Tag Archives: Leon Benjamin

Sinema Being Cut Off; VA-4 Counting Underway & Continuing; Surprising National Gallup Poll Results

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Dec. 23, 2022

Senate

Arizona Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I)

Arizona: Sinema Being Cut Off — With Sen. Kyrsten Sinema leaving the Democratic Party to become an Independent, reverberations already are being felt pertaining to her 2024 re-election campaign. Two of her consulting firms have left her, understanding that they would be eliminated from consideration for contracts within the Democratic Party establishment for servicing a candidate who is not a member of the party. According to a report from the Huffington Post, the data firm that controls the national Democratic Party voter file will now deny the Sinema campaign access to their services after Jan. 31.

These developments are not surprising since she will no longer be a Democrat, but further underscores that she will not caucus with the Democratic conference, a move that the Senate’s other two Independents, Bernie Sanders (VT) and Angus King (ME) continue to make. Therefore, the latter two are treated as Democratic incumbents in relation to consultant contracts and party resources.

Forfeiting these types of resources will leave Sen. Sinema on her own as she mounts a re-election effort. Obviously, she knew this would happen when making the decision to become an Independent, and these latest developments further suggest that we will see a true three-way 2024 race among Sinema and eventual Democratic and Republican nominees.

House

VA-4: Counting Begins, No Tabulations Released — Despite monumental societal technology improvements that we ubiquitously experience, vote counting continues to return to a bygone era. Election officials announced that counting more than 26,400 ballots cast in the VA-4 Democratic firehouse primary for the special election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) will take some days.

The local party reported that just five volunteers are handling the counting, and as of this writing, had completed processing about 4,000 ballots. No results were released, however. Some numbers may trickle out today or over the weekend.

The two leading candidates for the Democratic nomination, state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), are expected to battle for the nomination victory among the four candidates on the ballot. The Democratic nominee will have the inside track toward winning the Feb. 21 special election. The Republican nominee is the party’s previous congressional candidate and local pastor Leon Benjamin. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the 4th District as D+30.

National Parties

Gallup Survey: Republicans Better Viewed — The well-known Gallup research organization continually polls the country, testing and monitoring the electorate’s responses to issues of the day along with analyzing voting trends.

In a surprising post-election survey series result, considering the Republicans generally under-performed expectations in the November election, Gallup finds that a plurality of their latest national poll respondents (post-election poll; Nov. 9-12; 1,000 US adult respondents, part of the ongoing Gallup Poll Social Series project originally began in 2001) find the GOP in a slightly more favorable position than the Democratic Party.

According to this latest data, the Republican Party records a 42 percent favorable view within the sampling universe as compared to 39 percent who have a similar view of the Democratic Party. The number is the opposite of Gallup’s average since this question was first tested in 2011. During the overall time period between 2011 and the present, the Democrats hold a 44-40 percent average advantage on the favorability question.

Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech; McCarthy Vote Count on Shaky Ground; VA-4 Update

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022

Senate

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy (D)

Vermont: Dean of Senate Makes Farewell Speech — Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) was first elected in 1974 and went onto win seven more statewide elections. He is the third-longest serving senator in the history of the United States — in office for 48 years — and now is retiring as a historic figure in American politics. Sen. Leahy made his farewell speech on the Senate floor Tuesday in the waning days of his final term. The new dean of the Senate will be Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) who was first elected in 1980. Two other top-10 senators in seniority, Richard Shelby (R-AL) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) are also retiring when this Congress officially ends at the end of the year.

House

Speaker Race: McCarthy Vote Count Appearing Weak — More media attention is being paid to the impending House Speaker’s race to be settled when the new House convenes on Jan. 3, 2023. Earlier in the week, Speaker-Designate Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who has the official Republican conference nomination for Speaker by virtue of winning a 188-31-5 vote in defeating Arizona Rep. Andy Biggs and others, released a list of his strongest supporters. For his part, Biggs pledges to challenge McCarthy in the January roll call vote signaling the beginning of the Congress.

