Tag Archives: North Carolina

The Early Targets

By Jim Ellis

April 3, 2019 — Continuing our early outlook of the 2020 House situation, we can begin by narrowing the field to those districts where Republicans will be concentrating at least their initial efforts in order to reclaim the majority they lost in November.

After the 2016 election, there were 12 districts that supported President Trump but elected a Democrat to the House. After the 2018 midterm, that number rose to 31. For the Republicans to regain the majority, they will need to convert a net 18 seats back to their column, or 19 if the Democrats score a victory in the NC-9 special election to be held later this year in the Charlotte-Fayetteville metro areas in southern North Carolina.

The other two House special elections, PA-12 (May 21) and NC-3 (Sept. 10), unless huge upsets occur, look to remain within the Republican stable of districts.

Of the 31 Trump/House Democrat seats, 16 of them also voted for Mitt Romney over President Obama in 2012. Furthermore, a dozen within this group elected a Republican Representative until the 2018 election. They are:

  • GA-6 – Rep. Lucy McBath (D) – Defeated Karen Handel (R)
  • IL-14 – Rep. Lauren Underwood (D) – Defeated Randy Hultgren (R)
  • MI-8 – Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D) – Defeated Mike Bishop (R)
  • MI-11 – Rep. Haley Stevens (D) – Replaced David Trott (R)
  • NJ-11 – Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D) – Replaced Rodney Frelinghuysen
  • NM-2 – Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (D) – Replaced Steve Pearce (R)
  • NY-22 – Rep. Anthony Brindisi (D) – Defeated Claudia Tenney (R)
  • OK-5 – Rep. Kendra Horn (D) – Defeated Steve Russell (R)
  • SC-1 – Rep. Joe Cunningham (D) – Replaced Mark Sanford (R)
  • UT-4 – Rep. Ben McAdams (D) – Defeated Mia Love (R)
  • VA-2 – Rep. Elaine Luria (D) – Defeated Scott Taylor (R)
  • VA-7 – Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D) – Defeated Dave Brat (R)

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2020 Senate Review – Part III

By Jim Ellis

March 27, 2019
— The third and final segment of our three-part Senate review covers the races alphabetically from North Carolina through Wyoming, with a re-visit to the new open seat in New Mexico:

  • New Mexico – Sen. Tom Udall (D)Open Seat – Since our Senate review began, Sen. Udall, who looked to be a lock for election to a third term, announced he will not run in 2020. Democrats will be favored to hold the seat, but Republicans have won statewide races here as late as 2014, so the potential for a competitive 2020 campaign exists.
    So far, Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) and US Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-Nambe/Santa Fe) both confirm they are considering running, as is 2018 Republican nominee Mick Rich. Two individuals have already said they will not enter the Senate race: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) and Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber (D). Many more potential candidacies from both parties are being discussed. Currently, this open seat earns at the very least a Lean Democrat rating but is realistically Likely Democratic.

  • North Carolina – Sen. Thom Tillis (R) – This will be a top-tier race, as are almost all North Carolina Senate races. Sen. Tillis ousted then-Sen. Kay Hagan (D) in 2014 in a state that has re-elected only one senator since the days of Sam Ervin (D) and Jesse Helms (R).
    The Democrats failed to recruit their top target in Attorney General Josh Stein (D), and so far, their field is second tier. Only Mecklenburg County commissioner-at-large Trevor Fuller (D) and state Sen. Erica Smith (D-Gaston) have declared their candidacy.
    Sen. Tillis received pushback for originally opposing President Trump’s emergency border declaration, which has fueled rumors of a potential primary challenge. Therefore, the North Carolina campaign is in a state of flux. Much will change here in the coming year to affect the outcome. Currently, rate this seat as Lean Republican.

  • Oklahoma – Sen. Jim Inhofe (R) – The major discussion surrounds whether 84-year-old veteran Sen. Inhofe will retire. If he runs, the election campaign may be slightly more competitive based upon the 2018 Oklahoma results, in which the Democrats made some significant gains. Even if they continue to build momentum, their chances of winning a statewide election in the Sooner State still remain slim. Likely Republican until it becomes clear whether or not Sen. Inhofe will seek re-election.

