Tag Archives: Minnesota

Incumbents Winning Big

By Jim Ellis — Thursday, May 23, 2024

Elections

At this point in the 2024 election cycle we have seen a number of budding primary challenges opposite US House members, and through this past Tuesday the incumbents are batting 1.000. It is likely, however, that the most competitive challenges are yet to come.

A total of 17 states have held their down-ballot primary elections. Within this number were 62 partisan challenges to US representatives. The California all-party jungle primary system does not produce traditional intra-party challenges. Therefore, the Golden State races are not included in the partisan statistics quoted in this column.

In only one race, that one in Alabama’s newly constructed 1st District, did an incumbent, Rep. Jerry Carl (R-Mobile), lose. But, in a paired redistricting situation, a sitting member losing was the inevitable conclusion.

We have seen no serious nomination challenges to sitting in-cycle senators. In the House, of the 62 members who have faced an intra-party opponent, 18 have proven to be substantial challenges. This means that the top opponent received at least 30 percent of the vote.

In only two, however, was an incumbent victory even in doubt. On March 19, southern Illinois Congressman Mike Bost (R-Murphysboro) defeated former state senator and 2022 Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey by a slight 51-49 percent count.

On May 7 in the Hoosier State of Indiana, Rep. Victoria Spartz (R-Noblesville), who originally indicated she would not seek re-election but changed her mind before the candidate filing deadline, only scored 39 percent of the primary vote. The total, however, was enough to turn back eight GOP challengers including state Rep. Chuck Goodrich (R-Noblesville) who captured 33 percent support.

Therefore, at this point in the House cycle with now a bare majority of 218 district electorates having nominated their general election contenders, it appears the stage might be set to see another incumbent-favorable general election.

The primary vote to-date could be the precursor to seeing a similar result to what we saw in 2022, when incumbents fared extremely well even though polling suggested the electorate desired major change. Two years ago, 55 of 56 senators and governors who ran for re-election won, and the incumbent retention percentage in the House was 98.1.

Should the 2024 election result in a similar conclusion, we would again see very small margins in both the House and Senate. Yet, the primary season is only half over, and a number of key members remain embroiled in primary campaigns.

While we’ve only seen two primaries in the first half resulting in close finishes, several upcoming contests could end in close counts or even incumbent upsets. In fact, 13 members in 11 states face challengers who are positioning themselves for serious runs.

Arizona freshman Rep. Eli Crane (R-Oro Valley) sees former Yavapai County Supervisor Jack Smith coming forward. Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Silt), while changing to the open 4th District, must overcome Logan County Commissioner Jerry Sonnenberg and two state representatives to secure nomination in the new district.

In Florida, both Reps. Dan Webster (R-Clermont) and Vern Buchanan (R-Sarasota) face a former state representative and ex-school superintendent, respectively.

In what are proving to be the top challenges to Democratic members, Reps. Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), and Ilhan Omar (D-MN), all members of far left “Squad,” each face serious opponents in the persons of Westchester County Executive George Latimer, St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell, and former Minneapolis City councilman and 2022 congressional candidate Don Samuels.

Oklahoma Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore/Norman) is repelling a multi-million dollar challenge from Texas transplant Paul Bondar. Two South Carolina members, Nancy Mace (R-Charleston) and William Timmons (R-Greenville), are attempting to defeat strong challenges from former Haley Administration official Catherine Templeton, and state Rep. Adam Morgan (R-Greenville).

Like Rep. Mace, who is under attack for voting to oust former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, Virginia Rep. Bob Good (R-Lynchburg) also has his hands full attempting to defend himself from state Sen. John McGuire’s (R) aggressive challenge.

Tennessee Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Columbia) and Utah’s Celeste Maloy (R-Cedar City), the latter of whom won her seat in a late 2023 special election, also are in serious battles for renomination.

While we have seen an unblemished nomination record for incumbent House members in the first half of primaries, the second half may threaten their so far perfect record.

Cornel West Chooses VP Running Mate; Close Presidential Polls in Minnesota; Former Miss America Enters North Dakota House Race; Polling Shows a Divided Nation

By Jim Ellis — Friday, April 12, 2024

President

Presidential candidate Cornel West

Cornel West: Chooses VP Running Mate — Independent presidential candidate Cornel West yesterday announced that California State University at Los Angeles professor and Black Lives Matter organizer Melina Abdullah will join his national ticket. Dr. West has qualified for the ballot in four states (AK, OR, SC, UT), but several domains require independent candidates to file with a vice presidential running mate.

