victory brings the Republican House total to 221 with two races outstanding, the CA-13 seat that is a close contest between agri-businessman John Duarte (R) and state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced), and the at-large Alaska seat of Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Bethel).

Once the Alaska contest advances into the Ranked Choice Voting rounds, which began right after Thanksgiving, the system will produce another victory for Peltola. Therefore, count her in the Democratic column. The race between Duarte and Gray is very tight: Duarte has an 852-vote lead with an estimated 93 percent of the vote counted. Therefore, this contest can still go either way when examining from where the outstanding votes lay.

Speakership: More Republicans Express Negative Views Toward McCarthy — Last week we covered a story indicating that three Republicans were headed toward a “No” vote for House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) in his quest to become Speaker of the House. Reps. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL) publicly announced their opposition to McCarthy, while Rep. Matt Rosendale (R-MT) said he does not believe McCarthy would be a successful Speaker.

Now joining the “No” chorus are Reps. Ralph Norman (R-SC) and Bob Good (R-VA). Texas Rep. Chip Roy (R-Austin) was among those expressing similar feelings of failure regarding a McCarthy Speakership. With the Republicans having a 222-member conference at best (if John Duarte holds his lead in the CA-13 outstanding race), McCarthy has little margin with which to play in order to secure his 218 votes to be elected Speaker during the Jan. 3 initial roll call of members.

Murkowski Takes Lead; Manchin Opponent Announces; Each Party Gains Seat in House

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Nov. 21, 2022

Senate

Alaska incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R)

Alaska: Murkowski Takes Lead — The Alaska ballot count slowly continues, and now with 87 percent of the projected vote recorded Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R) has assumed the aggregate vote lead over Republican challenger Kelly Tshibaka. According to this latest tabulation, Sen. Murkowski now has a 1,658-vote edge over Tshibaka.

The aggregate count, however, won’t likely end this election. Since the leading candidate will almost assuredly finish under the 50 percent majority mark – Sen. Murkowski now has 43.3 percent – we will then see the contest falling into the Ranked Choice Voting system. This, too, should favor Sen. Murkowski. Though Tshibaka is likely to receive more second-choice votes from the first eliminated conservative Republican candidate who has already endorsed her, Sen. Murkowski will receive many more from the second eliminated candidate, sure to be Democrat Pat Chesbro. At the end of this very long counting process expect Sen. Murkowski to be re-elected.

West Virginia: First Senate Announcement — West Virginia Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) last week announced that he will challenge Sen. Joe Manchin (D) in the 2024 Senate race. He is the first such individual to announce for the next Senate election cycle in any state. In the 2022 election cycle, Mooney was paired with Rep. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) because West Virginia lost one of its three congressional seats in national reapportionment. In a tough Republican primary campaign, Rep. Mooney defeated Rep. McKinley, 54-36 percent, and went onto win the general election with 65 percent of the vote.

Back in August, Triton Research ran early ballot test questions pairing Sen. Manchin with several potential Republican challengers, including Rep. Mooney. In that pairing, Mooney led the senator 45-38 percent. Another potential Manchin opponent, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) who challenged him in 2008, indicates he is considering another Senate bid but said he is also looking at what will be an open governor’s race, a potential bid for what will now be Rep. Mooney’s open congressional seat, or simply to seek re-election to his current position.

House

CA-13: Closest Race Continues On — In what could end as being the closest race in the country when all the votes are finally counted, Republican agri-businessman John Duarte (R) has re-captured the lead over state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) with 73 percent of the projected vote counted. Currently, Duarte has an 865-vote lead. Looking at the five counties in the newly created District 13 that stretches from the Stockton area border to the south of Fresno, the race is close in each place.

Though the outstanding vote total in San Joaquin County is the largest and a place that clearly favors Gray, the total vote is too low to make a substantial difference in the overall count. Therefore, if percentages for the two candidates remain consistent among the outstanding votes, Duarte could win a very close victory. Therefore, we can expect not only a long waiting period to arrive at a final count, but a recount and vote challenge period will almost certainly follow. This may be the last race in the country to be called.

CO-3: Rep. Boebert Projected; Dem Concedes — Though Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) may be the projected winner with just a 554-vote margin from a total vote count of 327,110, and Democrat Adam Frisch has conceded the race, the tabulation process may not be over. Because the race is within the .5 percent range that triggers an automatic recount under Colorado state law, we still may see a post-election proofing procedure after the final canvass even though Rep. Boebert has declared victory and Frisch conceded. At this point, however, with the Boebert projection, the Republican House total increases to 219.

CO-8: Democrat Caraveo Wins New Seat — Colorado’s new 8th District earned in national reapportionment was drawn as a 50/50 seat with the slightest Democratic lean, and that is exactly the way the election finished. Over the weekend, Democratic state Rep. Yadira Caraveo (D-Eastlake) was projected the winner, claiming a 1,625-vote win from a total of 236,426 currently counted ballots, giving her a 48.4 – 47.7 percent victory over Weld County Republican state Sen. Barbara Kirkmeyer.

Because this margin is likely to remain beyond the .5 percent mandatory recount range, this win will soon be certified. The Caraveo victory brings the Democratic House total to 212 with four seats remaining outstanding.