McCarthy’s list of his strongest supporters, those who say they will vote for no other in what could become a lengthy process should the Speaker election progress through multiple rounds, is smaller than one would have otherwise surmised. The total only identified 54 such Republican members, not even a full quarter of the conference. Some believe this number signifies weakness as opposed to strength. In a Fox News article by Chad Pergram published Tuesday, the reports suggest the number of Republican members who could vote for someone else on the floor could be as high as 20, though only five have publicly expressed at least preliminary public opposition.

The last time a Speaker election went multiple rounds occurred in 1923. The voting will continue until some candidate receives majority support of the present and voting House members. No doubt, this will be the most interesting Speaker election we will have witnessed to date in the modern political era.

VA-4: Counting Didn’t Begin Until Yesterday — The Democrats held their “firehouse primary” Tuesday to choose a special election nominee to succeed the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond), but considering we now regularly see the slow counting of votes during the present political period, the tabulation process did not begin until a day later.

State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) is the party leadership’s choice and faces a challenge from controversial state Sen. Joseph Morrissey (D-Richmond), who was once convicted of having sexual relations with a minor (a girl who he later married), was summarily forced to resign his seat in the House of Delegates but then won it back as an Independent in the special election to elect a successor. He later resigned again and moved into a Richmond Senate district where he would then defeat a Democratic incumbent. Former state delegate Joe Preston and businessman Tavorice Marks also are in the race.

The Democratic winner will face the new Republican nominee, pastor Leon Benjamin who has twice been the GOP’s congressional candidate in this district. In a D+30 district according to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, the winner of this Democratic nomination has the clear inside track for the special election on Feb. 21.

Electoral College — Left Coast, Right Coast; Republicans Choose Nominee in VA-4; North Carolina Supreme Court Rejects Map

Electoral College Votes Per State, 2022 — blue moving more left, red moving more right


By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022

President

Electoral College: West Moving Left, East Moving Right — The researchers at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics have completed a study regarding the country’s ideological shift during the past 20-plus years. Tracking all 50 states’ presidential votes from the 2000-2020 elections, we first see all of the western states now voting Democratic in greater percentages with the exception of Wyoming. The biggest shifts came in Alaska, California, Colorado, and Utah, though two of those four states still regularly produce at least smaller majority or plurality Republican victories.

Conversely, the south and east have trended more Republican with the strongest swings generally occurring in central south with only Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Virginia becoming more Democratic. Mid-Atlantic states such as New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia have moved decidedly more Republican, though two of these four continue to regularly deliver clear Democratic majorities. Remaining constant in their voting pattern during this entire 20-year span are Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and South Carolina.

House

VA-4: Republicans Choose Special Election Nominee — Republicans re-nominated their 2020 and 2022 candidate in the Saturday, Dec. 17 “firehouse primary” through Ranked Choice Voting. The local 4th District Republican Party leadership did not release the actual results, only to say that pastor and US Navy veteran Leon Benjamin had defeated former Mecklenburg School Board member Dale Sturdifen, and non-profit advocacy organization director Derrick Hollie. Benjamin now advances to the Feb. 21 special general election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond). He will again be a decided underdog in a district that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates D+30.

The Democratic firehouse primary will be held today. Four candidates filed to run: state Sens. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) and Joseph Morrisey (D-Richmond), former state Delegate Joseph Preston, and businessman Tavorise Marks. While the special election will be held in late February, Gov. Glenn Younkin’s (R) call required the parties to choose nominees by Dec. 23.

In another development, Colette McEachin, the late congressman’s widow, announced her endorsement of Sen. McClellan, joining most of the Virginia Democratic establishment who has already done so.

States

North Carolina: NC Supreme Court Tosses State Senate Map — The North Carolina state Supreme Court, with the 4-3 Democratic majority on the cusp of expiring, rejected the NC Senate map on a partisan vote as a partisan gerrymander. But, the action is likely to be short-lived and adds fuel to the speculation that the new legislature will re-draw all of the state’s redistricting maps after commencement. Doing so may well render moot the partisan gerrymandering case that the US Supreme Court recently heard.