In addressing that Abdullah is a Muslim while West is a Christian, the presidential candidate said, “I’m running for Jesus. She’s running for Allah. That’s a beautiful thing.” A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee, Matt Corridoni, isn’t in agreement that the ticket is “a beautiful thing.” In response, he said, “The stakes are high, and we know this is going to be a close election — that’s why a vote for any third party candidate is a vote for Donald Trump.”

Minnesota: Another Close Poll Release — While the presidential map appears locked with only seven or eight states in play, one strongly Democratic entity continues to return close polling numbers. Should we continue to see two- to three-point spreads in ballot test results, Minnesota may soon enter the swing category.

The latest research release comes from Survey USA for ABC affiliate KSTP-TV Channel 5 in St. Paul (April 3-7; 608 likely Minnesota general election voters; online) and finds President Joe Biden holding only a 44-42 percent lead with 11 percent saying they would support another candidate.

This poll is not an anomaly. In fact, it is highly consistent with four other independent Minnesota surveys conducted in October, November, January, and February. In each of these five studies (three from Survey USA, and one from the Minnesota Post and Emerson College) the range between Biden and Trump during the six-month period spanned between just two and four percentage points with Biden leading in each survey. Therefore, expect Minnesota to be paid more attention as the national campaign progresses.

House

North Dakota-AL: Former Miss America Enters At-Large Cong Race — With the North Dakota Republican Party convention delegates not endorsing a congressional contender at last week’s official gathering, several more individuals entered the field just as candidate filing closed.

In addition to convention participants Julie Fedorchak and former state Rep. Rich Becker, 2018 Miss America Cara Mund, who ran for the seat as an Independent in 2022, retired military veteran and farmer Alex Balazs, and conservative activist Sharlet Mohr, will also compete in the at-large June 11 primary election.

The eventual Republican nominee will have the inside track toward claiming the open seat in the general election. Educator and military veteran Trygve Hammer is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. Incumbent Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-Bismarck) is leaving the House to run for governor.

National

Pew Research Center: Partisan Political Study — The Pew Research Center released an exhaustive report on American political partisanship (released April 9, 2024; data collected between Aug. 7-27, 2023; compared with similar results from 1994-2023) and finds that the country is at basic parity between Democrats and Republicans. Asking people if they consider themselves Democrats or Republicans, or lean to one party or the other, 49 percent identified with the Democrats while 48 percent sided with the Republicans.

The coalition division is stark. Democrats fare best (in order of strength) with blacks, religiously non-affiliated, English speaking Asians, those born in the 1990s, Hispanics, urban residents, and women with a college degree. The support range is from a high of 83-12 percent (blacks) to 60-37 percent (women with a college degree).

For Republicans, the coalition order of strength includes white evangelical Protestants, Mormons, white voters without a college degree, veterans, residents of rural communities, white men, and those born in the 1940s. The support range reaches from 85-14 percent (white evangelical Protestants) to 54-43 percent (those born in the 1940s).

West Virginia Gov. Justice’s Strong Senate Primary Lead; House Retirements Continue; An Armey Makes a Move; Morrisey in Front

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023

Senate

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R)

West Virginia: Gov. Justice Records Strong Primary Lead — American Pulse, surveying for WMOV radio (Nov. 13-14; 414 WV likely Republican primary voters; multiple sampling techniques), sees Gov. Jim Justice developing a commanding lead over US Rep. Alex Mooney (R-Charles Town) in a just-released poll that was conducted in mid-November. This data shows Gov. Justice with a huge 56-20 percent lead over Rep. Mooney in a primary race that is now likely to determine the state’s next US senator. The race drastically changed when Sen. Joe Manchin (D) announced he would not seek re-election. At this point, Democrats do not have a credible announced candidate.

House

MN-3: Rep. Dean Phillips Won’t Seek Re-Election — Three-term Minnesota US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth), who is challenging President Joe Biden for the national Democratic nomination, announced yesterday that he would not seek re-election to the House next year. Phillips, said that running for Congress would be “both unproductive and uncomfortable,” and also that it is “time to pass the torch” in terms of representing Minnesota’s 3rd Congressional District.

Rep. Phillips was already facing a Democratic primary challenge due to his move against President Biden. Democratic National Committee member Ron Harris announced for the House seat immediately upon the congressman declaring his presidential candidacy. Several weeks later, state Sen. Kelly Morrison (D-Deephaven) followed suit. We can expect a crowded and contested Democratic nominating convention along with a likely Aug. 13 primary campaign.

