Tag Archives: jungle primary

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.

Not So Close in Maryland; Sen. Murray Pulling Away in Washington; de Blasio Out in New York

By Jim Ellis — July 21, 2022

Primary Results

Maryland: Not So Close — Though polling was suggesting that several close races would be present on the Maryland primary ballot, it appears none materialized Tuesday night. Approximately 40 percent of the Democratic ballots and 20 percent of the GOP’s tallies still remain to be counted, and it will be several days until we see final totals, but the margins from the various races are such that they are unlikely to reverse any finishing order.

It appears that author and anti-poverty activist Wes Moore will win the Democratic gubernatorial primary. At this writing, he has almost a full 10-percentage point lead over his closest rival, former labor secretary and ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez, with state Comptroller Peter Franchot now a distant third.

Claiming the Democratic nomination makes him a prohibitive general election favorite against Donald Trump-backed state Delegate Dan Cox (R-Frederick) who clinched the Republican primary over former state Commerce Department Secretary Kelly Schulz. Assuming a November win, Moore will become Maryland’s 63rd governor and first African American to hold the post. He would replace term-limited Gov. Larry Hogan (R), who is ineligible to run again because of the state’s term-limited law.

Sen. Chris Van Hollen was a landslide Democratic primary winner as expected. He will face Republican activist and home-building contractor Chris Chaffee in what should be an easy re-election run for the incumbent.

US Rep. Anthony Brown (D-Bowie) also was easily nominated as the Democratic candidate for attorney general in another race polling projected as trending close. Rep. Brown has so far claimed approximately 60 percent of the vote against retired district judge Katie Curran O’Malley (D), wife of former governor and presidential candidate Martin O’Malley.

Tuesday night’s competitive US House races saw the open 4th District going to ex-Prince Georges State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, who surprisingly easily defeated former US Rep. Donna Edwards (D). The ex-House member, who served nine years after winning a special election in 2008, was attempting a political comeback after losing the 2016 US Senate Democratic primary to Van Hollen.

In the 6th District, State Delegate and 2020 Republican nominee Neil Parrott easily defeated journalist Matthew Foldi who attracted support from Gov. Hogan and other key GOP leaders. Parrott will again challenge Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac), but now in a district that is more favorable to a Republican candidate.

Senate

Washington: Sen. Murray Pulling Away — For the second time in a matter of days, a poll finds Sen. Patty Murray (D) re-establishing a strong lead in her 2022 re-election effort after earlier surveys were projecting a tight race. Elway Research (July 7-11; 400 registered Washington voters; live interview & text) projects Sen. Murray to be holding a 51-33 percent lead over veterans advocate and former nurse Tiffany Smiley (R). The result is almost identical to the Survey USA poll that was conducted during the same period. The S-USA data found a 53-33 percent Murray advantage. The confirming Elway result suggests the two pollsters are detecting a positive response to the recent Murray ad blitz.

House

NY-10: de Blasio Out — After two released polls from progressive left survey research firms found him stuck in low single digits for his US House run, former New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) has ended his congressional effort. In a video message thanking people for their help and support, de Blasio indicated that since it is clear the people of the new 10th District prefer a different direction, it is time that he found a different way to serve. Therefore, de Blasio says he will exit elective politics.

Though the former city chief executive won two terms as New York’s mayor, he met a similar fate in short-lived bids for president and governor. With 100 percent name identification according to both Data for Progress and Justice Research, de Blasio managed a preference factor of only five and three percent in the two polls.

Redistricting

Ohio: State Supreme Court Strikes Again — Continuing the fight between the Ohio Supreme Court and the Buckeye State legislature, the high court again struck down the enacted congressional map as a partisan gerrymander, once more on a 4-3 ruling, and mandated that the plan be re-drawn for the 2024 election. It is likely that the US Supreme Court will issue a ruling on partisan gerrymandering at some point next year, which may make the Ohio decision moot. This ruling does not affect the 2022 election cycle, which will be run under the plan that the court just struck down.

States

Missouri: No Top Four — The grassroots organization attempting to convert the Missouri primary system into a Top-Four jungle primary format a la Alaska, has failed to qualify for the November initiative ballot. Though the group recruited more than 300,000 signatures, they failed to reach the mandated number of verified petition signatures in each of the state’s eight congressional districts. The organizers vowed to mount a similar effort for the 2024 election.

The Top-Four system, used only in Alaska and for the first time in the 2022 election cycle, features a jungle primary that includes all candidates on the same ballot. The top four candidates then advance to the general election regardless of party preference and vote percentage attained. Once the four general election finalists are determined, the system converts to Ranked Choice Voting System, where voters prioritize their candidate choices from 1-4. Contenders are eliminated once one reaches the 50 percent mark.

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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