Under North Carolina legislative procedure, the governor has no veto power over redistricting legislation, so whatever the legislature passes will become law. Because of the current court’s farewell action, the state Senate map must be re-configured. Since Republicans gained two seats on the state Supreme Court in the November election and will have a 5-2 majority beginning in January, the likelihood of not only the Senate map being redrawn but also the state House and congressional delegation plans is greater. The latter two maps are court-drawn interim placeholders, which the legislature can replace at any time.

Sen. Sinema Officially Becomes an Independent; Rep. Khanna Considers Senate Race; Automatic Recount Beginning in Rep. Boebert’s CO-3

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Dec. 12, 2022

Senate

Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ)

Arizona: Sen. Sinema Officially Becomes an Independent — Sen. Kyrsten Sinema on Friday announced that she is leaving the party and will represent Arizona as an Independent. As her standing before the Democratic Party electorate is poor, this move seems to clearly indicate that she is preparing for a re-election campaign. According to job approval ratings that were taken from polls conducted well before the November election, Sen. Sinema’s numbers had dropped to the point where she would be a severe underdog in a Democratic primary against her likely intra-party opponent, US Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Phoenix). In a three-way race against Gallego and a Republican nominee, however, her re-election chances significantly improve.

Little will change in terms of her voting record, but the campaign strategy completely transforms for all involved. Not having to worry about re-nomination, Sen. Sinema will advance directly into the general election assuming she can obtain valid registered voter petition signatures from 45,000 Arizonans. She can begin signature gathering right away, so even this large number should be attainable over such a long duration.

Rep. Gallego, who had been rumored as a Sinema Democratic primary challenger, continues to move forward with his Senate plans. While admittedly convening a Senate planning group, the congressman says he will not formally decide about running until after the first of the year. Republican Pinal County Sheriff Mark Lamb also confirms he is considering entering the Senate GOP primary.

Regardless of who decides to run, the 2024 Arizona Senate race will be another contest attracting huge national attention. Sen. Sinema’s move to the Independent ballot line certainly increases her chances of winning, but she is certainly no lock to claim a second term in the next election.

California: Rep. Khanna Considers Senate Race — California Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont), who was just elected to a fourth term in the House, said over the weekend that he would consider running for the Senate in 2024 if incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D), who will be 91 years of age at the time of the next election, decides to retire as expected.

Rep. Khanna further said he would more than likely seek re-election in 2024, but the door is clearly open to him exploring a senatorial run in what is expected to be a crowded Democratic battle should the seat open. The congressman has been a strong fundraiser, averaging a total receipts figure of over $4 million per election cycle for his four successful congressional campaigns along with $5-plus million remaining in his federal account, so he would have the financial base to begin a statewide run.

House

CO-3: Automatic Recount Beginning — The recount for the close CO-3 congressional race featuring Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt) and Democratic former Aspen City Councilman Adam Frisch is close to completion in the district that covers Colorado’s Western Slope region. Though Frisch has already conceded the race to Rep. Boebert, the recount is taking place under the state’s election law that mandates a re-tabulation for any contest that falls within a margin of just one-half a percent.

Though Rep. Boebert’s 548-vote lead from 327,124 ballots cast is expected to stand, the 27 involved counties that comprise the 3rd District must continue the recount. Frisch says he is likely to run again in 2024. The recount process must be completed by tomorrow so the election certification process can be completed.

VA-4: Special Election Candidates Beginning to Come Forward — While Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) has yet to call a special congressional election to replace the late Rep. Donald McEachin (D-Richmond) who passed away in late November, several individuals have come forward to announce their candidacies.

The first is state Delegate Lamont Bagby (D-Richmond), who has been a long-time supporter and confidant of Rep. McEachin’s. State Sen. Jennifer McCellan (D-Richmond), who placed third in the 2021 Democratic gubernatorial primary, also says she will enter the special congressional election. Before winning her state Senate seat in 2017, McClellan served six terms in the state House of Delegates.

For the Republicans, who have little chance in a 4th District that the FiveThirtyEight data organization rates as D+30, their two-time nominee and Christian pastor Leon Benjamin says he will enter the special election field.

Virginia’s 4th Congressional District begins in Richmond and then travels south all the way to the North Carolina border. The CD includes the cities of Richmond, Petersburg, and Emporia, along with the Colonial Heights, Chester, and Lawrenceville communities.