Tag Archives: Minneapolis

AIPAC’s Next Challenges

By Jim Ellis — Friday, June 28, 2024

Campaign Finance

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is getting most of the credit for Rep. Jamaal Bowman’s (D-NY) Democratic primary defeat earlier in the week, and deservedly so considering their associated entity’s huge expenditures, but will their next endeavors end in a similar manner?

Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY) at Saturday’s Rally in the Bronx.

Rep. Bowman went down to a crushing 58-42 percent defeat at the hands of Westchester County Executive George Latimer on Tuesday night with the aid of almost $20 million being spent for Latimer and against Bowman in the congressional primary. Most of this outside money came from The United Democracy Project, a Super PAC associated with AIPAC.

Yet, some key facets of this race will not be present in campaigns against a pair of the group’s other important targets. Earlier in the year, when the anti-Israel protests began in earnest the AIPAC leadership pledged to spend $100 million to defeat some of Israel’s strongest adversaries in Congress. With Rep. Bowman successfully unseated, two others, Reps. Cori Bush (D-MO) and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), appear to be next in line and though every political race is different, similarities to Bowman’s pre-primary position are relatively strong.

To begin, Rep. Bowman, considering some of his other antics and inflammatory statements uttered during his tenure in the House, made him vulnerable beyond his stance against Israel. Therefore, he was a potential incumbent political casualty even before AIPAC entered the scene. The same is true for Reps. Bush and Omar.

Conversely, Bowman’s opponent is an accomplished politician and much more established than either of the men that Bush and Omar are facing.

As Westchester County Executive, Latimer already represented 91 percent of the 16th District constituency. In the area that he and Bowman had in common, Latimer’s percentage rose to 63.4 percent. In the Bronx borough, where Latimer was not a familiar figure, Rep. Bowman led with 83.6 percent support. The latter domain, however, accounted for less than 10 percent of the overall vote. Prior to his service as Westchester County executive, Latimer was an elected member of the New York Senate and Assembly.

While Reps. Bush and Omar’s opponents are certainly credible, their political resumes are not as formidable as Latimer in New York.

Post-election reports are surfacing through social media that Rep. Bowman was already trailing by 17 points prior to The United Democracy Project even beginning its media blitz. The reports suggested that the ads did not begin until April 3, yet a Mellman Group poll of the NY-16 Democratic constituency conducted over the March 26-30 period already found Rep. Bowman trailing, 52-35 percent.

Another poll, however, from Upswing Research and executed during the March 5-10 period found the race locked in a dead heat, with Rep. Bowman actually leading by a percentage point, 43-42 percent. While the final results suggest the Mellman poll is the more accurate of these two, it may or may not be the case that the incumbent was already trailing badly when the bulk of the media blitz targeting him began.

Additionally, this race is fully contained within the exorbitantly expensive New York City media market, thus one explanation for the huge amount of money being spent. The dollar expenditure in the other districts is unlikely to be as large.

Finally, the United Democracy Project did not fully message the Israel issue. Rather, the bulk of the advertising attacked Rep. Bowman for not supporting President Joe Biden’s legislative initiatives such as his opposition to the infrastructure spending legislation that was passed into law, thus this contest was decided upon other points not directly related to his anti-Israel stance. It is likely that the outside ad campaign will adopt different themes against Bush and Omar.

For her part, Rep. Bush is already issuing statements condemning “AIPAC and their allies” for spending “waves of money” to unseat Bowman. She is clearly trying to create a negative image of the organization since her standing at the commensurate point is similar to where Rep. Bowman stood.

Rep. Bush is under an ethics investigation for misuse of government funds and already finds herself in a tight race with her chief primary opponent, former St. Louis County prosecutor Wesley Bell. A Mellman Group poll taken recently (June 18-22; 400 likely MO-1 Democratic primary voters) found the Aug. 6 primary race locked in a dead heat. The ballot test projected Bell to be leading Rep. Bush by just a single point, 43-42 percent.

Since the AIPAC leadership was good to its word about coming in hard against major anti-Israel members of Congress in Bowman’s case, they will also come into St. Louis in an attempt to even the score with Rep. Bush. It is unlikely they will spend as much as they did in New York, but it is probable the organization will again be a major part of this particular primary campaign in its closing weeks.

The same can be said for Rep. Omar in Minneapolis. Two years ago, former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels held the congresswoman to a scant 50-48 percent victory. This time, Samuels has more credibility as a congressional challenger, scored recent endorsements from major labor unions, and now will likely see major help coming from the AIPAC sources as the candidates battle toward the Aug. 13 Minnesota primary.

There can be no denying that the AIPAC forces were a major component of the coalition that defeated Rep. Bowman. Whether they can help achieve the equivalent result against Reps. Bush and Omar in August remains to be seen.

Youngkin Wins in Virginia;
New Jersey’s Races are Teetering;
Ohio Congressional Races & More

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 3, 2021 — Republican Glenn Youngkin claimed the Virginia governor’s race with his victory over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D), becoming the first Republican to win a Virginia statewide office since the 2009 election.

In New Jersey, Republican Jack Ciattarelli is fighting Gov. Phil Murphy (D) to a virtual tie, but outstanding ballots suggest the Democratic governor may barely hang on to win a second term. It was a surprisingly strong showing for Ciattarelli in such a heavily Democratic state. Though both houses of the New Jersey legislature will remain under Democratic control, Republicans appear to have added seats in both chambers.

