Tag Archives: Pennsylvania

The Open and Collapsed Seats

By Jim Ellis

A look at how things might play out in key states in the redistricting tug of wars

Dec. 2, 2021 — In a redistricting year, tracking the open seats can be a bit confusing. Not only do we record retiring members and those seeking other offices, as we do in every election cycle, but in a redistricting year we also see new seats awarded to states in reapportionment, new districts created through map drawing, and collapsed seats. This, in addition to members being paired and certain incumbents choosing to run in districts other than the one they currently represent.

The open seat numbers have grown significantly during the past month. As a result, we see 24 members leaving their current districts either for retirement or to run for another office. Sixteen are from the majority Democratic conference, with eight coming from their Republican counterparts.

One seat, FL-20, remains in special election cycle and will be filled on Jan. 11. At that point, the House will have its full compliment of 435 members for the first time in this Congress.

Reapportionment changed locations within states for seven congressional seats, and map drawing has added an additional four new seats to date for a total of 11 nationally. The new seats also lead to a commensurate number of incumbent pairings or collapsed districts.

Adding the numbers from all of these categories tells us that 43 House seats have been affected in addition to four members who have declared for seats they don’t currently represent.

The collapsed seats tell their own story. In this category, certain members have nowhere to run, typically in states that lost a seat in reapportionment. In many instances, the member without a place to run is one who had previously indicated that he or she is leaving the House.

In California, the first draft redistricting map shows that Rep. Karen Bass’ (D-Los Angeles) seat would be the one collapsed, because the state is, for the first time in history, losing a district. Bass, however, previously announced that she is running for mayor of Los Angeles, so seeing her seat as the one forfeited was not a surprise.

Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Channahon) was geographically in a difficult position because the map drawers needed the leftward voters in his district to enhance two adjoining Democratic seats. Therefore, he became the odd man out.

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PA-Senate: Republicans in Trouble

Former US Ambassador to Denmark, Carla Sands — a Pennsylvania senate candidate to watch.

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 29, 2021 — The Keystone State of Pennsylvania, with an open Senate and governor’s race, will be a focal point of the 2022 election cycle, and last week the Republicans’ early problems grew worse.

The Pennsylvania GOP began this election cycle in a seemingly underdog position as they fought to hold the Senate seat from which two-term incumbent Pat Toomey (R) is retiring; now they are clearly playing from behind.

Iraq War veteran Sean Parnell (R) had former President Donald Trump’s endorsement and was leading the Republican primary in early polling. However, due to losing a child custody judgment rendered at the beginning of this week after a contentious trial in which his ex-wife had accused him of domestic abuse, Parnell withdrew from the Senate contest.

It’s a loss for his party, but Parnell wasn’t even the best of candidates. In his first bid for public office, running for the 17th Congressional District seat against Allegheny County area incumbent Conor Lamb (D-Pittsburgh), now himself a Senate candidate, Parnell came close but lost 51-49 percent. Based upon a close defeat in a winnable district, he decided to make a statewide Senate run.

Two other primary opponents, former lieutenant governor nominee Jeff Bartos and Army veteran, Trump campaign activist, and former congressional candidate Kathy Barnette, also lost their most recent political races. Therefore, the original three leading Republican candidates in either polling or fundraising hadn’t ever won a race and were falling well behind their Democratic counterparts.

The Democrats feature the overall early race leader, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman. He commands first position in primary and general election polling and has raised way more campaign capital than all of his opponents, over $9.2 million through the Sept. 30 financial disclosure period.

John Fetterman, however, isn’t without his own flaws. In 2013, when he was mayor of Braddock, a borough southeast of Pittsburgh in Allegheny County and located on the Monongahela River, Fetterman pulled a loaded weapon on an unarmed African-American jogger after hearing gunshots fired in his neighborhood. The Fetterman campaign has already produced a short video explaining the incident in anticipation of this becoming an issue in his 2022 statewide effort.

