Tag Archives: Rep. Jeff Fortenberry

Convicted Rep. Fortenberry to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Convicted Nebraska US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln)

March 29, 2022 — A Los Angeles, Calif. jury convicted Nebraska US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) of three felony counts late last week, two involving campaign finance. The jury ruled he concealed illegal campaign funds received from a foreign national, and lied to federal investigators.

The congressman announced over the weekend that he will resign from the House on March 31, answering the call of both parties’ leadership to do so.

Rep. Fortenberry further says he will appeal the verdict and wrote in his official open resignation letter that “due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer serve you (meaning his constituents) effectively.”

Since Nebraska’s candidate filing has closed and contenders certified, it is unclear at this time whether the congressman’s name can be removed from the primary ballot. The only ballot-related deadline that has not passed in relation to the May 10 primary is the period before April 4 when county clerks can make “corrections” to the ballot.

State Sen. Mike Flood (R-Norfolk) is the leading GOP candidate in Fortenberry’s absence. Retired Air Force officer John Glen Weaver, teacher Thireena Yuki, and welder Curtis Huffman round out the Republican congressional field. The consensus Democratic candidate is state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (D-Lincoln).

Now that Rep. Fortenberry is resigning, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) will call a special election to fill the balance of the term. Under Nebraska law, since the seat will open before Aug. 1 of the even-numbered year, the special election must be scheduled within 90 days of the official date of vacancy. In this case, the vote must be held on or before June 28.

There will be no primary special election under Nebraska procedure. Nominations will come from the qualified political parties, handled through the 1st Congressional District committees of the various entities. A single-party candidate must be chosen and ballot qualified no later than 65 days before the scheduled election. Qualification refers to meeting the constitutional candidate requirements, filing the proper signature petitions, and paying relevant fees.

It is presumed the Republican and Democratic committees will turn to their leading candidates in state Sens. Flood and Brooks for the two major party nominations, but they don’t necessarily have to pursue such a direction because the special election’s candidate deadline will occur before the regular primary election. It would make little sense, however, for the parties to nominate someone other than their leading contenders, because the new individual(s) would not be able to run in the general election since the regular candidate filing period has closed.

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House Incumbent Primaries, Part I: Republicans

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 18, 2022 — As the states complete their individual redistricting processes and candidate filing deadlines appear on the political horizon, some incumbents find themselves facing serious primary challenges. Today, we look at Republican nomination situations in states where redistricting is complete, and Monday next week, we’ll look at the Democrats.


CA-5: Rep. Tom McClintock

Primary: June 7 (Jungle)

• McClintock Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $372,569
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+17
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 56.6% R

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission made significant changes to the Golden State congressional map. As a result, veteran northern California Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) had his choice of two districts, one less Republican that contained more of his home area, and the other more strongly favoring the GOP but stretched from the Sacramento suburbs all the way to the Fresno area. McClintock chose the latter.

The congressman’s most serious opponent is Fresno County Supervisor Nathan Magsig (R). California imposes a jungle primary system meaning that the top two finishers in the June qualifying election advance to the general election. Considering the Republican trends in this district, it is wholly possible that both Rep. McClintock and Supervisor Magsig will advance into the general election, especially with three Democratic candidates dividing the liberal base.


IL-15: GOP Pairing

Primary: June 28

Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville)
Rep. Mary Miller (R-Oakland)
• Davis Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,234,171
• Miller Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $414,795
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+42
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 64.6% R

The Illinois Democratic gerrymander created a new uber-safe Republican 15th District that attracted both Reps. Rodney Davis and Mary Miller. Therefore, the new member here will be chosen in the June 28 Republican primary.

The race is shaping up as a clear GOP establishment versus movement conservative contest. Virtually all of the state and national Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, have endorsed Davis. All of the movement right-of-center groups such as the Club for Growth and Freedom Works, along with former President Donald Trump, have endorsed Rep. Miller.

Davis also has a major fundraising advantage. Miller, on the other hand, sees 31 percent of her constituents carrying over to the new 15th, versus 28 percent for Davis. Rep. Darin LaHood (R-Peoria) has the largest contingent of current constituents in the new IL-15 (36 percent) but he is running for re-election in the new 16th CD.


MI-4: GOP Pairing

Primary: Aug. 2

Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland)
Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph)
• Huizenga Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,141,056
• Upton Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $1,467,055
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+9
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 51.6% R

With Michigan losing a seat in reapportionment, two of the state’s western members were destined to be paired. The new 4th District features a potential contest between Reps. Huizenga and Upton, though the latter man has not yet decided whether to seek re-election. A third candidate, state Rep. Steve Carra (R-Kalamazoo), who carries former President Trump’s endorsement, is also in the race.

Carra is not likely to be a major factor because he represents very little of the new 4th Congressional District constituency in the state legislature. This race will come down to Rep. Upton’s decision whether to seek a 19th term in the House or retire. If he runs, this will be a major summer primary contest. Should he retire, Rep. Huizenga becomes the prohibitive favorite in the primary, with the inside track for the general election, though the new 4th is more competitive than his current 2nd CD.