The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates MN-3 as D+14. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the district as the 63rd-most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference. Republicans will likely make an effort here, but the eventual Democratic nominee will begin as a clear favorite to win the general election.

TX-26: Former Majority Leader’s Son to Try Again — When Texas US Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Pilot Point/Denton) first won his House seat in 2002, he defeated Scott Armey in a Republican runoff. Armey, then the Denton County Judge (Executive), is the son of former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, who he was attempting to succeed. With Burgess last week announcing his retirement after serving what will be 22 years in the House, the younger Armey again declared his candidacy for the seat during the Thanksgiving break.

The 26th District is solidly Republican (FiveThirtyEight rates it as R+26; Daily Kos Elections Rank shows it as the 96th safest Republican seat), so Rep. Burgess’ successor will almost assuredly be decided in a Republican nomination process that will likely include a May 28 runoff after the March 5 primary. At this point, six Republicans have declared for the seat but so far the field of candidates features no sitting elected official.

Governor

West Virginia: Morrisey Back in Front — The aforementioned American Pulse poll for WMOV radio (see West Virginia Senate above) also tested the Republican sampling universe for the open gubernatorial primary. With Gov. Jim Justice moving into the Senate race, the May 14 GOP primary will very likely decide who will succeed Gov. Justice.

Rebounding from an August MetroNews poll that showed him trailing, Attorney General Patrick Morrisey has assumed the lead according to the American Pulse results. In this study, Morrisey, twice elected as AG, leads state Delegate Moore Capito, son of US Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R), 31-23 percent. Secretary of State Mac Warner posts 14 percent in third position with businessman Chris Miller, son of US Rep. Carol Miller (R-Huntington), at 10 percent. While Morrisey has a clear advantage, this poll suggests the race could evolve into a four-way battle as the primary date gets closer.

Sen. Tim Scott Out; Primary Rematch Announced in Rep. Omar’s District; Candidate Again Switches Districts; Two Texas Reps Out; Spanberger to Run for Governor

By Jim Ellis — Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023

President

Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC)

Sen. Tim Scott: Suspends Campaign — South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott announced that he is suspending his 2024 presidential campaign, effectively ending his effort to secure an upset win for the Republican presidential nomination. In late October, Sen. Scott’s campaign principals announced they were turning the strategic focus toward the Iowa Caucuses, but the decision did not result in any appreciable gain in support. This, and barely qualifying for his last debate, led the Palmetto State lawmaker to leave the race. He follows former Vice President Mike Pence and ex-US Rep. Will Hurd in exiting the campaign.

The Republican presidential campaign now actively features former President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, ex-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in the top tier of candidates. Long shots Doug Burgum, the governor of North Dakota, and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson also remain in the race.

House

MN-5: Dem Primary Rematch Announced — Former Minneapolis City Councilman Don Samuels, who held controversial Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minneapolis) to a 50.3 – 48.2 percent renomination victory in the 2022 Democratic primary, has officially announced that he will return for a rematch next year. Two other candidates previously announced, so it remains to be seen if they will continue their campaigns or if they will give Samuels a clear path toward challenging Rep. Omar.

Sarah Gad, an attorney who previously ran for office in Illinois, and businessman Tim Peterson are the announced Democratic candidates. Neither had raised even $55,000 through the Sept. 30 campaign finance reporting deadline. Considering Rep. Omar’s outspoken position regarding the war in Israel, we can expect that particular issue to play a major role in the 2024 campaign. The Minnesota primary is scheduled for Aug. 13, 2024.

NC-6: Candidate Hines Again Switches Districts — Republican Bo Hines, who many observers say proved himself a weak candidate when he lost the politically marginal 13th District to now-Rep. Wiley Nickel (D-Cary) in 2022, has again switched districts. Before losing the 13th District race last November, he originally declared to run in a western North Carolina district. Earlier this year, Hines announced a re-match effort against Rep. Nickel. Now, post-redistricting Round II, he is switching yet again. This time, he will run in the new 6th District against Democratic Rep. Kathy Manning (D-Greensboro).

Redistricting appears to have made NC-6 the most vulnerable district in the House Democratic Conference, so Republican chances of converting this seat are strong. Hines, however, must face former Congressman Mark Walker in the Republican primary. After the districts were passed into law, Walker abandoned his long-shot gubernatorial campaign and now becomes a clear favorite to win the Republican nomination in the new 6th, which closely resembles the district he represented for three terms.