Rep. Lamb is running second to Lt. Gov. Fetterman in polling and dollars raised, almost $7 million behind his chief Democratic rival. The latest poll, from the Civiqs organization (Oct. 31-Nov. 1; 929 likely Pennsylvania Democratic primary voters, online) found Fetterman way ahead of Rep. Lamb, 52-12 percent, with other announced and possible candidates, state Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta (D-Philadelphia), Montgomery County Commissioner Val Arkoosh, and potential contender Sharif Street, a state senator and son of former Philadelphia Mayor John Street, all polling at five percent or less.

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The “Fail Up” Senate Candidates

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 16, 2021 — There is an interesting phenomenon developing in the 2022 US Senate races, and that is the number of currently leading primary nomination candidates who have lost their last race. No less than five current US Senate contenders, all topping the latest polling, were defeated the last time they were on the ballot, some even in political campaigns for offices with less prominence.

In recent election years, we’ve seen a number of candidates lose a race and then attempt to “fail up” in the next campaign year. Most of the time, the same result occurs. The seemingly lone exception to the rule is Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff (D), who lost a special election for the US House in 2017 only to run for the Senate in 2020 and be elected.

Turning to 2022 and the unusually high number of such “fail up” candidates allows us to see if this pattern can reverse itself, or if the vast majority of these contenders will again find themselves on the short end of the vote totals when their election cycle ends either in the nomination contest or general election.

The 2022 “fail up” Senate candidates are Abby Finkenauer (D) in Iowa, Adam Laxalt (R) from Nevada, Pat McCrory (R) and Cheri Beasley (D) in North Carolina, and Pennsylvania’s Sean Parnell (R). Dr. Al Gross, who lost the 2020 Senate race in Alaska is a possibility to enter the 2022 race in the Last Frontier, but so far has not announced his candidacy.

Finkenauer, a Democrat, is a former state representative and congresswoman from Dubuque, Iowa. She was elected to the House in 2018, only to lose her seat after one term, 50-47 percent, to current US Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids).

Finkenauer is leading in early polling for the Senate Democratic nomination as she and retired Navy admiral and defeated 2020 US Senate candidate Mike Franken battle to challenge venerable Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) who has won seven US Senate elections. Early polling finds Finkenauer trailing by close to 20 points.

Laxalt was elected Nevada’s attorney general in 2014, but with only 46 percent of the vote in a place where his party swept all of the statewide offices in that election year with his being the lowest victory percentage. Laxalt then entered the open 2018 governor’s race but lost to current incumbent Steve Sisolak (D), 49-45 percent. The latest polling (September) finds him trailing Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D) by five points in a Mellman Group survey but holding a two-point lead in a study from WPA Intelligence.

North Carolina actually features candidates in both parties leading in nomination polling after losing their last race. McCrory is the former governor who lost his 2016 re-election campaign, even while Donald Trump and seven other Republicans were winning their statewide elections.

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Election Day Upsets and Surprises

By Jim Ellis

Nov. 4, 2021 — Now that Tuesday’s election numbers are becoming more available and final, we can explore the contests that proved to be upsets and ones providing us with some surprises. In most instances, the Republicans performed better in these races than expected.

The first obvious upset, though a mild one as we approached election day because most people understood that Republican Glenn Youngkin had a legitimate chance to score a victory over former Gov. Terry McAuliffe, is the Virginia statewide race. The biggest surprise was New Jersey Republican Jack Ciattarelli within one percentage point of defeating Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy.

With that background, let’s begin with our upsets:

• Georgia: Former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (D), attempting to regain his former position in the open seat 2021 race, has apparently failed to qualify for the runoff. Atlanta City Council President Felicia Moore (D) placed first, with City Councilman Andre Dickens (D) running 612 votes ahead of Reed for second position with all of the precincts reporting.

Mail votes and ancillary ballots could still push Reed into a runoff with Moore, but it appears that Dickens has the inside track to nose the former mayor out of this race.

• Maine:• New Jersey: State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D) has apparently lost his southern New Jersey seat to truck driver Edward Durr (R) who spent only about $5,000 on his campaign. Durr leads 52-48 percent, which should be enough for him to eventually claim victory.