MS-4: Rep. Steven Palazzo

Primary: June 7 | Runoff: June 28

• Palazzo Cash-on-Hand (Dec. 31, 2021): $ 385,211
FiveThirtyEight Statistical Rating: R+42
Dave’s Redistricting App Historical Voting: 66.5% R

A congressional ethics investigation into Rep. Steven Palazzo’s (R-Biloxi) use of campaign funds is an obvious negative as he strives to win re-nomination for a seventh term.

The investigation prompted state Sen. Brice Wiggins (R-Ocean Springs) and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell to launch a primary challenge against the congressman, in addition to four others. Local business owner Carl Boyanton has thrown $550,000 of his own money into his campaign, making him a factor, too. This field could grow or retract as the March 1 candidate filing deadline looms on the political horizon.

It remains to be seen whether the investigation hinders Rep. Palazzo to the point of forcing him into a runoff — he has survived other tough primary challenges with larger than expected percentages — but the possibility of going to a secondary vote is certainly real. Should Palazzo be forced into a runoff, his re-nomination could be in serious jeopardy.
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Nebraska, West Virginia Primaries

By Jim Ellis

May 11, 2016 — Though the presidential nomination contests are virtually over, voters are still streaming to the polls for nine Republican and 13 Democratic intra-party elections. Now that we are progressing further into the election cycle more states include down ballot races along with the presidential contest. That was the case in Nebraska and West Virginia yesterday. Though Hillary Clinton remains the presumed Democratic nominee, she lost yet another primary. It was expected she would fall in West Virginia after coming out earlier for shutting down the coal industry. True to form, Bernie Sanders beat her 51-36 percent. She did manage to place first in the Nebraska primary, a beauty contest for Democrats since the delegates were apportioned weeks ago.

Nebraska

It was interesting to see how presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump fared in Nebraska, capturing 60 percent of the vote. Original projections slated this state for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and with it 36 winner-take-all Cornhusker delegates. Trump now wins, but the percentage is worth noting. The Midwest and Rocky Mountain region has been Cruz’s strongest territory, in addition to his home state of Texas, which is one reason Trump’s Indiana victory last week became so significant. The changing regional political winds in a state originally thought certain to go to Cruz helped end the race.

With many Republican establishment leaders publicly eschewing Trump’s candidacy, it doesn’t appear these actions hurt the future nominee and may actually have helped reinforce his independent, anti-establishment persona.

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Chafee Changes in RI; Fortenberry Stays in Nebraska

Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee has come full circle. The son of former governor and senator John Chafee (R), Lincoln, then the Republican mayor of Warwick, RI, was appointed to the US Senate succeeding his late father in 1999. He then won election to a full term in 2000, but began straying further and further to the left through the first six years of the George W. Bush administration.

In the anti-Republican year of 2006, Sen. Chafee was turned out of office in this most Democratic of states at the hands of former Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse (D). Embittered by his defeat and some Bush Administration policy directives such as the Iraq War, Chafee left the Republican Party and became an Independent. Returning to run in a three-way race for the open governor’s seat in 2010, Chafee made his comeback successful, becoming the only Independent elected to a gubernatorial post in that particular election year.

Yesterday, Gov. Chafee completed his conversion to the Democratic Party by officially registering as a member. He did this for purely political reasons, thinking the action would bolster his desperate re-election chances. Chafee’s approval ratings are arguably the worst in the nation. Nate Sliver’s 538 website (May 28 data table) recently gathered job approval scores for 41 governors who are measured in 2013 public polling data. Of the 41, Gov. Chafee placed dead last, scoring a miserable 26:69 percent favorable to unfavorable ratio.

Chafee has never been known as one who executes brilliant political moves, and this action may actually make his re-election even more difficult. The first primary election before the new electorate is always the most tenuous for a party-switcher and already two major Democratic office holders appear poised to enter the gubernatorial campaign. It is unlikely that Chafee now joining the Democratic Party will dissuade either state Treasurer Gina Raimondo or Providence Mayor Angel Taveras from running against him.
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Nebraska’s Heineman Won’t Run

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) announced over the holiday weekend that he will not run for his state’s open US Senate seat next year, ending more than 13 weeks of political speculation concerning his decision. Heineman said he believed a campaign would take away from serving his final 18 months as governor but, at least at one point, claimed he was very close to becoming a federal candidate.

Heineman’s decision now opens up what should be a fierce campaign to replace one-term Sen. Mike Johanns (R), a former governor and US Agriculture Secretary, who decided not to seek re-election. All potential candidates had been awaiting Heineman’s decision, because his popularity is such that no person in either party is likely to defeat him.

The Democrats are in the more precarious position because they are now staring at two open statewide races with a depleted political bench. Former two-term senator and governor Bob Kerrey returned to the state last year and went down to an ignominious 58-42 percent defeat at the hands of then state senator Deb Fischer (R). The result left the Democrats in a politically moribund state as Kerrey was always viewed as the party’s best possible standard bearer. For him to lose as badly as he did to a state legislator in what should have been a strong Democratic year, casts major doubt over the party’s 2014 prospects.

That being said, the Democrats will likely concentrate on the open gubernatorial campaign, a position more important to party leaders. Heineman, who will be the longest-serving governor in the state’s history (10 years at the end of his term), is ineligible to seek re-election. At this point, the Democrats’ strongest candidate may be Lincoln Mayor Chris Beutler. He will likely run statewide, but probably as a gubernatorial candidate, thus by-passing the Senate contest. Beyond Beutler, their options are few.
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