Tag Archives: Mike Gibbons

Dueling Dual Polls

By Jim Ellis

Detroit Police Chief James Craig

June 14, 2021 — We open the week looking at conflicting polls from two Midwestern statewide races. The Michigan Republican Party published a survey that conflicts with earlier data we’ve seen about their state’s gubernatorial race, and the two leading Ohio Republican Senate contenders both released recent surveys that best tell their own campaign story.

In the Wolverine State, the Competitive Edge Research & Communication firm, polling for the Michigan Republican Party (May 26-June 4; 809 likely Michigan voters), projects retired Detroit Police Chief James Craig (R), who is soon expected to announce his bid for governor, leading incumbent Gretchen Whitmer (D) by a spread beyond the polling margin of error, 45-38 percent.

Curiously, the MIGOP leadership also released the ballot test that featured the party’s 2020 and 2018 US Senate nominee, John James. Here, the CERC finds Gov. Whitmer leading James, 50-45 percent. James has not indicated that he is going to enter the gubernatorial race, so it is surprising to see the Republican Party releasing data that puts one of their top political figures in a weaker position. James lost the 2020 Senate race to incumbent Gary Peters (D) by a tight 50-48 percent count.

In May, the Target Insyght survey research company (May 9-11; 800 registered Michigan voters) painted a different picture, forecasting a 48-42 percent lead for Gov. Whitmer over Craig and 49-39 percent against James.

The difference could be attributed to James retiring as chief of police after the TI poll was conducted and before the CERC survey was taken. Former chief Craig is a well-known and popular figure in Detroit, and the accolades given him for his tenure could certainly have helped his polling data at least on a short-term basis.

Additionally, Gov. Whitmer has been caught in several inconsistencies regarding her COVID shutdown policies, which were some of the most drastic in the country. More than once, she was found not following the letter of her own directives for herself and family.

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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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Ohio Rep. Stivers to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus)

April 21, 2021 — The growing list of US House vacancies has risen again, but this one came as a surprise. Ohio Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Columbus), who had raised close to $1.4 million in the first quarter of 2021 in testing the waters for a possible US Senate campaign, has decided to leave elective politics altogether.

Effective May 16, Stivers will resign from the 15th District in the Buckeye State’s US House delegation in order to become President/CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. His about-face from joining the open Senate race leaves former Ohio Republican Party chair Jane Timken and ex-state Treasurer Josh Mandel in the GOP field along with author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance, who appears ready to enter.

Also in the contest are businessmen Mike Gibbons, a 2018 US Senate candidate, and Bernie Moreno. North Ohio state senator and Cleveland Indians baseball club minority owner Matt Dolan is also a possible Republican candidate. Democrats appear to be coalescing around Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Warren/Youngstown), though he has yet to formally announce his Senate campaign.

The Stivers move could open the door for one or more of his congressional colleagues who have been considering the Senate race, namely Reps. Mike Turner (R-Dayton), Bill Johnson (R-Marietta), and David Joyce (R-Russell Township).

The Stivers’ seat will become the fifth vacated House district once he departs in the middle of May and the Louisiana congressional vacancy (LA-2) is filled in a special election this Saturday, April 24. Currently, in addition to Rep. Stivers, seven House members have announced they will not be standing for re-election in 2022, either retiring or seeking a different office.

Once Rep. Stivers officially resigns, Gov. Mike DeWine (R) will schedule a replacement special election for the balance of the term. It is more than likely he will follow the same calendar set for the state’s other congressional vacancy, the 11th District of former representative and now-Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D-Cleveland/Akron).

The 11th CD schedule calls for a partisan primary on Aug. 3 with the general election Nov. 2. Ohio election law allows for special elections to be called only in certain months, hence the long cycle for these vacant seats.

The 15th District sits largely in the center of the state and occupies approximately 20 percent of Franklin County, including part of the city of Columbus, and also contains all or portions of 11 other counties. The seat encompasses the rural areas west, southwest, and southeast of the Columbus metro area. It is traditionally Republican, though a version of the seat elected Democrat Mary Jo Kilroy in the 2008 election after eight-term Rep. Deborah Pryce (R) had retired. Kilroy defeated Stivers, then a state senator, in a close 46-45 percent result. He returned for a re-match in 2010 and won a convincing 13-point victory, ousting Kilroy after just her first term in office. Since his first victorious congressional election, Stivers averaged 63.1 percent of the vote over five re-election campaigns.