TX-4 & 26: Two Texas Reps Won’t Seek Re-Election — As candidate filing deadlines begin to approach in the early primary states, we are seeing 2024 electoral decisions being made. Two more members of the Texas US House delegation announced that they will not run for re-election next year. Veteran Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Pilot Point), in a 26th District that covers three-quarters of Denton County, all of Cooke and two-thirds of Wise County in North Texas, announced that he will not seek an 11th term in the House. Rep. Pat Fallon (R-Frisco), in a more surprising move since he was elected to Congress just three years ago, is opting to run for the state Senate seat that he left to originally run for Congress.

Both Texas seats are safely Republican. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates TX-4 as R+31, while TX-26 is rated R+26. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks the 4th and 26th as the 159th and 127th most vulnerable seats, respectively, in the Republican Conference.

VA-7: Rep. Spanberger to Run for Governor — Three-term US Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-Glen Allen) announced that she will run for governor of Virginia in 2025. The move means she will not seek re-election to the House in 2024.

Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R), under Virginia’s unique one-term limit law for its state chief executives, is ineligible to seek re-election. Therefore, the position will again be open for the 2025 election. Rep. Spanberger reports more than $1.4 million cash-on-hand in her congressional committee, all of which is transferable to a Virginia state campaign.

Without Spanberger seeking re-election, the 7th District becomes highly competitive in the general election. The FiveThirtyEight data organization rates the seat as D+2. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates 51.1D – 47.2R partisan lean. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks VA-7 as the 17th most vulnerable seat in the Democratic Conference.

14th Amendment Ruling: Door Open

By Jim Ellis — Monday, Nov. 13, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump with former Vice President Mike Pence. / Photo by Gage Skidmore

January 6: Insurrection? — There has been an ongoing argument about whether former President Donald Trump’s actions surrounding the January 6 situation at the US Capitol constitutes “insurrection” as cited in the US Constitution’s 14th Amendment, and last week, a state Supreme Court issued a ruling.

At first glance, it appears that Trump won the Minnesota decision, but reading the chief justice’s decision suggests the issue is not yet firmly decided. Similar lawsuits are also alive in Colorado and Michigan.

The Minnesota State Supreme Court officially dismissed the lawsuit that was attempting to ban Trump from the state’s ballot. The high court ruled that his name be placed on the Republican primary ballot. Obviously, this part of the decision favors the former president.

The high court left open the possibility to hear, however, another lawsuit for the general election should Trump win the Republican presidential nomination. Some of the language associated with this narrative suggests that the ultimate decision might be different.

In dismissing the challenge, Minnesota Chief Justice Natalie Hudson wrote that the Republican primary is, “an internal party election to serve internal party purposes…[a]nd there is no statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office.”

The plaintiffs indicated they are “disappointed” with the ruling but underscored that the state Supreme Court has left the door open for a perhaps different ruling later in the cycle after Trump becomes the party nominee.
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Trump on Ballot in Minnesota; Incumbent Challenged in AR-3; Virginia Final Numbers; Houston Mayoral Runoff Set

By Jim Ellis — Friday, Nov. 10, 2023

President

Former President Donald Trump / Photo by Gage Skidmore

Minnesota: State Supreme Court OKs Trump for Primary Ballot — Ruling on a 14th Amendment lawsuit attempting to bar former President Donald Trump from the ballot saying he incited an “insurrection” even though he or no January 6-convicted defendant was even charged with insurrection against the Constitution; therefor, the Minnesota State Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that he will be placed on the Republican primary ballot. The high court left open the possibility to hear, however, another lawsuit for the general election should Trump win the Republican presidential nomination.

Similar lawsuits are also alive in Colorado and Michigan.

In dismissing the challenge, Minnesota Chief Justice Natalie Hudson wrote that the Republican primary is, “an internal party election to serve internal party purposes … [and] there is no statute that prohibits a major political party from placing on the presidential nomination primary ballot, or sending delegates to the national convention supporting, a candidate who is ineligible to hold office.”

The plaintiffs indicated they are “disappointed” with the ruling but underscored that the state Supreme Court has left the door open for a perhaps different ruling later in the cycle relating to the general election.