• New York: Big Republican local election wins occurred in Suffolk and Nassau County on Long Island. GOP candidates won the Suffolk and Nassau County District Attorney’s offices, and defeated the Nassau County Executive. They also reclaimed the majority on the Suffolk County legislature for the first time since 2005.

• Texas: Continuing a GOP rebound among Hispanic voters in Texas, Republican John Lujan converted a 71 percent Hispanic district in southeast Bexar County (San Antonio). Lujan was a 51-49 percent winner in Texas House District 118.

• Virginia: Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated Terry McAuliffe (D), 51-48 percent. Winsome Sears (R) topped state Del. Hala Ayala (D), 51-49 percent. State Del. Jason Miyares (R) ousted Attorney General Mark Herring (D), 51-49 percent. Republicans have clinched or lead in 52 House of Delegates races, enough for them to re-claim the majority. Not only did Youngkin score an upset win, but he had obvious coattails.

There were several interesting surprises on election night, too:

• Florida: Miami area Democrats went to the polls to choose a special election nominee to replace the late Rep. Alcee Hastings (D-Delray Beach) and the result yielded a photo finish. Recounts will be ordered and a long post-election process is expected before someone advances to the January 11th special general election.

At first take with supposedly all votes counted, businesswoman Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick looks to have secured the party nomination by just 31 votes. A later count then put Broward County Commissioner Dale Holness on top by an even smaller 12-vote margin. Expect this one to be in the courts long before a Democratic nominee is finally settled upon.

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Q3 FEC Senate Cash Updates

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 22, 2021 — The 3rd Quarter campaign finance summaries and reports are now publicly available at the Federal Election Commission website, and we have the recap for the key competitive Senate races in this Update. As typical for political campaigns since the latter part of the previous decade, the dollar figures are again astronomical.

The amounts are in hundreds of thousands, and COH refers to the candidates’ total cash-on-hand figures since the 2022 election cycle began. The Daily Kos Election website statisticians calculated the 3rd Quarter dollar amounts.

Alaska

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Murkowski $1,062 $3,244
Tshibaka $460 $294

Sen. Lisa Murkowski and former State Administration Director Kelly Tshibaka are the only two candidates who filed disclosure reports. Despite an endorsement from former President Donald Trump, the Tshibaka financial figures are less than expected. With Alaska’s new top four primary system, the early money is rather irrelevant since four candidates, including Sen. Murkowski and Ms. Tshibaka, will advance into the general election.


Arizona

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Kelly $7,217 $13,001
Masters $1,008 $864
Brnovich $559 $515
Lamon $133 $3,606

Sen. Mark Kelly continues to be one of the most prolific fundraisers of all Senate candidates. His huge $13.1 million cash-on-hand figure is topped only by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s $31.8 million, and Sens. Raphael Warnock’s (D-GA) $17.2 million and John Thune’s (R-SD) $14.8 million. Candidate Blake Masters is rumored to be benefiting from an outside $10 million Super PAC that billionaire Peter Thiel funds. Candidate Jim Lamon self-funded most of his $3 million-plus cash-on-hand total.


Florida

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Demings $8,351 $5,967
Rubio $5,928 $9,612

Sen. Marco Rubio had a very strong fundraising quarter, but so did his opponent, Rep. Val Demings. Both have large war chests, but each has already spent millions to achieve these totals. Both candidates will advance into a competitive and expensive general election campaign in the Sunshine State.


Georgia

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Warnock $9,432 $17,217
Walker $3,764 $2,477
Black $564 $928

Sen. Raphael Warnock raised more money in the quarter than any Senate candidate and already has a huge war chest. Herschel Walker’s first fundraising quarter as a candidate, and a partial one at that, has to be considered highly successful, but his resources pale in comparison to the incumbent’s dollar raising machine.


Iowa

CANDIDATE 3rd QTR RAISED (,000) TOTAL COH (,000)
Finkenauer $1,019 $598
Grassley $814 $3,064

Sen. Chuck Grassley announced his intention to seek re-election just a week before the third-period fundraising cycle ended. While he didn’t raise as much as his present chief opponent during the third quarter, former US Rep. Abby Finkenauer, his resource total is substantially better than hers and sets him in strong position to launch a massive fundraising effort.


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