In presidential elections, the 15th District backed Donald Trump in both of his national elections, 56-42 percent last November, and 55-40 percent against Hillary Clinton in 2016. We can expect a crowded special Republican primary with the eventual nominee beginning the general cycle as the favorite. Democrats can be expected, however, to field a credible nominee and will likely make a concerted effort to win the special election.

Though Ohio is set to lose a congressional district in reapportionment, the 15th, which touches the main growth region of the state, in and around Columbus, will likely remain relatively intact. According to the latest available Census records, the 15th would need to gain less than 10,000 residents, while adjacent Districts 3 (Rep. Joyce Beatty-D) and 12 (Rep. Troy Balderson-R), the only two over-populated CDs in Ohio, must shed people.

Big Primary Results

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 9, 2018 — Voters in four states made their preliminary electoral statements known last night, choosing nominees in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio, and West Virginia in the 2018 election cycle’s first multi-state primary event. The night included defeating the first incumbent of the electoral season, North Carolina three-term Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte), and nominating two Senate nominees in what could become first-tier Republican challenger campaigns.

Indiana

One of the more interesting contests heading into yesterday’s voting was the Indiana GOP Senate primary where three major contenders were vying for the right to advance into the general election and face first-term Sen. Joe Donnelly (D). There, former state representative and national distribution company owner Mike Braun attempted to seamlessly drape both Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) in the algae of the Washington swamp, with the two House members retaliating that Braun is a former Democrat with a voting record that supported raising taxes 47 times.

Considering that Braun proved successful in winning the nomination last night, his strategy and clever advertising campaign worked but, in the aggregate, almost 60 percent of the Republican primary electorate still voted for one of the two congressman. In the end, Braun captured 41.2 percent of the vote, enough of a plurality to claim the nomination. Rep. Rokita was second with 30 percent, while Rep. Messer was a very close third, getting 28.8 percent of the GOP vote. Braun swept virtually all of the counties outside of Congressional Districts 4 and 6, which belong to Reps. Rokita and Messer, respectively.

A Donnelly-Braun general election will be highly competitive, as now the new Republican nominee will make the incumbent senator the focal point of his anti-Washington swamp, politics-as-usual campaign strategy. The Indiana race now becomes one of the premier GOP challenge targets in the country.

In the House races, while Braun ran strongly throughout most of the state, he failed to provide familial coattails. His brother, Steve Braun, fell to state Rep. Jim Baird (R-Greencastle) in a 36-29 percent spread from a 4th District GOP electorate that exceeded 80,000 votes. Baird will easily win the general election and come to Washington as Rep. Rokita’s replacement in the western state congressional district that touches the outer Indianapolis suburbs.

Turning to the eastern 6th District, in a highly expected result, Vice President Mike Pence’s older brother, Greg Pence, easily captured the Republican nomination for Rep. Messer’s open seat. His 65 percent victory over four opponents sends him into a general election campaign that he will surely win in November.

North Carolina

All local political observers were following the two Republican US House incumbents facing strong challengers. As mentioned in the introduction, Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) became the first House member in this fledgling election cycle to be denied re-nomination. Pittenger, who came within just 134 votes of losing the 2016 GOP primary, could not overcome former pastor Mark Harris this year. Harris, a 2014 US Senate candidate, ran two years later for the post court-mandated redistricting seat that changed 60 percent of the district just before the 2016 primary.

Though it looked like Rep. Pittenger would have an easier road to re-nomination this year, the opposite proved true. Harris won the party nomination, 48.5–46.2 percent, a margin of 814 votes of more than 35,000 primary votes cast. Harris will now face the new Democratic nominee, businessman Dan McCready who is already on record saying he won’t vote for Nancy Pelosi as House speaker if he wins in November. The 9th District, which stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville, posted a 54-43 percent victory for President Trump. Rep. Pittenger won re-election in 2016 with 58 percent of the vote. Though the numbers stack up well for Republicans in this district, with McCready already raising $1.9 million for the primary, it makes this contest competitive and may become a targeted Democratic challenge race.

Moving to the Outer Banks region, veteran Rep. Walter Jones (R-Farmville), also facing serious competition, scored a 43 percent victory to win what he says will be his last term. The fact that he had two opponents who pulled virtually equal support allowed Jones to win again with just a plurality. He faces no competition in the general election, which means last night’s victory assures him of re-election in the fall.