While mail votes are still being tallied and other ballots can be received in Virginia until Friday, it appears Youngkin did exceed the 50 percent plateau with McAuliffe about two percentage points behind. The Youngkin victory helped pull his lieutenant governor Republican partner, Winsome Sears, over the top to claim the state’s second position.

The Virginia attorney general’s race features another Republican, state Delegate Jason Miyares, leading incumbent Mark Herring (D), who is running for a third term. This is the closest of the three races, so uncounted mail ballots and votes to be received after election day could make a difference. Some entities have projected Miyares a winner, and he is certainly in the better position, but the final outcome may not yet be conclusive.

Several other races are still close, but Republicans may have converted the six seats they need to re-claim the state House majority. In any event, the party gained seats.

Turnout was higher than expected in Virginia. More that 3.2 million ballots have been tabulated, meaning that more than 73 percent of the number of people who voted in the record setting 2020 election returned to cast their votes in the 2021 governor’s race. When comparing the 2017 gubernatorial election to the 2016 presidential, the return rate was 66 percent.


In the US House, two new Ohio members-elect completed their special election victories with ease. In the vacant Cleveland-Akron seat that Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge (D) represented, Democratic Cuyahoga County Councilwoman Shontel Brown, as expected, easily won the congressional special general election with 79 percent of of the vote.

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Today’s Election Scorecard

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 2, 2021 — Today is a significant Election Day, and the menu of races stretches beyond a Virginia governor’s race that has attracted the lion’s share of political attention.

While the VA governor’s race will of course be top of mind as results come in tonight and analysts attempt to assign precursor status to the contest regardless of the final result, other campaigns will also be of significance.

In the Virginia race, if Republican Glenn Youngkin scores an upset win, and the late indications are clearly moving his way, it may be cast as an affront to the Biden Administration and the Democratic majorities in Congress relating to their legislative agenda. In actuality, it is a more locally based issue, education, that should correctly be cast as the linchpin to describe a Youngkin victory.

Former Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s (D) debate comment saying he did not believe “parents should be telling schools what they should teach,” will actually prove to be the key turning point to a Youngkin victory should it materialize. In McAuliffe wins, then the talk of a coming Republican wave election next year will certainly dissipate at least in the short term.

In addition to the Virginia governor’s race, the remainder of the statewide ticket, the lieutenant governor and attorney general races could be of significance. If Winsome Sears (R), running for lieutenant governor, and Jason Miyares (R), running for attorney general, both win their races to compliment a Youngkin victory, then talk of a clear precursor or budding Republican wave election will carry a more serious tone.

New Jersey voters will decide their governor’s contest as well. In Jersey, late polling, after seeing some closer numbers not even 10 days ago, seems to show Gov. Phil Murphy (D) pulling away from Republican Jack Ciattarelli in the closing week. The final result will likely be closer than most analysts would have projected at the beginning of the odd-numbered year election cycle, however.

In both Virginia and New Jersey, voters will also be electing members of the state legislature. In the Old Dominion, only the House of Delegates is on the ballot, as state senators, with their four year terms, won’t face the voters as a unit until the 2023 election cycle.

In the Garden State, both parties are projecting they will gain seats, but no one believes the strong Democratic majorities in the state Senate and Assembly are in any danger. In the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans need to convert a net six seats to re-claim the majority they lost in the 2019 election.

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Is Minnesota In Play?

By Jim Ellis

Aug. 24, 2020 — The state of Minnesota has been the most loyal of Democratic states in the presidential election since 1972, but the latest survey research data suggests that the northern domain is returning to the competitive realm this year.

Four years ago, President Trump fell just 1.5 percent short of winning Minnesota, thus providing a sign that the electorate was beginning a possible transformation. That was partially underscored in 2018 even when the party lost two suburban Minneapolis districts but gained two back in the rural north and south. The latter two congressional seats were the only ones Republicans converted from Democrats in the whole nation, except for a Pennsylvania seat that flipped to the GOP because of a court-imposed redistricting map that substantially changed the boundaries.

The 2020 Minnesota polls have seesawed. Mason-Dixon Polling and Research was the first to release a statewide poll this year and did so just before the George Floyd killing occurred in Minneapolis. The M-D survey was conducted over the May 18-20 period and yielded former vice president Joe Biden a five-point lead, 49-44 percent. The Morning Consult organization was also in the field during that same relative period, May 17-26, and found a similar spread between Biden and President Trump, with the former posting a seven-point edge.

Within this same period, the Floyd controversy began on May 25. During the next two months, a pair of Minnesota polls were conducted, and Biden’s lead soared into double digits. Gravis Marketing executed a single-day poll on June 19 and found Biden’s lead had grown to 16 percentage points. Fox News followed with their survey a month later, July 19-20, and found a similar 13-point Biden advantage.

The situation began to change when Morning Consult again tested the Minnesota electorate over the July 17-26 period and saw the race closing back into the three-point range. This survey was confirmed with the Trafalgar Group’s numbers derived from their July 23-25 poll that found a similar five-point margin developing between the two candidates.

The next two, however, from Public Policy Polling and David Binder Research, both conducted during the July 22-31 time frame, produced 10 and 18 point spreads in Biden’s favor. The Binder poll, however, utilized a sample size of only 200 respondents, far below what would be typically required for a reliable statewide poll for a domain housing eight congressional districts.

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