Tag Archives: Mitt Romney

Rep. Peter King to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 13, 2019 — Over the Veterans holiday weekend, long-time New York Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford/ Islip) announced that he will not seek re-election to a 15th term next year, ending what will be 28 years of service in the US House.

Rep. Peter King (R-NY-2)

Prior to winning the South Shore Long Island seat in 1992, King served as the Nassau County comptroller for 11 years. In 1977, he was elected to the Hempstead Town Council, his first political campaign.

King, a former chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, represents New York’s 2nd District, bordering the Great South Bay, which travels along the Sunrise Highway from Bayport through Babylon all the way to Seaford. The district leans Republican. President Trump carried the seat 53-44 percent in 2016, though both Mitt Romney and John McCain fell several percentage points short of winning here.

Through his 14 elections, King has averaged 55.4 percent of the vote through different configurations of the district. In 2018, the congressman defeated business consultant Liuba Gretchen Shirley, 53.1–46.9 percent, in a race where his opponent raised just under $2 million. For his part, the congressman spent almost $3.2 million.

There had been retirement speculation surrounding the 75-year-old King, for several months. Earlier it had been assumed that the congressman’s daughter, Erin King Sweeney, would run to succeed him when he eventually left office but apparently that will not happen. In September, Sweeney announced that she would not seek re-election to her current position as the Republican leader on the Hempstead Town Council because her husband accepted a position in North Carolina and the family is moving.

While 2018 Democratic nominee Shirley has not announced that she is returning for a re-match, Babylon Town Councilwoman Jackie Gordon (D) did declare her candidacy. Additionally, Trump impeachment activist Max Sax is in the Democratic field. Now that the 2nd District has become an open seat we can expect to see stronger Democrats come forward to make the race. A crowded Republican primary is also forecast.

The New York candidate filing deadline is not until April 2, so Democratic and Republican Party leaders have sufficient time to fully develop a credible group of candidates. The New York state primary is June 23. We can expect two competitive primaries and a tight general election. The early rating for this new open seat is Lean Republican.

King now becomes the 32nd sitting House member who will not seek another term in office. Within this group, more than two-thirds, or 22, are currently Republican-held. Ten are from the Democratic side of the political aisle.

As reported earlier, four of the seats are vacant and headed to a special vote before the next general. The elections for resigned Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) and the late Rep. Elijah Cummings’ (D-MD) seats have already been scheduled. The governors of New York and California must still schedule special votes to replace resigned Reps. Chris Collins (R-Clarence/Batavia) and Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale).

Rep. Walden to Retire; Ex-Rep. Knight to Return

Veteran Republican US Rep. Greg Walden (OR-2)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 30, 2019 — Veteran Republican US Representative Greg Walden (R-OR) joined the growing group of House members to announce that his congressional career will come to an end. Rep. Walden issued a statement Monday indicating that he will not seek a 12th term in office. OR-2 becomes the 30th open seat. There are now four vacancies in the House.

The veteran congressman, first elected in 1998, is the ranking Republican member on the House Energy & Commerce Committee, a panel he chaired while the GOP held the majority. He is also a past chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Oregon’s 2nd District is the only Republican seat in the Beaver State. It occupies 19 eastern counties and part of one other. The land mass covers three-quarters of the state and houses the two larger population centers of Jackson and Deschutes Counties, which contain the cities of Medford and Bend, respectively.

The Census Bureau indicates that the 2nd District now contains over 830,000 people, over 100,000 more people than originally constructed in 2011. In fact, all of the Oregon districts are now approximately this size, which explains why the state looks to be gaining an additional seat in congressional reapportionment.

Walden won 11 elections in the 2nd and has averaged 68.7 percent of the vote over his 11 victorious federal campaigns. The only time he dropped below 61 percent of the vote occurred last November when he was re-elected with 56.3 percent.

President Trump carried the district in 2016 with a 57-37 percent margin. Four years earlier, Mitt Romney notched a similar 57-41 percent victory spread. John McCain won 54-43 percent in 2008. Therefore, this seat should easily remain in Republican hands, but first the candidate fields must develop for both parties.

The district touches eight state Senate and 14 state House seats. Seven of the eight Senate seats are Republican held. In the House, the GOP advantage is twelve to two. We can expect several of these legislators to enter the open House race and what is likely to be a large number of local officials from the expansive regions.
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Two New House Opens

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) – Democrat running for president in 2020

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 29, 2019 — A pair of new open seats, both from the Democratic side of aisle, emerged over the weekend.

First, in a move that had been speculated upon, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Kailua) announced that she will not seek a fifth term in the House in order to concentrate on her presidential campaign.

Second, freshman California Rep. Katie Hill (D-Agua Dulce/Palmdale), who has been under fire and facing a potential ethics investigation for alleged sexual affairs with members of her congressional staff and campaign team will reportedly resign from Congress at the end of this week. Additionally, her estranged husband is saying she used her past influence to acquire employment contracts for him with the non-profit organization she ran before her election.

Rep. Gabbard, at this point one of the minor presidential candidates, made her mark in the debates for which she qualified to participate. Unless her poll standing improves, she will not be part of the upcoming November and December forums since the Democratic National Committee just announced new polling requirements.

The additional debate conditions mandate that candidates obtain four percent support nationally in a minimum of four designated surveys or attain six percent in two sanctioned polls from the early states, meaning those voting in February: Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and South Carolina.