In the Greensboro area, as expected, University of North Carolina at Greensboro trustee Kathy Manning, another challenger who has raised well into seven figures, easily advanced into the general election last night with 70 percent of the vote. She will face freshman Rep. Ted Budd (R-Advance) in another November race that appears more competitive than the regional voting history might suggest. Budd garnered 56 percent in his first general election. The congressman was unopposed last night in the Republican primary.

Ohio

The Ohioans voted as expected last night. Rep. Jim Renacci (R-Wadsworth) scored a 47-32 percent win over investment banker Mike Gibbons to win the 2018 Republican Senate nomination. The congressman now advances against two-term Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) in November.

Originally a gubernatorial candidate, Renacci made the smart switch to the Senate race after attorney general and former US Sen. Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted voluntarily formed a ticket to effectively clinch the nomination in the early part of the year. All of these strategic moves proved prescient, as DeWine easily won the gubernatorial election last night, 60-40 percent over Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor (R); Rep. Renacci secured the Senate nomination.

In the 12th District special election, state Sen. Troy Balderson (R-Zanesville) out-paced Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan by a single percentage point (29-28 percent) and topped a field of seven other candidates to win the Republican nomination and advance to the Aug. 7 special election. Franklin County Recorder Danny O’Connor easily won the Democratic nomination. The 12th is a reliably Republican seat, and with a 24,000-vote edge in total turnout last night, Sen. Balderson becomes the clear favorite to win the special general. Both men also were nominated for the full two-year term in November.

Looking at Rep. Renacci’s open Cleveland-Akron area 16th District, technology executive and former NFL football player Anthony Gonzalez defeated conservative state Rep. Christina Hagan (R-Marlboro Township) 53-41 percent to win the Republican nomination. Gonzalez will now face healthcare company executive Susan Moran Palmer, who captured the Democratic nomination. The former Indianapolis Colts and Ohio State Buckeye wide receiver is the favorite to win the seat in November.

West Virginia

In the other premier Senate contest of the evening, media reports that disgraced former coal company CEO Don Blankenship was making a serious move on the Republican nomination proved erroneous as two-term Attorney General Patrick Morrisey won the GOP primary with a 35-29 percent margin over US Rep. Evan Jenkins (R-Huntington). Placing third with 20 percent of the Republican vote was Blankenship. AG Morrisey won the right to challenge Sen. Joe Manchin in the general election. The incumbent defeated a Democratic primary challenger from his left, environmentalist Paula Jean Swearingen, 70-30 percent.

Morrisey swept the northern and central portions of the state, with Rep. Jenkins dominating south West Virginia, the site of his congressional district. Blankenship won four small counties. The Manchin-Morrisey Senate election now becomes a top-tier Republican challenge race.

With Reps. David McKinley (R-Wheeling) and Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) running unopposed for re-nomination, the congressional action was in Rep. Jenkins’ open 3rd District where state House Majority Whip and farmer Carol Miller (R-Cabell County) topped a field of six other Republican candidates, including two sitting state delegates, one former delegate and congressional nominee, and an ex-West Virginia Republican Party chairman to win a close nomination campaign. She begins the general election in the favorite’s position against state senator and Iraq War veteran Richard Ojeda (D-Holden/Logan) who easily won the Democratic primary.

Primary Previews

By Jim Ellis

2018-elections-open-seats-185May 8, 2018 — Today’s elections kick-off the prime time of primary season, with voters in four states — Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia — choosing nominees for November. Here is an outlook for each of the states:

Indiana

With no governor’s race on the ballot this year, the Republican Senate nomination campaign tops the Indiana political card, which is one of the more interesting campaigns in the country. Here, Reps. Todd Rokita (R-Brownsburg/Lafayette) and Luke Messer (R-Greensburg/Muncie) are battling former state representative and Meyer Distributing and Meyer Logistics companies’ owner Mike Braun for the right to face first-term Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly in November. Donnelly has no opposition for his party nomination.

Braun has gained national notoriety for his campaign, which has strategically melded both congressmen into basically one person. The Braun Campaign ads have characterized Reps. Rokita and Messer as being part of the Washington “swamp”, concentrating negatively on their budget and trade votes, as well as casting them as professional politicians. He even goes so far as to brandish two cardboard cutouts of the congressmen where they are dressed exactly alike and says they are both lawyers who never practiced, instead spending their entire careers in politics.

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