Tag Archives: jungle primary

Alaska Rep. Young’s Passing Yields Chaotic Special Election Process

By Jim Ellis

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

March 22, 2022 — On Friday, the Dean of the House of Representatives, Alaska’s At-Large Congressman Don Young (R-Ft. Yukon), passed away in an airplane flying back to his home state. The congressman, who was first elected in a 1973 special election, served in the House for 49 consecutive years, or just 14 years less than the time Alaska has been a state.

The congressman’s full and colorful national political career even began in an unusual way. As a sitting state legislator, he ran for Congress in 1972, opposite at-large Rep. Nick Begich (D). Less than a month before the election, however, Rep. Begich and then House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-LA) went down in a plane crash on a tour through the Last Frontier. With Boggs legally declared as missing, though it was imminently clear that all perished in the crash, he still defeated Young in the 1972 regular election.

Upon certification of Rep. Begich’s death, Don Young then won the succeeding special election in early 1973. He would never lose again. Coming full circle, Rep. Young’s 2022 opponent would likely have been Nick Begich III (D), the late congressman’s grandson.

While best wishes and remembrances for and about the congressional icon are coming from throughout the country, a potentially chaotic replacement process lies before the state’s governor to direct, and then for those who choose to become candidates.

Under Alaska law, a special election must be conducted to fill an electoral vacancy no less than 60 and no more than 90 days after the position is officially vacated. In this case, Young passed away on March 18. Therefore, at least the initial election must occur during the period between May 17 and June 16.

Because the state is changing its election procedure, much is unclear. An Alaska Department of Law spokesperson stated in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News that the agency personnel will review the applying statutes and prepare an advisory report for Gov. Mike Dunleavy (R).

In 2020, Alaska voters passed an initiative to change the state’s primary system. Thus, the state will now use a jungle primary format. Three other states, California, Louisiana, and Washington have jungle primaries, but in all of those places the top two finishers advance into the general election or post-election runoff. Louisiana holds its jungle primary concurrently with the regular general election so that a leading candidate with a percentage greater than 50 is elected outright.

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Notable Candidate Filings

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) faces little in the way of strong competition in 2022.

March 15, 2022 — Candidate filing closed in three states on Friday — California, Georgia, and Idaho — and we see some highly competitive primary and general election campaigns occurring in each.

Despite 26 candidates filing against him, appointed California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) has done a good job of securing his Democratic base. As a result, he faces no serious opponent. The only way Sen. Padilla would lose in the state’s jungle primary system is if another strong Democrat surfaced and forced him into a double-Democratic general election. No such individual filed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also faces little in the way of strong competition even though he has 25 opponents.

The Georgia governor’s race features the most important May 24 primary campaign, a Republican battle between Gov. Brian Kemp and former US Sen. David Perdue. Three minor candidates are also on the ballot, and they could be a factor to force a runoff if the Kemp-Perdue race evolves into an even contest. In that scenario, a secondary election on July 26 would occur should both Kemp and Perdue be stopped short of 50 percent support.

Former Georgia state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The state’s US Senate contest is already winnowing down to a battle between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and retired pro football player Herschel Walker (R).

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little faces a Republican primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Sen. Mike Crapo has four Republican primary opponents but is in strong shape for both re-nomination and re-election to a fifth term.

In the House races, veteran Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) will face a familiar foe in the Republican primary. Bryan Smith, who challenged the congressman in the 2014 Republican primary and attracted some national attention and support before falling 62-38 percent, returns for a re-match eight years after their original political battle.

Back in California in the US House races, it appears there are seven districts that will host competitive general election campaigns and many more that could send a pair of the same party’s members to the November election from the June 7 jungle primary.

Only one of the projected partisan general election battles comes in an open seat. The 3rd District, which begins in the Sacramento suburbs and stretches down along the Nevada border all the way into southern California, will yield a competitive Republican battle between state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones for one of the general election finalist positions. The state Democratic Party has endorsed physician Kermit Jones. The new 3rd, where Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) could have run, is rated an R+8 district.

Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) will likely face San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R) in the D+8 District 9 that retiring Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) currently holds.

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Is Sen. Kamala Harris Protecting
Her California Senate Seat?

By Jim Ellis

Democrat Sen. Kamala Harris of California

Dec. 5, 2019 — Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) became the first of what one might consider the top-tier candidates to end her presidential effort, but the announcement timing on Tuesday likely has more to do with her 2022 Senate race than the presidential contest.

The California candidate filing deadline is tomorrow, so Sen. Harris deciding to end her presidential effort means she won’t be on the Golden State presidential primary ballot, and thus avoids an embarrassing loss within her own constituency. Recent polling was forecasting her in the single-digit range even in California.