Recently, local polling suggests that Congresswoman Gabbard’s constituents do not look favorably upon her running for president. Just over 60 percent of the respondents said they preferred she exit the national race. Gabbard was also facing serious congressional primary competition from state Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo).

Polling projected her with a definitive lead, 48-26 percent, according to a late September Public Policy Polling survey of the HI-2 constituency but falling below 50 percent is a clear indication of impending weakness. The study also reported that 38 percent of Democrats would have voted to re-elect Rep. Gabbard, but 50 percent indicated they would support someone new.

Sen. Kahele says he will continue in what is now a new open seat campaign to be decided in the Democratic primary. He had raised over $500,000 for his challenge to Rep. Gabbard and has just under $371,000 remaining in his campaign account at the Sept. 30 reporting deadline.

The Hawaii candidate filing deadline isn’t until June 2 for the Aug. 8 state primary. At this point no other Democratic candidate is coming forward, but we can expect a crowded field once potential contenders have an opportunity to assess their own political options. The 2nd District contains part of Oahu and the remainder of the state’s island chain.

Rep. Hill’s district political situation is much different. The northern Los Angeles County seat was reliably Republican when originally drawn before the 1992 election. That was the year when former Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Palmdale) was originally elected, and he would win 10 more elections in the 25th CD. After he retired, state legislator Steve Knight (R) won the seat and held it for two terms until Hill unseated him in November.

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Florida Rep. Rooney to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples)

Oct. 23, 2019 — Two-term Florida Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Naples) announced over the weekend that he would not seek election to a third term next year, thus FL-19 becomes the 27th open House seat for the current cycle.

Three of the open seats are vacant, meaning they will each go to special election to fill the balance of their respective terms. The trio of districts are: MD-7 (the late Elijah Cummings-D), NY-27 (Chris Collins-R), and WI-7 (Sean Duffy-R). The Wisconsin election calendar has been set for a Feb. 18 special primary and May 12 general. Maryland election law dictates that Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announce the 7th District special election calendar on or before Oct. 28. No calendar announcement has yet been made for the New York situation.

Rooney, despite serving in Congress for only a brief while, had been on the unofficial retirement watch list because he had raised only $6,600 cycle-to-date for his next campaign and is at odds with his party on several issues. The congressman is independently wealthy, so the low total was not solely an indication of his intention since he has the wherewithal to self-fund his campaigns. Rep. Rooney had been a Republican critic of President Trump, took the no corporate PAC contribution pledge, and indicated he may support the impeachment inquiry.

Florida’s 19th District is a safely Republican southwest Florida seat. President Trump carried the district, 60-37 percent, while Mitt Romney won here with a similar 60-39 percent margin. In his two elections, Rep. Rooney racked up victory percentages of 62 (2018) and 66 percent (2016).

In a similar configuration over four previous terms, then-Rep. Connie Mack IV (R) averaged 65 percent of the vote. And, after Mack left the House to run for the Senate, Republican Trey Radel, who a year later would be convicted for cocaine possession and forced to resign, scored a 62 percent victory in 2012. GOP businessman Curt Clawson followed with win margins of 67-29 percent in the 2014 special election, and then 65-33 percent in the regular election cycle before choosing not to seek re-election in 2016.

Therefore, it is probable that the next Republican primary winner will summarily be elected to the House in November, 2020. The 19th District contains two-thirds of Lee County along with approximately half of Collier County. Its main population centers are the Cape Coral, Ft. Myers, Naples, and Marco Island localities.

A Brewing Battle Emerging in Kansas

Freshman Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Topeka)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 17, 2019 — Former legislative aide Abbie Hodgson, the only announced Democratic candidate in the KS-2 congressional race, withdrew her challenge to freshman Rep. Steve Watkins (R-Topeka) Wednesday because she claims not to possess the fundraising ability to conduct a credible campaign. At this point, there is no alternative Democrat on the horizon in the Kansas district, but that will soon likely change.

Rep. Watkins won a tight 48-47 percent general election victory over former state House Minority Leader and 2014 gubernatorial nominee Paul Davis (D) last November to succeed retiring Rep. Lynn Jenkins (R). This came after political newcomer Watkins, a West Point graduate, Army Ranger and Afghanistan veteran, won a tight seven-way Republican primary but with only 26.5 percent of the vote. Controversy arose when a major independent expenditure committee emerged, which was principally funded by the candidate’s father, to back Watkins.

More potential upheaval surrounds Rep. Watkins, but it simmers below the surface. Rumors were flying around in August that the congressman would imminently resign his office because of a rumored scandal that was about to become public. Watkins took no such action, and to date nothing involving scandalous activity has come to light.

This has not stopped certain Republicans from taking action, however. In early September, reportedly at the behest of former Gov. Jeff Colyer (R) who lost his own bitter primary to then-Secretary of State Kris Kobach, state Treasurer Jake LaTurner made a surprising move. He was the first declared US Senate candidate after incumbent Pat Roberts (R) announced his retirement, but he then transferred from the statewide campaign to instead enter the primary to challenge Watkins in the Topeka-anchored congressional district.

Kansas’ 2nd is a decidedly Republican seat, but not intensely so. The CD occupies 23 eastern Kansas counties and parts of two others. It runs vertically from the Nebraska border to Oklahoma and consumes the territory between the Kansas City metro area and Wichita.

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