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NC-9: Ten Republicans File

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

March 19, 2019 — Candidate filing for the upcoming special election cycle closed for North Carolina’s 9th District on Friday, and the official field now features 10 Republicans, one Democrat, and two minor party candidates.

The special election is necessary because no winner was officially declared in the 2018 general election due to voter fraud accusations in one county. If the special cycle extends through the full calendar, which will happen if any one of the nomination battles are forced into a run-off, the special general won’t occur until Nov. 5, a day short of what will be a full year since the 2018 votes were cast.

We already know the Democratic Party won’t require a runoff. The 2018 nominee, Dan McCready, will be unopposed for the special election nomination, meaning he is guaranteed a ballot position in the general. Minor party candidates Allen Smith (Green) and Jeff Scott (Libertarian) will also advance because they, too, are unopposed in their respective party primaries.

But, with 10 Republicans running, there is a good chance that none of the GOP contenders will reach the 30 percent threshold necessary to claim a plurality nomination. If the Republicans nominate someone in the May 14 primary, the special general then moves to Sept. 10. If, however, a runoff is required, the campaign then stretches to the aforementioned November date.

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Sen. Tillis’ Potential Primary Fight

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R)

March 15, 2019 — According to an article in The Hill newspaper earlier this week, North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis (R) may be headed for a serious Republican primary battle next year. The article, written by The Hill reporters Scott Wong and Alexander Bolton (THE HILL: GOP’s Tillis comes under pressure for taking on Trump), details several local Republican county chairmen expressing displeasure with Sen. Tillis’ stand against President Trump’s emergency declaration for the southern border situation.

The article also points out that Sen. Tillis led the Republican efforts to protect Independent Counsel Robert Mueller’s role in investigating the president over possible Russian collusion and other tangential issues. This is yet another issue stance that pits Sen. Tillis against his Republican base.

The article suggests that three-term Rep. Mark Walker (R-Greensboro) could be testing the waters to make a senatorial run, reporting that the congressman has conducted a statewide poll. According to the Walker Camp only Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/ West Asheville) has higher name identification among the delegation members. At this point, Congressman Walker appears not to be eliminating any political option.

During the 2016 US Senate campaign, Sen. Richard Burr (R) indicated that he would not seek re-election after he completes his third term in 2022. Therefore, Walker may be looking not so much at a primary challenge to Sen. Tillis but could already be preparing for an open seat run three years from now.

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The Outer Banks Battle

By Jim Ellis

The late longtime North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones Jr. / Photo by Gage Skidmore, Flickr

Feb. 12, 2019 — The death of veteran North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones Jr. (R-Farmville) on Sunday, Feb. 10, 2019 — his 76th birthday — has sent the state’s 3rd District into a special election that will likely last all the way to Sep. 10, and the campaign will be unusually competitive.

Since the district was drawn in its current configuration in 2011, the Democrats have spent only an aggregate of $53,000 in challenging Rep. Jones. In 2018, he was unopposed. Two years earlier, Democratic nominee Ernest Reeves placed his name on the ballot but literally spent no money. During the four post-2010 census elections, Jones averaged 74.5 percent of the vote, and 66.0 percent when the uncontested campaign is removed from the configuration.

But, the special election campaign looks very different and will be the first truly competitive campaign in this part of eastern North Carolina since Jones unseated then-Rep. Martin Lancaster all the way back in 1994.

On Friday, candidate filing closed and no less than 26 Republicans, Democrats, and minor party candidates filed to run in the April 30 primary. With so many names on the ballot it is possible that both major parties could be forced into runoff elections even though North Carolina has only a 30 percent runoff rule.

For the Republicans, 17 individuals filed including a two-time primary opponent to Rep. Jones, three sitting state representatives, and the state Republican Party vice chair. But the Democrats, for the first time in more than two decades, have legitimate contenders in a district that should continually elect Republicans. The six-person Democratic field contains two former mayors, one of Greenville, the other New Bern, and two retired Marine Corps officers.

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