Obviously, losing any race in one’s home state reveals political weakness, and though she is virtually invulnerable against a Republican in the 2022 general election, the same might not be true if her opponent were a strong Democrat.

Under the California election system that features the jungle primary concept, variations of which are also seen in Washington state and Louisiana, members of the same party can advance into the general election. Florida voters will have the opportunity of adopting that jungle primary concept via ballot initiative next year.

Because California and Washington hold regular primaries before the general election, a pair of candidates always advance irrespective of percentages attained. Conversely, Louisiana holds one election concurrent with the general, meaning a candidate exceeding 50 percent is elected outright; otherwise the top two finishers advance into a December run-off election.

In the California 2022 Senate race, for example, two candidates will move into the general election from their March or June primary (California has continually alternated their primary election dates between the two months, depending upon the political situation at the time the legislature acted) so long as more than one candidate files. Thus, a strong Democrat — and California has many such individuals — could challenge Sen. Harris, draw a relatively meager percentage in the primary while finishing second, and then rally to make a serious general election challenge against her.

Other previous presidential candidates have often found the political going much tougher than expected when returning home to seek re-election after engaging in the national contest, and it remains to be seen if Sen. Harris will find her road to re-election any bumpier.

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Feinstein Still Weak; Gas Tax Polling

By Jim Ellis

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

Oct. 18, 2018 — Survey USA released a poll of the California electorate, one more political study that finds Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) failing to establish command in her race against fellow Democrat Kevin de Leon, a Los Angeles state senator.

The S-USA data (Oct. 12-14; 1,200 California adults; 964 registered California voters; 762 likely California voters) sees Feinstein again locked at 40 percent support versus 26 percent for de Leon. This is the sixth survey from four different pollsters that finds the Senator in the mid to low 40s since the June 5th jungle primary. But de Leon fares much worse, failing to break 30 percent in any of the half-dozen ballot test questions.

While all of the research suggests that Sen. Feinstein is politically weak, she will not lose this race. Though she brought in only $982,000 for the third quarter — a low number when campaigning in a state the size of California and understanding that many Democratic House candidates have brought in millions during the same period — de Leon raised just $254,000 and has a mere $309,000 cash-on-hand for the period ending Sept. 30. This is a low figure for a congressional race, let alone for a place that’s 53 times as large as a single CD.

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

California Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles)

The other feature potentially making the California Senate race a wild-card contest is the vote drop-off that we will see when comparing turnout for this office to the rest of the statewide ballot.

In 2016, when two Democrats were competing for an open Senate seat — the now-Sen. Kamala Harris vs. then-Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) — fewer votes were cast for that contest than in any other statewide election, including all of the ballot propositions. In fact, over 1.9 million more people voted in the presidential race than in the Senate race, and 1.3 million more chose to decide the last ballot initiative that banned single-use plastic bottles.

What occurred was a plethora of Republican voters simply skipping the Senate race rather than supporting one of the two Democrats. With de Leon running to the ideological left of Feinstein the Republican vote will likely drop even further, which becomes an interesting factor.

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The Aug 7 Primaries – Part II

the-primariesBy Jim Ellis

Aug. 7, 2018 — We finish our look at today’s primary elections, covering Michigan and Washington, and the OH-12 special congressional election contest.


MICHIGAN

The US Senate and open governor campaigns lead the Michigan ticket today. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D) will learn whether she faces venture capitalist Sandy Pensler or retired Army Ranger and manufacturing company owner John James, the latter a President Trump-endorsed candidate, in the fall campaign. The senator begins the general election in the clear favorite’s position.

With Gov. Rick Snyder (R) ineligible to seek a third term, competitive Republican and Democratic primaries will be both settled tonight. For the GOP, Attorney General and former US Congressman Bill Schuette has enjoyed double-digit leads in all polling for several months over Lt. Gov. Brian Calley. On the Democratic side, former state House Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer has been the clear leader almost since the campaign began, and she is expected to defeat former Detroit Health Commissioner Abdul El-Sayed and businessman Shri Thanedar. The general election promises to be highly competitive in this pivotal redistricting state.

Three open seats are the top attractions in the congressional contests.

In veteran Rep. Sander Levin’s (D-Royal Oak) open seat, it appears the retiring congressman’s son, energy consultant Andy Levin, is the clear favorite in the Democratic primary. The 9th is a decidedly Democratic district meaning Levin’s chances of succeeding his father in the general election are strong.

Rep. David Trott (R-Birmingham) is retiring from Congress after two terms and leaves a toss-up political contest in his wake. Crowded primaries are present for both parties, including a Republican race featuring five candidates, while the Democrats have an additional five people running. Trump state co-chair Lena Epstein has developed a late lead in two Republican primary polls, while former Treasury Department official Haley Stevens and state Rep. Tim Greimel (D-Troy) appear atop of the Democratic contest.

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