House

AR-3: Rep. Womack to Face GOP Primary Challenge — Yesterday, Arkansas state Sen. Clint Penzo (R-Springdale) announced that he will challenge seven-term Congressman Steve Womack (R-Rogers). During his tenure in the House, Womack served briefly as chairman of the House Budget Committee. Immediately, in a show of support, Sen. Tom Cotton (R), Gov. Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R), and US Rep. Rick Crawford (R-Jonesboro) announced their endorsements of the incumbent. It remains to be seen if this challenge becomes a serious effort. The Arkansas primary is scheduled for Super Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

States

Virginia: Numbers Becoming Final — The final votes are being reported in the Virginia legislative elections, and the party division numbers look to be 21-19 in the Democrats’ favor for the incoming state Senate, and a 51-49 Democratic majority in the House of Delegates. The final numbers are slightly better for Republicans, but Democrats now control both houses in the General Assembly instead of just one.

Cities

Houston: Mayoral Runoff Set, Outgoing Mayor Endorses — Gov. Greg Abbott (R) confirmed that the Houston mayoral runoff election will be held on Dec. 9. The runoff winner will earn a four-year term as America’s fourth largest city’s chief executive. Immediately after the election, outgoing Mayor Sylvester Turner (D), ineligible to seek a third term, endorsed US Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Houston). She placed second to state Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) in Tuesday’s initial election. Neither candidate received majority support to secure the election, hence the need for a head-to-head second vote.

Biden Challenger Poised; Jawando Drops Maryland Senate Bid;
A Challenger Emerges in IA-2; North Carolina Redistricting

By Jim Ellis — Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2023

President

Minnesota US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth)

Rep. Dean Phillips: Reportedly Still Considering Biden Challenge — Media reports are again suggesting that three-term Minnesota US Rep. Dean Phillips (D-Plymouth) is still considering challenging President Joe Biden for the Democratic nomination. It is difficult to see how the congressman would have any reasonable path of victory in challenging the incumbent president of his party when starting at such a late date.

Rep. Phillips has been urging more prominent Democrats to challenge the president, the reason for which is he believes there should be competition for the party nomination. Phillips concedes, however, that he agrees with President Biden ideologically.

Senate

Maryland: Jawando Drops Senate Bid — Montgomery County Councilman Will Jawando (D), who was one of the first individuals to declare for the Senate once incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D) announced his retirement, now becomes the first to withdraw. Jawando indicated he does not see a path to victory for himself, hence his decision to end his campaign. With his main opponents for the Democratic nomination having much more in the way of resources, a gap which was looking to grow larger, Jawando was finding it hard to compete.

Rep. David Trone (D-Potomac) has already spent nearly $10 million on his race and is already advertising heavily. Prince Georges County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D) has raised over $3 million. Jawando reported just over $320,000 in his campaign account. The May 14, 2024, Democratic primary will likely be the deciding factor and it appears the race is already becoming a two-way contest between Trone and Alsobrooks.

House

IA-2: Rep. Hinson Draws First Challenger — Disability rights activist Sarah Corkery (D) became the first individual from either party to announce a challenge to two-term Iowa US Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids). Three of the four Iowa districts are competitive, including Rep. Hinson’s 2nd. According to the FiveThirtyEight data organization, IA-2 rates R+4. Dave’s Redistricting App calculates the partisan lean at 51.4R – 45.6D. The Daily Kos Elections site ranks IA-2 as the 29th most vulnerable seat in the Republican Conference.

While the district is competitive on paper, Rep. Hinson is in strong position. She won re-election last year with a 54-46 percent margin against then-state Sen. Liz Mathis (D) who, like Hinson, is a former television news anchor and very strong challenger who spent $4.2 million in her race against the congresswoman. Rep. Hinson also outperformed then-President Donald Trump in the district by a net four percentage points. Therefore, though the district is politically marginal, Rep. Hinson, who is reporting more than $1.3 million in her 2024 campaign account, is a well-positioned incumbent.

North Carolina: Redistricting Numbers Calculated — North Carolina legislative leaders released two congressional maps late last week, and now we see voting trend analyses being made public. Dave’s Redistricting App has already calculated partisan leans for the pair of maps.

The map drawers obviously adopted a strategy of making the maximum number of Republican districts. They did so by giving each of the seats targeted for GOP candidates partisan trend numbers between 54 and 58 percent. The three Democratic districts have partisan trends between 66 and 74 percent. In the second map, the one that could produce an 11R-3D result, Rep. Don Davis’ (D-Snow Hill) 1st District would be up for grabs, with a partisan lean of 50.4D – 48.7R.

Expect the legislature to vote on the maps this week. Legal challenges will follow enactment, but the chance of the plan being upheld in the North Carolina Supreme Court with its new 5R-2D composition is strong.