Our Primary Preview Shows Liz Cheney Down Big in Latest Wyoming Poll; Key California Race Polls; Incumbents in Trouble in Four States

By Jim Ellis — Aug. 15, 2022

Primary Preview

Rep. Liz Cheney, (R-WY)

WY-AL: Cheney Down 29 Points in Poll — The University of Wyoming Survey & Analysis Center conducted a poll of Tuesday’s Republican congressional primary (July 25-Aug. 6; 562 likely WY-AL Republican primary voters; live interview) and sees GOP attorney Harriet Hageman leading US Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wilson/Jackson) by a whopping 57-28 percent count as the candidates wrapped up their final campaign activities during the weekend.

Remembering that Wyoming has an open primary where Democrats and Independents can vote in a Republican primary (and vice-versa), Cheney’s numbers among self-identified Republican voters are even worse, 68-15 percent, in favor of Hageman. The congresswoman gets 98 percent of the crossover Democratic vote, however, while the Independents are split about evenly with the incumbent leading 43-40 percent within this voter segment.

Former Wyoming Republican National Committeewoman Harriet Hageman (R)

The pollsters wanted to see how many people are actually voting for a Cheney opponent, namely Hageman, or to make a statement of opposition against the congresswoman. Therefore, after the individual had stated a candidate preference, the interviewer asked the respondents if their vote is to “mainly support” (the named candidate) or oppose Liz Cheney? The reverse was asked of those people saying they are voting for the congresswoman.

Among Republicans voting for Hageman or one of the other Cheney opponents, 39.5 percent said they were making a statement of opposition toward the Congresswoman, while 31.5 percent said they were stating support for their chosen candidate. The remaining 29.0 percent volunteered that they were doing both. Among the Democrats voting for one of the Republicans other than Cheney, 100 percent of them said they were doing so to oppose the congresswoman. Within the Independent non-Cheney voter segment, 47.1 percent said their vote opposes Cheney versus 21.6 percent to support their chosen contender.

For those supporting Rep. Cheney, 77.8 percent of Republicans, 60.0 percent of Democrats, and 58.8 percent of Independents said their vote is a sign of support for the congresswoman. It appears clear that Hageman will defeat Rep. Cheney on Tuesday night.

A Cheney defeat would mean that of the 10 Republican House members who voted to impeach former President Trump, only one, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) who survived his jungle primary with less than 30 percent of the vote, is on a track to win re-election. Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) could also win, but he fared poorly in his jungle primary, barely capturing second place, and currently trails in polling opposite Democratic state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield). Therefore, his re-election path is more difficult.

Should Cheney lose on Tuesday as expected, four of the impeachment Republicans would have lost re-nomination (Tom Rice (R-SC); Peter Meijer (R-MI); Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA); and Ms. Cheney), and four did not seek re-election (Reps. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), Anthony Gonzalez (R-OH), John Katko (R-NY), and Fred Upton (R-MI)).

House

California: Series of Key Race Golden State Polls — RGM Research conducted polls in House districts throughout the country including three in northern California contested districts. All are in close competition at this point. Each of the polls consisted of 400 respondents for the individual tested districts. The CA-9 poll was conducted during the July 19-26 period.

In the Stockton anchored district, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) and San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R) are tied at 38 percent. In the new open 13th CD that stretches from the southern Sacramento County border to Fresno, the survey was conducted during the July 26 – Aug. 2 period. On this ballot test, rancher John Duarte (R) and state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) are tied at 37 percent.

In Rep. David Valadao’s (R-Hanford) 22nd CD (July 30-Aug. 5), the ballot test finds state Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) leading the congressman, 39-34 percent.

IN-2: Special Election Scheduled — Gov. Eric Holcomb (R), as expected, announced that the special election to replace the late Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-Elkhart) will be held concurrently with the Nov. 8 general election. Republicans will gather in a precinct committee convention on Aug. 20 to choose a nominee for the special election, and a replacement for Walorski, who won the May Republican primary, in the regular election. Democrats are expected to nominate the party’s regular election nominee, educator Paul Steury.

Incumbents: Polls Find Four Incumbents Trailing — The RMG Research firm is polling around the country and found an additional four races where the incumbent House member is trailing. This, in addition to Rep. David Valadao (R-CA) falling behind in his Fresno/Bakersfield seat as covered in the California report above.

  1. In Iowa, state Sen. Zach Nunn (R-Bondurant) holds a substantial 49-41 percent advantage over Rep. Cindy Axne (D-Des Moines) according to 400 respondents on the RMG survey conducted over the July 29 – Aug. 5 period.
  2. Former New Jersey state senator and 2020 Republican congressional nominee Tom Kean Jr. leads Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-Rocky Hill) 46-38 percent on the 400-person sample RMG Research survey conducted in the Garden State’s 7th CD (July 23-28).
  3. Moving to the Kansas City, KS area, challenger Amanda Adkins, the 2020 Republican congressional nominee, holds a 46-45 percent edge over Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Roeland Park). This RMG poll also surveyed 400 likely voters, and in KS-3 over the period of July 21-28.
  4. Finally, in the Las Vegas area, the RMG poll for Nevada’s 3rd District (July 23-29; 400 likely NV-3 general election voters) finds challenger April Becker (R) holding a 44-41 percent lead over two-term Rep. Susie Lee (D-Las Vegas).